Labor Day has come and gone, but it’s not too late to take a vacation over the old-time radio airwaves.
“A Vacation on the Prison Farm” Life of Riley, June 26, 1948
“What would a bellhop want with a gun?” Story: Cash-strapped Riley has a brilliant idea for a cheap vacation—swapping homes with a friend from out of town. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite grasp that his friend is caretaker of a prison farm. Destination: Escudero State Prison Farm. Wish You Were There? You’ll have to dodge some bullets, but this premise is funny enough to make it worth it.
“Vacation Time” My Favorite Husband, April 29, 1949
“Travel is great. I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.” About My Favorite Husband: Lucille Ball and Richard Denning starred in this 1948-1951 comedy about a happily married young couple. Three of the show’s writers–Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer—later helped to adapt the program into the TV show I Love Lucy. Story: With different ideas about the ideal vacation, Liz and George agree to a trial run of George’s plan—camping in a trailer. Destination: Goose Grease Lake, but they don’t quite make it. Wish You Were There? If you enjoy the Lucille Ball movie The Long, Long Trailer, you’ll probably enjoy this, too.
“The Goosby Vacation Cottage” The Bickersons, July 10, 1951
“I’m never able to sleep in a strange place.” About The Bickersons: Don Ameche and Frances Langford played battling John and Blanche Bickerson in the mid-1940s on the shows Drene Time, The Old Gold Hour, and The Charlie McCarthy Show. In the summer of 1951, Langford returned to the air as Blanche, with Lew Parker playing John. You probably remember Parker from his role as Ann Marie’s father on That Girl. Story: Blanche tries to manipulate John into a rural getaway. Destination: A vacation cottage in the country. Wish You Were There? Nah…you’ll have a more peaceful time staying home with the cat, Nature Boy.
“Hawaiian Vacation Slogan Contest” Duffy’s Tavern, December 28, 1951
“I like Honolulu because when I land on the island of Honolulu, I hope I land a honey that’s a lulu.” About Duffy’s Tavern: This popular show aired for 10 years beginning in 1941; this is, in fact, its final radio episode. Ed Gardner, who plays Archie, helped to create the series. Story: Archie wins a slogan contest–a kiddie slogan contest. Destination: Hawaii, but only in Archie’s dreams. Wish You Were There? Of course–and you have a better chance of getting there than Archie does.
“Having a Horrible Time” CBS Radio Mystery Theater, August 21, 1974
“We believe in making every minute count.” Story: Amy, who helped convict a drug kingpin and has been getting death threats ever since, makes the brilliant decision to vacation at a “swinging singles” resort. Destination: Tomahawk Tree Lodge in the Poconos. Notable Performers: Lynn Loring, who plays Amy, grew up playing Patti on Search for Tomorrow, then racked up a variety of TV credits in the 1960s. During that period, her marriage to Roy Thinnes made her a fan-magazine fixture. Tony-winning actress Frances Sternhagen, who plays Lois, has appeared in many movies but is probably best known as Cliff Clavin’s mother from Cheers. Wish You Were There? Only if you want to spend your vacation worrying about which resort guest is trying to kill you.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have found this blog since I started it in August, especially my little group of regular readers and commenters. It’s been fun sharing my eclectic set of interests with you, and I hope you find much to enjoy here in 2013, including:
Many more old-time radio playlists, focusing not only on holidays and seasons but on themes ranging from babies, dogs, and cats, to Shakespeare, courtroom drama, and the fourth estate. I will also assemble playlists featuring my favorite screen stars, including Joseph Cotten, Barbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant, Margaret O’Brien, Bing Crosby, Myrna Loy, and others.
Many bizarre words of wisdom from vintage teenage advice books and teen magazines.
A new occasional feature called Comic Book Craziness, featuring oddities from my small collection of 1960s and 1970s romance and superhero comics.
Some entertaining vintage board games in my Spin Again Sunday series. Coming up in the next two weeks: A 1955 Dragnet game and a 1970s girls career game that was already so retrograde in its own time that it included a disclaimer.
Occasional looks at other vintage toys in my collection, including Barbie dolls and accessories, more Fisher Price Play Family toys, Viewmaster reels, Colorforms, Mattel’s Sunshine Family dolls, and others.
More posts about classic movies. This is an area I planned to explore more frequently than I have so far. I am hoping to blog about movies at least a couple times a month this year.
And, of course, many more installments of Family Affair Friday. We are about half way through season 1, and I am particularly excited about starting season 2—my very favorite.
Since becoming part of the blogosphere, one of my greatest pleasures has been discovering so many wonderful bloggers producing entertaining and insightful work. My new year’s resolution is to spend more time reading and commenting on your blogs.
And now, as a New Year’s treat, I present 10 old-time radio episodes. Enjoy!
“The Strange Case of the Iron Box”
December 31, 1945
“New Year’s Resolution”
The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show
December 29, 1946
“New Year’s Day”
January 1, 1947
“New Year’s Nightmare”
The Mysterious Traveler
January 5, 1947
“Rain on New Year’s Eve”
December 29, 1947
“Hot New Year’s Party”
Casey, Crime Photographer
January 1, 1948
“Jack Tries to Get Tickets for the Rose Bowl”
Jack Benny Program
January 4, 1948
“Riley Invites Himself to His Boss’ New Year’s Eve Party”
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
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.