Old Time Radio

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The Opera Singer Lily Pons Lost 5 Pounds During Performances

The U.S. Lily Pons stamp from 1997 I've dressed numbers of opera stars but Lily Pons is the most glamorous and dynamic. I know she isn't a movie star and perhaps the editor will bawl me out for including her here, but I feel that enough people have heard her over the radio to be interested in her. Lily is a great shock at first because one thinks of opera singers as being robust and dramatic. Pons is very tiny -- I think her actual weight is a hundred and five pounds -- and she is as quiet and ... (read more)

Radio Broadcast of 1934 America's Cup Crossed the Globe

A model of the Endeavour, challenger in the 1934 America's Cup Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent, months of work have been devoted to obtaining and perfecting equipment -- all to the point that the greatest maritime sporting event on the yearly calendar, the America's Cup (International Yacht Races), may be brought to radio listeners in complete and thrilling detail. From the air, reporters will give accounts of the races as they circle above the competing yachts. On the water, ... (read more)

Martha Tilton Thought She Failed Benny Goodman Audition

Movie poster for Swing Hostess (1944) Sam, the man who made the pants too long, gave Martha Tilton her first job on an air show. Her singing suited the tailor man fine and he paid her the lordly sum of twenty-five dollars for her renditions over a Los Angles radio station-thousand watter KFAC. The day she got her first paycheck from the sponsor Martha rushed over to a department store and bought three items: a new hat, imitation pearls for her mother and a pink sweater for her dog who was ... (read more)

What Happened on Radio Soaps in December 1952

Augusta Dabney and William Prince in the TV series Young Dr. Malone (1958) Aunt Jenny: Two girls in love with the same man create a situation that can not help but lead to trouble for someone. In a recent story, Aunt Jenny told of a triangle made even more complicated by the fact that the two girls were identical twins. The Stillman girls not only looked alike, but acted alike and had led identical lives -- until Larry came along. What unexpected changes did love make for all three of them? ... (read more)

Roy Rogers Always Comes Home to Sky Haven Ranch

An ad for Roy Rogers' Double R brand toys from 1958 If he weren't the top Western star in the land, Roy Rogers could easily become a professional advisor to the world's parents. Roy gets between 80,000 and 90,000 letters each month from all over the globe, about half of which are written by parents asking Roy to write their children telling them to eat their cereal, drink their milk, go to bed on time or take medicine the doctor ordered. Since Roy is the ideal of all children, they follow his ... (read more)

Milwaukee Firemen Scale Musical Heights on Radio

Milwaukee's Engine Company No. 3 building in the 1920s Most people associate firemen with music only in connection with those two immortal ditties, "Fireman, Save My Child," and "Oh, for the Life of a Fireman." It's all wrong. The truth is that firemen -- Milwaukee firemen, that is are likely to be known in the future as challengers of the world in the catch-as-catch-can music, no holds barred and the winner to take all the purse. For they have burst into the radio firmament through the ... (read more)

Popeye Gave Up Spinach for Wheatena Toasted Wheat Cereal

Ad for Wheatena toasted wheat cereal from the 1930s Radio was a magical media for the children who heard it during its golden age. Just like the adults had their favorite programs, the small fry also had theirs. For the most part, these programs featured the children's favorite comic strip characters. Not only could they read about them in the Sunday newspaper, the children could also hear them live and in person over the airwaves. One of the comic strip characters is the subject of this ... (read more)

Texaco Star Theater Became Radio's Biggest Hit Show

Fred Allen, host of radio's Texaco Star Theater (sometimes called Texaco Star Theatre) How many persons throughout the United States wonder what has become of Theda Bara, most glamorous of the movie sirens of more than a decade ago? And how many others are intrigued by the idea of hearing the bewhiskered Santa Claus of Hollywood's famed Santa Claus Lane on the air; or George McManus, creator of the popular comic strip dealing with the doings of Jiggs and Maggie; or Tom Mix, hero of a thousand ... (read more)

Hedy Lamarr Saved Radio Show That Found Homes for Orphans

Movie poster for Nobody's Children (1944) I can tell you now the poignant story of how a complete half hour radio program was kept on the air for 13 weeks through one rather famous listener's impulsive and sentimental gesture. The story begins on a Sunday in July a year and a half ago, with the first broadcast over the Mutual network of a half hour program called Nobody's Children. Its studio setting was unique, for it broadcast from the reception room of the Children's Home Society of ... (read more)

David Freedman: How to Make Visual Comedians Funny on Radio

A memoir about Beatrice and David Freedman by their daughter-in-law Nancy Freedman It has been my good fortune as a radio writer to be associated with such stars as Eddie Cantor, Lou Holtz, Fanny Brice and Al Jolson. In every case I strove to transplant the magic personality of these stars to the medium of the air by creating a sound substitute for those qualities that were purely visual. Cantor's electric personality with eyes popping, hands vibrating and every part of his being reaching out ... (read more)