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“…who teaches English at Madison High School…”


When Paramount Pictures brought the hit Broadway musical Grease to the big screen in 1978, some of the film’s casting decisions tickled the fancies of both old-time radio devotees and classic TV fans. One such decision was assigning the role of Rydell High School principal, Miss McGee, to character great Eve Arden. Arden had made a cottage industry out of playing wisecracking second bananas in films like Cover Girl (1944) and Mildred Pierce (1945; for which she received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress). But, she was perhaps best remembered for her long career as beleaguered high school English teacher Connie Brooks from the radio sitcom Our Miss Brooks, which premiered sixty-seven years ago on this date. (I know we’re not supposed to giggle in class, but learning that Miss Brooks finally got promoted to principal—even if she did have to change her name—was a temptation no fan could resist.)

ourmissbrooks2Interestingly, Eve almost took a pass on the Brooks gig. It wasn’t that she was afraid of radio—she had the chops, having worked on shows alongside the likes of Jack Carson, Jack Haley and Danny Kaye—it’s just that she was asked to take on Our Miss Brooks at the same time she was about to depart for a long overdue summer vacation. The actress who had played Miss Brooks in the audition recording (none other than future TV domestic Shirley “Hazel” Booth) hadn’t been able to capture the lighthearted side of the character, and so CBS chairman William S. Paley prevailed upon Arden. Only after an agreement was made that the Our Miss Brooks shows would be transcribed (recorded) before Arden went off for her R&R did the actress sign on the dotted line. In the middle of her vacation, Arden received a phone call from CBS executive Frank Stanton that Our Miss Brooks was the runaway hit of the network’s summer season.

ourmissbrooks7Writers Al Lewis and Joe Quillan must take the bows for creating a truly wonderful example of character comedy. Our Miss Brooks was a funny series with uproarious situations, but it was the endearing Connie Brooks—dedicated to her profession despite the limited financial rewards—that made the series work. Miss Brooks transcended the usual depiction of schoolteachers, often portrayed in movies and elsewhere as scowling, humorless tormentors of inquiring young minds. Instead, Connie came across as a warm, funny presence…and was unique in that era for being a single career woman, something often overlooked in discussions of boob tube trailblazers like Ann Marie (That Girl) or Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore). The show illustrated our heroine’s travails at work and play; the latter represented by her amusing interactions with absentminded landlady Margaret Davis (Jane Morgan). Though Mrs. Davis occasionally drove Connie to distraction with her eccentricities, the sweet Mrs. D served as a mother figure to Miss Brooks, offering her counsel (though occasionally ill-advised) and overlooking the fact that her tenant was always in arrears where her room rent was concerned.

ourmissbrooks4In the workplace, Connie Brooks enjoyed a great rapport with her students—notably übernerd Walter Denton (Richard Crenna), who often relied on his favorite teacher for advice regarding matters of the heart. Walter’s object of affection was Harriet Conklin (Gloria McMillan), who also loved and respected Miss Brooks, as did class athlete (and Madison’s resident dunce) Fabian “Stretch” Snodgrass (Leonard Smith). Miss Brooks’ best friend at Madison was also the man that she had set her cap for: biology teacher Philip Boynton (Jeff Chandler). Nicknamed “the bashful biologist” because of his painfully shy manner, Mr. Boynton was completely oblivious to Connie’s romantic advances…preferring the company of his frog “McDougall.” Many of the laughs on Our Miss Brooks were generated by Miss Brooks’ battles with her rival for Boynton’s attentions: fellow English teacher Daisy Enright (Mary Jane Croft). All of these were utterly lost on Boynton, of course, who probably preferred poring over the centerfold in Biology Monthly to spending time with females of his own species.

ourmissbrooks3Madison was also the home base of Connie’s nemesis: the autocratic and pompous school principal Osgood Conklin (Gale Gordon). Conklin was originally played by actor Joe Forte, but the minds behind OMB wanted a much more forceful personality in the role, and they pressed upon Gordon to play the part. Because he already had a lot on his plate with regards to radio roles (Gale was Mayor LaTrivia on Fibber McGee & Molly and Rumson Bullard on The Great Gildersleeve, for starters), Gordon asked for what he thought was an astronomical salary…and was flabbergasted when they agreed to his request. It would turn out to be money well-spent; the actor who specialized in blustery characters that eventually blew their stacks could be satisfied in knowing that Osgood Conklin would turn out to be his best radio role.

chandler20Our Miss Brooks was a solid performer for CBS Radio, and four years after its debut the decision was made to transition the sitcom to the small screen. Most of the program’s cast reprised their radio roles…with the exception of Jeff Chandler. While excelling as the radio Boynton, Chandler would have seemed out of place with his rugged good looks. In fact, he was beginning to enjoy a burgeoning silver screen career as a matinee idol (which started with his Oscar nominated performance as Cochise in 1950’s Broken Arrow). The producers replaced Chandler with actor Robert Rockwell, who looked more like a biology teacher…but to Chandler’s credit, Jeff insisted on fulfilling the remainder of his radio contract. When Chandler moved on, Rockwell replaced him as Boynton on radio as well.

ourmissbrooks5The television version of Our Miss Brooks was every bit as successful as its radio counterpart (in 1954, star Eve Arden would nab an Emmy as Best Female Star of a Regular Series). However, the ratings started to slide a bit in the show’s fourth boob tube season …and so the series was revamped slightly. Madison High was razed to make room for a freeway, and so Connie and Mr. Conklin eventually wound up squaring off against each other at a girls’ private school. Although Mrs. Davis turned up on occasion, we said goodbye to Walter, Harriet, Stretch…and even Mr. Boynton; Connie had a new lineup of suitors competing for her affections. Toward the end of the season, they brought back Boynton after realizing that the changes had been a terrible mistake…but it was too late to stop the sinking ratings.

Oddly enough, radio’s Madison High had been spared the wrecking ball; Our Miss Brooks continued with the same cast of characters as if the radio incarnation existed in an alternate universe. (It was the same situation in 1956’s Our Miss Brooks, a theatrical film produced to cash in on the success of the sitcom.) The Madison High gang continued with their shenanigans until June 30, 1957, when the show (which radio historian John Dunning once described as “one of the last bright lights of radio situation comedy”) rang the final bell to signal that school was out…forever.

20265Once popular as a television syndication staple, Our Miss Brooks seems to have fallen off the radar. I consider it one of the greatest entertainment crimes that there doesn’t appear to be enough interest in the TV series to warrant official season-by-season releases on DVD. But you can certainly find selected episodes of the TV show if you know where to look…and I can’t think of a better example than a collection of telecasts on Life of Riley/Our Miss Brooks, sold by Radio Spirits and featuring two laugh-packed installments from 1955: “The Jump” and “Home Cooked Meal.” There’s also a vintage November 26, 1950 radio broadcast featured on our Road Trip: Humorous Travel Tales set, and twenty classic shows featured on Boynton Blues (with liner notes by yours truly). Happy anniversary to our favorite high school instructor!

“…ace cameraman who covers the crime news of the great city…”


Turner Classic Movies occasionally schedules a 1956 film noir directed by Fritz Lang entitled While the City Sleeps. In the film, a troubled young man (John Drew Barrymore) has embarked on a killing spree (earning him the nickname “The Lipstick Killer”), and the heir to a magazine empire (Vincent Price) challenges three editors who head up the various periodicals published under the banner to solve the mystery—the victorious editor, of course, will be rewarded with the plum job of executive editor.

crimephotographer7While the “contest” is in progress, the subplot of Sleeps finds the various magazine employees whiling away the hours inside a gin joint, which is apparently an activity enjoyed by news hounds in real life as well. In fact, seeing the characters drown their sorrows in gin reminds me of another famous member of the fourth estate—a tenacious shutterbug who spent his copious free time in a jazz club haunt when he wasn’t solving murders and the like for his newspaper, The Morning Express. Sixty-seven years ago on this very date, radio audiences paid their first visit to The Blue Note Café…the favorite hangout of Casey, Crime Photographer.

A former newspaperman and advertising executive named George Harmon Coxe introduced Jack “Flashgun” Casey to the pages of the Black Mask detective pulp magazine in March of 1934. Coxe’s inspiration for the character was revealed in a 1978 interview; he knew that a newspaperman often risked life and limb to get the story, but the unsung hero of the newspaper was inarguably the man who snapped the pictures. “So why not give the cameraman his due?” George asked the interviewer. “If the reporter could be a glamorous figure in fiction, why not the guy up front who took—and still does take (consider the televised war sequences)—the pictures?”

crimephotographer3The popularity of Coxe’s Casey in the pulps soon led to a radio crime drama, which was originally known as Flashgun Casey upon its July 7, 1943 debut over CBS Radio. The program also went by Casey, Press Photographer and Crime Photographer, but most old-time radio historians and fans prefer to mash the two together and refer to the show as Casey, Crime Photographer. When he wasn’t plying his trade for the fictitious Morning Express, Casey sidelined as an amateur sleuth—on more than one occasion, Casey would notice a detail in a photo he snapped that the cops had apparently overlooked, and with fellow reporter Annie Williams—who doubled as the photographer’s love interest—Casey would doggedly follow any lead in order to insure that justice was done.

crimephotographer6At a time when mentioning saloons over the airwaves was frowned upon—even Duffy’s Tavern went by Duffy’s for a short period to satisfy the bluenoses—the hero of Casey, Crime Photographer spent his off-hours with gal pal Annie at The Blue Note, where they often engaged in lively conversation with the Note’s genially sardonic bartender Ethelbert, accompanied by the singular jazzy stylings of the café’s piano player. It was this aspect of the show that set it apart from the goodly number of crime dramas on the air (Coxe’s hero had always been too busy in the pulps to frequent taverns); the Blue Note scenes provided a touch of levity to the somewhat serious goings-on. Much of this lightheartedness can be attributed to writer Alonzo Deen Cole (who had previously scripted many broadcasts of The Witch’s Tale), who, according to one reviewer at the time of Casey’s run, infused the plots with a “wit and naturalism missing from many radio thrillers.”

crimephotographer8The first actor to lug around the camera equipment as Casey was Matt Crowley, then Jim Backus—yes, that Jim Backus!—inherited the role. But the best-remembered Casey was Staats Cotsworth, who was also playing another newspaper hero in the form of Front Page Farrell. There was only one Ethelbert…and that was radio veteran John Gibson, whose badinage with Cotsworth’s Casey was unquestionably the highlight of many broadcasts. A plethora of actresses came and went as Ann, notably Jone Allison, Alice Reinheart, Lesley Woods, Betty Furness and Jan Miner. Also heard on Casey was the hero’s police contact, Captain Bill Logan—one of the many roles played by radio legend Jackson Beck, though Bernard Lenrow took his turn at the part. The most important individual was the unseen musician who tickled the ivories at the Blue Note: it was Herman Chittison for most of Casey’s run, but Juan Hernandez and Teddy Wilson (formerly with the Benny Goodman Trio) occupied the stool on occasion as well.

20908Casey, Crime Photographer was mostly sustained during the program’s CBS run, but from 1946 to 1948 the series had glass company Anchor Hocking paying the bills, and it’s these saved transcriptions that constitute the bulk of the broadcasts extant today for future generations of listeners. Casey left CBS on November 16, 1950, and enjoyed a brief live television run (with Miner and Gibson in their radio roles) from April 19, 1951 to June 5, 1952 that served as an early acting showcase for character great Darren McGavin (taking over from Richard Carlyle). The radio program was revived on January 13, 1954, and allowed its titular hero to continue to run a tab at The Blue Note until it faded from the ether on April 22, 1955.

Before Casey, Crime Photographer ventured before the radio microphones, Coxe’s creation was featured in a 1938 Grand National movie release, Here’s Flash Casey—which is available on DVD from Radio Spirits. We’ve also got episodes from the show in our Stop the Press! (“The Demon Miner” and “The Loaded Dice”) and Highway Horror (“Road Angel”) compilations. But for pure undiluted Flashgun Casey, check out our Snapshots of Mystery and Blue Note collections. Happy anniversary to our favorite crusading cameraman!

Happy Birthday, Santos Ortega!


Radio historian and Radio Spirits contributor Jim Widner once asked humorously of today’s birthday celebrant “Any detective he didn’t play?” in a 2013 article of the Radio Recall newsletter. Jim is referring to actor Santos Ortega, born in New York City on this date in 1899. Ortega was a true radio veteran who did emote on a variety of the medium’s most popular crime dramas, and in later years enjoyed a long-running gig on one of the small screen’s best remembered daytime soaps…the preparation for which began in radio as well.

ortega11Santos was born to Isabella Corbett and Rafael Ortega—Rafael was a cigar maker by trade, and that might be where his son picked up his stogie smoking habit (many of Ortega’s publicity photos feature him with cigar in hand). Educated in Manhattan, Santos briefly entertained ambitions of being a clergyman, and studied for the priesthood at the Christian Brothers Seminary in Pocantico Hills, NY for a couple years before changing his mind. No, it was the actor’s life for the young Santos; he first appeared in an “extravaganza” at the old Hippodrome Theater before eventually landing roles in such Broadway productions as What’s the Use and What Never Dies.

Radio opened up many acting opportunities for Santos, and he landed his first job in 1929 on a variety program entitled Blackstone Plantation. Ortega played “Don Rodrigo,” a Latino character…and his only explanation for getting the gig was that the casting director looked at the name of “Santos Ortega” and figured with that background he’d be perfect for the part. Despite his Latino origins (on his father’s side—his mother was Irish), Santos spoke without a trace of an accent…but he quickly learned that many acting roles would come his way if he could master a Spanish dialect, and he acted accordingly. (Apologies for the pun.) His versatility would shine through as he appeared on many popular series including Arch Oboler’s Plays, The Big Story, The Cavalcade of America, The Columbia Workshop, Inner Sanctum, and The Mysterious Traveler.

ortega1As an actor based in the Big Apple, Ortega found himself much in demand for parts on crime and mystery-based series. One of his first major jobs was playing Inspector Richard Queen, the father of the titular sleuth on The Adventures of Ellery Queen. Santos essayed that role from 1939 to 1947. The actor later got a promotion when he was cast as the legendary Bulldog Drummond on that series in 1942, and a year later began portraying Nero Wolfe in a short-lived series inspired by Rex Stout’s legendary detective. He played the legal profession’s best-known detective, Perry Mason, briefly on the Mason daytime drama, and later starred as Roger Kilgore, Public Defender for a time in 1948. Ortega inherited the role of the inscrutable Charlie Chan (from future Oscar winner Ed Begley, no less!) as the show based on Earl Derr Biggers’ Asian gumshoe wound down in 1947 and 1948, and was one of several actors to portray Commissioner Ralph Weston, the friendly nemesis of “wealthy young man about town” Lamont Cranston on The Shadow.

ortega3One of Santos Ortega’ starring detective roles is sadly lost to the ages. Santos was the titular sleuth of The Affairs of Peter Salem, a Mutual program broadcast from 1949 to 1953. By most accounts, it was a very well-written series (scripted by Louis Vittes, who wrote for the likes of The Adventures of the Saint and Mr. and Mrs. North) about a wily small-town detective…but the only remains of the series that would allow listeners to experience Santos in a lead role exist in two short excerpts discovered by radio archivists. While the Salem program was on the air, Ortega also took on the part of Hannibal Cobb, an unusual daytime detective series heard briefly between 1950 and 1951. Other crime series that featured work by Santos include 21st Precinct, Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator, Casey, Crime Photographer, Famous Jury Trials, Gang Busters, Murder by Experts, Official Detective, This is Your FBI, and Treasury Agent.

ortega6Another benefit of New York radio acting at the time was being able to work on what we now refer to as “the soaps.” Santos Ortega was no exception; he started out in earnest on Myrt and Marge (as suitor Lee Kirby), and later gravitated to such “weepers” as The Man I Married, The O’Neills and This Day is Ours. Ortega had high-profile gigs on the likes of Our Gal Sunday (as Oliver Drexton), Portia Faces Life (Clint Morley), and Valiant Lady (Edward Curran), but he’s perhaps best remembered as Dr. Duncan Carvell on Big Sister, a role he would also play on Sister’s “spin-off,” Bright Horizon. Though radio’s popularity began to wane by the 1950s (thanks a lot, television!), Santos continued his love of the medium working on such shows as Dimension X and X-Minus One – and when Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar migrated back to NYC from Hollywood, Santos worked on those programs as well. Ortega was also one of the enthusiastic participants on The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, the Himan Brown-produced attempt to resurrect aural drama in the 1970s.

ortega9But because television was too big a thing to be out of, Santos Ortega succumbed to the realities of show business, eventually landing the small screen role that he would play until his death in 1976. He inherited the part of William “Grandpa” Hughes from Will Lee (Lee would find his own TV fame as “Mr. Hooper” on Sesame Street) on the second telecast of As the World Turns. Apart from a couple of feature films (The Family Secret, Crowded Paradise) ATWT would be Ortega’s bread-and-butter for the remainder of his career. (Santos attributed his seamless transition to television to his stage experience, and the fact that he knew many of the casting directors in the business.)

20717Santos Ortega was one of the hardest working actors in radio; I’ve just barely managed to scratch the surface of the man’s extensive resume. To commemorate his birthday, Radio Spirits invites you to check out some of his performances—starting with his first-rate work on radio’s The Shadow in such collections as Bitter Fruit, Radio Treasures, Silent Avenger, and Strange Puzzles. Santos can also be heard on our spine-tingling compilation Great Radio Horror, and on sets spotlighting Barrie Craig: Confidential Investigator, The Big Story (As It Happened), Casey, Crime Photographer (Blue Note), Dimension X (Adventures in Time & Space), Gang Busters (Crime Wave), Inner Sanctum (No Rest for the Dead, Romance Gone Wrong), Suspense (Final Curtain), and X-Minus One (Time and Time Again).

Happy Birthday, Joe DeSantis!


On this date in 1909 in New York City, Maria Paoli and Pasquale DeSantis welcomed Joseph Vito Marcello DeSantis into the world. The shorter version of that name is Joe DeSantis, a man who would become one of the most celebrated character actors on stage and radio, and in movies and television. Interestingly, Joe’s first ambition was to become a sculptor; he studied at the prestigious Leonardo da Vinci Art School after attending public schools in NYC and graduating from City College of New York. He served as an apprentice to Onorio Ruotolo at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design beginning in 1927, and during his early stage career in the 1930s taught sculpting at both New York’s Henry Street Settlement and the 92nd Street YMHA.

desantis10Sculpting might have been DeSantis’ first love, but during his college years Joe also actively pursued the study of drama, with his first stage performances delivered in Italian. His footlights resume is lengthy; among the plays in which he performed include Cyrano de Bergerac, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Arsenic and Old Lace. Even after achieving success on radio, the lure of stage work proved difficult to resist; DeSantia would later work in such productions as The Front Page, Golden Boy, Strictly Dishonorable and A Stone for Danny Fisher (later brought to the silver screen in 1958 as King Creole, starring Elvis Presley).

Working and residing in the Big Apple would prove most advantageous for DeSantis, for the world of radio immediately opened up to him and he made his debut on the popular soap Pepper Young’s Family. He later starred on the Mutual crime drama Under Arrest in 1948, playing Captain Jim Scott. Joe’s extensive ether C.V. could fill a medium-sized library, but he appeared on programs like 21st Precinct, Casey, Crime Photographer, The Cavalcade of America, The CBS Radio Workshop, The Columbia Workshop, Crime and Peter Chambers, Crime Club, Dick Tracy, Dimension X, Famous Jury Trials, Gangbusters, The March of Time, Mr. District Attorney, NBC Star Playhouse, Official Detective, Radio City Playhouse, Studio One, Suspense, The Chase, The Clock, The FBI in Peace and War, The Goldbergs, The Mysterious Traveler, The Radio Reader’s Digest, The Shadow, The Silent Men, X-Minus One, and You Are There. Joe continued to keep his hand in the medium even after the passing of Radio’s Golden Age, appearing on the likes of The Eternal Light, The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, and The General Mills Adventure Theater.

desantis8DeSantis supplemented his impressive radio resume with numerous roles in motion pictures, drawing on his talent for dialects and chameleonic method of playing a wide variety of characters. His first on-screen credit was in 1949’s Slattery’s Hurricane, and he followed that by playing a butler in The Man with a Cloak (1951). His third film is one of my favorite Humphrey Bogart vehicles; in Deadline – U.S.A. (1952), Bogie is a crusading newspaper editor who, while trying to save his paper from folding, is engaged in the pursuit of taking down a notorious racketeer (played by Martin Gabel…and Larry Dobkin plays his mouthpiece!). As Herman Schmidt, DeSantis is the man who provides evidence against Gabel’s gangster…and ends up being murdered by a pair of goons who drop Joe off a catwalk and onto a printing press below.

desantis5Joe continued to shine in such films as The Last Hunt (1956), Full of Life (1956), I Want to Live (1958), Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), The Case Against Brooklyn (1958), Al Capone (1959) and A Cold Wind in August (1961), where his portrayal of “Papa Perugino” has been acknowledged by many as the high point of his cinematic career. After appearances in such films as The Professionals (1966) and The Brotherhood (1968), however, DeSantis landed a role in a made-for-TV movie, Contract on Cherry Street (1977)—in which he played opposite one of his idols, Frank Sinatra. The Chairman of the Board was so impressed with Joe’s acting that he told him, “You should have played The Godfather”—a compliment Joe DeSantis cherished to his dying day.

desantis4In addition to film work, DeSantis worked extensively in television…and as a confirmed couch potato, I know this because I’m always coming across something Joe appeared in—recently, it was an episode of Rawhide entitled “Incident at Alabaster Plain.” Joe guest-starred on such classic favorites as 77 Sunset Strip, Route 66, Naked City, The Defenders, The Fugitive, The Outer Limits, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible and many, many more.

Though Joe DeSantis would work in two additional TV-movies before his death in 1989—Suburban Beat (1985) and How Rare a Possession: The Book of Mormon (1987)—the actor had made the decision to retire in 1978, relocating to Provo, Utah to spend time with his family. In addition to his sculpting, he generously donated his time to Provo’s Eldred Center. In recognition for his many contributions to radio, DeSantis was inducted into the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters’ Diamond Circle in 1985.

20658Here at Radio Spirits, we’re proud to feature today’s birthday celebrant on Words at War: World War II Radio Drama, a collection of broadcasts from the 1943 wartime series that features Joe DeSantis displaying that on-the-air talent we cherish so well. Joe can also be heard on our Dimension X set, Adventures in Time and Space, and the series that followed in Dimension X’s wake, X-Minus One (Time and Time Again). In addition, we’re proud to showcase DeSantis’ work on Casey, Crime Photographer (Blue Note), The Shadow (Silent Avenger), and his starring role on Under Arrest in the collection Police and Thieves: Crime Radio Drama. Happy birthday to you, Joe!

Happy Birthday, Bob Bailey!


Robert Bainter Bailey was born in Toledo, OH on this date in 1913. Though some would argue he never fulfilled his ambition to become a motion picture star, old-time radio fans will trump that card by insisting that Bob Bailey was king in the medium of radio, thanks to his exceptional speaking voice. Radio veteran Harry Bartell once observed: “Bob was a stylish, very professional actor whose voice fit perfectly into the two characters by which he is best known.” One of those characters was a jack-of-all-trades who eventually morphed into a first-rate private eye named George Valentine (on Let George Do It). The other was also in the investigation business; Bailey breathed new life into “America’s fabulous freelance investigator,” who was previously known for generously tipping with silver dollars. Bob Bailey would be responsible for making Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar the gold standard of radio crime dramas.

bailey4It sounds like the song Judy Garland sang in the 1954 musical A Star is Born, but Bob Bailey really was “born in a trunk.” Both of his parents were stage actors, and Bailey followed in their footsteps by appearing in front of the footlights at the age of eighteen months. His first gig in front of a radio mike was in 1925, when he and his father landed parts in a play presented on local radio. From there, Bob migrated to Chicago, and earned his bread-and-butter emoting on the likes of soap operas and other series, among them Aunt Mary, Girl Alone, Kitty Keene, Incorporated, Knickerbocker Playhouse, Mortimer Gooch, One Man’s Family, Road of Life, Scattergood Baines, The Story of Holly Sloan, That Brewster Boy, and Today’s Children.

By the 1940s, Bailey had latched onto his big break: he was signed to a picture contract at 20th Century-Fox. Bob had roles in such Fox productions as The Eve of St. Mark (1944), Wing and a Prayer (1944) and Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944), while Laurel and Hardy fans saw Bailey featured in two films starring The Boys, Jitterbugs (1943) and The Dancing Masters (1943). While pursuing his thespic ambitions on the big screen, the actor continued performing with a windscreen; Bailey graced such radio shows as Arch Oboler’s Plays, The Cavalcade of America, The Lux Radio Theatre, Mayor of the Town, and Suspense.

bailey7Bailey gradually discovered he had a knack for radio performing, and in 1946 he landed the first of the two jobs that would guarantee him radio immortality. On Mutual’s Let George Do It, Bob played George Valentine—an ex-GI who returned stateside to start a business in which he would undertake the unpleasant tasks others could or would not. (Hence, the series’ title: “Let George do it.”) As the show progressed, George Valentine became less of a concierge and more of a detective—aided and abetted by his gal Friday Claire “Brooksie” Brooks (played by Frances Robinson and Virginia Gregg), who also functioned as his romantic companion (though George was able to thwart Brooksie’s constant suggestions that the two of them take a walk down a certain aisle). Other actors that appeared on Let George Do It included Eddie Firestone (as Sonny, Brooksie’s brother), Joseph Kearns (as sardonic elevator man Caleb), Wally Maher (as Lieutenant Riley, Valentine’s “frenemy” on the police force) and Ken Christy (as Lieutenant Johnson—who took over after actor Maher’s untimely passing in 1951).

Bob Bailey didn’t just limit his radio work to Let George Do It; in this period the actor also performed on such venues as Family Theatre, The General Electric Theatre, Honest Harold (The Hal Peary Show), The Line-Up, Romance, Screen Director’s Playhouse, and Stars Over Hollywood. Bailey’s stint as George ended in the program’s last season (it signed off the air on September 27, 1954). Bob worked on a pair of movies, No Escape (1953) and Not as a Stranger (1955), and then he signed on for the radio job for which many in the hobby remember (and love) him best.

19737Bob Bailey got the Johnny Dollar gig at a most opportune moment. Since February of 1949, the series had been a lighthearted half-hour about an insurance investigator who worked for a number of different underwriting firms. When Bailey settled into the role, the show had switched to a five-day-a-week quarter-hour presentation—which allowed for longer stories and fuller character development. Bob took to Johnny Dollar like a duck to water (he had actually appeared on two of the earlier broadcasts, “The Lancer Jewelry Matter” and “The Classified Killer Matter”), and fans mostly agree that the serialized version of the series remains the highpoint for the long-running show. The quarter-hour format lasted only a year, but Johnny Dollar returned to its half-hour status with Bailey at the helm. Bob even penned one of the episodes, “The Carmen Kringle Matter,” using the nom de plume of “Robert Bainter.”

bailey9During his stint as “the man with the action-packed expense account,” Bob Bailey also tried his hand in television and movies; he guest-starred on such series as Tightrope, M Squad and The Line-Up, and even had a small role in the movie version of the latter program, released in 1958. Bailey was never able to progress beyond character roles, however; two attempts to bring Let George Do It to television in the 1950s went nowhere because producers believed Bailey didn’t have the right “build” for the small screen. Bob would encounter similar problems when the idea for a possible Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar series began to be kicked around in 1962; while the producers knew the audience wouldn’t accept anyone else in the role, they just didn’t think the actor who was synonymous with Dollar was “he-man” enough for TV (Bailey was 5’9”, and tipped the scales at 150 lbs.).

bailey6When Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar moved to New York in December of 1960, Bob Bailey elected to stay behind in Hollywood…and so the part of Johnny went to Bob Readick. Bailey found work in guest appearances on shows like The Asphalt Jungle, 87th Precinct and Tales of Wells Fargo, and purportedly penned a few episodes of the children’s adventure Fury (with Peter Graves) as “Robert B. Bailey.” Sadly, his last credit was a bit part in Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), as a reporter in a scene with star Burt Lancaster and Edmond O’Brien (who had once played Johnny Dollar on radio himself). It was not generally known at the time—many of Bailey’s radio colleagues were reluctant to discuss the details—but Bob suffered from alcoholism, and nearly a decade of his life was lost to public view before he was able to lick the problem through Alcoholics Anonymous. This provided only a brief respite from his inner demons; he suffered a stroke in 1973 and spent the next ten years in a Lancaster, CA rest home before his passing in 1983 at the age of 70.

20905“If you know how to handle your voice in radio, it’s almost impossible to destroy an illusion,” Bob Bailey was once quoted as saying. Though his life may have ended on a tragic note, his radio legacy is filled with riches that await both the experienced and novice old-time radio fan. Radio Spirits has a great many collections of Bailey’s signature series, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, on hand: Confidential, Expense Account Submitted, Murder Matters, Phantom Chases, and Wayward Matters. (We also cannot recommend highly enough our “Dollar starter,” The Many Voices of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.) For George Valentine devotees, check out Let George Do It and our latest collection, Cry Uncle (with liner notes by yours truly!). Happy birthday, Bob Bailey!

Happy Centennial Birthday, Walter Tetley!


It wasn’t a drink from the legendary Fountain of Youth that kept today’s birthday celebrant seemingly young throughout his impressive show business career. A purported glandular disorder prevented Walter Campbell Tetzlaff—better known as Walter Tetley, and born in New York on this date in 1915—from undergoing normal adolescence, and thus his voice was never allowed to change. Fortunately for young Master Tetley, his voice would become his fortune as it enabled him to emote over the airwaves as America’s beloved brat. Forget what you’ve learned about Charlie McCarthy, Baby Snooks and Junior, the Mean Widdle Kid—Walter was the first and inarguably the best.

waltertetley5Tetley began his fledgling footlights career as a pint-sized impersonator of Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder. In fact, Walter was even billed as “Wee Harry Lauder” on stage, with the personal approval of Sir Harry himself. The young actor was so good as Lauder that several people suggested to Mrs. Tetley she might want to consider auditioning him for radio…and in 1930, Walter Tetley made his debut over the airwaves on The NBC Children’s Hour (later known as Coast-to-Coast on a Bus). A long list of radio jobs followed: The Lady Next Door, Let’s Pretend, Raising Junior, The March of Time and Death Valley Days, to name just a few. In 1934, Tetley took a break from his radio routine and sailed across to our neighbor on the other side of the pond, where he became a music hall (vaudeville) sensation with his Lauder impersonation.

waltertetleyOn his return from his English “sabbatical,” Walter Tetley returned to his radio roots, with a prominent weekly gig as one of the Mighty Allen Art Players on Fred Allen’s popular Town Hall Tonight. Walter was usually called upon to play a smart alecky wiseacre and, in addition to Allen’s show, he worked alongside a number of major radio personalities, including Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, W.C. Fields, Joe Penner, Jim & Marian Jordan (Fibber McGee & Molly), Jack Benny, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Bob Burns, Dinah Shore, Orson Welles, Alan Young, and Jack Paar. Tetley’s radio resume is extensive, but the programs on which he appeared include such favorites as Big Town, The Campbell Playhouse, The Cavalcade of America, Command Performance, Crime Classics, Dr. Christian, Family Theatre, The Lux Radio Theatre, Mail Call, Screen Directors’ Playhouse, and Suspense.

greatgildersleeve6In 1941, Walter Tetley landed the role that would cement his old-time radio immortality. Harold Peary, who had played neighbor Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on Fibber McGee & Molly for several years, was going to be given a spin-off in the form of The Great Gildersleeve. In this sitcom, Gildy moved from Wistful Vista to the neighboring hamlet of Springfield. There, as uncle to orphaned Marjorie (Lurene Tuttle, Louise Erickson, and Marylee Robb) and Leroy Forrester (Walter), he acted as executor of their trust and later became the town’s water commissioner. Nephew Leroy was one of radio’s most beloved incorrigibles; he was basically a good kid even though he occasionally crossed the line into juvenile delinquent mischief from time to time. Leroy was the pin necessary to puncture the balloon-like pomposity of his uncle Gildy (Leroy’s frequent exclamation was “What a character!”), and though he did give his uncle trouble he endearingly loved the man, affectionately calling him “Unk.” Tetley played the part of Leroy until the show ended its sixteen-year-run in March of 1957—even continuing to utter “For corn’s sake!” when Willard Waterman inherited the role of Gildy from Peary in the fall of 1950.

harris-fayeIn 1947, Walter Tetley joined Richard Lane and Louise Arthur for the syndicated radio sitcom The Anderson Family, in which Tetley played son to Lane’s sourpuss patriarch. The Anderson Family ran for only a year, but in addition to his Gildersleeve gig Walter took on another radio assignment that is my personal favorite. The actor joined the cast of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show when it was still The Fitch Bandwagon, playing another Leroy-like wisenheimer in the form of Julius Abbruzio, the saucy delivery boy for the neighborhood grocery. In the early years of the show, the Julius character was a relatively mild irritant to star Phil Harris—“Bruzie” had quite the schoolboy crush on Alice, truth be told, and was constantly trying to convince “Miss Faye” to run away with him. By the time Phil and Alice’s show switched sponsorship to Rexall, however, Julius had become Leroy on steroids (though the two were easily differentiated by Julius’ pronounced Noo Yawk accent)—and was frequently the devilish, malevolent nemesis to Harris and his guitar-playing pal Frankie Remley (Elliott Lewis), always looking for a way to scotch the duo’s latest stumble into idiocy. (His romantic overtures to Mrs. Harris became a bit more blatant as well.) The trio of Phil, Frankie and Julius provided some of radio’s best comedy, and Tetley continued playing the role until the show signed off in 1954.

waltertetley6Although Walter Tetley’s voice made him a natural for radio’s juvenile roles, appearing on the big screen was a bit of a problem: his appearance was kind of at odds with his youthful-sounding voice. He never became a major player in movies (his roles consisted of mainly messengers and bellboys), but he made some memorable appearances in the flickers—I caught him two weeks ago as a chimney sweep in the 1939 film Tower of London, much to my amusement. He did a remarkable bit with Lou Costello in the Abbott & Costello feature Who Done It? (1942), as a pesky page boy who bets Lou a nickel he can drink orange juice faster than Costello can set ‘em up (keep in mind that each glass of orange juice costs Lou fifteen cents). Walter played an elevator operator in It’s in the Bag! (1945), alongside his old boss Fred Allen, that was also good for a hearty guffaw. The Powers That Be took a pass on Tetley playing Leroy in the four films RKO produced based on The Great Gildersleeve series…though Walter did have a brief bit in Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943) as a bellhop.

peabodyWalter’s major contribution to the movies was providing the voice of Andy Panda in a number of Walter Lantz-produced Universal cartoons released in the 1940s. Tetley would reprise the voice when The Woody Woodpecker Show came to television in 1957. Sadly, doing voice work for the small screen seemed to be the only outlet for Tetley’s unique talent…but you can’t say he didn’t make the most of it. Tetley voiced Sherman, pet boy of the whip-smart beagle Mr. Peabody in the “Peabody’s Improbable History” segments of Rocky and His Friends (later The Bullwinkle Show)—which is where I first became familiar with Walter before discovering my obsession with old-time radio. Tetley later emoted on a 1972 animated Yuletide special, A Christmas Story, and worked briefly on The Hollywood Radio Theatre (produced by his former Harris-Faye colleague Elliott Lewis) before succumbing to stomach cancer at the age of sixty in 1975.

20500Walter Tetley remains today one of old-time radio’s most treasured performers, and Radio Spirits has plenty of collections of shows from his two best-remembered on-the-air roles. Enjoy the antics of “Leeeeeeroy!!!” on The Great Gildersleeve compilations Baby, Marjorie’s Wedding and Neighbors. If you like your Leroy without a chaser, we recommend listening to Mr. Tetley as Julius Abbruzio on the Phil Harris-Alice Faye sets Hotel Harris, Quite an Affair, Family Values and Sweeter and Sweeter. You can also catch today’s birthday celebrant in the Crime Classics anthology The Hyland Files and our Road Trip: Humorous Travel Tales collection, as well as the holiday compendiums Radio’s Christmas Celebrations, The Voices of Christmas Past, Christmas Radio Classics and Happy Halloween!

Happy Birthday, Don Ameche!


Dominic Felix Amici was born on this date in Kenosha, WI in 1908. When Dominic changed his name to Don Ameche, however, that’s when any number of doors started opening for one of show business’ formidable talents. Ameche could sing, act, tell jokes and perform the necessary duties of a “master of ceremonies” with effortless ease. Beginning with uncredited bits in 1935’s Clive of India and Dante’s Inferno, Don would flourish for over half a century with a movie career that reached its pinnacle in long overdue recognition from his peers—a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his winning performance as a breakdancing senior citizen in Cocoon (1985).

ameche11Don’s original ambition was to study law during his years attending Marquette University, Loras College, and the University of Wisconsin. But he was bitten by the acting bug, and he took advantage of the lead actor’s AWOL in a stock company production of Excess Baggage by offering his services at the last minute. The experience thrilled him so much that he landed the juvenile role in a New York staging of Jerry for Short, which ultimately lead to a vaudeville tour with the legendary Texas “Hello, suckers!” Guinan. Guinan didn’t keep Don around long, however; she purportedly dismissed him because she felt he was “too stiff.”

But Don Ameche wasn’t “too stiff” for the up-and-coming medium of radio. His earliest work was on The National Farm and Home Hour, and the actor soon demonstrated an incredible flexibility in front of the mike. He was one of the early “Mr. First Nighters” on The First Nighter Program, played “Bob” on the popular Betty and Bob daytime drama, and even worked alongside the famous film German shepherd known as Rin-Tin-Tin in a juvenile radio serial. All of those shows were based out of Chicago – and Don was featured on other Windy City programs as well, including Empire Builders, Grand Hotel, and Jack Armstrong. The Armstrong series allowed him to play opposite his brother Jim (who was the titular boy hero, while Don played Captain Hughes).

ameche10Ameche left Chicago in the mid-30s to try his luck in Hollywood. He was one of 20th Century-Fox’s most dependable leading men, gracing such features as One in a Million (1936), In Old Chicago (1938), You Can’t Have Everything (1937), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938), The Three Musketeers (1939) and Midnight (1939). The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939) would bring Don his greatest fame; playing the inventor of the telephone sparked a lot of “Don-Ameche-invented-the-telephone” jokes in pop culture, and “Ameche” became slang for the device itself. The actor’s string of movie hits continued in the 1940s with entries like Down Argentine Way (1940), That Night in Rio (1941), Moon Over Miami (1941) and Wing and a Prayer (1944). His 1943 film Heaven Can Wait, directed by Ernst Lubitsch and co-starring Gene Tierney, is a particular favorite among classic film fans: Don plays a recently deceased rake who descends to Hell, convinced that his lifelong romantic escapades have necessitated he spend eternity there. The Devil (Laird Cregar) convinces him otherwise by looking back at his life.

ameche3Don Ameche’s success in films during the 1930s provided the springboard for his landing one of his best-remembered radio gigs: he was a member of the all-star lineup of The Chase and Sanborn Hour, which made its debut over the airwaves on May 9, 1937. A talented ventriloquist named Edgar Bergen would eventually steal the spotlight (along with his dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd), yet it’s important to remember that Ameche’s talents were given ample room to flourish on a variety series that also featured Nelson Eddy and Dorothy Lamour. Don was called upon to sing a song every week, as well as perform in dramatic skits (many of which were written by newcomer Arch Oboler). During W.C. Fields’ brief stint with Chase and Sanborn, Don also acted as The Great Man’s straight man (though considering the unpredictability of Fields, “handler” might be the more apt job description).

ameche5Eddy and Lamour left The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1939, but Don continued his association with Bergen & McCarthy until the mid-40s. Don was the show’s jack-of-all-trades—announcer, vocalist…and occasional foil for Bergen’s wisecracking dummy (in the form of Gazolo, an Italian who ran afoul of Charlie from time to time). In addition to his Bergen & McCarthy duties, Don branched out to host a short-lived Blue Network series in 1943 entitled What’s New? Later in the decade, he was the host of Your Lucky Strike, a spin-off off the popular Your Hit Parade, from 1948 to 1949.

In the summer of 1946, Don Ameche did two audition records for a possible series to be sponsored by Drene Shampoo: The Don Ameche Show and The Drene Show. Drene Time was the eventual result of these two projects; it premiered in December of 1946, and the actor-singer found himself paired with talented female vocalist Frances Langford (who also acted and did comedy). This modest little series would introduce the characters for which folks remember Don and Frances best: John and Blanche Bickerson, the squabbling couple created by scribe Philip Rapp. (Drene Time also featured contributions from a young comic named Danny Thomas, who played Blanche’s brother Amos.) When Drene Time was cancelled, Don and Frances took the Bickersons to Old Gold Time—a comedy-variety half-hour they shared with actor-comedian Frank Morgan. Old Gold Time was cancelled after one year, but The Bickersons proved so popular that they later resurfaced on Bergen & McCarthy, with actress Marsha Hunt playing Blanche to Ameche’s John.

ameche4Don took over for Alan Young as the co-star of The Jimmy Durante Show in April of 1949…and worked with The Schnoz until Durante’s radio show called it quits at the end of the 1949-50 season. Ameche’s efforts with Jimmy and Edgar Bergen—as well as his work with Francis Langford on The Bickersons—removed all doubt that he was admiringly adept at radio comedy, which he also demonstrated as a guest star on shows headlined by such funsters as Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Harold Lloyd and Spike Jones. During the war, Don also gave his all on such AFRS shows as Command Performance and Mail Call, and displayed his dramatic side on anthology programs such as The Cavalcade of America, Family Theatre, The Lux Radio Theatre, The Screen Guild Theatre and Theatre of Romance.

ameche13Don Ameche would make the transition to the small screen like so many of his fellow radio artists; he was the host of Don Ameche’s Musical Playhouse from 1950 to 1951, and re-teamed with Frances Langford for more Bickersons fun on The Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show from 1951-52. His television and movie chores were sporadic due to his renewed interest in performing on Broadway, but he made the guest star rounds on such series as Burke’s Law and Julia, and gave interesting performances in the likes of A Fever in the Blood (1961) and Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970). His teaming with Ralph Bellamy in 1983’s Trading Places paved the way for his movie career resurgence (and Oscar win for Cocoon), and he would appear in films like Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and Things Change (1988) before his passing in 1993.

19950To pay tribute to the man who would have turned 107 today, Radio Spirits has on hand two Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy collections that feature Don Ameche: Homefront Charlie and W.C. Fields and Friends. You’ll also hear Don battle it out with his radio spouse Frances Langford as The Bickersons in Put Out the Lights! And on our Jack Benny compendium No Place Like Home—well, Don pops up in a surprise cameo on a November 21, 1948 broadcast that resulted in the reduction of radio’s famous cheapskate to uncontrollable laughter…and we think it will do the same to you, too.

Happy Birthday, Vincent Price!


If actor Vincent Price—born Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. on this date in St. Louis, Missouri in 1911—had decided to ignore the call of the footlights and pursue honest work, it’s safe to say his future would have been fairly secure. His father, Vincent, Sr., was president of the National Candy Company—the largest candy company in America at that time. Vincent’s grandfather (also named Vincent—the family apparently didn’t have much imagination), invented “Dr. Price’s Baking Powder,” the first cream of tartar baking powder. In later years, Price established sidelines as a renowned art expert and gourmet chef; the former stemming from his graduating from Yale with a degree in art, the latter allowing him to write several best-selling cookbooks.

price12But Vincent Price decided that the actor’s life was for him, and fans are all the richer for it. He developed an interest in acting and fine arts during his years at Yale, and in the mid-1930s began to appear in a number of critically-acclaimed stage productions. His big break came from a plum role opposite Helen Hayes in Victoria Regina in 1936, which brought him such good fortune that he later named his first daughter “Victoria” (a superstitious man, he was also gladdened by the fact that her mother had been raised in Victoria, British Columbia). Two years later, Vincent would make his feature film debut in Service de Luxe (1938)…a movie that he didn’t have many positive things to say about, but which paved the way to future successes in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), The House of Seven Gables (1940), The Song of Bernadette (1943) and Laura (1944).

price9We tend to remember Price as a horror icon. Interestingly enough, his only true horror role in his early days of cinema was playing the titular The Invisible Man Returns in 1940; the actor only really got started in the horror movie genre with the 3-D House of Wax in 1953. He followed that with such films as The Fly (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1958) and The Tingler (1959), and by the 1960s, horror had a new face in Vincent Price—particularly the celebrated series of films based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe that were directed by Roger Corman: House of Usher (1960), The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and several others.

What often is ignored about Price’s phenomenal career—though certainly not overlooked by old-time radio fans—is that Vincent excelled in the aural medium as one of several actors more than capable of meeting radio’s demands. His earliest recorded work was on an episode of Rudy Vallee’s The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour on June 18, 1936…where he was memorably introduced as “Vincent Prince.” Undaunted, Price would return to Vallee’s microphone in April of 1938 (with the show now sponsored by Royal Gelatin desserts) to perform a scene from Ever After (a comedy sequel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) with actress Edith Barrett.

price1Vincent Price was called upon frequently to perform on radio’s top dramatic anthology programs. The actor appeared on such shows as The Cavalcade of America, The CBS Radio Workshop, Columbia Presents Corwin, Family Theatre, Favorite Story, Hollywood Star Playhouse, Hollywood Star Time, The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre, The Lux Radio Theatre, The NBC Radio Theatre. NBC Star Playhouse, The Philip Morris Playhouse, Stars Over Hollywood and The Theatre Of Romance. Price was also flexible enough to appear in comedic venues like The Sealtest Village Store and Duffy’s Tavern. His February 6, 1949 appearance on The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny remains one of Jack’s funniest half-hours, as he and Price competitively vie to be the leading man opposite Claudette Colbert in a future broadcast of The Ford Theatre.

price10In addition, Price lent his dramatic talents to such crime dramas as This is Your FBI and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar—the latter program even tailored the story to the guest star, calling it “The Price of Fame Matter” (02/02/58). “Radio’s outstanding theatre of thrills,” Suspense, made excellent use of the actor—Vincent graced such classic episodes as “Fugue in C Minor” (06/01/44) and “Hunting Trip” (09/12/46). (Price appeared on a November 10, 1957 broadcast of the series in an adaptation of Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”…and four years later, he would star in a film version as part of Roger Corman’s Poe series.) I personally believe Vincent Price did some of his best radio work on Suspense’s sister series, Escape. He was in what many believe to be the definitive version of “Three Skelton Key” (03/17/50), as well as “Present Tense” (01/31/50) and a favorite of mine, “Blood Bath” (06/30/50). (Price later reprised his roles from “Key” and “Tense” in Suspense’s later years.)

price5For many old-time radio mavens, Vincent Price is best remembered for portraying Leslie Charteris’ creation Simon Templar on The Adventures of the Saint, a role he inherited from Brian Aherne (who played Templar in 1945). From July 9, 1947 to May 20, 1951, Vincent emoted as the suave jewel thief who had renounced his past and was now focusing his energies on solving murders. Because “the Robin Hood of modern crime” had done quite well in his career of acquiring precious gems, Templar did not want for money and spent a great deal of his time indulging his culinary tastes at posh restaurants and satisfying his love for the fine arts. The perfect role for Vincent Price, wouldn’t you say? The survival of many Saint broadcasts, by the way, owes a lot to the actor himself; he found a treasure trove of transcriptions from the program at his residence one day and was about to chuck them out when he called SPERDVAC to see if anyone was interested. (The SPERDVAC rep broke all existing land-speed records rushing to Vincent’s house to collect the discs.)

Even after the Golden Age of Radio was drawing to a close, Vincent Price still professed a fondness for the medium. He was one of the five rotating hosts (emceeing “mystery and suspense” on Wednesday nights) of The Sears (Mutual) Radio Theater in 1979, the Elliott Lewis-Fletcher Markle attempt to revive radio drama. (Sadly, they did not succeed). The actor was also host of a BBC program, The Price of Fear, which was heard beginning in 1973. (Proving that our cousins across the pond were right in their refusal to abandon the art of radio drama.)

19981Vincent Price succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 82 in October of 1993. Radio Spirits is pleased to honor his legacy with three collections of his signature radio series, The Adventures of the Saint: The Saint Solves the Case, The Saint is Heard, and The Saint Goes Underground. We also feature a Saint broadcast on our Great Radio Detectives set, and a little Yuletide Templar in our Christmas Radio Classics compendium. Be sure to check out Price’s hosting duties on the Mutual Radio Theater collection, and Suspense: Omnibus spotlights one of the actor’s frequent trips to the program with “The Name of the Beast” (04/11/46). Crossroads: Volumes 1-3 feature Vincent’s work on the TV anthology Crossroads, with performances in “God’s Healing” and “Cleanup,” and an early boob tube version (1949) of “A Christmas Carol” with Price is one of the highlights of Rare Christmas Classics, Volume 2. Our Horror Classics Collection features one of my favorite Price films, House on Haunted Hill, while another of the actor’s memorable horror excursions, The Bat (1959), is one of six films featured on Horror Classics. Finally, Vincent Price is one of several celebrities featured in a sensational book of interviews edited by David Rothel: Opened Time Capsules. You better believe that on any of these the Price is right!