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Archive for the ‘Radio variety’ Category

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, Jimmy Durante!

From the 1920s and onward, James Francis Durante—born in Manhattan on this date in 1893—was the entertainer who advised audiences that they have to start off each day with a song.  Durante’s large proboscis earned him the nickname “Schnozzola,” and he became known for singing jazz/ragtime-influenced songs in his trademark gravelly voice while wearing a battered […]

Happy Birthday, Irving Brecher!

The only scriptwriter to receive sole credit on two of the Marx Brothers’ classic feature film comedies was Irving Brecher, born in the Bronx on this date in 1914.  An impressive achievement, to be sure…though it should be noted that those two romps—At the Circus (1939) and Go West (1940)—rank toward the bottom of the Brothers’ oeuvre where […]

Happy Birthday, Sydney Greenstreet!

Despite appearances in only two dozen films in an eight-year time span, Sydney Hughes Greenstreet—born on this date in 1879—remains one of the motion picture industry’s best-remembered character actors.  Greenstreet was fortunate to make an indelible impression in so many movie classics:  Signor Ferrari, the owner of The Blue Parrot nightclub in 1942’s legendary Casablanca (Sydney has only to […]

Happy Birthday, William N. Robson!

Though September 30, 1962 is often acknowledged as the date when The Golden Age of Radio came to a close, director-producer-writer William N. Robson had a decidedly different take in an interview with Dick Bertell in 1976.  “The great period of radio was from 1937, ’38 really, through the war,” Robson reminisced.  “It was only […]

Happy Birthday, Everett Sloane!

In the 1941 movie classic Citizen Kane, Kane’s business manager Mr. Bernstein makes an observation that remains in the memories of movie fans long after Kane’s final reel has unspooled: “One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, […]

Happy Birthday, Lamont Johnson!

I’m certainly not the first person to observe that the best directors—whether they work in film, television, theater, or elsewhere—are often those with an extensive background in acting…and today’s birthday celebrant, Lamont Johnson, certainly proves to be a solid example of this.  Born Ernest Lamont Johnson, Jr. in Stockton, CA on this date in 1922, […]

Happy Birthday, Charlie Cantor!

The actor best known for making his weekly entrance on Duffy’s Tavern with a cheery “Duhhh…hello, Arch!” was born on this date in Worchester, MA in 1898.  Charles “Charlie” Cantor was radio’s most beloved dunce, Clifton Finnegan—whose name was inspired by Clifton Fadiman, the host of the erudite radio quiz show Information Please.  That, however, […]