Wednesday, December 7, 2016

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 7: Duffy's Tavern Christmas with Jeff Chandler (1948)

There is a series that I have never gotten around to showcasing in all my blog entries on Old Time Radio is a pretty big one - Duffy's Tavern.  In showcasing this episode from 1948, I am also pivoting from a key actor in yesterday's blog entry (Our Miss Brooks).  That actor is Jeff Chandler, who played Phillip Boynton, Connie Brooks long suffering love interest.  In today's episode, he plays a characters with a much higher standing in the world.  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.

Kelly's on the Hill (Irish Hills, Lenawee County, Michigan)
Kelly's on the Hill (Irish Hills, Lenawee County, Michigan) - July 2011

From 1941 through 1951, Duffy's Tavern was one of the most popular comedies on radio.  It appeared on the CBS, NBC and NBC Blue Network (which would become ABC).  The show was the brain child of Ed Gardner, who played Archie the bartender for its entire run.  As reported in Broadcasting  on February 3, 1941:

New half-hour show is being build around Gardner's Archie character which he created on This is New York, CBS sustaining series two years ago.  Gardner terminates activities on the Rudy Vallee Show following the Feb. 20 broadcast.  
Gardner was the producer on Vallee's show, but gained far greater fame and acclaim as the star of his own show.  Each episode would open the same way:

Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat.  Archie the manager speaking.  Duffy ain't here.  Oh, hello Duffy.
While Duffy does not ever make an appearance, the episodes revolve around Archie and the who's who of celebrities who come to this famous dining establishment.  Many of the stars come as themselves, especially Monty Woolley who seemed to be on the program a good number of times.  

On December 23, 1948, Duffy's Tavern aired a great Christmas episode staring Jeff Chandler.  Its Christmas Eve and Archie is hoping to shut down Duffy's early and head home.  He was in the dumps after not getting a Christmas bonus from Duffy.  Actually, all he got was a Christmas card with a exclamation to get back to work!  Archie's co-workers and Duffy's regulars all tried to cheer him up, but to no avail.  But a visitor shows up after he thought the doors were all locked.  Jeff Chandler plays the mysterious stranger that could be reminiscent of the episode Berlin, 1945 (Quiet, Please).  And when  Archie tags along with the stranger for a walk around the neighborhood, he sees all sorts of sights he did not think he would ever see.  Their first stop is a church, where Archie goes reluctantly.  The church is not only a place to pray, but a place to stay warm - especially when you do not have another place to go.  Archie donated a quarter on the way out of church - pretty impressive for someone who only wanted to help himself.  They then ran into Jimmy the newsboy.  Jimmy sold papers every day - but he couldn't walk.  He got his present for Christmas over the summer when he got to see the Yankees play!  And when the stranger pointed out that he just sold a newspaper to his hero Joe DiMaggio.  He found a way to walk over to his hero (much to everyone's surprise and amazement).  That was not the only miracle that Archie noticed when walking around with the stranger.

Joining Gardner and Chandler in the script are: Eddie Green, Charlie Cantor, Florence Halop, Florence Baker, Robert Bruce, Scott Elliott, Bobby Ellis, Frank Gerstle, Betty Lou Gerson, Marvin Miller, Franklin Parker, & Donald Woods.  For those keeping score, the script was used two years earlier (not that it matters)!  I hope you enjoy this sweet episode from one of the Golden Age's best comedies.

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

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

1 comment:

  1. That episode of Duffy's Tavern is one of my favorite radio Christmas shows. And whoever voiced Joe DiMaggio REALLY sounded like Joe DiMaggio! I wonder if it could have been the real deal?