Friday, February 5, 2016

Williamsburg Film Festival Celebrates 20 Years

Johnny Crawford from The Rifleman meets a fan.
This March the Williamsburg Film Festival will celebrate 20 years. Personally, I have been attending since 2001 or 2002 so the annual event holds a special place in my heart. I was planning on posting a write-up documenting the history of the festival, and highlights from over the years, but Bill Ruehlmann wrote a nice piece and it felt better to step aside and let Bill tell you all about it. My personal recommendation is that if you have never been to the convention before, I recommend you book your hotel room and make plans to attend. This is the year to go. Martin


WILLIAMSBURG FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES TWO DECADES
by Bill Ruehlmann, Wrangler
The Williamsburg Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary March 9-12, 2016, with guest stars, nonstop western movies, live musical entertainment, and a massive dealer room of multimedia memorabilia ranging from DVDS to vintage toys and comic books. The four-day event takes place at the Holiday Inn-Patriot Convention Center on 3032 Richmond Rd. in historic Williamsburg, Va. Reservations may be made at 757-565-2600 and 800-446-6001. Representing the best of the movie and TV west, the stars will be interviewed in person onstage and appear throughout the event for autographs. They include Don Collier, Audrey Dalton, Ed Faulkner,  Robert Fuller, Burton Gilliam, Terry Moore, Jaqueline Scott and Roberta Shore.

“We have come a distance,” reports current festival board president Larry Floyd. “We started back in 1987 as a small group of friends and fans from all walks of life that just enjoyed getting together for screenings of the cowboy movies we collected and loved as kids. The group grew.” It did. After a decade of informal get-togethers, the expanded group decided to follow the example of full-blown organized film festivals in Charlotte, Knoxville, Memphis and Ashville. The first official Williamsburg Film Festival took place in 1997 at the Comfort Inn in Williamsburg. It featured celebrities Dale Berry, James Best, Peter Boone, Gene Evans, Will Hutchins and Willie Phelps.

The board is all-volunteer and includes retired and current professional men and women – business execs, career military, academicians and techno-wizards, all of them confirmed front-row kids. They work hard to make the Williamsburg Film Festival fun for celebrities and guests alike. There have been plenty of surprises over the years, including at least one big turnout in the midst of a snowstorm. Then there was the time famed tough-guy actor Morgan Woodward (remembered as the stone-faced prison guard in sunglasses who shoots Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”). At the end of an onstage question-and-answer session, he was asked to sing “Danny Boy.” It turned out that he happened to be a classically trained baritone. Woodward stood up and sang the moving Irish ballad impeccably. When he was finished, there was not a dry eye in the house.

At the outset of her onstage interview, Ann Rutherford (“Gone With the Wind,” “Love Finds Andy Hardy”) was asked a question about her childhood; she proceeded to fill the entire hour from that moment forward without further interruption. Captivated along with the crowd, the interviewer placed his notes on the floor beside his chair, sat back and listened. When time ran out, the eloquent and engaging actress received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Harry Carey Jr. (“The Searchers,” “Three Godfathers”) was a smoker. The dealer room was smoke-free, but he discovered a door to the outside and, when needed, could usually be found on the other side of it, seated on some bricks, enjoying a cigarette. One evening an individual in a three-piece suit also discovered that door, to the same purpose. He lit up and, suddenly, spotted Harry.
                “Are you … Harry Carey Jr.?” he asked breathlessly.
                Harry looked up and smiled.
                “Guilty,” he said, and blew out smoke.
“Don’t move!” cried the man in the suit, and he ran back inside. A minute later, he ran out again, pulling behind him another man, older but also resplendent in a three-piece suit.
“See, Doc?” the first man shouted. “If I had taken your advice and quit smoking, I’d never have met Harry Carey Jr.!"

So it goes at the Williamsburg Film Festival, which also welcomes annually the Solar Guard Academy, national fans of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

Welcome to the 20th edition, March 9-12, 2016
That’s www.williamsburgfilmfestival.org or visit us on Facebook.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Big Show: The "Lost" 1952 Broadcasts

Tallulah Bankhead during rehearsals.
The Big Show was an NBC house-built package and an innovation in show business deriving its name from the fact that the talent roster each week included “the biggest names in show business” -- name guest stars chosen from ranks of music, drama, comedy in stage, motion-picture, concert, radio and television were all “top performers” in their own fields. The Big Show was the first program ever to be presented under NBC’s new sponsorship plan known as “Operation Tandem,” in which sponsors were offered participation in sponsorship of five top evening programs each week, no more than three sponsors to be included in each 30-minute program time. Prior to this, radio programs primarily featured only one sponsor throughout the time slot (although the same sponsor was able to promote more than one of their own products.) The “Operation Tandem” shows were described over-all as the “Five Show Festival” including programs whose formats were varied to offer drama, variety, music, comedy and mystery.

The format of The Big Show was a variety program with repartee, music, dramatic sketches, comedy routines, excerpts dramatized from recent motion pictures and current Broadway hits, novelty monologues and instrumental and vocal novelties, special “spots” paying tribute to outstanding members of show business and other salutes to the more serious side of living such as the meaning of living and playing in a country like America, etc. The Big Show ran a total of two seasons and by the time the second season premiered, excerpts of recent motion pictures had been dropped in favor of current Broadway hits. 

Program guide handed out every week.
A great array of name guest stars each week were featured, averaging eight stars each week. The program was directed by Dee Engelbach, with James Harvey as the NBC producer (first season). Script writers included Goodman Ace, Welbourn Kelley, Frank Wilson, Mort Green, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Joel Murcott, plus a number of collaborators depending on the guests’ needs. The musical background, bridges and specialties were arranged and in many cases composed especially for the program by the program’s musical director, Meredith Wilson. Special lyrics from time to time by Sammy Kahn. The chorus and choir consisted of 16 voices. Choral Master Max Teer oversaw the vocals for the first season, Ray Charles for the second, with over all musical direction under orchestra leader Meredith Wilson.


Note: Add Fred Allen to the list of writers, effective with the broadcast of February 4, 1951. Allen joined the staff of expert writers for The Big Show and according to a press release issued by NBC, "This marks Mr. Allen’s first time as a staff writer for a radio series other than his work on his own programs."
Sponsor Breakdown 
September 30, 1951 to April 20, 1952, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., EST 
6:30 to 7 p.m.        Portion sponsored by Reynolds Metals Co. on straight contract
            (not part of Operation Tandem)
7 to 7:30 p.m.        Portion Tandem Available (sustaining under Tandem
            open to Tandem sponsors)
7:30 to 8 p.m.        Tandem Sponsors
            September 30, 1951 to April 20, 1952    Leggett & Myers
            September 30, 1951 to April 20, 1952    Whitehall
            October 28, 1951 to April 20, 1952        American Chicle
            December 23, 1951 only            Western Union (straight contract)
            January 13, 1952 only                Buick, division of General Motors
            February 10, 1952 only             Elgin, division of Illinois Watches
 
Commercial announcer for Reynolds Metals: Bert Cowlan
The Leggett & Myers commercials on “Operation Tandem” were recordings featuring the “Chesterfield Stars.”

Production Breakdown
Producer-Director:
Dee Engelbach
NBC Producer: James Haupt
Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Green and Frank Wilson. Others such as Joel Murcott and Dorothy Parker are indicated under their retrospective episodes.
Music: Arranged by Sid Fine. All music supervision by Meredith Wilson.

Every episode from the first season (1950-51) exists and is presently circulating among collector hands, so for this article we’ll focus primarily on the second season episodes, the “lost” episodes of 1952. (I already explored the "lost" 1951 episodes, click here.) 


Broadcast of January 6, 1952
Guests:
Bob Carroll, Joan Davis, Vera Lynn, Jimmy Nelson, Claude Rains and Herb Shriner.

Vera Lynn, British vocal star, is on her first trip to the U.S. and makes her first of several guest appearances on The Big Show. Lynn was on the show before (September 30, 1951), but that was when the show was taped in London. She’ll be on the show until mentioned otherwise in this log. Lynn was known as the “Sweetheart of the Forces” during the War when she entertained the boys all over England. Other guests include Bob Carroll, vocalist; Joan Davis, comedienne; Jimmy Nelson, ventriloquist and his dummy Danny O’Day; and Herb Shriner, humorist and comedian.

Claude Rains stars as Mr. Spiers in a dramatization of John Collier’s “Midnight Blue.” Tallulah Bankhead played the role of Mrs. Spiers. The story is about a man who murders his business partner and accidentally leaves his muffler at the crime of the scene, a clue to the mystery because the only difference between his muffler and that of the murdered man is the color: his is black, the dead man’s is midnight blue. When the murderer returns to his home, he is amazed by his wife’s upset over a strange dream which she had: she had dreamed the murder, step-by-step even to the fact that the man was strangled with her husband’s muffler! At this point, the couple’s son appears and says he’s wearing his father’s muffler -- then asks, “Whose muffler is this, by the way? It’s not yours, is it? This is dark blue!” Gene Reynolds is cast as Fred Spiers, the son.

An announcement is made on the program that Tallulah Bankhead had been voted “Woman of the Year in Radio” by the radio editors of America thru Radio and Television Daily. The Chorus sang “My Darling, My Darling,” interrupting Tallulah just before the finale of the show. When she asks what is going on, Meredith Wilson says the Chorus is saluting the “Woman of the Year” in radio. The Chorus then sang more of “My Darling, My Darling,” with Tallulah’s dedicating this singing to the radio editors who gave her the honor.

Vera Lynn was a series regular beginning with this episode until mentioned otherwise.
The iconic Tallulah Bankhead.
Broadcast of January 13, 1952
Guests include Phil Foster, comedian, who presents a monologue about the “Engagement Period” (also known as “Basic Training”) preceding marriage. Foster says his mother wants him to marry Tallulah Bankhead!

Tony Bennett, vocalist, performs a number.

Vera Lynn, British vocalist, makes a guest appearance on The Big Show during her visit to the United States. She was on last week and is being carried on the series until mentioned otherwise.

Betty Hutton, singer and star of screen and stage, appears on the program to promote her current movie hit, The Greatest Show on Earth, which would ultimately win an Academy Award for best picture.

June Havoc presents a scene from one of the New York hit plays in which she rates star billing, Affairs of State. Havoc plays the role of Irene Elliott, the Minneapolis school teacher who goes to Washington and becomes the “wife in name only” of Senator Henderson. In the role of Henderson is Sheppard Strudwick, the same Broadway actor who also supports Miss Havoc in the play.
Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa are also guests. Fred Allen and Tallulah Bankhead present their comedic version of Affairs of State.
The 7 to 7:15 p.m. segment was sponsored by Buick, only for this episode.

Broadcast of January 20, 1952
Guests include Shirley Booth, comedienne and Broadway star.

Phil Foster does a monologue on the way his mother wants him to get married (preferably to Tallulah Bankhead), comedy monologue he started last week. Foster also does a sketch about trying to hire Meredith Willson to play for one of Foster’s club dances.

Jack Pearl (Baron Munchausen) and his side-kick, Cliff Hall (Sharlie), comedy team, presents one of their familiar Baron Munchausen spots.

Earl Wrightson, vocalist (baritone), talks about the time he was an NBC page boy.

Vera Lynn, British vocal star, who is currently on the series for a limited number of appearances while in this country, performs a song.

Dick Powell, famous for his Richard Diamond radio series, presents a dramatization of “The Perfect Crime,” adapted from the story by Ben Ray Redman. Powell is cast as the great criminologist Dr. Harrison Trevor, who commits the “perfect crime” by killing the criminal lawyer who was the only person who knew that the criminologist had once made a mistake and sent the wrong person to death for a murder. Supporting roles: Leora Thatcher, Martin Blaine and Joe Bell.

Program includes salutes to Tallulah’s coming birthday this month. All the guests and cast members read little birthday card rhymes at the opening part of the program.

Script writers confirmed for this broadcast: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, George Foster, Mort Green and Frank Wilson.

Musical arrangements: Sidney Fine and Phil Moore.

Broadcast of January 27, 1952
Guests include James Barton, dramatic star of Tobacco Road and The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, also soft-shoe dancer and singing star currently starring in the newest Broadway musical, Paint Your Wagon. Tonight he sings “Annabel Lee,” his most famous number to date. Barton is then joined in presenting a medley of songs from Paint Your Wagon by Tony Bavaar, another of the Paint Your Wagons stars, and by Vera Lynn. Paint Your Wagon music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Allen Jay Lerner.

Jack Carson appears as a “dramatic star” in the Dorothy Parker play, Here We Are, with Tallulah in the role of his bride. Martin Blaine is the conductor in this clever satire-comedy about newly-weds on their honeymoon train trip.

Victor Borge presents his version of "Mozart Opera,” in monologue with piano improvisions.
Bob and Ray present their “Tahiti Travelogue” sketch.

Tallulah does a monologue about the contests of a woman’s puree. In her monologue, she tells of standing in a movie line trying to find an extra quarter to buy her ticket. Jack Carson then presents the sale version of Tallulah’s experiences in searching through her purse for the change, as he goes through all of his pockets, his wallet, his briefcase, etc. 

There is an announcement that The Big Show is the “Champion of Champions” for 1951 in the annual Motion Picture Herald “Fame Poll” in which radio editors of America sent in their votes to elect which radio show they feel is the “Champion of Champions.”

Broadcast of February 3, 1952
Jerry Colonna sings a song.

Jan Murray does his “Fight Routine” sketch.

Ethel Merman performs a few songs and then participates in an insulting routine with Tallulah.

Cathleen Nesbitt, star of the British stage, who appeared last season on Broadway in T.S. Elliott’s Cocktail Party, is currently playing in Gigi, a satirical French comedy drama at the Fulton Theatre in New York. She appears with Tallulah in the comedy sketch A Matter of Perspective by Patricia Coolinge, with Miss Nesbitt as the actress and with Tallulah as her best friend who is asked by the actress to attend the dress rehearsal of the latest play and to give advice that might help the actress improve her performance. Of course, the actress expects only to be told, “You are wonderful. There is no room for improvement.”

Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa are guests. Fred Allen and Jerry Colonna present their own version of Cathleen Nesbitt and Tallulah’s performance of A Matter of Perspective. Portland Hoffa plays the role of the maid. (It should be noted that A Matter of Perspective was performed a little more than a year prior on The Big Show.)

Vera Lynn, British vocal star, does her rendition of Tulips and Heather, which she introduced in England some months ago.

Tallulah does a monologue about people who wake one up in the “middle of the night” (past noon in Tallulah’s day) . . . . .

Tallulah Bankhead, Jack Carson, Ed Wynn and Fred Allen

Broadcast of February 10, 1952
Guests:
Joan Davis, Phil Foster, Vera Lynn, Claude Rains and Jean Sablon.

Claude Rains stars in a dramatization of James Thurber’s “The Catbird Seat,” which appeared originally in the November 14, 1942 issue of The New Yorker. The story concerns an exemplary employee who never drank, dated nor gallivanted. Then, a lady efficiency expert arrived in the office and infuriated the once-time man by being loud and repetitive, always using slang expressions like the “Catbird Seat.” When he could stand it no longer, Erwin Martin, the perfect employee, visited the lady late at night in her apartment and convinced her that he drank, smoked, used heroin regularly and beat women whenever the mood struck him. The next day, Ulgine Barrows, the lady in question, told her employer that Mr. Martin would have to be fired. Instead, the employer and all other persons in the company are thoroughly convinced that Mrs. Barrows has had a dreadful nervous breakdown by dreaming up a tale like the one she told about Mr. Martin. Mrs. Barrows is dismissed and sent to a rest home. Jan Miner is featured as Ulgine Barrows; Claude Rains as Erwin Martin; Leora Thatcher as Miss Perkins; Mr. Martin’s file clerk; and Ed Jerome as Mr. Fitweiler, the employer.

Other guests included: Jean Sablon, the French singing star; Joan Davis, comedienne; Phil Foster, comedian, does a monologue about Miami Beach, Florida, and “How to Get a Sunburn.” Vera Lynn sings as usual. Tallulah Bankhead presents a monologue on “Bridge” or “How to Play Cards, Poker, etc.” Another Bankhead monologue is about “Diets.” This episode centers on a Valentine theme with all of the guests sending Tallulah appropriate Valentine verses. On the serious side, in honor of the Lincoln birthday anniversary, Tallulah Bankhead reads the famous letter written by Lincoln from November 21, 1864, to Mrs. Bixby of Boston, the mother who lost five sons in the Civil War.

Reynolds Aluminum offer today: booklet titled “The ABC’s of Aluminum.” This booklet tells how aluminum was discovered, how it is made, etc. Listeners only had to write “ABC” on a card with their name and address and mail to “Reynolds Metas,” Louisville 1, Kentucky for a free copy/

Broadcast of February 17, 1952
Guests:
Fred Allen, Hoagy Carmichael, Joan Davis, Portland Hoffa, Vera Lynn and Jane Pickens.

Joan Davis, comedienne and singing star, presents her version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” the way she did it when she was a “balloon dancer in a theatre ‘off and off’.” Hoagy Carmichael, song-writer, singer and piano player, is also a guest on this program. Jane Pickens, singing star of stage and radio, has just returned from Paris and she also makes an appearance on the show. Vera Lynn, makes her farewell appearance on The Big Show. She’ll be returning to London next week. Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa present their own operatic production, “The Television Mikado.” Allen is a soap czar and wants a television program to sell his soap. The advertising agency of “Button, Burton, Bitten and Bowels” with its president, Bouser Button, who is attempting to get a sponsor for Mr. Allen’s show. Jane Pickens, who has talent, wants a part in the show but Mr. Allen explains that he doesn’t require talent because this is a television show and all he wants is “30 minutes of commercials.”

The dramatic portion of the program presents Tallulah Bankhead as Mary Boyne in “Afterward,” the 1910 suspense story written by Edith Wharton, concerning “the death of a soul.” Mary Boyne notices a stranger near her country home and her husband rushes out to talk to the man, but the stranger disappears. Two months later, the stranger returns and asks for Mary’s husband. This time the husband disappears. Later, Mary learns that the stranger was a man who had committed suicide because Ned Boyne, Mary’s husband, had been the cause of the man’s losing borrowed money in a mine venture. The date of the man’s suicide attempt which caused him to linger for two months of suffering after he tried to kill himself coincides with the date that Mary first saw the stranger. His “return” coincides with the date he died. Now, Mary understands why the friend who sold her and Ned their home told them the house had a “ghost” but they wouldn’t know about it until “afterward….” In the supporting cast: Vinton Hayworth, Jack Manning and Martin Blaine.

The 7 to 7:30 p.m. segment of The Big Show featured a 30th anniversary salute to radio station WGY in Schenectady, New York. Fred Allen tells of radio in the days when WGY started broadcasting. As of tonight, WGY joins NBC’s other 30-years-old affiliated stations: KDKA, Pittsburgh; WWJ, Detroit; KOB, Albuquerque; WKY, Oklahoma City; WBZ, Boston; KYW, Philadelphia; WSPD, Toledo; and WDAF, Kansas City.

The “Income Tax” sketch with monologue by Tallulah Bankhead, concerned a visit to her accountant to discuss her deductions. She lists as her “dependents” the 94 people on The Big Show, including 47 orchestra members and theater ushers. In the space on the return sheet reserved for the Government with instructions to the taxpayer, “Do Not Write Here,” Tallulah writes a little note to Margaret Truman: “Dear Margaret, How are you? I’m fine. Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here. Could sure use you. And by the way, Happy Birthday, Margaret. I couldn’t think of a gift, so here’s the money. Buy whatever you like.”

Broadcasts of February 24, 1952
Guests: Kay Armen, Gertrude Berg, Victor Borge, Phil Foster, Ed Gardner and Robert Merrill.

Robert Merrill, opera star, sings the Prologue from Pagliacci. Merrill also joins Kay Armen in a duet for “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” and “Manhattan.” Ed Gardner appears in his Archie characterization. Victor Borge plays the piano. Phil Foster, comedian, does a monologue about a woman shopping for bargains. Gertrude Berg appears in her Molly Goldberg character. Molly tries to get Tallulah happily married to any of the male guests. She interprets Tallulah’s “Darlings, I love you, you are divine, etc.” as sincere expressions which indicates Tallulah really loves the man.

Among the evening’s sketches: A taxi driver-car crash sketch with Phil Foster as the taxi driver, Tallulah as the lady in the car, and Gertrude Berg as the lady fare in taxi. When the case gets to court, Victor Borge (playing the role of Victor O’Borge) is the officer; Meredith Wilson is the judge, Ed Gardner is the lawyer. When the case clears, Tallulah is the judge’s niece and the lawyer, the police officer and the taxi driver are brothers.

In honor of Brotherhood Week, a week set aside by the President of the U.S. through cooperation of the National Conferences of Christians and Jews, Tallulah Bankhead reads Stephen Vincent Benet’s Prayer (1942) beginning, “God of the Free, we pledge our hearts and lives to the cause of all mankind. Grant us Victory over the tyrants who would enslave all free men and nations. Grant us faith and understanding to cherish all those who fight for Freedom as if they were our brothers…” Archibald MacLeish, poet and Librarian of Congress, asked Benet to write the “United Nations Prayer” to be used in the celebration of Flag Day, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used it to close his radio address on Flag Day, June 14, 1942. This was the same prayer.

Broadcast of March 2, 1952
Guests:
Fred Allen, Connie Boswell, Clark Dennis, Rex Harrison, Portland Hoffa, Lilli Palmer and Henny Youngman.

Connie Boswell, singing star, includes her rendition of “Stormy Weather.” Clark Dennis, vocal star, sings “The Moon Was Yellow.” Henny Youngman, comedian, does a monologue about his “Life Story.”

Lilli Palmer and Rex Harrison present a dramatic version of the German short story, “The Enchanted Village” by the contemporary German writer, Friedrich Gerstacker. Rex Harrison is cast as Arnold, the English artist who wandered in and out of the way places in Germany during the early past century and in his wanderings came upon a beautiful girl and a strange village where he heard church bells call the villagers to worship and where he later took part in gay village dances. Lilli Palmer plays Gerda, the village girl with whom Arnold fell immediately in love. Then, when one glorious day ended, the village and the girl disappeared in a strange mist. A forester who finds Arnold in the woods tells him that the village of Germans, which Arnold has described and has known by name, was a bewitched town buried in the bogs and swamps hundreds of years ago near the spot where Arnold now stands. According to legend, the village returns to Earth once every hundred years with all of its inhabitants intact, to live for one day and one day only before disappearing again into the swamps for another century. Martin Blaine plays the Forester.

Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa are also guests. The 7 to 7:30 p.m. portion of The Big Show offers an anniversary salute of radio station WLW, Cincinnati, Ohio, in honor of the station’s 30th birthday of WLW. Fred Allen does a comedy routine one what it means to go from 50 to 50,000 Watts.

Tallulah Bankhead reads O.O. McIntyre’s column about his dog, Junior, and the tragic accident which caused Junior’s death, when he was hit by a car on Fifth Avenue. The column begins with Kipling’s lines, “Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware of giving your hearts to a dog to tear…” (This is a repeat of a prior first-season episode.)

Because she takes singing lessons and insists on practicing all hours, Tallulah is “burlesqued” in a mock meeting of apartment dwellers to get Tallulah out of the apartment building. (Her singing teacher is also Margaret Truman’s teacher, as Miss Bankhead insinuates.)

Broadcast of March 9, 1952
Guests:
Richard Eastham, Phil Foster, Joe Frisco, Jim and Marion Jordan, Peter Lorre and Ethel Merman.

From New York as usual plus a pickup from Hollywood for Fibber McGee and Molly. Richard Eastham, singing star of South Pacific and Call Me Madame, and Ethel Merman (also from Call Me Madame).

Peter Lorre performs The Cask of Amontillado, a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, about a man who seals his wife’s lover deep in a wine cellar.

From 6:51 to 6:53 p.m., from Hollywood. Fibber McGee and Molly appear in character, along with Molly’s Teeny, a salute to the 20th anniversary honoring Marion and Jim Jordan for their 20 years in radio. Fibber McGee and Molly talk about what happened “20 years ago.”

6:53 p.m. back in New York. Tallulah congratulates Fibber McGee and Molly on their anniversary and presents her other guests including Joe Frisco, comedian, who does his comedy routine about betting on the horses. Joe says he is “wonderfully insane” and that’s his claim to fame. Shepperd Strudwick, currently in Affairs of State on Broadway, stars as Adelbert Wixberry, radio executive, in a dramatic excerpt from Meredith Willson’s new novel, Who Did What to Fedalia. In supporting roles are Jan Miner as Florabelle, who runs the flower shop on Park Avenue and is known to everybody; Martin Blaine as Spart Colies, Broadway producer and brother of Florabelle. Story concerns Fedalia Parker, of Fort Madison, Iowa, who comes to New York hoping to get a big role as a singing star. Fedalia has golden hair and big blue eyes but no talent. One day, Wixberry, the radio executive, turns down her audition and she flees for his office. Then, Spart Coliss, the Broadway producer, offers her a chance to act, little realizing that she wants only to sing… So Fedalia runs away and nobody can find her but Wixberry and Coliss decide that they can make it up to Fedalia by giving the next blue-eyed, golden-haired, angel-faced girl who comes to New York a chance!

After Shepperd Strudwick’s dramatization of Who Did What to Fedalia?, Peter Lorre, Tallulah Bankhead and Ethel Merman do a take-off on the novel, Who Did What to Fedalia?, she is proclaiming this “Meredith Wilson Week” and is holding a forum discussion titled “Writer Meets the Critics” to discuss Meredith’s book. In this take-off on the radio program “Author Meets the Critics,” Tallulah Bankhead is the moderator; Ethel Merman and Phil Foster, Peter Lorre, Shepperd Strudwick’s, Joe Frisco and Richard Eastham are “critics.”

Phil Foster presents one of his Brooklyn monologue and then, in honor of Meredith Willson, sings Willson’s new song “I Take a Dim View,” interspersing the singing with monologue novelties. Tallulah Bankhead does a monologue about shopping for a birthday gift for “someone very near and dear to me -- a man.” She finally gets an exquisite shirt but is at a loss when the clerk asks her what monogram she wants on the garment -- she hasn’t decided on the initials because she doesn’t know the man’s name. She does manage to “pick up a beautiful thing in the man’s store,” another man, a customer whom she invites out to buy her a drink because shopping is so tiring.

The 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. portion of program tonight is presented in salute to Radio Station WSB, Atlanta, Georgia, “the Voice of the South,” in honor of the 30th anniversary of WSB.

Broadcast of March 16, 1952
Guests:
Fred Allen, Peter Donald, William Gargan, Portland Hoffa, Helen O’Connell and Frank Sinatra.

William Gargan, famous for playing detective roles, stars as Dr. Rankin in an adaptation of the John Collier short story, “De Mortius,” originally published in the July 18, 1942, issue of The New Yorker. This is a story with a queer twist ending in which even Dr. Rankin’s best friends mistakenly thinks he has murdered his wife -- and for just cause. Then, the wife returns from her little visit just as the Doctor has said all along she would. The accusing friends have given the good old Doc an idea about getting rid of that philandering lady, and takes advantage of the opportunity. Gargan is supported by Jan Miner as Irene, the wife; and by Vinton Hayworth and Martin Blaine as the friends.

Musical guests include Frank Sinatra and Helen O’Connell. Peter Donald, comedian and dialectician, famous for his Ajax Cassidy Irish character role, adds the comedy element. Peter Donald does a monologue about the Timmy Muldoon couple -- who celebrate their wedding anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day.

Fred Allen (and Portland Hoffa) presents his “Irish Musical” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day -- the musical is about the Widow Green of Donegal. Frank Sinatra is cast as Danny, the singing son of Widow Green. Helen O’Connell plays Peggy, the daughter. Tallulah is cast as Widow Green. Fred Allen plays Paddy, the Pig Man, who marries Peggy and saves the Widow Green from eviction, plus giving Danny the opportunity to continue his singing. The part of O’Rourke, the villain landlord, is played by Bill Gargan.

In addition to these novelties on St. Patrick’s Day theme, the St. Patrick motif is used throughout the remainder of the program with the opening greetings in the form of St. Patrick verses, etc. Another feature is Tallulah’s monologue about subway riding. She thinks she can get a reservation on a New York subway just as she can on an airline. Also, she is amazed to find there are no dining cars, roomettes, etc. available. Another specialty of this episode was the performance with Allen and Hoffa in a song-and-dialogue production of Tom Waring’s song, “Way Back Home.”

Broadcast of March 23, 1952
Guests:
Victor Borge, Rosemary Clooney, Marlene Dietrich, Paul Douglas, Cliff Hall, Jack Pearl and Earl Wrightson.

Victor Borge does a version of his famous monologue, “Phonetic Punctuation,” on how he mastered the English language by adopting the use of a code involving punctuation marks, a classic routine he would reprise hundreds of times. Jack Pearl (Baron Munchausen) and his famous side-kick Cliff Hall (Sharlie) do one of their Baron Munchausen sketches on this broadcast, all about the Baron’s trip to Africa, his experiences in a mid-ocean tempest, etc., tied in with the opening of the Circus in Madison Square Garden. The Baron’s reason for going to Africa was to collect wild animals for his own circus, far above anything Ringling Bros. may have to offer any circus season.

Other guests include: Rosemary Clooney, vocalist; Earl Wrightson, baritone, radio and TV singing star; and Paul Douglas, movie star, who presents a dramatization of John Richard Humphrey’s “Michael Finney and the Little Men,” (originally published in the August 1946 issue of Cosmopolitan), a weird tale about queer little fish-like men who live in the water below the pump house of Neg Deering’s vacation place. Douglas plays the role of Mike Finney, newspaperman and friend of Neg Deering. Mike also sees the Little Men and gives up his job to stick around and await the return of Neg Deering who must have been pulled into the water by the Little Men. In supporting roles are Martin Blaine, Vinton Hayworth and Jack Manning.

Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead do an “insulting each other” routine, then a take-off on Douglas’s performance in “Michael Finney and the Little Men.” Victor Borge and Paul Douglas then do a “take-off on the take-off.” Tallulah Bankhead does a monologue on trying to prepare a few snacks for her boyfriend on a night when the maid and chauffeur are both out. Tallulah doesn’t even know how to find her kitchen.

An Award was presented on this show. There was an announcement about the winning of one of the John Gruedel Dinky Foundation Awards for public service through radio programs, by The Big Show. Tallulah Bankhead announces the winning of this award and an accompanying $1,000 check from the Dinky Foundation and thanks the donors for this recognition.

Another announcement on this program was that the April issue of Reader’s Digest includes an article entitled “Put and Take in Jamiaca,” all about Reynolds Metals developments of important deposits of bauxite in Jamaica in the West Indies.

Broadcast of March 30, 1952
Guests:
Vivian Blaine, movie star and musical stage star (Guys and Dolls on Broadway); Judy Canova, famous for hillbilly roles, attempting to teach Tallulah how to yodel; Johnny Johnston, singing star;  and Jan Murray, comedian. Phil Foster, comedian, tells about the way he prefers “telephone to television.” About all of the times he and his Brooklyn pals called various numbers in the phone book and asked for fictitious persons, etc.

Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa do a monologue about why he wasn’t born in Alabama. His grandfather followed Horace Greeley and got on the wrong road, although he originally wanted to go Alabama. Tallulah does a monologue about learning to swim.

Commercial includes appeal for trained engineers for the aluminum industry; if interested, write to General Employment Manager, Reynolds Metals, Richmond 19, Virginia.

Broadcast of April 6, 1952
Guests:
Toni Arden, Judy Canova, Renzo Cesena, Dorothy Claire, The Continental, Herb Jeffries, Oscar Levant, Rosalind Russell and Paul Winchell.

Musical guests include Herb Jeffries, singing star; and Judy Canova, comedienne and hillbilly singing star, makes her second of two consecutive guest appearances. Oscar Levant, pianist and satirist, includes a gag about “… if President Truman works up a good act, he might be the only President to go from the White House to the Palace…” Paul Winchell, ventriloquist, and his dummy, Jerry Mahoney, present a scene in which Jerry goes to the dentist. In Winchell’s sketch, Dorothy Claire plays the girl.

The Continental (Renzo Cesana), TV and night club star known for making sentimental love to all the ladies who see him on TV or listen to him on the air, performs. His props include champagne and cigarettes, candlelight, soft music, scent of flowers, and the privacy of a very, very private apartment. Cesana performs an original sketch written especially for The Big Show, “Brave Men With a Sword!” (the only character of the Man is a Poet, who so loves a woman that he sends her to the arms of another man, because he cannot marry her and care for her on the uncertain alms of the Poet.

Jane Russell, movie star, sings and also does a comedy take-off scene on the Continental’s dramatic sketch. She appears as “a beautiful, little na├»ve girl from the West, entrapped in the bachelor apartment on that sophisticated man-about-town, Meredith Wilson.” Russell’s scene is followed by a similar take-off done by Judy Canova who visits the apartment of Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney. Toni Arden, vocalist, guests. Tallulah becomes quite jealous over the fact that Toni really can sing.

Act II (7 to 7:30 p.m.) of the program is presented in salute to station WBAL, Baltimore, Maryland, celebrating its 25th year as a leading NBC affiliate. This is followed by an Easter salute with the performance of Meredith Wilson’s composition, “It’s Easter Time.” Tallulah’s monologue is about attending a Wrestling Match (Wrestling is the kind of TV program Tallulah finds best suited to herself!)

Offer of Reynolds Metals: Free illustrated booklet, “More Income per Acre” write to Reynolds Fam Institute, Box 1800, Louisville 1, Kentucky

Broadcast of April 13, 1952
Guests:
Fred Allen, Portland Hoffa, Peggy Lee, Groucho Marx, Jackie Miles and George Sanders.

Groucho Marx sings his new song, “There’s a Place Called Omaha, Nebraska.” George Sanders sings an operatic aria from Verdi’s Il Lacerato Spiritu. Jackie Miles, comedian, does a monologue about those “little homes in the country” that every city dweller boasts about. No cellars, no porches, no nothing but then “who lives in the city these days?” Peggy Lee, vocal and recording star, performs a number of songs. Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa are also guests. Allen and Groucho do a sketch reminiscing about the “good old days” of vaudeville circuits.

Feature spots: Tallulah Bankhead reads “Chicago,” the 1916 Carl Sandburg poem. This reading is presented as part of the Salute to WMAQ, Chicago, in honor of that station’s celebration of 30 years on the air as a key station of NBC. The 7 - 7:30 p.m. segment, Act 2, of The Big Show, is dedicated to WMAQ. Another feature is the “repeat performance” of a sketch done by Bankhead on a previous broadcast, about a telephone call Tallulah gets in “the middle of the night” -- noon, that is. Tallulah carries on a weird conversation telling her caller how she has been going out with various “drips,” one even “drippier” than all the rest. Then, she discovers the man on the other end of the telephone line is the “drippiest” one. As on the previous broadcast, this telephone sketch is followed by another in which Fred Allen tries to get through via telephone to Tallulah’s apartment -- everybody else including the operators, their boy friends, etc., talk with Allen but it’s simply impossible to get “Miss Bankhead!” Appeal for contributions to the 1952 Cancer Fund is made by Tallulah near the end of the program.

Reynolds Metals commercial includes a salute to Research Day in Boston, to be observed April 18, 1952, when 1,000 New England manufacturers will meet to plan new ways of creating new industries through Research. The President of Reynolds Metals, R.S. Reynolds, Jr., will lead the discussion on Metals. Salute singles out the Boston Chamber of Commerce and its president, Ralph N. Binner, for leadership efforts to establish New England as one of the country’s  leading Research Centers.

Broadcast of April 20, 1952
Guests:
Fred Allen, Phil Foster, Gilbert W. Gabriel, Julie Harris, Portland Hoffa, Groucho Marx, Ethel Merman, William Prince, George Sanders, John Van Druten and Earl Wrightson.

Julie Harris and William Prince were the stars of this year’s Drama Critics Circle Award for the best Broadway play of the year, I Am A Camera, by John Van Druten. Harris and Prince present a scene from the play, with Harris as Sally Bowles, the girl who lives in the Berlin rooming house; and Prince as Chris Isherwood, “the Camera,” a young writer who is in love with Sally. The scene presented is the one when Sally is walking out on Chris, but finds she must turn back because her mother has arrived unexpectedly from London, and Sally has told her mother in letters that she and Chris are engaged. Following the drama, Gilbert E. Gabriel, president of the New York Drama Critics Circle, makes the official presentation of the Critics Circle Award to John Van Druten, author of the “Best American Play of the Year.” In accepting the award, Mr. Van Druten thanks all the actors, producers Gertrude Macy and Walter Starcke, and others connected with the New York play success. I Am A Camera will not be made into a movie, it is announced over the air.

Phil Foster, comedian, does a monologue about buying a dog to keep him from being a lonesome bachelor.

Earl Wrightson sings “Freedom Song.”

George Sanders also makes an appearance on this show. Ethel Merman does a take off on Call Me Madame, which she presently stars on Broadway. The play is done with everybody getting into the act. Sanders and Merman will do the leads in the pictures. Sanders and merman also sing “Marrying for Love” from the same play.

Groucho Marx and Fred Allen continue from last week, discussing the “Good Old Days of Vaudeville.”

Portland Hoffa talks about her vacation. She always lets Fred decide everything in their lives and Ethel Merman and Tallulah Bankhead try to convince her to “take the upper hand.” After all, Portland wants to go to Paris for her vacation; Fred prefers Redbank, New Jersey.

Bankhead does a “repeat performance” of one of the sketches she did during the past season, her “Subway Ride” experiences in New York.

In the commercial, Reynolds Metals announces the free booklet, “ABC’s of Aluminum” is still available by writing: Reynolds Metes, Louisville 1, Kentucky.

Tallulah and cast say goodbye until next season with Tallulah’s thanking sponsors, orchestra, producer-director Dee Engelbach, writers Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, Mort Green, George Foster and Frank Wilson; and all of her other “Darlings.” Meredith Wilson and Orchestra and Chorus salute Bankhead with a song especially for her, “My Darling.”

Final episode of the series.

Ray Charles conducted the chorus.

Announcers: Ed Herlihy and Bert Cowlan.

The American Chicle commercials were done by various announcers -- with frequent use of recorded jingles. When consulting NBC files at the Library of Congress, it appears the studio failed (unintentionally) to keep records of the Chicle announcer, who remains unknown at this present time.

Note: The only episode known to exist in circulation from 1952 is the broadcast of March 9. I included the details of that broadcast in this article for the sake of completion. I would also like to make note that many of my blog entries are written two to three years in advance. At the time of this blog entry, I have revised and expanded the entry above for an up-coming book, THE BIG SHOW: Tallulah Bankhead's Radio Career. Also, since this posting was completed, each and every episode of THE BIG SHOW has been found and is being transcribed from the original transcription discs. With luck, by the time this posting goes to print, they will be in collector hands. If not, they soon will be. 

Tex Fletcher: Six-Gun Rhythm

WOR Publicity Photo
While he may not have received the honor of gracing a U.S. postage stamp like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, William S. Hart and Tom Mix, Tex Fletcher deserves recognition for his efforts to entertain theater and radio audiences. There are hundreds of screen cowboy stars that never became iconic simply because the movie studios never gave them the opportunity. For Fletcher, that opportunity came in late 1938 when the Arcadia Pictures Corporation approached the singing cowboy about the potential of doing his own series of cowboy movies -- six, to be exact. Released through Grand National Pictures, the advertisements hailed “Radio’s Number One Singer of Western Songs is Now The Screen’s Latest Gun-Throwin’, Fist-Slingin’ Star!” The movie was Six-Gun Rhythm and was designed to capitalize on the growing popularity of the WOR radio personality.

Six-Gun Rhythm was released theatrically in the summer of 1939 (some theaters offered the movie as early as May) and was often paired up with Republic Pictures’ cliffhanger serial chapter plays such as Dick Tracy Returns, which is a bit of a rarity at that time because it wasn’t often that studios were offering two films in one showing, from separate studios. In the movie, Fletcher plays the role of a professional football player who deserts his post and returns to his Texas home, after learning that his father was murdered. After a few encounters with outlaws whom the law cannot seem to control, Fletcher temporarily substitutes his guitar for a six-shooter and rounds the baddies up. 

Fletcher’s opportunity was short-lived. Weeks after the movie’s release, Grand National filed bankruptcy and Fletcher’s screen career was pre-maturely cut. The singing cowboy did what any enterprising young man would do: he snatched up a couple prints of the movie and went on a personal tour across the country in his car. Screening the movie, performing on stage and signing autographs for fans, he made a nice living during his brief tour, before making a comeback to radio. 

I guess this is a great time to point out that there are generally two kinds of cowboy westerns. Those like Six-Gun Rhythm feature contemporary American settings, utilizing Old West themes and motifs. For the most part, they still take place in the American West and reveal the progression of the Old West into the 20th Century. The other type of western is that which takes place during the latter half of the 19th century, often revealing ranchers and farmers trying to settle down in a desolate and hard life, also set in American Old West.

Depending on what press releases you read (and many of them were pure hokum), Fletcher was born Geremino “Jerry” Bisceglia in Harrison, New York, who worked as a ranch hand and devoted much of his time playing the guitar. Known as a left-handed cowboy, his singing career did not go unnoticed. Fletcher made the transition from stage to radio in the summer of 1930, as a member of the Rex Cole Mountaineers. Thanks to the assistance of Jack French, an undisclosed source places Tex in the hillbilly band of the Rex Cole Mountaineers who performed over WMCA in New York City in 1932. After checking this venue for a brief spell, it was discovered that Fletcher was not only in the band, but additional (and exact) dates for other radio broadcasts, pin-pointing his possible appearance as early as 1930. The following are confirmed radio broadcasts of the Rex Cole Mountaineers:

July 29, 1930 to December 4, 1931, NBC, Monday through Friday, 5:45 to 6:05 p.m.
(occasionally broadcast on Saturday)

December 7, 1931 to June 17, 1932, NBC, Monday through Friday, 6:30 to 6:45 p.m.
(occasionally broadcast on Saturday)

It should also be noted, according to Tex Fletcher's son, George, that Tex Fletcher may have been a member of Tom Emerson's Mountaineers, based on photos in his private collection. So if the above is incorrect, referring to the Rex Cole Mountaineers, then the info above is subject to correction.

Sometime around 1932, hired by station WFAS in White Plains, New York, singing cowboy songs before the microphone. This comes as no surprise when you consider that young children flocked to the screen every weekend to watch Bob Steele, Buck Jones, Hoot Gibson and others wrestle cattle rustlers, and radio stations across the country knew that cowboy songs were popular. Often used as fillers for time slots that could not be sold to local advertisers, Fletcher’s time slot bounced back and forth throughout the months he worked at WFAS.

One of a few Tex Fletcher Song Books
The B Western Actors Encyclopedia by Ted Holland claims Fletcher’s singing landed him his own radio program in Yankton, South Dakota, but no date is cited and nothing has been found to verify this statement. This is not to say that Holland is incorrect, just that at present we’re still digging into more information about this at present.

In late 1932 or early 1933, Fletcher went solo and made the move to New Jersey and became the “Cowboy Answer Man” over WWOR for a short period. Executives at the Mutual Broadcasting Company, offered Fletcher better prospects, and shortly before the Christmas holiday in 1933, the cowboy began what would become a lucrative and profitable career at WOR, the New York City flagship station for Mutual. In the same manner as White Plains, Fletcher’s time slot jumped around and recent findings have unearthed a number of weekly time slots for which Fletcher performed behind the microphone. 

For the convenience and ease of documentation, his appearances over WOR have been listed below under each respective day of the week. 

Monday 
June 11, 1934 to July 30, 1934, 9:30 to 9:45 p.m.
April 27, 1936 to June 8, 1936, 9:00 to 9:15 a.m.
June 15, 1936 to July 13, 1936, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
September 7, 1936 and September 14, 1936, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
August 23, 1937 to September 27, 1937, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
November 22, 1937 to December 27, 1937, 8:20 to 8:30 a.m.
January 3, 1938 to February 7, 1938, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
February 14, 1938 to June 6, 1938, 8:30 to 8:45 a.m.
June 13, 1938, 11:45 a.m. to 12 noon
June 20, 1938 and June 27, 1938, 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.
July 4, 1938 to September 5, 1938, 10:30 to 10:45 a.m.
September 19, 1938 to December 5, 1938, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
December 26, 1938 to January 2, 1939, 11:00 to 11:15 a.m.

Tuesday 
February 27, 1934 to March 27, 1934, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
April 3, 1934 to July 24, 1934, 5:45 to 6:00 p.m.
April 9, 1935 to May 21, 1935, 9:15 to 9:30 a.m.
June 4, 1935 and June 11, 1935, 9:15 to 9:30 a.m.
June 18, 1935 to September 3, 1935, 10:00 to 10:15 a.m.
September 10, 1935 to October 15, 1935, 11:30 to 11:45 a.m.
July 14, 1936 to September 1, 1936, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
September 15, 1936 and September 22, 1936, 9:15 to 9:30 a.m.
March 2, 1937 to March 9, 1937, 9:00 to 9:15 a.m.
March 16, 1937 to July 20, 1937, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
July 27, 1937 to August 10, 1937, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
September 21, 1937 to October 5, 1937, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
October 26, 1937, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
November 2, 1937, 9:15 to 9:30 a.m.
November 9, 1937 to December 28, 1937, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
January 4, 1938 to November 29, 1938, 8:05 to 8:20 a.m.

Wednesday 
March 20, 1935 and March 27, 1935, 12:15 to 12:30 p.m.
December 4, 1935 to December 18, 1935, 11:45 a.m. to 12 noon
January 8, 1936 to March 11, 1936, 11:45 a.m. to 12 noon
April 29, 1936 to June 3, 1936, 9:00 to 9:15 a.m.
June 17, 1936 to July 15, 1936, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
January 5, 1938 to February 2, 1938, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
February 9, 1938, 8:30 to 8:45 a.m.
March 2, 1938 to July 27, 1938, 8:30 to 8:45 a.m.
August 3, 1837 to September 7, 1938, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
September 21, 1938 to November 2, 1938, 9:00 to 9:15 a.m.

Thursday 
November 23, 1933 to January 18, 1934, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
April 11, 1935 to August 1, 1935, 9:15 to 9:30 a.m.
November 7, 1935 to March 5, 1936, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
June 4, 1936, 12:45 to 1:00 p.m.
July 23, 1936 to December 24, 1936, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
May 6, 1937 and May 13, 1937, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
May 20, 1937 to July 22, 1937, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
July 29, 1937 to August 12, 1937, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
November 11, 1937 to December 30, 1937, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
January 6, 1938 to September 28, 1939, 8:05 to 8:20 a.m.
October 5, 1939, 8:05 to 8:15 a.m.

Friday 
December 1, 1933, 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.
September 13, 1935 to October 18, 1935, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
October 2, 1936 to December 25, 1936, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
July 17, 1936 to September 4, 1936, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
September 25, 1936, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
March 19, 1937 to April 23, 1937, 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.
December 3, 1937 to January 7, 1938, 8:20 to 8:30 a.m.
January 14, 1938 to February 4, 1938, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
January 11, 1938 to March 4, 1938, 8:30 to 8:45 a.m.
March 11, 1938 to March 25, 1938, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
April 1, 1938 to May 20, 1938, 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.
May 27, 1938, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
June 3, 1938 and June 10, 1938, 10:30 to 10:45 a.m.
October 14, 1938 to December 9, 1938, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.

Saturday 
January 13, 1934 to April 20, 1935, 9:45 to 10:00 a.m.
April 27, 1935, 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. (originally scheduled for 9:45, but changed days before broadcast)
June 29, 1935 to August 31, 1935, 12:30 to 12:45 p.m.
September 7, 1935 and September 14, 1935, 12:15 to 12:30 p.m.
September 21, 1935 to September 28, 1935, 12 noon to 12:15 p.m.
December 7, 1935 to December 21, 1935, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
January 4, 1936 to January 18, 1936, 1:00 to 1:15 p.m.
January 25, 1936, 1:05 to 1:30 p.m.
February 1, 1936 to March 7, 1936, 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.
March 14, 1936 to March 21, 1936, 1:00 to 1:15 p.m.
March 28, 1936 to April 4, 1936, 1:45 to 2:00 p.m.
April 18, 1936, 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.
May 9, 1936 to May 16, 1936, 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.
May 30, 1936, 11:30 to 11:45 a.m.
June 13, 1936, 10:00 to 10:15 a.m.
June 20, 1936 and June 27, 1936, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
September 12, 1936 to July 10, 1937, 10:00 to 10:15 a.m.
July 24, 1937 to December 25, 1937, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
January 8, 1938 to January 21, 1939, 8:05 to 8:20 a.m.
December 22, 1945 to March 30, 1946, 11:15 to 11:30 a.m.

Sunday 
June 1, 1941, 8:15 to 8:30 a.m.
May 5, 1946 to February 23, 1947, 8:15 to 8:30 a.m.

Tex Fletcher’s radio career was abruptly put on hold during WWII, as evidenced with the Sunday entry above. He was drafted in the U.S. Army and served a number of years before he returned to the radio microphone. It should also be mentioned, courtesy of my good friend (and baseball aficionado) Ken Stockinger, that there is a strong “possibility” that Tex Fletcher also supplied unscheduled filler for WOR when Brooklyn Dodgers games were temporarily pre-empted due to rain and other factors.

Newspaper clipping of Private Tex Fletcher.

Other Radio Broadcasts 
All radio appearances listed below were broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System, except for the “Air-Brakes” special, which aired on the National Broadcasting Company.

October 20, 1945, 2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Air-Breaks: Welcome Home Auditions Anniversary
December 22, 1947, 3:45 to 4:05 p.m.
Special Christmas Fund Party 
For the benefit of hospitalized children. Broadcast via pre-recorded transcription, this special featured such guests as New York Mayor William O’Dwyer, Robin Morgan, Don Carney, Commissioner Edward Bernecker (Commissioner of Hospitals of New York City) and Tex Fletcher.

September 3, 1951 to December 28, 1951, 5:55 to 6:00 p.m.
Songs of the B-Bar-B 
A series of five-minute musical entertainment was broadcast three or four times a week (varied week by week), Monday through Friday, as fillers between programming. Sponsored by Cliclets Gum. The format is Tex of Bobby Benson singing a song, then actor Don Knotts (as Windy Wales) tells a funny tale, followed by Tex or Bobby singing the last song and then “fade to commercial.”

November 11, 1951 to August 3, 1952, 4:55 to 5:00 p.m.
Songs of the B-Bar-B 
Same as the above, this five-minute musical entertainment was broadcast once-a-week on Sunday afternoon, as fillers between scheduled programming. Five episodes dated February 3, March 23, May 25, June 1 and June 22, 1952 exist in recorded form.

Note about the two entries above: Herb Rice (owner of the Bobby Benson character and V.P. of Operations at Mutual at that time) sent Tex Fletcher on the road several times for personal appearances with actors Clive Rice and Don Knotts. Knotts mentioned these personal appearance tours in his autobiography, and it was apparent that he hated them. This included the 1953 and 1954 national championship rodeos in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Possible date: December 14, 1951
Bands for Bonds 
Tex Fletcher made an appearance on more than one episode of this radio program, syndicated by the Treasury Department. The series was heard as late as 1956 over specific stations.

September 22, 1951
Heroes of the West 
Documentary series produced by Mutual. This particular episode, the fourth and final episode of the series, was titled “Old Timer” and Jim Boles was featured in the title role. Bobby Benson and Tex Fletcher were heard on the program. This series was also syndicated across the country on various stations affiliated with Mutual, so the broadcast dates vary depending on what part of the country you lived in.

Tex Fletcher serenades actress Joan Barclay.
Six-Gun Rhythm, like hundreds of obscure motion pictures during that decade, has the distinction of a strong radio connection. During the opening credits, Fletcher sings “Lonesome Cowboy,” the trademarked song featured prominently on his radio broadcasts. I’d also like to take the time to point out something that could later become a small mis-conception. There was another singer who billed himself as “The Lonesome Cowboy,” John I. White, on the NBC series, Death Valley Days, from 1929 to 1936. White underwent a number of pseudonyms including “The Lone Star Cowboy,” “The Old Sexton,” “Whitey Johns,” “Jimmie Price” and “Frank Ranger.” If you come across information about “The Lonesome Cowboy,” please make sure you clarify which singer is specifically being referenced.