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Archive for the ‘Classic television’ Category

“…and that’s with a U.S. Marshal and the smell of…Gunsmoke!”

“If I had known it would last this long, I would never have created the darn thing.”  So observed John Meston, the writer who—along with director-producer Norman Macdonnell—can claim responsibility for breathing life into the Western series that premiered over CBS Radio on this date sixty-five years ago: Gunsmoke.  There’s no getting around it: Gunsmoke […]

Happy Birthday, Frances Langford!

“Just play it like a nagging wife” was comedy writer Philip Rapp’s suggestion to actress-singer Frances Langford, who was about to take on a facet of radio performing with which she had only a passing familiarity.  Frances, born Frances Newbern Langford in Lakeland, FL on this date in 1913, had traded funny quips with comedian […]

Happy Birthday, Les Damon!

Lester Joseph Damon—born in Providence, RI on this date in 1908—was memorably described by my Radio Spirits colleague Elizabeth McLeod as “the prototype of the radio actor on the go.”  From his earliest acting experience in stock companies during the 1930s to his busy radio gigs from the 1940s and onward, Les Damon never allowed […]

Happy Birthday, Fred Foy!

Old-time radio historian Jim Harmon minced no words in his book Radio Mystery and Adventure and Its Appearances in Film, Television and Other Media: “He was the announcer, perhaps the greatest announcer-narrator in the history of radio drama.  He pronounced words like no one ever had—‘SIL-ver,’ ‘hiss-TOR-ee.’  But hearing him, you realized everybody else had […]

Happy Birthday, Paula Winslowe!

The untimely death of “platinum blonde” Jean Harlow at the age of 26 was devastating news to moviegoers…but since the motion picture business is a business, MGM (Harlow’s employer) soldiered on by completing Jean’s final movie, Saratoga (1937), with Jean’s body double, Mary Dees.  Filming Dees from behind could go a long way towards covering […]

Happy Birthday, Claire Trevor!

On March 24, 1949, actress Claire Trevor—born in Brooklyn, NY on this date in 1910—received one of the highest honors a performer can obtain from their peers in the motion picture industry: an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.  The role for which Trevor garnered her Oscar was that of Gaye Dawn in the film Key […]

Happy Birthday, Jim Backus!

He was an actor who did it all: stage, television, movies…and for us fans of the aural medium, plenty of old-time radio.  James Gilmore Backus arrived in Cleveland, OH on this date in 1913, and for most of his show business career was identified as a consummate comedic character actor…though he could, on occasion, show […]

Happy Birthday, Alonzo Deen Cole!

Before radio audiences eagerly anticipated each week the memorably unsettling sound of a creaking door (on Inner Sanctum Mysteries) or an ominous gong signaling that they should dim the lights (Lights Out), they had to tune into The Witch’s Tale for the proper raising of goosebumps.  Tale was the true granddaddy of radio horror, premiering over New York’s WOR on May […]