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Old-time radio

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Fozzie-radio
Fozzie listening to a vintage radio set in "Fozzie Goes Overboard"
(First published: Jim Henson's Bedtime Stories)
Muppetbroadcastingcompany
Baby Kermit hosts a broadcast
Dreamchildradio
The cast of an American radio drama, as depicted in Dreamchild
Martians.Radio
Raaa-dii-o.
Theweirdo
Only the Weirdo knows.
ABCbook-R
Rodeo Rosie and friends dance around a radio, styled after the Philco cathedral models
Guysmiley-otr
Guy Smiley as radio announcer
Fibbermcgeecast
Gale Gordon as Mayor LaTrivia and Jim Jordan as Fibber broadcasting Fibber McGee and Molly in a Muppet Babies clip.
Misspiggy-radio
Miss Piggy's old-style radio, along with her Kit-Cat Klock, in "The Garage Sale"
Bert old fashioned radio
Bert listening to his favorite radio program.

Old-time radio (OTR) is a phrase frequently used by scholars, fans, and companies to refer to a period in American broadcasting history, from roughly 1926 to 1962, when radio was a dominant entertainment medium. While modern radio is dominated by music stations, newscasts, and call-in talk shows, "old-time radio" featured a wide range of programming.

"Old-time radio" encompassed situation comedies, variety shows, game shows, anthology series, dramas, serials, and live band performances. Soap opera as a form originated in radio, and such programs as The Guiding Light went on to equally long runs on television. Other radio series which successfully transferred to TV include Gunsmoke, Dragnet, and The Lone Ranger. Mellifluous announcers, live sound effects (often created through household implements), and dramatic tag openings characterized the programming of this period. Contrary to the impression that old radio was always "tamer" than television, sound men on mystery programs employed such techniques as chopping a head of cabbage with a machete to simulate decapitation, or grilling bacon to suggest searing flesh.

The phrase "old-time radio" has also been applied to programs of like vintage from England (such as The Goon Show), Australia, or Canada, but less frequently since radio has largely retained the same basic scope and significance in these countries, with the BBC still producing regular dramatic series, adaptations, and sitcoms. Within the United States, with the exceptions of occasional revivals, mostly as syndicated series, and sporadic dramas on NPR, radio programming of this stripe is relegated to the past, but made available through record, tape and CD collections, online archives, regional re-broadcasts, live recreations, and satellite radio channels.

Arguably the last network radio comedy was The Stan Freberg Show on CBS in 1957. Most soap operas ended in 1960, as the genre moved to television. The mystery series Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar both ceased in the fall of 1962. Thus, Jim Henson grew up during the tail-end of the radio era, and was exposed to such series as The Shadow and The Green Hornet.[1]

Influence

The announcing style used on these programs was largely adopted by Jerry Nelson, as the announcer on The Muppet Show and in other productions. Nelson recalled his fondness for old-time radio and how it influenced him in multiple interviews with his local NPR station: "I think I just really loved the introductions to things, you know. [in announcer voice:] 'Lamont Cranston, while in the Orient, learned to cloud men's minds.' And he, of course, was The Shadow, Lamont Cranston... Those kinds of things, and Sgt. Preston of the Royal Mounties, I think it was [note 1], and the Old-Timer on Fibber McGee and Molly [1935-1959]... They were things you would wait for every week, you knew it was going to happen some time in the show... Formulas like that. Mel Blanc was great, of course, he was in a lot of radio shows." [2]

Caroll Spinney has also discussed how radio influenced him: "My big influence as a child was, particularly, I think my favorite radio show was Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. And it was hard to believe, I knew that Edgar did Charlie but it's hard, you still, everybody, grown-ups accepted Charlie was real. He was just wonderful... All of radio was a big influence on me. Radio was kind of great because the stories were, seemed just as good as television, and a matter of fact the pictures were better. All they'd have to do was say, "Gee, Billy, look at that castle!" [woosh sound] You had the sound. "Why it goes right up into the clouds!" And I saw that. And later on when TV started, they couldn't afford to build a castle that went right up into the clouds, it looked like a crappy little castle... There was a show that ended when the star of it had to go off to war and join the Navy, Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou. Nobody's ever heard of it, it seems, it wasn't big like Edgar Bergen. Betty Lou was a voice he did, it was the sweetest little girl's voice. I think I saw a picture once, and he had a cute little... I don't know whether he did it as a ventriloquist's dummy or did it while he was on the air for them or just did the voice and reading off the sheet like they usually did.[note 2] I don't know how it was done, except I'll never forget the Christmas Eve show, she was just too excited to go to bed... I just thought it was the most wonderful show I'd ever heard... I loved Burns and Allen, and Henry Aldrich, I listened to them all. And Blondie: "Ah, ah, ah! Don't touch that dial! Listen to... BLONDIE!" [imitates Arthur Lake as Dagwood]. I've gotten to sit with Blondie [Penny Singleton], she was seventy-six, twenty-one years ago... When television began, none of it was as good as radio had been." [3]

In addition, such long-time radio staples as Bob Hope, Edgar Bergen, and George Burns were guest stars on The Muppet Show, and subsequent Muppet/Creature Shop productions would occasionally reference or pay homage to old-time radio, either individual programs, or as a collective entity.

References

  • Well into the 1980s, on most occasions when Muppets would listen to radios (on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show or in books), the radio in question would be an old-fashioned wooden model, often with glowing dial, resembling the famous RCA or Philco models. A typical example occurs when the Martians discover what a radio is. (EKA: Episode 2283) This breakthrough in interplanetary communications occurred years after national radio audiences discovered Martians (through the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcasts).
  • An old-fashioned radio is also a regular part of the furnishings in Doc's workshop on Fraggle Rock. However, for practical listening purposes, Doc usually utilizes newer or home-made experimental models.
  • In Hey Cinderella!, the Fairy Godmother wears a mask to the ball, saying she received it from a friend, a "very generous fellow... wanted to lend me his faithful Indian companion as well" a reference to The Lone Ranger, which began life on radio at station WXYZ on January 31, 1933.
  • In The Great Santa Claus Switch, when Fred the Elf is taken prisoner, he claims that he is not merely a "mild-mannered" toy builder, but "Super Elf, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." This text is from the opening narration of The Adventures of Superman radio serial (1940-1951), which starred Clayton "Bud" Collyer as Superman, and used in several subsequent versions. A variation of the spiel was also used in many Super Grover installments.
  • Sesame Street frequently referenced old-time radio shows specifically, from Dragnet to You Are There, but often incorporated elements and phrases, particularly in the style of the announcers and use of organ music, as well as merging aspects of various shows.
  • One notable example is Granny Fanny Nesslerode's "Answer Lady" skits. Her announcer (Jerry Nelson, using a New England twang), brings the show from "her cozy, sunfilled kitchen in Goat Corners, New Hampshire." The intro, cozy kitchen setting, and interaction between Granny and the announcer are all derived from Aunt Jenny's Real-Life Stories, a soap opera which ran from 1937-1956 in which Aunt Jenny would tell the announcer a weekly serialized story. However, the skit intro also recalls the Bob and Ray parody of Aunt Jenny, Aunt Penny's Sunlit Kitchen, and the advice format comes from many radio shows, notably John J. Anthony's The Goodwill Hour (1937-1953).
  • Some of Lefty's catchphrases and personality reflect a composite of two radio characters, "The Tout" from The Jack Benny Program and "The Salesman," played by Eddie Marr on Jack Carson's The Camel Comedy Caravan in 1943. The Tout would greet Jack Benny in a breathy, gangster-style undertone, the tout would say "Hey, bud... c'mere a minute," to which Jack would usually respond "Who, me?" (echoed by Ernie in many sketches). Eddie Marr's salesman character had as his catchphrase "Tell ya what I'm gonna do." The Lefty/Ernie story "Ernie Buys a 12" (First published: Big Bird's Busy Book) includes examples of all of these phrases.
  • In an Ernie and Bert sketch, Bert is listening to Pigeons in the News, his favorite radio program. The series and its announcer (Jerry Nelson) imitate the style of Walter Winchell's radio news series (1931-1957), using a telegraph key sound to transition between stories and phrases like "Dateline Cleveland." (SSvideo) In The Sesame Street Dictionary, Bert can be seen listening to a similar program on his radio.
  • Also in The Sesame Street Dictionary, in the entry for the word "ever," Guy Smiley is seen as a radio announcer, narrating the adventures of Marshal Grover and ending on a cliffhanger note, in the style of The Lone Ranger or especially the many radio adventure serials.
  • On The Muppet Show episode 422, Andy Williams briefly tells Scooter how he got his start in show business, singing with his brothers as a quartet on the radio in Iowa (although not specified in the episode, station WHO's Iowa Barn Dance to be precise).
  • In Dreamchild, while visiting New York City, Alice Hargreaves sits in on an old-time radio broadcast, an adventure drama. The sound man (Ken Campbell) employs coconut shells as horse hooves, a common trope in the radio era. Mrs. Hargreaves subsequently delivers a radio commercial, playing on her reputation as "Alice in Wonderland."
  • The Muppet Babies episode "The Muppet Broadcasting Company" featured an extended salute to old-time radio, as the Babies imagine themselves in versions of such diverse series as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Captain Midnight, The Shadow, George Burns and Gracie Allen, the big band broadcasts of Duke Ellington, and more. Clip footage briefly appeared showing the cast and crew of the sitcom Fibber McGee and Molly, including actors Jim Jordan (Fibber) and Gale Gordon (Mayor LaTrivia) and the sound man creating the famous closet gag (as junk tumbles from Fibber's hall closet).
  • The unproduced video script Campfire Songs notes that the character of Hoss the horse would speak like Western actors Chill Wills, Slim Pickens, "or Fred Allen's senator Klaghorn." The latter refers to the character of Senator Claghorn from Fred Allen's "Allen's Alley" radio segments (who also partially inspired the Looney Tunes character Foghorn Leghorn).
  • The first season Dog City episode "Radio Daze" involved Ace Hart in a crime wave at radio station WFIDO, involving attacks on the cast and crew of the soap opera "It's a Dog's Life." The title references a trend in the titles of most radio soap operas (Road of Life, Life Can Be Beautiful, , The culprit turns out to be the enraged sound effects man. The episode also references Orson Welles (as announcer Orson Welp). A favorite radio show mentioned by Mr. MacTaggart is The Creaking Kennel, a reference to horror show Inner Sanctum (1941-1952) and its famous creaking door opening.
  • In "Elmo's World: Books," the Book Channel promotes "Our Miss Books," referencing the radio sitcom Our Miss Brooks (1948-1957), which also ran concurrently on TV from 1952-1956, with most of the same cast (including Gale Gordon).

Connections

207-16
Bergen and McCarthy, two of radio's biggest stars, on The Muppet Show
322-18
Roy Rogers, with Dale Evans, utters his radio closing signature: "Goodnight, good luck, and may the good Lord take a likin' to ya."
Orsonwelles-radio
Orson Welles, in his CBS radio days and then as Lew Lord in The Muppet Movie
Lorettaclemens-otr
Radio vocalist Loretta Clemens in a 1935 publicity pic, left, and as she appeared decades later on Sesame Street as recurring visitor Mrs. Trump
Donknotts-otr
Don Knotts as Windy Wales on Bobby Benson in the 1950s, and on The Muppet Show

Several people who worked behind the scenes with the Muppets were directly related to radio personalities.

  • Bernie Brillstein's uncle was Jack Pearl (1894-1982). Pearl, a former vaudevillian, created the character of Baron von Munchaussen, teller of tall-tales and incorrigible liar, on The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air (1932), and soon headlined his own series, under various names, until 1937, with revivals up until 1954, culminating in the quiz show The Baron and the Bee
  • Jeff Moss's father, Arnold Moss (1909-1989) played various character roles on the soap operas Jane Arden (1938-1939) and Against the Storm (1939-1940); served as "the Speaker," the deity-like narrator on The Light of the World (1947); played villains and aliens on The Adventures of Superman (1950s); and was a regular as Col. Lesko on Cafe Istanbul (1952-1953), among others.
  • Tom Whedon's father, John Whedon (1905-1991) was a staff writer on The Great Gildersleeve (1941-1947) and also wrote for Edgar Bergen's The Chase & Sanborn Hour (ca. 1937) and the sitcom Hogan's Daughter (1949).

In addition, many guest stars on The Muppet Show and in movies, plus others with Muppet connections, had widespread experience from the "golden age of radio," or in more recent old-time style revivals.

  • Eddie Albert was a rotating lead star on The NBC Radio Theater (1959-1960; sometimes listed as Five Star Matinee or Morning Matinee) and guest starred on Spike Jones' Lifebuoy Show (1943), The Cavalcade of America (1948) and others
  • Steve Allen began as a radio announcer in 1942, starred on Smile Time (ca. 1945-1947), had a disc jockey show Breaking All Records in 1947, and starred in the CBS summer replacement series It's a Great Life (1948) and other summer slots in 1950 and 1952, and briefly from October to January (1952-1953).
  • Fred Astaire starred on The Packard Hour (1936-1937)
  • Lauren Bacall played Sailor Duval on Bold Venture (1951-1952)
  • Jim Backus played Hubert Updyke III on The Alan Young Show (1944-1947, 1949), on his own sitcom The Jim Backus Show (1947), and in guest spots on The Bob Hope Show (1954-1955) and others; also played Hartley Benson on The Mel Blanc Show (1946-1947), dramatic roles on Suspense (supporting parts in 1946, leads in two episodes, 1959 and 1962), the host of The Great Talent Hunt (1948), Rumson Bullard on The Great Gildersleeve (ca. 1952), starred on a second Jim Backus Show (1957, comedy variety), and many others
  • Pearl Bailey guest starred on various variety and music series, including Command Performance (1944), The Kraft Music Hall (1945), and Alec Templeton Time (1946)
  • Batman and Robin were semi-regulars on The Adventures of Superman (1941-1951) and starred in an audition show (pilot), The Batman Mystery Club (1950)
  • Harry Belafonte guest starred on several musical series, including Stagestruck (1953-1954), Guest Star (between 1955 and 1958), and others
  • Jack Benny starred on The Jack Benny Program (1932-1955)
  • Candice Bergen appeared on The New Edgar Bergen Hour (1955)
  • Edgar Bergen, along with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, starred on The Chase and Sanborn Hour (1937-1939), The Charlie McCarthy Show (1940-1954), and The Edgar Bergen Hour (1954-1955)
  • Frances Bergen made guest appearances on The New Edgar Bergen Hour (1955) and The Jack Benny Program (1956)
  • Milton Berle starred on Three Ring Time (1941) and The Milton Berle Show (1943-1945, 1947-1948)
  • Elmer Bernstein composed music for the Army Air Forces series Coming Home (1945)
  • Victor Borge was a regular on The Kraft Music Hall (1942-1943) and starred in The Victor Borge Show (1943, 1945, 1946-1947, 1951)
  • Roscoe Lee Browne played a native in The CBS Radio Workshop episode "The Endless Road" (1956)
  • Carol Burnett starred on The Carol Burnett-Richard Hayes Show (1961-1962)
  • George Burns starred with wife Gracie Allen first on The Guy Lombardo Show (1932-1934) and then on Burns and Allen (also known as The Adventures of Gracie, Maxwell House Coffee Time and other sponsor-based titles, 1934-1955)
  • Ralph Burns played piano and arranged on The Woody Herman Show (1945-1947)
  • Raymond Burr played Inspector Hellman on Pat Novak for Hie (1949), Chief Ed Backstrand on Dragnet (ca. 1949-1950), starred as Capt. Lee Quince on Fort Laramie (1956) and appeared in episodes of Suspense (1948-1959), Yours Truly Johnny Dollar (1950-1956), The CBS Radio Workshop (1956-1957, various roles including Abraham Lincoln), and others
  • Abe Burrows wrote for many radio series, including the John Barrymore skits on The Rudy Vallee Show (ca. 1940-1943), Duffy's Tavern (as head writer, 1941), The Danny Kaye Show (1945-1946), Texaco Star Theater, Joan Davis Time (ca. 1947) and others, and starred on The Abe Burrows Show (aka Breakfast with Burrows, 1947-1949) and was the entertainment commentator on Hear It Now (1950)
  • Daws Butler played Hugh McHugh on That's Rich (1954), Bob Tainter and others on The Stan Freberg Show (1957), and various roles on Family Theatre, CBS Radio Workshop, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, and others.
  • Cab Calloway starred in band remote series in 1941 and 1942, performed in the band for The Bill Stern Sports Newsreel, and guest starred on Command Performance (1943) and The Chamber Music Society Of Lower Basin Street (1944), among others
  • Peter Capell appeared on over one hundred radio broadcasts, playing various roles on Words at War (1943-1945), FBI Agent Anton Kamp on Wendy Warren and the News (ca. 1947-1957), Officer Connolly on When a Girl Marries (1947), Prince Paul and others on Stella Dallas (ca.1944-1950s), Dr. Horst in the Ray Bradbury adaptation "Mars Is Heaven" (on Dimension X, 1950 and 1951, and X Minus-One, twice in 1955), and many others
  • Kitty Carlisle was the hostess and featured singer on Coca-Cola's Song Shop (1937)
  • Art Carney played Franklin Delano Roosevelt on The March of Time (ca. 1939-1944) and other series, various roles on Gangbusters (1935-1957), the Athlete on The Henry Morgan Show (1946-1947), Billy Oldham on Joe and Ethel Turp (1943), Red Lantern on the children's series Land of the Lost (ca. 1945-1948), Angus on the soap opera Lorenzo Jones (ca. 1940s), General Dwight D. Eisenhower on Living 1948 (1948), and more.
  • Johnny Cash performed frequently as a member of The Grand Ole Opry (1957-1965)
  • Ray Charles was the musical arranger for several series, including the operetta series The Chicago Theatre Of The Air (1940) and The Telephone Hour (1945), The Silver Summer Revue (1948), The Big Show (1952), plus TV/radio simulcast episodes of The Perry Como Show with the Ray Charles Singers and various syndicated broadcasts for branches of the armed forces and Civil Defense Administration
  • Eric Clavering performed for the CBC in the 1930s and was a guest on the American Fleischmann's Yeast and Campbell Soup programs (1938)
  • Loretta Clemens played Dotty Marsh on The Gibson Family (1934-1935), sang on Johnny Presents (1934-1937), and co-starred in a musical series with brother Jack Clemens throughout the 1930s.
  • Rosemary Clooney was a vocalist on many series, including Moon River (1940s), One Night Stand (1947-1949), The Bing Crosby Show (1952-1954) and later as a title billed co-star on The Bing Crosby-Rosemary Clooney Show (1961-1962), plus a rare dramatic turn on Suspense ("St. James Infirmary Blues," Feb. 23, 1953)
  • Imogene Coca guest starred on The Big Show (1950)
  • Perry Como was a vocalist with Ted Weems on Weems' series and Fibber McGee and Molly (both 1936-1937), vocalist/panelist on the musical quiz Beat the Band (1940-1941), and the rotating star soloist on The Chesterfield Supper Club (1944-1949)
  • Edwin Cooper played roles in many anthology series, including Texaco Star Theatre (as Sheriff Hartman in "The Front Page," May 29, 1940), The Eternal Light (1945), The Lux Radio Theatre (1946-1948), and X-Minus One (1957, in "Inside Story," as Mr. Jones in "The Category Inventor," and as Parrock in "Shocktroop")
  • Ossie Davis played historical roles in several episodes of The Cavalcade of America (1950-1951)
  • Ruby Dee was a regular on The Story of Ruby Valentine (1955-1956) and appeared on X Minus One (1956), The CBS Radio Workshop (1956-1957) and CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1974)
  • Dorothy Donegan performed on several broadcasts of Jubilee (1944-1945)
  • Mike Douglas was a regular singer on Kay Kyser's College of Musical Knowledge (1945-1946)
  • Hugh Downs was an announcer at WMAQ in Chicago for local productions as well as those broadcast nationally/regionally for NBC and years later on-staff for NBC, announcing The Catholic Hour (1949), Destination Freedom (1948-1949), RFD America (1949), and as narrator of the 1951 CBS dramatic Thanksgiving special "We Gather Together."
  • Ray Erlenborn (sound effects on Dinah! I've Got a Song) was a staff CBS sound effects man on shows like Texaco Star Theater (1938-1940, providing the wailing fire siren opening), Blondie (ca. 1939-1948, where he also barked as Daisy the dog), Al Pearce and His Gang (1940s), Big Town (ca. 1937-1942), Gene Autry's Melody Ranch (1945-1956), Dr. Christian (1940s-1950s), The Red Skelton Show, and countless others
  • Blake Edwards created, wrote, and later directed episodes of Richard Diamond, Private Eye (1949-1952) and wrote for The Line-Up (1940-1952), Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (1951-1953), and Suspense (two 1951 episodes)
  • Dale Evans was the resident singer on That Girl from Texas (1940-1941), The Chase and Sanborn Hour (1942-1943), and co-starred on Roy Rogers' series (1944-1955)
  • José Ferrer hosted The Prudential Family Hour (ca. 1942), played the title role on Philo Vance (1945), and appeared in the United Nations radio play "Document A/777" (1950), amongst others
  • Arthur Fiedler was the regular conductor for The Standard Hour (1951-1950s)
  • Henry Fonda was a frequent guest lead on Cavalcade of America (6 times, 1941-1949) and The Lux Radio Theatre (1938-1942) plus appearances on Suspense (1945) and others
  • Frank Fontaine played John L. C. Sivoney in several episodes of The Jack Benny Program (1950-1954, sporadically)
  • Frances Foster played a native villager in The CBS Radio Workshop episode "The Endless Road" (1956)
  • John Forsythe appeared in episodes of Broadway Is My Beat (1949), Best Plays (1952-1953), and The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre (1974)
  • Arlene Francis performed on The Mercury Theater of the Air in 1938 (as Thelona in "The Affairs of Anatole" and Madame Auouda in "Around the World in 80 Days") and acted on Betty and Bob (1940 syndication, as Betty), Helpmate (ca. 1941, Linda Harper), Mr. District Attorney (1940s, as secretary Miss Rand), The Affairs of Ann Scotland (1946-1947, title role) plus hostess of Blind Date (1943-1946) and The Hour of Charm (1940s) and a panelist on the radio version of What's My Line? (1952-1953)
  • Stan Freberg starred as Richard Wilt on That's Rich (1954), himself and others on The Stan Freberg Show (1957), and guest roles on Suspense, The CBS Radio Workshop and others
  • John Gielgud played the title role in Sherlock Holmes (1955-1956; BBC transcriptions aired in the United States) and performed on The Theatre Guild On The Air ("The Importance of Being Ernest," 1947," and as "Hamlet," 1948)
  • Dizzy Gillespie was a guest on Jubilee (1947) and participated in a "Battle of Jazz" on Bands for Bonds (Sept. 23-20, 1947)
  • Hermione Gingold was a recurring guest on Stage Struck (1953-1954) and was heard on Flair (1961)
  • Arthur Godfrey served as announcer on Professor Quiz (1937) and Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater (1942) before starring on Arthur Godfrey Time (1945-1972), Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (1946-1956), and Arthur Godfrey Digest (1950-1955).
  • Harold Gould played roles in episodes of Rudy Vallee's Fleischmann's Yeast Hour (1935) and Radio Guild (1939)
  • Lorne Greene joined CBC radio in 1939 as an actor/announcer, announced National News (1940-1943); wartime series such as Victory in Canada, Our Canada, Nazi Eyes Over Canada; announced Canadian cut-ins to Fibber McGee and Molly and The Breakfast Club (1940s); played the narrator on the CBC anthology Curtain Time (1940s), the title role in Othello (1952, one-shot), and hosted "Western Night" of the revival series The Sears Radio Theater (1979-1980; renamed Mutual Radio Theater, 1980-81).
  • Margaret Hamilton played Aunt Effie on The Couple Next Door (1957-1960)
  • Alice Hill played roles in many CBC radio broadcasts, including a 1938 production of "As You Like It" (as Celia), The Craigs (1939-1964, as Janice Craig), the sitcom The Johnny Home Show (ca. 1945, regular as Rosemary), Hometown (1945), a serial version of Julius Caesar (1946, as Portia), the Stage series (titled variously Stage 45, Stage 46, etc. per year, many leads, 1940s through 1950s, including Mina in "Dracula" and Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Curtain Time (ca. 1947-1949), and more
  • Bob Hope starred on The Bob Hope Show (1938-1955) and played The Taxpayer in the documentary series The Quick and the Dead (1950)
  • Lena Horne was a regular guest singer on Jubilee (1942-1947), a frequent guest on Command Performance (1940s), and appeared in Norman Corwin's United Nations radio play Document A/777 (1950)
  • Russell Horton was a regular repertory player, in lead and supporting roles, on The CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1977-1980)
  • Danny Kaye starred on The Danny Kaye Show (1945-1946)
  • Gene Kelly was one of the rotating male leads on The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players (1946-1947) and guest starred in four episodes of Suspense (1943-1944, 1949), on three episodes of Lux Radio Theatre (1947, 1951), and more
  • Don Knotts played Windy Wales on Bobby Benson and the Bar-B Riders (1949-1955) and appeared in episodes of The Big Story, as Alex Pierce and Edgar Chatfield (April 7, 1954) and an assault victim (Feb. 09, 1955)
  • Burt Lancaster starred in two episodes each of Suspense (1948, 1949) and Lux Radio Theater (1950-1951)
  • Jack Lescoulie was the host ("Grouchmaster") on The Grouch Club (1937-1939), appeared in two episodes of Quiet, Please (1948, 1949), played himself on an episode of Boston Blackie (1948), and was a WWII radio war correspondant and a disc jockey throughout the 1940s
  • Jerry Lewis starred on The Martin and Lewis Show (1949-1950, 1951-1953) and had played bit parts in several episodes of The Big Story (1947-1948)
  • Liberace made guest appearances on The Texaco Star Theatre (1945), Command Performance (1950), The Amos 'n' Andy Music Hall (the 1953 premiere), and two episodes of Edgar Bergen's show (1954 and 1956)
  • James Lipton played nephew Dan Reid on The Lone Ranger (ca. 1940s) in Detroit and appeared in episodes of New York series The Mysterious Traveler (1948), Now Hear This (1951), and The Cavalcade of America (1952)
  • James Mason starred on The James and Pamela Mason Show (1949) and in six episodes of Suspense (1949-1958) plus other guest appearances
  • Elaine May was a regular in comedy skits with Mike Nichols on Monitor (1962-1975) and played a dramatic role in the Theatre Five episode "Mama's Girl" (1965)
  • Ethel Merman starred on Rhythm at Eight (1935) and The Ethel Merman Show (1949), and appeared on many other series
  • Albert G. Miller wrote for many radio shows from the 30s through the 60s, including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Eno Crime Club (1931-1932), The Fred Allen Show (1936), Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1938), Maudie's Diary (1941-1942), Those Websters (1945), Official Detective (1956), and Theater Five (1965)
  • Zero Mostel was the resident comedian on The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street (1942)
  • Mickey Mouse starred in The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air (1938) and made guest appearances on The Lux Radio Theater and elsewhere.
  • Leslie Nielsen played George Spagna (guest lead) on an episode of The Big Story (April 7, 1954)
  • Ken Nordine played the narrator/all protagonists on The Adventurer's Club (1947-1948), frequently narrated World's Great Novels (ca. 1946-1948), was the announcer on The Breakfast Club (1947-1948), Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy (1947-1951), A Life in Your Hands (ca. 1950-1952), and The Silver Eagle (1951-1955), plus appearances on Destination Freedom (as the prosecutor in "Execution Awaited," 1949), The Eternal Light (1953) and others
  • Don Pardo was an NBC staff announcer on such series as The Magnificent Montague (1951) and X-Minus One (1955-1957)
  • Vincent Price played Paul Morrison on the soap opera Valiant Lady (1939), Simon Templar on The Saint (1949-1951), and various guest leads on Suspense and Escape (1947-1954)
  • Carmel Quinn was discovered on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (1955) and became a regular on Arthur Godfrey Time (ca. 1955-1961)
  • Tony Randall played Jarrod in the Biblical serial Light of the World (1948) and Reggie Yorke on I Love a Mystery (1949-1952)
  • Anne Revere guest starred on anthology dramas like Academy Award Theatre (1946), The Cavalcade of America (1946), and Family Theatre and Lux Radio Theatre (1949)
  • Buddy Rich played drums for Artie Shaw's band on Melody and Madness (1938-1939) and for Tommy Dorsey's series (ca. 1940-1945)
  • Ginger Rogers starred as one of the rotating leads on The Prudential Family Hour of Stars (1948-1950)
  • Roy Rogers starred on The Roy Rogers Show (1944-1946, 1948-1955) and Saturday Nite Round-Up (1946-1948)
  • Mickey Rooney hosted Hollywood Showcase (1948), played the title role on Shorty Bell (1948) and reprised his film role of Andy Hardy on The Hardy Family (1949-1950, 1952-1953)
  • Jack Rose was a staff writer for The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope (1940s), a gag man for Milton Berle's show, and wrote for Command Performance (notably "Dick Tracy in B-Flat," 1945)
  • Terry Ross was an ABC sound effects man, working on The Greatest Story Ever Told (1947-1956), Inner Sanctum (1950-1951), Theatre Five (1964), and other series
  • Jada Rowland performed on The Second Mrs. Burton and Road of Life in the 1950s.
  • Reni Santoni appeared on the Suspense episode "With Murder in Mind" and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar episode "The Deadly Crystal Matter" (both 1962)
  • Raymond Scott composed, conducted, or arranged music for several series, most notably installments of The Columbia Workshop (1939-1940), Your Hit Parade (1949-1957) plus his own band remote series on CBS (1940-1944)
  • Sandra Scott, on CBC radio, played Judy in John and Judy (ca. 1948-1954), Emily Wardle in The Pickwick Papers (1949 serial), Brenda Walker on Alan and Me (1949), alternated as the teacher on Kindergarten of the Air (ca. 1949), Desdemona in Othello (one-shot drama) and Portia in the "Julius Caesar" serial on School Broadcast (both 1952), leads on Stage 48/49/51, Mrs. Ryson in the Nightfall episode "Christmas Day in the Morning" (1980)
  • Harry Shearer played Stevie of the Beverly Hills Beavers on The Jack Benny Program (ca. 1951-1955) and child roles on Lux Radio Theatre and Our Miss Brooks
  • Dinah Shore starred on The Dinah Shore Show (1939-1940) and under other titles through 1955 (notably The Birdseye Open House from 1943-1946), was a regular singer on The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street (1940, as Mademoiselle Dinah "Diva" Shore), The Eddie Cantor Show (1940-1941), Paul Whiteman Presents (1943), The Carnation Contented Hour(1946-1948), Your Hit Parade (1947), Call for Music (1948), The Jack Smith Show (1950-1952), and acting guest turns on Command Performance, Suspense, and others
  • Beverly Sills (then Belle Silverman) was discovered as a contest winner on Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour (1936), at age seven, and sang for three seasons on Major Bowes' Capitol Family
  • Olan Soule played romantic leads on Curtain Time (1938-1939) and for a longer stint on The First Nighter Program (1943-1953), Dr. Kermit Hubbard (no relation) on Joan and Kermit (1938), Bob on Chandu the Magician (1935-1936), Tom on The Couple Next Door (1935-1937), Sam Ryder on Bachelor's Children (1935-1946), Kelly on Captain Midnight (1940s), Coach Hardy on Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy (late 1940s) and others
  • Robert Stack was a frequent guest lead on Family Theatre (at least 8 episodes, 1948-1953)
  • Arnold Stang played child roles on The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour (1930s), Seymour Fingerhood on The Goldbergs (ca. 1940-1942), Joey Brewster on That Brewster Boy (1942), Gerard on The Henry Morgan Show (1946-1950), Junior Berle and others on The Milton Berle Show (1947, 1948-1949), Albert on It's Always Albert (1948), resident comic sidekick on Bert Parks' Bandstand (1959) and its successor It's Network Time (same year), and more
  • John Stephenson played various roles on The Whistler (1947-1951), Suspense (1951-1957), CBS Radio Workshop (1956), Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (1955-1960), and more.
  • Ed Sullivan hosted The Ed Sullivan Show (under various titles, 1932, then intermittently from 1941 until 1946),
  • Dick Tufeld was the announcer on Falstaff's Fables (1948), The Amazing Mr. Malone (1950), and Space Patrol (1950-1955)
  • Peter Ustinov was a regular on Flair (1961-1962)
  • Dick Van Dyke hosted the ABC variety/radio magazine series Flair (1960-1963)
  • Emanuel Vardi performed as a violinist and violist on The NBC Symphony Orchestra (ca. 1937-1954)
  • Orson Welles played Lamont Cranston on The Shadow (1937-1938), many roles (including Sherlock Holmes, Long John Silver, and Dracula) on The Mercury Theater on the Air (1938) and The Campbell Playhouse (adding Hercule Poirot to his resume, 1939-1940), multiple episodic roles on Suspense (various dates from the 1930s-1940s), The Orson Welles Almanac (1941-1942), and others.
  • Mary Wickes was heard on The Mercury Theater on the Air (1938, as Mrs. Partcher in "Seventeen," the employment office manager in "Life with Father," and Rachel Wardle in "Pickwick Papers"), played Irma Barker on Lorenzo Jones (circa. late 1930s), and Louise the maid on Meet Corliss Archer (1943)
  • Andy Williams sang as part of the Williams Brothers quartet on The National Barn Dance (1939-1941) and other series and was a regular vocalist on many local Los Angeles series, including The Feeling is Mutual (1945-1946), California Melodies (1945-1947), and The Ken Carson Show (summer 1945).
  • William Woodson narrated This is Your FBI (1947-1953) and acted in episodes of Family Theater (1953), Suspense (1954), and The CBS Radio Workshop (1956-1957, also writer), among others.

Sources

  1. Finch, Christopher. Jim Henson: The Works. p. 3
  2. Remembering Jerry Nelson. The Point radio broadcast, The Cape and Islands NPR Station.
  3. Archive of American Television. 2001 interview with Caroll Spinney. Part 1, 25:18-27:40.
Notes
  1. The series was Challenge of the Yukon, 1938-1951, then Sgt. Preston of the Yukon until it ended in 1955, and as the TV title.
  2. Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou was sometimes mistaken for a ventriloquism act, as Spinney wondered. In reality, no dummy was used and Riggs (who had a medical condition which doctors described as bi-vocalism) could assume the voice of a small child, so realistic that he used it to startle college sports teammates. After a stint headlining The Quaker Party (1938-1940), Riggs' network series Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou ran from 1942 until 1943, when the star indeed joined the Navy. In 1946, he did one more brief summer run. Source: Dunning, John. On the Air. Oxford University Press: 1998. 676-678.
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