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The Big Show - Pgm 31

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.

transcription label

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.