Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 20: Other Wise Man on Mutual's Family Theater (1949)

So many important things come in threes....  These include strikes for a strike out, outs in an inning, the comedy rules of three...and on and on and on.  One grouping of three that people remember are the number of wise men who came to visit the baby Christ on the day he was born.  We Three Kings of Orient Are....but what if there was a fourth one?  Well that is the premise this episode from the Mutual Family Theater from December 14th, 1949.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148). It is particularly good this week with all Christmas themed programs.  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

St. Paul United Church of Christ (Saline, Michigan)

St. Paul United Church of Christ (Saline, Michigan) - December 2011

The Mutual Family Theater is an anthology series that aired (as one might imagine) over the Mutual Network from 1947 through 1956.  The program was the idea of Father Patrick Peyton, a Roman Catholic Priest, who wanted to provide wholesome stories that the entire family could enjoy.  I came across an interesting scholarly article on the series (Phalen, Patricia F. "Profound sound: Family theater radio, 1947-1970." Journal of Radio Studies 11, no. 1 (2004): 116-130) that talked about how Father Peyton gathered up the talent to make this program.  He insisted that the stars donate their services to make the program, which kept costs down.  As they would cite during the start of the production:

The purpose of this series is to remind ourselves that there is a kind and merciful God who is always ready to help us; that we should declare our faith in him; acknowledge our obligations to Him, to our neighbors, and ourselves; tell Him our need, and ask His aid, through prayer.... The scripts will deal
with human problems in human terms. They will be simple, not ponderous; entertaining, not preachy; natural, not pretentious. (Family Theater Productions, 1947)

On December 14, 1949, the Family Theater stared Jeff Chandler in an adaptation of Henry Van Dyke's The Other Wise Man. Initially published in 1895, this short novel told the story of a fourth wise man, a priest named Artaban (played by Chandler). He carries three gifts of give to the newborn king - a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl. Misfortune awaits him which prevents him from joining the other three wise men. He never sees the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, and continues to search for him over 33 years. While he never gives his treasures to Jesus, he is able to distinguish himself with good deeds throughout his life.

The program is beautifully done and joining Jeff Chandler in the program were host Otto Kruger, and actors Norman Field, Gloria Hunter, Virginia Eiler, John Dehner, Robert Griffin, Harold Dryanforth, and Mary Lansing. I hope you enjoy this great program from the Mutual Family Theater.

          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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