Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #22-#21

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22) Fred Allen

Fred AllenFred Allen was one of radio’s most remembered and most beloved satirists, and most successful personalities. Beginning in 1929, Allen embarked on a 20 year career in radio beginning with the Little Show and proceeding through a wide variety of sponsors from Hellman’s Mayonaise to Texaco Fire Chief Gasoline. Allen famously “feuded” with fellow-comedian Jack Benny for years creating some of radio’s most memorable comedy moments. Allen also original Allen’s Alley which had a small town of hilarious characters offer their witty comments on the news of the day with the most famous citizen being Alan Reed’s Falstaff Openshaw. Allen often ran into difficulty with network censors over the issues that would seem trivial today. In one instance, censors objected to his wife Portland Hoffa saying she’d wasted a day at the rodeo for fear of offending rodeo fans. Thankfully for everyone, Allen was talented enough to work around the network’s pettiness and most Americans had a far better sense of humor than the networks as evidence by Allen’s long-term radio success.

21) Mel Blanc

Mel BlancMel Blanc is perhaps the greatest voice in Warner Brother’s golden age of animation but he was just as vital to comedy on radio. He’s radio credit list reads like a Who’s Who of radio comedy with him appearing of the programs of such stars as Abbott and Costello, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Danny Kaye, the Great Gildersleeve, and Bob Hope. He also had a show of his own from 1946-47. He had many notable characters including the “Happy Postman” for many years on the Burns and Allen show. Of course, his cartoon work came into play. During one episode of Abbott and Costello, Bugs Bunny actually appeared in the day’s story. And for the Armed Forces Radio Services programs such as GI Journal, Blanc took the stuttering of his Porky Pig characted and amped it up to create the create the character of Private Sad Sack. For both civilian and military audiences, Blanc provided unforgetable characterization and great comic timing that has made him an indispensable part of radio’s golden age.

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