It was simple concept, but it made for a revolutionary format in children’s radio. If the stories were for children, kids should be reading them. That was the concept for Nila Mack’s Let’s Pretend, and the show aired for two decades.
Let’s Pretend started radio life as The Adventures of Helen and Mary in 1934 when it was transformed by Nila Mack into the show that would last for two decades until 1954. Mack believed that, if the stories were for children, then children should tell the story.
Nila Mack used a core of regular children’s actor’s including Sybil Trent, Arthur Anderson, Jack Grimes, Miriam Wolfe, Gwen Davies and Michael O’Day. Anderson went on to write a book about his time on the show called Let’s Pretend and the Golden Age of Radio. Mack died in 1953 and the show lasted one more year under the direction of Jean Hight.
The Peabody award-winning show was broadcast with an audience full of children beginning with Uncle Bill Adams’ salutation, “Hello Pretenders!” followed by the response “Hello, Uncle Bill!”. After some back and forth with the kids, the show would launch into an adaptation of a classic children’s stories and fairy tales like Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina and many, many more.