Friday, August 29, 2014

The Green Hornet: The "Lost" 1937 Radio Broadcasts

In an effort to extend his profits, and the broadcast range of The Green Hornet, George W. Trendle paid for each radio broadcast to be transcribed when it was broadcast "live." He then syndicated the series to radio stations across the country and those stations would pay a rental fee for each disc and that station could sell sponsorship time. 

The system was not without flaws. When someone in the recording department was putting a Hornet seal over the program numbers, on the discs, stations had to listen to the programs in order to find out which episode number it was according to the spec sheets. This was specifically an issue with KTAR in Phoenix, which decided not to bother with verifying the sequential numbers and chose to broadcast the episodes out of sequence.
On the evening of Thursday, August 25, 1944, a number of radio listeners expressed curiosity when WMAQ in Chicago started in at 10:30 with a fascinating, but unscheduled, episode of The Green Hornet, ran it for nine minutes, then switched into Everything for the Boys, normally heard at that time. An announcer explained briefly that it had all been a mistake. The boys at WMAQ recorded both programs earlier in the evening as network features, at which time they were recorded as transcriptions for broadcast at a later time. Apparently an employee typed out labels for both transcriptions, then put the Hornet label on the Everything for the Boys record, and vice versa. The Green Hornet boiled merrily till 10:39 until it was verified that the traffic department hadn’t scheduled a last minute change. Then the announcer broke in while the engineer put on the right record, measuring off approximately nine minutes from the beginning so Everything for the Boys would end at the proper time.
John Todd, Senior Reid on The Green Hornet
KFMB in San Diego, California, part of the Worchester Broadcasting Corporation, paid Trendle $28 for each episode played over their network. On March 5, 12, 19 and 26, 1945, episodes 688 through 691 were played in sequence. For the broadcast of April 2, however, an error occurred. Half of each episode was featured on one side of two separate discs. When the first half of an episode concluded on one disc, the second half picked up almost instantly from the other disc. The opposite side of those two discs featured the two halves of the next episode. Due to an error in labeling before the transcriptions were received by KFMB, the network broadcast the first part of episode No. 692 titled “Load of Cigarettes,” and the second part of No. 693 titled “The Bigger They Are.” The mistake was not caught until the recording was being played over the air, and the network began receiving phone calls from listeners asking for an explanation. KFMB could not charge its sponsor for the broadcast because of the error, and the network applied for a credit with King-Trendle to compensate for the mistake. (On April 9, the network continued with the next sequential episode, No. 694.) KFMB’s request for a credit was approved by Trendle, but not until eight months later because he insisted the source of the error had to be verified first.
This might explain why Trendle requested a title be added to each radio adventure, rather than an episode and disc number. The August 2, 1938 broadcast was the first episode of The Green Hornet to be titled. As such all episodes prior to August of 1938 did not have a script title. Fran Striker, the author, simply numbered each script with an episode number. What follows, for your amusement, are ten episodes with plot summaries for radio broadcasts not known to exist in recorded form. No matter how many episodes of The Green Hornet you might have in your collection, the episodes documented above were never transcribed and therefore, never will surface no matter how hard you look. While hundreds of radio broadcasts exist and are not yet available in collector hands, these episodes are certified "lost" and are offered for your own amusement. 

Episode #162 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast of Thursday, August 26, 1937
Copyright Registration D-2-#51703, script received at Registration Office Sept. 2, 1937.
Plot: The Atlantic Building Corp. is constructing a skyscraper when work suddenly halts. The tight-fisted owner of the adjoining property, Herman Fogarty, demands $1 million for a strip of his land six inches wide. Since the building’s construction is six inches off, Fogarty’s attempt to prevent completion succeeds. Britt Reid learns an injunction stopping work at this stage allows the corporation to profit on the unfinished job. The Green Hornet convinces Fogarty that he’s working with Davidson of ABC, causing a falling out between the two men and putting 3,000 men back to work.
Broadcast Tuesday, August 31, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#51848, script received at Registration Office Sept. 10, 1937.
Plot: Frank Williamson operates a string of bookie parlors out of town. Having studied the affairs of the Hornet, Williamson contacts his friend, Chief Riggin, to explain his plan for catching The Green Hornet, believing someone in the police department is a leak. Knowing The Hornet wants evidence that could convict bookie Trig Gerber, word spreads as bait for the masked man. The Green Hornet takes the bait and discovers his only means of escape, a skylight, is locked shut. Mike Axford sneaks inside to help catch The Hornet, unlocks the skylight, and unwillingly aids his escape. Axford is gassed, and Britt Reid stashes his costume and gun, then fakes being a victim of The Hornet gas to eliminate suspicion.
Broadcast Thursday, September 2, 1937
Copyright Registration D-2-#51849, script received at Registration Office Sept. 10, 1937.
Plot: Britt Reid learns that Doctor Mordant, who heads the health column in The Daily Sentinel, administers drugs to at least a half-dozen addicts, claiming they are treatments for the patients’ nervous troubles. They are now addicted, and their position and money protect them. When Axford discovers Mordant’s nurse was murdered by Trig Gerber’s men, and are being shielded by Frank Williamson, The Green Hornet visits Mordant late one evening to convince him that Williamson plans to use the doctor as a fall guy. Stealing the doctor’s gun, the Hornet plants it where Axford will find it, and when Williamson learns about the murder weapon, he plans to eliminate the doctor. Trig shoots Mordant, but not before the doctor squeals on Williamson, and Williamson puts the finger on Trig.
Episode #165 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 7, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52005, script received at Registration Office Sept. 17, 1937. 
Plot: Gordon Hawthorne claims he has six bona fide letters that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the identity of The Green Hornet. He also claims the letters concern Millicent Bancroft, who is a foreign agent, collecting information by posing as an attractive society woman. Hawthorne offers to sell the letters to Britt Reid for $5,000, but Reid claims he would have to see the letters before choosing to buy and publish them. The Green Hornet cleverly steals the letters to unearth a blackmail plot and exposes Millicent Bancroft while foiling Hawthorne’s scheme.
Episode #166 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 9, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52006, script received at Registration Office Sept. 17, 1937.
Plot: A special investigator from the State Attorney’s Office tips off Britt Reid with his suspicions that a number of restaurants and nightclubs have a racket in wines, putting new wine in bottles labeled for older vintages. He suspects that Rinaldo, who owns all the shady eateries, is juggling the state’s wine accounts, and paying off corrupt clerks. When Fawcett is found dead the next day of an apparent plunge in an auto accident, Reid suspects foul play. The Green Hornet visits Rinaldo’s office and steals papers incriminating the guilty parties involved. Rinaldo, upon discovering the theft, attempts to torture Cooley, a clerk of the state liquor and wine commission, with a hunk of iron and a blow torch, but The Green Hornet arrives to save Cooley’s life and expose the crooks.
Episode #167 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 14, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52076, script received at Registration Office Sept. 22, 1937.
Plot: Darion and Boroff make arrangements for the safe delivery of the Idol Eyes, a pair of matched rubies said to have been from the crown of a ruler in the Far East. Axford tells Reid that Boroff resembles a crook named Duke Gosinski, known as one of the slickest jewel thieves who ever lived. When the jewels are stolen, Mrs. Sanderson, the owner, becomes the prime suspect. But the jewels stolen were paste copies and The Green Hornet visits Boroff to claim he stole the real rubies, negotiating a sale, revealing Boroff is the indeed the famed jewel thief and is attempting to cash in on the insurance policy. Boroff, however, is fooled by The Green Hornet when their deal goes sour and he finds himself framed for the crime.
Episode #168 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 16, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52077, script received at Registration Office Sept. 22, 1937.
Plot: An epidemic of burglaries has occurred in a dozen wealthy homes. The police attempt to railroad an innocent maid into a confession. The guilty party is Amos Carter, who is accepting memberships for a club he is organizing for house servants who wish to accept a percentage of the robberies. Kato sets himself as bait for Carter and his assistant, Steve, who decide that wealthy apartments should be the next target. When Reid’s apartment is burglarized, Kato becomes the prime suspect — until evidence suggests The Green Hornet was involved. Steve and Amos suspect the masked man is attempting to muscle in on their operation, unaware they are giving away details of their operation to the police.
Episode #169 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 21, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52288, script received at Registration Office Oct. 4, 1937.
Plot: The Merker bill proposes a one percent tax on gasoline, but it was never meant to be passed. It was proposed just so an association of gasoline dealers would come through with a little financial backing to fight the measure. When Roscoe Burton, the new state senator, is offered a bribe, he rejects the payoff and visits The Daily Sentinel with his story. Britt Reid agrees that such bills have been introduced in the past, with no intention of passing, but without proof, nothing can ever be done. When the disillusioned Burton leaves The Daily Sentinel, he is struck by a car and killed. When another state senator, Morgan, gets involved with the same bill, The Green Hornet sets out to meet the lawmaker personally and reveal Jonothan Corbett, another senator, was behind the bill and the murder.
Episode #170 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 23, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52289, script received at Registration Office Oct. 4, 1937.
Plot: Jack Hastings, a college friend of Britt Reid, is in town to help his play, “The Gold Jersey,” become a success on the stage. But the director, Ranny Roberts, and the producer, Mike Jacoby, are purposely attempting to flop the show — they have sold the rights to the play to half-a-dozen other men. If the show is a hit, they have to pay 80 percent of the profits to each of the six investors. The Green Hornet sets out late one night to convince producer Jacoby to leave town in a hurry. The Hornet does the same for Roberts, leaving Hastings to handle the reins. The play is a financial and critical success, and Jacoby and Roberts are forced to remain in hiding when the backers come knocking.
Episode #171 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 28, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52339, script received at Registration Office Oct. 7, 1937.
Plot: Carlos Wilson, a big-time gangster, accused of murdering Jake the Killer, walks when he provides a steadfast alibi. Hymie Martin, who took a candid picture at the time of the killing, managed to get the murder weapon with Wilson’s fingerprints and strikes a deal with the police to turn over the evidence. Meanwhile, Jim Stevenson, a 15-year-old in jail for a minor offense, is bailed out by Wilson, who offers him a job. He plans to set-up Jim for a burglary rap, with evidence planted on the boy to also accuse him of the murder. The Green Hornet arrives on the scene, gasses the burglars, gets Jim out of there before the police arrive, and secures the evidence so Wilson will go to jail for the homicide. Britt Reid, having read the news in his own paper, offers young Stevenson a job working for The Daily Sentinel.
Episode #172 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 30, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52340, script received at Registration Office Sept. 30, 1937.
Plot: Barney Adams operates an organization like a church or club and convinces people to back a fund-raiser, for which he resorts to everything, up to and including blackmail, to sell advertising space. He makes a fortune every year, and since he is not breaking any laws, he cannot be stopped. Britt Reid uses his newspaper to discourage Barney’s advertising methods, but when he learns how Mr. Usher and Mr. Porter and their congregation have been misrepresented, Reid dons the guise of The Green Hornet to smash the racket. By stealing the money Barney was going to use for printing programs, he ensures the crooked advertising man is unable to fulfill his part of the business arrangement, giving police what they need to put him behind bars and providing just cause for the church to file suit against him.

Shameless Plug: The "lost" episodes featured in this blog post are reprinted from my book, The Green Hornet: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television. Originally released in paperback format, a hardcover version has recently been made available exclusively from

One small reminder I stated a couple times since I started this blog. There are a number of people who have made it a habit of copying material from my blog, including photos, and then claiming they did their own research. One even went so far as to say I stole from them! If this happens again, I will take the entire blog down. I am merely posting this information for the amusement and entertainment of those folks in the hobby who appreciate such treasures being brought to light.

© 2013, Martin Grams, Jr. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Claude Rains in "The Catbird Seat"

A friend of mine said he is a fan of Claude Rains and was complaining that some of the actor's radio appearances are not known to exist in recorded form. He wishes recordings would be found so he can listen to them. Well, knowing Bill reads my blog, I am presenting a surprise for him.

On the evening of Sunday, February 10, 1952, from 6:43 to 6:53 p.m., Claude Rains played the lead in an adaptation of the James Thurber story, "The Catbird Seat." His performance was the highlight of the evening on the NBC radio program, The Big Show. Most of the second season broadcasts of The Big Show are not known to exist in collector hands -- but thankfully, they do exist. But seeing that it might take another decade before the recording surfaces, I am offering the next best thing: a scan from the original radio script featuring that very performance. If you can envision the voice of Claude Rains, you'll enjoy this little treat.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Lone Ranger: The "Lost" 1933 Radio Broadcasts

Brace Beemer as The Lone Ranger
During the 1930s, very few people, if any, saw future commerical value in radio broadcasts beyond their initial airing. Moments after the drama concluded, all of the scripts were deposited into a tray or box and promptly discarded into the nearest paper bin. The script writer, producer, director and cast then began preparing for the next episode. A few of the script writers saved one copy of every script for their own personal collection.

Recording old time radio shows on transcription discs was expensive. Very few people wanted to spend the money -- even fewer had their own personal transcription disc player. It was capable of being played back on a record. Under contract, some sponsors foot the bill to have the shows transcribed. Lipton Tea, for example, when sponsoring Inner Sanctum Mystery, had every episode recorded for their legal files. The Columbis Broadcasting System insisted on the same for Suspense and the network covered the costs. For Dan Golenpaul and his radio program, Information, Please, every episode from May 17, 1938 to early 1945 was transcribed for a single purpose: to rebroadcast the same episode a couple hours later for the West Coast airing. (The game show was honest, so asking the same questions twice seemed silly and it was cheaper to record the show for later playback than to pay the staff to return to the studio two hours after the East Coast airing.) When the radio program moved to a later time slot in early 1945, so the show could be heard coast-to-coast, the transcriptions ceased.

DuPont, sponsoring The Cavalcade of America, began transcribing the series beginning with the first broadcast. Eventually, in later years, an extra transcription was made and handed over to the celebrity guest as a "thank you gift." There are photos that circulate with celebrities smiling and holding a copy of the recording they helped with. This is also why we have almost every episode of Cavalcade in stock.

Earle Graser as The Lone Ranger
So when someone asks why radio shows for particular series do not exist, remember there was always a reason: a financial reason.

For George W. Trendle, it was a business decision. Unless The Lone Ranger could be syndicated and sold to smaller stations for local sponsorship, there was no reason to record the Western adventures. In the fall of 1938, the bill cost Trendle $90 per half-hour broadcast, not counting the cost of making backup masters. With a radio program airing three times a week, that was an expensive proposition. In excess of 1,600 originals plus 410 repeat shows (1954-56) have been in collector hands for decades. With the exception of two 1937 radio recordings, virtually all pre-1938 radio broadcasts of The Lone Ranger are not known to exist in recorded form.

Because of the new Lone Ranger movie coming out this summer, we'll be exploring various aspects of The Lone Ranger during this calendar year (but not too often so if you don't care for The Lone Ranger, you won't get sick of it). And for this posting, I am offering plot summaries and trivia for ten "lost" episodes from 1933. Fran Striker, who scripted all of these radio adventures, never assigned titles for these episodes until 1940, so they remain untitled. And the purpose of posting these on the web? Part of an active attempt to preserve part of old-time radio history. Since no recordings exist, this is the next best thing. Enjoy!

Broadcast September 19, 1933
Robert Liggett (WXYZ staff) sketched his version of
The Lone Ranger found on the back of a radio script.
Plot: Stage robbers prey on a community and the head of the coach line, Alf Kimberly, forces Abe Calhoun, Sheriff of Juniata County, to make an arrest or face opposition come election time. An innocent young man named Dave Sands is accused of being a member of the gang, but breaks free from jail thanks to the Lone Ranger. Tonto, meanwhile, tracks the two guilty culprits, Red and Hammer, leaving a trail of red paint for the sheriff to follow, believing a horse belonging to one of the crooks is bleeding. Alf, attempts to play detective and captures Dave with the help of his posse. Before young Dave can be hung for the robberies, the Lone Ranger interferes long enough to allow the sheriff to arrive and explain how he and his men followed the trail to the guilty culprits. With an explanation provided, Alf apologizes and admits that Sheriff Abe Calhoun is the best sheriff in the county.

Broadcast September 21, 1933
Bessie Bixby and her husband Ben are in dire straights. Thieves stole their tin box containing the money they saved up for taxes. Idaho Pete, living right outside of Golden Gulch, is accused of the crime. But the Lone Ranger had made arrangements to put Pete in jail overnight so he would have an alibi for the robbery. Tonto disguises himself as Idaho, complete with whiskers, and resides in the shack long enough for a confrontation between Ben and the local doctor. Thanks to the meddling of the Lone Ranger, the doctor’s true identity is revealed. Not only was he the man responsible for stealing the money (found on his possession), but the same mane responsible for framing Idaho Pete years ago in Montana for a crime he did not commit. Sheriff Cunningham, on the scene, takes over from there as the Masked Man rides away.

Trivia, etc. According to the script, the role of Limpy (one very brief line in the script) was doubled by the same actor who played the role of the Lone Ranger.

Broadcast September 23, 1933
Old Widow Sims receives a late night visit from Blackie and Squint, two men responsible for robbing an express office in Kansas and shooting a man dead. When the men attempt to muscle in on her abode, she makes a daring escape after being shot at, and she is found in the desert by the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Curly Jenks, a former employee of the express office, was accused of the crime. The Lone Ranger and Tonto find Curly and prevent him from being hung by the law for the crime he did not commit. The Lone Ranger becomes a sheriff's deputy long enough to catch two men, and dig three graves so Curly is assumed dead. Assuming the name of Slim, Curly is able to lead a new life and the widow receives the reward money.

Trivia, etc. According to the script, the role of Curly is doubled by John Todd, who also played the role of Tonto in this episode. Tonto had a much smaller role than Curly.

Broadcast September 26, 1933
After the death of Dan McTigue and Steve Loughran, two grizzled old pioneers in Arizona, The Lone Ranger and Tonto follow Geronimo’s trail to the Circle J Ranch, where twelve men have been killed and a baby was stolen. After delivering a woman, the sole survivor, to a fort commanded by General Nelson Miles, the Lone Ranger sets out to lasso an Apache Indian, thanks to the speed of the great horse Silver. After capturing a scout for Geronimo, the Lone Ranger leaves him tied with Tonto as he rides the pony into Geronimo’s camp. It doesn’t take long for the Masked Man to discover that the Indian he captured is Geronimo himself and his band of loyals are willing to talk surrender. The Lone Ranger also finds the white baby in a teepee, starved to death. Angry, the Lone Ranger leaks word to General Miles where the Indian camp can be found on the prairie. The fight was short, the end ensured. Tonto then delivered a note to the General where to find Geronimo tied and bound, ready for surrender.

Trivia, etc. The narrator opens the episode with a brief recap of the history of Geronimo, the Apache Leader who brought fear to white men and women around the year of 1886, in New Mexico and Arizona. After reminding listeners that General Nelson Miles effected his downfall, with the aid of the Army, the narrator explains that this episode dramatizes the untold portion of the defeat of Geronimo, which dealt with the Lone Ranger. The episode closed with the following narration: "We do not claim that the adventure of the Lone Ranger is history. We can’t claim that any of his great deeds are history. No one knew the Lone Ranger, where he came from, or where he went. Perhaps had his name been known, it would have been fully as great as that of Miles, and many other characters of the southwest of the early days… but he is a mystery rider."

Broadcast September 28, 1933
Chasing Black Joe and his two henchmen to the Mexican border, the Lone Ranger and Tonto stop momentarily at Smokey Creek to steal a case of dynamite that is being used to find oil wells. Realizing the crooks are going to pass through the K Box Ranch, ten miles north of the Texas oil region, the Masked Man and his Indian companion race to apprehend them, only to find themselves too late. Joe and his men kidnapped Bill Nash’s baby daughter and hold her for $2,000 ransom. The Lone Ranger and Tonto cleverly use the dynamite to call a bluff and force the kidnappers into the hands of the law, where the baby is rescued.

Broadcast September 30, 1933
Shortly after young Jim Grant marries Betty Hooker in the small community of Baldy’s Ridge, his past catches up to him. A crook named Jake tries to blackmail young Jim, because Jim was accused of a stagecoach holdup that he did not commit, but made the mistake of fleeing the scene. Jake managed to get away without being recognized, but Jim is still wanted by the law in Kansas. The Lone Ranger and Tonto, aware of the situation, crease a ruse where Tonto creates the illusion that Jim just struck it rich. Jake’s greed for money carries him to the hangman's noose. In return for not spilling the beans to the sheriff, Jake wants Jim to pay him money. The Masked Man apprehends Jake and turns him over to Jim, giving the youth the edge to resolve the mistake he made in the past. During the confrontation, an attempted murder is made since Jim is wanted dead or alive. Jake receives the bullet meant for Jim and Jake’s associate is arrested by the local sheriff. Having heard the entire story from the Lone Ranger, the sheriff figures Jim isn’t a murderer and assures him that his past will never haunt him again.

Trivia, etc. When the Lone Ranger bears witness to the marriage, he signs “John Smith.” Jim remarks that it was an obvious alias, but “if you don’t want tuh tell me yer name, I reckon it’s yer own business…” John Todd not only plays the role of Tonto, but according to the script doubles for either Jim Grant or Jake.

Broadcast October 3, 1933
Dale Walten is bewildered by the generosity of Abe Forley, when the gold prospector offers him a land deal that even the local judge figures is in Dale’s favor. After Dale discovers he was swindled with barren land, and traded a good claim to Abe, the judge does what he can to help Dale and his wife. When the judge passes away, the Lone Ranger learns the story from the newly (and honest) elected judge, Jim Hurley and rides three days away to meet a lawyer who knows more than Abe. Two years later, Abe strikes pay dirt on the land he swindled from Dale and in front of Judge Hurley, quotes the law. A debt that stands for two years without collecting payment is outlawed and can’t be collected. The Lone Ranger appears in court and brings up a technicality that forces Abe to pay off his debt of ten thousand to Dale… or face jail.

Trivia, etc. It’s verified in this episode that the Lone Ranger is distinguished not just by his horse, but with his laugh. Oddly, the entire story takes place over a period of two years as the narrator explains that Abe worked the land for two years while Dale and his wife lived on the charity of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, before the protagonists faced off to a showdown.

Broadcast October 5, 1933
Bill Conroy is found guilty of murdering the local doctor and while the sheriff is trying to get the man pardoned, the Lone Ranger, in disguise, attends a meeting held by Isaac Peterman to discover that a number of men are being hired to form a lynching party. Peterson interrupts the wild furor of the mob and saves Conroy’s life, even hiding him out at his house. Suspecting Peterman is the guilty party in a complicated plot to gain control of his wife’s Golconda mine stock she had, the Lone Ranger questions the sheriff and then keeps close tabs on Peterman. Hours after Peterman harbors the suspected fugitive, he arranges for his servant to fetch the sheriff and attempts to frame Conroy in the murder of his wife, cinching his hanging. The Lone Ranger interrupts and  vouches for Conroy’s story, explaining to the sheriff that Peterman was slowly poisoning his wife. When the doctor found out, he murdered the doctor and framed Conroy. When the dead woman rises, Peterman, scared, confesses his crime. The truth is quickly revealed: Tonto disguised as the wife, saved her life by arranging for Peterman to stab a dummy and took his place. She is alive and well but Peterman won’t -- he’ll face a hanging for the murder of Doc Stanley.

Broadcast October 7, 1933
In the town of Rock Edge, Tim Sautter robbed the bank of a considerable sum and when the sheriff snoops too close, murders the lawman in cold blood (he crushed his skull with a heavy piece of wood). Tim then arranges for Slim Peters to take the sheriff’s place and Slim promptly arrests Tim’s neighbor, Bob Wilson, for the crime. After being taken into custody, Bob breaks free from jail, thanks to the Lone Ranger. Following the Masked Man’s orders, Bob hides in a cave until the posse arrives. Escaping from the back of the cave to the other side, he finds Tim waiting to shoot him. A struggle breaks and Bob gets the upper hand. After escorting Tim to the sheriff, he find Bob sticking to his story -- until the new sheriff explains the whole thing. Thanks to the Lone Ranger, he knew all along that Bob was innocent. Both men had different firewood and the one that was used to kill the sheriff matched Tim’s. With the help of the Lone Ranger, the posse and the sheriff was in on the set-up to trick Bob into revealing the truth when he confronted Bob.

Trivia, etc. According to casting directions on the script, the actor playing the Lone Ranger also doubled for “Voice 2,” a member of the posse.

Broadcast October 10, 1933
There is enough evidence to verify the murder of Ephriam Dodds, manager of the Wells Fargo express station in Great Bear. Buddy Gilroy is accused of the crime and jailed pronto by the sheriff with every chance in the world of being lynched for murder in the manner of the swift western punishment. Clarence McGruder, the new replacement, shows a lack of respect for the dead man, but assures the sheriff that the recent robberies of the Wells Fargo stages will come to a halt with him in charge. Gilroy’s wife, Jeannie, however, has a long discussion with the Lone Ranger, who suspects her husband is innocent. Later that afternoon, Jeannie cries when she claims her two-year-old daughter accidentally locked herself in the company safe. After moments of confusion and desperation, McGruder uses the combination to unlock the door. The Lone Ranger enters and explains that Dodd was never murdered. Dodd is masquerading as McGruder. The old man confesses that he feared the company would put Gilroy in his position, so he framed the young man for a murder and used chicken’s blood as a means of faking the murder scene. 

Trivia, etc. Tonto rationalizes that Gilroy is innocent, claiming “Tonto, him know... Injun blood in Tonto, makum know.” According to script notes, the actor playing the Lone Ranger also doubled for “Buddy Gilroy.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Lost" I LOVE A MYSTERY Found!

Carlton E. Morse
A few years ago at the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention in Newark, New Jersey, a good friend of mine, Brendan Faulkner, told a story that intrigued me. "Back around 1970, a film club that I belonged to in New York City was screening all three of the Columbia I Love A Mystery films," he recalled, "plus the (at that time) unaired TV movie of I Love A Mystery (with Ida Lupino). One of the fellows that ran the club was Chris Steinbrunner, a noted film and mystery historian, who told me that he had tried to arrange for an I Love A Mystery pilot made by ZIV as a special treat. I forget now why this didn't happen. Until he mentioned this pilot to me, I never knew it existed." Until Brendan told this to me, I never knew this existed, either.

Unfortunately there was no way to get any more information since Chris  passed away a number of years ago. If my memory serves me correctly, the details are more intriguing. If I recall accurately, Chris had acquired a copy but apologized in person to the fan club. It seems someone broke into his house and stole the only print of the 25-minute TV pilot. It was never screened and the fans spent the night watching all three Columbia pictures and the Batman-camp-style made-for-TV pilot movie with Ida Lupino.

Flash forward a couple years. Browsing the Ziv-TV archives with the assistance of John Ruklick, I mentioned the unsold pilot to John and asked him to copy whatever he finds about I Love A Mystery, provided there is something. Everything was filed away alphabetically and following I Led Three Lives was nothing. But persistence pays off because looking over everything, following the letter Z was one file all by itself. It was labeled, "I Love A Mystery." ZIV really did produce a pilot of the same name! Sadly, the shooting script was not available in the archive. And imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the proposed series was not based on the I Love A Mystery radio program, created and written by Carlton E. Morse. It was nothing more than an anthology of mystery stories.

There is a shining light at the end of the tunnel. Recently, Brendan came across an oddity on eBay and brought it to my attention. "On eBay a good while ago there was a fellow selling a letter that was from Dick Powell (representing Four Star) looking into the rights to the show," he explained. "The weird thing was that the actual reproduction of the letter was not coming up. It was a picture of something else. I emailed the seller and asked exactly what the letter entailed and explained that the reason I was asking was because a photo of a different item was coming up. He answered that he would correct the error, but he never did. He just took the listing off. I contacted him again about this letter but he never got back to me." This comes as no surprise to me. In 1961, Broadcasting magazine reported that Four Star had secured the television rights to The Adventures of Sam Spade, another popular radio mystery, and that filming has recently been completed with Peter Falk in the title role. To date, neither the Sam Spade or the I Love A Mystery pilots produced by Four Star have surfaced for collectors and fans of the program. That is, if ILAM was truly produced by Four Star.

So for all you die-hards who are curious to look over the production paperwork, the following might be of interest so I am reprinting them below (with some explanation).

Inter-office memo dated September 12, 1955
Inter-office memos like this one often reveal juicy details of what was going on behind the scenes. While pursuing the Warner Brothers television files, for example, I discovered that Ty Hardin (Bronco) was showing up at the set not knowing his lines and this was pre-empting production. It seems a number of directors had complained and the inter-office memo revealed the studio heads' various options at how to approach the actor.
Another inter-office memo between executives at NBC (East Coast and West Coast) asked that each other keep tabs on a certain radio celebrity because, as they mildly put it, "is one of the slickest operators we have." Seems when the show was making the move from one coast to another, they wanted to make sure he wasn't going to try pulling off the same stunts he already accomplished. 

A recent trip to the Library of Congress with my good friend Neal Ellis revealed an inter-office memo about Ed Wynn being reprimanded for leaving cigarette butts in the studio! This inter-office memo also reveals the official name of the company, Ziv Television Programs, Inc., evident by the letterhead. The memo was also carbon copied to William Castle, the director, so he was made aware that Sidney Blackmer's participation had to be limited to one day (which meant no retakes or staggering behind in production).

Operation Sheet
For those who are not aware, television production from the fifties and sixties did not extensively credit every person involved. Unless they were a member of a union or guild, in which their contracts stipulate on-screen credit, or they played a major part of production, the crew (regular or irregular) were not usually credited on the screen.
Operation sheets were drafted for every television production, revealing who exactly was involved with the production. The first assistant cameraman (Dave Curlin), the assistant prop man (Robert Murdock), the electricians (Charles Stockwell, Charles Hanger, Harold Kraus, Richard Brightmier and E. Newbaur), and the recorder (Ken Corson) were among the handful of people who were never credited during the closing credits.

I do want to apologize in advance for the scans. Most of the production sheets were on legal paper, not letter. My scanner is not long enough to scan them in their entirety, so I was forced to cut off the bottom inch or two of each scan.

Hence, "Operation Sheet" (with the caption below it) is missing some of the details such as gaffer (Joe Wharton), set labor (Sol Inverso) and construction chief (Dee Bolhius). It should also be noted that production sheets were not always accurate when it came to the spelling of cast and crew. So if you ever consult such sheets for your write-up, I suggest you double check the spelling of the names. Sometimes this can be very difficult when the last name is spelled two different ways in the closing credits of the same series (I've come across that before)!

The first sheet reveals, as you can see, the exact days of filming. In this case, September 15, 16 and 17, 1955. While the name of the series is I Love A Mystery, the name of the actual drama is "I Owe You." Obviously, the next episode would have had a different title (such as.... "The Case of the Queer Poison). You might have also observed the type of film they used, 35mm, which was standard in TV production.

Also note that the episode was filmed in black and white. This is a clear indication that the pilot was not filmed in color. Way too many times I have read where a program or specific episode was supposed to be in color and those ignorant of the facts, hurt themselves by not buying a commercial DVD when they believe there is a better print elsewhere. For years I had a copy of a television pilot for The Phantom, with Lon Chaney Jr. and Paulette Goddard, in black and white. Boy, was I surprised when someone turned up a 16mm print in color!

For ZIV Television, this can be confusing. All of The Cisco Kid television episodes were filmed in color. Yet, black and white prints exist in collector circles. For I Led Three Lives, which ran three seasons, only season two was filmed in color. This confuses fans who "believe" that all three seasons were shot in color.

For Science Fiction Theatre, Ziv shot the first season in color and the second season in black and white. Why? Because enough stations renewed the series for a second season, but not enough to warrant the additional expense, so Ziv agreed with producer Ivan Tors that he could have a second season if he was willing to have the series filmed in black an white. Tors agreed. So the belief that every episode of any particular series was shot solely in one format needs not apply. (Heck, remember F-Troop? The first season was shot in black and white and the second season was shot in color.)

The last Operation Sheet reveals how many extras and standins were available during filming, and exactly which day or days each actor was needed for filming. Most of us know that television episodes are never filmed in sequential order. Scene 24 can be filmed before Scene 3, to accommodate for the actors' schedules. 

Daily Production Sheets are commonly found for each and every television episode. Since the entire production was filmed in a studio and not on location, the first sheet (dated Wednesday, September 14, 1955) reveals the exterior of the roadside diner was constructed inside. The word "format" on the top right and the narrator, Paul Kelley, used for the opening voice over narration, means that production on this evening was for the title sequence, which would have been used for each and every episode of the series.

Recognizing the emerging importance of television, in 1950 Ziv signed a five-year $100,000 lease with California Studios in Hollywood to produce television programming. By 1952 Ziv Television Programs Inc. had nine series available for syndication including Sports Album and Yesterday’s Newsreel as well The Cisco KidBoston BlackieThe UnexpectedThe Living Book, and Story Theatre

Ziv also offered a package of feature films reportedly leased from distributor Budd Rogers, and a cartoon package leased from Walter Lantz. Realizing that the company was truly in the television production business, Ziv purchased American National Studios (formerly Eagle- Lion Pathé Studio) on Santa Monica Boulevard in late December 1954 for a reported $1.7 million. I mention this because you'll notice that American National Studio was listed on the Daily Production Sheet.

Howard Duff and Maria Riva carried most of the scenes on I Love A Mystery, as evident not only because they were among the cast for all three days of production, but the only actors required for the first day of filming.

Notice how the studio kept track of when the actors appeared for hair and makeup, how long their lunch breaks are, and number of film produced including "negative waste."

Keeping tabs of how much film was put into the can, by the day, was very important. This let the studio know if they were falling behind or ahead on schedule. 

On the final Daily Production Sheet, you'll notice the notation that the camera crew was dismissed at 6 p.m., but sound continued until 6:15. That means one of the actors, Dennis King Jr. (as you can see on the "Time In Studio") was providing his voice for an audio recording to be played on the program (the voice on the other end of the telephone).

Such notations are not uncommon and often reveal who tore their pants on the set, when a battery backup went dead while filming on location, and other factors that explained why a brief delay in production.

Ziv dominated the field. Of the six distributor categories in Billboard’s fourth annual TV film service awards, ZIV-TV won first place in four and was second in one. As far as the poll was concerned, ZIV-TV in 1955 (the same year this pilot was made) maintained its leadership in TV film syndication. The company’s status in the Billboard polls remained constant through most of the 1950s in the same manner.

No one knows why I Love A Mystery never sold. Historians only speculate that the title of the program might have been a conflict with the Carlton E. Morse program, but that is only speculation. “Most of our shows were not offered to the network,” Ziv recalled to interviewer Irv Broughton. “A program like Sea Hunt, for example, was turned down by the network. We showed it to each of the networks, showed them the pilot. They liked the pilot, but they figured—and each one seemed to be of the same opinion—‘Well, what do you do the second week and what do you do the third week—you’ve done it all the first week.’ Well, of course, they were wrong; we produced it year after year.”

The Cast Sheet reveals which actors played what fictitious roles, the name of the actors' agents, and phone numbers for both actors and agents. The Breakdown sheets reveal which scenes in the script were filmed (in which order), and props used on the set. 

While most major film studios operated five days a week, ZIV Television worked six days a week excluding Sundays—unusual for television production during the fifties. “Filmmaking was fun, but it was also hard to be a Latter-day Saint and work in the picture business during Hollywood’s heyday,” recalled director Henry Kesler. “The system itself worked to make it difficult to observe church teachings.”

“The folks at ZIV were more concerned with budget than our creative talents,” recalled director Leon Benson for a trade column in the early seventies. “I often felt the pressures when something went wrong. They passed around an internal memo one afternoon reminding those of us underpaid that each television production was to be completed within two shooting days. The next day a power outage put us a full hour behind schedule one morning and I was sweating every minute we waited for the power to return to the set.”

Howard Duff, by the way, had worked with Ziv Television before. In March of 1955, six months prior to filming this pilot, Duff made a guest appearance for Science Fiction Theatre. The episode was titled "Sound of Murder." During a top-secret conclave of scientists in Washington, one of the group, Dr. Kerwin, receives a phone message from his superior, Dr. Tom Mathews (Duff), to meet him in a certain hotel room. 

Kerwin is later discovered murdered, and key papers concerning a top-secret project are missing. Mathews is arrested both because of the phone call and more importantly because he had disappeared for six hours that evening, deliberately losing an FBI agent assigned to guard him. Tom’s only explanation is that he went for a walk. But the ensuing Justice Department investigation turns up a number of phone calls which Mathews allegedly made to the other scientists on the project, in each case requesting secret information. Mathews is indicted, regardless of how much he claims innocence. His case seems hopeless, until Mathews and a scientist friend mathematically figures out how the phone calls were made, and how not only his voice was duplicated, but also his knowledge of the workings of the project, through the use of an intricate instrument called a “Sound Synthesizer,” used to replicate another man’s voice and calculates an answer to a question by the recipient. By this means they trap the real murderer and traitor.


What you will find below the Breakdown Sheets are the Standard Contracts for each and every actor who appeared in the pilot. Like the Operation Sheets and the Daily Production Reports, I did not scan the very bottom of each contract, because the actors' social security numbers were listed and for obvious reasons, I do not feel that providing such social security numbers would be appropriate.

In closing, while I found a copy of the unaired I Love A Mystery pilot, it is in the original 35mm format and I have no means of having it transferred to DVD. There is (as described above) proof that there is at least one 16mm master available in collector hands.

Update August 8, 2014: This blog post was originally published in July of 2011 and a private collector read it and discovered what they had was a Holy Grail for TV and OTR fans. He since contacted me and a few days ago the 16mm print arrived at my front door, courtesy of UPS. Working on having it transferred to DVD and with luck, it will be screened at this year's Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Road to Woodstock, August 1969

Here's a fun bit of trivia. Name as many musicians as you can that performed at Woodstock in 1969. If you want to make it more challenging, try to do this without naming a musician or group that did not attend Woodstock. Small hint: The Rolling Stones and The Beatles did not perform at Woodstock.

For three days in August 1969, half a million music lovers happily braved torrential rains, endured lack of food and clean water, and grooved to the cosmic blues of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, danced all night to the funky soul of Sly and the Family Stone and witnessed the birth of a new band called Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

This weekend marks the 45th Anniversary of what many consider the greatest rock concerts in American history. Such cultural movements are impossible to duplicate. Thankfully we have the DVDs and much of the festival can be revisited in the living room. To be fair, the music of the late sixties is not everyone's cup of tea. But if Joe Cocker, The Who, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and Arlo Guthrie is your cup of tea, this concert is essential for any fan. The entire concert was captured on film and Warner Bros. shrewdly purchased the footage for a theatrical release in 1970. But that movie, 184 minutes in length, never featured performances from Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. A number of years ago the movie was re-edited to 225 minutes in length and rectified that problem -- as well as additional musical performances of Jimi Hendrix.

The 40th Anniversary DVD set of Woodstock (1969-1970).
In June of 2009, a remastered 40th Anniversary edition was released on both Blu-ray and DVD. The 40th Anniversary edition is available as both a two-disc "Special Edition" and a three-disc "Ultimate Collector’s Edition." The film was newly remastered and provided a new 5.1 audio mix. Two extra hours of rare performance footage features 18 new performances as never before seen from 13 groups, including Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker and five (Paul Butterfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Johnny Winter and Mountain) who played at Woodstock but never appeared in any film version. This is the essential "must-see" version.

Even if you are not a fan of watching music documentaries, Michael Lang's book, The Road to Woodstock, provides a back-stage pass to the inner working of the festival. From winning over the agents, promoters, the townspeople, fleets of volunteers, construction of the stage, medical supplies needed for young kids who took too many drugs, the design of the poster, which musicians turned down the offer to perform and how much each group got paid... it's all here. In the back of the book, there is a complete list of every performer and every song performed on stage -- possibly in the order of their appearance on stage. (Not sure how accurate the list is. There are other lists in other reference books and they conflict.)

The book even has memories and recollections from performers such as Richie Havens, Alex Del Zoppo, John Sebastian, Fred Herrera, Country Joe McDonald, Carlos Santana, Paul Kantner, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Peter Townshend, Roger Daltry, Leo Lyons, Joe Cocker, David Crosby, Graham Nash and more. There's even a reprint of a map of the festival.

Joe Cocker at Woodstock
Having watched the documentary half a dozen times over the past 20 years, I found the book an excellent way to educate myself. Now I know who the people are I see in the documentary speaking on the stage, the folks interviewed on camera and what some of the announcements coming over the loud speakers really meant. 

Michael Lang was the man responsible for making Woodstock happen so it seems only fitting to hear it in his own words. Would you rather read a biography about a Hollywood actor or read their autobiography and hear the story in their own words? That's why I bought this book. (The only mistake I caught was crediting Credence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook on drums and Doug Clifford on bass. Should be the other way around.)

Despite the terrible weather (rain storm and lots of mud), insane crowds (roads were blocked with a serious traffic jam for three days), lack of food, medical services and sanitation, it all came off without any crime at all. No stabbings, no rape, no theft. It truly was three days of peace and love. If you plan to go to the beach this summer and looking for a book to read -- this New York Times bestseller is recommended.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Duffy's Tavern: The "Lost" Radio Episodes

Early radio broadcasting required fine-tuning -- and not the kind that came from dial twitching. Case in point: June 26, 1931. NBC presented “The Fearful Seven,” the tale of Merton Moth and his noiseless glider, Michael Mosquito -- brief glimpses into the home lives of Fanny Fly, Frankie Flea, Grand Roach and their friends. The NBC offering was promised to be a comedy, and ensured newspaper columnists that the comedy element would predominate the production. There was nothing funny with the story, and radio, had it not already established itself as a medium of music, news, prayer and commentary, might have been doomed as a result of disastrous broadcasts such as this. If radio audiences wanted authentic laughter from a weekly, half-hour program, what they needed was Ed Gardner. It would not be until ten years later that Duffy’s Tavern would usher in a new form of comedy entertainment.

As the genially sarcastic, ever-hopeful con man Archie -- who never had a last name, even as Duffy himself was never seen -- he defined the cynical second-generation Irishman at the outer fringe of New York’s social order. The program fast developed a following that crossed social, economic and geographical boundaries. Duffy’s Tavern ranked with Fred Allen’s program as broad an appeal as the goofiest slapstick comedies on the air.

Archie was the pivot of the establishment, but he was not alone there. Always on hand were the absent proprietor’s gabby, man-hungry daughter, known simply as Miss Duffy, who spoke in pure Brooklynese, and the waiter Eddie, a shrewd black menial who obeyed with “Yazzuh” but always got the better of his boss in their verbal exchanges. HabituĂ©s included Clifton Finnegan (who did not appear on the program until season two), a moron with occasional flashes of brilliance whose every line began with “Duhhh,” and radio veteran Colonel Stoopnagle, the orotund inventor of such useful devices as the 10-foot pole, “for guys who wouldn’t touch with one,” and the gun with two barrels, one to shoot ducks with and the other, which didn’t work, to not shoot other hunters with.

Crackpot O’Toole, forger and poet who wrote mostly bum check and sonnets “in pure cubic centimeter,” was another Duffy’s regular. Not heard but often discussed was Two-Top Gruskin, a two-headed baseball player whose value to his team was that he could watch first and third at the same time. Two-Top (whose real name was Athos and Porthos Gruskin) once went to a masquerade ball as a pair of bookends and won the affections of a pretty girl because he was a tall blond and brunette. “There was just something different about him,” she explained. Officer Clancy made frequent visits, usually threatening to close the place for some petty violation, ever thwarted by Archie’s logical argument: “You can’t close us up. We aint’ got a license.”

Archie wasn’t otherwise so successful with his unceasing efforts to con or exploit his guests. When smooth-talking Slippery McGuire, seeking to beat his bar tab, suggested to Archie how he can make a fortune by patenting electricity, Archie pays him $10 to register the patent. After coughing up another $3 to print stock certificates and $5 more to include DC along with AC, he believes himself the King of Kilowatts, even though Eddie is doubtful (“I always connected you more with natural gas”). The plans falls through when Archie learns that Benjamin Franklin had beaten him to the patent, but Slippery launches him on a new career by informing him that Franklin had carelessly forgotten to take one out on the kite.

The long-running radio program moved production to Puerto Rico in 1949 to take advantage of a tax exemption the island gave to new industries, although the Third Avenue setting remained the same. But the stellar guests who had once regularly visited Duffy’s didn’t care to travel so far for a broadcast, and the program’s ratings fell precipitously.

Duffy’s Tavern was the brain child of Ed Gardner, a former executive for an advertising agency, later responsible for such radio programs as Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not and The Joe Penner Show. The radio comedy retained a popularity large enough to spawn a stage play (1948), a major motion picture (1945) and a short-run television program (1952) plus two experimental pilots (1947 and 1949).

The success of Duffy’s Tavern was dependent on the gag writers for the program. The first two seasons consisted of three writers: Mac Benoff, Parke Levy and Abe Burrows. Having read every radio script, this author can verify that the funniest scripts are definitely the earliest broadcasts. But the program was doomed when Burrows and the other writers were unable to create enough scenarios to keep the program fresh. By late 1942, they had already begun recycling their plot devices: Archie tries to sell fake jewelry to Finnegan; Archie writes a pageant about American history; and the plot most often used… Archie entertains Mrs. Cornelia Piddleton (occasionally spelled “Pittleton” depending on which scripts you consult) and her Lord Byron Ladies’ Literary Society and, after losing his guest speaker, attempts to pawn off Finnegan as the celebrated presenter. The program's saving grace began with the third season, when Duffy's Tavern made the move to Hollywood and celebrities began making guest appearances. Archie and the cast were able to poke fun of the celebrities as they did in the first season. (The move to Puerto Rico in 1949 didn't help any, and proved a disaster, ultimately forcing NBC to make the decision to axe the program for good.)

Regardless of what past encyclopedias report, the July 1940 broadcast of Forecast failed to gain the immediate attention of a sponsor. The network, hoping to sell a number of studio-created in-house programs without the need of an advertising agency, made arrangements for every broadcast of Forecast to be transcribed, in case the program could later be sampled by a potential sponsor. It wasn’t until months later that Forecast ultimately helped convince the Magazine Repeating Razor Company to sponsor the program, thanks to the efforts of the J.M. Mathes Advertising Agency (who knew that Magazine wanted to hock their product, Schick Razor, on the radio). In September of 1940, two transcription discs were cut from Forecast and executives at Mathes circulated one recording to potential sponsors, while retaining the duplicate as a master backup.

The initial contract between the sponsor and the network stipulated a 16-week sponsorship from March 1, 1941 to June 14, 1941, which was a bit unusual since most contracts with the network were placed on a 13-week schedule (13 times 4 equals 52). Since it was proven that listenership was at the lowest during what was generally considered vacation time, 13 weeks in the summer were usually dedicated to a different radio program, paid for by the same sponsor, but for a cheaper price.

Digital photo capture of a copyright card from the Library of Congress.
One of many copyright cards for Duffy's Tavern radio scripts.
© 2011, Library of Congress. Photo used with permission.

To attract new listeners, at the suggestion of the network, the first season featured at least one celebrity guest every week. Under the same contract, CBS had the option of approval when choosing the celebrities. Obviously, the network made sure that no celebrity appearing on Duffy’s Tavern would cross-promote a radio program presently heard over a competing network. Celebrities include Parks Johnson and Wally Butterwroth, hosts Vox Pop; Colonel Stoopnagle was the weekly host of Quixie-Doodles; both programs aired over CBS. At the time Paul Lukas, Hildegarde, Milton Berle and Orson Welles were making their guest appearances, they were not presently committed to a radio program on the rival networks. And for the broadcast of June 7, 1941, certainly a major influence by CBS, Ilka Chase, actress and novelist whose radio program, Luncheon at the Waldorf, recently concluded, paid a visit to the tavern. Her appearance on Duffy’s was designed to promote her new radio program, which premiered on June 6. The announcer, John Reed King*, closed the episode with the following mention: “Archie wants me to thank Ilka Chase for coming here tonight and to announce that he will be her guest next Friday night on her new program for Camel Cigarettes… Penthouse Party.”

* Footnote: John Reed King was the first announcer for the series, who welcomed the studio audience by explaining the evening’s proceedings, and performed the commercials. King was also emcee of CBS’ This is the Life and announcer of the Gay Nineties Revue.

The first season also introduced listeners to two regulars: Shirley Booth and Eddie Green. Miss Duffy, the proprietor’s daughter, liked almost every man who walked into the tavern, and she had a friend, Vera, who also liked men. This certainly added a female element to the program, opening the door to jokes about matrimony, romance, dating and other similar topics. “In matrimony you marry an armful and wind up with a roomful,” Archie once quipped. “It takes two to make a marriage -- a single girl and an anxious mother,” Miss Duffy explained. After Miss Duffy explained her cosmetic affairs to Archie, the bar keep turned to Eddie. “What with lipstick on their lips, rouge on their cheeks, mascara on their eyes, polish on their nails, and now paint on their legs, the dames sure take a shellacking.”

Shirley Booth was known primarily as a Broadway actress, who, up to the time Duffy’s Tavern premiered, won critical praise for her role of Ruth Sherwood in the 1940 production of My Sister Eileen. During her tenure on Duffy’s, the first three seasons, she received top billing at the opening of every broadcast, always billed as “the star of My Sister Eileen.” When Booth left the series in 1943, actresses playing the role of Miss Duffy never received such limelight, down-graded to simply name mention like the rest of the cast.

BOOTH: (to Ilka Chase) Your friends are always so classy, ain’t they? They’re all raconteuses, chanteuses, danseuses… it’s a wonder you never bring down any hippopotamotuses.

Eddie Green, who would later find greater fame as Stonewall, the fix-it-all lawyer on Amos n’ Andy, played Eddie the waiter, gripper-extraordinary at Duffy’s, an apprehensive citizen of Harlem, and was in real-life a well-known Negro comedian. He was also in the food business (ironically), and owned a chain of Harlem restaurants for a couple decades. Eddie was the equivalent of Jack Benny’s Rochester -- who often had the best come-back lines for his employer.

ARCHIE: With a dame like Elsa Maxwell coming here you think this tablecloth is high class enough?
EDDIE: Well, I tell you what you can do with it.
EDDIE: Tear one more hole in the corner and tell her it’s Italian lace.

The listening audience often dismissed reality because orchestras like John Kirby’s did not play in taverns like Duffy’s; and sooner or later it would occur to the listeners as odd that although Archie was a bartender, no one ever seemed to take a drink. But no one noticed it at the time, which said something about one of the most original and consistently entertaining of current programs. With the aid of John Kirby’s famed Negro band, the music somehow fit the Brooklyn Tavern. Kirby was alumnus of Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb bands, and even started his own in 1937 at New York’s Onyx Club. He was once married to actress Maxine Sullivan.

John Reed Kirby and his orchestra supplied the music for a full calendar year, until General Foods took up sponsorship. Kirby, like most orchestras that performed on the radio, spent a considerable amount of time performing for hotels. During the summer break between seasons, Kirby’s orchestra performed at the Ambassador East Hotel’s Pump Room. When he tenure on Duffy’s Tavern concluded, he returned to the Ambassador for a three-week engagement and then continued with a successful career in music.

In the premiere episode of the series, in an effort to introduce the weekly regulars to the radio audience, very little happens except to establish Miss Duffy and Eddie’s position at the tavern. 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. 

STOOPNAGLE: Well, I have one new thing here I’ve just invented.
ARCHIE: What is it Colonel? To me it looks just like a door.
STOOPNAGLE: It is a door. It’s a bathroom door that you don’t have to wait outside of because it opens into a closet.
ARCHIE: Gee, Colonel – you certainly have a furtive mind. I wish you could invent an Irish tenor.
STOOPNAGLE: Why, Archie?
ARCHIE: Well, Duffy says either I get an Irish Tenor or I’m fired.
STOOPNAGLE: My boy, never despair. I, Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle, am an Irish Tenor.
ARCHIE: But Duffy only likes Irish, Irish Tenors.

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. 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.”

 March 1 to June 14, 1941
Columbia Broadcasting System
Sponsor: Magazine Repeating Razor Company
Day and Time: Saturday, 8:30 to 8:55 p.m., EST
Music: John Kirby’s Orchestra
Announcer: John Reed King
Series Regulars: Shirley Booth and Eddie Green

Episode #1 -- Broadcast Saturday, March 1, 1941
Col. Stoopnagle
Plot: Plot is described above.

Episode #2 -- Broadcast Saturday, March 8, 1941
Deems Taylor
Plot: Still seeking musical night life for the tavern, in reference to Duffy’s request last week, Archie tries to figure out where he can hire musicians until Deems Taylor happens to drop-by. Taylor kindly invites Archie and Miss Duffy to be his hosts tomorrow at the Philharmonic. When Archie explains the tavern needs a little musical addition, Taylor gets them a calypso singer. John Kirby’s Orchestra performs “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” during the intermission.

Memorable Lines
ARCHIE: Eddie… what is a calypso?
EDDIE: Why, er, that’s when the sun gets blotted out.
ARCHIE: Eddie, that’s an eclipso… you see that, Mr. Taylor, and he’s twice as smart as Duffy – and it’s three to one you didn’t know what a calypso was until you go on Information Please.

Episode #3 -- Broadcast Saturday, March 15, 1941
Orson Welles
Plot: Discussions about the bard and Francis Bacon are discussed on account that Orson Welles is dropping by. Welles happens to be in New York City to do a play called Native Son, written by Richard Wright, which Welles and John Houseman were producing. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Archie tries to get Welles to participate as the feature attraction for the tavern’s St. Patrick’s Day pig roast since it’s the kind of job for a ham actor. Joan Edwards, who would later become a semi-regular on the program, is the musical guest and sings “Do I Worry?”

Memorable Lines
BOOTH: Mr. Welles, you’re my idea of the perfect Shakespeare actor. I will never forget you in that picture, “Romeo and Juliet.”
WELLES: I was never in the picture, “Romeo and Juliet.”
SHIRLEY: You see, Archie… it was Norma Shearer.

Memorable Lines
ARCHIE: Well, you’re lookin’ great. How’s things in the drama?
WELLES: Well, Archie. My theatrical activities have been somewhat curtailed since my Hollywood peregrination.
ARCHIE: Oh, well, of course that’s up to the individual.
WELLES: Well, naturally.
ARCHIE: So you were in Hollywood, hah? They keep you busy out there?
WELLES: Well, kind of.
ARCHIE: What were you doing?
WELLES: Same old thing – writing, directing, producing, and acting.
ARCHIE: Boy, you sound like a one-man Preston Sturges…

Episode #4 -- Broadcast Saturday, March 22, 1941
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
Plot: An income tax inspector arrives to look over the books while Archie attempts to lure Bill “Bojangles” Robinson to perform at Duffy’s under an exclusive contract. Distracted because of the audit, Archie ultimately makes an error. While entertaining a man in the tavern named Sherman, Archie is unaware that the new guest is a spy for the Stork Club, and without Archie being aware of it, Robinson signs an exclusive to the Club and promptly leaves for new pursuits. John Kirby and his Orchestra perform “Why Cry Baby?” and “Hot Time in the Old Town.”

Trivia, etc. The "spy" from the Stork Club named Sherman was in reference to Sherman Billingsley who owned the Stork Club. (Many thanks to Bob Burchett for pointing this out to me.)

Episode #5 -- Broadcast Saturday, March 29, 1941
Hildegarde and Arthur Treacher
Plot: Treacher is billed as “Hollywood’s favorite screen butler” and steals the limelight from the entire radio cast in this script. Treacher goes from a gentleman’s gentleman to a bum’s bum when he is hired by Archie to become his assistant, who in turn also answers the phone for Archie. Treacher’s dreams of how to improve the tavern do not work, however, and Archie is forced to reduce the overhead. Hildegarde, who received top billing above Treacher in the opening of the broadcast, is constrained to a few lines of dialogue and singing “Sweet Petite.”

Episode #6 -- Broadcast Saturday, April 5, 1941
Morton Downey and the Vox Pop Boys
Plot: Miss Duffy tries to convince the Vox Pop Boys (Parks Johnson and Wally Butterworth) to allow her to audition for their program, and she sings “You Walked By.” Morton Downey shows up and sings “Molly Malone.” Eddie gets mistaken as a contestant for the Vox Pop program. John Kirby and his Orchestra performs “Keep an Eye on Your Heart,” and “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies,” the latter of which he performed in the first broadcast of the series.

Memorable Lines
WALLY: Well, the first question is: When waiting on table should you serve from the left or from the right?
EDDIE: Well, that depends on which side of the customer is closest to the kitchen.
WALLY: Sorry, Eddie, you should always serve from the left.
EDDIE: From the left, eh?
EDDIE: Well, personally, I ain’t superstitious.

Episode #7 -- Broadcast Saturday, April 12, 1941
Arthur Murray
Plot: Dance expert Arthur Murray gives some of the tavern’s guests, including Miss Duffy, some dancing lessons and Larry Adler, the world-famous harmonica player (now appearing at the Roxy in New York City), performs three variations on a theme by Paganinni. Duffy, meanwhile, spends his time stuck in a phone booth at the tailor shop without any pants, and is unable to come to the tavern and meet Murray in person. Archie pays Francis McCabe five bucks for dancing lessons. In order for Sam the Tailor to accept Duffy’s check, he needs proof Duffy is who he says he is, so Archie has Adler perform a song live on the radio by request of “Sam the Tailor.”

Episode #8 -- Broadcast Saturday, April 19, 1941
Colonel Stoopnagle
Plot: Archie thinks the tavern needs a hostesses to help bring customers in, so Archie hereby calls to order the Board of Directors of Duffy’s Tavern, Limited, (limited, of course) consisting of Archie, Eddie and Miss Duffy. Stoopnagle, making an idiot’s delight in assuming the tavern is no longer around, decides to buy a band and a bar and call it a tavern – Duffy’s Tavern – “what a name!” When Stoop discovers that there is already such a place, he decides to sue them for plagiarism. This is the first episode to make reference to Clancy, the Cop. Joan Edwards returns to sing another song.

Memorable Lines
ARCHIE: Oh, Colonel Stoopnagle… how are you?
STOOPNAGLE: Shhh, I’m traveling incognito.
ARCHIE: Incognito, huh?
STOOPNAGLE: Yes, I don’t want to know that I’ve bee here… Don’t refer to me by name.
ARCHIE: What’ll I call you?
STOOPNAGLE: Colonel Stoopnagle.
ARCHIE: I wish I were an idiot so I could enjoy this conversation.

Episode #9 -- Broadcast Saturday, April 26, 1941
Tallulah Bankhead
Plot: Archie tries to teach Eddie the proper way to introduce a woman of Bankhead’s stature to the tavern, by adding class to the joint. Eddie even fixes up the table with wax bananas. Bankhead, however, won’t eat at the tavern when she learns that beer and pig knuckles are on the menu. Archie happens to be away for a moment when Bankhead arrives and when he returns, he mistakes her for a normal customer, and makes embarrassing remarks about the tavern while talking up the great Tallulah Bankhead – unaware she is standing in front of him the entire time. Bankhead closes the broadcast reciting a dramatic poem, “Abe Lincoln Walks at Midnight.” John Kirby’s orchestra performs “Arabian Nightmare.”

Trivia, etc. The poem Bankhead recites originated from Burton Egbert Stevenson’s The Home Book of Verse (1879).

Episode #10 -- Broadcast Saturday, May 3, 1941
Hildegarde and Maxie Rosenbloom
Plot: When Maxie Rosenbloom stops by the tavern, he accidentally crushes Miss Duffy’s hand because of his strength. Hildegarde stops by and the prize fighter finds her “vivacious.” Because Archie is in love with the singer, he gets jealous and makes an attempt to woo her after referring to her as “Mademoiselle Hildegarde, from the Savoy Plaza - the chanteuse.” Hildegarde gives Archie a prompt rejection and proves to Archie, who was in disagreement with Rosenbloom, that a big handsome mass of muscle is what women really want.

Memorable Lines
BOOTH: Why did you give up fighting to go on the radio?
MAXIE: Well, all the time when I was a fighter, my ambition was to talk on the radio, but, at the end of every fight, they gave the other guy the microphone and he would say, “Hello, mom, I’ll be right home.”
BOOTH: Well, why didn’t you say hello mom, I’ll be right home, too?
ARCHIE: What, in his condition?

Episode #11 -- Broadcast Saturday, May 10, 1941
Elsa Maxwell
Plot: To celebrate Duffy’s 25th anniversary, Archie hires Elsa Maxwell, social set worker, to give a party at the tavern. He attempts to impress Maxwell with suggestions on party games, but Miss Duffy insists on playing post office and spin the bottle. Duffy, meanwhile, is beaten with a baseball bat and unable to attend the tavern to celebrate. Jacques Fray and Mario Braggiotti, a famed piano duo who performed on radio as early as 1932, supplied musical entertainment using their two pianos.

Memorable Lines
ARCHIE: Oh, hello, Duffy. Congratulations on your twenty-fifth wedding. Mrs. Duffy kissed you how many times? No kiddin’, twenty-five?… Oh, with a baseball bat.

Episode #12 -- Broadcast Saturday, May 17, 1941
Milton Berle
Plot: Comedian Milton Berle pays a visit to the tavern, having grown up in the neighborhood and hasn’t seen the place since he was a kid. He is shocked to see how the condition of the tavern has worn down. Archie attempts to convince Berle to emcee a floor show, suggesting it would improve the tavern’s clientele. When Duffy is disillusioned, Berle relents and performs comedy monolog.

Memorable Lines
ARCHIE: Say, Duffy, guess who’s coming here tonight? Milton Berle. That little noisy kid who used to hang around here all the time. Milton Berle… Duffy, remember the kid who used to buy joke books, memorize the jokes and then say he made them up himself?… Well, that’s Milton. Sure’s he’s been in Hollywood… yeah, done pretty good, too. Yeah, I know you always said he was a smart kid. Remember -- he was the only kid on the block who could explain the funny papers to you.

Trivia, etc. Orson Welles was scheduled make a return to the program for May 17 broadcast, but he took ill on the West Coast and was unable to fly to New York, so Milton Berle substituted.

Episode #13 -- Broadcast Saturday, May 24, 1941
Paul Lukas
Plot: Paul Lukas, recent winner of the NY Drama Critics Award, stops by the tavern as a guest. Miss Duffy assumes Lukas won the Nobel prize. Archie proposes to singer Peg La Centra, after she performs “A Romantic Guy, I.” She is swept off her feet when she meets Paul Lukas and Archie’s chances drop to zero.

Episode #14 -- Broadcast Saturday, May 31, 1941
James J. Walker
Plot: James J. Walker, former mayor of New York City, is an old friend of Duffy’s and stops by to check out the tavern and the people working hard behind the counter. Duffy apparently used to be an old election district captain and helped Walker get 600 votes in the district. Walker has ulterior motives, however, when he explains to Archie that he is here to help save the relationship between Duffy and his wife. Miss Duffy mistakes Walker as the new bartender and gives him tips on how not to overflow the glasses, and how they all have fake bottoms. This is the first appearance of Crudface and Dugan, Archie’s lawyers.

Memorable Lines
DUGAN: Don’t answer that, Archie.
CRUDFACE: I object.
ARCHIE: Objection sustained.
DUGAN: Hey Crudface, what’s that sustained?
CRUDEFACE: That’s a radio program without a sponsor.

Trivia, etc. To publicize this episode, CBS issued the following press release:
    It is going to cost the proprietors of the establishment something extra to entertain the former Mayor. The dapper Jimmy sent a wire to Ed Gardner, who plays Archie, the host of the joint, which read: “Just bought a new pair of shoes; be sure tou have new sawdust on the floor of Duffy’s place when I get there.”
    “Duffy will probably get sore, but what are you going to do when a guy goes to the expense of new shoes,” lamented Archie. “Besides, that sawdust ain’t been changed since repeal.”

Episode #15 -- Broadcast Saturday, June 7, 1941
Ilka Chase
Plot: Ilka Chase, actress and novelist, pays a visit to the tavern. Archie wants her to do for the tavern what she did at the Waldorf, and suggests calling the new radio program “Dinner at Duffy’s.” Such a stunt might keep the tavern open over the summer, but when the question of salary comes along, she says no dice. Chase adds: “Is this to be Dinner at Duffy’s or Supper at Sing Sing?” Chase leaves when the food is too rich at the tavern, having heard Archie explain what they serve, claiming she’s going back to the Waldorf for some good old-fashioned corned beef and cabbage.

Trivia, etc. In the beginning of this episode, Archie makes a mention that next week is the last night for Duffy’s Tavern, because Duffy plans to close the tavern for the summer. Chase’s former program, which was broadcast in the afternoon time slot, concluded just a couple weeks before her appearance on Duffy’s Tavern.

Episode #16 -- Broadcast Saturday, June 14, 1941
Miss June Nevin
Plot: Miss June Nevin of the Moore-McCormack Steamship Lines, the one that hires entertainers and bands for the boats that go to South America, is guest in this episode and when Archie finds out who is planning to pay a visit, not only does this prompt a Carmen Miranda joke, but he attempts to get Eddie Green “the singing waiter” to get booked for the coming season. Crudface and Dugan, Archie’s lawyers, show up towards the end of the broadcast and create a fiasco that messes up the entire affair.

Trivia, etc. At the conclusion of this episode, the announcer informs the radio audience that Duffy’s Tavern will return in the middle of September and to pay attention to local newspaper listings for details.

Shameless plug... The information contained above originates from my recent book about the history of Duffy's Tavern, published through Bear Manor Media.