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Archive for the ‘Radio variety’ Category

Happy Birthday, Helen Mack!

In 1949, RKO re-released She (1935)—a motion picture based on the series of H. Rider Haggard novels and starring Randolph Scott and Helen Gahagan (as the title character).  She, a science fiction-themed film that the studio had hoped would enjoy the same success as the earlier King Kong (1933), lost money in its original run…but the re-release proved a bit […]

Happy Birthday, Marsha Hunt!

Actress Marsha Hunt reminisced to writer-director-producer Roger C. Memos in 2014 that her mother Minabel took her to see a Joan Crawford film, No More Ladies (1935), when she was just a teenager.  Crawford’s character in the movie was named “Marcia,” and at one point during the feature Mother Hunt leaned over and whispered to her daughter: […]

Happy Birthday, Benita Hume!

When Jack Benny and his writers concocted the script that would introduce actor Ronald Colman as Jack’s “next door neighbor” on The Jack Benny Program, the writers’ first inclination was to hire an experienced radio actress to portray Colman’s real-life wife, Benita Hume.  After all, such a decision would have been safer and cheaper—the creative minds on the […]

Happy Birthday, Kenny Baker!

From 1935 to 1939, Kenneth Laurence Baker—born in Monrovia, California on this date in 1912—was welcomed into millions of homes as the popular tenor vocalist on radio’s The Jack Benny Program.  Kenny was more than just a singer, however; he was pressed into showing off his comedic chops as a member of Benny’s “gang,” playing a slightly zany […]

Happy Birthday, Mickey Rooney!

“I was a 14-year-old boy for 30 years,” Mickey Rooney once jokingly observed of his show business career, which spanned stage, screen, television and radio. He had one of the longest runs in entertainment history—active from the silent era up until the time of his death (a period of nine decades).  Diminutive in stature but […]

Happy Birthday, Penny Singleton!

She had stiff competition for the film role that would make her a household name: actresses Gloria Blondell and Una Merkel had both been approached to breathe life into Blondie, the titular heroine of Murat Bernard “Chic” Young’s popular comic strip, on the silver screen.  When a third actress, Shirley Deane, fell ill before she could play the […]

Happy Birthday, Alan Ladd!

Old-time radio legend Frank Nelson (The Jack Benny Program) shared the following anecdote in Leonard Maltin’s The Great American Broadcast: “I had a friend who did just bits with me in radio shows, and one day he said, ‘Frank, I have a chance to do some [motion] pictures, what do you think I ought to do?  Do you think […]

Happy Birthday, Van Johnson!

During the 1940s, the man born Charles Van Dell Johnson in Newport, Rhode Island on this date in 1916 was known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “boy next door.”  Van Johnson’s affable charm and golden-boy looks (red hair and freckled face—Van used to joke he “got paid by the freckle”) made him the ideal actor to portray any […]