LIVE RADIO SHOWS in the 1940’s
In the early 1940’s World War II was raging and the live radio shows of that era provided a much-needed respite for the families waiting at home and for the boys on base. “The Jack Benny Show”, “Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy”, “Burns and Allen” and “The Great Gildersleeve” were only a few of the shows
that brought their home-spun humor into our lives.
I was 9 yrs old in 1942 when my family re-located to Wellesley, Massachusetts. I can remember many a night that we gathered around the big, wooden radio in the living room and laughed until the tears flowed. There were also nights when we cried as we listened to the news of our brave boys so far from home. The radio was our lifeline for good news or bad.
One of our family favorites was “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. He was just as funny on radio as he later was on his TV show of the same name. (“Say the secret word (pronounced "woid") and a duck will come down and give you fifty dollars”.) His quips were priceless but the one I remember best was his famous: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy” delivered in his dry monotone.
“The Shadow” was another winner. Remember: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Or, how about “The Aldrich Family”, the story of a bumbling kid growing into adolescence. I will never forget the introduction, with his mother calling, “Hen-reeeeeee! Hen-ree AL-drich!” And also, “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons”, the show that we so cleverly changed to “Mr. Trace, Keener than Most People”.
By 1946 my taste in radio shows had changed dramatically. I was now a teenager and my “romantic” self couldn’t get enough of “The Lux Radio Theater”. Their format was to air one hour radio versions of motion pictures, often using the same cast as in the movie. (examples of these were: “Jane Eyre”, “I Remember Mama”, and “Miracle of the Bells”.) The only problem was that my bedtime was before the show came on.
Not to worry. We now owned two smaller radios and I, simply, connected a long extension cord to one of them and took the radio to bed with me!
My folks never reprimanded me, or even let me know that they were aware of what I was doing. But, I recall many nights that I fell asleep mid-show and woke the next morning to find the radio miraculously turned off and set on the floor beside the bed.