Sgt Joe Friday’s Dragnet Christmas

“TUM de Dumdum, Tum de Dum Dum DUMMM!” Christmas is found on the mean streets of Los Angeles. One of the saddest possible Christmas stories is Dragnet‘s “Twenty Two Rifle for Christmas.” The story about an unsupervised boy whose friend is killed with his Christmas present, then hides the body is enough to do more for a holiday depression than credit card bills. “Twenty Two Rifle” became a Dragnet tradition and was broadcast for three years until the writers decided it wasn’t uplifting enough for the joyous season.

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Dragnet-501221-E080-Twentytwo-Rifle-For-Christmas-OTRCAT.com.mp3

The old mission church, the oldest in Los Angeles, is attended mostly by the poor Mexican families in the area. Several years ago the parishioners took a collection and purchased a nativity scene that had been displayed in the church every year. The Baby Jesus from the display is missing on December 24th. Father Rojas explains to Sgt. Friday and his partner Frank Smith that the baby Jesus is the only one that many of the people had ever known. With less than twenty four hours before the first Christmas mass, Friday doesn’t hold much hope they will find the thief, but he does his best. Other cases are unfolding, but this is important to Friday. They interview the altar boys, and check out the local religious supply stores with little success. They do find a suspect, but his alibi that he is preparing for a Christmas program for down-and-outers checks out. Finally the detectives are forced to tell the Father that they cannot find the statue in time for the Christmas mass, but they will continue through the following week.

As they are speaking to the padre, the doors to the church open, and a young boy pulling a shiny red wagon comes in. Riding in the wagon is the baby Jesus. Young Paquito Mendoza haltingly explains to the Father in Spanish that for years he has prayed for a red wagon for Christmas. This year in his prayers he has promised that if he gets his wagon, he will take Baby Jesus for the first ride. As the statue is lovingly replaced Father Rojas explains that the local firemen refurbish toys for poor children, and that is where Paquito’s wagon has come from. The Padre says that Paquito’s family is very poor. There is not a dry eye around the radio when Sgt. Friday asks “Are they Father?”

Both of these Christmas Radio Shows would be adapted for the small screen when Dragnet came to TV, with “The Big Little Jesus” done in two different versions; first in 1953, then remade using the same script in 1967 as “The Christmas Story.”

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Dragnet-561225-e373-Big-Little-Jesus-OTRCAT.com.mp3

Jewish Old Time Radio Programs

Although there were many Jewish radio stars, there were few old time radio series dedicated to Jewish family, faith, and tradition during the golden age of radio.  Some of the favorites old time radio series about Jews include:

  1. The Goldbergs
  2. Eternal Light
  3. Mama Bloom’s Brood
  4. People Take the Lead
  5. Golden Door
  6. Eternal Light
  7. Abies Irish Rose
  8. Yehui Menuhin recordings

A great read on the subject is Radio and the Jews: The Untold Story of How Radio Influenced America’s Image of Jews, 1920s-1950s By David S. and Susan Siegel.

Enjoy an episode from Mama Bloom’s Brood from 1934 entitled “Mrs Fink Told Off”:

Christmas in Wistful Vista: Part 4

Skipping down Christmas Nostaliga Lane we return to our favorite old time radio comedy, Fibber McGee and Molly:

On Christmas Eve 1946 becomes special; it is one of the few times the show is broadcast on Christmas Eve.  Teeny, the young girl that Marian plays in addition to Molly has convinced Fibberto fix some broken toys for less fortunate children. Of course toys that are broken become toys that are destroyed when Fibber tries to fix them! To be sure the kids have a good Christmas Fibber spends all of the McGee’s Christmas money on new toys. Teeny, with the help of the King’s Men finishes the show with a lovely rendition of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.  Enjoy the following Christmas Radio Show:

http://www.fibbermcgeeandmolly.com/mp3/fm461224 Fixing Broken Toys For Needy Children.mp3

This episode is from Old Time Radio’s Fibber McGee’s Christmas Collection.

Christmas in Wistful Vista: Part 3

In our continuing journey down Christmas Nostaliga Lane from last year with our favorite old time radio comedy, Fibber McGee and Molly:

In Christmas Radio Show episode from 1941, Fibber is determined not to spend money on a Christmas tree, so on Dec 16 he goes into the woods to cut his own. Of course it turns out that he avoids spending a couple dollars on a tree by losing his watch and hatchet in the snow, plus having to fix the tire on the family car! At this time America has been fighting WWII for less than two weeks, and the changes the war brings is on everyone’s mind.

http://www.fibbermcgeeandmolly.com/mp3/fm411216-0305-Fibber-Cuts-His-Own-Christmas-Tree-OTRCAT.com.mp3

This episode is from Old Time Radio’s Fibber McGee’s Christmas Collection.

Great Gildersleeve Christmas: Part 2

The Great Gildersleeve was one of the first households in broadcasting to feature a nontraditional family- two children being raised by an uncle with no father of mother. This doesn’t make Christmas any less special.

Christmas Day, 1946 would fall on a Wednesday, the night The Great Gildersleeve was broadcast. And it is going to be a wonderful traditional family Christmas, Except that Gildy has convinced himself that the Bullard’s across the street are having marital problems. Worse, Leroy’s friend Craig Bullard will be forced to spend the holiday alone. Of course Gildersleeve would never spread rumors unless he was absolutely sure, would he?

http://www.greatgildersleeve.com/mp3/GG461225%20Christmas%20Caroling%20at%20Home.mp3

The 1948 season is special with the addition of the “Mystery Baby” plot arc. Christmas that year is going to be extra special with a baby in the house. The Christmas season begins with a mystery as Christmas presents and other treasures begin to disappear from the house. There is fright and confusion, even the Summerfield police department becomes involved. Everyone including Leroy (Walter Tetley) and Bea Benaderet has forgotten that there is a curious baby in the house…

http://www.greatgildersleeve.com/mp3/GG481222%20Family%20Christmas.mp3

Two week later the family is happily making preparations for the baby’s first Christmas Eve. That is when Judge Hooker presents the baby’s missing father. There won’t be a dry eye around the radio as we hear Gildersleeve say good bye to the Baby that has brought so much joy to his world.

The genuine love and happiness we hear in the Gildersleeve Christmas Radio Shows household makes the holidays even more special for the rest of us.

Why Didn’t Batman Have His Own Radio Show?

Who is the Greatest Superhero will be discussed and argued in computer labs, comic book stores, college cafeterias and Starbucks WiFi hotspots for decades to come. Whether Superman’s super strength is a match for Wolverine’s indestructible adamantium skeleton or if  DC’s Justice League of America is a match for Marvel’s The X-Men are interesting questions. There is little denying, however, that among the subset of Superheroes without “powers”, the “Costumed Crime Fighters”, few can begin to touch Batman.

The Golden Age of Comic Books, beginning with the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1 in 1938 began after the Golden Age of Radio (beginning in the late 20’s). Both Golden Ages came to an end at about the same time in the late 1950’s, largely due to the increasing dominance of TV, although the reasons for the decline of each may be for different reasons. Radio’s decline had more to do with sponsorship abandoning the medium than the medium itself lagging behind. In the case of Superhero Comics, the Cape and Spandex crowd itself seems to have lost favor.

Batman was created in 1939 by DC Comics artist Bob Kane. DC had put out a call to repeat the success they had with Superman, who debuted in Action Comic #1. Kane was inspired by ornithopter drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci and by the fact that bats are just plain frightening; he wanted his hero to strike fear in criminals. Another influence was the Mark of Zorro swashbuckler starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Like Batman’s alter ego, Zorro was a rich and somewhat ineffectual dandy during the day, but at night he would don a mask and become a vigilante thwarting evil-doers. (Zorro also had a great black horse hidden in a cave under his home, the inspiration for the Batcave and Batmobile.)

Superman caught the imagination of America from his premier in Action Comics #1 in June 1938. There was a syndicated attempt to put the Man of Steel on the radio in 1938-39, but he found a permanent home on the Mutual Network in Feb 1940.

There was development work and scripts written for a Batman radio program beginning in 1943, but only the premier episode script survives. Significant to the Batman universe back-story is that the script called for Dick Grayson’s (secret identity of Robin, Batman’s long time side-kick) parents, who were FBI Agents, to be killed by Nazi spies rather than by gangsters as occurred in print.

Batman and Robin appeared several times over the years on Superman. In the first story arc the Dynamic Duo appeared in, during Sept 1945, Lois Lane is accused of murder and Batman has to clear her. In December Clark Kent goes to Bruce Wayne’s Manor to seek Batman’s help, Shocking the Caped Crusader that his identity has been discovered! In Jan of ’46 Superman is trapped by a Bad Guy with Kryptonite and Batman has to save him. Later that month it appears that Superman’s double is robbing banks, and only Batman can straighten things out. “The Story of the Century” takes place in the spring of ’46, and again Clark nad Lois need Batman’s help. By the summer of ’46 Clark Kent is in danger of being exposed as Superman, but Batman helps to keep the secret. During the fall of ’46, during “The Mystery of the Dead Voice” story arc Dick Grayson/Robin’s origin story is re-explored. By winter Superman’s identity is in danger again but Batman helps. In February Superman and Batman work together to solve “The Case of the Monkey Burglar”.  In late spring Batman and Superman join forces again against “Big George” Lattimer who is out to kill the Man of Steel. The adventure continues into the summer as a Nazi Brain surgeon has Superman in his power. December opens with Batman’s help in the “Pennies For Plunder” adventure. Batman disappears during “Batman’s Great Mystery” but we find out that he is trying to help starving people in Europe, first half of Feb, 1948. In March Superman’s costume is stolen and Batman has to help again. Batman shows up between the “Crossword Puzzle Mystery” and the “Ghost Brigade” story arcs on May 3, ’48. He and Robin return for “The Secret of Meteor Island” in June, and in July for “the Voice of Doom”. Batman’s last appearance on the Superman radio show is on Christmas Eve, 1948, to help protect the Man of Steel’s identity one last time.

In 1950 an audition program was recorded, The Batman Mystery Club. Although Batman and Robin were featured in the program, it had little to do with the characters fans had come to know, and was never broadcast.  This broadcast can be heard in the Adventure Detectives Rarities Collection from OTRCAT.com

BBC Radio presented Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome in 1989 as part of the Caped Crusader’s 50th anniversary. Batman: Knightfall was a sequel in 1994, presented as three minute clips on the Mark Goodier Show.

Batman did make appearances in the following Superman episodes:

Superman. September 10, 1945. Program #791
Superman. September 11, 1945. Program #792. 
Superman. September 12, 1945. Program #793. 
Superman. September 14, 1945. Program #795
Superman. September 19, 1945. Program #798. 
Superman. September 20, 1945. Program #799. 
Superman. December 6, 1945. Program #854. 
Superman. December 7, 1945. Program #855. 
Superman. December 10, 1945.Program #856 
Superman. December 11, 1945.Program #857 
Superman. December 12, 1945. Program #858
Superman. December 14, 1945. Program #860.  
Superman. December 18, 1945. Program #862. 
Superman. December 19, 1945. Program #863. 
Superman. December 25, 1945. Program #867. 
Superman. January 2, 1946. 
Superman. January 3, 1946. Program #874. 
Superman. January 4, 1946. Program #875. 
Superman. January 7, 1946. Program #876. 
Superman. January 8, 1946. Program #877. 
Superman. January 29, 1946. Program #892. 
Superman. January 30, 1946. Program #893. 
Superman. January 31, 1946. Program #894. 
Superman. February 1, 1946. Program #895. 
Superman. February 4, 1946. Program #896. 
Superman. February 5, 1946. Program #897
Superman. February 6, 1946. Program #898. 
Superman. February 7, 1946. Program #899. 
Superman. February 8, 1946. Program #900. 
Superman. February 12, 1946. Program #902. 
Superman. February 14, 1946. Program #904.
Superman. April 5, 1946. Program #940. 
Superman. April 8, 1946. Program #941.
Superman. April 12, 1946. Program #945. 
Superman. April 15, 1946. Program #946. 
Superman. July 26, 1946. Program #1020. 
Superman. July 29, 1946. Program #1021. 
Superman. July 30, 1946. Program #1022. 
Superman. September 25, 1946. Program #1063. 
Superman. September 26, 1946. Program #1064. 
Superman. October 4, 1946. Program #1070.
Superman. October 7, 1946. Program #1071. 
Superman. October 8, 1946. Program #1072. 
Superman. October 9, 1946. Program #1073. 
Superman. October 10, 1946. Program #1074. 
Superman. October 11, 1946. Program #1075.
Superman. October 14, 1946. Program #1076. 
Superman. October 15, 1946. Program #1077. 
Superman. November 29, 1946. Program #1110. 
Superman. December 2, 1946. Program #1111. 
Superman. December 3, 1946. Program #1112. 
Superman. December 5, 1946. Program #1114. 
Superman. February 12, 1947. Program #1163. 
Superman. February 14, 1947. Program #1165. 
Superman. February 18, 1947. Program #1167. 
Superman. February 19, 1947. Program #1168. 
Superman. February 20, 1947. Program #1169. 
Superman. February 21, 1947. Program #1170. 
Superman. February 24, 1947. Program #1171. 
Superman. February 25, 1947. Program #1172. 
Superman. May 15, 1947. Program #1229. 
Superman. May 19, 1947. Program #1231. 
Superman. May 19, 1947. Program #1231. 
Superman. May 20, 1947. Program #1232. 
Superman. May 21, 1947. Program #1233. 
Superman. May 22, 1947. Program #1234. 
Superman. May 23, 1947. Program #1235. 
Superman. May 26, 1947. Program #1236. 
Superman. May 27, 1947. Program #1237. 
Superman. May 28, 1947. Program #1238.
Superman. May 29, 1947. Program #1239. 
Superman. May 30, 1947. Program #1240. 
Superman. June 2, 1947. Program #1241.
Superman. June 3, 1947. Program #1242. 
Superman. June 19, 1947. Program #1254. 
Superman. June 20, 1947. Program #1255. 
Superman. June 23, 1947. Program #1256.
Superman. June 24, 1947. Program #1257. 
Superman. June 25, 1947. Program #1258. 
Superman. June 26, 1947. Program #1259.
Superman. December 1, 1947. Program #1306. 
Superman. December 2, 1947. Program #1307. 
Superman. December 3, 1947. Program #1308. 
Superman. December 4, 1947. Program #1309. 
Superman. December 8, 1947. Program #1311. 
Superman. February 3, 1948. Program #1352. 
Superman. February 4, 1948. Program #1353.
Superman. February 5, 1948. Program #1354.
Superman. February 6, 1948. Program #1355. 
Superman. February 9, 1948. Program #1356. 
Superman. February 10, 1948. Program #1357. 
Superman. February 11, 1948. Program #1358. 
Superman. February 12, 1948. Program #1359. 
Superman. February 13, 1948. Program #1360. 
Superman. February 16, 1948. Program #1361. 
Superman. February 17, 1948. Program #1362. 
Superman. March 10, 1948. Program #1378. 
Superman. March 11, 1948. Program #1379. 
Superman. March 18, 1948. Program #1384. 
Superman. March 19, 1948. Program #1385. 
Superman. March 22, 1948. Program #1386. 
Superman. March 25, 1948. Program #1389.
Superman. March 26, 1948. Program #1390. 
Superman. March 29, 1948. Program #1391. 
Superman. March 30, 1948. Program #1392. 
Superman. March 31, 1948. Program #1393. 
Superman. April 1, 1948. Program #1394.
Superman. May 3, 1948. Program #1416. 
Superman. June 16, 1948. Program #1448. 
Superman. June 17, 1948. Program #1449. 
Superman. June 18, 1948. Program #1450.
Superman. June 28, 1948. Program #1456. 
Superman. June 30, 1948. Program #1458.
Superman. July 2, 1948. Program #1460.
Superman. July 5, 1948. Program #1461.
Superman. July 6, 1948. Program #1462. 
Superman. July 7, 1948. Program #1463. 
Superman. July 13, 1948. Program #1467. 
Superman. July 22, 1948. Program #1474. 
Superman. July 23, 1948. Program #1475.
Superman. July 27, 1948. Program #1477. 
Superman. July 28, 1948. Program #1478. 
Superman. July 29, 1948. Program #1479. 
Superman. July 30, 1948. Program #1480. 
Superman. December 24, 1948.