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Happy Birthday, Lou Krugman!

It seems odd that an actor who claimed to have emoted on over 10,000 radio broadcasts and provided voiceovers for 700 commercials doesn’t even rate an entry at Wikipedia…it’s a crime against the acting profession, not to put too fine a point on it.  Allow us to assuage your outrage by paying proper tribute to a character veteran born in Passaic, NJ on this date in 1914: Lou Krugman.  Krugman continued to do what he loved most—acting, of course—almost until the time of his passing, and fans of old-time radio, classic movies, and vintage television are all the richer for it.  His dedication to his craft earned him the respect and admiration of his peers; in 1991, he was honored by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters organization in recognition for his lifetime achievements.

Lou’s flair for the buskin began in the 1930s as a member of the distinguished Shakespearean company headed up by renowned stage actress Maude Adams.  Krugman’s Broadway debut was in 1933’s Yoshe Kalb, and after that triumph he would later grace the cast of such productions as Twelfth NightA Midsummer Night’s DreamCafé CrownPeer Gynt, and The Diary of Anne Frank.  Lou eventually discovered that radio could provide a steady paycheck for a hungry actor who could demonstrate versatility, and he started to get work on such shows as Captain MidnightFlying PatrolJack ArmstrongLights OutMa Perkins, and The Shadow.

To list every radio program Lou Krugman worked on would be a daunting task…in case you missed the estimated numbers in the opening paragraph of this blog post.  But like any seasoned professional, he made the rounds on most of the important anthology programs from Radio’s Golden Age.  In addition to occasionally functioning as “the opening voice” on Escape, Lou made appearances on All-Star Western TheatreThe CBS Radio WorkshopCrime ClassicsThe Diary of FateFamily TheatreThe First Nighter ProgramThe Hallmark Hall of FameThe Lux Radio TheatreNBC Presents: Short StoryThe NBC University TheatreRomanceScreen Directors’ Playhouse, and Suspense.  Krugman also rode tall in the saddle on such western favorites as The Cisco Kid (William Nadel notes in Radio Rides the Range that “no one was more adept at playing slimy villains” than Lou), Fort LaramieFrontier GentlemanGunsmokeHave Gun – Will TravelHopalong CassidyThe Romance of the RancherosTales of the Texas RangersTom Mix and His Ralston Straight Shooters, and Wild Bill Hickok.

Krugman stood before the microphone with script in hand on many of radio’s popular crime dramas, including The Adventures of Phillip Marlowe, The Adventures of the Saint, Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator, Broadway’s My Beat, Defense Attorney, Jeff Regan, Investigator, The Line Up, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Night Beat, Pursuit, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.  Lou even displayed a flair for comedy, trading quips with Alan Young and Jim & Marian Jordan (Fibber McGee & Molly), and working on such sitcoms as Dear Mom, December Bride, The Life of Riley, Life with Luigi, That’s Rich, and Those Websters.  Rounding out Krugman’s radio C.V. was a recurring role (as Tony Griffin) on the long-running daytime drama The Romance of Helen Trent, and guest appearances on the likes of Chandu the Magician, I Love Adventure, Lassie, The Man Called X, Rocky Fortune, Rocky Jordan, The Silent Men, and Smilin’ Ed’s Buster Brown Gang.

When this last program (Smilin’ Ed) made the transition to the small screen as Andy’s Gang, Lou Krugman followed as well, portraying The Maharajah in the serialized adventures of “Gunga, the Elephant Boy” on the program.  Krugman’s TV work is every bit as extensive as his radio resume.  In the 1950s, he made the rounds of such favorites as 77 Sunset Strip, The Abbott and Costello Show, The Adventures of Superman, Cheyenne, December Bride, The Gale Storm Show (Oh Susanna!), I Love Lucy, The Lone Ranger, M Squad, Maverick, The Millionaire, The Restless Gun, and The Thin Man.  Lou kept up his busy pace as the 60s rolled in, guest starring on the likes of Ben Casey, Bonanza, Burke’s Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show, F Troop, Family Affair, Green Acres, Gunsmoke, Hazel, Hogan’s Heroes, I Spy, The Lucy Show, My Three Sons, Perry Mason, The Untouchables, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and The Wild Wild West.

A small, uncredited role in an underrated Dick Powell picture, To the Ends of the Earth (1948), got Lou Krugman’s film career going…though he wasn’t quite as prolific in feature films as he was in radio and TV.  Krugman’s movies include Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952), Sabaka (1954), Jump Into Hell (1955), and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).  One of his most memorable assignments was portraying John R. “Jack” Santo in 1958’s I Want to Live!—one of two lowlifes (the other played by Philip Coolidge) responsible for Barbara Graham’s descent into crime and eventual date with the gas chamber…Graham was played by Susan Hayward, who won an Academy Award for the role.  Lou’s appearances in The Purple Gang (1959), Irma la Douce (1963), and Our Man Flint (1966) followed.

In the 1970s, Lou Krugman continued to be a member-in-good-standing in the “Hey—it’s that guy!” acting fraternity, guest starring on such favorites as The Streets of San Francisco and The Rockford Files.  But Lou never abandoned his love for radio; he contributed to attempts to keep audio drama alive with performances on the likes of The CBS Radio Mystery TheatreHeartbeat TheatreThe Hollywood Radio Theatre, and The Sears Radio Theatre.   He did voiceover work as well, breathing life into “Chief Cooper” on the Saturday morning cartoon series Spider-Woman.  In addition, Krugman enjoyed working as a member of the California Artists Radio Theatre (an organization founded by actress Peggy Webber in 1984), and joined the cast of CART’s production of Macbeth (alongside fellow radio veterans like Parley Baer, Jeanette Nolan, and Elliott Reid), which was awarded two gold medals from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  To relax between acting gigs, Lou also dabbled as an amateur artist—the picture at the upper left is one of his works (as of this posting, it was being sold on eBay).  This amazing talent succumbed to cancer in 1992, at the age of 78.

In real estate, a “looky-loo” is slang for a person bursting with curiosity to check out a house for sale…but with no actual intention of purchasing the property.  Here at Radio Spirits, a “listen-Lou” can be defined as our determination to tell you about all the collections we have on hand featuring the talents of Mr. Krugman.  There are our Escape sets (Escape to the High Seas, EssentialsThe Hunted and the HauntedPeril), of course…but you can also hear Lou on The Adventures of Phillip Marlowe (Sucker’s RoadNight TideLonely Canyons), Barrie Craig, Confidential InvestigatorBroadway’s My Beat (Great White WayDark Whispers), Chandu the MagicianCrime Classics (The Hyland Files), Fort Laramie (Volume Two), Frontier Gentleman (Life and Death), Gunsmoke (Killers & Spoilers), Have Gun – Will TravelThe Line Up (Witness), Night Beat (Human Interest), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (Homicide Made Easy), The Shadow (Strange Puzzles), and The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (The Stuttering Ghost & Other Mysteries).  Last—but certainly not least—our birthday celebrant is present and accounted for in our Great Radio Detectives compendium, too!

One Comment

  1. Patty Giebel krugman says:

    God bless you. Thanks so much. I loved my father with all my heart and he deserves the best.

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