Friday, December 9, 2016

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 9: Looking for a Christmas Tree with Fibber McGee & Molly

One of the difficult decisions during the holiday season can be when to buy a Christmas tree.  If you are buying a live tree, you need to make sure you do not buy it too early.  If you wait to late, you might not get the selection.  Such is the problem that befell Fibber McGee and Molly as they raced all over their town looking for a tree on their Christmas Episode of 1943.  Last year, I featured their problems with a Record Player for Gildy (1940).  There are so many great holiday episodes from this classic American comedy series, it is hard to choose!  I think you will like this one for sure.  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.

Squirrels Outside the Michigan State Capitol (Lansing, Michigan) - December 7, 2015

Squirrel in the Christmas Tree at the Michigan State Capitol (Lansing, Michigan) 
December 7, 2015

Fibber McGee & Molly had one of the most famous addresses in all of popular culture. 79 Wistful Vista was their home for the entire run.  I heard that they never bothered to give Fibber McGee or Molly a job - so they could use artistic freedom to put them in any scenario possible!   This series is one of the all-time classic radio comedies, running from 1935 through the fifties.  1935 was also when Fibber McGee and Molly started - and they received some good reviews right off the bat:
Fibber McGee and Molly - Billboard - April 27, 1935 (page 10)
Fibber McGee, aided by his wife and heckler, Molly, Contributes a funny and enjoyable program, one, in fact, that is likely to send the name of the team into the higher bracketed radio field. In common with other radio acts, the Fibber isn't actually a new wrinkle - he is sort of an Irish Baron Munchausen - but with the combination of a good delivery with good materials insures success.  First show was well paced and liberally sprinkled with laughs.
From the WMAQ studios in Chicago, Jim and Marian Jordan starred in over 1600 shows as their alter egos, though only a fraction survive today.  During the early years, they were sponsored by Johnson Wax, headquartered in nearby Racine, Wisconsin.  They were a staple of the NBC Network and one of the most famous voices from Old Time Radio.

Today, we feature the Christmas episode from Fibber McGee & Molly that was broadcast 73 years ago this month, on December 21, 1943.  Billy Mills and his Orchestra gets the show started with a rousing performance of Oklahoma.  (So if the Mrs. is reading this - it will all make sense why I was humming it this morning).  We find ourselves in the days before Christmas and Fibber McGee & Molly are learning some very important business and economic lessons about both supply & demand and scarcity pricing.  While Fibber was certain that everyone was charging too much early on for trees, he was seething mad about the prices as the lots thinned out.  He was so outraged that he made a comment that perked up my librarian ears upon hearing the price of the last tree in one lot:

Twelve BUCKS! $12 for that sad looking cedar? Why that cone carrier has more broken branches than the Berlin Public Library
Just when all hope was lost for having a Christmas tree in their house this year, the true spirit of the holidays was revealed from their friends and neighbors.  They closed the show with Teeny and "The King's Men" singing a version of "The Night Before Christmas" which was first aired on the show the year before.  Teeny of course is voiced by Marian Jordan.  Joining her in the cast were: Jim Jordan, Harlow Wilcox, The King's Men, Billy Mills and His Orchestra, Ransom Sherman, Shirley Mitchell, & Arthur Q. Bryan. I hope your Christmas tree shopping goes more smoothly, but has an equally happy ending.

Looking for a Christmas Tree (Fibber McGee & Molly - December 21, 1943)

    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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