Tuesday, December 8, 2015

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 8 - The Plot To Murder Santa Claus (with Frank Sinatra as Rocky Fortune)

One of the oldest conventions among radio programming is the reused script.  Gunsmoke did it.  Richard Diamond did it...and I will do it...  So with all sorts of stuff going on, I am going to reuse a blog entry that I used last year.  But there is a really good reason.  First, it is a great show.  Second, more people are reading the blog this year.  Third, it stars Frank Sinatra who we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth this week (on December 12).

So with this, I am highlighting for Day 8 Frank Sinatra as Rocky Fortune in The Plot to Murder Santa Claus.  (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.

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!

This is a great episode for the holidays - enjoy!

The Plot to Murder Santa Claus (December 22, 1953)

Here are some links to programs relating to Rocky Fortune:

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

      25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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