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Entries Tagged as 'African-Americans'

Pick and Pat - June 28, 1937

September 25th, 2009 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

Kicking off this week's posts, from June 28, 1937, we hear part of the rare comedy-variety minstrel show, "Pick and Pat", originally broadcast on CBS.  This disc is part of a set of airchecks I recently obtained that were produced for the producer of the show, Frank Macmahon.

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The disc opens with part of Stewart-Warner refrigerator commercial at the end of the Horace Heidt program, local announcement on how to get tickets for the Heidt program, and the WABC id.  The "Pick and Pat" program is dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America, potential future smokers of the sponsor's Model and Dill's Best tobacco.  The duo's opening routine is about swimming and going home to see "Mammy" on vacation.  Edward Roecker sings "I Love You Truly" and Benny Krueger and the band perform "Where or When?".  Pick and Pat's second routine is about Frank MacMahon's libel suit against them, a running gag in the show at the time.

This is only the first part of the program and the remainder of the show doesn't survive.  These discs were originally recorded on three sides and the other side of this disc is labeled and dated for part 3 of the show, but is blank -  this side of the disc runs almost 18 minutes, so the rest of the show may have been recorded on the missing second disc.

This previously lost/uncirculated program was transferred from original WABC aircheck laquer recorded by National Recording Company, New York.  The file has been run through click reduction software to improve the sound.

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Tags: African-Americans · Pick and Pat

Pick and Pat - June 14, 1937

September 18th, 2009 · Comments

Note:  This program includes racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

In our continuing series of rare airchecks of "Pick and Pat", a 1930s comedy-variety show featuring blackface comedians Pick Padgett and Pat Malone we hear an excerpt of the episode of June 14, 1937.

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Pick and Pat talk about one of their short friends and a lawsuit they're involved with with their producer, Frank MacMahon, an ongoing gag on the show at this time. Tenor Edward Roecker sings an unidentified song.  The program originally aired on CBS and was sponsored by Dill's Best and Model tobacco.  The excerpt is the second of three parts of the program - parts one and three are, unfortunately, lost.

The show was transferred from original WABC aircheck lacquer recorded by National Recording Company, New York, and was previously lost.

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Tags: African-Americans · Pick and Pat

Pick and Pat - August 8, 1938

September 13th, 2009 · Comments

This week's look at the minstrel comedy show "Pick and Pat", from August 8, 1938, is curious for several reasons.

First off, this series of discs are actual airchecks and this week's show is marred by an electrical storm, reminding us that listeners to old time radio shows on AM radio didn't always hear the programs the way we do today through FM, satellite radio or the Internet.

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Also, as in other discs I obtained from this series, the disc cutters captured part of the shows on WABC/CBS before and after "Pick and Pat" - this week, after the minstrel hjinks of our comedy duo, you get to hear the opening of the "Mercury Theater".

Now that's going from low brow to high brow in short order, isn't it?

We hear parts 1 and 3 of the program only; the second disc for the episode is unfortunately lost.  In the opening routine, Pick plays his harmonica and Edward Roecker sings "Dust".   In the second half of the program, Pick and Pat do a routine about selling strawberries.  As usual, we get to hear plugs for their sponsor, Model and Dill's Best tobacco.

The show was transferred from an original WABC aircheck laquer recorded by Advertiser's Recording Service, New York for the series producer, Frank Mcmahon.  The program was previously lost.

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Tags: African-Americans · Pick and Pat

Pick and Pat - March 21, 1938

September 3rd, 2009 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

We continue our look this week at "Pick and Pat", a rare comedy variety show broadcast on CBS and featuring blackface comedians Pick Padgett and Pat Malone.  Despite a radio career on all the major networks that spanned from the early 1930s to the mid 40s, only a handful of their shows survive.  These shows, unheard since their original broadcast, are drawn from a set of airchecks recorded for the producer of the show, Frank Macmahon.

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Unfortunately, many of the shows in this set are missing sides.  In this post, we hear parts 1 and 3 of the show of March 21, 1938.  Pick and Pat do a short opening routine with one of them dissing the other for being so dumb.  Tenor Edward Roecker sings "There's a Goldmine In the Sky".  In part 3 of the program, Edward Roecker sings "I Got Plenty of Nothin'" and Pick and Pat's last segment has them staging a melodrama titled "Be a Gentleman" or "Never Hit a Lady With Your Hat On".  During the show, we get to hear commercials for the sponsor, Dill's Best and Model tobacco.  Also, the company that recorded the aircheck captured the last couple of minutes of the previous program on the station and the one following "Pick and Pat", "Lux Radio Theater".

The show was transferred from an original WABC aircheck laquer recorded by the Advertiser's Recording Service, New York.  The file has been run through click reduction software to improve the sound, but it's still a little rough in places - the lacquer on these one of a kind discs is deteriorating and cracking.

Another note of interest - this week's episode of Mad Men included a scene where the main character in the show donned blackface, creating some interesting discussion on the topic.  Also, a blogger at Slate discusses how we should look at the work of artists who worked in blackface at some point in their career.

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Tags: comedy · African-Americans · Pick and Pat

Pick and Pat - May 31, 1937

August 27th, 2009 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

This week, I'm starting a series of posts of "Pick and Pat", a rare variety show featuring two blackface performers.  These programs, unheard since they were originally broadcast, come from a series of aircheck lacquers I recently obtained.  Except for one program, the shows are incomplete.  I'm still working on transferring and restoring the discs, so I'm not sure how many I will be able to offer here since the discs are in bad shape and starting to deteriorate.

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The episode of May 31, 1937 includes routines where Pat plays the harmonica and the pair do a sketch playing Indians selling the island of Manhattan.  The latter includes some jokes about the stock market crash and Depression and, with two Irish vaudeville comedians in Blackface playing Native Americans, considerable cognitive dissonance about race that might make your head explode if you try to analyze it too much.  The show features music by vocalist Edward Roecker and an orchestra led by Benny Krueger, including "That Old Gang of Mine" with a recitation.  The series was sponsored by the U.S. Tobacco Company to promote Model and Dill's Best pipe tobaccos.

According to Dunning's "Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio", Pick Padgett and Pat Malone were Irishmen who teamed up in 1929 as Molasses and January and worked regularly under that name on the "Maxell House Show Boat" program.  They were heard on radio in their own series on NBC from 1934-35, CBS from 1935-39, Mutual in 1944 and ABC in 1945.  You can see a picture of Pick and Pat and read an interview with Pick Padget from the St. Petersburg, Florida Evening Independent of June 16, 1933.

These discs were made for the producer of the program, Frank MacMahon, and each show was recorded on 16" lacquers in three parts.  In the case of this particular episode, the second disc is missing, so you'll hear a fade-out in the middle of the show before we continue with the third part.  The discs also preserved a bit of the shows on the air that evening before and after "Pick and Pat"; this set includes the last minute or so of the "Ted Weems" show, a special announcement by the WABC announcer on how to get tickets for the program, and, at the end, the WABC station id and opening of "Lux Radio Theater".

The show was transferred directly from an original WABC lacquer aircheck made by the National Recording Company, New York.  The file has been run through click reduction software to improve the sound.  Note that the sound levels vary during the show.

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Tags: comedy · variety · Depression-era · African-Americans · Native Americans · Pick and Pat

Ladies Be Seated - December 21, 1944

July 11th, 2009 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

This past week, I spent time transferring a group of "throw away" discs from station WREN in Lawrence, Kansas.  We heard one show from this set of discs a few weeks back, a local country music program by Ted West and His Range Riders.  The discs contained snippets and parts of local and network programming that were recorded for time-shifted broadcast or to test equipment.  Several contained half-episodes of a rare, seldom heard game show called "Ladies Be Seated", originally carried on ABC in the 1940s.

"Ladies Be Seated" was a "stunt" show, similar to "Truth or Consequences", hosted by Johnny Olson.  It was sponsored by Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix and Aunt Jemima herself shows up to engage in banter with Johnny about the product.  Not well remembered today, there was also an "Aunt Jemima" minstrel-type program that was carried on network radio from 1929 to 1951.  According to John Dunning's "On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio", the character was played by Black actress Amanda Randolph for part of the run and it sounds like it may be Randolph in the role here.  (Amanda Randolph also appeared on the television version of "Amos N' Andy" and many other programs of the time such as the "Danny Thomas Show".)

In the listing for "Ladies Be Seated" in Dunning, he notes that the show grew out of another program that lampooned household hints shows and was originally carried on NBC's Blue Network, starting in 1944 and, after the network was sold to create ABC, "Ladies Be Seated" was carried there until 1950.  "Ladies Be Seated" was also one of the first game shows broadcast on the ABC television network, starting in 1949.

In the previously lost program of December 21, 1944, we hear Aunt Jemima doing a commercial with Johnny Olson, then one of the contestants in the "Ladies Be Seated" singing contest, some talk about the rarity of nylons during the War when the contestant gets her prizes, and a stunt that has a man from the audience playing "Spin the Bottle".  This is part two of the program only; the first half of the show doesn't survive.

The show was transferred from an original lacquer from WREN in Lawrence, Kansas.  It's been run through some click-reduction software to eliminate as much surface noise as possible.

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Tags: African-Americans · women's issues · Ladies Be Seated

Uncle Remus - Pgm 2

December 6th, 2008 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

Continuing with our look at "Uncle Remus", here's program 2 in the series, "The Tar Baby".

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As we mentioned in the last post, this series was syndicated in late 1947 for the holidays and featured Jimmy Scribner, a Black-dialect actor and comedian, who played all the roles in the show (except the children, of course).  The story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby is probably the most well-known of the Uncle Remus folk tales, forming one of the major animated sequences in Disney's film adaptation of the stores, "Song of the South" released during the same time period as this radio series.

The show was transferred from an original Cardinal vinyl transcription, matrix number CAR-A-732.

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Tags: kids and juvenile · African-Americans · Uncle Remus · Christmas related

Uncle Remus - Mud Pies

December 6th, 2008 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

Today, we begin a series of posts devoted to holiday-themed old time radio programs that will go on the blog/podcast through the month of December.

First up, two very rare shows from the series "Uncle Remus".  The series was syndicated by Cardinal beginning with the 1947 Christmas season and was designed to be run five days a week through the holidays.

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The program features Jimmy Scribner, a well known actor who created, scripted and acted all the parts in the Black-dialect soap opera, "The Johnson Family".  (You can hear a sample episode of "The Johnson Family" here.)  Scribner even tried a trial run of the show on a Los Angeles television station in the 1940s.

In "Uncle Remus", Scribner tackles the classic African-American Uncle Remus folk tales, playing all the roles in the show.  Some programs in the series have a story with a holiday theme and others don't, but all featured a framing device of children getting ready for Christmas and hearing Uncle Remus tell stories.

Documentation on the show is a bit slim - R.R. King on the otr mailing list dug up several newspaper ads from around the country when the show was first run.  After the initial run, it appears that the show's titled was changed to "Sleepy Joe" and these later programs show up at sites like archive.org, sometimes under the "Uncle Remus" name.  The re-recording of the show and name change may have occurred because of Disney's "South of the South", which was playing in theaters in 1946-47, or due to other local or regional radio shows featuring the Remus stories, but that's simply conjecture on my part.  Scribner did a television version of "Sleepy Joe" around 1950.

"Mud Pies" was transferred from an acetate dub of one of the original transcription discs.  The origins of this dub are obscure - perhaps it was created as a replacement for a disc that was lost or damaged by one of the stations that purchased the "Uncle Remus" package.

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Tags: kids and juvenile · African-Americans · Uncle Remus · Christmas related

Harlem Hospitality Club - AFRS Pgm 14

October 10th, 2008 · Comments

Originally broadcast on Saturdays at 2:00 pm from the Savoy Ballroom in New York on the Mutual network, "Harlem Hospitality Club" featured live rhythm and blues performances and brief interviews with audience members.  This rare show was hosted by Willie Bryan with music backing by the Lou Mel Morgan Trio.

The guests for program number 14 as the series was broadcast by Armed Forces radio were pianist Kirby Walker and vocalist Kitty Dechavez.

Songs include "St. Louis Blues", "My Sugar's So Refined" and others.  Audience members from North Carolina, Virginia and New York are interviewed, including a woman who trains prize fighters and another who remembers "cake walk" competitions in church when she was young.

The program was transferred from original vinyl AFRS transcription.

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Tags: music · AFRS · African-Americans

Harlem Hospitality Club - AFRS Pgm 11

September 27th, 2008 · Comments

Here's a rare of example of otr by and for African-Americans.  "The Harlem Hospitality Club" was originally broadcast on Saturdays at 2:00 pm from the Savoy Ballroom in New York on the Mutual network.  The program was hosted by Willie Bryan and features the Lou Mel Morgan trio.  The show is a fascinating mix of live rhythm and blues performances and audience participation.  I've never seen the show in circulation and have heard of only one other collector that has a couple of shows in the series.

Program number 11 in the series as it was rebroadcast by the Armed Forces Radio Service features guest vocalists Little Miss Cornshucks and Amanda Randolph.  Songs include "Keep Your Hands on Your Heart", "All of Me" and others.

During the program, Bryant interviews the following audience members:

  • Zella Carter from Mackenzie, Tennessee
  • Andy Addison from Atlantic City and Leroy Johnson from New York, two cooks who discuss whether women are better at cooking than men
  • June Williams of Newport, Vermont, who is studying psychology
  • a woman from Williamsburg, Virginia who is 76 years old
  • Elizabeth Singleton from Snow Hill, South Carolina, about cooking Southern BBQ pig.

The program was transferred from original vinyl AFRS transcription.  I have one other program in the series I'll be posting soon.

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Tags: music · AFRS · African-Americans