Tag Archives: Richard Diamond Private Detective

20 September: The unlikely plainsman

The Six Shooter: Jenny (Series Premiere; NBC, 1953)

James Stewart, who made a singular Britt Ponset. (Photo: NBC.)

James Stewart, who made a singular Britt Ponset. (Photo: NBC.)

James Stewart, who’s done enough guest shots to know, should have been a natural for network radio. His laconic vocal style and ability to immerse himself in even the lightest characterisation should have added radio star to his resume. The problem was, when he finally finds a regular vehicle for his gifts, it comes a decade too late.

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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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Bone appetit: Old-time radio listening, 7 January

The Big Show: Dinner Most Deadly (NBC, 1951)

How often do you get screen legends Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich on the same stage at all, never mind aboard old-time radio’s splashy last-ditch bid to revive its once-venerable variety style?

Tonight on Tallulah Bankhead’s glamour fest, Robinson features in a playlet drawn from Cornell Woolrich’s “After Dinner Story,” playing Harold Hodecker, a man whose son, daughter-in-law, and unborn grandchild were killed in an elevator crash . . . the survivors of which are now gathered with Hodecker at dinner, where he reveals he’s going to name the actual murderer—whom he’ll identify by way of a rather novel if deadly act—despite official rulings of suicide.

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On the threshold: Old-time radio listening, 24 December

Yuletide without Barrymore? Bah! Humbug! (Photo: CBS.)

For all who celebrate, and for anyone sorely in need of extra cheer this and any such season, today’s offerings are dedicated.

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

Set in hell, delivered in verse (some of it, admittedly, is a little on the awkward side but the archness of the delivery and the quality of the bulk makes up for it), some of history’s most notorious villains to that point convene to plan Christmas’s demise—as soon as they can quell this little, ahem, family squabble. (Sit down, Haman—for I am Ivan the Terrible! Brother Ivan is a demagogue/with the brain like a fly and the manners of a hog.)

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Two days in November: Old-time radio listening, 7-8 November

Sylvia Picker, as Alan Ladd’s airy secretary on Box 13 . . . (Unknown publicity photo)

Two days in November. The perfect palliative for electoral hangovers, considering that, the way we got blitzed with political ads this time around, oh brother did we need a drink—even before we went out to vote, if we did . . .

Comedy

7 November

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