I've got a special fondness for the Armed Forces Radio Network's variety programming they put together for the troops. They're a little more loose and raucous than the network shows and you never know who might turn up or what they may come up with on the program.
In this post, we hear "Command Performance", program 146. The show is hosted by Fred Waring and the opening tune is a wonderfully goofy version of "Old Rockin' Chair" performed by Waring's orchestra and chorus. The show includes a tour of the sounds of New York with the city's columnists including Dorothy Kilgaren.
The show was transferred from original Navy Department AFRS vinyl transcription, probably pressed by RCA. Matrix numbers ND4-MM-9463 and ND4-MM-9464.
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Finally this week in our look at the end of World War II, we hear a remarkable broadcast - a special episode of "Command Performance" dubbed "Victory Extra", prepared for VJ Day and broadcast August 15, 1945 on the Armed Forces Radio Network.
Running a full 100 minutes, the show features an incredible array of actors, actresses, comedians, performers and personalities - almost anyone who was anybody showed up to celebrate the end of the War for our troops. Below, after the jump, is a complete outline of all the program contents for the purposes of indexing and searching for the show, but, if you've never heard it, I'd recommend you just listen and be surprised at who shows up.
Of course, since AFRS programs had to be distributed on disc to stations around the world, this special broadcast had to be prepared in advance. It would be interesting to find out how the show was put together - it sounds like it was specially created and didn't use recycled excerpts from other programs, like some other AFRS programs. Was it done in one recording session? What did they tell the audience? (Or was the audience made up of the performers themselves?)
The program was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription set.
Click "more" to see a complete listing of the show's performers.
An outline of the program's contents:
- An opening prayer read by Ronald Coleman
- "Ave Maria" performed by Rise Stevens
- Dinah Shore singing "I'll Walk Alone"
- Lionel Barrymore introducing Jose Iturbe
- Bette Davis in a comedy routine with Jimmy Durante and Jose Iturbe
- Marlene Dietrich introducing Burgess Meredith reading material by Ernie Pyle
- Ginny Sims singing "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"
- Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby engaging in banter and singing a few song excerpts, then Frank sings "The House I Live In"
- Brief remarks from Rita Hayworth, Desi Arnez, Ida Lupino, Ginger Rogers, Ruth Hussey, Clare Trevor, Don Wilson, Bill Maldin, George Montgomery, John Conte, Jinx Falkenburg, Dinah Lewis, Ronald Coleman
- Janet Blair singing "What Is This Thing Called Love?"
- William Powell introducing Bing Crosby singing "San Fernando Valley"
- Harry Von Zell and Lucille Ball with "Sounds from Home" including Lucille Ball sighing
- The King Sisters singing "Shoo Shoo Baby"
- Cary Grant introducing Robert Montgomery reading words from FDR
- Loretta Young reading a prayer written by a Chaplin serving in Burma
- Lena Horne singing "The Man I Love"
- Col Thomas H.A. Lewis expressing thanks to the performers, radio networks and stations, unions music publishers and others that make AFRS programs possible
- GI Jill introducing Johnny Mercer singing "GI Jive"
- Edward G. Robinson and Orson Welles reading words from various military leaders of the War
- Lena Roman singing a song in Spanish
- Danny Kaye performing a song about movies
- Marilyn Maxwell singing "I Got Rhythm"
- Herbert Marshall reading a poem by a fighter pilot
- Carmen Miranda singing "Tico, Tico"
- Claudette Colbert with Ed Gardner as "Archie" from "Duffy's Tavern"
- Greer Garson introducing Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas"
- Orson Welles reading a prayer by Yeoman 3rd Class William Welch
- Ken Carpenter "signing off" the program "on this first day of world peace" and introducing the US national anthem
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We continue our look at the work of Bing Crosby this week with what may be the most famous program on AFRS that he appeared in. It's program 162 in the series "Command Performance", the comic strip operetta, "Dick Tracy in B Flat".
The once-in-a-lifetime cast includes Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, Cass Daley, Frank Sinatra, Frank Morgan, Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, the Andrews Sisters and announcer Harry Von Zell.
There are several unusual aspects to this episode of "Command Performance". The show was usually a half-hour and it's not clear why they expanded it to an hour for this show that was distributed at that particular time. In fact, if you listen closely, it sounds like it may have been originally recorded as a "two-parter", since there's a break in the middle telling you to tune in next week. This reference falls a couple of minutes into side three of the transcription set, so I don't think it's there to give the local stations flexibility in programming it on their schedule.
I'd also like to know how the show originated - who came up with the idea and if it was the work primarly of one or more writers on the "Command Peformance" staff.
Our digital file was recorded directly from an original vinyl AFRS transcription set. This may be an upgrade for your collection, since at least one popular version of the recording that's floating around in mp3 format sounds as though it was transferred from a second generation tape and was dubbed too slow, making the cast sound like they have a bad cold.
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