Archive for the 'variety' Category

USO - On With the Show

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Here's an unusual little special public service show assembled to promote the good work of the USO with our troops.  It features stars George Murphy, Eddie Bracken, Jack Carson, Danny Kaye, Dinah Shore, and Danny Thomas along with Michel Periere and his Orchestra.  Based on the matrix numbers on the disc, it probably was broadcast around 1949.

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The program was transferred from an original USO vinyl transcription, probably pressed by RCA, matrix numbers D9-QM-10580-1 and D9-QM-10581-1.

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Eddie Cantor Show - February 20, 1946

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Here's a fun little episode of "The Eddie Cantor Show", originally broadcast on NBC on February 20, 1946.  The first tune on the show is Eddie's rendition of "Onesy, Twosey" and, in the main comedy sketch, Eddie inherits a South American plantation from his grandfather.

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The show originated on an Armed Forces Radio Service transcription from the "Music Hall" series where the show was heard as a replacement for program 173 in the series.  The date is from the disc matrix.

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Supper Club - Pgm 85

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

Now a fascinating little oddity that had me doing a double-take.

The "Chesterfield Supper Club" was originally broadcast on NBC and featured vocalist Perry Como.  I had seen listings for this show around for years and never really paid much attention to it until I ran into this episode.

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Program 85 of the series as it was broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Service as "Supper Club", was originally heard on NBC on May 23, 1945.  The program is done in the style of a minstrel show, with Como singing the opening tune, "Mammy", and trading jokes an Interlocutor with Blackface comedians "Pick and Pat", who we heard in a their own series on the blog a few months back.  The show also features Martin Block, The Satisfiers, Mary Ashworth and Ted Steel and His Orchestra.

Pick and Pat were regular guests on the series during a certain period, so this wasn't a "one off".  It's a little cringe-worthy to think about the cool smooth Como belting out minstrel tunes on a regular basis.

Oh, the things that tobacco companies would get performers doing on the radio.

I'm glad that Perry Como's career recovered from this series - he's a real pro to hang in there and pull it off.

It reminds me of Frank Sinatra, appearing as a guest on the "Fred Allen Show" in a hillbilly sketch where he does a duet with Fred in a parody of Zeke Manners - the recording is something like listening to an aural train wreck slowly unfolding, leaving you grasping for your lp copy of "Come Fly With Me".  (You can give a listen at this page at archive.org - look for the show of October 21, 1945.  Sinatra's bit is the sketch at the end.  There's some good Jack Benny appearances in the set as well, btw.)

The show was tranferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription.  The date is in the disc matrix.

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Here’s to Romance - Pgm 55

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

It's been awhile since we heard our quirky musical variety series, "Here's to Romance".

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Program 55 of the series as it was heard on AFRS was originally broadcast on CBS on June 21, 1945.  The first song on the show is "June is Bustin' Out All Over".  Robert Ripley tells his "Believe It or Not" story about the discovery of penicillin - there's even an appearance by Sir Alexander Fleming himself.  The show features Larry Douglas, Ray Bloch and His Orchestra, guest Marian Hutton and host Jim Ameche.

This previously uncirculated show was dubbed direct from the original AFRS vinyl transcription; the date of the program is from the disc matrix.

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Guest Star - Pgm 12

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

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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Arthur Godfrey Time - Pgm 2587FR

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Following up on our post last week, here's another episode of "Arthur Godfrey Time", the old redhead's morning talk and variety show heard on CBS.

Program 2587FR of the series as heard on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service features guest Don Ho.  Godfrey kicks off the show with his own version of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" and, later in the show, Don Ho and Godfrey do a duet on "Tiny Bubbles".

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After the post last week, Thom Whetston wrote in to note that there's a code on the label that tells us the approximate date of the show.  The "39-7" number indicates it shipped out from AFRTS week 39 of 1967; looking at the week number based on the fiscal year starting in October, he estimates that the shows date from June 1967, allowing for a couple of weeks to master and press the disc from the original broadcast date.

The show was transferred from an original 12" vinyl microgroove AFRTS transcription.

Many thanks to Michael Utz for his donation of the disc to the collection!

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Arthur Godfrey Time - Pgm 2586TH

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

When we talk about the "death" of old time radio, it sometimes leaves an impression that overnight everyone was on the air playing rock and roll records.  But, many old time radio personalities maintained healthy careers in network radio long after Alan Freed's "Rock and Roll Dance Party".

A case in point is Arthur Godfrey.  From 1966 or 1967, we hear an episode of "Arthur Godfrey Time", as it was rebroadcast as program 2586TH in the series on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.

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Godrey's show, heard daily on CBS, was a mix of celebrity interviews, light chat, and in-studio performances.  In this show, the special guest is Don Ho.  The first tune is "My Ukelele", performed by Godfrey, and we also hear Godrey's rock n' roll take on "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover".  Don Ho and his group give us a couple of tunes as well and tell us about their current work.

The show was transferred from an original microgroove 12" AFRTS vinyl transcription.

Many thanks to Michael Utz for donating the disc to my collection.  We'll hear the next show in the series, with more from Don Ho, next week on the blog.

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Dinah Shore - Pgm 46

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

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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Hildegarde - Pgm 25

Friday, May 7th, 2010

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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Dinah Shore - Pgm 15

Friday, May 7th, 2010

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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