Thursday, November 8, 2007
Autobiography of Will Rogers from Hallmark Playhouse aired on February 2, 1950 starring Edward Arnold with Will Rogers, Jr. Will Rogers was first an Indian, a cowboy then a national figure. He now is a legend. He was born in 1879 on a large ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what later would become Oologah, Oklahoma. Will Rogers roping skills developed so special that he was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for throwing three lassos at once. His roping skills won him jobs trick roping in wild west shows and on vaudeville stages where, quickly, he started telling small jokes. Soon, his wise cracks and folksy observations became more prized by audiences than his expert roping. Will Rogers was the star of Broadway and 71 movies of the 1920s and 1930s, a popular broadcaster; besides writing more than 4,000 syndicated newspaper columns and befriending Presidents, Senators and Kings. This is a very entertaining story from Hallmark Playhouse.
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The Blind Gun from Mutual Radio Theater aired March 24, 1980 starring Corey Burton and Vic Perrin hosted by Lorne Greene. Mutual Broadcasting System acquired the Sears Radio Theater in December 1979 renaming it Mutual Radio Theater, and debuted March 3, 1980. It was to run for 13 weeks on almost 300 stations. The shows were then to be repeated over the summer and fall. It proved to be fairly successful and another 8 weeks of original programs were added; this was followed by another 8 weeks of repeats. The series was broadcast in stereo, making it the only commercial radio network drama program in the nation to use this technology at the time. Great writers were employed for this series including Arch Oboler and Norman Corwin.
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Gunsmoke was a long-running old-time radio and television Western drama program set in Dodge City, Kansas during the settlement of the American West. The radio show first aired on April 26, 1952 and ran until June 18, 1961 on the CBS radio network. The series starred William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon, Howard McNear as Doc Charles Adams, Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell, and Parley Baer as Deputy Chester Proudfoot. Doc's first name and Chester's last name were changed for the television program. Gunsmoke was notable for its critically acclaimed cast and writing, and is commonly regarded as one of the finest old time radio shows. Some listeners have argued that the radio version of Gunsmoke was far more realistic than the television program. Episodes were aimed at adults, and featured some of the most explicit content of the day: there were violent crimes and scalpings, massacres and opium addicts. Miss Kitty's occupation as a prostitute was made far more obvious on the radio version than on television. Many episodes ended on a down-note, and villains often got away with their crimes.
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William Conrad interview on Spotlight On A Star aired December 15, 1969. William Conrad (September 27, 1920 – February 11, 1994), born William Cann, was an American actor and narrator in radio, film and television noted for his baritone voice, as well as for his sizable girth. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Starting work in radio in the late 1930s in California, Conrad went on to serve as a fighter pilot in World War II. He returned to the airwaves after the war, going on to accumulate over 7,000 roles in radio by his own estimate. Conrad's deep, resonant voice led to a number of noteworthy roles in radio drama, most prominently his originating the role of Marshal Matt Dillon on the Western program Gunsmoke from 1952-61. He was considered for the role when the series was brought to television in 1955, but his increasing obesity led to the casting of James Arness. Other series to which Conrad contributed his talents included Escape, Suspense and The Damon Runyon Theater. One particularly memorable radio piece was the 1957 CBS Radio Workshop broadcast "Epitaphs," an adaptation of the Edgar Lee Masters poetry volume Spoon River Anthology; Conrad both directed and narrated the production. On February 11, 1994, Conrad died from congestive heart failure at age 73 in Los Angeles, California and is interred at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in the Lincoln Terrace, Plot Number 4448. He was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997.
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Wild Jack Rett from Escape aired February 15, 1953 starring John Dehner and Harry Bartell. Escape was radio's leading anthology series of high adventure, airing on CBS from July 7, 1947 to September 25, 1954. Escape enthralled many listeners during its seven-year run. The series' well-remembered opening combined Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain with the introduction, intoned by Paul Frees and William Conrad: “Tired of the everyday routine? Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all? We offer you... Escape!”
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Half A Rogue adapted for radio aired January 27, 1963 co-starring Slim Pickens as mountain man Big Jim Leyton. Bonanza follows the adventures of the Cartwrights who live in Nevada during the 1860s. Headed by Ben Cartwright, the family owned a large ranch, named The Ponderosa, which bordered the shore of Lake Tahoe. Ben, a widower, had three sons, Joseph called Little Joe, Adam, and Eric called Hoss.
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The President's Lady from Hollywood Radio Theater aired on September 28, 1953 starring Charlton Heston and Joan Fontaine. Based on the novel by Irving Stone this is the story of one of the most vicious rumor campaigns in American political history. It is the story of how the love of the life of our seventh President was destroyed by these rumors, which were based on half-truths. Without question one of the great romances of all time.
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Shady Deal at Sunny Acres - The Maverick gang's all here when Bret brings in brother Bart and every recurring player on the show as part of a convoluted con game to recover money swindled from him by a crooked banker. James Garner as Bret Maverick, Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick, John Dehner as banker John Bates. Also starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Richard Long and Diane Brewster. Maverick is a comedy-western series created by Roy Huggins that ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC. Shady Deal at Sunny Acres aired November 23, 1958. When Maverick first premiered it went up against Steve Allen and The Ed Sullivan Show, a pair of heavyweight programs at the time. Maverick would eventually surpass both in the ratings for a short time.
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She Wore a Yellow Ribbon from Lux Radio Theater aired March 12, 1951 starring John Wayne and Mel Ferrer. This is Wayne's greatest role as an Indian fighting Captain Nathan Brittles. Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. The song She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is still to this day the official anthem of the United States Cavalry Armor. This is without a doubt the best in John Ford's famed cavalry trilogy.
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Broken Arrow from Screen Director's Playhouse aired September 7, 1951. Starring in their original roles is James Stewart as Tom Jeffords, Jeff Chandler as Cochise and Debra Paget as Sonseeahray (Morningstar). Broken Arrow is the story of a land, of the people who lived on it in the year 1870, and of a man whose name was Cochise. He was an Indian leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. The performances of James Stewart, Jeff Chandler and Debra Paget are outstanding and Broken Arrow is one of the first westerns to portray Native Americans in a balanced, sympathetic way. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, and won a Golden Globe. Interesting is that the world premier was at the Nusho Theater in downtown Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
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Cimarron from Hallmark Playhouse aired on September 9, 1948 starring Irene Dunne. Cimarron is the title of a novel published by popular historical fiction author Edna Ferber in 1929. Ferber was also the author of Giant that starred James Dean. This epic Western won the 1931 Academy Award for Best Picture and was the first Western to win an Oscar, the only western to win until The Unforgiven. In the story Yancey Cravat, a frontiersman, newspaper editor, and former gunslinger brings his young bride Sabra to the wild Oklahoma territory to taste the adventure, crusade for social justice, and leave his family for years at a time. The Oklahoma Land Rush, also called the Cherokee Strip Land Run, plays a pivotal role in the story. The desperation of the settlers involved in the rush provides for great drama and and outstanding story. How many westerns have been made where every settler is desperate to stake his claim on the best piece of land with water?
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In Old California, adapted for radio starring John Wayne as Tom Craig, Binnie Barnes as Lacey Miller and Albert Dekker as Britt Dawson was released May 31, 1942. Picture a old time Western saloon, filled with colorful frontier types and about to be busted into kindling by a ruffian with a fearsome toothache. At this moment, through the swinging doors appears a pilgrim from Boston outfitted with top hat, frock coat, a courtly manner, and a medical bag filled with the miracles of modern pharmacology of 1849. Just one incident on his way west to California to seek fame and fortune as California becomes American territory. This is a fun listen and John Wayne might say, "I'm going to wrestle me a grizzly and kiss me a pretty girl."
Red River from Lux Radio Theater aired March 7, 1949 starring John Wayne as Tom Dunson with Joanne Dru and Walter Brennan. Tells the story of the first cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail. One of the all time greatest Westerns featuring impassioned performances and adventure on a grand scale. Red River has everything a great Western ought to have; a sweeping sense of history, stampedes, gunfights, Indian attacks, and, of course, Walter Brennan as Dunson's crusty old cook and comic sidekick, Nadine Groot. A classic!
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