Friday, May 29, 2015

THE MAGIC KEY OF RCA (July 24, 1939)

Ed Gardner and Ransom Sherman
According to Jay Hickerson's Ultimate Guide book, the July 24, 1939 radio broadcast of The Magic Key of RCA is not known to exist in recorded form. This is sad as it marks an early appearance of Ed Gardner as Archie, pre-dating the popularly-known  and talked about 1940 Forecast audition, and the long-running Duffy's Tavern. During the broadcast, Archie talks to Colonel Stoopnagle, making numerous references to Duffy’s Bar and Grill, and telling the story of Two-Top Gruskin. Archie also assisted with the RCA commercial with announcer Ben Grauer. There was originally supposed to be a second sketch, but during rehearsals the sequence was scratched out to ensure the program ended on time. For your entertainment is a reprint from that radio script of the Archie-Ben Grauer-Colonel Stoopnagle dialogue and the deleted sequence that never aired.
ARCHIE: Hello, Colonel Stoopnagle.
STOOP: Hello, Archie.
STOOP: Say, Ben, this is the fellow I was telling you about.
GRAUER: Oh, Archie, the native New Yorker.
ARCHIE: Hello, Mr. Grauer. You know, listening to you fellows talk about New York made me feel kinda sad. New York just ain’t the same no more.
STOOP: What do you mean, New York just ain’t the same no more?
ARCHIE: I mean, New York just ain’t the same no more. My father used to say, “Archie, New York ain’t the same no more.” And before him, way back in 1870, my grandfather used to say New York ain’t the same no more. Personally, I don’t think New York ever was the same no more.
STOOP: Well, I think New York is pretty nice, especially if you want a good time. What do you do for divertissement, Archie?
ARCHIE: For what?
STOOP: Well I mean, where do you hang out?
ARCHIE: Oh. Well, for divertissement, I hang out in an establishment known as Duffy’s Bar and Grill.
STOOP: Sounds like a place with that certain air of distinction.
ARCHIE: Yes and no. It has a little distinction, but I guess that’s because there ain’t any air in the joint.
STOOP: What is the attraction at Duffy’s?
ARCHIE: Duffy, himself. You never on your life saw a man who could stand up so straight and look so stupid.
STOOP: Well, how old a man is this Duffy?
ARCHIE: Well, he ain’t sure whether he’s 38 or 56. All he knows is he was born in 1894.
STOOP: Sounds like a high grade imbecile.
ARCHIE: Yeah. Swell fellow. You ought to see how he runs our ball team, the Duffy Bar and Grill A.C.
STOOP: Duffy is the manager?
ARCHIE: The smartest in baseball on account that he ain’t got no brains. Who turned Bow-Legged Harrigan into a second baseman?
STOOP: Duffy?
ARCHIE: Duffy. He figures Harrigan is so bow-legged that if a grounder goes through his legs, the shortstop can go right through after it. And what about Gorilla Hogan, the greatest catcher that ever lived?
STOOP: A Duffy discovery?
ARCHIE: A Duffy discovery. What a man. He runs with the speed of a canteloupe. You ought to see the Gorilla. He looks like he just stepped out of a jungle. A natural born catcher. Stands six feet fourteen inches high, and squats standing up. The only reason anybody thinks of him as Hogan is because that was his father’s name.
STOOP: He sounds pretty terrifying.
ARCHIE: He is. He used to be a fighter, but they had to bar him from the ring; he was too tough. In his last fight he fought a fellow named Battling Cassidy. The first thing happens when they come to the center of the ring to shake hands. The Gorilla shakes Cassidy’s hand, and immediately Cassidy goes down for the count of eight. Then when they start to fight, the Gorilla lifts up his fist and brings it down on top of Cassidy’s hand so hard that from that day to this the guy is known as Concerting Cassidy.
STOOP: What a powerful man!
ARCHIE: Colonel Stoopnagle, I can safely say that he is the most powerful man, if he is indeed a man, who ever drew the breath of life, if indeed he does draw the breath of life. Let me read you his ring measurements. Gorilla Hogan: ankles - 38. Waist - 53. Biceps - 23. Neck - none. Chest - expanding and 53.
STOOP: And this… this… thing is the catcher on your ball team?
ARCHIE: The only guy in the world who could catch Two-Top Gruskin.
STOOP: Oh, Two-Top Gruskin is your pitcher?
ARCHIE: Well, he used to be. And there’s another example of Duffy’s genius. One day Duffy says to Dugan the shortstop, “Dugan, we got a great ball team here, but I’m afraid it lacks color. What’s the answer?” So Dugan says, “Color, eh?” Well, this may not be it, Duffy, but I think I know where I can lay my hands on a pitcher with two heads.” So Duffy says, “A pitcher with two heads? I don’t know, Dugan, do you think it’d be a novelty?” So Dugan says, “Well, what if it ain’t? You can’t pass up a pitcher that can watch first base and third base at the same time.” So Duffy says, “It’s an angle. And besides, the guy would be a natural for double-headers.”
STOOP: Now, Archie, did you actually see his two headed pitcher yourself?
ARCHIE: Certainly. I remember the night he first walked into Duffy’s Bar -- dressed up formal -- to sign his contract. Everybody in the joint was staring at him.
STOOP: I should think they would.
ARCHIE: Yeah. So Two-Top turns his two heads to the crowd and says, “What are you starin’ at? None of you guys ever see a tuxedo before?” Well, Duffy quickly covers his embarrassment. He says, “Waiter, bring two beers for this man.” Then he turns to Gruskin and says, “Two-Top, I’m a man of few words. Report tomorrow morning. There’s a uniform and two caps waiting for you in the locker room.”
STOOP: Well, how did Two-Top get along with Gorilla Hogan?
ARCHIE: Not quite as well as you’d naturally expect.
STOOP: They didn’t hit it off, eh?
ARCHIE: Frankly, no. The trouble starts right in the first game. The Gorilla signals for a fast curve, so Two-Top nods one head and shakes the other. Well, this is very confusing to the Gorilla, who ain’t so bright anyway, so he throws down his glove and makes a bee-line for Duffy. “Duffy,” he says, “I’m getting’ good and sick and tired of two headed pitches -- I quit.” So Duffy says, “Now wait a minute, Gorilla. Don’t get hot headed. Go out there and talk it over with the guy. After all, three heads is better than one.” But the Gorilla says, “Nope. It’s no use. I just can’t help feelin’ that the guy ain’t normal. One of us will have to go, Duffy, and don’t forget who owns the baseball.”
STOOP: And that was Two-Top’s finish, eh?
ARCHIE: Yeah. It was pretty sad, the way the lumps came up in his throats when Duffy told him. Well, I gotta run along Colonel Stoopnagle. The Gorilla’s down in the barber shop havin’ his chest shampooed and he’s waitin’ for me. I’ll be seein’ ya, huh?
STOOP: Wait a minute, Archie, before you go. What finally became of the two headed pitcher?
ARCHIE: Who, Two-Top? Oh, he went back to his old job. Watchin’ tennis matches for Pathe News. Well, so long Colonel Stoopnagle.


STOOP: Come in.
ARCHIE: Colonel Stoopnagle, my name is Archie. I’m the detective from down the hall.
STOOP: My name is Stoopnagle. I’m the detective from up the hall. Meet Ben Grauer, he’s the detective from up the creek.
ARCHIE: How do you do. I just thought I’d drop in to pay a social call, us being neighbors, and both detectives. How’s business?
STOOP: Well, it’s pretty slow. How can we possibly compete with those low priced Chinese detectives?
ARCHIE: Yeah, it’s a tough year in our business. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, Crudface Clifford, a safe cracker. And you know when those fellows don’t work, we don’t work. He says to me, “Archie, things certainly are bad in my game. You remember I used to crack safes? I made a good living, drove my own stolen car, was well thought of in the community… now look at me. I’m out picking pockets like a common thief.”
STOOP: What a comedown. I have a friend, a fellow who used to make counterfeit fifties and hundreds. Just recently he had to make up a line of phony two dollar bills to retail for 39 cents. So what happens? He works like a dog turning out counterfeit dough, and his wife spends it faster than he can make it.
ARCHIE: Yeah, it’s tough. This year us detectives got wallets to match our feet.
STOOP: The Whodunit Detective Agency, Stoopnagle speaking. Huh? Oh. It’s for you, Archie.
ARCHIE: Thanks. Hello? Oh, yes, Mr. B. I’ll be right over to your house.
ARCHIE: I have to go right out on a case, Colonel. Could I borrow some dog biscuits from you?
STOOP: Dog biscuits? Whose house are you going to?
ARCHIE: The Baskervilles.
STOOP: He’ll probably be hounded to death.

This script excerpt is featured in the new book, Duffy's Tavern: A History of Ed Gardner's Radio Program (2014, Bear Manor Media). You can purchase a copy of the book at