Sunday, December 13, 2015

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 12 - Frank Sinatra in Room for a Stranger (Radio Reader's Digest)

So yesterday was a very special day for Old Time Radio.  It is the Centennial of Frank Sinatra's birth.  A few days ago, I showcased the Christmas episode of the Rocky Fortune series that I am quite fond of.  Today, I am going to showcase a Christmas episode from the Radio Reader's Digest, a precursor to the Hallmark Playhouse over the CBS Radio Network.

This is the second year I have showcased different Old Time Radio programs for Christmas.  Here is a link to all the 2014 OTR Christmas entries.  If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  He does a great job of showcasing great holiday themed episodes, especially as we get closer to Christmas and the end of December.  I actually heard this driving the other week as part of the Frank Sinatra blocks that he setup to celebrate the centennial of his birth.

Christmas Trees
Christmas Lights, Saline, Michigan - December 2007

The Radio Reader's Digest is a great series on radio.  It started in 1942 as a CBS series with Ernest Chappell as the announcer. Ernest Chappell was well known as the lead actor and announcer for Quiet Please. The stories for the Radio Reader's Digest came from the pages of Reader's Digest, which was a huge publication during the 30s and 40s for sure.  It still is most certainly around (see  The radio program that came from their publication was first sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company, it shifted to Hallmark in 1946.  Later, the series would be changed to the Hallmark Playhouse and feature dramatic versions of classics of world literature.

On December 19, 1946, the Radio Reader's Digest was sponsored by Hallmark Cards and hosted by Richard Kollmar.  If that name is familiar, it is because Richard stared as Boston Blackie in the series of the same name (I featured Stolen Rings at Christmas from Boston Blackie in last year's blog).  Richard (or Dick as he was more commonly known) was very proud to introduce Frank Sinatra as the star of their radio adaptation of a true story from the pages of Reader's Digest.

The heartwarming true story is about a young soldier in Illinois on Christmas Eve in 1943.  Despite an injured leg from a plane crash, he could not have been happier.  He was going to spend Christmas with his girl.  But when a telegram forces him to return to the Great Lakes Naval Hospital right away, his dreams of seeing his love vanish in a moment.  It was not until then that he realized how blessed his Christmas was going to be as people all over take in this stranger and give him a Christmas gift that he would remember forever.  I think Frank Sinatra's introduction to the program said it best:

I think I'd call it a happy story, and I'm glad it's a true one.  I think it proves something pretty wonderful about the American people.  There's a kinda warmth here, Dick, a spirit of friendly giving, without thought of return, that you don't quite find anywhere else. - Frank Sinatra during the introduction of the program.
I hope you enjoy this and make room for a stranger in your world this holiday season and beyond.

Room for a Stranger on Radio Reader's Digest (December 19, 1946)

Here are some links to programs relating to the Radio Reader's Digest:

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

      25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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