Old Time Radio

Ann Blyth in Old Time Radio

As inspirational as it is to learn about Stars who continue to work and entertain well into their advanced years, sometimes it is even more gratifying when we hear about someone who is willing, even anxious to leave the Hollywood rat-race while they are at the top of their game so that they can enjoy a somewhat normal life with the fruits of their labors. 

Ann Blyth was born in Mt Kisco, New York, 1928, and moved to New York City with her mother and older sister after her parents divorced. The girls attended Catholic schools and Ann began to show signs of showbiz talent. She began singing on local radio programs by the time she was five and was soon acting in radio dramas and soap operas. Her first stage experience came in the WWII propaganda play “Watch on the Rhine” (1941). When the company took the show on the road, Ann was offered a screen test after performing in Los Angeles.

She signed with Universal, then the smallest of the “big studios” and made her film debut in Chip Off the Old Block (1944) with Donald O’Connor. Universal went on to use her in a series of B-grade musicals until loaning her to Warner Bros to co-star against type with Joan Crawford in the classic Mildred Pierce (1945) as Pierce’s conniving and evil daughter. Blyth earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance.

Just as the publicity from her success in Mildred Pierce was beginning to take hold, Ann was thrown from a toboggan while sledding with friends at Lake Arrowhead and broke her back. With her mother’s support, Ann made a full recovery after a long and painful convalescence. She made a cameo in Brute Force (1947) from her wheelchair, and she eventually continued with her serious roles in Killer McCoy (1947). Ann also appeared in Another Part of the Forest (1948, a prequel to Little Foxes, Ann played a younger version of Bette Davis’s character), opposite William Powell in the light-hearted Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), as a wrongfully convicted murderess in Thunder on the Hill (1951), and as a Russian Countess and Gregory Peck‘s romantic interest in The World In His Arms (1952).

Ann Blythe

Ann lost her mother soon after recovering from her accident and moved in with her aunt and uncle in San Fernando. One of the most attractive bachelorettes in Hollywood, the gossip columnists kept a close watch on her dating habits. Jack Benny‘s singing sidekick Dennis Day introduced Ann to his brother, Dr. James McNulty, and the pair hit it off immediately. Ann was a June bride when they were married in North Hollywood in 1953, and she began to slow her film career. Her last movie was The Helen Morgan Story (1957) co-starring newcomer Paul Newman. Although Ann’s voice was very similar to Morgan’s, her songs were dubbed by popular singer Gogi Grant. The soundtrack album was more successful than the film.

Blyth continued to work on stage and television, but her family had become her primary focus. Her last professional appearance was as a guest star on Murder, She Wrote in 1985. She stayed married to McNulty until his death in 2007, and she is still seen at social functions and conventions.

A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6733 Hollywood Blvd was dedicated in 1960 to honor Ann Blyth‘s contributions to Motion Pictures.

Old Time Radio Science Fiction Space X Minus One

Best of X Minus One Sci Fi Episodes

Just as with the Horror Genre, Radio is a superior medium for Science Fiction than TV or Movies. It is not a medium for the lazy Sci Fi fan: the producer couldn’t call in the CGI (computer generated image) team and have them created an exploding space cruiser. But for the fan willing to lose himself in his imagination, radio could make the loneliness of space that much deeper, the burning sands of a distant planet that much bleaker, and the evil of a rogue robot that much more frightening.
One of the best Science fiction Anthologies on radio was X Minus One. What made the series great was the stories, which were adapted from the pages of Galaxy Magazine, and later Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. Galaxy had become the leading Science Fiction publisher in the 50’s by publishing stories that dealt with social issues and not just technology and monsters. 

The stories were adapted for nostalgia radio by staff writers, mostly Ernest Kinoy and Frank Lefferts, who were usually respectful enough of the material to change it as little as possible while adapting it for the half hour radio format. Some of Sci Fi’s all-time great authors were featured, including Frederik Pohl, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and Ray Bradbury.

Some of our favorite episodes include the following:

In X Minus One‘s The Cave of Night by James Gunn; A Spaceman’s craft is hopelessly damaged, and the whole world waits breathlessly as a rescue is organized. “The Cave of Night” anticipates the drama of Apollo 13, as well as the tragedy of the Challenger shuttle disaster.

In? X Minus One‘s? Sam, This is You by Murray Leinster; A telephone repair man has a quiet life, except for trouble with his girl friend, until he receives a call; “Sam, this is you…” It is himself one week in the future calling to tell him how to turn his life around.

In? X Minus One‘s? Honeymoon in Hell by Fredric Brown; Along with the treat of Atomic War, there is a decline in the male birth rate. The solution seems to be sending a man from our side and a woman from their side to the moon in order to conceive a son.

In? X Minus One‘s? Something for Nothing by Robert Sheckley; A Class A Utilizer suddenly appears in Joe Collins’ tenement apartment. The Utilizer is a Wishing Machine from the future, and Joe goes a little crazy, having a mansion built in a day in upstate NY, and then a palace in South America, before discovering that there really is no free meal ticket.

In? X Minus One‘s? The Discovery of Mornial Matha? by William Tenn; A Time Traveler goes to the past to find the greatest artist in history, only to discover that he has no talent. He is almost as surprised as the artist, who discovers his work will be considered great.

In? X Minus One‘s? Man’s Best Friend by Evelyn Smith; The Prognosticating Computer chooses a man to assassinate the Overlord, and everyone is excited for him, even the Overlord! Yet he has trouble accepting the unreality of it. Until he makes it appear that he goes through with in, and makes an amazing discovery.