Saturday, December 9, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 8: Choral Music for the Holidays from Du Pont's Cavalcade (1946)

I have fallen behind - but I will catch up soon.  Today, I think I highlight another episode from Du Pont's Cavalcade of America as they celebrate their own staff in the Wilmington, Deleware headquarters.  

Seems like a great way to celebrate the holidays this year.  As you know, I am highlighting a different Christmas episodes from Old Time Radio by showcasing a program a day (well, I will try).  I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

MSVMA All-State Choir at Michigan Youth Arts Festival (Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 9, 2009)
MSVMA All-State Choir at Michigan Youth Arts Festival 

(Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 9, 2009)


The Cavalcade of America is a great series sponsored by DuPont.  The purpose of the program has been one of great study and I am definitely glad that I have a few episodes to talk about it.  The long-running show ran from 1935 to 1953 and then had a second life on television.  Starting first on the CBS Network, it moved to NBC in 1939.  This 30 minute program provided a great platform to showcase some of the lesser known incidents and people who made the country great.  Not only was this series a great source of historical dramas, there were numerous fictional stories brought in as well.  From the Internet Archive page (see link below),  "The company's motto, 'Maker of better things for better living through chemistry,' was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation."

For the Christmas episodes of Cavalcade in 1946, 1947, 1950 and 1951, the program passed up a chance to engage leading actors, writers and producers of radio to shift the focus inward.  In 1944, a group of Du Pont employees formed the Du Pont Chorus through their mutual interest in song.  They were directed by Daniel Boyer and included around 200 employees from across the company.  For the first time they were featured on Cavalcade on December 23, 1946, they performed at the Playhouse in Wilmington Delaware where 154 Du Pont men and women sang a beautiful collection of songs for the season.  It is great to hear where the soloists are from in the company - including Miss Lois Cato of the Wilmington Chemical Department who sang the solo in When the Crimson Sun Has Set.  The shows also feature a statement from the Du Pont President - who for the 1946 program was Walter Carpenter Jr. This year, they decided to share the joy of the Du Pont Chorus with the world.  In the message, Carpenter shared best wishes for the holidays and the new year for the world that was coming off a devastating war.  

I hope you enjoy these wonderful programs of songs of the season from the men and women of the Du Pont Company.

Du Pont Chorus on Cavalcade for America December 23, 1946





Du Pont Chorus on Cavalcade for America December 22, 1947





Du Pont Chorus on Cavalcade for America December 19, 1950




Du Pont Chorus on Cavalcade for America December 18, 1951






Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 7: Nineteen Santa Clauses from The Saint (1947)

I am falling behind - but I will catch up next week.  Seems to me that Santa could say the same thing about delivering all those presents on a single night.  While Europe and the States slow him down - he can pick up some time over the Atlantic Ocean.  Speaking of Santa....this is one of my favorite episodes from one of my favorite series, The Adventures of the Saint.

Seems like a great way to celebrate the holidays this year.  As you know, I am highlighting a different Christmas episodes from Old Time Radio by showcasing a program a day (well, I will try).  I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

My Antique Radio
My 1937 Detrola Radio - Made in Detroit!

There were a number of actors who brought Leslie Charteris' great character Simon Templar to the air.  But none of them can hold a candle to the best of them all.  From 1947 through the early 1950s, Vincent Price provided the voice for The Saint.  With this great role, Price brought a wit and charm to the role that was not captured by any of the other radio actors who played the part.  One of the funny things about The Saint is that they often repeated stories, with slightly different names.  He was joined in the cast by Lawrence Dobkin who plays Simon's favorite cabbie Louie.

The funny thing about The Saint is that there are often two or three names for each episode.  So the Christmas episode has been called "Santa Claus is No Saint," "Christmas Eve Problems" and "Nineteen Santa Clauses."  And while there might be some confusion about the title, there is none when it comes to the best actor to play Simon Templar.  That distinction goes to Vincent Price, who had a great career on radio as well as television and the movies.  He brought a wit and charm to the role that was not captured by any of the other radio actors who played the part.

Price is fantastic in the "Santa Claus is No Saint" episode.  In the episode, Simon starts off getting ready for a charity event where he will dress up like Santa.  But in the process, he gets confused with a hood named "Fats" Boylan.  But as you might have guessed, Fats is anything but.  So what did this skinny crook hide in his Santa suit.  Listen to the episode and find out.  Here is a link right to the episode:

Santa Claus is No Saint or Nineteen Santa Clauses (December 24, 1947)

Here are some links to programs relating to The Saint on Radio and the work of Leslie Charteris:
Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 6: America for Christmas from Du Pont's Cavalcade (1944)

I am happy to share this new episode from the Cavalcade of America celebrating storytelling! And the ability of a good story to take you places - even home.

Seems like a great way to celebrate the holidays this year.  As you know, I am highlighting a different Christmas episodes from Old Time Radio by showcasing a program a day (well, I will try).  I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

Paul Bunyan Statue (Oscoda, Michigan) - October 11, 2014
Paul Bunyan Statue (Oscoda, Michigan) - October 11, 2014


The Cavalcade of America is a great series sponsored by DuPont.  The purpose of the program has been one of great study and I am definitely glad that I have a few episodes to talk about it.  The long-running show ran from 1935 to 1953 and then had a second life on television.  Starting first on the CBS Network, it moved to NBC in 1939.  This 30 minute program provided a great platform to showcase some of the lesser known incidents and people who made the country great.  Not only was this series a great source of historical dramas, there were numerous fictional stories brought in as well.  From the Internet Archive page (see link below),  "The company's motto, 'Maker of better things for better living through chemistry,' was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation."

On Christmas Day, 1944, the Cavalcade presented a play called "America For Christmas"  The play was written by Peter Lyon based on Benjamin A. Botkin's A Treasury of American Folklore, that was published during the same year.  This classic book provides a collections of tall tales and great folklore stories that are part of the American culture and history.  The play takes place on a small island in the Pacific, where soldiers had just finished their Christmas dinner and spending another holiday away from family.  The star of the show is Walter Huston, who plays the head of a USO troupe that is giving a play to the soldiers as their gift.  While they could not bring the soldiers to America, the troupe decided to bring America to the soldiers.  In this play, they showcased the tall tales that are found in every corner of the country - from New England to Pittsburgh to Arkansas to Texas to Idaho and everywhere in between.  You meet tough farmers, business wheeler and dealers, engineers and others who make America...well, America!

Joining Walter Huston in the cast are Dick Ryan, Bob Jellison, Tom Holland, John McIntire, Howard McNear, Griff Barnett, Pinky Parker, Paul McVey, Lou Merrill, Polly Connell, Herb Lytton, and one of my favorites - Frank Graham.  Also joining the cast are The Sportsmen.  Like so many episodes of Cavalcade - this is very well done and a great joy to listen to.  Enjoy!

America for Christmas on Cavalcade of America (December 25, 1944)

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 5: Mailing Packages with Fibber McGee and Molly (1940)

Celebrating the holidays this year by highlighting a different Christmas episodes from Old Time Radio by showcasing a program a day (well, I will try).  I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

We are heading to one of the most famous addresses in all of popular culture. 79 Wistful Vista - the home of Fibber McGee and Molly.  This radio situation comedy was one of the longest running shows on the air, starting back in 1935 and continuing as its own 30 minute show through 1956 before spending two or so years as a brief segment over NBC on their Monitor Program.  There are so many different episodes to choose from from this great series that showcase Christmas and all the activities that are part of the holidays.  I have already featured this episode twice before (and likely once again this year) Looking for a Christmas Tree with Fibber McGee & Molly (1943) & Fibber McGee and Molly's Phonograph (1940).


Cosmo Enjoying the Boxes from B&H Photo
Cosmo the Cat Enjoying Christmas Packages - from December 2015


Some things about Christmas shopping has changed a great deal over the last 75 years.  But some things have not changed all that much.  When we are purchasing gifts for family far away, it involves a trip to the Post Office (or the UPS store or the Fed Ex Store, etc.).  Such was the situation that Fibber McGee and Molly found themselves during the episode that first aired on December 10th, 1940.  They arrive at the Post Office to get their packages off in the mail, but are immediately met with a very long line..really long.  

It reminds me of the line that I recently stood in when I was traveling to India - the immigration line at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India.  It would have taken hours to get through - and I did not have that time before my connection.  So I did what others did - worked my way to the top.  No one seemed to mind and I made my connection.  I was hesitant in squeezing my way to the front of the line because that is just not how we do things in the States.  But it seems to be OK in India - and again, I made my connection, so all is well.  

I bring this up because Fibber McGee and Molly are thinking about a way to cut their line short at the Post Office - and the other people in line did not take kindly to their attempts.  So they waited, and waited, and waited.  That did give the writers an opportunity for them to meet up with all of the regular characters like Teeny, The Old Timer, Mrs. Abigail Uppington after seeing Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve before they left.  But their patience was rewarded when they got to the front of the line...well, almost.  Joining Jim and Marian Jordan in this show were announcer Harlow Wilcox, Harold Peary, Bill Thompson, Isabel Randolph aw well as The King's Men and Billy Mills and His Orchestra. 

I hope you enjoy this episode, and have an easier time mailing packages to loved ones this year!


Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 4: Kraft Music Hall with Bing Crosby (1942)

Celebrating the holidays this year by highlighting a different Christmas episodes from Old Time Radio by showcasing a program a day (well, I will try).  I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

So I decided to stick with the variety show them and (for that matter), stick with the long-running Kraft Music Hall.  Rather than Al Jolson, lets head back five years earlier and showcase an episode featuring the great Bing Crosby as he spread Christmas cheer back during the wartime year of 1942.  


Facepalm (Christmas 2000)
Santa paying a visit in 2000!

The Kraft Music Hall made its debut on the NBC radio network in 1933 and would be a staple in their entertainment lineup for around 17 years. They used this variety show to sell all the Kraft Food products, especially their cheeses and Velveeta.  From the Wikipedia article, there were very careful in this show to have the announcers make the commercials for the Kraft products, not the stars.  This could be a distinct difference between Kraft Music Hall and others that used the stars to hawk the goods.  

On December 24th, 1942, the Kraft Music Hall was hosted by Bing Crosby in an hour-long special for the holidays.  Joining Bing was Fay Bainter, Janet Blair, Jack Carson and Andrew Tombes.  They were joined by announcer Ken Carpenter, John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra, The Music Maids and The Charioteers.  The program opens with Bing Crosby singing Adeste Fideles in Latin and English.  We know this beautiful carol as "Come All Ye Faithful."

Jack Carson was talking fondly about his days in retail sales - and their new store where they only sell items that cannot be acquired during the war.  At one point, Jack Carson tells a customer "I hope you don't see anything you like - but if you do, I am sure we don't have it."  While played for laughs, it is interesting to see how people put up with shortages that were commonplace during World War II. This show features the standard fare of comedy and music to get people ready for Christmas.  Bing also sings the contemporary hit "Why Don't You Fall in Love with Me?"

One of the nice parts of the show was Fay Bainter reading the famous letter from the New York Sun back in 1887 too see if there was indeed a Santa Claus. The great editorial by Francis P. Church has been shared over and over again since. Thanks to the Newseum, we have the text of the letter. They had her on the shows in year's past, but it is great to hear that wonderful reading of Church's editorial - found here:


DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
In the second half, there is a dramatic...well comic telling of Santa getting readying for his long night of work.  The interesting twist is that Santa has kids...and they are 'helping' him get prepared to give gifts to everyone - especially the movie stars that are on his travels.  For more Bing, see my earlier blog posting on other Christmas episodes he recorded. I hope you enjoy this wonderful episode from 75 years ago.


Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)