Let’s Dance to the Sounds of the “Glenn Miller Orchestra”

After years of working with other popular bands, Glenn Miller decided to strike out on his own. He finally found the melodic rhythms he was looking for when he formed his own band in 1938. The sound quickly caught on and a new generation of Jazz began to sweep the country. Soon after, the band received requests to play in dance halls and on the radio.

In 1939, barely one year after its formation, Chesterfield Cigarettes sponsored the Glenn Miller Orchestra on radio. The 15-minute program aired three times a week on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) network. The show’s popularity soared, as well as the band’s many recordings. Some of the era’s hottest singers performed with the band, including Kay Starr, Marion Hutton, Ernie Caceres and others. Notable band members included Bobby Hacket, Billy May and Paul Tanner. Several band members went on to have successful careers in music or film.

In the early 1940’s, the orchestra was featured in two films distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Glenn Miller and his band starred alongside Milton Berle in the 1941 comedy, “Sun Valley Serenade.” In 1942, they appeared with Jackie Gleason in the film, “Orchestra Wives.”

By 1942, the orchestra started to disband. Miller, who was already 38 years old, was a fierce patriot, who was convinced he could best serve his country in the military. After the U.S. Navy rejected him, Miller applied to the U.S. Army. With the help of Brigadier General Charles Young, Miller was inducted. He achieved the rank of Captain and was stationed at the Army Air Force Southeast Training Center in Alabama.

While stationed in Alabama, Miller played with the Rhythmaires, who provided entertainment for servicemen and women at the service clubs and on radio. Miller believed he could help transform and improve military music, bringing it out of the marching band dark ages into the new era of melodic, upbeat sound. Eventually, Miller was allowed to form a 50-piece band.

During 1944, the Army Air Force band traveled across the Atlantic to entertain troops in the U.K. Many of their performances were broadcast in the German language, in which Miller was fluent. It was hoped that the German language broadcasts would lure German civilians and military personnel to the Allied side.

Unfortunately, Glenn Miller never had the opportunity to further his career outside military service. On December 15, 1944, Miller and fellow band members boarded a plane bound for Paris. The single engine airplane left the Royal Air Force landing strip in Bedfordshire and headed out across the English Channel, where it mysteriously disappeared. The bodies of those on board were never recovered. Nor, was the wreckage from the plane. To this day, several theories circulate in an attempt to explain the disappearance, but there is no evidence. Only 49 years old, Captain Glenn Miller was officially declared missing in action by the U.S. Army.

After his death, Miller’s legacy continued in the form of bands eager to imitate his style. In 1946, Tex Beneke took up the mantel and went on the road with the officially sanctioned Tex Beneke and Glenn Miller Orchestra Band. The band continued to draw crowds until it disbanded in 1950. Thereafter, the Glenn Miller estate took control of the orchestra, where it continues to operate in the hands of family members, today.

Glenn Miller will forever be remembered for his controversial style of Jazz that was often criticized by the professional music community. Nevertheless, his popularity with the public proved he had something special and unique that appealed to the hip audiences of the day. Some of his most popular hits include Chattanooga Choo-Choo, String of Pearls, Sunrise Serenade, Tuxedo Junction and Moonlight Serenade. Most of the Chesterfield radio programs were recorded and many can be heard today.

Enjoy the Glenn Miller sound at:

Good Night Mike Wallace

Mike Wallace will be remembered chiefly for practically defining investigative journalism on CBS TV’s 60 Minutes. Like so many important figures from television’s Golden Era, Wallace got his start in broadcasting in old time radio.

Wallace was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1918. He worked as a student reporter for the Michigan Daily while studying at the University of Michigan. In February, before graduating in 1939, Wallace made his first radio appearance (using his given name, Myron) on the popular radio quiz show Information Please. Wallace’s appearance as a “beardless youth” was intended to bring a youthful perspective to the panel.

Wallace went on to work as a newscaster and continuity writer for WOOD radio in Grand Rapids before moving on as an announcer for WXYZ in Detroit in 1940. While in Detroit Wallace is credited with announcing for Ned Jordan, Secret Agent and The Green Hornet. (There have been rumors the Wallace occasionally announced the WXYZ production of The Lone Ranger, but this never happened.) Before joining the Navy during WWII, Wallace also did some freelance announcing in Chicago radio, including work for Irma Phillips’ The Road of Life, and Vic and Sade.

Wallace joined the Navy in 1943. Although he never saw combat, he did serve as Communications Officer aboard the submarine tender USS Anthedon in the Pacific, sailing to Hawaii, Australia, and Subic Bay. After his discharge in 1946 Wallace returned to Chicago area radio, announcing for shows like Sky King and Curtain Time. He even had a stint announcing Chicago area Professional Wrestling in the early 1950s.

During the 50’s Wallace turned more and more to television, though his credibility as a journalist was slow in developing. Like many early newscaster, he also took on announcing duties and commercials as well as hosting a number of game shows (Wallace hosted the pilot of the long running To Tell The Truth). Between 1955 and 1958 he hosted a pair of late night interview programs, Night Beat and The Mike Wallace Interview.

The hard-biting style that would be a famous part of 60 Minutes was demonstrated in the 1959 documentary The Hate That Hate Produced, in which Wallace, along with African American reporter Louis Lomax brought the Nation of Islam and its leaders Elijah Muhammad, Malcom X, and Louis Farrakhan to the attention of American audiences. Wallace was one of the original 60 minutes correspondents, and stayed with the show for 37 years. Wallace took the heart the journalistic admonition to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”. It became cliché that any corrupt official’s worst nightmare began with the words “Mike Wallace and a crew from 60 Minutes is here…”

The one interview that Mike Wallace claimed to have regretted never getting was with First Lady Pat Nixon. President Nixon was an admirer of Wallace’s. There was an incident where a group of reporters had the painfully shy Mrs. Nixon pinned against a fence, shouting questions at her. Wallace walked through the crowd, took her by the arm, and guided her away. Before starting on 60 Minutes Wallace had been offered the job as Nixon’s press secretary.

Mike Wallace is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Blvd. He passed away surrounded by family in New Canaan, Connecticut, on Apr 7, 2012.

Goodnight, Mike Wallace.

Enjoy the Feb 7, 1939 Broadcast of Information Please
starring “Myron Wallace” (given name of Mike Wallace):

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Information-Please-390207-Myron-Wallace-OTRCAT.com.mp3