The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

21Oct/120

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #60-#58

65-61, 70-6671-75, 76-80, 81-85, 86-90, 91-95, 96-100

60) Harold Peary

Harold PearyGoing back to his Chicago radio days, Harold Perry made more than 10,000 radio appearances. However, there's one role that Perry's career is associated with Throckmorton Gildersleeve. In 1939,Gilldersleeve was introduced on Fibbery McGee and Molly and became an instant his signature laugh and catchphrases like, "You're a hard man, McGee!"

Gildersleeve became enormously popular. So popular, in fact, that the first ever spin off was made with the Great Gildersleeve becoming one of radio's most memorable hits.

Perry's star rose during his 9 Seasons on the Great Gildersleeve. He also played Gilldersleeve in nine movies, four with Fibber McGee and Molly, four Gilldersleeve movies, and one additional film with Victor Mature and Lucille Ball.

However, Perry became disatisfied with the status quo. He had a solid crooning voice that he felt was underused on Gildersleeve.

The late 40s and early 50s marked CBS famous talents raid. Beginning with bringing Jack Benny to CBS, they began to take talent from other networks left and right including Burns and Allen. CBS offered Perry a fat contract, however Kraft refused to let Gildersleeve go to CBS forcing Perry to launch a new program, The Harold Perry Show.

Despite the support of Joseph Kearns, Parley Baer, and Jane Morgan from Our Miss Brooks, the show was a one season flop due to poor and inconsistent writing. The decision to jump networks sent Perry's career back to character work. Meanwhile, Gildersleeve went on until 1957 with Willard Waterman taking over the role and bringing Gildersleeve to the small screen in 1955. Still, Perry is generally regarded as the better Gildersleeve due to the strength of the character for the eleven seasons he played it. Despite Perry's poor decision, his laugh and voice make him an indispensable part of radio history.

59) Art Linkletter

Art Linkletter was an amazing radio pioneer. In someways, his radio programs predated many of the TV reality programs with outrageous stunts. His show, People are Funny challenged audience members to take on unusual stunts with the promise of prizes, usually the prizes for basic challenges were small and it was all in fun. Some challenges included having a teenage girl call up a complete stranger to get homework help. Linkletter sometimes  kept radio audiences riveted with multiple week challenges for big prizes such as cars, vacations, or a step on an exciting career path such as acting. In addition, Linkletter hosted the daily program Art Linkletter's House Party which aired from 1945-67 over radio and from 1952-69 over television. The program also relied on audience participation. The most famous sketch from the program included Linkletter interviewing every day kids who "said the darnedst things."

58) Arch Oboler

Arch Oboler was one of radio's master playwrights. Fans of radio horror will remember him for his work on the horror anthology series Lights Out. However, his talent went far beyond the genre of supernatural thrillers. He was capable of writing moving drama and deep philosophical pieces to rival Norman Corwin. He had not one, but two radio series of plays he'd written called Arch Oboler's Plays. During World War II, he wrote dramatic plays for such programs as Plays for Americans, Everything for the Boys, and Everyman's Theater.  Oboler worked to secure his legacy by repackaging and resyndicating twenty-six programs (twenty-five from Lights Out as The Devil and Mr. O.Thus, his legacy lives on.

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20Oct/120

Telefilm Review: One Two Buckle My Shoe

In One Two Buckle My Shoe, Poirot's dentist is murdered on the same day that Poirot visits him. On first glance, the dentist's death looks like suicide. However, Poirot and Inspector Japp suspect foul play and they begin a search to untangle the intricate situation that led to the dentist's untimely demise and t find an ever-widening circle of suspects. This was the last of the 4th Series of Poirot on ITV.

With the Poirot mysteries, there's a certain level of quality that's expected and David Suchet, Philip Jackson, and the rest of the cast deliver. However, there were a few irritants in this particular production. The biggest is that the children's song upon which the title of the Christie book was taken from is sung in a creepy ghostly manner by some girls near the dentist office. I don't feel I'm giving too much away to say that nothing truly sinister or diabolical was done with the shoe buckle making the singing seem (to put it mildly) out of place.

This focus does tend to give away a key clue as does the inclusion of a scene from India that wasn't in the novel that many viewers thought gave too much of the mystery away. To be fair, due to the complexity of the case, the producers may have felt the viewers could have used some help in trying to understand what happened and I don't think they were unjustified in that.

Despite these criticisms and the lack of a spectacular setting, One Two Buckle My Shoe remains a well-acted, generally well-produced adaptation of the quality I've come to expect from the ITV Poirot series.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.00

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19Oct/120

EP0780: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Paul Gorrell Matter

John Lund

At the request of an insurance company, Johnny signs up for a rideshare with a murderer in hopes of recovering $100,000.

Original Air Date: February 2, 1954

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18Oct/120

EP0779: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Foot

While convalescing in Cornish country, Sherlock Holmes is confronted with a bizarre murder mystery that has seen two brothers and a sister wiped out.

Original Air Date: January 31, 1949

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17Oct/121

EP0778: Let George Do It: The Symbol Three

Bob Bailey
A woman receives an anonymous call with a mysterious warning of danger for her arrogant husband. Several mysterious accidents follow.

 Original Air Date: February 18, 1952

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16Oct/121

EP0777: Fat Man: Murder Wins the Draw

J Scott Smart
On a flight from Central America to New Orleans, a beautiful woman gets Brad on a flight to Guatemala City.

Original Air Date: April 1, 1949

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15Oct/120

EP0776: Frank Race: The Adventure of The Garrulous Bartender

Tom Collins

Frank investigates the case of a bank employee who embezzled money and fled to Juarez.

Original Air Date: May 28, 1949

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14Oct/120

Video Theater 033: Green Eyes

A mystery writer tries to solve the murder of a wealthy man who was killed in his mansion.

Release Date: June 15, 1934

14Oct/120

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #65-#61

Previous Posts: 70-6671-75, 76-80, 81-85, 86-90, 91-95, 96-100

65) Harry Bartell

Harry Bartell is another one of those amazing character actors. His winning personality made him the perfect genial spokesmen for Petri Wines on the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the Casebook of Gregory Hood. On the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, in particular, he achieved a great level of chemistry with co-star Nigel Bruce making the commercials and intros worth listening to. He also was the longest serving of the six Archie Goodwins on the New Adventures of Nero Wolfe with Sidney Greenstreet. He was the green Young Lieutenant Lieutenant Siberts on Fort Laramie. He was Captain Merriweather Lewis in NPR's Horizons West. However, beyond his known roles, Bartell was a true character with more than 10,000 radio appearances. Many of these appearances were on some radio's most well known programs. The Digital Deli gives the tale of the tape:

* 180+ appearances in Gunsmoke
* 60+ appearances in Escape
* 15+ appearances in Advs. of Philip Marlowe
* 30+ appearances in Dragnet
* 20+ appearances in Let George Do It
* 45+ appearances in Suspense
* 96+ appearances in Johnny Dollar
* 60+ appearances in Have Gun, Will Travel

With so many vital roles in great radio franchises, Bartell was truly essential. Further, he remained an active ambassador for the godlen age of radio, appearing at OTR conventions, and even appeared in some new radio dramas with Jim French's productions in Seattle.

64) Cathy Lewis-Cathy Lewis was another well-used radio character actresses. She had recurring roles on programs like Michael Shayne Private Detective with Wally Maher, My Friend Irma, and The Great Gildersleeve. Perhaps, her most well-known program was the series On Stage in which she starred with her then-husband Elliot. She was invaluable as a character actress, making numerous appearance on anthology programs like Suspense, Romance, and The Whistler. With more than 3000 appearances, Cathy Lewis' place as one of radio's most important women is well-earned.

Abbott and Costello63) Abbott and Costello-Abbott and Costello's style of comedy left an indellible mark on radio. They began their radio career in the early 40s, becoming regulars on the Charlie McCarthy show before landing their own show for Camel in 1942. However, their career on the radio was interrupted when Lou Costello was hit with rheumatic fever and forced into nine months of bed rest. Then on the day Costello was to return to radio, his infant son Lou Jr. drowned in a swimming pool two hours after Costello had been playing with him. Costello had promised Lou, Jr. that he would hear him on the radio. Jimmy Durante among others offered to fill in for Costello, but Costello insisted on going on, writing later, "I wanted to do that show so that my voice would go on the air with the hope that Lou Jr. might hear it wherever he was." Abbott and Costello would star in the Camel Program on NBC until 1947 when would jump to ABC for their final two seasons. During their ABC run, the duo also hosted the Abbott and Costello Kids Show which served as an outgrowth of the Lou Costello Jr. Youth Foundation which sought to honor good citizenship among kids . In addition, with the heyday of the hard boiled private eye, Costello introduced his own parody in the form of the Sam Shovel sketches.

With limited  opportunities for physical comedy, Abbott and Costello weren't as good over radio as they were in visual mediums, but they were good enough so that fans still crave their radio antics as part of the legacy of these comedy legends who enjoyed success in Vaudeville, Radio, Movies, and Television, making them perhaps the greatest comedy team of all time.

62) Rudy Vallee

Vallee was the first of the great crooners, setting the table for those who would follow such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. He was the leader of his own orchestra, the Connecticut Yankees. He was also a radio pioneer as one of the first variety show hosts with the Fleischmann Yeast Hour in 1928.  Vallee would host similar variety programs for more than 20 years and give radio listeners an early look at such stars as Kate Smith and Burns and Allen.

61) Don Ameche

Don AMecheAmeche's radio career was one of many highlights. He became a regular star on the Chicago based soap Betty and Bob in the early 1930s, one of radio's earliest soap operas.  He also served as the long time host of the Chase and Sanborn Hour which featured Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. He played the role of John Bickerson the male half of radio's constantly fighting couple, and perhaps paradoxically played the lead in the first episode of The Family Theater.  In addition, Amerche also served as the announcer on the Jimmy Durante Show in its final days. Based on his numerous achievements, he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1992.

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13Oct/120

You Ought to be on DVD: The Ziv Properties

Previous: Vintage Detective Movie Serials, I Heard it on Radio, Nero Wolfe

Frederick Ziv was listed as #66 on our list of radio's most essential people, but he was also critical in early television. Ziv Television turned out some of the most fascinating first-run syndicated television series. Many of these titles will be recognizable to old time radio fans such as Mr. District Attorney, Boston Blackie, Easy Aces, Bold Venture (alas without Bogart and Becall), Dr. Christian (with Carey playing the nephew of the original Dr. Christian), and the Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater. In addition fans of I Was a Communist for the FBI would appreciate the even better TV series I Led Three Lives.

Sadly, most of these programs are unavailable on DVD. A few like Lock Up (starring Macdonald Carey) have lapsed into the public domain in their entirety or like Boston Blackie or Bat Masterson have lapsed partially, so some prints are available, but alas most of these programs if they're available at all are only available through gray market or black market source with variable quality.

It's a shame because Ziv had some truly entertaining programs that filled non-prime time hours.

In addition to all of the radio programs brought to television, there were many other highlights: There was the King of Diamond series that featured William Gargan's only acting appearance after the loss of his voice due to removal of his larynx. There were several great sea programs including Men of Annapolis, The Aquanauts, Harbor Command, Waterfront, and Seahunt. There was the sky diving drama Ripcord. MGM's only step on the Ziv programs was an over-priced released of Season 1 of Highway Patrol at a cost of more than $50.

Of course, it's not only Ziv's programs that MGM's neglected. Only one episode of MGM's Thin Man Television series from 1957 with Peter Lawford has been released and that as an extra with the Thin Man movies.

I hope that MGM will work to get these programs released, maybe by selling the rights to a company like Timeless Media Group or Shout  Factory who have shown competence in selling and marketing classic television shows. As it is right now, there's a lot of great TV going to waste in the MGM vault.

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