Archive for the 'soap opera' Category

Boulevard of Make Believe - Pgm 12

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Here's the only other episode in my collection of "Boulevard of Make Believe", a syndicated serial drama about Hollywood stars featuring Anna Q. Nelson and Viola Dana.  In program 12, Wally talks to the police about how he might be mixed up in the kidnapping of his wife.

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The end theme plays through and we hear a male vocalist crooning the lyrics to "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - he sounds a bit like Bing Crosby.  Anyone have an idea who it might be?  It wasn't uncommon for these early 30s syndicated shows to use cues from commercial records, so it might be from a commercially released 78.

Dave Goldin, by the way, lists program 1 in the series in his database, a show which ran in my blog a few months ago.  He conjectures that one of the performers playing a Mexican sounds like Bela Lugosi.  What do you think?

The show was digitized direct from an original shellac Radio Release Productions transcription disc, matrix number A-1055.  Radio Release Productions, you might recall, also produced the "Police Reporter" series I ran on the blog awhile back.

I wish I could run into the full run of the series, which I'm guessing was just 13 or 26 episodes - this sounds like a fun serial.

My special thanks to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group for adding this disc to my collection!

Boulevard of Make Believe - Pgm 1

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Earlier, we ran a rare early 1930s series in the blog, "Police Reporter", syndicated by Radio Release Productions.

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Here's a another program the company produced, "Boulevard of Make Believe".  A "behind the scenes" Hollywood drama serial, the show features Anna Q. Nelson and Viola Dana.  In program 1, Nelson gives advice to a new starlet, Betty.  Dana talks with Anna about Wally, a married man who is in love with Anna.  Anna is approached by a publisher about her memiors, but, strangely, she hasn't actually written them.

The disc I have contains this show and program 20 in the series and I haven't found out much about it or the company that produced it.  The program was dubbed direct to digital from an blue Flexite Radio Release Productions transcription, matrix number A-1029, probably pressed by Columbia.

My special thanks to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group for adding this dic to my collection!

Listen Now:


The Mad Hatterfields - Audition

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

In this post, a half-hour audition for potential sponsors of the show "The Mad Hatterfields".  Previously broadcast as a quarter-hour serial on WLW-Mutual, this was an attempt to turn the show into something for an evening slot. Announcements during the show highlight different aspects of the talent involved in the series and the show's run as a fifteen minute feature.

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In the dramatic portion of the show, Edward arrives and is introduced to the different characters in the eccentric Hatterfield family.  A small group of strings and piano are used for the music, rather than the solo piano used in the fifteen minute version of the series.

The show, perhaps dating from circa 1939-40, was transferred from an original World Broadcasting two-sided lacquer.

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The Mad Hatterfields - January 11, 1938

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

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.

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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.

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Monticello Party Line - An Introduction and Pgm 673

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Since our run of "American Family Robinson" is at an end, I'd like to introduce you to a new series we're starting, "Monticello Party Line".  The show isn't very well documented, so I'm hoping some of you might be able to dig up some info on it beyond what I found on the web as we go through our run.  I've got 43 episodes and I'll be posting two per week over the next few months.  In addition, I'll be posting at least two of the recipe books offered as a mail-in premium on the series.

Syrup Pepsin bottleMonticello Party Line cast

Sponsored by Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin, a patent laxative, "Monticello Party Line" was a soap opera based around the small-town lives of Monticello, Illinois, the location where the Dr. Caldwell company was headquartered.  (Goldin, by the way, in his listings for two episodes of the series, incorrectly conjectures that the setting might be Monticello, California.)  The program is based around a telephone "party line", though the actual party line itself is only used as a plot device on occasion in the episodes.  The stories revolve around the problems of couples Curley and Aggie Peters and Clem and Sara Tuttle and people in the town.  At times, the show sounds like it was influenced by character driven comedy serials, like "Vic and Sade" or "Lum and Abner", and, with other characters moving in and out of the town, more of a traditional women's soap opera.

The show offered as a mail-in premium, a recipe and household tips book supposedly authored by Sara and Aggie that featured photos and information on the town and characters.  Some shows, like the set in my collection, have other offers for household items like aprons.  Often, characters participate in the show's commercials or Syrup Pepsin or one of the mail-in premiums are mentioned in the context of the show's dramatic sections.  The series was produced by the Cramer-Krasselt Company advertising agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The agency is still in business today with clients such as Corona, Corelle, and Career Builder - quite a distance away from patent laxatives.

"Monticello Party Line" was, oddly enough, written by Sandra Michael, who would go on to create "Against the Storm", the only radio soap to win a prestigious Peabody award in 1942.  "Against the Storm" was known for it's more literate, intelligent quality - Poet Laureate John Masefield was once a guest on the program via a special shortwave link and Edgar Lee Masters guested and read from "Spoon River Anthology".  The show tackled big topics like pacifism and the war in Europe and Michael strongly felt that housewives needed something with more depth than the typical dramas on daytime radio.  According to Dunning, President Roosevelt was scheduled to be a guest on the show in December 1941, but he was a bit busy with Pearl Harbor and had to cancel.

With the integrated sponsor messages and typical soap opera storylines, I can imagine Sandra leaving "Monticello Party Line" in the late 30s, falling to her knees and declaring "I'll never shill for patent laxatives again!" as she looked for a more high-class outlet for her writing talents, though I'm not sure what Micheal really thought of the series later.  For me at least, the 43 episodes were charming and inventive in their own way, a real glimpse of a lost era in broadcasting and of laid-back small town life with gossipy eccentric neighbors.

"Monticello Party Line" was syndicated to local stations that would typically the program five days per week in the morning or mid-morning soap opera block alongside shows like "Just Plain Bill", though I've seen some program listings for it in the late afternoon/early evening block.  Internal references in the show indicate it might have been heard as early as 1934 or 1935.  The Chicago Tribune first lists it in January 1936.  The first reference to the program in the Los Angeles Times is the schedule for September 22, 1936 and the last is in 1937.   There are no references to the program on radio schedules in New York or Washington, so it probably ran on smaller market stations or perhaps regionally in the West and mid-West where Syrup Pepsin was distributed.  The Broadcasting Yearbook mentions the program as late as 1939.  The dates for the shows I'll be posting come from pencil notations on the labels, verified with a 1938-39 calendar and internal references to days of the week and holidays in the show.

The series was broadcast without interruption through program 675, broadcast in March, 1938.  At that point, the program went on a summer hiatus and picked up that fall where it left off a couple of months before. My run of the series includes this break, and the show helpfully includes some introductions to the characters and plot for listeners that might be tuning in for the first time.

"Monticello Party Line" might have gone off the air because of difficulties faced by the Dr. Caldwell company.  Bottle collectors are very familiar with the product and both the sample size and full-size retail bottles are quite common on the market.  One collector site cites a March 14, 1939 NY Times article reporting that the Federal Trade Commission clamped down on the company for its claims for Syrup Pepsin.  The city of Monticello has a page outlining a history of the company and you can see an original document on the FTC case against Syrup Pepsin.

I noticed in looking at some of the original bottles and packaging online that Syrup Pepsin contained 4% alcohol "to prevent freezing", so perhaps if you were a regular user of Syrup Pepsin, consuming it in the way it's hawked on the radio show, you might not have really cared if you're regular or not.  One of the cookbooks offered as a premium on the show even suggested Syrup Pepsin as an ingredient in a recipe.

Only a handful of random examples of "Monticello Party Line" are currently in circulation among collectors so it's been difficult to get a feel for what the series was really like.  All but two of the programs I have are previously uncirculated and, since they date from the same period, give you a good sense of what the show sounded like day-to-day.  I'm missing some shows here and there, but the plot moves at such a glacial pace that you can still keep up with the story pretty easily.

I'm doubtful that a full run of the series will turn up unless it's scurried away in some archival or personal collection of a company or personality connected with the show.  Unlike other syndicated shows that might be re-run over many years, "Monticello Party Line" was intended to be broadcast only once, so there was no incentive to keep the transcriptions after they were heard on the air.

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For our first post, let's take a listen to program 673 in the series, originally broadcast April 27, 1938.  Clem and Curley talk about a mysterious new woman that's arrived in town with David Hunter.  Meanwhile, Carlton Ross and his sister, the mysterious woman, inspect the old Brewster house with David.  The show was transferred from an original Flexite transcription pressed by Columbia, matrix number 341815.  The date is noted in pencil on the label.

Listen Now:


Rosemary - May 8, 1947

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Sometimes, the right talent comes together and the stars align, creating a perfect moment of artistry.  That's what we have right here in this post - Old Time Radio magic.

From May 8, 1947, originally broadcast on CBS, we hear the final installment in our mini-run of "Rosemary", sponsored by Ivory Snow.  You can catch up on the previous two blog entries from the soap here.

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As we join our story in progress, Rosemary's amnesiac husband has remembered that he has another wife and a child that came into his life before he met Rosemary.  In last week's episode, Bill had found his "old" wife and Rosemary returned home from her search for the "other woman" to find she had lost her job, but still had the support of her friends and family.

In this episode, Bill Roberts arrives at a farm in Meadville with Audrey, the "other woman", and their child.  There's an epidemic in the city and Bill is concerned that their daughter might be ill.  As our episode begins, Bill and Audrey settle down in the house.

Audrey doesn't seem too happy about being on the farm and seems a bit, shall we say, on edge.  Just what is Audrey hiding?

I think you'll agree that the actress playing Audrey gives a memorable tour-de-force performance as the most irresponsible mother of all time.

The show includes some great musical commercials for Ivory Snow, including one about "Heartless Harry" and another about "Gorgeous Geraldine".  As usual, we get our little reminder to save our used chicken fat.

This previously lost/uncirculated episode of the series was transferred from an original Radio Recorders lacquer transcription; the label has a typo in the date, listing it as "1957", and is notated "Network".

Listen Now:


Rosemary - May 7, 1947

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

This week, we continue a short run of three episodes of the 1940s soap opera, "Rosemary", that highlight a key plot in the soap, where Rosemary's amnesiac War vet husband discovers he had a wife and child before he met Rosemary.

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In the episode of May 7, 1947, Rosemary returns home from her jaunt to New York to look for Bill's previous wife and his child.  She's lost her job at the newspaper, with the position filled by someone else as Rosemary trotted off to the big city.  But, the kindly doctor in town is there to help Rosemary find another job.  At home, Rosemary tries her best to get her mother hooked up with the doctor and Rosemary's artist friend, Brad, consoles her and tries to help her forget her problems.

Will Rosemary find another job to support her mother and sister?  Will she finally get over that amnesiac husband of hers and respond to the advances of her wild and crazy artist friend?

The show was sponsored by Ivory Snow.  Notice how they separate the reminders about saving kitchen fat from the sponsor's product message?  I guess they didn't want to get housewives thinking too much about the fact that their favorite beauty bars and laundry soaps were being made from leftover hamburger grease.

Our show was transferred from an original line check Radio recorders lacquer transcription marked "Protection Copy".  The program appears to be previously lost/uncirculated.

Next week ... a very special episode of "Rosemary" where we finally meet [insert organ music here] the Other Woman....

Listen Now:


Rosemary - July 22, 1946

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

This week, I'm starting a run of three episodes of the soap opera "Rosemary".  This show might not sound that interesting, but, trust me  - we're leading up to a really fun little episode of this series in a couple of weeks and this will set up the story for you.

"Rosemary" was broadcast first on NBC and then on CBS from 1945 to 1955.  The show was created by Elaine Carrington, who also gave us "Pepper Young's Family".  The story centers on Rosemary Dawson, a young secretary that works to support her mother and younger sister.

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A major storyline in the series was Rosemary's marriage to Bill Roberts.  Bill has a slight problem - he's a War vet and has amnesia.  So, as you're probably guessing Bill forgot that he was married to another woman.  This series of three episodes comes from right in the middle of the story and gives us an interesting peek into how things developed.

In this first post, we hear the program of July 22, 1946 broadcast on CBS.  Rosemary and her friend Brad, an artist, have arrived in New York by train.  They stop for lunch before Mary boards the train for Meadville.  Rosemary is looking for the woman in New York who may have been married to Bill.  Will Rosemary find this other woman?  Will Rosemary see how her artist friend is coming on to her?  The program was sponsored by Ivory Snow and includes a commercial for saving used kitchen fat.

The show was transferred from original line check KNX-CBS Radio Recorders lacquer transcription.

Next week, we learn what happens to your job when you go galloping across the country in search of your husband's ex-wife.

By the way - I was going to link to something about the sponsor, but they discontinued manufacturing Ivory Snow Flakes a few years back.  They just sell that liquid and powder stuff now.

Listen Now:


Dick and Jeannie - Pgm 2

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Our budding romantic pair continue their swoon-fest in episode 2 of "Dick and Jeannie", an unusual five-minute musical serial syndicated by Harry Jacobs Productions circa 1947.  Each episode features a particular song and this one is "My Heart Stood Still" by Rogers and Hart.

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The show was transferred from original vinyl WOR - Harry Jacobs Productions transcription, matrix number WOR 6-9431.

Next week, the plot thickens as we work our way through the first six programs in the series.

Listen Now:


Dick and Jeannie - Pgm 1

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Can two young people trying to break into show business find love with each other?  Will people think they're nutty because they burst into song at the drop of a hat?

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That's the central concept behind a five minute serial, "Dick and Jeannie", syndicated by Harry Jacobs Productions in Hollywood and New York.  Ben Kibler, a helpful member of the otr mailing list, found references in newspapers showing the series broadcast as early as January 19, 1947 and as late as November 6, 1947.

In program 1 of the series, Dick and Jeannie introduce themselves and meet for the first time.  Each show has a featured song and this one has them spooning and belting out "My Ideal".

The show was transferred from an original WOR-Harry Jacobs Productions transcription, matrix number WOR 6-9431.  I think this might be a previously lost or at least a rare series among otr collectors.

I've got the first six shows in the series and we'll be hearing one each week over the next month and a half.  So, stay tuned!

Listen Now:



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