28 Gordon MacRae
As an up and coming singer, Macrae was featured in a couple of fifteen minute musical programs including CBS Skyline Roof from 1945-46, the Syndicated Gulf Spray program that aired in 1947. Then in 1948, he became host of the Texaco Star Theater, a program which had featured such luminaries as Ed Wynn and Fred Allen. His magnificent singing voice and chemistry with star Evelyn Knight led to his greatest radio job, star of the Railroad Hour. The program began over ABC as a 45 minute program which adapted major musicals to radio. The program would go to a more normal 30 minute length and switch networks but it would spend six seasons putting on big productions even while radio began to give way to television. McaRae brought audiences programs such as State Fair, Showboat, Brigadoon, and even performed roles he would later play on screen in Oklahoma and Carousel.
The program went beyond just musicals. The Railroad Hour produced Summer Specials recalling the great tunes of past years, created original musicals, as well as specials paying tribute to those who made the world’s musical heritage so rich. Throughout the show’s run, MacRae’s dynamic voice and his charisma were what made the show. He worked well and clicked with singer/actresses such as Marian Hutton, Francis Langford, Dinah Shore, and Margaret Truman, along with regulars like Lucille Norman, Dorothy Kirsten, and Dorothy Warenskjold.
27) Bud Collyer
Bud Collyer has more than 20,000 radio credits. Most of these were as announcers or as a game show host. He announced on such a variety of programs as Jungle Jim, Cavalcade of America, the Road of Life, and The Guiding Light. He also spent eleven years as host of TV’s Beat the Clock.
However, all this pales when compared to his greatest radio great. He was the 1940s most widely heard Superman. He played the role from 1940-50 over radio in addition to starring in the legendary Fleischer role. Superman, in many ways was one of the most challenging characters to bring to radio. His comic book exploits were fantastic. To convey that excitement in aural medium was a great challenge. Collyer was the actor to pull it off. His delivery was exciting and well-paced. He kept a distinct “Clark” and “Superman” voice that helped listeners know when he was in which identity.
Collyer’s creation of a successful and believable radio Superman makes him an indispensable part of radio’s golden age. While Collyer left the role in 1950, it was permanent. He’d return to voice Superman once again for the 1960s filmation cartoons.
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