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Entries Tagged as 'AFRS'

Rocky Jordan - AFRTS Pgm 7, The Nile Runs High

July 4th, 2008 · Comments

See an update at the end of this post on this puzzling disc ...

In this post, we take a look at an uncirculated episode of the adventure series "Rocky Jordan" which may be from a previously undocumented run of the series. Directly transferred from an AFRTS set of discs dating to June, 1956, it's the episode "The Nile Runs High", program 7 in the AFRTS run of "Rocky Jordan", series IED-557.

"Rocky Jordan" was a mystery-adventure series set in Cairo running on CBS's Pacific Network. The show started as a quarter hour serial broadcast five days a week in January, 1945 as "A Man Named Jordan". By July, the show took on a half-hour format and ran for two years. The show returned to CBS in October 1948 as "Rocky Jordan".

Jack Moyles played the title character for most of the run with George Raft taking over the part during the summer of 1951 through the end of the series run in June 1953. The First Generation Radio Archives offers a ten-cd set of "Rocky Jordan" shows transferred from original acetates and has an informative page about the series here and here.

This disc has me a bit puzzled. On the same AFRS discs is an episode of "X Minus One", "If You Was a Moklin", broadcast on June 12, 1956. (I'll be posting the "X Minus One" episode soon.) The 1956 broadcast date would put the origin of the discs three years after the end of "Rocky Jordan"'s run on CBS, according to logs of the series and lists of existing episodes I've researched.

"The Nile Runs High" was performed on the series on September 18, 1949 and survives in a copy that includes ads for Del Monte and an orchestral score. This AFRS disc uses the same script, but an organ is used for the music. (The September, 1949 version of the show is available at archive.org.)

What's really strange about the show is that there are no actor or other credits and it sounds like Rocky Jordan was being played by Jack Moyles (remember that George Raft was playing the part from 1951 through the end of the series in 1953). Also, sampling several episodes of the series at archives.org, I don't find any that use this sparse production style with minimal sound effects and organ accompaniment like this show.

So, was AFRS re-running episodes of "Rocky Jordan" after it left the network and did Moyles play the part in later episodes, which would make this show from the 1953 period? Was this taken from an undocumented version of the show recorded for syndication or broadcast locally in 1956 after its CBS run?

Martin Grams, Jr. from the OTR mailing list suggested it might be a rehearsal recording since it features organ accompaniment and minimal sounds effects. I'd be curious to hear other discs in the AFRTS series if they turn up to see what they might contain to see if they're similar in style.

Regardless of the origins, sit back and enjoy this uncirculated and rather mysterious episode of "Rocky Jordan" and please leave a comment on the blog if you have some ideas or information on where this episode may have came from.

Update, 7/6/08 --

Dee from the OTR mailing list notes that the "Directory of Armed Forces Radio Series" by Harry McKenzie lists the show as being broadcast in 1957; the series was a 22 episode run of shows previously broadcast on AFRS in 1949.

The Directory also lists the series with the correct number (557), but the disc I have has it as "IED-557". The series should have had a END prefix - END was used for entertainment shows and IED was for information and education. (The flip side label lists the "X Minus One" program correctly as "END-483".)

The show is still puzzling - it doesn't match the production style of any of the circulating 1949 "Rocky Jordan" shows, but the cast and script sound the same as the 1949 version of the episode. So, is this a rehearsal recording?

Update, 7/8/08 --

See the comments for an in-depth comparison of this show to the original 1949 CBS network version and some possibilities on the show's origins from Stewart Wright.


Tags: drama · AFRS · Rocky Jordan · rand's favorites

Yank Bandstand - Pgm 48

May 23rd, 2008 · Comments

Another fifteen minutes of great big band music by service bands from an original AFRS transcription disc. In this entry, Sgt Tommy Enos and his Orchestra present music by Marines from Camp Pendleton, California.

Songs in the show include "What is This Thing Called Love?", "Dream", "Piccolo Pete", and "She's Funny That Way". Vocals are from Shorty Prior and Joan Estrata.


Tags: music · AFRS

Yank Bandstand - Pgm 47

May 23rd, 2008 · Comments

"Yank Bandstand" was an AFRS series devoted to music service bands; well recorded and upbeat, they give a glimpse of lesser known bands and songs enjoyed by service men and women during World War II. In this episode, number 47 in the series, we hear Al Taylor and His Orchestra from the Army Grounds, Santa Barbara, California; the host is Shirley Musters.

Songs in the show include "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me", "She's My Pretty" with a vocal by Eddie Robinson, "The One I Love" with vocals by Jean Osborne, "Together", and "The Trolly Song".


Tags: music · AFRS

Gilbert and Sullivan - Yeoman of the Guard, Sept 16, 1944

May 23rd, 2008 · Comments

As if this blog weren't esoteric enough, here's a show that's a bit different from the material I've usually posted here. It's the Sept 16, 1944 episode of the series "Gilbert and Sullivan" with a presentation of "Yoeman of the Guard". In the cast are Florence Aims, Mureal Wilson, Fred Hufsmith, Paul Reed, Celia Branz, Hugh Thompson, Veronica Wiggins. The orchestra is conducted by Joseph Stopak.

This show actually comes from an AFRS disc set from their series "Metropolitan Opera" and is program number 43 in their series of that title. The AFRS used the "Metropolitan Opera" series as a kind of "catch all" for opera performances and they would use broadcast recordings by other companies or from other opera radio series; I've run into another example in the series that is a broadcast recording by the San Francisco Opera.

"Gilbert and Sullivan" was a series broadcast on the Blue Network of operas by the duo. There are two other surviving shows from the series I've been able to find references for; one of "Iolanthe" and another of "The Gondoliers", both broadcast in September 1944 and from AFRS transcriptions.


Tags: AFRS · classical music

Suspense - The Lost Special, Sept 30, 1943, AFRS Pgm 24

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

Update, August 8, 2009: I've posted a new version of the mp3 file for this notable broadcast.  David Kiner graciously agreed to run CEDAR sound reduction software on the original .wav file of my transfer, so the original unaltered mp3 file has been retired.  In addition, a full quality version of the CEDAR restored mp3 has been made available through the Old Time Radio Researchers Group distribution of "Suspense" at archive.org.

On this blog and podcast, I've focused on presenting original transcription discs from my collection, most all of programs that are not in circulation among collectors or are very uncommon. Thanks to an estate auction on ebay, I'm pleased to offer a "world premiere" of sorts for the Web of an elusive and highly sought-after program.

Unheard publicly since September 30, 1943, we bring you Orson Welles starring in "The Lost Special" a "tale well calculated to keep you in ... Suspense!". Originally broadcast on the CBS radio network, but now lost, the version heard here was distributed by the Armed Forces Radio Service as program 24 in the "Suspense" series.

"The Lost Special" is based on a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story and concerns a train that mysteriously disappears. The story was also used on the series "Escape" on February 12, 1949, so it may seem familiar. (You can give it a listen here.) However, in the "Suspense" version, the story is told by the main character and framed as a broadcast by a condemned man that will reveal the identity of persons responsible for certain crimes.

The opening of the show is rather odd.  It sounds like Howard Duff, who was a staff announcer at AFRS at the time and would do custom openings and closings for some shows like this.  However, Duff sounds a bit "out of it", either bored after reading so many show openings one day or thinking this was a rehearsal instead of a real "take".*

On the disc itself, someone made grease pencil marks just after the opening and just before the close of the show and there's a typewritten note glued to the original sleeve:

29'30" Programme 24 Pt. 1 & 2 SUSPENSE The Lost Special Pt. 1 Open at mark on yellow line and play to end. Pt. 2 Fade quickly at line after words "... tale of Suspense." The Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle starring Orson Welles

The grease pencil mark near the opening is on the music cue just after the "Suspense" announcer says "... anything, however strange, that will hold our listeners in ... Suspense!" Strange, since this cuts out the entire opening that sets up the "show within the show" format.

Orson Welles appeared in the series "Suspense" eight times between 1942 and 1944 in such classics as "The Hitchiker and "Donovan's Brain". One of Welles's performances, "The Lost Special", was thought to be one of about thirty-five "Suspense" programs missing out of over 900 broadcast during the run of the series.

Welles appeared on "Suspense" in a run of four episodes during September and October 1943. The others, including "The Most Dangerous Game", "Philomel Cottage" and "Lazarus Walks" are available for download from archive.org, which has a collection of all of Welles's other existing appearances on the show. (Included in this collection is a funny parody Welles did of "Donovan's Brain" on his program "Orson Welles Radio Almanac".)

If you're a member of the otr mailing list, you've heard about my finding "The Lost Special" in an ebay auction a few days ago. If you're wondering if I'm going to be selling the disc, I'm not. I collect for the enjoyment of the shows and discovering something new. The disc is a unique find that needs to find its way to an archives someday.

I'm offering "The Lost Special" as part of my podcast in an unrestored medium-quality MP3 that's optimized for downloading or listening on the website. I'm investigating the best way to offer it to the OTR community on a CD or high quality .WAV file and to get the sound restored with more advanced tools than I have, so stayed tuned for more info.

Hope you enjoy the show. In the mean time, if you know of some old transcriptions scurried away somewhere, send me an email. You never know what might turn up in an old stack of records!

*Entry corrected, 6 May 08 - Inserted corrected info on Howard Duff.


Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS · rand's favorites

Suspense - Sorry, Wrong Number, Feb 24, 1944, AFRS Pgm 41

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

In this post, "Suspense" from February 24, 1944, broadcast on AFRS as program 41, "Sorry, Wrong Number" starring Agnes Moorehead. "Sorry" has been circulated by OTR fans for years and is one of the all-time classic episodes of the series and, indeed, of old time radio in general. This episode circulates in a CBS network version; here, you can give a listen to how the show was presented to troops overseas, including a preview of next week's show to fill out the time at the end.

This particular episode was the third performance of "Sorry" on "Suspense". Moorehead performed the story eight times during the run of the series, the first on May 25, 1943 and the last on February 14, 1960.

Some listeners really dislike "Sorry, Wrong Number", finding Agnes Moorehead's performance "shrill" and "over top" and the show unpleasant to listen to. I really think that's the beauty of the script and a facet of the character that Moorehead understands that made the show so popular that it was repeated many times over the run of the "Suspense" series - Mrs. Stevenson is utterly unlikable and the script plays with our sympathies (or animosity) towards her.

I read somewhere that Lucille Fletcher got the idea for the show after hearing an obnoxious woman in line at a store, demanding service and indignant that she was being treated improperly. Fletcher sets up the character as demanding, whiny and shrill - the type of person that would test the patience of any telephone operator and, even more, the patience of her husband.

As the program progresses and the potential murder story becomes more clear, we have either one of two reactions. We either feel more sympathy for Mrs. Stevenson, realizing the situation she is in and the frustration she feels. Or, as in my case when sometimes listening to the show, you think, "Man, I wish she was the one being killed - she's annoying!" Of course, if you feel for Mrs. Stevenson and understand her terror, the ending is frightening and disturbing. If you can't stand Mrs. Stevenson, the ending is satisfying and exhilarating.

If it hasn't been done already, someone could do a fun parody of "Sorry, Wrong Number", where the telephone operator storms in to murder her for being such a nuisance and not looking up and dialing her own damn telephone numbers.


Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS

Hildegarde’s Radio Room - AFRS Pgm 26 - Oct 16, 1945

April 25th, 2008 · Comments

In this post, "Hildegarde's Radio Room", AFRS Pgm 26 in the series, originally broadcast on NBC, October 16, 1945 as "The Raleigh Room". The guests include Jackie Keck of "The Aldrich Family", Ned Sparks, Hank Greenburg, and Paul McGrath, the host of "Inner Sanctum"; the music is by Harry Sosnick and his Orchestra.

Hildegarde got her start in vaudeville and first gained fame in Europe, signing a contract with the BBC in the 1930s. She returned to the US in the late 1930s and gained a Time magazine cover and even had a lipstick and nail polish color named after her. Walter Winchell dubbed her "The Incomparable Hildegarde". Her signature song was "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup", written by her manager and companion of twenty years, Anna Sosenko. Sosenko's NY Times obituary noted,

"No one knows why she and Hildegarde parted in the mid-1950's, but they eventually made up. Two days after she turned 85, Hildegarde was performing at the Russian Tea Room in 1991 and, of course, offered a rendition of her 1934 signature song, ''Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup.'' She observed that it was a song she never grew tired of singing. Ms. Sosenko, who had composed it and was one of many friends and well-wishers in the audience, brought down the house when she countered, ''But I'm tired of it.''"

By the late 1940s, Hildegarde was the highest paid caberet singer in the world, released dozens of LPs in the 50s and 60s and sold out Carnegie Hall on her eightieth birthday. The Wisconsin Historical Museum has a photo of Hildegarde appearing on her radio show, circa 1945, on this page. There's also info on a record Hildegarde made to promote her home state that included the song "My Milwaukee".

Hildegarde has a wonderful singing voice, but the constant smiling and upbeat tone and that little laugh can get a bit grating sometimes, at least to me.

Post updated with corrected date of Oct 16th. - 28 April 2008


Tags: music · comedy · variety · AFRS · gay and lesbian

Information Please - AFRS Pgm 85, Oct 15, 1945

April 25th, 2008 · Comments

In this post, we take a listen to an episode of the popular panel quiz show, "Information Please", originally broadcast on October 15, 1945 and rebroadcast as program 85 in the series on the Armed Forces Radio Network.  Listeners who stump the panel with their questions get a War Bond.

Clifton Fadiman plays host to panelists writer John Kieren, newspaper columnist Franklin P Adams, concert pianist Alex Templeton and violist William Primrose.  The first question on the show is "Who was described in song as 'celebrated, cultivated, underrated'?"


Tags: AFRS

Suspense - My Dear Niece

April 12th, 2008 · Comments

Here's an example of how an OTR show can sound if it's taken from an original master that luckily survives in good condition. It's also an example of an unreleased screw-up by Armed Forces Radio.

"Suspense" was a long-running CBS thriller series and this episode, "My Dear Niece", was originally broadcast on January 24, 1946. The story concerns an elderly woman that is held captive by a killer and features Dame May Whitty. You may also recognize Raymond Johnstone Brett Morrison, who was the voice of The Shadow over on Mutual radio, in the role of a police investigator.

This transfer was taken from an original rejected test pressing from AFRS, where the show was distributed as program 139 in the Suspense series. My guess is that the pressing was rejected because of the speed variance problem in the opening of the show. Circulating copies of this Suspense episode sound pretty bad; here's an opportunity to hear it in near hi-fi quality.


Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS