Morris Littmann Brought the World Mountainville True Life Sketches

Photo of the Mountainville, New York, train station from around 1900
The Mountainville train station in around 1900

Out "thar" in the hills lies Mountainville. It is an ordinary village, nothing unusual about it -- it is just Mountainville! So typical was this quiet little hamlet nestled way up in the hills that Morris Littmann, owner of the Littmann Stores in New York City, sought to give the public in general a chance to see into this homey clump of houses and little businesses.

Littman spent his last summer's vacation in Mountainville to get the trend of life there. Upon his return to the metropolis early in the fall he conferred with Yolande Langworthy, the noted radio playwright, and she began the writing of a series of sketches built around the actual people of Mountainville. So it was that the Mountainville True Life Sketches were born.

For her players Langworthy called upon four members of the dramatic department of the Columbia System. Ten juvenile actors and actresses were selected from theatrical ranks after an exhaustive research for the proper types of the various parts.

The cast set, the company went into rehearsal and shortly announced the premiere of Mountainville. Mountainville did not "click" the first night, as the theatrical critics would have put it. It went on for four weeks with little or no attention. Then all of a sudden -- the way that these miracles in radio happen, the way that genius is discovered -- Mountainville hit the innermost recesses of hard-boiled New York's heart. Mountainville was widely acclaimed by mothers, fathers and their children from five to fifty years of age.

Littman, amid flowers in his private office, sat back and smiled.

Not satisfied with the mere success of his drama, Littman had another plan which, when worked out, would bring even more entertainment to his radio public. His idea was a Tiny Tots Theater of the Air. A miniature theater -- stage, orchestra pit, seats for the audience and all, even to the spotlights -- was erected in the world studio at CBS headquarters especially for Mountainville.

So large is the audience every week seeking admittance to the Tiny Tots Theater of the Air that Littman says he will build a large radio theater atop his new building on Broadway, now under construction. This, he asserts, will be opened to the public to witness the actual broadcasting of the Mountainville plays each week.

Bill Schudt Jr. in What's On the Air, February 1930

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