Friday, August 21, 2015

Duffy's Tavern: The Premiere Episode

Colonel Stoopnagle
Since the July 1940 broadcast of Forecast exists in collector hands, the pilot for Duffy's Tavern, I thought it would be fun to explore the premiere episode of the series, from March 1941, which does not exist in recorded form. For the premiere episode of the series, there was an obvious effort to introduce the weekly regulars to the radio audience, assuming the listeners did not hear (or remember) the Forecast broadcast. The characters of Miss Duffy and Eddie the waiter are established, with Duffy wanting Archie to hire Irish Tenors for musical accompaniment in the tavern, and visitor Colonel Stoopnagle, having heard the news, tries to get hired for the job. (Similar plot a featured on Forecast? You betchum' Red Ryder.)

To prove his worth, Stoopnagle, with the assistance of the John Kirby orchestra, sings “Come Back to Ernie.” Stoopnagle fails to get the job, but his position on Duffy’s Tavern would, ten years later, become more influential than anyone predicted in 1941. He would ultimately become a weekly tavern regular in 1951. 

Billboard magazine reviewed the series premiere: “Duffy’s Tavern, one of the better program ideas showcased in Columbia’s Forecast series last summer, comes back with Ed Gardner and a sponsor. Gardner, a director of note on other radio programs, plays Archie, a harried bartender in Duffy’s Tavern. Archie is Duffy’s languid man-of-all work and is afflicted with a remarkable Hell’s Kitchen dialect completely devoid of grammar and full of engaging malapropisms. Duffy is a mythical figure, his influence being indirect but very substantial. His presence becomes known when he telephones Archie to squawk about the music and demand an Irish Tenor. These conversations are one-way affairs. Archie answers to Duffy explaining everything. Program did not score as well as the original Forecast show, but was plenty good. Everything will depend upon script and how consistently Gardner can perform. Session as it stands is certainly a novel comedy set-up. Band is John Kirby’s, a restrained tho swingy orchestra. Series’ first guest was Colonel Stoopnagle, strictly terrific in a lunatic impersonation of an Irish Tenor. Some of the plugs for Schick Razor were cleverly worked into the script.”
The March 5, 1941 issue of Variety reviewed the series premiere: “J.M. Mathes, which had good luck buying another network-built program, Information, Please, for Canada Dry, had now contracted on behalf of Schick for this program that was unveiled last summer as on…. Is a whacky idea, not easily classified. Its response, as with all comedy on the ga-ga side, either strikes the funny bone or depends the so-what crevice between arched eyebrows. One the whole, it seems a promising entertainment, adapted to Saturday night and disarmingly hokey… The program may develop material trouble fast and seriously. But its starting premise of effortless somewhat meandering, whopper-telling double talk is painless diversion if the listener isn’t thinking comparatively, and if Saturday dinner has been a success. Gardner’s ‘Archie’ has not gotten a unanimous press. On the other hand, it has gotten this far -- a CBS network.”

For fans of the radio program, I present the following, a copy of the radio script for the premiere episode (not known to exist in recorded form). Enjoy!





















Friday, August 14, 2015

A Call for Playhouse 90 and Studio One

Playhouse 90 TV Series at CBS
In 1955, Lindsay and Grouse were developing a new weekly television comedy based on their Arsenic and Old Lace stage play, but with larceny displacing arsenic. The idea never met fruition but it served as an example of how stage drama was being eyed by the television networks who sought either adaptations, or expanded ideas, from New York Broadway plays.

In the summer of that same year, ABC-TV announced they would take the plunge into the 90-minute spectacular arena for the fall of 1956, but as per network practice, its initial entry would be on film and would be produced outside the network from a major film studio. The network wanted a dramatic anthology. This, too, never met fruition. In Television City, CBS-TV planned their own venture and went all the way... a series known as Playhouse 90.

Richard Boone during rehearsals for Playhouse 90.

Jack Lemmon in "Face of a Hero" trade ad

Under the guise of producer Martin Manulis, Playhouse 90 became the first weekly program telecast in a 90-minute time slot (The Virginian would become the second but that wasn't until years later). 

Mickey Rooney in "The Comedian" on Playhouse 90.
Regardless of what reference books say, the first season was not entirely telecast live. Eight episodes were filmed by Screen Gems, a subsidiary to Columbia Pictures, on the West Coast, while the remainder of the first season was telecast live from the East Coast. This ensured a variety of productions to keep Playhouse 90 fresh every week. Not that the series needed it. For the
first two seasons, the program stole all the major Emmy Awards and CBS got what they wanted: a program that would give the network prestige. Playhouse 90 was the water cooler discussion of the week. Adaptations of best sellers and original plays were conceived in an effort to out-class the competition. The result? Original dramas on Playhouse 90 became classics in their own right following the telecasts. “The Miracle Worker,” “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Judgment at Nuremberg” and “The Helen Morgan Story” were also adapted into major motion-pictures and stage plays.

Maria Schell in "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Yes, I will have the photo digitally restored
so the water damage will not be visible.

A two-part presentation of Ernest Hemingway's “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was years in the making and was so engrossing that television viewers couldn’t criticize any part of the production as it was translated to film. Before watching "For Whom the Bell Tolls" last year, my sarcastic impression was, "My God, I'm going to sit here for three hours and watch the entire production of an Ernest Hemingway novel..." Boy was I wrong. Of the 80 plus episodes I have had the pleasure to view, the two-part presentation turned out to be the most spectacular among the bunch.

The budget for Playhouse 90 ranged between $100,000 to $150,000 per episode. (Keeping in mind a situation comedy using the same sets episode after episode cost $25,000 to $30,000 per episode at the time!) Later, to help deter the rising costs, CBS opened Television City in California and moved production to the West Coast. The network and producers were hailed as "genius" by many tabloids and trade columns for this daring move -- the same type of risk Bing Crosby asserted when he wanted to transcribe his radio program before the networks allowed any other comedians the privilege.

Lee J. Cobb on Playhouse 90

Flash forward to the evening of November 23, 1956. When "Dracula" was dramatized on Matinee Theatre, on NBC, the producers and the network tried an experiment by preceding the show with a notice saying if any kids were present, it would be better for them to leave the room because it was an "adult" program. CBS executives saw this and questioned whether this kind of statement at the beginning of their programs, especially Playhouse 90, might deter sponsors who felt viewers would change the dial... or would they? The themes explored on Playhouse 90 involved racial equality, sexual rape, psychological issues... any moral dilemma that could generate outrage or praise from viewers.

Rehearsal of Rod Serling's "Requiem for a Heavyweight" telecast.

Over five seasons, Playhouse 90 was plagued with plenty of legal issues. Ray Bradbury sued the network for what he felt was plagiarism of one of his science-fiction novels, Fahrenheit 451. (More about this amusing story in a couple weeks.) Russia boycotted all CBS telecasts for 13 months as a result of “The Plot to Kill Stalin.” In 1959, CBS and eight sponsors were named in a $10,000,000 defamation of character suit filed in a Chicago Superior Court by millionaire industrialist Titus Haifa. The lawsuit claimed that during Playhouse 90's production of "Seven Against the Wall,” the story of the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Chicago gangster massacre, the newspaper headline of "Titus Haifa Gets Two Years" was visible. The suit claimed that Haifa served one year of a two-year sentence in 1929 for Prohibition law violation, after which he received a Presidential pardon. 

After more than 140 telecasts, Playhouse 90 went off the air (the final season aired as a series of specials instead of a weekly series). Reginald Rose, Rod Serling, J.M. Miller and many others credit Playhouse 90 as the launching pad for their career and CBS established Television City in California as a result of this program. Directors Franklin Schaffner, Fred Coe and John Frankenheimer were involved with the productions. Considering the fact that only 70 percent of homes in America had a television set in 1956, it's a remarkable feat for an anthology program of the time to receive so much recognition.

But keep in mind that only 2 percent of homes in America had a television set in 1948 when Studio One premiered.

Studio One didn't win the prestige of Playhouse 90, but is recognized as being the grand-daddy of live television drama originating from New York. Under the leadership of Worthington Miner during the early years, popular stage dramas and adaptations of novels were featured in an approach that was somewhat different from the usual telecasts of the time. Then again, in 1948 there were no guidelines for how live telecasts were to be produced. (Due to a lack of expense for costumes, one of the Shakespeare dramas was performed in modern dress.)

Stage actors such as Yul Brynner, Charlton Heston and Eva Marie Saint could be seen before they were notable names on the silver screen. Others who appeared on the program infrequently included Katharine Bard, Richard Kiley, James Daly, John Forsythe, Nina Foch, Felicia Montealegre, Leslie Nielsen, Skip Homeier and many others. The premiere episode of the series, “The Storm,” broadcast on November 7, 1948, featured Margaret Sullivan, who was willing to accept the minor pay of $500 for her appearance -- and yes, it was the low financial costs that kept the series from hiring large name actors and newbee stage performers accepted the opportunity to get paid and appear before a larger audience.

Episodes of Playhouse 90 are difficult to find in collector
hands so I have had to resort to film archives to watch
the episodes from 16mm format. As picture above, that
is actor Dennis O'Keefe in the episode "Confession."

Betty Furness demonstrates a new refrigerator.
Studio One went on the air without a sponsor but Westinghouse Electric in early 1949 signed a contract and Betty Furness, an unknown actress, become the spokeswoman and ultimately served in the capacity as the Martha Stewart of her time. Advertisements in magazines and newspapers showed Furness demonstrating an oven range or a refrigerator with the slogan, “You Can Be Sure If It’s a Westinghouse.” That slogan was integrated with a generation of Americans.

The television series has a lengthy history and became one of the earliest pioneers of early television drama. In the 1953 telecast “Dry Run,” whole sections of a submarine was built in the studio and the entire cast was almost electrocuted when the water that was used for special effects got very close to the power cables. In 1954, “Twelve Angry Men” won multiple Emmy awards and was quickly sold to Hollywood for a major motion picture -- and later became a popular stage play.

The 1954 production of "Twelve Angry Men."
In November of 1954, the song “Let Me Go Lover” became an overnight hit because it was used on one of the television episodes of Studio One, proving that the new medium was capable of establishing popular music in the same fashion radio did in the 1930s. And ironically, prior to the television series, Studio One was heard on network radio for a full year.

The series moved to Hollywood in 1958 and the series changed its title: Studio One in Hollywood. So much talent had moved to California in the hopes of securing a major Hollywood job that the program was forced to make the move itself. Critics today, applying hindsight, feel the move West was the decline of the series because the dramas were never as good after the move. But then again, New York origination for live studio drama was dying. The handwriting was on the wall.

PLAYHOUSE 90
First Telecast: October 4, 1956
Last Telecast: September 19, 1961
Sponsors: varied

STUDIO ONE
First Telecast: November 7, 1948
Last Telecast: September 29, 1958
Commercial Spokeswoman: Betty Furness
Sponsor: Westinghouse

The reason I discuss the subject of Studio One and Playhouse 90 in this blog post is because I am presently seeking photographs (or scans of photos), advertisements and other memorabilia for these two television programs. And I am willing to pay for them. Or pay for sources if you know of a place I should check out. (The last time I placed a request like this, half a dozen people went on google and began downloading photos off websites. I would like to state that I don't need low-res photos plucked off the web. I need high res scans (standard, normal scans) of photos and ads from both anthology programs.) There are collectors out there who are in the business of selling photos and can help assist. I already have over 200 of Playhouse 90 and I scanned some of them for this blog post. I would like to acquire more. Perhaps you know of a few sources for photographs for sale that I don't know about? Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks, Martin

Friday, August 7, 2015

Gang Busters: Two Old Time Radio Thrillers

“The Case of the Throneberry Brothers” was the subject of the December 11, 1948 radio broadcast of Gang Busters. Oftentimes the medium of radio drama required real-life plots to be more melodramatic, in Hollywood style. But the true story of the crime has rarely been documented. Randel Throneberry and his brother O.B. Throneberry, both had a liberal number of aliases. They traveled the country as migratory workers and committed a crime wave, always suspected but never convicted without proof. They robbed a sheepherder of $500, and returned to his house when he went to report the crime, taking three guns, field glasses and two leather jackets.


 On August 8, 1943, in an isolated spot near Routt County, Colorado, they robbed a semi-invalid sheepherder of $56 and tied him up so that he would strangle if he struggled to get loose. On August 9, 1943 they pretended to be seeking work in Rawlins, Wyoming, got a job and hired a cabin. They made acquaintances of three men who were drinking. During a drive in O.B.’s car, which the men had hired for a trip, O.B. pulled out a shotgun and tried to persuade the three to join him in a robbery. One fellow got out of the car and headed for a railroad nearby. O.B. called to him, and then sent the other after him. When both were at a safe distance, they watched O.B. drive away. They reported the incident to the police and the highway patrol was alerted to search for the brothers. They were promptly apprehended and taken to the Carbon County jail at Rawlins. Sheriff Glen Penland and Under-Sheriff Lemoine read in the newspapers about the murdered sheepherder and discovered in their investigation that the guns taken from the Throneberry’s had been stolen from the sheepherder. Lemoine and Boyd searched Saratoga (apparently the brothers had been freed) and arrested them at a filling station. Their car held six rifles, pistols and a sawedoff shotgun. The brothers confessed to petty crimes and were held. Sheriff Todd of Steamboat Springs was contacted and the guns were confirmed as those belonging to the sheepherder.
On August 19, 1943, Todd claimed he had gotten a complete confession of the crime. Several attempted breaks by the boys were frustrated. Finally on October 8, 1943, they made good a spectacular escape. There were many conflicting versions of this story and it became a political issue. When O.B. was captured, he said MacFarlane, the assistant sheriff, had assisted in the escape. Todd fired MacFarlane. When Randel was captured, he stated that they had lured Sheriff Todd into a state of complacency by promising to reveal the location of a cache of stolen money and had gotten him into the cell for a talk and easily overpowered him. Todd stated that he had gone into the cell to bring them writing paper and had been hit from behind and knocked out. At any rate, they locked the sheriff in his own jail, stole his car, gas coupons and escaped.
They had to cross the Mississippi River to make good their escape, which they did by disguising themselves as women. Eventually they went back to Texas. Then O.B. decided to return to Oklahoma and see his newborn daughter. This precipitated a fight and after O.B. took a shot at Randel, the brothers split up. On a hot tip, Sheriff Homer Casey of Waco, Texas, his deputy Martin Ownes and F.B.I. agents Suran and Carlson went after O.B. They almost cornered him in a tavern but he got out before they recognized him. A reckless chase ensured and O.B. was finally captured after Owen smashed O.B.’s wrists with a single shot. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 34 years.
Randel drove 10,000 miles in the sheriff’s car until the tires wore out. The brothers had used the police car to good advantage. They posed as cops and collected fines from speeders, confiscated gas coupons, etc. When the car wore out, Randel burned it. He got another and took his family to Oregon where he secured a job as a laborer in an apple orchard. While working in the orchard he was captured by F.B.I. Agents. On April 9, 1943, he made a statement to Sheriff MacFarlane, which cleared MacFarlane of any responsibility in the escape and was sentenced to 43 years to life for second degree murder in the Colorado State Penitentiary.

EPISODE #559 (Broadcast December 11, 1948)
“THE CASE OF THE THRONEBERRY BROTHERS”
Narrator:
Homer Casey, former Sheriff of McLennan County, Waco, Texas.
Scriptwriter: Stanley Niss.
Radio Plot: Randel Throneberry and his brother, O. B. Throneberry, both had a liberal number of aliases. They got off to an early start in crime, having records that extended from petty theft to armed robbery. Both prided themselves on being ‘high class pickpockets.” The Throneberry brothers traveled the country as migratory workers and continued with their crime wave. They were apprehended and taken to the Carbon County Jail at Rawlins. Several attempted breaks by the boys were frustrated. Finally on October 8, 1943, Sheriff Homer Casey of Waco, Texas, his deputy Martin Owns, and Suran and Carlson (Agents of the F.B.I.), went after O. B. on a hot tip after he succeeded in escaping. While working in an orchard under an alias name, O.B. was captured by the F.B.I. Agents. On April 9, 1943, he was sentenced to 43 years to life for second degree murder in the Colorado State Penitentiary.
Trivia, etc. This script was originally scheduled for the broadcast of November 20, 1948.

Another case history you might find more fascinating is "The Case of the High School Hotshots." Two teenagers graduate from robbing gas stations with a hot-rod getaway car to eventual murder. A piece of purple sewing thread proved to be the vital clue to their capture. A recording of this episode exists. But the drama isn't as amusing as the clue delivered at the end of the episode.

According to the F.B.I., John Harvey Bugg’s troubles started when the Sheriff of Dade County, Missouri, arrested him on November 26, 1945 at Greenfield, Missouri, on a bad check charge placed by authorities at Seminole, Oklahoma. On the way to the county jail, Bugg disarmed the sheriff and forced him to drive to Carthage, Missouri. There he abandoned the automobile and took over a taxicab, forcing both the sheriff and the taxicab driver to go along with him. A few miles out of town, Bugg ordered the sheriff to tie the cabbie to a tree. The sheriff and Bugg then rode as far as Kellyville, Oklahoma, where the sheriff was trussed to a telephone pole. Bugg robbed the sheriff and the driver of a total of $125 before leaving them.
On the evening of April 10, 1948, shortly after the drama entitled “The Case of the High-School Hot-Shots” concluded, the announcer read the description of John Harvey Bugg, who had apparently avoided law enforcement and remained in hiding, possibly under an alias. Three days later, Deputy Sheriff Russell V. Carlson of New Milford, Connecticut phoned Wickersham 2-2211 (the phone number of the office of Lord, Inc., located in New York City) inquiring about the clue broadcast on April 10. Vincent Hartnett took the call, and repeated the clue as broadcast, plus F.B.I. I.O. on John Harvey Bugg. Deputy Sheriff Carlson said he had seen an individual with L-O-V-E on the backs of fingers on both his hands, more pronounced on his left than on his right. The height of the suspect, however, did not seem consistent with that of Bugg. Carlson got the license number of the car in which the individual drove away. After the brief conversation, both Hartnett and Deputy Carlson agreed that the person was probably not Bugg and no report was sent to the New York office of the F.B.I. Two very alert Gearhart, Oregon youngsters – Pauline Virgin (age 12) and her cousin Navarre Smith (age 14), heard the Gang Busters clue over KEX, Portland and proved more reliable than the deputy in Connecticut. Suspect John Harvey Bugg, age 31, charged with the kidnapping of the sheriff of Dade County, Missouri, was really a cowboy and rodeo performer, masquerading under the name of Cowboy Jim Williams. He had been employed for about a year by Mr. and Mrs. John Dawson as the operator of a riding academy in Gearhart, an Oregon seacoast town frequented by vacationers. Cowboy Jim habitually wore adhesive tape over the knuckles of his left hand and this first aroused young Pauline’s curiosity. A few months back, during the summer of 1947, Pauline had asked him why he wore the tape, but he wouldn’t tell and gave her a “nasty” reply. The girl observed, however, indications that each finger bore a tattoo.
According to the youngsters, they pricked their ears when the Gang Busters announcer described the kidnap suspect as a man who had the word “LOVE” tattooed on the fingers of his left hand, was fond of horses and walked with a limp. “Why, that’s Cowboy Jim!” Pauline exclaimed when the announcer finished. Thereupon, Pauline and Navarre decided to notify police. Navarre told Sidney B. Smith, police officer in Seaside, an adjacent city to Gearhart, and Smith informed the F.B.I. office in Portland. Three F.B.I. agents went to Gearhart on Wednesday, April 14, but Cowboy Jim wasn’t around. He had told his employers, the Dawsons, that he was going out of town to buy a horse. The F.B.I. learned that the suspect had a friend at Hillsboro, a town about 60 miles inland, so two days later on Friday, they visited the friend’s residence there shortly after midnight. Behind a cedar chest in the bedroom of the friend’s baby, they found the nonplussed cowboy, unable to pull up his gangling legs enough to conceal his fancily-decorated, taper-heel boots. When the adhesive tape was removed from his left hand, there were the telltale tattooed letters spelling out “LOVE.” Howard Bobbitt, the agent in charge of the Portland F.B.I. office, said Cowboy Jim readily admitted he was Bugg.
John Harvey Bugg was proud of his feats in rodeos from coast to coast. In 1942, he won $3,500 in cash prizes at a rodeo in Madison Square Garden. Apparently after his escapades in Missouri and Colorado, he went from rodeo to rodeo, keeping a step ahead of the law many times. Bugg admitted to authorities that he had gone to stay with his Hillsboro, Oregon, friend after receiving a tip that “it was getting warm around Gearhart and Seaside.” While operating the riding academy at Gearhart, Bugg became acquainted with many prominent persons in Oregon and taught scores of their children how to ride. Thanks to two children who listened attentively to the Gang Busters clue of April 10, 1948, John Harvey Bugg was tracked down, picked up and taken into custody awaiting the arrival of certified copies of the indictment against him.
On May 20, 1948, Vincent Hartnett wrote to Ron Moxness of The Portland Oregonian: “People are still talking about the John Harvey Bugg apprehension. We deeply appreciated your fine cooperation on that case.”

EPISODE #524 (Broadcast April 10, 1948)
“THE CASE OF THE HIGH-SCHOOL HOTSHOTS”
Narrator:
C.L. Westover, Sheriff of Wayne County, Mississippi. 
Radio Plot: Maurice Shimmick and Joseph Leemon pulled their small jobs, usually filling stations, always escaping fast with Joe’s hot rod. In Waynesboro, Mississippi, the son of Tom Boylsin was found with his throat cut. From the nearby town of Meridian came Detective Tom Harbour, an old friend of the dead boy. What interested him was that in Boylsin’s stiff fingers was a piece of purple sewing thread. Ignoring more obvious approaches, Harbour determined to see what he could do with the clue. This led to the apprehension of the two bandits. The boys were picked up by an alert policeman in La Grange, Georgiana. They were both electrocuted for the Boylsin murder on January 14, 1945.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Old Time Radio Personalities in Pictures

I must have some reputation. At a recent film festival, a vendor approached me on Day One to inquire about my interest in old-time radio. "I have hundreds of photographs," he explained, "that I cannot get rid of because they focus on radio personalities. Movie and TV stars I can sell, but not radio. Are you interested?" Naturally, he peaked my interest and I spent that evening, during a routine sewing circle among friends and hobbyists, flipping through a box of obscure treasures. The press releases from ABC, CBS, Mutual and NBC were attached to the back of each photo, so these were definitely originals -- not duplicates.

The price? A dollar a photo. It doesn't get any better than that. I must have purchased over 300 photos because he cut me a deal and charged me a flat $300 bucks. (I think by the time he reached near the end and already surpassed 300, he was tired of counting them.) A large number of the photographs are of obscure radio singers, announcers, musicians, writers and actors who never made a name for themselves in Hollywood. None of these names are famous celebrities, but for radio buffs, the following photos might be of interest and amusement.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Dorothy Lowell
The epigraph for each radio broadcast described the series perfectly. "Once again, we present Our Gal Sunday, the story of an orphan girl named Sunday from the little mining town of Silver Creek, Colorado, who in young womanhood married England's richest, most handsome lord, Lord Henry Brinthrope. The story that asks the question: Can this girl from the little mining town in the West find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?" An invention of Frank and Anne Hummert, the series premiered on the afternoon of March 29, 1937, with Dorothy Lowell in the lead of Sunday Brinthrope. Lowell originated the role from Chicago and the part of Sunday was temporarily transferred in 1946 to Vivian Smolen while Lowell was on maternity leave. When Lowell died at childbirth, Smolen assumed the part on a permanent basis and carried it to the end of the run in 1959. My good friend and author Jim Cox wrote a fantastic piece about the radio soap opera for his book, The Great Radio Soap Operas (McFarland Publishers, 1999) and for more info about this radio program, I recommend the book.

Harry Flannery
Harry W. Flannery was editor of the Hoosier Observer (Fort Wayne, Indiana) from 1931-32, before changing to a career in radio broadcasting, serving as radio news editor for station WOWO (Fort Wayne, Indiana) from 1932-33, news editor and analyst for KMOX (St. Louis, Missouri) from 1935-40, and more importantly, served as the Berlin correspondent for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) from 1940-41 and news analyst for CBS, West Coast from 1942-48. It was his career on CBS that brought Flannery into public homes from coast-to-coast. He was regularly heard on We, The People, The World Today and World News Tonight. He had his own radio program, As We See It, which premiered in 1949 and ran for a few years over ABC-Radio. He was also the author of the best seller Assignment to Berlin (1942) and co-author of Off Mike (1944).

Lou Forbes
Lou Forbes had a lengthy career on NBC, writing original music scores for the I Want a Divorce series, for which this publicity photo was taken in 1939. He also made contributions for Command Performance.

The Music Maids of KMH
These were the five lovely laddies who were known as the Music Maids on NBC's Kraft Music Hall. Dozens of radio broadcasts exist with their music. Their vocal interpretations of the season's hit tunes was a musical highlight on the Kraft-sponsored program, which starred Bob Burns with his rural comedy tales of the Van Buren hills, Pat Friday, collegiate singing star and protege of Bing Crosby, John Scott Trotter and his orchestra, and announcer Ken Carpenter. Pictured from left to right: Dottie Messmer, Alice Sizer, Bobbie Canvin, Denny Wilson and Virginia Lee Erwin. The Music Maids also contributed some of their vocals, and their time, for radio broadcasts of Command Performance. Photo taken by Ernest A. Bachrach.
 
The Four Clubmen
The Four Clubmen were heard on a number of CBS Radio musical programs. From 1938 to 1939, they supplied vocals on Melody and Madness, with host Robert Benchley and Warren Hull. Lorillard Tobacco Company was the sponsor, hocking Old Gold Cigarettes between musical performances and witty comedy sketches. For a short while, they also appeared as musical regulars on the Colonel Stoopnagle program circa 1944. The publicity photo above was for another CBS radio program, Gay Nineties, also known as The Gay Nineties Revue (1939-1944).

Pat Friday
This was Bing's girl Friday. I made a brief mention of her being on the Kraft program I described above. While crooner Crosby was away vacationing, the season's hit tunes were contributed by Pat Friday, on the NBC Kraft Music Hall every Thursday night. (Yes, after Bob Burns, Kraft sponsored the series with Bing Crosby as the star.) Pat Friday, a University of California at Los Angeles coed, was discovered by Crosby and made numerous guest appearances on his program. Although she was majoring in dietetics and home economics, Crosby believed the UCLA sophomore was a potential radio star for her unique interpretation of popular songs. If you have listened to a number of Kraft programs, you've heard the voice.

Poni Adams
The original photo was cut in half. I don't know who was pictured on the right. I suspect this was a publicity photo from the radio program, Darts for Dough, which began on a local Texas radio station (WFAA in Dallas) and became so popular that it won the summertime network slot replacing Al Pearce. When Pearce did not return, the sponsor, Dr. Pepper, carried the program on the regular coast-to-coast ABC network. On Darts for Dough, contestants were selected from the studio audience and by answering questions, won a number of darts which they could throw at the dart board and win money. Poni Adams was the contestant escort and rarely heard on the program since her job was to ensure the contestants did not fall while walking up to the stage, and handled the darts carefully so no one was injured. She also served as the female element of the program. I doubt there are many pictures of Poni Adams out there, so feast your eyes on this one.