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Archive for the ‘Radio variety’ Category

Happy Birthday, Berry Kroeger!

Berry Kroeger’s initial show business ambition was to become a concert pianist.  Kroeger didn’t lack for talent, you understand—but being painfully shy and terrified of performing threatened to sideline his promising career.  To improve his stage presence, Barry’s music teacher suggested he take a dramatic lesson or two and what started out as the means […]

Happy Birthday, Barbara Eiler!

You’re familiar with the old cliché: a young girl leaves her hometown and heads for Hollywood, determined to become an actress…nay, not just an actress—a star!  All that needs to be done is to hang around a drugstore’s soda fountain drinking chocolate malteds until some talent scout wanders in, notices our future star at the counter, and […]

Happy Birthday, James Cagney!

When we think of the man that Orson Welles once described as “maybe the greatest actor who ever appeared in front of a camera” it’s usually as the motion picture industry’s consummate tough guy, with memorable appearances in such iconic films as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and White Heat (1949). James Cagney, however, was a performer of incredible versatility: he […]

Happy Birthday, Francis “Dink” Trout!

In the Golden Age of Radio, actors were often called upon to play “meek” individuals—or whatever nickname you prefer: wimp, nebbish, milquetoast, etc.  The gold standard for these portrayals might be Bill Thompson, who even utilized “wimp” in the name of his famous creation “Wallace Wimple.”  But the go-to thespian continually called upon to play any number […]

Happy Birthday, Betty Lou Gerson!

George Allen took over as director of the West Coast radio mystery anthology The Whistler beginning in the mid-40s, and one of the hallmarks of his tenure with the program was building a stock company that was facetiously referred to as “Whistler’s children.”  He tailored the casting of many of radio’s finest performers to the needs of […]

Happy Birthday, Chester Morris!

Chester Morris starred in several Boston Blackie movies during the 1940s (Alias Boston Blackie, Boston Blackie and the Law, etc.). In a number of these films, Morris allowed his character Horatio “Boston Blackie” Black to be quite a skilled practitioner of prestidigitation.  (That’s a fancy way of saying “magician.”)  Chet had a lifelong love for magic, and he would […]

Happy Birthday, Mary Lee Robb!

Actress Mary Lee Robb’s first professional radio job in 1947 was a small one.  She was hired to play Pearl, the daughter of Abner Peabody (Norris “Tuffy” Goff) on the long-running comedy serial Lum ‘n’ Abner.  In a 1988 interview with author-historian Chuck Schaden (Speaking of Radio), Robb still remembered the two lines she had as […]

Happy Birthday, Ronald Colman!

In February of 2012, an auction by Nate D. Sanders Memorabilia successfully sold fifteen Academy Awards Oscars for a total of slightly over $3 million (a record-breaking amount at that time).  The top ticket item was Herman Mankiewicz’s 1941 screenplay statuette for Citizen Kane, which went for $588,455.  But I’m willing to bet that there were […]