Tag Archives: Our Miss Brooks

8 January: A Gale force

 

Gale Gordon. (Photo: NBC.)

Gale Gordon. (Photo: NBC.)

The last thing in the world I should have done was go into the theater because was inordinately shy as a young man,” Gale Gordon—perhaps old-time radio’s most mellifluous blowhard—once said. “I couldn’t open my mouth. At a party, I was the one stuck up against the wall. I was embarrassed about talking. I felt that I couldn’t talk well.”

Tonight we give you three radio episodes that display as well as anything he ever did how profoundly Gordon—whose blowhards such as Mayor La Trivia, Osgood Conklin, and sponsor Scott (The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show)a—overcame that inordinate shyness. But they also present impeccable evidence that, somewhere in the direct run-ups to such classic explosions, is one of the greatest supporting actors radio has ever known.

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4 March: Miss Brooks’s measured climb

Eve Arden (center) rehearses with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon (right). (Photo: CBS.)

Eve Arden (center) rehearses with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon (right). (Photo: CBS.)

It’s not that anyone is going to complain, mind you. But maybe, just maybe, network radio’s most beloved high school English teacher might be even more of a hit—even allowing that television is now cutting radio ratings severely—with a slightly more advantageous scheduling.

Since luring Amos ‘n’ Andy and Jack Benny from NBC, CBS has built a formidable Sunday night lineup. Putting Eve Arden’s cheerfully sardonic but hopelessly romantic English teacher on Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. after Our Miss Brooks spent 1948 rounding into shape didn’t exactly get her suspended from school—she finished 1949-50 with an 11.0 Hooper, enough to secure her seventh place on Sunday night—but CBS could have provided her a powerful choice of lead-ins.

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Prayer and Pacific: Old-time radio listening, 13 May

World News Today: Celebrating in Europe, Pressing On in the Pacific (CBS, 1945)

Robert Trout. (Photo: CBS.)

Robert Trout. (Photo: CBS.)

President Truman in Washington and the King and Queen of England attend services on a mutually declared Day of Prayer commemorating the end of the European war; a carrier attack on Japan and Japanese air forces trying to answer; Marines continuing their plunge toward the Okinawan capital; Australian troops closing in on liberating New Guinea from Japanese forces; rumours of former S.S. Commander-in-chief Heinrich Himmler being seized.

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Schnozzy and Harriet: Old-time radio listening, 20 March

Our Miss Brooks: The Poetry Mix-Up (CBS, 1949)

Richard Crenna (left) and Gloria McMillan. (Photo: CBS)

Richard Crenna (left) and Gloria McMillan. (Photo: CBS)

Following the money is easier, probably, than following a paper trail of Harriet Conklin’s secret admirers:

Nasal Walter (Richard Crenna) is glum because paramour Harriet (Gloria McMillan) has been receiving anonymous love poems. Three suspects emerge surprisingly enough, with three different such poems going to three wrong recipients . . . and Harriet herself thinks one wrong sender is her secret admirer. Hint: he’s recently, and conspicuously enough, borrowed a copy of Cyrano de Bergerac from the Madison High library.

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Oh, Goody! Old-time radio listening, 15 January

The easiest Ace. (Photo: CBS.)

The easiest Ace. (Photo: CBS.)

This son of Latvian immigrants was born 114 years ago today. He became a newspaper reporter, abbreviated his given surname (Aiskowitz), and caught his big radio break when—doing two spots of criticism and mild humour a week—he had to ad-lib fifteen minutes worth of air time when a scheduled show feed fails the Kansas City station where he worked, prompting him to invite his wife to join an impromptu chat on bridge (a passion of theirs) and a local murder. (“Would you like to shoot a game of bridge, dear?” his loving wife would ask on microphone).

The unexpected segment became such a surprise success that he was invited to create a regular show, making it work well enough to be invited first to Chicago and, in due course, New York, where his creation—a serialised comic eavesdropping in on conversations, situations, and absurdities between a malapropping wife and her tart, harried, but loving husband, their boarding best friend and her newspapering paramour, and a small round of revolving support characters—became a consistent and admired radio presence for fifteen years. Or, as Time will put it on 2 November 1942:

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