Rocky Fortune is an American radio drama that aired weekly on NBC Radio beginning in October 1953 (see 1953 in radio). The series ended its run in March 1954 after 25 episodes. The program was created by George Lefferts. Frank Sinatra voiced the title role of Rocky Fortune for the entire series.
Rocky Fortune aired Tuesday nights on NBC at 9:35pm Eastern, immediately following Dragnet (and a five-minute John Cameron Swayze newscast). It was a sustaining series, meaning that NBC presented the program without corporate sponsorship. The premiere episode, “Oyster Shucker”, originally aired on October 6, 1953.
Characters and story
Frank Sinatra portrayed Rocco Fortunato, also known as Rocky Fortune, a young man of several talents constantly in need of employment and who accepts odd jobs from the fictitious Gridley Employment Agency., often referred to simply as “the Agency.” During the course of the series, he would work as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny, in addition to various musical jobs. These assignments typically led Rocky into situations where he would track down criminals, often rescuing people (especially women) in need of help, and ultimately needing to find yet more work. Rocky made many wise remarks, using “hep” slang of the times, and seemed to attract trouble wherever he went.
Sinatra infused the role of Rocky with a witty, tongue-in-cheek quality that acknowledged Sinatra’s own career. For example, in the episode “Football Fix”, Rocky begins to sing “I’ve Got the World on a String” while walking down the street, a song Sinatra had performed prior to playing the role of Rocky.
Aside from Sinatra, the only other recurring role on the series was that of Hamilton J. Finger, a not terribly smart but solid and dependable police sergeant voiced by Barney Phillips. Other guest roles on Rocky Fortune were voiced by actors such as Raymond Burr, Ed Begley and Jack Kruschen.
Creator of the show George Lefferts was also one of the primary scriptwriters, along with Ernest Kinoy. The two had previously collaborated on other radio programs such as X Minus One and Dimension X: in the episode “Rocket Racket”, Fortune’s job is apparently to fly a prototype spaceship. An eccentric oil millionaire tells of his fascination with science fiction and space travel, to which Rocky knowingly acknowledges, “Dimension X.” Lefferts and Kinoy would go on to become award-winning writers and producers in the years that followed.
Edward “Eddie” King was the show’s narrator, who began each episode by stating, “NBC presents Frank Sinatra, starring as that footloose and fancy-free young gentleman, Rocky Fortune!” (though it was “footloose and frequently unemployed…” for the first two episodes).
The final episode, “Boarding House Doublecross”, aired on March 30, 1954, less than a week after Sinatra won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Private Angelo Maggio in the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity. As a running gag towards the end of the show’s run, Sinatra would work the phrase “from here to eternity” into the script as a reference to his film role in almost every episode.
# Date Title
01 Oct 6, 1953 “Oyster Shucker”
(aka “Pearl Smugglers”)
02 Oct 13, 1953 “Steven in a Rest Home”
(aka “Insurance Fraud”; “Steven Crandall”; “Double Indemnity”)
03 Oct 20, 1953 “Ship’s Steward”
(aka “Shipboard Jewel Robbery”)
04 Oct 27, 1953 “Pint-Sized Payroll Bandit”
(aka “Short Order Cook”)
05 Nov 10, 1953 “$100 an Hour Messenger”
(aka “Messenger Boy”; “Messenger For Murder”)
06 Nov 17, 1953 “A Little Jazz Goes a Long Way to Murder”
(aka “A Hepcat Kills the Canary”)
07 Nov 24, 1953 “Drama Critic’s Bodyguard”
(aka “Nursemaid to a Drama Critic”; “Murder on the Aisle”)
08 Dec 1, 1953 “Art Store Handyman”
(aka “Parlormaid to a Statue”; “Murder Among the Statues”)
09 Deb 8, 1953 “The Kid and the Carnival”
(aka “Carnival One Way”)
10 Dec 15, 1953 “Paid Companion”
(aka “Companion to a Chimp”)
11 Dec 22, 1953 “Department Store Santa”
(aka “The Plot to Murder Santa Claus”)
12 Dec 29, 1953 “Prize Fighter”
(aka “Prize Fighter Setup”)
13 Jan 5, 1954 “On the Trail of a Killer”
(aka “Love and Death”; “Sister Ellie’s Dead”)
14 Jan 12, 1954 “Ride ’em Cowboy”
(aka “Rodeo Murder”)
15 Jan 19, 1954 “Murder In the Museum
(aka “The Museum Murder”; “Museum of Ancient History”)
16 Jan 26, 1954 “Hollywood or Boom”
(aka “Hauling Nitro”)
17 Feb 2, 1954 “Football Fix”
18 Feb 9, 1954 “Social Director”
(aka “Catskills Cover-Up”)
19 Feb 16, 1954 “Too Many Husbands”
(aka “The Too-Much-Married Blonde”)
20 Feb 23, 1954 “Hit List”
(aka “Decoy For Death”; “The Grinder”)
21 Mar 2, 1954 “Drug Addict”
(aka “The Doctor’s Dilemma”)
22 Mar 9, 1954 “Let’s Find a Murderer”
(aka “Incident in a Bar”; “Fresh Corpse”)
23 Mar 16, 1954 “The Little Voice of Murder”
(aka “Psychological Murder”; “Witness to a Kill”[or “Will”])
24 Mar 23, 1954 “Rocket to the Morgue”
(aka “Rocket Racket”; “Zenith Foundation”)
Parsley Sidings was a BBC Radio sitcom created by Jim Eldridge. It starred Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender (who were also starring in the television wartime sitcom Dad’s Army at that time), together with Kenneth Connor from the Carry On films.
The scripts are by Jim Eldridge (who would later go on to write for many more series, the most successful being the BBC’s King Street Junior). The show is set in a sleepy out of the way railway station on the main line between London and Birmingham, in the Midlands.
The main characters are the station master, Mr Horace Hepplewhite (played by Arthur Lowe); his son, Bertrand (Ian Lavender); station porter Percy Valentine (Kenneth Connor); Mr Bradshaw, the signalman (also played by Kenneth Connor); and station tannoy announcer Gloria Simpkins (Liz Fraser, who was also in the Carry On films, and appeared in the Dad’s Army feature film). The guest cast in some episodes included Bill Pertwee (also from Dad’s army, appearing in episode 11) and Roger Delgado. The announcer for the programme was Keith Skues.
The series was produced by Edward Taylor, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Due to the BBC’s former practice of wiping tapes after the broadcast of a show, only a minority of the 21 episodes produced are still in their archives – Goodbye, Parsley Sidings and The Entente Cordialare aired on BBC 7 occasionally and have always been in the BBC archives, while A Night Out, A Bird in the Hand and The Secret Agent were recovered between 2001 and 2003 as off-air recordings from members of the public. These episodes too have been aired, in early 2007, on BBC 7. All the other episodes are known to exist in private hands.
In 2008, more episodes were ‘discovered’, including the pilot and “The New Level Crossing”. It is not yet known whether these other episodes will be repeated.
You can hear Parsley Siding on the British Comedy Channel at the following times:
During the 1940s and early 1950s, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis created some of the most memorable hilarity in the history of entertainment. The Martin and Lewis Radio Show aired on NBC Radio from 1949 through 1953.
The comedy team was comprised of singer Dean Martin (as the “straight man”) and comedian Jerry Lewis as the comedic “foil”. The pair first met in 1945; their debut as a duo occurred at Atlantic City’s 500 Club on July 24/25, 1946.
Before they teamed up Martin was a nightclub singer, while Lewis did a comedy act in which he lip-synched to records. As a team, they worked in nightclubs, on radio and in television and films. In the team’s later years, it was no longer billed by the two men’s surnames alone, as in their early radio work, but by their full names: “Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.” These separate identities helped them launch successful solo careers after the team’s dissolution.
In 1945, Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio) met a young comic named Jerry Lewis (born Joseph Levitch, though some sources say Jerome Levitch; from Newark, N.J.) at the Glass Hat Club in New York, where both men were performing. Martin and Lewis’ official debut together occurred at Atlantic City’s 500 Club on July 24, 1946, and they were not a hit. The owner, Skinny D’Amato, warned them that if they didn’t come up with a better act for their second show later that same night, they would be fired.
Huddling together out in the alley behind the club, Lewis and Martin agreed to go for broke, to throw out the pre-scripted gags that hadn’t worked and to basically just improvise their way through the act. Dean sang some songs, and Jerry came out dressed as a busboy, dropping plates and more or less making a shambles of both Martin’s performance and the club’s sense of decorum. They did slapstick, reeled off old vaudeville jokes, and did whatever else popped into their heads at the moment. This time, the audience doubled over in laughter.
Their success at the 500 led to a series of well-paying engagements up and down the Eastern seaboard, culminating with a triumphant run at New York’s Copacabana.
Club patrons were convulsed by the act, which consisted primarily of Lewis interrupting and heckling Martin while he was trying to sing, and ultimately the two of them chasing each other around the stage and having as much fun as possible. The secret, they have both said, is that they essentially ignored the audience and played to one another.
The Martin & Lewis Radio Show went on the air on April 3, 1949, initially without a sponsor. NBC was widely reported to be almost immediately uncomfortable with their contract, which obliged them to pay for the team’s services whether they performed on-air, or not. As things developed, the team didn’t premiere their NBC sustainer until April 3, 1949, essentially getting a free ride from NBC for the first quarter of 1949. The network spent $10,000 per show, paying each star $1,000 a week.
The popular My Friend, Irma film, released in 1949, only added to the buzz over the, by then, well established comics, irrespective of how well they’d been doing their over Radio appearances. Their relatively minor roles in the Irma film, made it even more difficult for NBC to negotiate for lower compensation for the team when their contract came up for renewal for 1950. After further difficulty finding a radio sponsor for their show, The Martin & Lewis Show went off the air after broadcasting what they thought was their last show on January 30, 1950. Though the first series of Martin and Lewis Show programs ended in January of 1950, by the fall of 1950, NBC had re-signed the pair for their Colgate Comedy Hour over Television. The comedy-variety format called for rotating hosts. Beginning that fall, Martin and Lewis began a series of rotating hosting appearances that eventually spanned five years–and 35 appearances.
In an attempt to capitalize on their renewed investment in the comics, NBC reintroduced The Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Show radio program in the fall of 1951. The revised format returned to its roots, with the team performing sketches and Dean Martin performing one or two musical numbers before introducing their guest star for the remainder of the night’s program. CBS was the first to begin airing both Television and Radio versions of their most popular programming. NBC and ABC soon followed suit and by 1952, American and Canadian audiences were enjoying both Radio and Television versions of many of their favourite programs.
The Martin and Lewis Show eventually ran for seventy-three of a contracted seventy-eight instalments before being finally cancelled in July of 1953.
Martin and Lewis were the hottest act in America during the early ’50s, but the pace and the pressure took their toll. Dean usually had the thankless job of the straight man, and his singing had yet to develop into his unique style of his later years. The critics praised Lewis, and while they admitted that Martin was the best partner he could have, most of them claimed that Lewis was the real talent of the team and could succeed with anyone. It is worth noting that Lewis always praised his partner, and while he appreciated the attention he was getting, he has always said with complete conviction that the act would never have worked without Martin. In the book Dean & Me Lewis calls Martin one of the great comic geniuses of all time.
Dean Martin was becoming tired of scripts limiting him to colourless romantic leads while the stories centered on the antics of Jerry Lewis. Martin also noticed that Lewis was playing comedy scenes for pathos and greed and staging more of the action himself, having lost vision of what their comedy team-up was all about in the first place.
The last straw came when Look gave Martin and Lewis a cover photo—and cropped Martin out of the picture, humiliating Martin. Martin dutifully fulfilled the rest of his movie contract, but put less and less enthusiasm into his work and becoming increasingly disillusioned about his partnership with Lewis, leading to escalating arguments with Lewis. The two finally could not possibly work together, especially when Martin angrily told his partner that he was “nothing to me but a fucking dollar sign.
[sublimevideo poster=”http://rokradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Lewis_and_Martin.jpg” src1=”http://rokradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Jerry-Lewis-on-his-split-from-Dean-Martin-EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG_.mp4″ width=”500″ height=”375″]
Jerry Lewis on his split from Dean Martin
Martin left the act at his first opportunity, on July 25, 1956, ten years to the day after their first official teaming.
While both Martin and Lewis went on to successful solo careers for years neither would comment on the split nor consider a reunion. They made occasional public appearances together between their breakup and 1961 but were not seen together until a surprise appearance by Martin on Lewis’s Labour Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976 arranged by Frank Sinatra.
[sublimevideo poster=”http://longshotsblues.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/dean-martin12.jpg” src1=”http://rokradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Jerry-Lewis-Telethon-The-reunion-with-Dean-Martin-76.mp4″ width=”500″ height=”375″]
Frank bringing Dean and Jerry together again in 1976
The pair eventually reconciled in the late 1980s after the death of Martin’s son, Dean Paul Martin. The two men were seen together on stage in Las Vegas when Lewis pushed out Dean’s birthday cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to him. In Lewis’s 2005 book Dean and Me (A Love Story), Lewis wrote of his kinship with Martin, who died in 1995.
The Martin and Lewis Show can be heard on the American Comedy Channel at the following times: Mon – Fri at 06:00 GMT, Saturdays at 18:00 GMT and Sundays at 10:00 GMT
Duffy’s Tavern was a popular American radio situation comedy which ran for a decade on several networks (CBS, 1941–1942; NBC-Blue Network, 1942–1944; NBC, 1944–1951), concluding with the December 28, 1951 broadcast.
The program often featured celebrity guest stars but always hooked them around the misadventures, get-rich-quick schemes and romantic missteps of the title establishment’s malaprop-prone, metaphor-mixing manager, Archie, portrayed by Ed Gardner, the writer/actor who co-created the series.
In the familiar opening, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” performed either solo on an old-sounding piano or by a larger orchestra, was interrupted by the ring of a telephone and Gardner’s New York accent as he answered, “Hello, Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager speakin’. Duffy ain’t here—oh, hello, Duffy.”
Owner Duffy was never heard over the telephone or seen (in the 1945 film adaptation or the short-lived 1954 TV series). Archie constantly bantered with Duffy’s man-crazy daughter, Miss Duffy (played by several actresses, beginning with Gardner’s real-life first wife, Shirley Booth), and especially with Clifton Finnegan (Charlie Cantor, later Sid Raymond), a likeable soul with several screws loose and a knack for falling for every other salesman’s scam. Eddie the Waiter was played by Eddie Green; the pianist Fats Pichon took over the role after Green’s death in 1950. Hoping to take advantage of the income tax free status of Puerto Rico for future projects, Gardner moved the radio show there in 1949.
The series featured many high-profile guest stars, including Fred Allen, Mel Allen, Nigel Bruce, Billie Burke, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Boris Karloff, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Peter Lorre, Tony Martin, Marie McDonald, Gene Tierney, Arthur Treacher and Shelley Winters. As the series progressed, Archie slipped in and out of a variety of quixotic, self-imploding plotlines—from writing an opera to faking a fortune to marry an heiress. Such situations mattered less than did the clever depiction of earthbound-but-dreaming New York life and its individualistic, often bizarre characters.
Duffy’s Tavern was Gardner’s creation, and he oversaw its writing intently enough, drawing also on his earlier experience as a successful radio director. His directing credits included stints for George Burns and Gracie Allen, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and The Rudy Vallee Hour. Gardner also brought aboard several keen writing talents, including theatric humorist Abe Burrows (the show’s co-creator and head writer for its first five years), future M*A*S*H writer Larry Gelbart and Dick Martin, who later was the co-host of television’s groundbreaking Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.
Early in the show’s life, however, its name, Duffy’s Tavern, was changed—first to Duffy’s and, for four episodes, Duffy’s Variety. A staffer for Bristol-Myers — whose Ipana toothpaste was the show’s early sponsor—persuaded the company’s publicity director to demand the name change because the original title promoted “the hobby of drinking” too much for certain sensibilities.
Bristol-Myers eventually admitted the staffer had little to go on other than a handful of protesting letters, and—to the delight of fans who never stopped using the original name, anyway—the original title was restored permanently. The name change was often subverted by the Armed Forces Radio Network. When the AFRN rebroadcast those episodes for U.S. servicemen during World War II, the announcer referred to Duffy’s Tavern.
Listen to Duffy’s Tavern on the American Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!
Duffy’s Tavern -Bond Drive with Boris Karloff (1943)
During WW2, there was a radio show for the Services called “Merry Go Round which comprised of three separate series: one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Royal Air Force. These rotated, so that each was heard once every three weeks. The Army show was “Studio Stand Easy”, starring comedian Charlie Chester.
He was actually an Army Sergeant when the show was conceived, having been called-up following the outbreak of war. Unbelievably, he was actually ordered by his commanding officer to write a smash-hit radio show! This, he later remarked wryly, was easier said than done. But he was a first rate comedian, who, like Kenneth Horne, continued to be very successful on radio well into the 1960s.
The Navy’s contribution to “Merry Go Round”, initially entitled “H.M.S. Waterlogged”, starred light comedian
Eric Barker, supported by Jon Pertwee (who was later to have big successes in the BBC radio comedy “The Navy Lark” and on television as the third Doctor Who).
After the war, “H.M.S. Waterlogged” evolved into “Waterlogged Spa”, with the Naval Base becoming a health spa as the show continued into the post-war period. Many of the characters who Pertwee played in this show would later reappear in “The Navy Lark” in the 1960s!
The Air Force show, “Much Binding in the Marsh”, was the most successful of these, to judge by how long it lasted.
Broadcast by the BBC and Radio Luxembourg from 1944 to 1954, Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh was a radio comedy about a fictional RAF station which starred Richard Murdoch, who had previously appeared alongside Arthur Askey in the pre-war “Band Waggon”, and Kenneth Horne, who is now remembered mainly for his 1960s heyday in the two satirical successes “Beyond Our Ken” and “Round the Horne”.
During the run of the show, the RAF station changed from combat operations, to becoming a country and finally a newspaper, The Weekly Bind. The programme’s title is thought to have been inspired by the RAF station at Moreton-in-Marsh. The word “binding”, was RAF slang for moaning or complaining.
One of the most fondly remembered parts of the show was the closing theme tune, which was unique each week as topical lyrics referring to the plot of the episode were written and sung by members of the cast. Other cast members included Sam Costa, Maurice Denham, Maureen Riscoe, Dora Bryan and Nicholas Parsons.
Musical interludes were provided by Stanley Black and the Dance Orchestra, and songs from Helen Hill. The cast were occasionally joined by special guests; a prominent example of this was the Hollywood star Alan Ladd. Maurice Denham in particular played an important part in the programme, playing a multitude of roles of varying gender and age. These included Mr. Blake the Sexton (the name a homage to the fictional detective
Sexton Blake), the local Vicar, Mrs Dinsdale, young Percy and others.
The BBC cancelled the show in 1950 and it was transferred to Radio Luxembourg but returned to the BBC in 1951 until its run ended in 1954.
In 1970, two of its stars (Murdoch and Costa) appeared on several episodes of Frost on Sunday where they performed more comical lyrics to the theme tune. The show is also sometimes said to have popularised the term “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” for newspaper correspondents.
Kenneth Horne and Sam Costa subsequently reprised their roles from Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh in an episode of Men from the Ministry first broadcast on 21 April 1968 entitled Four Men in a Wellington. Although not specifically mentioned, the response of the audience and Sam Costa’s catchphrase ‘Good morning Sir, was there something?’ are obvious references to Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh.
“Good morning Sir, was there something?” – Sam Costa, batman
“Oh, I say, I am a fool!”
“Have you read any good books lately?”
“Leave it with me, sir”
“Leave it with him, sir”
“Would you like to see my puppies?”
“Not a word to Bessie”
“Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Sidi Barrani?”
Live broadcast of Much Binding in the Marsh (Copyright British Pathe)
Little of the BBC’s radio output of the 1940s has survived, as most shows were broadcast live and were not recorded. The 78 rpm disk recording technology, which was all that was available prior to the development of tape recording, resulted in sound quality that was significantly worse than a live broadcast, so it was better not to fill the air-time with recordings, and being a non-commercial broadcaster the BBC had no financial incentive to preserve its output.
Those factors have made BBC recordings from this period rare. Luckily a few episodes of of Much Binding in the Marsh exist and can be heard every Saturday on the British Comedy Channel at 23:30 GMT
Ray Bradbury, one of the world’s greatest science-fiction writers, has died at the age of 91.
Famed for penning titles such as ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’ and ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, Bradbury passed away on Tuesday night in Southern California.
Born Ray Douglas Bradbury in Waukegan, Illinois, the acclaimed author wrote nearly 600 short stories and the 1956 film version of ‘Moby Dick’ and TV series ‘The Twilight Zone.’
In 2007, Bradbury received a special Pulitzer Prize citation “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.”
Bradbury’s grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared his thoughts on his grandfather’s death with the Website io9.com.
“If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s memories about him,” he said.
“He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it’s always really touching and comforting to hear their stories.
“Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know.”
Many have taken to the Twittersphere to remember his work.
English screenwriter and novelist Mark Gatiss tweeted: “RIP Ray Bradbury. A dazzling, incredibly humane imagination like no other.”
TV personality Jonathan Ross posted: “The GREAT Ray Bradbury has left the planet. When I was younger I read no one else. Was lucky enough to shake his hand. R is for RIP.”
American film critic Roger Ebert tweeted: “Ray Bradbury has died. “The Pedestrian” is one of the most famous of all short stories. Read it here. Uncanny prophecy.”
Hollywood actress Mia Farrow also paid tribute – tweeting: “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. Ray Bradbury”
Twitter feeds have also been filling up with memorable Bradbury quotes, including: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them,” and: “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over & let the beautiful stuff out.”
Bradbury’s death was announced by his daughter Alexandra Bradbury, who gave no further details.
X Minus One was a 30 minute science fiction radio drama series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958
on NBC. It ran for a total of 125 episodes (episode guide) with one pilot or audition story.
Initially a revival of NBC’s Dimension X (1950–51), the first 15 episodes of X Minus One were new versions of Dimension X episodes but the stories for the remaining shows came from two of the most popular science fiction magazines at the time; Astounding and Galaxy. Adaptations of these stories were performed by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. They even wrote a few original stories of their own. The writers of the magazine stories were not well known then but now are the giants of today. These stories came from the minds of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Poul Anderson to name a few.
Included in the series were adaptations of Robert Sheckley’s “Skulking Permit,” Bradbury’s “Mars Is Heaven,” Heinlein’s “Universe” and “The Green Hills of Earth”, ” Pohl’s “The Tunnel under the World,” J. T. McIntosh’s “Hallucination Orbit,” Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air” and George Lefferts’ “The Parade.”
The program opened with announcer Fred Collins delivering the countdown, leading into the following introduction (although later shows were partnered with Galaxy Science Fiction rather than Astounding Science Fiction):
Countdown for blastoff… X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one… Fire! [Rocket launch SFX] From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you’ll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds.
The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction presents… X Minus One.
The series was canceled after the 126th broadcast on January 9, 1958. However, the early 1970s brought a wave of nostalgia for old-time radio; a new experimental episode, “The Iron Chancellor” by Robert Silverberg, was created in 1973, but it failed to revive the series.
NBC also tried broadcasting the old recordings, but their irregular once-monthly scheduling kept even devoted listeners from following the broadcasts.
This series has survived from its original airing in high quality to be enjoyed today on the Science Fiction and Supernatural Channel at the following times: Weekdays at 03:00, 14:30, 20:30 GMT – Saturdays at 10:00, 15:30 GMT and Sundays at 06:00 and 16:00 GMT
The facts surrounding the multi-decade, multi-generational success of Bob Hope are irrefutable. He was a resounding success — a true star — on the Broadway stage, in movies, on radio, and television, staying with NBC in the latter two ventures for over half-a-century. He appeared in over 70 movies in a film career that spanned four decades. He logged over six million miles entertaining troops in both war and peace time, becoming a goodwill ambassador to every country he traveled to. He became an American show business icon and perhaps one of the richest entertainers this country ever produced, the cable and video age notwithstanding.
Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS (born Leslie Townes Hope; May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-born American comedian and actor who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in radio, television and movies. He was also noted for his work with the US Armed Forces and his numerous USO shows entertaining American military personnel. Throughout his long career, he was honored for his humanitarian work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress honored Bob Hope by declaring him the “first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces.”
Hope was born in Eltham, London, England, the fifth of seven sons. His English father, William Henry Hope, was a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and his Welsh mother, Avis Townes, was a light opera singer from Barry, a small town outside Cardiff, Wales. The family emigrated to the United States aboard the SS Philadelphia, and passed inspection at Ellis Island on March 30, 1908. Hope became a U.S. citizen in 1920 at the age of 17.
From the age of 12, Hope worked at a variety of odd jobs at a local boardwalk. He would busk, doing dance and comedy patter to make extra money (frequently on the trolley to Luna Park). He entered many dancing and amateur talent contests (as Lester Hope), and won prizes for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. Hope also boxed briefly and unsuccessfully under the name Packy East (after the popular Packey McFarland), once making it to the semifinals of the Ohio novice championship.
Silent film comedian Fatty Arbuckle saw one of Hope’s performances with his first partner, Lloyd “Lefty” Durbin, and in 1925 got the pair steady work with Hurley’s Jolly Follies. Within a year, Hope had formed an act called the Dancemedians with George Byrne and the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who had a tap dancing routine. Hope and his partner, George Byrne, had an act as a pair of Siamese twins as well, and both danced and sang while wearing blackface, before friends advised Hope that he was funnier as himself. In 1929, he changed his first name to “Bob”. In one version of the story, he named himself after racecar driver Bob Burman. In another, he said he chose Bob because he wanted a name with a friendly “Hiya, Fellas!” sound to it.
Hope, like other stage performers, made his first films in New York. Educational Pictures employed him in 1934 for a short-subject comedy, Going Spanish. Hope sealed his fate with Educational when Walter Winchell asked him about the film. Hope cracked, “When they catch John Dillinger, they’re going to make him sit through it twice.” Educational fired him, but he was soon before the cameras at New York’s Vitaphone studio starring in 20-minute comedies and musicals from 1934 through 1936, beginning with Paree, Paree (1934).
Paramount Pictures signed Hope for the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938, also starring W. C. Fields. During a duet with Shirley Ross as accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra, Hope introduced the song later to become his trademark, “Thanks for the Memory”, which became a major hit and was praised by critics.
Hope became one of Paramount’s biggest stars, and would remain with the studio through the 1950s. Hope’s regular appearances in Hollywood films and radio made him one of the best known entertainers in North America, and at the height of his career he was also making a large income from live concert performances. He was both a world-class singer and dancer, introducing many major songs during the course of his career, including the Oscar-winning “Buttons and Bows” in The Paleface (1948), his biggest hit song by far, and he matched James Cagney’s bravura dancing during the tabletop showdown sequence in The Seven Little Foys (1955).
Bob Hope and the Clark Sisters – Button & Bows (October 14, 1948)
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As a movie star, he was best known for comedies like My Favorite Brunette and the highly successful “Road” movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hope had seen Lamour as a nightclub singer in New York, and invited her to work on his USO tours. Lamour is said to have arrived for filming prepared with her lines, only to be baffled by completely re-written scripts from Hope’s writers without studio permission. Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends, and she remains the actress most associated with his film career. The series consists of Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946), Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952), and The Road to Hong Kong (1962). Hope’s other leading ladies included Paulette Goddard, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Lucille Ball, Jane Russell, Betty Grable, Betty Hutton, Arlene Dahl, Rosemary Clooney, Eva Marie Saint, Rhonda Fleming, Lana Turner, Anita Ekberg, and Elke Sommer.
Hope’s informal teaming with Bing Crosby for the seven “Road” pictures from 1940 to 1962 and countless stage, radio, and television appearances together over the decades were critically important to Hope’s career. At the beginning of the “Road” series, Broadway star Hope was relatively little known nationally compared to Crosby, and was actually billed under Dorothy Lamour in the first film, while Crosby had already been a hugely popular singer and movie star for years. After the release of Road to Singapore (1940), Hope’s screen career immediately became white hot and stayed that way for over two decades, actually continuing until Cancel My Reservation (1972), his last theatrical starring role. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope became linked in public perception to the extent that it became difficult to think of one without the other even though they actually conducted predominately separate careers. They had planned one more movie together, The Road to the Fountain of Youth, until Crosby’s demise abruptly intervened.
Great Dance Routine: James Cagney and Bob Hope – Movie: The Seven Little Foys (1955)
Hope starred in fifty-two theatrical features altogether between 1938 and 1972, not to mention cameos and short films, and frequently stated that his movies were the most important part of his career. Some notable examples include College Swing (1938; with George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Betty Grable), Some Like It Hot (1939; with Shirley Ross and Gene Krupa), The Ghost Breakers (1940, with Paulette Goddard), The Paleface (1948; with Jane Russell), Sorrowful Jones (1949; with Lucille Ball), The Seven Little Foys (1955; with James Cagney as George M. Cohan), The Iron Petticoat (1956; with Katharine Hepburn), and Beau James (1957; with Hope as James J. Walker).
Hope first appeared on television in 1932 during a test transmission from an experimental CBS studio in New York. In January 1947, Hope was master of ceremonies for the first telecast by California’s first television station, KTLA. His career in broadcasting spanned 64 years and included a long association with NBC.
Hope made his network radio debut in 1937 on NBC. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, continuing as The New Swan Show in 1948 (for the same sponsor, Lever Brothers). After 1950, the series was known simply as The Bob Hope Show, with Liggett & Myers (1950–52), General Foods (1953) and American Dairy Association (1953–55) as his sponsors, until it finally went off the air in April 1955.
The Bob Hope Show (Pepsodent) with guest Frank Sinatra (1945)
In October 1996, Hope announced, via a press release, that he was ending his 60-year contract with NBC, joking that he “decided to become a free agent”. His final television special, Laughing with the Presidents, was broadcast in November 1996, with Tony Danza helping Hope present a personal retrospective of presidents of the United States known to the comedian. The special received mixed reviews, mostly due to the weakening appearance and speech of the 93-year old Hope. Bob Hope’s last TV appearance was in a 1997 K-Mart commercial directed by Penny Marshall.
Hope’s first wartime performance occurred at sea. Aboard the RMS Queen Mary when World War II began in September 1939, he went to the captain to volunteer to perform a special show for the panicked passengers, during which he sang “Thanks for the Memory” with rewritten lyrics. Hope performed his first United Service Organizations (USO) show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California. He continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II and later during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War. When overseas he almost always performed in Army fatigues as a show of support for his audience. Hope’s USO career lasted half a century, during which he headlined approximately 60 tours. For his service to his country through the USO, he was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1968.
A 1997 act of Congress signed by President Clinton named Hope an “Honorary Veteran.” He remarked, “I’ve been given many awards in my lifetime — but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most — is the greatest honor I have ever received.”
Hope appeared in so many theaters of war over the decades that it was often cracked (in Bob Hope style) that “Where there’s death, there’s Hope”.
As Hope entered his ninth decade, he showed no signs of slowing down and continued appearing in numerous television specials. He was given an 80th birthday party in 1983 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. which was attended by President Ronald Reagan. In 1985, he was presented with the Life Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors. He was presented with the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 1997 by Nancy Reagan. The following year, Hope was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Upon accepting the appointment, Hope quipped, “I’m speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I’m speechless.”
At the age of 95, Hope made an appearance at the 50th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar. Two years later, Hope was present at the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has immortalized Bob Hope’s life with two major exhibitions – “Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture” and “Bob Hope and American Variety.” Hope celebrated his 100th birthday on May 29, 2003. He is among a small group of notable centenarians in the field of entertainment. To mark this event, the intersection of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles, California was named Bob Hope Square and his centennial was declared Bob Hope Day in 35 states. Even at 100, Hope was said to have maintained his self-deprecating sense of humor, quipping, “I’m so old, they’ve canceled my blood type.” He converted to Roman Catholicism.
Hope had premature obituaries on two separate occasions. In 1998, a prepared obituary by The Associated Press was inadvertently released on the Internet, prompting Hope’s death to be announced in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2003 he was among several famous figures whose pre-written obituaries were published on CNN’s website because of a lapse in password protection.
Beginning in 2000, Hope’s health steadily declined and he was hospitalized several times before his death. In June 2000, he spent nearly a week in a California hospital after being hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding. In August 2001, he spent close to two weeks in the hospital recovering from pneumonia.
On July 27, 2003, Bob Hope died at his home in Toluca Lake at 9:28 p.m. According to the Soledad O’Brien interview with Hope’s grandson Zach Hope, when asked on his deathbed where he wanted to be buried, Hope told his wife, “Surprise me.” He was interred in the Bob Hope Memorial Garden at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles, where his mother is also buried.
Your can hear the Bob Hope Show every Sunday at 09:30 GMT on the American Comedy Channel
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