Frank Sinatra played Rocky Fortune

Rocky Fortune Radio Show

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
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”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90

The Martin and Lewis Show

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis

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.

Inset “Skinny” D’Amato, owner of the 500 Club

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.

  The Martin & Lewis Show from 7th July 1953, guest Marlene Dietrich
MartinLewisShow530707_108_MarleneDietrich

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.

[nggallery id=3]

Copacabana Club

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.

Movie Poster from My Friend Irma

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 & Lewis Show from the 19th October, 1951, guest Bing Crosby
MartinLewisShow511019_040_BingCrosby

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90

Gracie Allen

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen

Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen (July 26, 1895 – August 27, 1964), known as Gracie Allen, was an American comedian who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns.

Gracie Allen was born in San Francisco, California, to George Allen and Molly Darragh, who were of Irish Catholic extraction. She made her first appearance on stage at age three and was given her first chance On Air by Eddie Cantor. She was educated at the Star of the Sea Convent School and during that time became a talented dancer. She soon began performing Irish folk dances with her three sisters, who were billed as “The Four Colleens.” In 1909 Allen joined her sister, Bessie, as a vaudeville performer. At a performance in 1922 Allen met George Burns and the two formed a comedy act. The two were married on January 7, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Burns & Allen

The Burns and Allen act began with Allen as the straight man, setting up Burns to deliver the punchlines — and get the laughs. In his book Gracie: A Love Story Burns later explained that he noticed Allen’s straight lines were getting more laughs than his punchlines, so he cannily flipped the act over —- he made himself the straight man and let her get the laughs. Audiences immediately fell in love with Allen’s character, who combined the traits of stupidity, zaniness, and total innocence.

In the early 1930s, like many stars of their era, Burns and Allen graduated to radio. The show was originally a continuation of their original “flirtation act” (as their vaudeville and short film routines had been). Burns realized that they were simply too old for that material (“Our jokes were too young for us”, he later remarked) and changed the show’s format in the fall of 1941 into the situation comedy vehicle for which they are best remembered: a working show business married couple negotiating ordinary problems caused by Gracie’s “illogical logic,” usually with the help of neighbors Harry and Blanche Morton, and their announcer, Bill Goodwin.

Jack Benny - Good friend and frequent guest star on the Burns & Allen Show

Around 1948 Burns and Allen became part of the CBS talent raid. Their good friend (and frequent guest star) Jack Benny had decided to jump from NBC over to CBS. William S. Paley, the mastermind of CBS, had recently made it openly clear that he believed talent and not the network made the difference, which was not the case at NBC. Benny convinced Burns and Allen (among others) to join him in the move to CBS. The Burns and Allen radio show became part of the CBS lineup and a year later they also brought their show to television. They continued to use the formula which had kept them longtime radio stars, playing themselves only now as television stars, still living next door to Harry and Blanche Morton. They concluded each show with a brief dialogue performance in the style of their classic vaudeville and earlier radio routines.

Allen retired in 1958, and Burns tried to soldier on without her. The show was re-named The George Burns Show with the cast intact except for Allen. The locale of the show was changed from the Burns home to George Burns’ office, with Blanche Morton working as Burns’ secretary so she could help Allen keep an eye on him. Allen’s absence was only too obvious and impossible to overcome. The renamed show barely lasted a year.

Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again

Gracie Allen fought a long battle with heart disease, ultimately dying of a heart attack in Hollywood in 1964. She was interred in a crypt at the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Burns was interred at her side when he died 32 years later. (“Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again,” reads the engraving on the marker.

 

Burns & Allen – Gracie treats George like a King (15th May, 1947)
470515_Gracie_treats_George_like_a_King

Burns & Allen – Francis Langford – Vacation Plans (29th May, 1947)
470529_Francis_Langford__Vacation_Plans

Listen to Gracie Allen in the Burns & Allen Show on the American Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!

Happy Listening 🙂

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90

Dimension X

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90

Mel Blanc – Man of a Thousand Voices!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Man of a Thousand Voices - Mel Blanc

Born on May 30th 1908, Mel Blanc was an American voice actor and comedian. He began his six-decade-long career performing in radio commercials, but Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. during the “Golden Age of American animation” (and later for Hanna-Barbera television productions) as the voice of such well-known characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, Speed Buggy, Captain Caveman, Heathcliff, Speedy Gonzales, Elmer Fudd and hundreds of others. Having earned the nickname “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Blanc is regarded as one of the most influential people in the voice-acting industry.

Blanc was born Melvin Jerome Blank in San Francisco, California, to Frederick and Eva Blank. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, attending Lincoln High School. He claimed that when he was 16, he changed the spelling from “Blank” to “Blanc” because a teacher told him that he would amount to nothing and be, like his name, a “blank”. Blanc joined The Order of DeMolay as a young man, and was eventually inducted into its Hall of Fame.

Radio Career

Melvin Jerome Blank aka Mel Blanc

Blanc began his radio career in 1927 as a voice actor on the KGW program The Hoot Owls, where his ability to provide voices for multiple characters first attracted attention. He moved to KEX in 1933 to produce and host his Cobweb And Nuts show which lasted for two-years.

Blanc then moved to KFWB in Hollywood, California, in 1935. He joined The Johnny Murray Show, but the following

year switched to CBS Radio and The Joe Penner Show. Blanc was a regular on the The Jack Benny Program in various roles, including voicing Benny’s Maxwell automobile (in desperate need of a tune-up), violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the Parrot, Benny’s pet polar bear Carmichael, the tormented department store clerk, and the train announcer .

One of Blanc’s most memorable characters from Benny’s radio (and later TV) programs was “Sy, the Little Mexican”, who spoke one word at a time. The famous “Sí…Sy…sew…Sue” routine was so effective that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there, thanks to the comedic timing of Blanc and Benny.

Benny’s writers would regularly try to “stump” Blanc by asking him to perform supposedly impossible vocal effects and characterizations, such as an “English horse whinny” and a goldfish. For the latter, Mel walked up to the microphone and pursed his lips several times, making no noise.

The Mel Blanc Show

Jack Benny

Blanc’s success on The Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS Radio Network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946, to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner of a fix-it shop, as well as his young cousin Zookie (who sounded quite a bit like Porky Pig).

Many episodes required Mel to impersonate an exotic foreigner or other stranger in town, ostensibly for carrying out a minor deception on his girlfriend’s father, but of course simply as a vehicle for him to show off his talents. Other regular characters were played by Mary Jane Croft, Joseph Kearns, Hans Conried, Alan Reed, Earle Ross, Jim Backus, Bea Benaderet and The Sportsmen Quartet, who would supply a song and sing the Colgate Tooth Powder commercials. (Blanc would later work with Reed and Benaderet on The Flintstones.) Shows usually adhered to a predictable formula, involving a date with his girl Betty Colby (Mary Jane Croft) and trying to either impress her father or at least avoid angering him. However, Mr. Colby (Earle Ross) usually had occasion to deliver his trademark line, “Mel Blanc, I’m going to break every bone in your body!”

Mel's Girlfriend played by Mary Jane Croft

Blanc also appeared frequently on The Great Gildersleeve, the Abbott and Costello Show, Burns and Allen, and as August Moon on Point Sublime.

For his contribution to radio, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard.

Blanc died on July 10, 1989 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California of heart disease and emphysema. He was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc’s will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, “THAT’S ALL FOLKS.”

Blanc’s death was considered a significant loss to the cartoon industry because of his skill, expressive range, and sheer volume of continuing characters he portrayed, which are currently taken up by several other voice talents.

Indeed, as movie critic Leonard Maltin once pointed out, “It is astounding to realize that Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam are the same man!”

Listen to the amazing voices of Mel Blanc on the American Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network.

Episode

The Thanksgiving Party from the 26th November 1946

The Mel Blanc Show 1946-11-26 Epidose 13 The Thanksgiving Party

 

Mel Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989)
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90

Theater Royal

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Sir Laurence Olivier

New to the Adventure, Drama and Western Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network, Theater Royal!

The undertaking was tenuous, since the schedules of its projected stars were still in flux at the time the series aired its first broadcast from London. As the series ultimately developed it broke down into three distinct sub-runs: Season One hosted by Sir Laurence Olivier, Season Two hosted by Sir Ralph Richardson and a six-program ‘Command Performance’ series of rebroadcasts.

Season One — Sir Laurence Olivier Hosts

As it turned out, Sir Laurence was able to host only twenty-six of the scheduled thirty-nine programs before having to return with his bride to Great Britain. Sir Laurence’s great friend and thespian, Sir Ralph Richardson generously agreed to complete the remaining commitment, hosting and performing in many of the thirteen more programs, in various starring and supporting roles.

A network-sustained production, NBC spared no expense ensuring that both Sir Laurence and Sir Ralph had the finest support they could require to mount their 39-drama anthology.

NBC inaugurated the series in extraordinary fashion with Orson Welles starring in Alexander Pushkin’s ‘Queen of Spades’ with Laurence Olivier introducing the series from London’s Haymarket Theatre.

Haymarket Theater London

Sir Laurence continued to introduce the first six weeks of program selections until Week #7, when Sir Laurence himself was finally able to appear in one of his own series’ productions–in this instance, The Purse.

Sir Laurence continued to occasionally appear in his own hosted Theatre Royal programs until Episode #26, The Snow Goose, which Sir Laurence announced as “the last in this series. . . .” Though giving every impression that this was indeed the end of the series, NBC quickly and seamlessly recovered the series by the following week.

Season Two — Sir Ralph Richardson Hosts

Sir Ralph Richardson inaugurated Season Two with his own performance of Colonel Peregrine in The Colonel’s Lady.

Sir Ralph Richardson

Sir Ralph appeared in most of the Theatre Royal, Season Two broadcasts he hosted. The transition from Sir Laurence’s hosted Season One to Sir Ralph’s Season Two was fairly seamless for the most part. Though clearly not what NBC had originally envisioned for the series, the long-standing professional and personal relationship between Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud served the series well.

The combination of the above mentioned personal and professional relationships made for a wonderful breadth and depth of the dramatic offerings from Theatre Royal for all thirty-nine original productions from both Seasons One and Two.

The Six Theatre Royal ‘Command Performances’

Upon the departure of both of the hosts of Theatre Royal, the producers arrived at the notion of airing six ‘Command Performances’ to complete the scheduled series of broadcasts. The ‘Command Performances’ were:

  • Queen of Spades with Orson Welles
  • The Overcoat with Michael Redgrave
  • The Happy Hypocrite with Sir John Gielgud
  • The Sire de Maletroit’s Door with Robert Donat and Renee Asherson
  • The Judgement with Trevor Howard
  • The Country of the Blind with Sir Laurence Oliver

The six ‘Command Performance’ episodes were separate and distinct from the two hosted runs of Theatre Royal. The way to determine if you have one–or all– of the six Command Performance recordings is from the introduction, which states: “This is the First [Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, or Last] in this important series of Command Performances . . .”.

Summary

The Last Command Performance broadcast marked the end of the Theatre Royal series. The combination of the above mentioned personal and professional relationships made for a wonderful breadth and depth of the dramatic offerings from Theatre Royal for all thirty-nine original productions from both Seasons One and Two.

This was an historic anthology by any measure. The famous ‘four knights’ of the English Stage–Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Alec Guiness–were four of the most influential actors on the world stage, let alone the English stage. These four amazing actors were also four of America’s most loved actors. The opportunity to hear thirty-nine broadcasts, specifically devoted to these four great actors and their friends and associates was a remarkable opportunity–moreso since it arrived so late in The Golden Age of Radio.

Listen to Dr Jekyl & Mr. Hyde from Theater Royal, first broadcast on the 30th January 1954: Click Here To Listen

Happy Listening 🙂

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90

Boston Blackie – Friend to those who have no friend!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Boston Blackie is a fictional character created by author Jack Boyle (born before 1880; died circa 1928). Originally a jewel thief and safecracker in Boyle’s novels, he became a detective in adaptations for films, radio and television—an “enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend.”

Jack Boyle’s stories first appeared in the early 20th Century. “The Price of Principle” was a short story in the July 1914 issue of The American Magazine. Boyle’s character also turned up in Cosmopolitan. In 1917, Redbook published the novelette “Boston Blackie’s Mary,” and the magazine brought the character back with “The Heart of the Lily” (February, 1921). Boyle’s stories were collected in the book Boston Blackie (1919), which was reprinted in 1979 by Gregg Press. Boyle died in 1928.

The Boston Blackie radio series  began June 23, 1944, on NBC as a summer replacement for Amos ‘n’ Andy.

Lesley Woods appeared as Blackie's girlfriend

Sponsored by Rinso, the series continued until September 15 of that year. Unlike the concurrent films, Blackie had a steady romantic interest in the radio show: Lesley Woods appeared as Blackie’s girlfriend Mary Wesley. Harlow Wilcox was the show’s announcer.

On April 11, 1945, Richard Kollmar portrayed Blackie in a radio series syndicated by Frederick Ziv to Mutual and other network outlets. Over 200 episodes of this series were produced between 1944 and October 25, 1950. Other sponsors included Lifebuoy Soap, Champagne Velvet beer and R&H beer. While investigating mysteries, Blackie invaribly encountered harebrained Police Inspector Farraday (Maurice Tarplin) and always solved the mystery to Farraday’s amazement.

Initially, friction surfaced in the relationship between Blackie and Farraday, but as the series continued, Farraday recognized Blackie’s talents and requested assistance. Blackie dated Mary Wesley (Jan Miner), and for the first half of the series, his best pal Shorty was always on hand. The humorless Farraday was on the receiving end of Blackie’s bad puns and word play.

You can listen to the adventures of Boston Blackie on the Crime, Suspense & Horror Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network.  Happy Listening 🙂

Maurice Tarplin played Farraday
Richard Kollmar played Blackie

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
HC728x90