Tuesday, December 16, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 16 - Holidays with Connie - Our Miss Brooks

Working on sending out one blog entry each day in December to showcase great Old Time Radio for the Christmas season.  Here is a link to all the entries.  Here is day 16 - Our Miss Brooks Christmas Episodes featuring Eve Arden as that hard-luck English teacher at Madison High School, Connie Brooks.  Her love interest was the schools's biology teacher, Mr. Philip Boynton.  Mr. Boynton was played by Jeff Chandler (of Michael Shayne fame) who was born on December 15, 1918.  Yesterday would have been better for this...oh well!

If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82). He has a number of great programs available throughout the month of December on his great show.  You can also get a large number of these programs at a variety or resources on the web. One place to find these shows is the 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive. This is a great resources for many of these wonderful radio shows!

Saline High School's Science Olympiad Team at the 2011 Northmont Invitational (January 8, 2011)

Saline (Michigan) High School's Science Olympiad Team - January 2011

From 1948 through 1957, Eve Arden played the lovelorn English teacher at Madison High, Connie Brooks.  This series is one of the very best comedies that we have from Old Time Radio days.  Arden leads an all-star cast in this well written series on CBS Radio that actually holds up well, even today. Between never having enough money, job responsibilities that seem to change from week to week, a cat that is a character all to herself and a love interest who is more fixated on frogs than women...Eve Arden's Connie Brooks always maintains her grace and charm.  The show also featured Jeff Chandler as Mr. Philip Boynton (Connie's long suffering love interest), Jane Morgan as Mrs. Margaret Davis (Connie's landlord), Gale Gordon as Mr. Osgood Conklin (Madison High School's principal, and Richard Crenna as Walter Denton (a student at Madison High).

The show also was on television starting on October 3rd, 1952.  Through TV and Radio, she became one of the most famous teachers of her day!  From her obituary in the Los Angeles Times in 1990, they wrote:

But it was as Connie Brooks, the wisecracking English teacher in mid-America's mythical Madison High where she constantly engaged in hilarious battles with her stuffy principal, that she became a Friday night favorite.

She was offered the role of the classroom humanist with the smart mouth and warm heart after being heard as radio's Miss Brooks for four years. 

There she had developed a following of hundreds of teachers across American and had even been offered teaching jobs in real schools.  Miss Arden (making $200,000 a year at the time) did not accept, but she did begin speaking at PTA meetings.

While the show ran for many years, they had a great tradition of reusing the same script for the Christmas program.  The Magic Christmas Tree aired a number of times (1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1955).  Here are the links to the recordings and to the scripts for these Christmas episodes.

Magic Christmas Tree (December 24, 1950) - Connie is planning on spending a quiet Christmas Eve at home, when a knock on the door changed everything.  A young boy showed up to sell her a Christmas tree.  She had no choice, the boy gave a hard-luck story about his family - and the Christmas tree was Magic.  The first reason turned out to not exactly be the case...but the magic part - that's a different story.  Members of the Madison High family, including Mr. Boynton show up for a Christmas that she will never forget!  I guess it was almost dreamy!
Christmas Gift Mix-up (December 20, 1953) - Connie is in a pretty typical state of affairs.  It is getting close to Christmas as Connie is thinking how to stretch out the $20 that she has for all the gifts she wants to give.  (NOTE: Since I am a business librarian, it is good to know that the $20 in 1953 would be around $177 today - according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPI Inflation Calculator).  As Connie talks with her friends and colleagues, she realizes that has less, and less for her Mr. Boynton!  But things get really amusing when a certain gift of apparel makes the rounds and gets gifted, and re-gifted without any knowing.

Here are some links to programs relating to the Our Miss Brooks:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

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