Tag Archives: The Big Show

12 November: Fanny Brice’s escape

Fanny Brice in a mid-1940s publicity still. (Photo: CBS.)

Fanny Brice in a mid-1940s publicity still. (Photo: CBS.)

In a medium over which there never seemed to be a genuinely bad seed, but a lot of obnoxiously unbearable kids regardless, Fanny Brice’s Baby Snooks might have gotten the closest, making Red Skelton’s mean widdle kid Junior seem like a Boy Scout. (You might wonder and fear at times what would happen if Snooks and Junior had ever hooked up.)

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4 February: The big plotz

Tallulah Bankhead (center) proved a formidable hostess for a formidable flop. (Photo: NBC.)

Tallulah Bankhead (center) proved a formidable hostess for a formidable flop. (Photo: NBC.)

Tallulah Bankhead might seem the least likely of such catalysts. But in 1950-51 the stage diva becomes the out-of-the-left-field-bullpen choice to spearhead what would come to be known as NBC’s most desperate bid to try cleaning up the damage done the network after Jack Benny and Bergen & McCarthy (who moved on Benny’s suggestion) defected to CBS.

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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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Further Pearl aftermath: Old-time radio listening, 10 December

Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen: Death Valley Takes a Holiday (CBS, 1941)

Mr. Allen wasn’t averse to appearing in wartime hint ads from his Texaco Star Theater sponsor.

As proves so with just about all radio entertainers, Fred Allen yields to the impact of Pearl Harbour on his first show following the atrocity. The classic Texaco Star Theater introduction—the clanging bells and siren, punctuated by the cartoonish car horn, telegraphing a brief fanfare and announcer Jimmy Wallington’s hail (“It’s Texaco time with Fred Allen!”)—is muted for once.

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