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.
63) 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
Ameche’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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