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Archive for the ‘Radio variety’ Category

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 […]

Happy Birthday, Conrad Binyon!

“Why are you so extra nice to me?” asked sixteen-year-old Conrad Binyon of his mother in 1947.  Ma Binyon wouldn’t admit it…but she was still trembling from her son’s recent experience involving a crash landing with a friend on an aviation trip to Arizona.  Binyon—born Conrad Ambress Binyon on this date in 1931—had just become […]