Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 14, “Star Dust,” 12/18/1967

For once, being a day late with this feature actually serves a purpose–it allows us to celebrate the birthday of this week’s beautiful guest star, Martha Hyer.

She is 89 today!

She is 89 today!

So, yeah, I totally planned this week’s lateness. And, incidentally, I look just like Martha Hyer does in this episode. Trust me.

Written by: Roy Kammerman. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Synopsis

It’s bedtime, and the twins want to hear a story. Uncle Bill’s attending a party so the task falls to Mr. French.

The kids say it will be good practice for French, in case he ever becomes an uncle.

The kids say it will be good practice for French, in case he ever becomes an uncle.

Actually, he is an uncle. That was a Nigel French episode, though, and the twins might not realize that his nephew would be Giles French’s nephew, too.

He suggests a chapter of Winnie the Pooh.

French suggests a chapter of Winnie the Pooh. (The show’s frequent Pooh references are in-jokes, since Sebastian Cabot began narrating Pooh features in 1966.)

The kids ask for Jack and the Beanstalk instead, and French puts his unique stamp on the story. When Uncle Bill returns, the kids ask him to take over.

He tries, but Cissy keeps interrupting to hear details of the party he attended.

He tries, but Cissy keeps interrupting to hear details of the party he attended.

Bills says the guest list included several senators, a Nobel laureate, a famous explorer–and a movie star.

Guess which one Cissy wants to hear about.

Guess which one Cissy wants to hear about.

The movie star was Carol Haven, who happens to call at this moment to invite Bill to dinner the next evening.

Cissy can't believe Bill is so calm about this invitation from "the most beautiful woman in the whole world."

Cissy can’t believe Bill is so calm about this invitation from “the most beautiful woman in the whole world.”

For their part, the twins don’t know who Carol Haven is. They don’t know who Thomas Edison is either. (Buffy makes a good point–if Thomas Edison is so important, why isn’t his birthday a school holiday?)

At dinner the next evening, Carol says she wants to get to know Bill better.

At dinner the next evening, Carol makes it clear that she wants to get to know Bill.

He’s made quite an impression on her–she says the last time she called a man she just met was in junior high. (According to the old teen advice books I review on this site, that means she was a hussy in junior high.)

Dinner is interrupted a few times by fans requesting autographs and sending champagne, as well as a photographer who takes a picture of Bill and Carol. Carol handles these people in a calm and gracious way.

Bill is uncomfortable, though--he'd apparently like her to go all Sean Penn on them.

Bill is uncomfortable, though–he’d apparently like her to go all Sean Penn on them.

He asks why she doesn’t disguise her appearance, and she replies that she’s worked hard to be recognized. He suggests that they have their next date at a place with gourmet food and absolute privacy–his apartment.

The next night finds Cissy in a tizzy--she can't do a thing with her hair.

The next night finds Cissy in a tizzy–she can’t do a thing with her hair. (Cissy is wearing one of those quilted robes that every ’60s and ’70s girl had.)

Even French is excited about their guest’s impending visit–he’s wearing white tie and tails!

Even French is excited--he's wearing tails! He looks cute, like an emperor penguin.

He looks cute, like an emperor penguin.

When Carol appears, she puts everyone at ease.

When Carol appears, she quickly puts everyone at ease--even Cissy, who's still standing around in her robe.

Even Cissy, who’s still standing around in her robe. Get dressed, girl!

How wonderfully well does Carol fit in with the Davis family? Let us count the ways:

She offers to help Cissy with her hair and ends up helping the teen feel good about her usual hairstyle.

She offers to help Cissy with her hair and ends up helping the teen feel good about her usual hairstyle.

She isn't afraid to embarrass herself while playing charades.

She isn’t afraid to embarrass herself while playing charades.

She tells the twins a bedtime story and includes Mrs. Beasley in the story as a friend, not a doll.

She tells the twins a bedtime story and includes Mrs. Beasley in the story as a friend, not a doll.

This earns her the first kiss Mrs. Beasley has bestowed upon a grown-up, excluding Bill and French.

By the end of the evening, Jody is asking Cissy if their mother looked like Carol. (Silly boy–we’ll find out later that she looked like June Lockhart.)

She didn't, Cissy replies--but she was just as nice.

She didn’t, Cissy replies–but she was just as nice.

If you notice anyone missing from these charming tableaux, you might have a clue about where this episode is heading.

Soon, word gets around that Carol and Bill are dating.

French's nanny friends grill him: What does she look like without makeup? And what are Bill's intentions toward her?

French’s nanny friends grill him: What does she look like without makeup? And what are Bill’s intentions toward her?

French is appalled: “The relationship of gentleman’s gentleman to master is as confidential as that of lawyer to client.”

A reporter also tries to pump him for information, promising him personal publicity.

A reporter also tries to pump him for information, promising him personal publicity.

French says that a gentleman’s name should only appear in the paper three times: When is born, when he marries, and when he dies. “I’ve already done the first and contemplate neither the second nor the third,” he says.

(I’ve always heard that old newspaper rule applied to women–men are allowed to have newsworthy accomplishments. Maybe gentlemen’s gentlemen aren’t, though.)

Back at home, we learn that Carol has taken Buffy and Jody to the zoo. Buffy asks Bill if he plans to marry Carol.

"Women do know about these things," Buffy says, when Bill expresses surprise at the question.

“Women do know about these things,” Buffy says, when Bill expresses surprise at the question.

Both twins say they would like him to marry her, even if it means moving to Hollywood. Bill assures them that no wife of his will have a career.

"The lady is not gonna live in Hollywood and not gonna be a star in the movies. She's gonna be a wife to me and a mother to you."

“The lady is not going to live in Hollywood and not going to be a star in the movies. She’s gonna be a wife to me and a mother to you.”

I think I got that quote right, but it was hard to hear over the sound of my own gagging. Apparently, having two working parents is much worse for children than having a single parent who works.

Soon, the kids have another fun outing with Carol. They celebrate "nobody's birthday" with a shopping trip.

Soon, the kids have another fun outing with Carol. They celebrate “nobody’s birthday” with a shopping trip.

Jody talks about riding the “alligators,” meaning escalators. (Sometimes I worry about Jody.)

Just when everyone is so happy, a dark cloud appears on the horizon. Carol’s been offered the plum role of St. Joan in a movie filming in Spain. If she takes it, she’ll be gone for a year. (It must be quite an epic.)

The next night, Carol tells her unhappy agent to turn the role down.

The next night, Carol tells her shocked agent to turn the role down.

She’s found something more important, she says–something she’s been looking for her whole life.

When Bill arrives and hears her plans, he wonders if she can adjust to normal life. Can she deal with life's "petty annoyances" without agents and handlers?

When Bill arrives and hears her plans, he wonders if she can adjust to non-stardom. Can she deal with life’s “petty annoyances” without agents and handlers?

Hmm, petty annoyances? Like packing your own suitcase, cooking your own dinners, taking your own children to school? Tell us how you deal with those petty annoyances, Bill.

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Taken aback, Carol suddenly realizes that she’s been doing all the pursuing in this relationship.

“The whole Davis family fell in love with you, that’s for sure,” Bill says, glossing over his own feelings.

He encourages a crestfallen Carol to go to Spain. The Davis family will wait for her and then–well, we’ll see…

Carol wishes she had a screenwriter to help her make this scene come out right.

“Maybe that’s because what you had in mind was a scene, not just two ordinary people talking,” Bill replies. Ouch.

We flash forward a bit, and the kids have received a package from Carol in Spain.

We flash forward a bit and see the kids have received a package from Carol in Spain.

Carol has included a clipping for Bill–it says she’s signed to a new three-year contract. Her next picture will be Mama Wore Spangles.

Everyone looks sad, and French expresses his condolences to Bill.

Buffy doesn't think it's entirely sad--at least Carol will have the chance to "play mama" again.

Buffy finds a bright spot–at least Carol will get the chance to “play mama” again.

“Sure, play acting is fun,” Bill agrees.

"As long as everybody knows you're play acting."

“As long as everybody knows you’re play acting.”

Commentary

This is a very good episode, with a lot at stake for all the characters.

It also leave more room for interpretation than most episodes.

Trying to figure out Bill's motivations made me as confused as Carol looks here.

Trying to figure out Bill’s motivations made me as confused as Carol looks here.

His comments about “scenes” and “play acting” suggest that he doubts Carol’s long-term intentions. Is her decision to keep acting supposed to make us think his suspicions have been confirmed? If so, it doesn’t work for me. She seemed sincere in her desire to quit acting until he hurt her with a lukewarm response.

Was he ever really serious about Carol? Keith’s laconic performance doesn’t provide many clues.

Was he just too traditional to handle a woman pursuing him? Would marriage to a woman with her own career interests be uncomfortable for him?

Or was Carol overly interested in the “instant family–just add love” aspect of their relationship? (Yes, she actually uses that phrase.)

I am very interested to hear what my readers have to say.

A few other random observations:

  • When Carol joins them for dinner, after Bill escorts her to the table, Jody does the same with Buffy.
When Carol joins them for dinner, after Bill escorts her to the table, Jody does the same with Buffy. This is a cute little moment.

This is a cute little moment.

  • French really seems to enjoy charades.
This might be another in-joke, based on Cabot's two-year Stump the Stars stint.

This might be another in-joke, based on Cabot’s two-year Stump the Stars stint.

  • Carol’s bedtime story features French as a friendly giant who considers the kids his masters. Buffy thinks this is appropriate, since French sometimes calls her brother “Master Jody.”

Guest Cast

Carol Haven: Martha Hyer. Photographer: Ray Ballard. Woman: Helen Eby-Rock. Myron Fox: John Howard. Reporter: Grace Lenard. First Nanny: Gwen Watts Jones. Second Nanny: Nora Marlowe. Hyer was quite a successful film actress with important roles in such films as Battle Hymn, Houseboat, The Best of Everything, and The Sons of Katie Elder. In 1958, She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Some Came Running and was considered for the role of Marion Crane in Psycho. During that period in her life, she lived in a drool-worthy Hollywood hills home. (Also check out this sumptuous Life 1959 spread.) At the time of her Family Affair appearance, she had recently married producer Hal B. Wallis; they would remain together until his death in 1986.

John Howard

John Howard

Howard also had a long film career that included roles in Lost Horizon and The Philadelphia Story. He had a recurring role as Dave Welch on Don Fedderson’s other show, My Three Sons. After retiring from acting, he taught English at Highland Hall Waldorf School for 20 years. (Famous alumni include Mackenzie Phillips. I bet she was a joy to have in class.)

Lenard had an uncredited role in Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, in which Hyer appeared. Marlowe had small parts in films ranging from An Affair to Remember to Kitten with a Whip and a recurring role as Flossie on The Waltons. Gwen Watts Jones is a minor mystery, with no IMDb entry.

Continuity Notes

Jody’s sometimes-dead, sometimes-living turtle gets a mention. So does the kids’ mother (who’s always dead).

Notable Quotes

“Whenever you hear someone say, ‘They lived happily ever after,’ it’s the end.”–Buffy

Final Thought

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you check out the recent Family Affair post on Silver Scenes. It has some good comments about this episode.

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Old-Time Radio Playlist: Summer, Part 2

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

In the second part of this old-time radio playlist, we find that summer can teach us more important lessons.

Heat Wave”
Our Miss Brooks,
August 7, 1949


“Believe me, Walter, going to see Mr. Boynton is no way for me to cool off.”
Lesson Learned: When it’s really hot, wacky scheming may not be the best way to conserve your energy.
My Verdict: This show is always worth a listen. Mr. Conklin here reaches levels of indignation that test even Gale Gordon’s considerable powers of indignation-expression.

“Beautiful Summer in Newport”
NBC Short Story, April 18, 1951


“Fraulein beats me.”
Based Upon: A story by Felicia Gizycka, whose own incredible story included being kidnapped by her father, a Polish count.
Lesson Learned: Vet your summer child care providers very carefully.
Notable Performers: Anne Whitfield, a busy child actress in radio, plays the lead role. If you’re like me, you know her best as Susan, the general’s niece, in the movie White Christmas.
My Verdict: This story has some disturbing scenes, as a governess hired by a social-climbing aunt abuses the woman’s young nieces. Hey, announcer: You didn’t really have to tell us that the word “Beautiful” is used ironically.

“Summer and Smoke”
Best Plays, May 22, 1953


“He told me about the wonderful talks he had with you last summer, when he was so mixed up.”
Based Upon: The 1948 play by Tennessee Williams.
Lesson Learned: Try to avoid being a character in a Tennessee Williams play.
About Best Plays: From 1952 to 1953, this show delivered just what its title promised, with notable stage actors in its cast.
Notable Performers: Geraldine Page plays frustrated, fragile Alma, as she did in the play’s highly successful 1952 New York revival. Page also played the role in the 1961 movie, earning an Academy Award nomination. Richard Kiley, who plays John, created the role of Don Quixote in the 1965 musical Man of La Mancha.
My Verdict: Page’s performance is outstanding—its preservation for us is one of the wonders of old-time radio.
Bonus Feature: Here’s the theatrical trailer for the movie.

“Summer Replacement”
Family Theater, December 1, 1954


“I have a feeling the ‘defender of justice’ is in for a bad half-hour.”
Lesson Learned: Age and experience can triumph over youth and beauty in the world of entertainment. (Disclaimer: This lesson may not apply in real life.)
Notable Performers: Una Merkel plays a radio performer whose long-time role is given to a younger actress when the show transitions to TV. (In a coincidence involving our previous recording, Merkel appeared with Page in the movie Summer and Smoke, and she also earned an Oscar nomination.) Desi Arnaz hosts this episode of Family Theater.
My Verdict: This is a sprightly script, and Merkel conveys plenty of charm. I like the way her character wants to continue working even after landing a rich husband—and the husband is okay with that.

“Summer Song”
Romance, July 2, 1955


“I always forget the rules.”
Lesson Learned: Rich girls are easy.
About Romance: This dramatic anthology show ran in many different incarnations from 1943 to 1957. The 1950s episodes, produced by many of the same creative minds as Gunsmoke, are quite entertaining.
Story: Country club lifeguard Scott knows he shouldn’t fraternize with the guests, but seductive Dana makes his life difficult.
My Verdict: Dana is sexually aggressive to a shocking degree for a 1950s show. “Summer Skank” would be a more accurate title.

Other Old-Time Radio Playlists You Might Enjoy:

Summer, Part 1 (With Golden Age TV Bonus)

London Calling, Part 1

Christmas, Part 6

Spin Again Sunday: The Partridge Family Game (1971)

partridge family box

This Week’s Game: The Partridge Family Game, 1971

Manufactured By: Milton Bradley

Object: Being the first to reach the bus after a concert.

Recommended Ages: 7 to 12.

Game Box: A picture of the family, with everyone looking deliriously happy, except Danny. Maybe he’s wondering why they set up to play right outside their bus. The colorful Partridge logo also appears prominently.

Game Board: The same photo appears here, surrounded by a multicolored track.

partridge family board

Game Pieces: Character photos make these much cooler than ordinary plastic pawns. They aren’t durable, though–notice the damage done to Laurie. Keith, oddly, is pristine. Someone must have liked him.

They made these from the photo on the box, so Danny has that same dazed look on his face.

They made these from the photo on the box, so Danny has that same dazed look on his face.

Game Play: The instructions explain it in this ungrammatical fashion: “As on TV, many happenings occur to the Partridge family, this game describes one of them. They have finished playing at local arena and must hurry from there to their BUS to get traveling again. On the way they may have some delays.” (I guess BUS is important, since they put it in caps.)

Players advance along the track by rolling the dice. When they land on a partridge space, they take a card. The cards send them forward or backward, according to whether a particular family member has a good or bad experience. One feature adds a little excitement: If you land on an occupied space, the person who was there has to move backward to your starting point.

Most of these cards make sense, but look at this Laurie card: "Laurie belongs to the 'now generation.' Lose 1 turn."

Most of these cards make sense, but look at this Laurie card: “Laurie belongs to the ‘now generation.’ Lose 1 turn.”

My Thoughts: I paid about 50 cents for this very damaged game. I liked the colorful game board and figured I could do something crafty with it. Five years later, I still haven’t figured out what that will be yet.

Though the game play is boring, I’m sure I would have loved this game as child, and my Partridge pawns would have ended up in even worse shape than these.

Other Spin Again Sunday Posts You Might Enjoy:

The Game of Dragnet

The Waltons

Addams Family Card Game

Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 13, “Somebody Upstairs,” 12/11/1967

Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.

When we look on in on the Davis family this week, we find that the kids have just returned from school. The girls soon head back out to visit a neighbor, but Jody stays to talk to Uncle Bill about his grades. It seems he got an A in penmanship but missed four words on his spelling test. Bill tells him to spend more time studying his spelling.

Jody has a better idea--he's try to do worse in penmanship. That way, the teacher won't tell that his words are misspelled.

Jody has a better idea–he’s trying to do worse in penmanship. That way, the teacher can’t tell that his words are misspelled.

Meanwhile, French is concerned because the girls are spending so much time with their upstairs neighbor, Miss London. Bill only knows that she’s an unmarried older women with no children, and he assumes that the girls are helping her with household chores. Kids, Uncle Bill notes, will do housework for other people that they wouldn’t do at home even if they go paid.

Jody, who seems sharper than usual this week, asks how much Uncle Bill is willing to pay.

For that, he earns a hug and playful spanking.

For that, he earns a hug and playful spanking.

And that’s about all we see of Jody this week because it’s time venture upstairs with the girls and meet the new neighbor:

Joan Blondell! Another one of those "I can't believe she was on Family Affair" Family Affair guest stars.

Joan Blondell! Another one of those “I can’t believe she was on Family Affair” guest stars.

In Davis-land, she is Laura London, a Broadway star, and the girls are enchanted by her show business stories–like the time she played Portia in a musical version The Merchant of Venice. (Portia’s “quality of mercy” monologue became a conga number!)

VTS_01_1.VOB_000152952

When she tells them that, as an actress, she has to watch her figure, Buffy proudly proclaims that she will watch her own figure, as soon as she gets one.

Soon the girls have transformed their living space into what French calls an “off-Broadway bedroom.”

They've even turned their puketastic bedspreads into a proscenium arch.

They’ve even turned their puketastic bedspreads into a proscenium arch.

French is not amused, especially when Buffy demands an actress-style dinner–carrots and cottage cheese.

The next day, when he goes upstairs to fetch the girls, he gets a chance to meet Miss London, along with her maid, Ruby. It’s good news/bad news on the diversity front this week. The good news: We finally have an African-American character with a name who gets to utter several lines.

The bad news: She's a "sassy" maid who says things like, "Come on in, who's ever you are!"

The bad news: She’s a “sassy” maid who says things like, “Come on in, who’s ever you are!”

The three have a funny exchange about whether French resembles one of Laura’s former husbands, Stonewall.

“Stonewall was fuzzier,” Ruby argues.

French returns to the Davis apartment filled with disdain for Laura, whom he considers course, loud, and uncultured. But when Bill hears that Miss London is Laura London, he admits to being a fan.

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He recalls paying a week’s salary to see her on Broadway and re-enacts a quick, cute version of her Portia conga.

Bill doesn’t think French has anything to worry about, but he agrees to talk to Laura himself.

During their meeting, Brian Keith gives Bill a convincing fan-boy vibe. I would guess that Keith liked Blondell because you can usually tell when doesn't like guest stars.

During their meeting, Brian Keith gives off Bill a convincing fan-boy vibe. I would guess that Keith liked Blondell because you can usually tell when doesn’t like guest stars.

Meanwhile, the girls are starting to lose their minds. Laura has praised their talent and encouraged them to pursue stage careers as a “sister act.”

Cissy is experimenting with up-dos. (That's actually a good call, I think.)

Cissy is experimenting with up-dos. (That’s actually a good call, I think.)

And Buffy is practicing her autograph, although she can only print it. She’s also thinking about changing her name.

"Buffy doesn't sound very show biz," she says.

“Buffy doesn’t sound very show biz,” she says.

The girls start neglecting their schoolwork and their friends, and French gets a call from Buffy’s teacher about the song Buffy performed during show and tell. It seems that one more chorus of the bawdy lyrics would have caused authorities to raid the school.

If you took a drink every time French rolled his eyes or Bill rubbed his head during this episode, you might not survive for next week's Family Affair Friday.

If you took a drink every time French rolled his eyes or Bill rubbed his head during this episode, you might not survive for next week’s Family Affair Friday.

Buffy thinks her teacher is just a square who couldn’t tell a “backdrop” from a “second banana.”

Soon the problem escalates to the point that Cissy wants to quit school and pursue stardom full-time. Between head-rubs, Bill agrees to watch Buffy and Cissy perform.

In Laura’s apartment, the Davis Sisters (Vicky and Venetia) perform “Let Me Entertain You” from Gypsy.

Mere pictures alone can’t really do justice to this scene.

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Buffy includes some choreography that is almost Toddlers and Tiaras-esque.

Bill looks uncomfortable as well he might.

Bill looks uncomfortable, as well he might.

Stay in school, girls. Stay in school.

Stay in school, girls. Stay in school.

Bill decides to take Laura out to dinner to discuss the situation.

The go to his favorite night spot, natch.

They go to his favorite night spot, natch.

Bill expresses his worry about the girls’ desire to quit school. Laura doesn’t see what the big deal is–she dropped out.

Eventually, he gets her to understand that taking the girls "out of their little world" would be detrimental.

Eventually, he gets her to understand that taking the girls “out of their little world” would be detrimental.

With the girls the next day, Laura lays it on thick about the downside of stardom.

She talks about working so hard from a young age that she had "never been a kid--no laughs, no fun."

She talks about working so hard from a young age that she had “never been a kid–no laughs, no fun.”

It’s hard to watch that scene now without wondering if that’s how Anissa Jones felt about her childhood.

Laura's sudden attitude change puzzles Cissy.

Laura’s sudden attitude change puzzles Cissy, and it causes the girls to do some reflecting.

Later, they talk to Uncle Bill. Cissy and Buffy still plan a stage career–but they will wait until after they finish school.

Hey, Jody's back! And probably wondering what the hell everyone's talking about.

Hey, Jody’s back! And probably wondering what the hell everyone’s talking about.

Bill is so relieved to have this nightmare end that he offers to take the kids out to a movie. When French reminds him that it’s a school night, he rescinds the offer, causing Buffy to utter the line that must appear in every theater-themed classic TV episode: “That’s show biz!”

Then the kids leave the room in the most natural and normal way possible.

Then the kids leave the room in the most natural and normal way possible.

Commentary

Joan Blondell plus a musical number equals a memorable episode (whether you want to remember the musical number or not).

The cheesy show biz lingo gets old pretty fast.

Got to hand it to the set decorators--every apartment in the Davis building is ugly in its own unique way.

Hats off to the set decorators–every apartment in the Davis building is ugly in its own unique way.

Guest Cast

Laura London: Joan Blondell. Ruby: Ernestine Wade. Blondell had a long career in films, mainly in “wisecracking friend of the leading lady” roles in light musicals. Some highlights from her career in the 1930s include Golddiggers of 1933, Footlight Parade and The Crowd Roars. She was once married to Dick Powell. Later, she had more serious roles in such films as Cry Havoc (fellow Family Affair alum Ann Sothern also starred) and the wonderful A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She had regular roles in the TV series Here Come the Brides and Banyon and played Vi in 1978’s Grease.

Wade played Sapphire Stevens in the TV series Amos and Andy.

Fun Facts

Buffy’s favorite food is southern fried chicken.

Musical Notes

Gypsy–my favorite musical–struck a chord with TV producers. Here are other examples of what happens when Sondheim meets sitcom.

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Summer, Part 1 (With Golden Age TV Bonus)

14965921-vintage-summer-postcard-vector-illustrationIt’s summertime and school’s out, but you can still learn some valuable lessons from these summer-themed old-time radio shows.

The June House Party”
Love Story,
August 6, 1937


“Randy’s a blooming idiot.”
Lesson Learned: What to do when he’s not that into you? Have you tried staging a mock wedding that turns out to be real? Apparently, it works wonders.
About Love Story: This short-lived series drew its stories from the pages of Love Story Magazine, a weekly romance pulp with an interesting history.
My Verdict: This makes for an amusing 15 minutes, though not for the reasons its creators intended.

“Summer Thunder”
The Whistler, July 30, 1945


“This blasted heat’s getting on my nerves.”
Lesson Learned: Make sure your husband has actually committed murder before you start trying to obstruct justice for him.
My Verdict: The acting is stagy, but this is a well-constructed mystery, with appropriate red herrings.

“Summer Storm”
Suspense, October 18, 1945


“All fat men aren’t good natured.”
Lesson Learned: Talking to yourself a lot? There is something odd about that.
Notable Performers: Henry Fonda’s naturally calm persona makes a nice contrast with the role he is playing, that of a man slowly cracking up.
My Verdict: I didn’t see the ending twist coming.

“Sometime Every Summertime”
Studio One, March 9, 1928


“What is it they say about summer romances?”
Lesson Learned: Summer loves grow cold in the fall. Sniff. (Alternate lesson: Advertising guys are kind of jerks.)
About Studio One: Fletcher Markle directed this short-lived anthology series that dramatized novels and plays.
Notable Performers: Burgess Meredith plays Clem, an ad man whose vacation romance with a young woman from a different social class is recounted from three perspectives—his friend’s, the woman’s, and his own.
My Verdict: This script by Markle was first produced on Columbia Workshop in 1946, then made the rounds of other anthology shows. Its popularity was well deserved; this is an understated, authentically human story with no corny elements.
Bonus Feature: This script was also produced for TV, in a 1953 production starring Dorothy McGuire.

“Going on a Picnic”
Archie Andrews, August 21, 1948


“I sure didn’t expect to get undressed on a picnic.”
Lesson Learned: Don’t go on a picnic with Archie and Jughead. Just don’t.
My Verdict: A mildly amusing episode of this silly series. Are there ants at this picnic? Yep…plus cows, skunks, and snapping turtles.
Celebrity Name-Droppings: Jughead mentions Elsie the Cow, symbol of Borden Dairy since 1936.

Other Old-Time Radio playlists you might enjoy:

Happy New Year, Part 1

Edgar Allan Poe, Part 1

Till Death Do Us Part