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Hazel Dopheide's Journey From Chautauqua to Radio

Hazel Dopheide on the cover of Stand By magazine in 1935 Both the training school and the practical school of experience made Hazel Dopheide the finished actress whom radio listeners know. After graduating from the dramatics department of McKendree College and the School of Speech at Northwestern University, Hazel entered Chautauqua and lyceum work. This was shortly before the rise of radio and Chautauqua was in its heyday. At 18, Dopheide was billed as the youngest dramatic reader of plays on ... (read more)

The Old Maestro Ben Bernie Was a Lousy Violin Salesman

Ben Bernie, The Old Maestro, in 1932 It was really aversion to silence that resulted in the professional debut of Ben Bernie. Years ago, but not too many says the Old Maestro, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge in a tiny blacksmith shop, a son with a rhythmic cry was born. The father, a master smithy, wanted him to become an engineer, but the mother, a gentle-voiced little person who was sometimes discovered gazing entranced into a violin store window, held out for their son to be a musician. ... (read more)

Quin Ryan Broadcast the Scopes Trial on Radio

WGN broadcaster Quin Ryan Quin A. Ryan, manager of WGN Chicago. has had a colorful career including such vicissitudes as reporter, actor, sports correspondent, magazine editor, advertising man, syndicate humorist, columnist, feature announcer and station manager. Born in Chicago. Nov. 17, 1898, he divided his education between Loyola Academy. Northwestern University and the Old Essanay film studios. with early interest fixed in writing and acting. While in college he became sports correspondent ... (read more)

Bill Meredith, the Playwright of the Prairie

The WLS radio station logo in the 1930s When Bill Meredith and his best girl, Virginia Bauer, walked back and forth to Wheaton High School, they used to look longingly at a tiny house -- their dream house, they called it. Bill was planning to be an architect then and he saw the possibilities the little house had. Not many folks have their dreams come true when they are only 25 years old, but last fall shortly after Bill's 25th birthday, October 9, he and Virginia moved into their dream house, ... (read more)

John Hodiak: From Hamtramck to Hollywood

Radio and film actor John Hodiak in The Sellout (1952) It was the church plays, the high school dramas and John Hodiak's eagerness to spout speeches that got him hipped on the radio acting idea which finally paid off way out in Hollywood. Hodie had worked up such an oratorical rep around Hamtramck that when a campaigning candidate for Michigan's governorship hit Hamtramck, he stumped the place for him and got votes galore. "When I'm elected, son," promised the grateful statesman, "let me know ... (read more)

Jolly Joe Kelly Flooded with Letters from Pet Pals

WLS kids host Jolly Joe Kelly in 1935 "Tie a little string around your finger, so you'll remember me." Thus Jolly Joe Kelly to his Pet Pals each morning at 7:30 a.m. CST. And throughout the country, Joe's Palsie Walsies do remember him. From Tennessee to Ontario and from West Virginia to North Dakota, untold thousands of children start their days with Jolly Joe. That they love him goes without question. They write him wagonloads of mail. Through Joe's program, they exchange pets of all kinds ... (read more)

Obituary for Radio Drummer Roy C. Knapp

Drummer and percussion teacher Roy C. Knapp Roy C. Knapp, a network orchestra musician during radio's golden area in Chicago and a highly respected percussion teacher in the city for decades, died June 16, 1979, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He was 87. The cause of death was not released. Knapp was a longtime resident of Chicago's Near North Side. He was born on Oct. 26, 1891, in Waterloo, Iowa, where his father operated the town's first movie theater. Knapp could play several ... (read more)

Roy C. Knapp Followed the Beat of His Own Drum

A 1952 ad for the Roy C. Knapp School of Percussion A series of accidents led Roy Knapp Into the life of a professional musician. Of course, Knapp had been reared in music. His father was a violinist, and from his earliest days Knapp was taught to play the violin. Then he broke his left arm in such a way that, even after it healed, it was impossible for him to finger the strings of the violin. So he took up the trumpet. His father wanted Knapp to be a farmer, and several times Knapp was ... (read more)

Betty Lou Gerson, Star of Arnold Grimm's Daughter

Betty Lou Gerson in the movie The Red Menace (1950) When a little six-year-old kid named Betty Lou Gerson stopped the show back in Birmingham eighteen years ago during an amateur performance, the home folks predicted that someday she'd blaze her name along the footlight trails. And they might have been right about this child of the southland -- except for the fact that radio snatched her up before she had her feet firmly planted on the theatrical stage. For more than four years now, this ... (read more)

Jim and Marian Jordan Were the O'Henry Twins

Marian and Jim Jordan of Fibber McGee and Molly on NBC radio The velvet drop concealing the skinny legs of marimba said "Marian and Jim Jordan," and the names sparkled with all the fine, phony brilliance of a dancer's exit smile. The act on stage in this small-town theater was a harmony team -- the girl at the piano, the man leaning debonairly against it and singing a pleasant tenor to the girl's contralto. The keynote was a jaunty good cheer. They sang "When You're Smiling," and a comedy ... (read more)