One of the really cool shows I discovered a few years ago are the Elgin Seasonal Specials for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the 1940s. 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. These shows are a combination of songs, skits and other performances that capture the best of radio. The Internet Archives has five total shows (see the link below). Also, given that the program runs 2 hours, Greg Bell does not schedule them on Radio Classics. So that means if we are going to listen to these great programs, we need to be a bit more proactive!
Here is a link right to the two Elgin Thanksgiving Holiday Shows on the Internet Archive:
Elgin's 6th Annual Thanksgiving Show (November 27, 1947)
Elgin Thanksgiving Day Greeting To America. November 27, 1947. CBS net, KQW, San Jose aircheck. Sponsored by: Elgin Watches. "The Sixth Annual Elgin Thanksgiving Day Greeting To America." The first tune is, "It's A Grand Night For Singing." Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore perform together for the first time "since getting shows of their own." "News Scoops From Hollywood," Candy Candido appears as "Mr. Ripple." Fifteen-year-old Mary Jane Smith sings. Sir Lancelot sings a calypso watch commercial! Larry Storch does impersonations. Margaret Whiting and Vera Vague join Jimmy Durante singing a clever original parody about a possible woman president (to the tune of "Feudin', Fightin' and Fussin'"). The Page Cavanaugh Trio sings a delightful Elgin commercial to the tune of, "The Lady From Twentynine Palms." Bob Sweeney and Hal March drive to the studio (don't ask them what an "Oh, For Goodness Sakes" sandwich is). The winners of the SPEBQSA competition sing barbershop harmonies. Yehudi Menuhin plays "Habanera" by Sarasate (accompanied by his sister on the violin). He then plays a duet with another violinist...Jack Benny! Artie Auerbach does an Elgin commercial as, "Mr. Kitzel. Cathy and Elliott Lewis are featured in a well-written story about a housewife's last day. Good radio! "A Child's Thanksgiving" features Red Skelton as, "Junior, The Mean Widdle Kid." After he says grace, Clem Kaddiddlehopper finds himself in one of the Elgin watch commercials! Allan Jones, Louis Silvers and His Orchestra, Jimmy Durante, Garry Moore, Candy Candido, Mary Jane Smith, Sir Lancelot, Larry Storch, Margaret Whiting, Barbara Jo Allen, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, Al Viola, Bob Sweeney, Don Ameche (host), Ken Carpenter (announcer), Hal March, The Doctors Of Harmony, Yehudi Menuhin, Jack Benny, Artie Auerbach, Betty Wright (writer), Cathy Lewis, Elliott Lewis, Red Skelton, Verna Felton, Lurene Tuttle, Pat McGeehan. 1:59:31. Audio condition: Excellent. Complete. (Line-up from the Radio GOLDINdex)
Elgin Thanksgiving Day Greeting To America. November 25, 1948. NBC net. Sponsored by: Elgin Watches. "The seventh Annual Thanksgiving Day Greeting To America." The first tune is, "Cosi, Cosa." Dean Martin is introduced as a promising "newcomer" and "a star of tomorrow." Don Ameche (host), Mario Lanza, Garry Moore, Jimmy Durante, The Mills Brothers, Barbara Jo Allen (as "Vera Vague"), Andre Previn, Bob Hopkins, Jack Benny, Frances Langford, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Red Skelton, The Elgin Orchestra, Robert Armbruster (conductor), Ken Carpenter (announcer), Earl Levy (producer), John Christ (producer), Ed Helwig (writing supervisor), Frank Nelson, Artie Auerbach, Lurene Tuttle, Verna Felton. 1:58:54. Audio condition: Very good to excellent. Complete. (Line-up from the Radio GOLDINdex)
In my house, I do much of the cooking and so I love to have these old programs playing in the kitchen. This year, we are over at the in-laws, but we are making sides at our house. So you can be sure that on Thanksgiving morning, I will be cleaning, cutting, cooking, etc. with Don Ameche and friends providing the entertainment and encouragement!
Here are additional Thanksgiving themed shows available on the Internet Archive: