Old-Time Radio Playlist: Halloween, Part 2

Last week I presented some Halloween “treats” from the world of old-time radio—lighthearted holiday episodes. Today, I’m offering a few “tricks”—spooky Halloween episodes and a few classic horror stories.

Enjoy—and let me hear from you. What are your favorite old-time radio Halloween episodes? What’s your favorite show in the suspense or horror genre?

November 7, 1937
Columbia Workshop, The Horla

By early radio standards, this is a good adaptation of a creepy Guy de Maupassant story.

July 11, 1938
Mercury Theater, Dracula

This is faithful adaptation with a great cast: Martin Gabel (if you’ve seen What’s My Line? re-runs, you may remember him as Mr. Arlene Francis), Agnes Moorehead, and, of course, Orson Welles. The Mercury Theater’s actual Halloween episode, The War of the Worlds, might seem more appropriate for this playlist, but I wanted to choose something slightly less well known.

February 20, 1944
The Weird Circle, Frankenstein

Many radio shows adapted Mary Shelley’s story—I picked this version rather randomly. I’d love to hear opinions about the best radio Frankenstein.

October 27, 1947
Quiet Please, Don’t Tell Me About Halloween

“Marry in haste, repent at leisure” takes on new meaning when your spouse is immortal. This is an entertaining episode of Quiet, Please, a series of psychological horror stories that aired from 1947 to 1949. Wyllis Cooper created the show and wrote every episode—an amazing feat, in my opinion. Not every episode is brilliant, but they are all interesting. This episode has a bonus for me as a Guiding Light fan: Charita Bauer, who played Bert on GL, is the female lead.

January 10, 1948
Favorite Story, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde

Ronald Colman hosted this series, which presented a classic story each week, supposedly picked by a celebrity. Colman tells us that Alfred Hitchcock picked this classic Robert Louis Stevenson story. Radio stalwart Bill Conrad gives powerful performance in the dual role.

October 31, 1948
Quiet Please, Calling All Souls

This episode has a good story, but the organ music grates—that’s one aspect of old-time radio I just don’t love.

October 31, 1949
Inner Sanctum Mysteries, A Corpse for Halloween

I’m not a big Inner Sanctum fan, and this story loses me a little. It does have compensations, however: Its Halloween setting, its tiger motif (I like anything cat-related), and its star—Larry Haines. As with Charita Bauer, I know Haines from the world of daytime TV drama; he played Stu on Search for Tomorrow for 35 years. He was also a prolific radio actor, and he gives a good performance here as a guy who’s cracking up.

March 14, 1951
NBC Short Story, The Lottery

Long before there was The Hunger Games, there was this classic Shirley Jackson story. No one faces any monsters here; the horror that unfolds is the horror that human beings can inflict on each other when they cling blindly to destructive traditions. Even when you know what’s coming, the end packs a huge punch. The music is appropriately haunting.

October 30, 1976
CBS Radio Mystery Theater, The Witches’ Sabbath

This story doesn’t reference Halloween, but its subject matter suits the holiday. Once again, we encounter Larry Haines as a man cracking under a strain—his performance is even better here than in the Inner Sanctum Mysteries episode above. The conversations between his character and the bartender amused me.

Enjoy more old-time radio playlists:

Halloween, Part 1

Edgar Allan Poe, Part 1

Edgar Allan Poe, Part 2

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Spin Again Sunday: Addams Family Card Game

For this pre-Halloween edition of my series on vintage games, I bring you an altogether ooky diversion.

This Week’s Game: Addams Family Card Game, 1965

Recommended Ages: 7 to 15.

Game Play: While I usually focus on board games, this is a simple card game. Cards show pictures of Addams Family characters. Gomez, Morticia, and the children each appear on 11 cards. Six wild cards show Lurch and Uncle Fester. The game proceeds like the game War. The player who amasses all the cards wins.

As the instruction card puts it, “Each character has the power to TAKE another. Gomez TAKES Morticia…Morticia TAKES the Children…the Children TAKE Gomez. The Lurch and Uncle Fester (Wild) cards are most powerful; they TAKE any of the other cards.”

It’s certainly fitting that Gomez TAKES Morticia. Was there ever a more passionate married couple in the world of classic TV?

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 8, Who’s Afraid of Nural Shpeni?, 11/7/1966

I apologize for my lateness in bringing you this installment of my weekly Family Affair series.

Season 1, Episode 8, “Who’s Afraid of Nural Shpeni?”

Written by: Cynthia Lindsay. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

A Middle Eastern theme pervades this episode, which begins with French reading to the twins about Sinbad the Sailor.

Jody seems pretty excited about this story.

With Uncle Bill soon to return from a project in Beirut, French decides to brush up on his Lebanese culinary skills. But a trip to Fuad’s Middle Eastern Delicacies leads to cooking lessons from Nural Shpeni and then to her family’s demands that French marry her.

The prospective bride. French could do a lot worse.

Dr. Sarkis, an associate of Uncle Bill, reminds Nural’s brothers that the traditions they are relying upon to force French into marriage also demand a large dowry from them.

When Buffy and Jody open the door and see this group, they scream and run. It’s kind of funny, if politically incorrect.

French is thrilled when Nural finally announces she’d rather marry Officer Chamas, the local cop on the beat.

Vic Tayback as the cop. Hmm, Mr. French or Mel Sharples? Tough call.

Random Thoughts

This is the episode the Cleveland Amory mocked in his TV Guide review of Family Affair. It is pretty bad, actually. It’s always fun to see Mr. French in a state of extreme discomfort, however. And it has some other compensations.

Compensation 1: French using a hookah!

Compensation 2: Uncle Bill buys Mrs. Beasley this cute outfit in Lebanon.

Here she is later wearing the outfit.

Guest Cast

Fuad: Nestor Paiva. Nural: Magda Harout. Alam: Henry Corden. Mohad: Peter Manahos. Policeman Chamas: Vic Tayback. Old woman: Kay Koury. Dr. Sarkis: Abraham Sofaer. Most familiar is Vic Tayback, who played Mel in the 1974 movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, as well as the subsequent TV series Alice. Nestor Paiva, who had a long career in movies, died before this episode aired. Magda Harout, on the other hand, is still alive and continued to act as recently as 2010, with an appearance on Fringe. Attention Seinfeld fans: she appeared as Stella in the 1991 episode “The Pen.” Henry Corden voiced many cartoon characters, including Fred Flintstone. He was Marcia’s boss, Mr. Haskell, in the ice cream parlor episode of The Brady Bunch.

Fun Facts

Mr. French speaks Arabic and once worked for the Shah of Morocco. Jody is five minutes older than Buffy.

Read my whole Family Affair series!

Today’s Bonus Feature

An article from TV Radio Mirror, July 1967. These fan magazine articles are not to be trusted completely, but the photos are nice. Here, you can see Johnny Whitaker’s real family.

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Halloween, Part 1

Vintage Halloween Postcard from The Public Domain Review

Today, I present a selection of Halloween treats–some lighthearted old-time radio episodes that capture an interesting period in the history of Halloween.

(On Tuesday, October 30, I’ll post some Halloween”tricks”–spooky holiday offerings and classic horror stories.)

European immigrants to the United States popularized Halloween celebrations in the late 19th century.

By the turn of the century, there was a move to downplay the scarier aspects of the holiday. According to History.com, “Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.”

By the 1920s and 1930s, pranks were a big part of the holiday, “often devolving into vandalism, physical assaults and sporadic acts of violence.”

Most of these radio shows date from the 1940s, when trick-or-treating was just beginning to transition into a community-sanctioned, kid-friendly activity. I’m guessing that’s why so many of the adults in these shows seem ambivalent about Halloween–looking back fondly on their own parties and pranks, but wary of letting their children participate in trick-or-treating.

Unknown Date
Air Castle, Halloween

Air Castle was a children’s show that ran in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was entirely the work of Baron Keyes, who starred as the “Story Man” and provided voices and sound effects to represent various fanciful characters. This Halloween episode is cute!

October 19, 1933
Martha Meade Society Program, Halloween Parties

This cooking show provides a nice slice of 1930s life. From this and other radio shows, I’ve gleaned that doughnuts were a popular Halloween tradition in the early 20th century.

October 24, 1939
Fibber McGee and Molly, Halloween Party at Gildersleeve’s House

This would be a good starter episode for a new Fibber listener. It’s filled with typical wordplay and punning humor, and most of the classic supporting characters appear.

October 31, 1940
The Aldrich Family, Halloween Prank Backfires

Just about every episode of this family comedy involves a misunderstanding that snowballs out of control. These Halloween hi-jinx are typical.

November 2, 1941
Jack Benny, Halloween with Basil Rathbone

I’m in love with the Jack Benny Program. To really appreciate the series, you need to listen to a long run of consecutive episodes. Characterizations and jokes build from week to week. This is my favorite of several Halloween episodes–Jack annoying his Beverly Hills neighbors is always a win.

October 29, 1944
Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Halloween

Guest star Orson Welles is quite amusing, especially when he ad-libs.

October 29, 1944
The Life of Riley, Haunted House   

Near the end, this takes a surprisingly sharp turn into patriotic messaging. You’ll have that sometimes in World-War-II-era programs.

October 31, 1944
Lum and Abner, Discuss Halloween Pranks

Lum and Abner has been growing on me lately, and this episode is a cute one.

November 1, 1946
Baby Snooks, Halloween

Fanny Brice’s mischievous Baby Snooks is a natural for Halloween pranks. This episode has a strong start, but a weak finish, in my opinion.

October 29, 1947
Philco Radio Time, Boris Karloff and Victor Moore

Boris Karloff was the go-to guest for variety-show Halloween episodes. Here, he’s the guest of Bing Crosby, and he and Bing actually sing together (along with comedian Victor Moore)!

October 31, 1948
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Haunted House       

I always found the TV version of Ozzie and Harriet bland, but the radio episodes I’ve listened to have been surprisingly chuckle-worthy.

October 31, 1948
Adventures of Sam Spade, The Fairly-Bright Caper    

I’m not a huge Sam Spade fan–ditzy Effie gets on my nerves–but this has a nice Halloween flavor.

Oct 31, 1948
Jack Benny, Trick or Treating with the Beavers

This is another good Halloween episode, with an inventive way of bringing the supporting cast into the story.

October 31, 1951
The Great Gildersleeve, Halloween and Gildy Finds a Lost Boy

I’m not the biggest Gildy fan, but this episode has great warmth.

November 7, 1951
The Halls of Ivy, Halloween

I really enjoy this series, which stars Ronald and Benita Colman. Having spent plenty of time in academia, I appreciate the college setting, and the Colmans are just charming.

Oct 29, 1953
Father Knows Best, Halloween Blues

Robert Young’s character is in preachy mode, and the end doesn’t work for me, but this is an interesting look at those changing Halloween customs.

Listen to more old-time radio!

Weird Words of Wisdom: The 5 Types of People Who Go All the Way Edition

“Just how advisable is it for a farm girl to date a city boy? The chief concern here seems to be her ability to handle a date who is more sophisticated than she is. The old story of the traveling salesman and the farmer’s daughter has some basis in the tendency of certain urban males to try to exploit the presumably more naïve country girl.”

The Art of Dating, 1967 (1969 printing) By Evelyn Millis Duvall with Joy Duvall Johnson

About the Authors: Evelyn Millis Duvall, according to this book’s back cover, was “known nationally and internationally as a top-ranking authority on sex and family life education.” She was no intellectual slouch—she earned a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago, and she was a Fellow of the American Sociological Association, which sounds impressive. Her earlier book The Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers went through many printings in the 1950s and 1960s. Her daughter, Joy Duvall Johnson, assisted her in writing this book. She was a University of Chicago graduate, too, with a master’s degree in “social group work.”

About This Book: Having read both this book and The Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers, I’ve found that two qualities distinguish Duvall in the advice-giving game: She has a research-based approach and an obsessive love of detail.

You can see the first quality in the many studies that she cites and statistics that she offers. Here is a fairly typical Duvall passage:

“Professors Kirkpatrick and Caplow found that the most usual course of love is one starting with mutual indifference and moving upward through attraction to love, and either dropping again to indifference, with the broken love affair, or remaining in love at a high level of mutual involvement. One out of every five love affairs studied is irregular in its course, with unpredictable shifts from love to hate to indifference to liking in various combinations throughout the history of the relationship. Somewhat fewer young men and women experience an even more vacillating kind of love that is off-again-on-again, with ups and downs like a roller coaster’s.”

Her love of detail pervades the entire book, which explores dating from every possible angle. Take her guidelines, for instance, about a movie date:

  • Paying for the tickets: “While the fellow buys the tickets, the girl steps aside and looks at the stills outside to avoid the boy any embarrassment he may feel at the ticket window.”
  • Walking in to the theater: “If there is no usher, the boy precedes the girl down the aisle, finds two seats, and steps aside so that the girl may be seated first; he then follows and seats himself behind her.”
  • During the film: “…throwing popcorn or paper, or otherwise behaving like a nuisance, is rude and crude.
  • Getting refreshments: “At (intermission) the boy may ask his date what she would like, then excuse himself while he gets it…If his budget doesn’t call for this extra, a boy should come prepared with some little offering to take the place of purchased refreshments, such as candy from a roll or mints or a stick of gum. The girl accepts the offer graciously without hinting that she would like something else.”
  • Acceptable affection: “The boy may hold the girl’s hand if she has no objection or place his arm over the back of her seat.”
  • Talking: “They may whisper their reactions to the picture or comment to each other about the characters or plot, so long as they neither embarrass each other nor annoy their neighbors.”
  • Leaving the Theater: “…the boy helps the girl into her wraps and waits is the aisle until the girl emerges and precedes him out of the theater. Then, the boy may suggest stopping at a soda fountain, if he wishes, or if it’s early, the girl may invite him to her home for ‘cake and milk’ or whatever she and her family have agreed upon for an evening snack.”

Whew! I was the most socially awkward teenager who ever lived, and even I wouldn’t have needed that much help to get through a simple movie.

Despite her scientific bent, Duvall occasionally lapses into flights of fancy that seem to be inspired by movies rather than real life, circa 1967. In addition to warning about the great urban-rural dating schism, she predicts soap-opera-esque consequences for dating outside one’s social class. She even cites the 1940 movie (or 1939 novel) Kitty Foyle to demonstrate the latter situation’s pitfalls!

Decoding a Previous Owner: A previous owner of my book went crazy underlining passages and scribbling in his or her own, sometimes smug, notes. At first I assumed this mad scribbler was a teenage reader, and it surprised me that any teen was taking this book so seriously in 1969. Then I started to notice that the underlinings included portions aimed at both girls and boys, and I wondered if the reader was a parent, teacher, or some kind of minister. Finally, I hit upon a note that confirmed a church affiliation: Below a passage that described church ladies hosting an after-prom party, my scribbler wrote, “Possibility for our women.” Oh, the fun of reading used books!

More quotes from The Art of Dating

“When the boy on the hill dates the girl from across the tracks, the general public is apt to assume that it’s because she is willing to let him take more liberties with her than would a girl from his own social group.”

Possible dating activity: “An old-fashioned taffy pull lends itself to hilarious, if sticky, informality.”

“Currently some segments of the young adult population try to express their individuality by extremes in hair style and dress. However young people respond to this, most want an attractive date. On one college campus, the men revolted against the trend of certain co-eds to be unkempt. They protested that they wanted girls to look feminine. Most fellows would agree.”

Dating costs: “College men find it often costs close to $5 for a ‘movie and malt’ date.”

Really? Just as responsible?: When you step into a car, you are just as responsible as the driver for what goes on…If (a girl) lets the boy drive too fast, she shares the guilt if an accident occurs.

Warning—writing about illegal drugs may be a gateway to abusing quotation marks: “Some teen groups have ‘parties’ where drugs provide ‘entertainment.’ At these parties teens are often exploited by dope peddlers who ‘contribute’ marijuana. Young people might be tempted to try a ‘reefer.'”

Smart girls: “Boys worry less about dating girls inferior to them in intellect, since it is generally expected that a girl won’t be as intelligent as the boy she dates. Indeed this is emphasized so strongly that a superior girl may find that if she has a reputation as a ‘brain,’ boys are afraid to date her. Such a girl may pretend to be dumber than she is on a date…But there are girls who resent having to ‘put their brains on ice,’ so they only go out with boys who like them as they are, who admire intelligence and are not threatened by a girl’s superior mental ability. A girl who dates a boy who is not her intellectual equal must decide whether she dares to be herself or whether she must put on an act.”

(You would think that two female, University-of-Chicago-educated social scientists might take a firmer stand on which is the right choice, but they let matters rest there.)

The five kinds of people who “go all the way” before marriage:

1. “The Unconventional person with few or no religious roots.”

2. Young people from the lower socioeconomic classes. (“In general, the middle-class girl or boy values chastity more highly.”)

3. People desperate for love and acceptance.

4. Rebellious types.

5. People who are deeply in love but, for some reason, cannot marry.

“The more mature girl knows that she doesn’t need to resort to either slapping or running in order to deal with the too amorous boyfriend. She wards off unwelcome behavior with a firm refusal to cooperate, accompanied by a knowing smile and a suggestion of some alternate activity. She may say, “Not now, Ambrose—let’s go get a hamburger; I’m hungry.”

Read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series

Spin Again Sunday: Planet of the Apes Game + Old-Time Radio Bonus

Because my husband’s birthday is approaching, I’ve chosen The Planet of the Apes Game for this week’s installment of my vintage board game series.

My husband loves The Planet of the Apes and all its sequels. I, on the other hand, have always had an aversion to monkey-and-ape-based entertainment. I may have inherited this from my grandmother, who cringed whenever a chimp appeared on a TV sitcom (an all-too-common occurrence in the ’70s), or I may have developed it after a series of gorilla-related nightmares at age 3 (a Playskool Zoo started it all, but that’s a blog entry for another day).

Through marriage to an ape fan, I’ve managed to overcome my prejudices–at least to the extent of buying him ape memorabilia like this.

Today’s Game: Planet of the Apes

Copyright Date: 1974

Game Box: Pretty appealing to a Planet of the Apes fan, I suppose. All the major apes are represented. I’m not sure why Dr. Zaius is in black and white when everyone else is in color.

Recommend Ages: 8 to 14.

Game Board: Simple, with lots of photos from the movie. The unique part is the cage that stands in the center.

Game Pieces: Generic-looking male and female humans. At least we get front and back views.

Game Play: Each player gets four humans. You move them along the path until they land on a “Captured” space. Then you have to place your human atop the cage and let your opponent turn the cage’s knob. If the human falls in, he or she is captured. If not, they’re safe—for the moment.

Cage Fail: My cage is missing some key parts, so it doesn’t function. You can see how should work from this box closeup.

Object: “Become the last survivor.” Very cool object, my opinion. My husband kind of over-identifies with the movie’s apes, though. I think he’d rather see all his humans caged.

Today’s Bonus Feature: With my own stance on apes softening, I’ve developed an affinity for ape-themed old-time radio episodes. At least in those, you don’t have to see the apes. Sometime in November, I plan to post a whole playlist of ape episodes, but for now please enjoy this delightful example.

“Ape Song,” Murder at Midnight, March 31, 1947

“You treated me like an animal, Cecily–now an animal will treat you the way you deserve!”

Murder at Midnight has become a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s cheesy, but in a very entertaining way. This episode had me smiling all the way through.

Read more Spin Again Sunday
Listen to more Old-Time Radio

Room 222 Call Sheet: A Day in the Life of a 1970s Sitcom

Room 222 call sheet, 1970

When it comes to collecting, I’ve always admired people who have a laser-like focus. I’ve been a collector all my adult life, but the resulting collection is eclectic, to say the least. Today, I present one of the more interesting pieces of ephemera I own—a call sheet from the sitcom Room 222, which ran on ABC from 1969 to 1974.

The call sheet is interesting to me, anyway. (The fact that I was the only one to bid on it when it appeared on Ebay 10 or so years ago suggests the interest might not be widespread. That worked to my advantage though—I only paid $2 for it.) It provides a fascinating window into television production in the 1970s.

A call sheet, as Webster’s defines it, is simply “a daily schedule of filming for a movie or television show.” This call sheet dates from August 7, 1970, when filming was under way for two season two episodes. “Adam’s Lib,” a feminist story about a girl trying out for the boys’ basketball team, would air October 14, 1970; “What Would We Do Without Bobbie?,” an ugly duckling story, wouldn’t air until December 23, 1970.

The “Adam’s Lib” scene featured three day players—Tracy Carver as the basketball player, Terri Messina as the feminist activist, and “Darrell Carson” as the boy who helps them advance their plan to infiltrate the boys’ team. According to the Imdb, the actor’s name is Darrell Larson, and he’s the only one of the three who has acted steadily since then.

Larson, Messina, and Carver

This basketball court scene was shot at a playground in Los Angeles’ Rancho Park neighborhood. The female actors had to arrive at 7 a.m. for makeup that day, with Larson arriving 30 minutes later. It looks like they met up at 8 a.m. on Stage 10, Room 222’s usual filming location on the Twentieth Century Fox lot.

The “Bobbie” scenes, filmed on Stage 10, required the presence of series star Denise Nicholas as Liz McIntyre, recurring actor Howard Rice as Richie, and day player Nicole Jaffe as Bobbie.  Once again, the women reported for makeup 30 minutes earlier than the male actor. This group got a more leisurely start to their day; filming didn’t start until 10 a.m.

Jaffe and Nicholas in one of the office scenes. You might not recognize Jaffe’s face, but you would know her voice. She was the original Velma on Scooby-Doo.

At the bottom of the call sheet, we get a glimpse at what the cast would be doing the following week—reading and rehearsing on Monday, shooting a Walt Whitman exterior scene at Los Angeles High on Tuesday, and shooting more studio scenes on Wednesday (including a scene outside the “Berman Bungalow,” which would represent Bobbie’s house.)

William Wiard directed the filming on this day. Mike Salamunovich was the unit production manager. Both had long and prolific careers in television.

Room 222 call sheet, 1970, reverse side

The call sheet’s reverse side details the day’s production requirements. Those requirement were modest on August 7, 1970. They didn’t need any birds, livestock, wranglers, registered nurses, or firemen—not even any coffee or doughnuts. They did need one Los Angeles policeman, a stretch-out bus, a crab dolly and grip, and a “dialogue man.” (The call sheet almost consistently uses “man” in its crew terminology—mechanical effects men, camera men, prop men, makeup men. The only exception is “body makeup woman.”)

This little piece of TV history delights me so much that it might have launched me on a whole new field of collecting. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any luck finding similar items.

To close, I present the Room 222 opening, just because I love the music and the fashions.