The "Mad Hatterfields" is a rather obscure fifteen minute serial from the 1930s originating at WLW in Cincinnati. The program was written by Pauline Hopkins, whose other credits include radio's "First Nighter" and "Grand Hotel" and who played Meg on "The Mad Hatterfields". The show was directed by Owen Vinson, later the director-producer of "Let George Do It".
The show is a fun serial that looks at an eccentric theatrical family. The matron of the clan, Mama Hatterfield, struggles with her "glory days" being in the past; her brother Rolly is a pompous, free-spending thespian; one daughter who is flighty and falls in love with any man coming along while the other level-headed daughter tries to keep everyone in line.
I have eight episodes from the series on original WLW laquers from 1938 and 1939. No other programs appear to survive in private collections or archives and it's never been circulated among old time radio collectors to my knowledge. The discs came from the collection of Marty Halperin, the vice president of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.
I think these transcriptions only survived because they were used to assemble an audition disc for the series as a half-hour situation comedy. (You can hear that audition in the next post.) The discs included a handwritten sheet of notes on the different shows and the discs have some groove wear, indicating they were played several times as they prepared the audition show.
The program of January 11, 1938 has Nicki calling off his engagement with Meg and sailing for Paris. Meg and the whole Hatterfield clan have rushed to the boat to find him. Can Meg convince Nicki to stay and marry her? The show is sponsored by Nestle's Lion brand irradiated evaporated milk. The aives WLW id and states "This is the WLW line to New York."
A helpful blog listener dug up some infomration from newspapers on the show. Mutual sent out a press release on July 3, 1938, noting that the program would premiere on Monday, June 27 from 4:45 to 500 pm. The release also noted that "Midstream", a more serious serial, would premiere on the same date and was also written by Pauline Hopkins.
Another pr release from Januaruary 1, 1939 offered up praise for Pauline Hopkins:
"A MILLION WORDS WRITTEN FOR ONE RADIO PROGRAM For her 370 episodes of the “Mad Hatterfields,” Pauline Hopkins, author of the popular Mutual network serial, has written approximately 1,036,000 words. At 2,800 words per script, which in itself is above the average for air-dramas, but which is the result of an unusually fast pace set by the comedy, Miss Hopkins’ wordage is believed to be a near record. The author of “Mad Hatterfields” began writing at the age of seven, but gave up all hope of ever becoming a writer when her first novel, “The Scarlet Goods,” written before she was ten, brought nothing but hilarity from her family. Gathering material for her radio-drama, Miss Hopkins turns an eye to the members of her own family, and writes a story of artistic and lovably erratic people. “The Mad Hatterfields” originates in the studios of Mutual’s Cincinnati affiliate,, WLW, and is heard Monday through Friday at 3:45 p. m. over KBST."
A newspaper publicity photo from June 6, 1939 identifies some of the cast - Rolly was played by William Green, Meg by Pauline Hopkins, Nicky was Duane Snodgrass and Rita was portrayed by Betty Arnold.
Before airing on Mutual, the show appears to have been heard locally in July 1937 on WLW and left the air around June 1939.
Our mp3 was transferred direct from an original WLW lacquer. It is previously uncirculated among otr collectors.