Frank Sinatra played Rocky Fortune

Rocky Fortune Radio Show

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Frank Sinatra played Rocky Fortune
Frank Sinatra played Rocky Fortune

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.

Episodes
# 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”)

25 Mar 30, 1954 “Boarding House Doublecross”

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X-Minus 1

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Galaxy Magazine

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.”

Ernest Kinoy

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.

George Lefferts with actress Kim Hunter.

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.

 

Episodes based on stories by famous writers

Philip K Dick – “The Defenders”, “Colony”

  An Interview with Philip K. Dick (1976)
Interview with Phillip Dick

Ray Bradbury – “And The Moon Be Still As Bright”, “Mars is Heaven”, “The Veldt”, “Dwellers in Silence”, “Zero Hour”, “To the Future”, “Marionettes, Inc.”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”

  X-Minus 1  – Mars is Heaven (1955-05-08)
http://archive.org/download/OTRR_X_Minus_One_Singles/XMinusOne55-05-08003MarsIsHeaven.mp3

Isaac Asimov – “Nightfall”, “C-Chute”, “Hostess”
Robert A. Heinlein – “Universe”, “The Green Hills of Earth”, “Requiem”, “The Roads Must Roll”
L. Sprague de Camp – “A Gun for a Dinosaur”

  X-Minus 1  – A Gun for a Dinosaur (1956-03-07)
http://archive.org/download/OTRR_X_Minus_One_Singles/XMinusOne56-03-07041AGunForDinosaur.mp3

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

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Dimension X

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Dimension X was an NBC radio program broadcast on an unsponsored, sustaining basis from April 8, 1950 to September 29, 1951. The first 13 episodes were broadcast live, and the remainder were pre-recorded. Fred Wiehe and Edward King were the directors, and Norman Rose was heard as both announcer and narrator (his famous opening: “Adventures in time and space- told in future tense…”)…

Preceded by Mutual’s 2000 Plus (1950–52), Dimension X was not the first adult science fiction series on radio, but the acquisition of previously published stories immediately gave it a strong standing with the science fiction community, as did the choice of well established, respected writers in the field: Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Robert A. Heinlein, Murray Leinster, H. Beam Piper, Frank M. Robinson, Clifford D. Simak, William Tenn, Jack Vance, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Williamson and Donald A. Wollheim.  Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts adapted most of the stories and also provided original scripts.

It was not until the 1950s that science fiction radio really hit its stride, even as science fiction was beginning to appear on television as well. Radio programs such as Mutual’s

Ray Bradbury was amongst many 'A List' Writers on the Show!

2000 Plus and NBC’s Dimension X were anthology series that offered a variety of exciting tales of future technology, with a special focus on space exploration (including alien invasion), though both series also often reflected contemporary anxieties about the dangers of technology.

The series opened with “The Outer Limit,” an Ernest Kinoy adaptation of Graham Doar’s short story from The Saturday Evening Post (December 24, 1949), about alien contact. A week later (April 15, 1950), the program presented Jack Williamson’s most famous story, “With Folded Hands,” first published in the July 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.

With a five-month hiatus from January 1951 to June 1951, the series spanned 17 months. All 50 episodes of the series survived and can be heard today on the Science Fiction Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network. Later, NBC’s X Minus One (1955–58) utilized many of the same actors and scripts.

Listen NOW…. to an episode of Dimension X!

Dimension X – The Green Hills of Earth – Written by Robert A. Heinlein (adapted by Ernest Kinoy)

The Green Hills of Earth

 

Kurt Vonnegut wrote for Dimension X

 

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