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Andy Griffith Obituary Old Time Radio Town and Country Time

Good Night Andy Griffith

Andy Griffth’s career was based on characters that were in some degree a light-hearted parody of himself. Born in North Carolina, Griffith’s parents were so poor that Andy didn’t have a crib or bed and for some time slept in a dresser drawer. When he entered school, Andy was very much aware that he was from the wrong side of the tracks, and there for a shy student. He overcame this when he learned to make his classmates laugh.

In high school, he developed a love of the arts and music and was offered a part in the annual production of The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island. Andy appeared in the play for seven years in various roles. He began college studying to become a preacher, but soon changed his major to music. After graduation, he taught music and drama at Goldsboro High School (among his students was Carl Kesssel, newscaster and personality on NPR).

While teaching, Griffith began writing and performing as a monologist. One of his monologues, “What It Was, Was Football”, was recorded and released as a single. Billed as “Deacon Andy Griffith”, the monologue was the story of a simple country preacher who got caught in the crowd and swept into the stands of a college football game. The game and its quirks are completely foriegn to the narrator, especially “the awfullest fight I have ever seen… in my life!” Deacon Andy Griffth was a guest on Jimmy Dean’s Town and Country Time on AFRS, where the same countryboy character describes seeing the Swan Lake ballet.

The monologue recording caught the attention of Ira Levine in Hollywood, who was making a television adaptation of No Time For Sergeants for the United States Steel Hour. The teleplay was adapted for a Broadway production, and the play made into a movie, with Andy Griffith playing the lead in all three versions. On Broadway, the part of the corporal in charge of manual dexterity testing was played by Don Knotts, beginning a friendship that would last the rest fo the actors’ lives.

The success of No Time For Sergeants led to one of the television roles Griffith is best remembered for, Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. Sheriff Taylor was the town sage of the fictional town of Mayberry, NC. The program was well loved for eight seasons before Griffith bowed out to pursue other projects, including his own production company. One of the projects was a short lived Science Fiction series Salvage 1, the story of a junk dealer whose dream is to collect the junk left on the moon during the Apollo missions.

From 1988-1995 Griffith had the title role in the legal drama Matlock. It could be argued that the folksy country lawyer Ben Matlock, practicing in a very urban Atlanta, gained even more fans than Sheriff Andy Taylor.

A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6418 Hollywood Blvd honors Andy Griffith’s work in Television. Andy Griffith passed away at his home in Roanoke, NC, on Jul 3, 2012.

Good Night Andy Griffith.

Here is a rare Andy Griffith appearance on Town & Country Time (his jokes begin at 4:28):
http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Town-And-Country-Time-95-Here-We-Are-Weve-Gone-Too-Far-OTRCAT.com.mp3

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Doris Singleton Lucille Ball Lux Radio Theater My Favorite Husband Obituary

Good Night, Doris Singleton

(1919-2012)

We would like to take a few moments to acknowledge the passing Doris Singleton. Ms. Singleton is remembered best for her successful television career, especially her role as Lucy and Ricky’s neighbor on I Love Lucy. Her other small screen roles were usually guest spots on shows like Hogan’s Heroes, My Three Sons, and Marcus Welby, MD, as well as a recurring role on the 1955 TV version of The Great Gildersleeve.

Doris was a native of New York City, and got her show biz start with the Ballet Theatre (later the American Ballet Theatre) in the mid 30s before becoming a vocalist for Art Jarrett’s Orchestra. By the end of the decade, her distinctive voice became popular on the radio. She became a regular part of the Lux Radio Theater,, regularly appearing as a spokesperson for the sponsor.

In addition to her regular appearances on Lux Radio Theater, Ms. Singleton was a guest on The Whistler and The Jack Benny program on several occasions. It was a guest appearance on My Favorite Husband in 1948 that led to the life long friendship between Doris Singleton and Lucille Ball. When Lucy and Ricky Ricardo began production of I Love Lucy, it was natural to include Doris in a semi-recurring role as Lucy’s neighbor and sometime nemesis. When Lucy was originally developing her third series, Here’s Lucy, in 1968, the original concept was for Doris to play an intelligent secretary in contrast to the not so smart one played by Lucy. The sponsors nixed the concept, but Doris did appear in the premier episode of the show.

Ms. Singleton’s last acting role was in 1985 although she continued to do commercials and voice-over work. At the time of her passing, she was the last surviving adult cast member of the Lucy shows. Doris Singleton passed away on Jun 26, 2012, at the age of 92.

Good Night, Doris Singleton.

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Mike Wallace Obituary Old Time Radio

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

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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.