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Archive for the ‘Radio variety’ Category

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, 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, 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 […]