Saturday, December 6, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 6 - The Plot To Murder Santa Claus (with Frank Sinatra as Rocky Fortune)

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 #6 - from what many consider a less than spectacular series - which stared one of the biggest names...well, ever!

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!

Antique Postcard of the NBC Radio Studios in Hollywood, California 

The first time I heard Rocky Fortune...I was not hooked.  The series was created in 1953 to showcase the great American singer, Frank Sinatra.  Sinatra was showcased in a large number of musical specials in the 1940s and 1950s - some of which I will share later this holiday season.  But there was this one series where he was featured for his speaking voice - not his singing.  Rocky Fortune was on NBC from October 6, 1953 through March 30, 1954.  The timing for the end of the series was not a fluke.  A few days before the last episode aired, Frank Sinatra won the 1954 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1953 From Here to Eternity.  With that, Sinatra's career portraying Rocky Fortune (Rocko Fortunato if you are not into the brevity thing) came to an end.

Rocky Fortune  was a "footloose and fancy-free young man" who was always searching for the next job - since he started most episodes without one.  In the series, he was a social director at a Catskills Resort, a truck driver, an oyster shucker, and just about anything else.  There is, however, a real charm in Sinatra's hard-luck Rocky as he fumbles through missed opportunities and problems with both the police and bad guys.  While many called this a "B grade series," I enjoyed it a great deal and sometimes wish there were more than 25 episodes.

On December 22, 1953, The Plot to Murder Santa Claus was aired over the NBC Network. In this episode, Rocky is employed as an assistant store detective for the Krackenbaum Department Store in New York City.  They had just had a theft at the store of $8,000 in pearls and they were still missing.  Rocky finds himself in the middle of the entire situation when he discovers that in addition to be the assistant store detective, he also needs to play Santa when the main one had lunch.  That leads to him meeting a young girl and his older sister as they tried to tell Santa about the Elf doll she wanted.  Turns out, the little girl had expensive taste!  Here is a link to the episodes along with a few of the many Sinatra appearances on old time area:

Here are some links to programs relating to Rocky Fortune:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

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