Entries Tagged as 'variety'
May 3rd, 2010 ·
Here's another episode of "Hollywood's Open House", a syndicated Kermit-Raymond Corporation variety series notable for some of the stars that appeared on the program.
Program 52 features guest Jackie Gleason, still in his nightclub days, doing his "Jukie, the Jukebox" routine. (He does the same routine on a Kate Smith AFRS Christmas show in my collection.) Anita Louise and host Jim Ameche appear in a dramatic sketch, "The Yearning Heart".
Our transfer is from an original vinyl Columbia transcription pressing, matrix numbers YTNY 6515 and YTNY 6516.
April 22nd, 2010 ·
It looks like folks are interested in hearing some of the more unusual shows in my collection that I've dubbed from reel to reel tapes and lp discs. So, here's a test post to get us started.
"The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour" was, for several years, one of the biggest shows on radio and is probably the program that defined the radio variety show format for the 1930s. I particularly enjoy the series, at leas the few examples I've heard, since it's a throwback to a style that's closer to vaudeville.
The program of March 14, 1935 has Rudy Vallee and the Connecticut Yankees playing host to Dennis King in a dramatic sketch about an Irish patriot, "Robert Emmet". A highlight of the program is comedian Monroe Silver recreating his famous Victor recording, "Cohen on the Telephone". The show also includes comedy by George Shelton and Tom Howard and much more. The show, originally broadcast on NBC, was sponsored by Fleishmann's Yeast and probably comes from a WEAF, New York aircheck.
This particular file was digitized from a 3 3/4 ips quarter track tape from an unknown dealer and probably dates from the 1970s. You'll hear some dropouts in the first couple of minutes of the show, a common problem with reel to reel tapes of this vintage, but the sound is pretty good overall.
This is one of four broadcasts from this period on the tape that I've not run into in mp3 format.
Tags: music · comedy · variety
February 14th, 2010 ·
This week, I'd like to send out a special Valentine's Day greeting to M. Stipe and her partner, D. Watson, who arranged with me to get this disc of "Hollywood's Open House" transferred to digital. She's had the disc for 14 years with no way to play it and Mr. Watson arranged for the transfer as something of a Valentine's Day present.
Unfortunately, the mail's running a little slow - the disc and an audio cd of the program are in the mail and on its way - so we have to arrange for this Internet greeting for Valentine's Day.
We've had a few episodes of "Hollywood's Open House" on the blog in recent months, but it turns out the disc contains a previously lost episode of the series with something a bit unusual.
Program 42 features guest stars Lew Parker and Lucille Ball. Lew drops in during the first half of the show to do some stand-up comedy while Lucy, in the second half, tackles something a little different from her usual showbiz work - a dramatic sketch. As usual for the series, smooth-toned Jim Ameche is our host and Ray Bloch and His Orchestra provide the music.
The show was transferred from an original General Entertainment Corp vinyl transcription, matrix numbers GEC HOH 142-A and GEC HOH 142-B.
Thanks to both of you for sharing the disc - Happy Valentine's Day!
January 29th, 2010 ·
I have to admit that I was a bit too young to grow up during the classic Old Time Radio period. So, I never experienced a personality like Arthur Godfrey first hand. Listening to him in recordings from the era, though, there's something that creeps me out about him. He reminds me of that annoying creepy uncle in everyone's family who is always trying to be funny but sounds a bit spaced out or something.
He's best remembered today for his work in fifties television, including "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts". Here we offer a sample of his work on the show, which was originally simulcast on CBS radio and television on November 28, 1949, and broadcast as program 14 in the "Arthur Godfrey" series on the Armed Forces Radio Service.
In the series, average people would appear on the program and introduce someone they knew who was talented in some way and audience applause determined who was crowned the winner and got a chance for a showbiz contract. Contestants on this episode include a wonderful harmonica player, Harry Breen, singer Andrea Lee and Bill Blockson and a quintet called the White Guards. Something a bit unexpected happens during the contest, but I'll let you listen in and find out how it turns out.
This previously lost episode of the series was digitized directly from a vinyl AFRS transcription. The date is from the disc matrix.
By the way, Goldin lists an episode of the series featuring contestant Lenny Bruce, introduced by his mother. I'd love to hear that one. ("You should hear my son Lenny - he's so funny! I keep telling him he should be on the radio!")
January 10th, 2010 ·
I've got a few episodes of "Hollywood's Open House", a nicely produced syndicated variety show hosted by Jim Ameche, that I'll be putting up on the blog periodically.
Program 50 in the series is dated to November 18, 1948, according to a log at otrsite.com. Ray Bloch and the orchestra kick off the show with "Five Minutes More". Guest Bert Lahr does different segments in the show based around gags where he's going to night school. Vocals on some of the songs are by Diane Courtney and Danny O'Neil.
Our show was transferred from original Kermit-Raymond Corporation syndication vinyl transcription pressed by Columbia, matrix numbers YTNY 6445 and YTNY 6446.
Tags: comedy · variety
October 8th, 2009 ·
Now let's turn back the clock to World War II with another entry in the Armed Forces Radio Network variety series, "Mail Call", that brought the top stars from movies and radio to perform for the troops.
This is a pretty amazing little half-hour program. Program 93 features hostess Paulette Goddard introducing W.C. Fields, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd with Edgar Bergen, Virginia O'Brien, Borrah Minnevitch and the Harmonica Rascals and the King Sisters. The announcer for the show is Don Wilson.
The program is dedicated to armed forces personnel from the State of Kentucky, so there's something of a Kentucky Derby theme going on, at least in the program's opening and first number by the orchestra, "Kentucky". The King Sisters sing the War themed tune, "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet" and the Harmonica Rascals do a wonderful arrangement of "Brazil". (I'm a fan of the Harmonicats, so this was a real treat.)
The highlight of the show is the sketch with W.C. Fields and Edgar Bergen. They're in rare form, with Fields and Bergen tossing in adlibs as Fields gets lost in the script.
The show was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription. According to the log of the series at otrsite.com, it was recorded May 24, 1944.
By the way - do you recognize the theme the orchestra plays after the intro of Paulette Goddard? It would turn up years later as a main theme used on "The Big Show". Was this some kind of stock cue in the music score library at NBC?
Tags: comedy · variety · AFRS · WW II related
September 18th, 2009 ·
I recently obtained a few rare episodes of this rare comedy-variety series with the Incomprable Hildegarde. In this post, we give a spin to program 17 in the series as it was heard on the Armed Forces Radio Network. The show was originally broadcast as "The Raleigh Room" on May 15, 1945 on NBC.
Hildegarde's first song on the show is "Who?". Patsy Kelly tries to get a date with Xavier Cugat and Clifton Webb gives her some advice, putting in a few plugs for his new movie, "Laura". Hildegarde and Cugat sing "Take It Easy", with lyrics making fun of Patsy's man-chasing. In the cast are Hildegarde, Patsy Kelly, guests Xavier Cugat and Clifton Webb, and Harry Sosnik and His Orchestra.
The show was transferred from original AFRS vinyl transcription, matrix numbers HD5-MM-7476-1 and HD5-MM-7477-1, probably pressed by RCA. Date is also on the transcription matrix.
Tags: music · comedy · variety · gay and lesbian
August 27th, 2009 ·
Note: This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.
This week, I'm starting a series of posts of "Pick and Pat", a rare variety show featuring two blackface performers. These programs, unheard since they were originally broadcast, come from a series of aircheck lacquers I recently obtained. Except for one program, the shows are incomplete. I'm still working on transferring and restoring the discs, so I'm not sure how many I will be able to offer here since the discs are in bad shape and starting to deteriorate.
The episode of May 31, 1937 includes routines where Pat plays the harmonica and the pair do a sketch playing Indians selling the island of Manhattan. The latter includes some jokes about the stock market crash and Depression and, with two Irish vaudeville comedians in Blackface playing Native Americans, considerable cognitive dissonance about race that might make your head explode if you try to analyze it too much. The show features music by vocalist Edward Roecker and an orchestra led by Benny Krueger, including "That Old Gang of Mine" with a recitation. The series was sponsored by the U.S. Tobacco Company to promote Model and Dill's Best pipe tobaccos.
According to Dunning's "Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio", Pick Padgett and Pat Malone were Irishmen who teamed up in 1929 as Molasses and January and worked regularly under that name on the "Maxell House Show Boat" program. They were heard on radio in their own series on NBC from 1934-35, CBS from 1935-39, Mutual in 1944 and ABC in 1945. You can see a picture of Pick and Pat and read an interview with Pick Padget from the St. Petersburg, Florida Evening Independent of June 16, 1933.
These discs were made for the producer of the program, Frank MacMahon, and each show was recorded on 16" lacquers in three parts. In the case of this particular episode, the second disc is missing, so you'll hear a fade-out in the middle of the show before we continue with the third part. The discs also preserved a bit of the shows on the air that evening before and after "Pick and Pat"; this set includes the last minute or so of the "Ted Weems" show, a special announcement by the WABC announcer on how to get tickets for the program, and, at the end, the WABC station id and opening of "Lux Radio Theater".
The show was transferred directly from an original WABC lacquer aircheck made by the National Recording Company, New York. The file has been run through click reduction software to improve the sound. Note that the sound levels vary during the show.
Tags: comedy · variety · Depression-era · African-Americans · Native Americans · Pick and Pat
July 11th, 2009 ·
The last great hurrah of big scale old time radio variety programs was NBC's "The Big Show". No expense was spared as a parade of big stars were brought before the microphone each week for ninety minutes of music, comedy and dramatic sketches hosted by Tallulah Bankhead. It couldn't compete with television and NBC sunk a bundle of cash into the show, but it was an amazing listen while it lasted.
There are several episodes missing from the series and this week we hear at least part of one of those lost programs. Armed Forces Radio carried "The Big Show" in a thirty minute condensed version, a kind of "Reader's Digest" approach to the show. Program 31 in the series as carried by AFRS and originally broadcast by NBC on October 28, 1951 includes guests Jimmy Durante, Jack Carson and James and Pamela Mason. Jack Carson chats with Tallulah about all the Broadway shows that he missed chances to star in. James and Pamela Mason appear in a dramatic sketch, "Revenge" and Tallulah, Durante and Carson stage their own version of it. Otrsite notes that the full program also featured The Ink Spots, Ed Gardner, and Dorothy Sarnoff.
The program was transferred directly from an original AFRS vinyl transcription. The file has been run through some click reduction software to take away some of the ravages of time, a kind of audio facelift that Tallulah might crack some good jokes about.
Tags: drama · comedy · variety
March 29th, 2009 ·
This week, we start a brief run of a comedy variety series, "Hollywood's Open House" that I'll be featuring in the blog on occasion in coming weeks. Hosted by Jim Ameche, the program might remind you a bit of "The Big Show" - a mix of comedy, music and dramatic sketches.
Program 30 in the series features guests Jan Murray, Phil Regan and Adele Astaire. Regan and Astaire are heard in a little drama called "Interlude in Central Park".
There's a log of the series at otrsite.com that notes it was syndicated by NBC in 1947 and 48. However, I've found discs for series on NBC/RCA's Orthacoustic label and, like this example, on the Columbia label. Our episode was transferred from an original vinyl Kermit Raymond Corporation syndication transcription pressed by Columbia, matrix numbers YTNY-5895 and YTNY-5896.
Tags: variety · Kermit-Raymond Corp · Hollywood's Open House