Tuesday, November 28, 2006

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful walk down memory lane, Ginnie! As I began reading, I immediately thought of one that my mom always told me about that she just loved....and you did mention it, Lux Theater. My parents were married in 1946 and she told me they'd cuddle up in bed and listen to that. For some reason, I always loved hearing about this.
And as a sidenote...wasn't "Lux" a soap of some kind and they advertised on that show?

6:36 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Terri: I copied this "Lux soap was known for sponsoring several popular radio series in the 1930s and 1940s including Lux Radio Theater. Due to its radio sponsorship it was fairly well-known in the United States during this time, though the soap has since disappeared from mainstream American markets and is no longer the recognized brand it once was."
I think you can still get Lux soap at some of the cut-rate stores. Ginnie

10:55 AM  
Blogger Chancy said...

Ginnie..I remember all those radio shows you mentioned and I didn't recall until just now that "Lux" soap no longer exists. Another one which is still around, Ivory Soap , 99.99% pure-It Floats.

Another drama show was "Grand Central Station. The deep voiced announcer would start the show by saying, "Grand Central Station; crossroads of a million private lives."

Then a few years later as I grew into my teens, I listened to Frank Sinatra sing his theme song "Put Your Dreams Away for Another Day and I will take their place in your Heart" as he signed off his show.

"The Hit Parade" also.

Ahhh --- Those were the days.

2:58 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

Radio was a big part of my growing up years, but this was a little ahead of my time. I loved the Marx Brothers though my venue was the television. I believe their comedy holds up even today. Thanks for the memories!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must be something about kids. I loved the radio also. When talk radio became popular, I was in heaven! I don't recall the names of the hosts any longer, but listening was constant. Even more than TV :)

(I still listen to the radio more than TV)




4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my, I remember all those shows. Thanks for the trip through my memories. I used to fall asleep at night listening to Bing Crosby.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ginnie...thanks so much for the info and update. Very interesting. I'm recalling how few soaps were available during the early 50's when I was small, compared to today.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Benny and Burns and Alan were popular in the UK. Of course we had our own radio (we called it 'the wireless'in those days) shows but I doubt if they made it across the Atlantic. I still enjoy listening to a good play on the radio.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ginnie,

I arrived too late to enjoy those radio days. However your post conjured up the image of my dear father telling his six children about the radio shows that you mentioned. He was a first generation American -- his parents did not speak English well. I think one reason that he really loved radio was discovering the possibilities in his second language. Even at the age of 75, he could quote Groucho verbatim.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I love this blog. I am 66 and also love old time radio. I recently got and mp3 player and bought some of the shows I remember listening to like the shadow, Fibber McGee, Henry Aldrich and Inner Sanctum. It took me sometime to figure out how to get these shows on to my mp3 player but I called the site owner and he helped me. If you are interested in getting some shows go to http://www.40sRadioMysteries.com

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm twenty - nine and found serial radio about 5 years ago. It's an internet program that came with my Mac's Itunes. I get to hear, on any given night as I cook dinner, "The Great Guildersleeve", "Gunsmoke", "The Jack Benny Show", "Suspense", "Lux Theater", "The Shadow", "The Cisco KId" and many others. I don't know if that radio program comes specifically with the Mac or not. I think not. I love it; it's very entertaining and allows my time cooking to fly by.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Linda Jay Geldens said...

Hi, Ginnie,
A good friend of mine told me about your Web site. My parents were freelance writers. When I was a kid in New York in the 1940s they actually wrote two "Shadow" scripts, a "Mr. and Mrs. North," a "Grand Central Station"(which someone mentioned here), a "Famous Jury Trials." Later, my Dad wrote a "Gunsmoke" for TV, and was Rod Serling's only co-author of a TV show, which was on "Philip Morris Playhouse" in 1954. I'm a writer/editor. I have a twice-a-week blog post at: www.TheSpiritedWoman.com -- LindaJay

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Nina said...

I am in my mid-70s and remember listening to a kid's radio show back in the 1940s. Every week they would sing to the kids who were celebrating their birthdays that week. It was a birthday song sung to the tune of "The Merry Widow Waltz." Does anyone remember what the name of that show was? I would love to find it online.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Hi Nina: Could the radio show that you are trying to find be "The Big John & Sparky radio show". That was a Sat. Am Children's show and, although the theme song was the music from "Teddy Bear's Picnic" it might also have used the birthday song that you mentioned.
Thanks for commenting on my blog entry. It was written back in 2006when I started blogging and I am going to repeat it again in a few days since I got such a nice response over the years ! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Nina said...

Thanks for responding, Ginnie. No, I don't think it was Big John and Sparky. I went to a link that offered a sample of that show, but it didn't sound like what I remembered. I believe the show I'm looking for was aired in the mid to late 1940s.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Hi again Nina: Since that wasn't the one you were looking for I plan to post the entry again in a few days and will include your comment in hopes that my readers will be able to help you.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Jon and Sparkie
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday Just for you
Happy Birthday and may all your dreams come true
When you blow out the candle
One light stays aglow
It's the sunshine of your smile
Where e'er you go

9:20 AM  

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