Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 10: The Plot To Murder Santa Claus with Frank Sinatra (1953)

One hundred and two years ago - something pretty remarkable happened in Hoboken, New Jersey - but no one really knew it for years to come.  On December 12, 1915, Italian immigrants Antonino Martino "Marty" Sinatra and Natalina "Dolly" Garaventa celebrated the birth of their only child, Francis Albert Sinatra.  We know him better just as Frank!

Frank Sinatra has so many great Christmas programs during his years as one of the major forces on radio.  Today, I am going to revisit one of my favorite series that starred Sinatra as a young man named Rocky Fortune, though it might not have been one of his favorites.  In this episode, Frank continues the theme of yesterday's featured program and was putting on the Santa suit!  Between now and Christmas, I will be showcasing different programs that brought the holidays across the airwaves during the Golden Age of Radio. I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

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 have shared during this series already and yet to come.  While he was all over radio, the truth was that his career was mired in a terrible slump.  It was during this time where he took on a series that would feature 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 award in his pocket - he did not need to do anything less than the best....  So 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.  But such was Frank's career in the early 1950s as he was

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!  Here is a link to the episodes along with a few of the many Sinatra appearances on old time area:

The Plot to Murder Santa Claus (December 22, 1953)
Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

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

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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