Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown #48-#46

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Claudia Morgan48) Claudia Morgan

Claudia Morgan was the definitive  radio Nora Charles. She played the role from 1941-50. What made this remarkable was that the program seven different runs over four different networks with four different leads. Through it all, she was the indispensable ingredient in this long-running series, maintaining a unique play on Mrs. Charles that was in many ways, stronger and more forceful than Myrna Loy’s screen-presentation.  Morgan’s portrayal of Mrs. Charles was so good that when NBC decided to start another husband-wife detective show, she was picked to play Mrs. Abbott on The Adventures of the Abbotts. The new series ran only one season but Morgan’s history with co-stars hadn’t. She played Jean Abbott the whole season while three actors portrayed husband and official lead Pat.

47) Eddie “Rochester”Anderson

There were not many great roles for black actors, mostly stereotypical domestic roles. Most black actors got these kind of royals and couldn’t do anything with them. Anderson was a different case thanks to some help from Jack Benny.  The humor of the Rochester character moved away from racial jokes and Anderson became Benny’s most popular sidekick. When recording or filming before an audience, when Benny calls home and Anderson answers, “This is Rochester,” the audience roared. Anderson took his Rochester character to guest star on other shows including Eddie Cantor and Fred Allen and was very popular with GIs as evidenced by his numerous appearances on Command Performance. Anderson’s remarkable charm, personality, and comic timing make him one of radio’s most beloved actors decades later.

46) Jean Hersholt

The most noted chapter in Hersholt’s career began when he played Dr. John Luke, who was based on the doctor who cared for the Dionne Quintuplets. What followed was a radio series featuring  a country doctor, a series named Dr. Christian. Dr. Christian’s radio run was one of the longest, running from 1937-54 and spawning six films between 1939-41. Dr. Christian was a kindly and humane character who cared for the citizens of River’s End and anyone else in need of help. The show took on greater heights and depths when scriptwriting became a contest that listeners could write. The show’s genre could change from week to week but the kindly character of Paul Christian didn’t. Hersholt engrossed himself in the character and according to John Dunning refused roles that would take him too far out of character. In addition to his on-radio kindness, he was an off-radio humanitarian as well. He worked tirelessly for the Motion Picture Relief Fund for eightteen years to help down on their luck entertainers (of which there were many in the early days of Hollywood) and under his watch The Screen Guild Theatre began to help support this effort.

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