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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.

http://otrcat.net/otr6/We-Hold-These-Truths-411215-Norman-Corwin-OTRCAT.com.mp3

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.

 

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Bob Hope Christmas Command Performance Duffy's Tavern Final Episode Obituary

Goodnight Dolores Hope

In 1933 Bob Hope was appearing in his first Broadway show. One of his fellow cast members talked him into a night on the town. During a stop at the Vogue Club Bob saw a pretty girl singing “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” Bob was entranced with the dark beauty named Dolores Reade.

Bob made it a point to get to the club every night, and soon was escorting Dolores to her hotel after her shows. The couple married in April of 1934, and Dolores joined Bob for a short time on the vaudeville circuit.Duffys-Tavern-440425-Crosby-and-Hope–OTRCAT.com

As Bob’s career took off, Dolores spent more time taking care of their home and their four adopted children. She continued to sing on a small scale, and during the 1940s she began accompanying Bob on his USO visits to entertain troops. Carol Channing would state “She was the first lady of the USO.” Bob’s last Christmas show for the troops was in 1990 during Operation Desert Storm. Dolores was the only woman entertainer approved to appear in Saudi Arabia.

Dolores spent much of her later years in charitable pursuits. She served as President and Chairwoman of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs, CA, and has been an honorary member of The Wings of Hope Humanitarian organization.

Dolores was at Bob’s side during his 100th birthday on May 29, 2003. Two months he passed away.

Dolores died at the age of 102, of natural causes at her home in Toluca Lake, Ca, on Sept 19, 2011.

Good Night Dolores, say Hi to Bob for us.

 

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Bob Hope Command Performance GI Journal Obituary Old Time Radio Patriotic Sherwood Scwartz WWII

Good Night, Sherwood Schwartz.

Sherwood Schwartz will be best remembered for writing on the Red Skelton Show, and creating “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch“. Schwartz passed away on Jul 12, 2011 at the age of 94.

There will be a lot written about the lasting importance of “Gilligan’s Island” and the cultural contributions of “The Brady Bunch“, those of us who celebrate Old Time Radio would like to remember Schwartz for his contributions to Radio, and especially AFRS.

Sherwood Schwartz came to southern California from New York pursuing his Masters Degree in Biology. His older brother Al was working on Bob Hope’s radio show and asked Sherwood to contribute some jokes. Hope liked the jokes and used them on the show for big laughs.”Then he asked me to join his writing staff. I was faced with a major decision — writing comedy or starving to death while I cured those diseases. I made a quick career change.”

WWII was a shock for the whole Nation. Schwartz was touring Army Camps with Bob Hope and having dinner with Generals one week then was drafted and in basic training as a buck private two weeks later. Of course he tried be assigned to his civilian specialty, but did not receive orders to the Armed Forces Radio Service until the day his unit was to ship out for Alaska. “Considering what I knew about myself as a fighting man with a rifle shooting at somebody, anything I could do at a typewriter would be better.”

AFRS in Hollywood was a bizarre place. It was home to some of Hollywood’s best creative talent, but it was supposed to be a Military organization. The Mission required some concession to “Creative Chaos”, but there were more than a few times that Military order tried to sway things.

One regular Army Captain who had been assigned to AFRS insisted that there be more military order among the Enlisted personnel, many of whom were writers and producers who had been drafted. He insisted that there be a Roll Call and Drill at 0600 every morning. Schwartz would later comment that trying to write jokes at such an early hour was “a little much”, so after roll call the writers would go out to breakfast and return to work at a reasonable hour. This upset the Captain, who ordered that the Enlisted men be at there desks immediately after roll call. When he was ignored he ordered the men to change into fatigues and go out to the Officer’s Parking Lot to pull weeds. When the senior AFRS Officer’s arrived for work they asked who was doing the writing work, only to be told that the writers were pulling weeds as punishment. The commanding officer then asked the Captain: “There are men in the Army whose specialty is pulling weeds, will you punish them by making them write jokes?”

Schwartz would write for Command Performance, GI Journal, and many other AFRS programs. After the War he was approached several times to write a program about his experiences at AFRS, Schwartz held little illusions of the over-all importance of the radio service. AFRS was not going to win the War, although it may have brought some help and laughter to those who were. “Whether we write a better or worse joke for ‘Command Performance’ or whether Bob Hope does it or some lesser known person does it, is not earth shaking.”

Schwartz’s work may or may not have won the war, but his experiences at AFRS very likely helped to shape his sense of irony. And certainly thousands of G.I.s owe him at least a small debt for the laughter he brought during hard times.

Sherwood Schwartz is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6541 Hollywood Blvd. Good Night, Sherwood Schwartz.

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Command Performance Elizabeth Taylor Lux Radio Theater Obituary Old Time Radio

Elizabeth Taylor: Remembered in Radio

Too many of the current generation only know Elizabeth Taylor as a character from the tabloid covers. Truly her Hollywood lifestyle drew that type of attention, along with her eight marriages to seven different husbands (including Eddie Fisher). Perhaps a lady of her beauty and talent can be forgiven such excess.

Although this is a old time radio site and Ms. Taylor was a Movie Legend, please bear with us while we honor the passing of one of America’s great treasures. We would like to present some of the Radio work that Elizabeth Taylor left us.

Liz was born in London to American parents on Feb 27, 1932. She began in pictures at the tender age of nine. Her first great success came at the age of 12 when she landed a role in MGM’s National Velvet, released in Dec 1944. The success of the film changed Liz’s life forever. (The back problems that would plague her for the rest of her life can also be traced back to this time.) Ms. Taylor would reprise her role as Velvet Brown on Lux Radio Theater “National Velvet”  (Feb 3, 1947):

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Lux-470203-557-National-Velvet-OTRCAT.com.mp3

As a rising and pretty young star she of course got the call to appear on Command Performance to entertain the Troops. (March 8, 1945)

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/CPUSA-450308-165-F-Sinatra,-E-Taylor,-M-OBrien-OTRCAT.com.mp3

She did a series of Teen Romance pictures, including the role of Carol Pringle in A Date With Judy (1948). She earned a reputation as “One Shot Liz” for her ability to shoot a scene in one take.

She had a number of successful roles as a young adult, perhaps her most notorious was when she became the highest paid actress to date in 1960 for her portrayal of Cleopatra (1963). Not only was the picture itself notorious, but Liz became tabloid fodder for her romance with costar Richard Burton; both were married to other spouses at the time of the romance. Taylor and Burton would later marry each other. Twice.

Much of Elizabeth Taylor’s later life would be sprinkled with scandal and failing health. She was a vocal supporter of her friend Michael Jackson during his child abuse trial in California.

Ms. Taylor passed away on Mar 23, 2011, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA of congestive heart failure.

Good night Liz.

Categories
Comedy Jane Russell Obituary Old Time Radio

Hollywood sex symbol dies: Jane Russell remembered in radio…

Primarily known as a Movie Actress and singer, Jane Russell made several appearances on Old Time Radio. She had been a favored pin-up girl with GI’s, but unlike contemporaries like Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe, Ms. Russell‘s personal life remained unstained by scandal.

Russell signed a seven year movie contract with Howard Hughes in 1940. The Hughes publicity machine went into full operation and made her a star before her first picture was completed. Her hourglass figure was well suited to photos featuring low-cut costumes and swimsuits, making her a pin-up favorite. In her first film, The Outlaw, Hughes made every effort to show off her figure. He went as far as having a specialized underwire bra made for her, but she later claimed to have not worn it. Completed in 1941, The Outlaw was held from release until 1943 because of trouble with the censors.

In 1948 she made The Paleface with Bob Hope. She would make several radio appearances with Hope on Command Performance and other USO related projects. Bob Hope once introduced her as “the Two and Only Jane Russell.”

Russell appeared opposite Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953. Although the film is considered Monroe’s iconic performance, critics took special notice of Russell’s down-to-earth, sharp-witted performance.

Jane Russell would become a well known spokesperson for the Playtex 18-Hour Bra. She remained active through her later years. Ms Russell passed away on Feb 28, 2011, of a respiratory related illness. She was 89 years old.

Jane Russell’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6850 Hollywood Blvd.

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Bob-Hope-520617-Guest-Jane-Russell-OTRCAT.com.mp3

Categories
Obituary Old Time Radio Ozzie & Harriet

Good Night, David Nelson

(Oct 24 1936 – Jan 11, 2011)

David Nelson, oldest son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and last surviving member of the radio and television family, lost his battle with colon cancer on Jan 11, 2011.

Band leader husband Ozzie Nelson and singer Wife Harriet joined the cast of The Red Skelton Show in 1941. They were given the chance to develop a family sitcom when comedian Red Skelton was drafted in 1944. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet premiered on CBS on Oct 8, 1944. Their sons, David and Ricky, were too young to work on the radio when the series started, but joined the program, playing themselves, five years later. 402 radio episodes were produced.

When the show made the move to television, Ozzie Nelson, who wrote and directed, as well as starred on the show, negotiated an unprecedented 10 year contract with ABC, to be paid whether the show was cancelled or not.

David and Rick grew up in front of the cameras. The family’s actual home at 1822 Camino Palmero St, LA, was used for exterior shots and the sound stage was set up to recreate the interior of the home. As the boys grew into men, the show followed then. David’s character graduated from college he went to work in a local law firm, where Rick later clerked. When the young men married in real life, their brides joined the cast.

Younger Rick was considered “the Cute One” and often out shown his brother.  In an early episode, Ricky tries to get David to take him to the movies. David wants to hang out with his pals.

“A guy can have a couple of friends in this world, can’t he?” David says.

“Oh, yeah?” fires back Ricky. “If it wasn’t for me, you’d be an only child.”

Ricky Nelson became a singing teen idol, but in later years was haunted by drug addiction. He lost his life in a plane crash while in route to a New Years Eve performance in 1985.

David Nelson owned his own production company and produced television commercials and feature films. Ozzie and Harriet Nelson are honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their radio work at 6260 Hollywood Blvd. The three elder Nelsons each have a Star honoring their Television work, and Ricky Nelson has on for Recording. David Nelson’s Star is at 1501 Vine St.

Enjoy this March 6, 1949 broadcast of Ozzie and Harriet with appearance by 13-year old David Nelson:

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Ozzie-and-Harriet-490306-E23-Crystal-Ball-OTRCAT.com.mp3
Categories
Final Episode Fred Foy Obituary Old Time Radio Western

Farewell, Fred Foy, announcer for The Lone Ranger

We are saddened today by the loss of Fred Foy, best known for voicing the most memorable introduction lines from the Golden Age of Radio, The Lone Ranger.

“Hi-Yo, Silver! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-Yo Silver”… The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!”

Foy’s broadcasting career began in Detroit, shortly after graduating from high school, on WMBC and WXYZ. His budding career, like so many others, was interrupted by WWII. Sergeant Fred Foy became the American voice Egyptian State Radio, delivering news and special programs to Allied troops in Cairo. For Stars and Stripes he did “the American News Letter”, a weekly summary of news from home, plus sports flashes and items from the other war theaters. He also announced “Headline News of the Day” in Cairo Cinemas and helped to stage and announce USO Programs, including Jack Benny’s broadcast from Cairo to New York and a concert by Andre Kostelanetz and Lily Pons. He received top honors from Washington for hisChristmas Radio Show “Christmas Overseas” broadcast from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

After the war Foy returned to WXYZ. He became the announcer for The Lone Rangeron July 2, 1948, and held the job through the last lie broadcast on Sept 3, 1954. Radio historian Jim Harmon said of Foy’s introduction: it “made many people forget there were others before him… He pronounced words like no one else ever had- ‘SIL-ver,’ ‘hiss-TOR-ee.’ But hearing him, you realized everyone else had been wrong.” Foy’s enthusiasm for the intro was infectious. His daughter remembers, “Dad would do the intro at the drop of a hat…He loved it.”

Foy reprised the intro for television, and would go on to spend five years with ABC as The Dick Cavett Show‘s Announcer and on-camera commercial spokesman. In March 2000 Fred Foy was inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Golden Boot by the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Aug, 2004.

In Aug, 2000, Foy reprised his “Return with us now…” The Lone Ranger Introduction live at the Hollywood Bowl with conductor John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Foy passed away of natural causes at his home in Woburn, Mass. He was 89 years old. Fred Foy is survived by Frances Foy, his wife of 63 years, three children and three grandchildren.