Edward Bergen Old Time Radio Ventriloquists

National Ventriloquist Week, July 18- 21, 2012

We can’t say for sure if it was authorized by an Act of Congress, or by a Presidential Directive. But who ever had the authority to declare National Ventriloquism Week, we would like to lend our whole hearted support!
David Letterman’s Late Show has done a lot to promote the art of Ventriloquism by featuring Ventriloquist Weeks at various times, but these efforts don’t seem to be coordinated with the July celebration. The National week is coordinated with the Vent Haven Museum. Cincinnati industrialist William Shakespeare Berger began collecting Ventriloquist Dummies as a hobby during a business trip to New York in 1910. In time the collection would outgrow his house, his garage, and even the extra building he erected on his property to house it!

W.S. managed to outlive his heirs, and so made arrangements for his estate to support the Vent Haven Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of Ventriloquism. During the 1940’s until 1960 Berger was active in the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists, and for many years published “The Oracle”, a monthly magazine dedicated to the ventriloquist community. In 1973 the third building housing the Vent Haven collection was opened in a suburb of Cincinnati. Edgar Bergen and and Jimmy Nelson were among the performers at the dedication.

The Museum also sponsors an annual ConVENTion for Ventriloquists; the 2012 will be the first year the ConVENTion will be held at a new facility, the Marriott Airport Hotel and Conference Center in Hebron, KY.

Old Radio Shows salute the participants of this years convention, and would like to remind them that we still don’t see Edgar Bergen’s lips move on the Radio!

For more ventriloquists in old time radio, see:

Bob Hope Command Performance Lucille Ball Old Time Radio Our Miss Brooks WWII

Patriotic Old Time Radio Radio: Comedies

Patriotism is an essentially happy situation, so why shouldn’t comedy be a part of a Patriotic Old Time Radio Collection?

No one needed a laugh as much as the Troops during WWII, and AFRS with their Command Performance. GI’s could write in requesting the acts and situations they wanted to hear, but the A-List Talent that was working on the program always made it a point to keep things light and amusing. The humor was sometimes military related, but always high quality. The Hollywood stars that appeared on Command Performance worked without pay in support of the War Effort. Of course appearing on the show was never bad for anyones public relations. Most of the stars seemed to genuinely enjoy working the program, and would reschedule other commitments to appear. We have included episodes featuring Bob Hope, Harpo Marx, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Ann Miller tap dancing in Combat Boots, Jerry Colonna, and Clark Gable.

Situation Comedy characters can be just as patriotic as anyone else. The Great Gildersleeve is in this collection, taking care of his family as usual, but also reminding us of the old fashioned Fourth of July Picnic. Henry Aldrich is trying to sell Christmas Cards in June so that he can buy a War Bond in The Aldrich Family. Eve Arden has a combination of money and romantic troubles in Our Miss Brooks. And Lucille Ball is her usual hilarious self in My Favorite Husband.

Fibber McGee and Molly were always funny and a comfort during some of the nation’s darkest times. The program began during the Great Depression, when Americans definitely needed something to laugh at. Although the situations the couple found themselves in were a bit far out, the fact that they were typical Americans helped bring them into the hearts of the Nation. The episodes in this collection are from the WWII years, and most are examples of the show bringing some sort of message approved by the Office of War Information.

The Patriotic Old Time Radio Collection is filled with thoughtful and inspiring programs. But there is plenty of room for us, as good Americans, to take some time for a healthy laugh.

Groundhog's Day

Groundhog’s Day At Jotem Down Store

“Do they have a calendar down in their little hole?”
“How does a groundhog know when February the Second gets here”?

Enjoy this recording: Cedric is “helped” by Lum with his Groundhog Day school writing project:

Abraham Lincoln Civil War Old Time Radio

Abraham Lincoln in Old Time Radio

Any serious (even not so serious) study will place Abraham Lincoln as one of the top two American Presidents. No President did as much to preserve the American Nation, and perhaps none can come as close as Lincoln to fulfilling the America mythology. Even without the lens of the Civil War, Lincoln’s rise to prominence would have been a great American story.

Abe was born in a one room cabin in Kentucky. His father was a successful farm, but lost everything in court because of faulty property titles. Abraham was hard working, but did not enjoy the tough life of farming. Although he had only about 18 months of formal education, he was able to teach himself by reading whatever books he could find or borrow. He went on to enter Illinois Politics and was admitted to the bar. He was assured of easy success by relocating near his wife’s wealthy family in Kentucky, but chose to stay in the free state of Illinois. Lincoln followed a “free soil” policy, neither supporting slavery of abolition. While vocal opposed to the abolitionist, Lincoln remained firm in his belief that the evils of slavery not be allowed to spread.

Lincoln was selected as the Republican candidate for President in the 1860 election. In response to growing tensions over the slavery issue, many of the Southern States chose to secede from the Union. The constitutional, moral and military crisis of the Civil War would define Lincoln’s Presidency and legacy. He has been both praised and criticized for his close management of military affairs during the War; it is true that he had ample reason to be dissatisfied with the quality of some of his generals (when he heard complaints about Grant, who had been winning battles, that Grant was a drunkard, lincoln asked for Grant’s brand, so that he could send some to his other generals.)

Soon after the War was won, Lincoln was assassinated in Washington DC by a Confederate sympathizer at Ford’s Theater.

Lincoln’s life and legacy have been celebrated in a number of books, movies, and radio dramas.

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.

Bill Ring Musical Old Time Radio Western

Bill Ring Old Time Radio

“If you’re too busy to go fishin’,
You’re TOO busy!”

This philosophy was popularized by Country Music legend Bill Ring. Ring appeared on the California Hayride TV program with Cottonseed Clark. He also became part of the Ralph D. Foster’s KWTO-AM (Keep Watching the Ozarks).

Foster had a vision that Springfield MO could replace Nashville as the crossroads of Country Music, and KWTO became a stepping stone for several artists entering the industry, including Porter Wagoner, Homer and Jethro, Chet Atkins and the Carter Family. Along with other business partners Foster created RadiOzarks Enterprises and the company was soon producing transcription disks of KWTO programs for other stations. Featured stars included Bill Ring, Smiley Burnett and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Ring produced 260 15-minute episodes of the Tennessee Ernie Ford show, and his own show was eventually picked up by the ABC Radio network. Ring would also be part of Korns-a Krackin’, a weekly “Hillbilly Variety Show” carried by the Mutual Network.

Bill Ring’s brand of Country Music wasn’t the “Cry-in-your-beer-because-your-wife-left-and-took-your-dog” music that is so easily parodied. His music, with its hard driving, danceable  rhythms and good time lyrics reflected a happier, simpler lifestyle. Bill Ring is remembered in Missouri as someone who always could find time to go fishing.

A Date with Judy Aldrich Family Old Time Radio

Old Time Radio for a Happy Father’s Day

Father's DayAccording to the US Census Bureau there are 8,111 clothing stores across the US, many of which will sell you a very nice tie for Father’s Day.

There are 16,010 Hardware Store which sell hammers, screwdrivers and power tools that Dad may enjoy.

Dad might enjoy a fishing rod or new golf clubs from one of the 22,116 sporting goods outlets throughout the country. Last year 81.5 million people enjoyed a barbeque last year, and it is a fair guess that many of them were held on Father’s Day.

With all of these numbers reeling through your head, it might be a good time to pour a cup of hot chocolate for you and Dad, and then enjoy some great Father’s Day Radio Programming from Old Time Radio.

Young Henry Aldrich just wants to help. Mother and Sister are too busy for Father while he is recovering from his virus attack, so Henry will have to put the vegetables on for supper. But is it OK for Father to be alone that long? Henry will skip Biology class so he can be there if Father needs him. Henry certainly didn’t mean for the Principal to think that Father is on his deathbed and that Mother is working to provide for the family. But there is always some sort of misunderstanding on The Aldrich Family.

There is no way that Judy and her little brother can find a good birthday present for her father for $2, especially when there is a new snood that well just match Judy’s dress. Besides, the most precious gift is time, and what could be a better present for Father than to spend time with his children. It is the day that he was going to see an important new business associate, Mr. Quigley, but that’s not the way the kids see it! It turns into A Date With Judy as Father is taken to the Amusement Park to be with Judy’s gang. But don’t worry about the business; Judy will set up “Quigley-Wiggly” with a date with one of her teenage friends! What could possibly go wrong?

One more small bit from the Census Bureau: There are 70.1million Fathers in the US.

Happy Father’s Day!


Fibber McGee and Molly George Burns & Gracie Allen Great Gildersleeve IRS Old Time Radio

Tax Time from the Golden Age of Radio

It’s tax time again. And it doesn’t get any better. Sometimes you wonder if that other inevitability might not be easier to deal with. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Just turn on the Radio and see how some other folks deal with Tax Time.

Bob Hope’s adventures at the Santa Anita racetrack don’t help his financial standing too much. When he does his taxes, he takes Jane Russell to the tax office with him. He doesn’t want the IRS watching HIS form too closely.  For more adventure, see also: Errol Flynn

George Burns is like a lot of us and waits until the last moment to work on his taxes. When George is frustrated by the tax form he gives Gracie $50 to go to a tax professional, but Gracie decides she can help out by buying a one dollar tax book, saving him $49! Only Gracie could
use a $1 tax book to find out the government owes George $30million. But the really interesting question is whether or not Gracie’s help can keep George out of Alcatraz.

The Great Gildersleeve does his taxes for 1943, while America is deeply involved in WWII. When he begins to list the interest on his savings account a “little voice” convinces him that he doesn’t really have to list every thing… So he doesn’t list it, but can Gildy live with himself? Especially  with the war on? Of course tough old Gildersleeve can, for about three minutes! And who was that little voice anyway? Hitler? Of course Gildy is going to declare the interest, all $2.15 worth!

If you wonder how the government could possibly be be messed up with all the tax money you send them, consider that Fibber McGee did his own taxes in 1944. You would have thought that things would have balanced out the next year when the tax assessor came to see him the next year, especially because he thought the assessor was writing a newspaper society piece about him!

If you need any more proof that that government is evil, you just need to be there when McGee gets his 1949 Tax bill on Thanksgiving! Imagine the nerve of them charging $125 taxes on a house that the McGee’s won in a $2 drawing!

Don’t you wish we had the Lone Ranger to protect us from the IRS.?  On Mar 21, 1941, the local strong man is trying to collect “Taxes” from the hard working settlers in the area. Of course the Strong man’s only authority to collect taxes is his men and their guns. But the wrong doers have no chance against the Masked Man. I wonder if Silver Bullets are deductible?
These recordings and many more tax-day laughs are available on the Old Time Radio‘s Tax Time Collection.