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Entries Tagged as 'comedy'

Guest Star - Pgm 12

August 19th, 2010 · Comments

Finally this week, a hard to find early entry in the long running, star-studded Treasury Department public service series, "Guest Star". Program 12 in the series features Bob Hope and Bing Crosby along with host Kenny Delmar and Denes Agay and the Savings Bond Orchestra and Chorus.  Agay and the Orchestra kick off the show with "After You've Gone".  In the Hope and Crosby segment, the guys crack jokes about each other and savings bonds while Hope plugs his new movie, "My Favorite Brunette".  The side is dated April 10, 1947 in the matrix, so I'm assuming that's the date the master for the show was recorded.

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Episodes of "Guest Star" and programs featuring Hope or Crosby aren't unusual, but there's one thing about this show that makes it distinctive - it's an early (and likely the most atrocious) example I've run into of a canned laugh track.  If you listen closely, it's obvious that Hope and Crosby segment was recorded separately and some unseen engineer has layered in laughs and often inappropriate audience reaction to Hope and Crosby's banter.

I posted about the show's laugh track to the OTR mailing list.  Scholar Michael Biel sent in a helpful response, conjecturing the laugh track might be the work of Jack Mullin.  Mullin, of course, worked with Crosby to record his network radio show on a German tape machine and tape stock that Mullen brought back from Europe after the War.  Mullin says he saved snippets of laughs and audience reaction to "sweeten" Bing's show, "creating" the laugh track.

But I'm not sure this is Mullin's handiwork.  The show dates from April 1947 and Biel, in an earlier mailing list message archived on this site, noted that Bing's show on ABC was recorded and edited on laquers at this time - it was only mastered on tape starting October 7, 1947.  According to Wikipedia's article on Mullin, Bing saw a demonstration of the tape machines for the first time in June 1947, a couple of months after this "Guest Star" episode was mastered.

So, what do you think?  Is this an early attempt by Jack Mullin to show off what could be done with tape?  Or is it some anonymous radio engineer with some lacquers of laughs and audience twitters on a couple of turntables?  Perhaps if Bing heard this bad laugh track on the final version of this "Guest Star" episode, it might have made him even more excited about the possibilities of Mullin's tape recorder when he saw it a couple of months later.

The use of prerecorded laughs in radio isn't as well documented, but this show seems like an early and very primitive attempt at giving an impression of a "live" audience - I still wonder if it might be the earliest surviving example.   Certainly, some Armed Forces Radio programs had applause inserted, particularly when they were covering an edited commercial segment or were making a transition in the sides of the show.  But I'm hard pressed to think of an example where audience reaction for a whole segment is being simulated.  It's certainly worth more research on this show and other resources by someone to see how early use of canned laughs developed on radio before it became such an annoying presence on television sitcoms.

The program was transferred from an original vinyl Treasury Department transcription, matrix number ND7-MM-5430-1C.

Thanks to blog listener George Brandon for donating this intriguing disc to my collection!

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Tags: comedy · variety · Treasury Department

The Billie Burke Show - April 27, 1946

August 19th, 2010 · Comments

Did you know that the Glinda, the Good Witch from "The Wizard of Oz", had her own sitcom on radio?

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Yes, "The Billie Burke Show" was heard on CBS from 1943 to 1946 on Saturday mornings, with Burke playing a slightly daffy woman who tries to spread joy in her neighborhood.  The program of April 27, 1946 has a tramp showing up at her back door, begging for food and it turns out to be an opportunity for Billie to teach her brother Julius a little lesson about charity.  The show was sponsored by Listerine Toothpaste and Tooth Powder.

Don't miss Billie singing the theme song at the end of the show in that distinctive voice of hers.

Despite being on the air for three years, it looks like this is the only circulating episode of the series.  Perhaps a cache of them are stored away in some personal transcription collection or the attic of a network or ad agency rep.

The program was transferred from an original Radio Recorders lacquer marked "copy" on the disc label.  There's an odd transition between the two sides of the disc - side one cuts off suddenly and side two is faded in.

Many thanks to Michael Utz for purchasing this one for my collection!

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Tags: comedy

Dinah Shore - Pgm 46

July 10th, 2010 · Comments

It's been awhile since we heard from the charming Dinah Shore, so let's give one of her fun shows a spin.

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Originally heard November 30, 1944 as "Birds Eye Open House" on NBC, here's program 46 of the "Dinah Shore" Armed Forces Radio Service series.  We hear guest Jack Carson do his imitation of Frank Sinatra; the show also features Harry Von Zell, The Joseph Lilley Chorus, Robert Emmett Dolan and His Orchestra.

Our mp3 was dubbed directly from an original War Department Armed Forces Radio Service vinyl transcription.  The date is from the disc matrix.

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Tags: music · comedy · variety

Henry Morgan - Pgm 20

June 18th, 2010 · Comments

I'm pleased to offer up on the blog an episode of "The Henry Morgan Show", a kind of hard to find series.  Morgan had a difficult relationship with his sponsors in the radio era, often very pointedly satirizing their products on his show.  You might think of him as a more mean spirited Fred Allen.  Gerald Nachman, author of "Raised on Radio" noted, "If Fred Allen bit the hand that fed him, Henry Morgan tried to bite off the whole arm."

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Program 20 in the series as broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Service was originally heard November 5, 1947 on ABC.  Gerard (Arnold Stang), Henry's friend from New York, talks about his visit to Hollywood.  Lorraine Burton and her cocker spaniel Dooley sing "Sugar Blues" and "Uncle Henry" reads the comics pages to the kiddies (actually, the comic ads at the bottom of the pages).  The March of Science looks at the discovery of weather and then we wrap up with a short sketch about two ad men.  The show features Bernie Green and his Orchestra.

Our program was digitized from an original AFRS vinyl transcription.  The date is from the disc matrix.

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Tags: comedy

Smiley Burnette Show - Pgm 177

June 13th, 2010 · Comments

A big tip of the hat to Michael Utz, who recently donated some wonderful discs to my collection.

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Here's one of the highlights - a previously uncirculated episode of the syndicated RadiOzark series, "The Smiley Burnette Show".  Program 177 includes really nice Western swing versions of "Caravan" and "Sleepy Time Gal" in the show.  And the sound on this near mint condition disc is marvelous - it's one of the best recorded shows I've run into.

By the way - did you know that Smiley, in addition to being a sidekick for Gene Autry in films and a familiar face on television's "Petticoat Junction" was also a talented musician that wrote over 400 songs?

The show was transferred from a RadiOzark vinyl transcription; it's banded into three parts for inserting announcements by your local announcer.  "WLOG - 10/31/51" noted in pen on label.

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Tags: comedy · country music

Village Store - Pgm 58

May 27th, 2010 · Comments

From October 26, 1944, we pay another visit to the "Sealtest Village Store", originally heard on NBC.  In this post, we hear the show as it was broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Service as program 58 in the series.  Joan Davis takes a trip to the beauty shop; regular Jack Haley is also heard on the program.

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This previously lost/uncirculated episode of the series was digitized from an original Navy Department AFRS vinyl transcription.

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Tags: comedy

Dennis Day - Pgm 114

May 21st, 2010 · Comments

This transcription's a bit rough in places, but it gives us another previously lost episode of "The Dennis Day Show", aka "A Day in the Life of Dennis Day".

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In program 114 of the series as it was broadcast on AFRS, originally heard November 5, 1949 on NBC, Dennis enters a cigar slogan contest.  His opening tune on the show is "I Never See Maggie Alone".

The show was transferred from a vinyl AFRS transcription; the date is from the disc matrix.

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Tags: comedy · Dennis Day Show

Hildegarde - Pgm 25

May 7th, 2010 · Comments

And now a bit of musical-comedy featuring the vivacious and talented Hildegarde, the girl from Wisconsin that grew to fame as an exotic and mysterious cabaret singer who "sings the way Garbo looks".

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Originally broadcast as "The Raleigh Room" on October 9, 1945 on NBC, we hear program 25 in the series as it was broadcast on AFRS.  The show opens with Hildegarde singing "Sing, Everybody, Sing" and our guests for this episode are Walter Abel, Lee Sullivan and Patsy Kelly.

The program was transferred from original AFRS vinyl transcription, matrix numbers HD5-MM-12909-1 and HD5-MM-12910-1, probably pressed by RCA.  Date is from the transcription matrix.

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Tags: music · comedy · variety · Hildegarde

Dinah Shore - Pgm 15

May 7th, 2010 · Comments

I've not been able to pin down a date on this previously lost/uncirculated "Dinah Shore" program.  It sounds like it might be from her circa 1943 series sponsored by Birds Eye on CBS.

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In program 15 of the series as broadcast on AFRS, Dinah opens up the show with "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else".  In the comedy segments, guest Wally Brown has decided to become a detective.

Brown appeared on several episodes of Dinah's 1943 series for Birds Eye.  He was a comedy partner with Alan Carney and the team was promoted by RKO as a kind of low-rent Abbot and Costello.  Probably their most (in)famous movie together was "Zombies on Broadway".

The show was transferred from an original Navy Department AFRS vinyl transcription.  There's no date in disc matrix

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Tags: music · comedy · variety

Your Movietown Radio Theatre - Pgm 109

April 22nd, 2010 · Comments

And now a fun little episode of the ZIV syndicated series, "Your Movietown Radio Theatre".

Program 109 in the series is "The Luck of Adam", a story about an advertising man who makes a bet with a newspaper woman about how gullible people can be.  The show features Cesar Romero, Barbara Woodell, Herb Butterfield, and Daws Butler.  There's no opening announcement in the transcription - that would have been provided by your local announcer.

The show was digitized from original an ZIV vinyl transcription set, matrix numbers UR 166275 AU1 and UR 166276 AU1.  Goldin dates the show to 1948.

Sorry, but no label scan on this one - the disc was water damaged and the label is obscured.

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Tags: drama · comedy · Your Movietown Radio Theatre