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 25 - The Elgin Watch Christmas Specials. The Elgin Watch Company sponsored two hour specials on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In many ways, they served as the beginning and closing of the Christmas shopping season. Last year, I wrote about the Thanksgiving Specials (there are two that are still available). There are three Christmas specials that are available now. I hope to write more about these wonderful specials...someday!
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!
My favorite watch - Definitely not an Elgin
One of the really cool shows I recently discovered were the Elgin Seasonal Specials for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the 1940s. These were also known as Elgin's "2 Hours of Stars." The shows were sponsored by the Elgin Watch Company of Elgin, Illinois. Starting in 1942 for the soldiers overseas, the Elgin Holiday Specials were two hour programs that featured the brightest stars in radio and the movies. Heard on these programs is Bing Crosby, Mario Landa, Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope and were all hosted by Don Ameche. The Internet Archives has five total shows (see the link below). One of the real treats takes place one hour into the show from 1945. Jack Benny gave a twisted performance of Sorry Wrong Number, one of the most iconic episodes of Suspense. Also, given that the program runs 2 hours, these are not commonly played on current radio programs like XM 82.
The shows have great Christmas music, and some pretty funny comedy bits. In the 1944 show, there is long skit between singer Ginny Simms, Jack Benny and Eddie Anderson about how they were rehearsing for this song on the Elgin special. As a great variety show that lasts two hours, it is a perfect thing to have on your radio (or computer) as you cook the Christmas meal. It has been on the radio in my kitchen these last few years over the holidays.
Here are links right to the Elgin's Christmas Shows:
Elgin's 3rd Annual Christmas Show (December 25, 1944)
Summary: The show features and all star list of radio and movie actors including: Ginny Simms, Eddie Anderson, Jack Benny, Louis Silvers and His Orchestra, Manny Klein, The Swing Wing, The Charioteers, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Carmen Miranda, Joseph Szigeti, The Les Paul Trio, Barbara Jo Allen, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby. The great Don Ameche served as the master of ceremonies. I think it is totally great to hear any early performance by Guitar great Les Paul and his Trio! Bing Crosby also went off the Christmas script and sang "Don't Fence Me In." The routine between Bob Hope and Bing Crosby was fantastic as well.
Elgin's 4th Annual Christmas Show (December 25, 1945)
Summary: The show stars Don Ameche as the masters of ceremonies and a all star cast including: Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Ginny Simms, Red Skelton, Bob Crosby and The Bobcats, Barbara Jo Allen (as "Vera Vague"), Allan Jones, Artur Rubinstein, Ella Logan, Alan Reed, General Omar Bradley, The Charioteers, Larry Storch, and The Elgin Orchestra conducted by Louis Silvers.
Elgin's 7th Annual Christmas Show (December 25, 1948)
Summary: The show stars Don Ameche as the masters of ceremonies and a all star cast including: Sandra Berkova. Lauritz Melchior, Al Jolson, Danny Thomas, Red Ingle, Jack Kirkwood, Jo Stafford, Edgar Bergen, Sandra Berkova (a 15 year-old violinist), Cass Daley, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Hilliard, Robert Armbruster and His Orchestra, and Jane Morgan.
Enjoy these wonderful recordings!
Here are some links to programs relating to the Elgin Watch Specials:
- Elgin Watch Specials episodes via the Internet Archive
- Elgin Holiday Shows on Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs
- Elgin Watch entry in the Wikipedia
- Also visit 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive.
- Christmas Scripts at Generic Radio Workshop - no they are not from Abbot and Costello!
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:
- All Entries
- Day 1 - Nick Carter's Christmas Adventure
- Day 2 - The Saint is No Santa Claus
- Day 3 - Stolen Rings at Christmas with Boston Blackie
- Day 4 - Dragnet's Christmas Episodes
- Day 5 - Nero Wolfe & the Slaughtered Santas
- Day 6 - The Plot To Murder Santa Claus (with Frank Sinatra as Rocky Fortune)
- Day 7 - Christmas at Mission San Gabriel with Romance of the Ranchos
- Day 8 - Arch Oboler's Christmas 1918
- Day 9 - The Story of Silent Night (Hallmark Playhouse)
- Day 10 - Juggler of Notre Dame (with Nelson Eddy)
- Day 11 - Candy Matson's Christmas Episodes
- Day 12 - Lionel Barrymore's Mayor of the Town
- Day 13 - More Radio Adaptations of a Christmas Carol
- Day 14 - Tales Of The Texas Rangers (not those Rangers)
- Day 15 - Christmas in Connecticut (with Ronald Reagan)
- Day 16 - Holidays with Connie - Our Miss Brooks
- Day 17 - The Whistler's Christmas Episodes
- Day 18 - Detroit's WXYZ & The Lone Ranger
- Day 19 - Johnny Dollar and the Nick Shurn Matter
- Day 20 - Christmas Shopping with Jack Benny
- Day 21 - Gunsmoke's Christmas Story
- Day 22 - Bob Hope's Christmas Shows
- Day 23 - Christmas with Mel Blanc
- Day 24 - Bing Crosby's Christmas Shows
- Day 25 - Elgin Watch Christmas Specials