Lucille Ball Suspense

Redhead On Suspense!

We’ve been looking at the way that Suspense! liked to cast actors far away from their type. One of the favorite comedians on Suspense was Lucille Ball.

Lucy was many peoples favorite. She was America’s Queen of Comedy, a favored pin-up girl, a pioneer in television acting and production, and the first woman to head a television studio. But she will always be remembered as the lady who made us all laugh with the classic routines from “I love Lucy” and her other great TV shows.

Early in her career was a time that many starlets appeared on the radio to help make ends meet. As her star began to rise, Lucy made several appearances on Suspense! In her earliest Suspense roles Lucy plays hard working girls on Broadway whom fate puts in the path of desperate men, and the third, “A Shroud for Sarah”, she becomes a cold and calculating black-widow who more than gets what she deserves. In “A Little Piece of Rope” Lucy is an ambitious girl in Hollywood who can’t get a role because she looks so young, but she can take advantage of men who like to pick up little girls, even “the Strangler”.

After she married, she appeared in “The Red Headed Woman”, playing a good girl who falls for temptation when her boss gives her the payroll money to put in the safe. She embezzles the money and makes her escape, and while driving to Mexico hears the report of a murderous bank robbery, and that the robber looks a lot like Desi Arnaz. And he has an accomplice who has red hair. And who does she see along the side of the road? Could it be Desi?


Historic Norman Corwin Obituary Old Time Radio WWII

Good Night, Norman Corwin

One of radio’s great artistic voices was silenced today, October 18, 2011 at the age of 101. Norman Corwin is widely regarded as the “Poet Laureate” of Radio. Perhaps no writer since Shakespeare used as much skill crafting the spoken word.

Corwin had worked as a newspaper reporter and in independent radio before coming to CBS in 1936. An early success was Norman Corwin’s Words Without Music. This was the first time a writer’s name had been featured in the title of a radio program. The program gave us “the Plot to Overthrow Christmas”, a fanciful piece done in rhyme which became a CBS Christmas tradition.

Recognizing the value of their rising star, CBS turned over the resources of the Columbia Workshop to Corwin for a period of 6 months. The Columbia Workshop was conceived to expand the possibilities of the radio medium. The “26 by Corwin” were broadcast without sponsorship and no creative interference from the network. Given his journalistic interest in events, it must have been hard for Corwin to move on other projects less than a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

However it was to be a marvelous project; Corwin’s “We Hold These Truths”. The US government commissioned a program to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Norman Corwin would write and produce the program which would be broadcast simultaneously on the four major radio networks. Major Hollywood movie and radio talent would be featured along with the national anthem conducted by Leopold Stokowski. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would be be call upon to provide the closing remarks.

While Corwin was engrossed in writing while traveling on a cross country train when he remembered there was to be a rebroadcast of one of his shows. In those days it was common to rent radios on trains. When he asked the porter to get him one, the porter stared aghast. “Ain’t you heard? You can’t get a radio today, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!” Corwin was no longer sure that “We Hold These Truths” would still go on as planned, but the word came down from the President himself. With less than a week to handle rewrites, the program was now thought to be more important than ever.

CBS sent Corwin to London soon afterwards to gave Americans the view of the British people who were already facing the horrors of war An American in England. When he returned Stateside he continued to write both light and serious feature for Columbia Presents Corwin as well as 13 of the scripts for the multi-network broadcast This is War.  His wartime masterpiece would be On a Note of Triumph. Intended as a moral booster to the troops as the war seemed to be winding down, Corwin was told to hurry the project because victory in Europe could come at any time. The program was heard by an estimated 60 million listeners.

After the war Corwin was the first to receive the One World Award. As part of the prize he was given a flight around the world, and he took with him a sound technician and 225 pounds of recording equipment. His recordings were transcribed into 3700 pages and used for a thirteen part documentary series, One World Flight.

During the 1950’s, Corwin wrote a number of screenplays, including “Lust for Life” (1956) which received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

During the 90’s he returned to radio, producing a number of plays for NPR, and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993. He lectured at the USC school of Journalism as a guest professor. He celebrated his 101st birthday on May 4, 2011.

Good Night Norman. And thank you.

Academy Award Theater Bette Davis Dragnet Fatal Females Lux Radio Theater Old Time Radio

Fatal Females in Old Time Radio

If you’ll check the record, the first Femme Fatale was a lady named Eve. Since then, Fatal Females have come in all shapes and sizes. It is fun to list the famous ones: Salome, Jezebel, the Sirens, Delilah, Morgan le Fay, Cleopatra. As beautiful as these ladies were, we can’t help but remember what happened to the good men who became involved with them.

The real danger of a Femme Fatale is of course her powers of seduction. This implies that the trouble that men get into isn’t really their fault; they would never be lead astray by a virtuous woman. Yet it is little surprise that men aren’t all that interested in virtuous a woman. The danger of a Femme Fatale is part of her attraction, sort of a role reversal of Good Girl’s attraction to the Bad Boy. The classic Femme Fatale is at least somewhat exotic, like the Eastern allure of spy Mata Hari, or the bombshell good-looks of a moll from a Hard-boiled Noir-detective story. In any case the male victim knows that here is a dame he should have nothing to do with, but he can’t help himself.

Our collection of Fatal Females starts with Academy Award Theater and Lux Radio Theater‘s productions of “Jezebel” with Bette Davis. Lux goes on to give us a number of femme fatale stories, including “Samson and Delilah” and “All About Eve”.

The ladies who show up on Suspense! are likely to be up to no good, but then again, almost everyone who turns up on Suspense! is pretty much suspect.

Speaking of suspects, Sgt. Joe Friday brings us more than his share of baddies in his pursuit of “just the fact’s, ma’am.” Private detectives of both the Hard and Soft Boiled variety get to deal with untrustworthy Dames, and we bring you examples from Sam Spade, The Fat Man, and Have Gun, Will Travel; Paladin’s adventure has the potential to be deadly but turns out even more dangerous, as the Lady falls for the gun fighter!

Of course we haven’t forgotten the classic Fatal Female, Cleopatra herself. Blackstone, the Magic Detective and Origin of Superstition deal with this deadly lady’s legend while Stroke of Fate reminds us what happens to one of her boyfriends in “Julius Caesar”.

Enjoy this episode of “Cat Wife” from Lights Out:

Carnation Content Hour Musical Old Time Radio

Contented Listeners Tune into the Carnation Contented Hour

The Carnation Contented Hour debuted at 8:00 p.m. on April 26, 1931. Originally broadcast over the west coast National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the show began to broadcast nationwide in January 1932. Taking its name from the longtime Carnation Milk Company slogan, Milk from contented cows,? the company aimed to please listeners with a variety of musical programming.

The program initially featured conductor, Josef Pasternack. Unfortunately, Pasternack suffered a fatal heart attack during one of the rehearsal sessions. The network hurriedly began the search for his replacement. Eventually, network executives chose Percy Faith and his orchestra. Featured performers included Herman Larson and Gene Arnold, with the addition of Buddy Clark in October 1932. Regulars on the show included Josephine Antoine and Reinhold Schmidt.

Sadly, during World War II many servicemen and women did not have access to programs broadcast for the general public. In order to boost moral and ensure that military personnel had access to venues of entertainment, the newly created Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) received permission to rebroadcast several radio programs, including the The Carnation Contented Hour. Edited programs were recorded onto discs and sent to various military bases. The recorded rebroadcasts were commercial-free and the AFRS re-titled the program, The Melody Hour.

In 1949, the program was moved to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and Dick Haynes joined the line-up. Although broadcasting time was shifted to 10:00 p.m. in November of 1932, the show continued to enjoy popularity. The final broadcast of The Carnation Contented Hour was heard on December 30, 1951.

You can enjoy an episode of the The Carnation Contented Hour from 1949: