Friday, October 11, 2013

Bela Lugosi and THE VITALIS PROGRAM

Author John Dunning once wrote that George Jessel "may have been one of the best-known American entertainers, but he never made any headway in radio." While he is perhaps best known for being a toastmaster, the vaudeville star had a quick wit and a sharp personality that radio listeners enjoyed. He had a weekly variety program beginning January of 1934 and while none of his programs had a lengthy run on the air, he kept making return comebacks in various formats with various sponsors.

Last month a friend asked me to find a radio script for the October 13, 1939 broadcast of The Vitalis Program, starring George Jessel, with celebrity guest Bela Lugosi. How appropriate since the it was a Friday the 13th broadcast. A recording does not exist from that date so naturally a radio script peaks the interest of any Bela Lugosi fan. (Note the proper name of the program was The Vitalis Program, not The George Jessel Show. Many radio programs featured the name of the sponsor's product for maximum advertising promotion. The sponsor was Bristol-Myers(not Vitalis the product).) He told me it was a rare item that Lugosi fans have been seeking for years but what he did not know was that a copy of that radio script has been circulating among radio fans for years -- originating from the George Jessel file in the LOC NBC files. No rare find here.

Since Halloween is coming up, it seems only fitting to answer his request by scanning a copy of that script (thankfully my copy is an early generation dupe) and posting it on my blog for the spooktacular season. For all you Bela Lugosi fans, enjoy!
























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