Old Time Radio

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How Ed Wynn Spent His $5,000-a-Week Radio Salary

Radio comedian Ed Wynn, star of The Fire Chief It certainly looks easy. All you have to do is walk into a studio, tell a few jokes, or sing a few songs, and walk out with five thousand dollars. Think of it: $5,000 for a half hour's work. Pretty soft! But is it? Is this business of being a radio star as easy as it looks? Is that whopping big weekly fee just so much pure gravy -- or does it take a lot of time and money to get up to the table, and is a lot of the gravy spilled on the way back? ... (read more)

Les Tremayne Got an Offer to Star in Movies 46 Years Too Late

Les Tremayne, star of The First Nighter radio show Although I had been playing various roles on Grand Hotel since 1933 and The First Nighter since 1934, my first audition to replace Don Ameche in both Grand Hotel and The First Nighter was on August 21, 1935. I was accepted as the lead on Grand Hotel and played it for a couple of years. This meant that I was already working for the same sponsor, the Campana Corp. But since The First Nighter was their bigger show of the two (and one of the ... (read more)

Hugh O'Brian Became Actor After Winning Blind Date with Virginia Mayo

Hugh O'Brian, television's Sheriff Wyatt Earp Hugh O'Brian took a deep breath as the car pulled up to the little funeral parlor. He knew that the others in the car were watching him out of the corners, of their eyes, to see if he'd begin to break down, begin to cry. But he took a deep breath and clenched his fists and he had a hard time not shouting out, "There aren't going to be any tears or any breaking down, folks -- because Mary isn't dead, Mary couldn't be dead, Mary couldn't really have ... (read more)

Dennis Morgan Began as a Radio and Sports Announcer

Dennis Morgan and his wife Lillian Vedder Always up to something, that was "Tuff" Morner. The first kid, if he could run fast enough, to smash the glass and blow the siren when somebody yelled "Fire!" First to grab the handles of the hose trailer and help the shouting, sweating men haul it the night the bank burned down. A busy kid, "Tuffy." Youngest trombone player in the city band, the boy tenor star of practically every get together and bang-up event in Southern Price County, Wisconsin. The ... (read more)

Andrews Sisters Never Took Singing Lessons

The Andrews Sisters: Maxene, Patty and LaVerne Everyone in the United States who doesn't need an ear trumpet has heard the Andrews Sisters. They're almost as inescapable as the ubiquitous Bing. And the effect of their mad chanting harmony is a lot more penetrating. Maxene, Patty and LaVerne (the order in which they invariably line up to have their pictures taken) first dazzled the open-mouthed jive world as jukebox queens, when they bansheed a record of the plaintive Jewish melody, "Bei Mir ... (read more)

Eddie Elkins and His Orchestra - May I (1934)

Eddie Elkins and His Orchestra recorded the song "May I" for the Rex label on April 26, 1934. Elkins, who also performed under the name The Knickerbocker Orchestra, was a San Francisco native who was among the first leaders of dance bands. With a keen eye for talent, Elkins hired and developed musicians including Tommy Dorsey, Oscar Levant and Red Nichols. Elkins and his band were featured in the 1929 Eddie Cantor movie Night on the Ziegfeld Roof. He retired to work in the stock ... (read more)

Eddie Cantor Writer Raymond Bowes Died in Plane Crash

Eddie Cantor Raymond Bowes, who wrote hundreds of scripts for Eddie Cantor during the golden age of radio, died on May 16, 1984, when the light plane he was piloting struck utility wires and crashed near the village of Bentley Creek in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He was 67. His sister Vivian Bowes told the Buffalo News that Raymond wrote 259 radio scripts for Cantor. "He and I wrote scripts for Eddie Cantor in Hollywood," she said. After two years he left California to return to flying. At ... (read more)

Lew Stone and His Band - Wings Over the Navy (1939)

Lew Stone and His Band recorded the song "Wings Over the Navy" with the singer Sam Browne for the Decca label on November 13, 1939. The personnel were Stone as director, Chick Smith and Bert Bullimore on trumpet, Lew Davis and Eric Tann on trombone, Joe Crossman, Jim Easton, Laurie Bookin, and Dan Barrigo on reeds, Bobby McGee on piano, Dan Perri on guitar, Arthur Maden on string bass and Jock Jacobson on drums. Stone was a jazz pianist, bassist, cellist, arranger, and dance band ... (read more)

'I Can't Stand Jack Benny' Contest Received 277,104 Entries

Jack Benny with judges in the I Can't Stand Jack Benny contest So you tore off a carton top? Visualizing thousand-dollar bank notes, shiny new automobiles and post-war electric refrigerators, you were a "goner"' before the announcer's pear-shaped vowels reached "in twenty-five words or less." On the back of the cart top you detailed in pulsating prose why you simply cannot exist without Fluffo Flakes. With fingers crossed, you dropped it in the corner mailbox and went home to wait for the ... (read more)

Jack Grose and His Metropole Players (Jay Wilbur) - Alone With My Dreams (1932)

Jack Grose and His Metropole Players performed the song "Alone With My Dreams" in London on September 6, 1932, for Eclipse records. The personnel included Jay Wilbur as director, Billy Farrell and Bill Shakespeare or Max Goldberg on trumpet, Ted Heath or Tony Thorpe on trombone, Laurie Payne, Jimmy Gordon, and George Clarkson on reeds, Norman Cole on violin, Billy Thorburn or Pat Dodd on piano, Bert Thomas on guitar, Harry Evans on string bass, Jack Kosky on drums, and Jack Plant on ... (read more)