Friday, December 16, 2016

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 16: Christmas on Broadway (kinda)

New York is the setting of so many radio programs from radio's golden age.  One of the shows that I have yet to feature is a great one - Broadway is My Beat (or Broadway's My Beat).  This crime show on CBS ran from 1949 to 1954 and I will talk about it more below.  My wife reminded me of another great Advent calendar along the same lines - and this episode, we have a common theme.  Joe's List - a great website for buying vintage and current dolls (especially Barbie's) has a great advent calendar each year.  This year, the focus is Broadway Musicals.  Joe does a tremendous job of finding obscure clips that capture the history and beauty of Broadway musicals.  Check out that site to get some great video recordings from some of the most well known and beloved musicals ever to hit the stage.  While you are there, you can also do some last minute Christmas shopping if you have a doll lover in your life (like I do)!  Here is a link to all the previous 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 close to Christmas.

Various Shots of Times Square (New York City) - August 2014

Broadway Theaters - August 2014

Broadway is My Beat is a pretty cool radio crime series that aired over CBS from 1949 through 1954.   As is the case with many series, the lead character changed during its run.  Starting with the episode on July 7, 1949, Times Square Detective Danny Clover would be played by actor Larry Thor with Elliott Lewis taking on the role as director and producer.  Elliott Lewis is well know as being Phil Harris' sidekick on his radio show among many producing and directing roles on radio.  Besides some of the leading voices on CBS, the cast included Charles Calvert (Sargent Tartaglia) and Jack Kruschen (Sargent Muggavan).

And like so many Broadway shows...the reviews were kinda mixed.  In Variety on November 16, 1949 (after the move to the cast and directors best known for the series), we see this less than glowing review on page 43:

Broadway's My Beat
"The gaudiest, most lonesomest mile...a cold, fantastic carousel" - that's the Broadway of the Times Sq. theatrical district according to some of the poetic descriptions used in "Broadway Is My Beat," which returned to CBS Saturday (12) after a short layoff.  Unfortunately, the glamorous word-pictures of New York's mazda belt along with equally fancy musical bridges outshone the plot of this mystery airer.
As Detective Danny Clover, Larry Thor tracks down the perpetrator of two murders - one a police sergeant and the other an ex-convict.  In wending its way toward the climax, the script generated ample suspense.  But the snap solution at the end, partly rattled off by Thor, took a lot for granted especially in view of the varying clues.
Thor's voice was drab and expressionless.  That such a monotone could be sustained so meticulously was hard to believe in face of the numerous dramatic scenes. On the other hand, his deadpanned articulation probably was supposed to indicate a coll, intrepid quality on the part of the fearless sleuth.  Large supporting cast was generally competent.  Show originally was due to resume last Saturday (12), but a political talk cancelled it out on WCBS, N.Y. - Gilb.
I had to check out what "mazda belt" referenced.  This appears to be a term that columnist Walter Winchell said about Broadway in the time - making a reference to a major brand of lightbulb.  According to Cassell's Dictonary of Slang - it is also referred to as "Mazda Lane."

On the day before Christmas Eve, Danny Clover and his fellow police recruit a former safecraker named Nick Norman to play Santa Claus for the P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) Christmas party.  And while Danny was hoping for an easy day, he was disappointed when hearing that Sargent Tartaglia was causing a commotion and claiming there was no Santa.  He had it partly right - turns out, he was supposed to watch Nick Norman - and the Sargent did in fact lose him.  So he was right, there was no Santa.  So off goes Danny looking for Santa all over Manhattan.  In addition to the regulars, the show features Howard McNear, Gil Stratton, Shepard Menken, Peggy Webber, Bert Holland, & Estelle Dodge with a script by Morton Fine & David Friedkin.

Broadway is My Beat (Nick Norman and Santa Claus - December 24, 1949)

Here are some links to programs relating to Broadway is my Beat:
Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) & Other Links

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

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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