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Entries Tagged as 'drama'

Weird Tales - Program 2, Part 2 - The Curse of Nagana

May 3rd, 2012 · Comments

In this post, a real rarity.  "Weird Tales" was a series (or perhaps a proposed series) recorded in Hollywood in 1932 and based on stories in the famous horror anthology magazine.  So far, discs from the series haven't turned up - until now.


I obtained this disc from Jim Blackson and would like to thank him for the transfer you're listening to here - the disc is almost 17" across and just too large for my transcription player.  Jim had two of these discs, both with blank Columbia labels like this and both part 2 of "The Curse of Nagana".  However, they seem to be different takes.  He saved a copy of both so we could compare the discs.

I'd also like to send a shout-out to Stephen Haffner for help with this post.  Haffner is the proprieter of the Haffner Press, a publisher of mystery fiction that was offering a limited edition set of stories by a "Weird Tales" author - the set included, as a bonus, a reproduction of the flyer sent to radio stations promoting the series.  He was generous enough to forward a digital copy of the flyer to give some background on what you're hearing.

The series (or proposed series) was produced by Hollywood Radio Attractions, 4376 Sunset Drive, Hollywood.  In a promotional flyer for the program, they advertise three episodes that had been produced - the company was planning to record a total of 52 half-hour shows.  Similar to "The Witch's Tale", the show was created in such a way that they could be played as one half-hour program each week or split into two fifteen minute shows, completing one story each week.  So, what you're hearing is part two of "The Mystery of Nagara", which, if run on-air, could be run as a self-contained fifteen minute show, likely with an introduction and commercial by a local announcer.

This disc, along with the other take of part 2 of this episode, seem to be the only discs that survive from the series.  The other shows would have been a fascinating listen - they got some top Hollywood acting talent for the programs.  Here's a rundown of the episodes listed as being available in the flyer:

  • Program 1 - "The Living Dead", based on Kirk Mashburn's Novellete, "De Brignac's Lady" with Jason Robards, William Farnum, Viola Dana, Richard Tucker, John Ince, Wally Reid, Jr. and featuring music by the "Mata Hari Orchestra direct from Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California"
  • Program 2 - "The Curse of Nagana", from Hugh B. Cave's short story "The Ghoul Gallery" with Richard Carle, Johnny Harron, Florence Britton, Cyrill Delavante, John Ince, Pierre White, Lucille Amaya with music by an "Arabian Orchestra".
  • Program 3 - "The Three from the Tomb", from a novel by Edmund Hamilton with William Farnum, Bert Roach, Prisicilla Dean, Pat O'Malley, John Ince, Frank Glendon and Robert Hoover.

The actors on the shows were experienced in Hollywood films.  Jason Robards, featured on the first program, is actually Jason Robards, Sr., the father of the actor you might be more familiar with.  The elder Robards appeared in silent and sound films and television through the 1950s.  Richard Carle and the other actors featured in "Nagana" were all experienced character actors in films.

All of the shows were adapted by Oliver Drake and produced by Irving Fogel, a producer and recording executive that had a long career in Los Angeles.  Fogel, according to Christopher Sterling's "Encyclopedia of Radio", acted as a producer on some early Armed Forces Radio programming.  Drake was a writer and director in Hollywood, primarily with Westerns, from the silent era through the 1950s and worked on television shows such as "The Adventures of Superman", "Laramie" and "Lassie".

Scholars looking at the history of "Weird Tales" magazine have heard about the series for years, but no recordings of the shows themselves or much detail about the series have surfaced.  After considerable searching through Google and subscription newspaper databases, I can't any reference to the series or these particular shows actually being broadcast.  My guess is that the three shows were recorded and promoted to stations, but that it just didn't sell.

Horror was a bit of a tough genre to sell to sponsors.  At a time when sponsors were identified closely with the programs they advertised on, it would be difficult to find a local or regional advertiser that was a good fit.  Combine that with some likely belt-tightening with the Depression going full-swing and the glut of transcription programming available and it likely doomed the project.  The other programs in the series probably weren't produced and, with no or few airings of the three shows that were made, that would explain why discs from the series just haven't turned up.

Again, I would like to thank Jim Blackson and Stephen Haffner for their help with this post.

The mp3 you're hearing was transferred directly from the Columbia one-sided laminated shellac transcription, matrix number I-1511 with notations of "IA" and "HRA2".  The disc features a blank Columbia Sound-on-Disc Division label, so it is likely a test pressing.

If you have any additional info or thoughts on the "Weird Tales" series, please leave a comment or drop me a line.


Tags: drama · early radio

Guest Star - Pgm 383

January 10th, 2011 · Comments

A big thanks goes out to Michael Utz for this disc, program 383 of the popular and long-running Treasury Department syndicated public service show "Guest Star" from July 25, 1954.

transcription label

In this episode, we hear a short drama, "Object: Matrimony" starring favorite 50s television star Donna Reed.  The program also features John Conte and Harry Sosnik and the Savings Bond Orchestra.  It was transferred from an original Treasury Department vinyl transcription pressed by Allied.


Tags: drama · Treasury Department

Christmas Seals - 1950 Campaign - Thunder in the Valley

December 7th, 2010 · Comments

Since it's the holiday season, I'm starting a short run of a few Christmas-themed shows on the blog.

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First up this week is "Thunder in the Valley", a special drama produced as part of the 1950 Christmas Seal Campaign.  Ralph Bellamy stars in this short drama about a rural doctor that needs an x-ray machine to detect TB in his patients.  The show is marked "Style E" - I'm still not sure what that designation means and it shows up on some other Christmas Seals discs I've run into.

The show was transferred from an original National Tuberculosis Association, New York, vinyl transcription pressed by RCA Victor, matrix number NE0-MM-3229-4.  My thanks to Michael Utz, who donated the disc to my collection.


Tags: drama · Christmas related

Famous American Authors - circa 1947-48

November 14th, 2010 · Comments

Awhile back I obtained a curious group of discs, all containing local programming from around the country originally broadcast in late 1947 and early 1948.  I think these might have been submitted to some type of competition, based on some notes I found on the disc sleeves.

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From that group, here's "Famous American Authors", a program produced by WSUI in Iowa City.  This episode dramatized the life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.  It's an interesting glimpse into the wide range of shows, including drama, that were commonly heard on local radio many years ago.  WSUI, founded in 1919 by the University of Iowa, is still around and is the oldest surviving educational radio station west of the Mississippi.

The show was digitized from an original lacquer transcription from WSUI.

Correction, 11/15/2010 - In my haste to put together the post, I typed the name of the subject incorrectly in my original version of the post - it's on Oliver Wendell Holmes, not Longfellow...


Tags: drama · local radio

The Search - Pgm 14

October 21st, 2010 · Comments

A few weeks ago, I posted an episode of a rather mysterious series I found on some circa 1960 AFRTS discs.  "The Search" is a quarter-hour religious drama about everyday people facing moral choices and was hosted by Robert Young.  Many of the episodes have familiar actors from the otr era.  But I've been unable to find out anything about the show - I'm wondering if it was created by one of the mainstream churches for syndication.

transcription label

Program 14 is a drama about trapped coal miners who learn what courage really means.  The show features Douglas Kennedy and Willard Waterman, better known for his work on "The Great Gildersleeve".

The show was transferred from an original AFRTS vinyl transcription that also contains Bobby Hammack #213 and part of Jim Ameche Pops Concert #3.

Anyone figure out where this series originated?


Tags: drama · religion · The Search

The Weird Circle - Pgm 19

August 8th, 2010 · Comments

If you're an old time radio collector, you're no doubt familiar with "The Weird Circle", a horror/mystery anthology series based on famous books that was syndicated by NBC in the 1940s.

transcription label

Well, here's your chance to take a gander at one of the labels and listen to an episode dubbed right from an original transcription set for the show.  Program 19 in the series is based on Edgar Allen Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue".  The show was digitized from an original vinyl NBC Orthacoustic Syndicated Program Series vinyl transcription set, matrix numbers ND3-MM-4682-3 and ND3-MM-4683-1.


Tags: drama · NBC Syndication · Weird Circle

Your Movietown Radio Theatre - Pgm 113

July 24th, 2010 · Comments

Here's another entry in the ZIV syndicated anthology series, "Your Movietown Radio Theatre", dated by Goldin to 1948.

Program 113 features John Howard in "Hold That Memory", a lighthearted story about a psychology professor running a little experiment.    The show was transferred from an original vinyl ZIV transcription set, matrix numbers UR 167878 AU5 and UR 167879 AU5.

The disc was pretty scratched, so I've run it through some serious click reduction for presentation here.  The label was obscured by water damage, so I'll spare you the picture of the murky mess there.


Tags: drama · Ziv syndication · Your Movietown Radio Theatre

Columbia Workshop - January 11, 1942

July 3rd, 2010 · Comments

In keeping with our Independence Holiday patriotic theme, we next offer up a seldom heard little broadcast from the "Columbia Workshop" series.  This one is circulating among collectors, but this copy offers a sound upgrade for the show.

transcription label

"Free Speech" was originally broadcast January 11, 1942.  It's a drama where different voices of the past, such as Churchill and Socrates, speak about the right to free speech.  The featured soloist is Lansing Hatfield, Metropolitan Opera Baritone and John Daly is your announcer.  The show was directed by Earle McGhill and music is from "The People, Yes" by Carl Sandburg, William C. White and Earl Robinson.

During the program, they announce that this is a rebroadcast of a program heard a few weeks earlier.  Goldin speculates it might have been heard on December 7, 1941; I would guess it was done as part of the larger Bill of Rights anniversary celebration that month that gave us Norman Corwin's "We Hold These Truths" heard earlier on the blog.

The show was digitized from an original Columbia vinyl transcription set, matrix numbers YTNY 996 and YTNY 999, probably pressed for educational institutions.  My apologies for the very slight groove damage in the first few minutes of the program.

Hats off to blog listener Michael Utz for donating this wonderful rare disc to my collection!


Tags: drama · WW II related

American Cancer Society - 1948 Fund Drive - Square Moon

June 25th, 2010 · Comments

Michael Utz recently donated another curious little disc to my collection, this one from the American Cancer Society's 1948 Fund Drive.

transcription label

Cancer, along with mental illness, and several other health issues, used to be very taboo subjects - the disease could be so devastating that it wasn't something that was talked about in polite company.  This little drama "Square Moon", attempts to combat this attitude and the resulting fear and misinformation that can result.

In the show, a man goes to his doc with a sore on his lip and deals with the prospect that he might have cancer by trying to find out as much about the disease as he can.  The description of cancer he reads in a book at the library makes it sound like the disease is a Communist invasion.

Unintentional creepy moment in the program:  He visits a cancer research lab and the doc there offers him a cigarette to calm his nerves (and he thanks the doc for it on his way out of the lab).

The show was recorded by the American Broadcasting Company Recording Division.  It was digitized from a vinyl American Cancer Society transcription, matrix number ABC 562

Thanks again Mike for this unusual show!


Tags: Uncategorized · drama · medical related

Studio X - Pgm 5

May 27th, 2010 · Comments

A few months ago, we heard a couple of episodes of "The Man With the Story" where all the parts in the program were played by a single actor.  In this post, we hear a similar series from the 1950's, "Studio X", featuring the voice of Paul Frees.

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Frees was a prolific voice actor and you're sure to recognize his work right away - his credits include voiceovers and character work for many Disney films and theme park rides, dubbing other actors in films such as "Midway", and acting on radio series like "Escape" and "Gunsmoke".

"Studio X" was a syndicated series from Capitol Transcriptions; each program was a quarter hour story with some kind of ironic twist.  Program 5 is "The Red Macau", concerning a butler, who skims a bit off the household expense accounts and is undone by a little red bird.  Goldin dates "Studio X" to 1948, but the style of the show, with the sparse production style, sounds like it might have been recorded a bit later - perhaps it was a bit ahead of its time.

The show was transferred from an original vinyl Capital transcription, matrix number SX-5-T1. I think this episode is previously uncirculated.


Tags: drama