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Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Dramatic Radio.

The WallBreakers

    • Jul 2, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 22m AVG DURATION
    • 948 EPISODES

    Listeners of Breaking Walls that love the show mention: fred allen, otr, radio shows, love history, generation, sound effects, put together, james, well researched, podcasting, real life, interviews, inspiring, music, share, entertaining, lot, wonderful, informative, stories.

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    Latest episodes from Breaking Walls

    BW - EP129—002: Radio, Roswell And The Flying Saucer Craze—The Chicago Roundtable Debate

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 2, 2022 10:44

    The University of Chicago Roundtable grew out of arguments had by professors at the faculty club. In 1931 they were convinced their forum would make for good radio. WMAQ agreed. The show premiered on February 1st of that year. It began running nationally over NBC on October 15th, 1933. The thirty-minute time slot allowed for little grandstanding. Professors rotated with each broadcast according to their expertise. They sat at a triangular table, which put the speakers face-to-face. It had time-warning lights facing each chair and was built like a sloping pyramid, with a microphone at the top. If people really were seeing UFOs in the sky they had to be coming from other worlds. On December 19th, 1948 The Roundtable attempted to answer the question from a scientific point of view. There were no scripts, but Roundtable was the first show of its kind to issue a weekly magazine. It contained a transcript of the previous program, biographies of the participants, listener feedback, suggested topical reading, and a schedule of coming broadcasts. The University of Chicago Roundtable would air until June 12th, 1955, finally going off the air when NBC launched Monitor.

    BW - EP129—001: Radio, Roswell And The Flying Saucer Craze—Kenneth Arnold And The Roswell Crash

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 30, 2022 23:54

    Early on the morning of February 25th, 1942 several aerial objects were spotted over Los Angeles. It triggered the firing of thousands of anti-aircraft rounds. This was ten weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Manilla. Initially, it was thought to be a Japanese attack, but shortly after Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox said it was a false alarm. The hysteria was blamed on a weather balloon. During World War II soldiers reported seeing metallic spheres in the sky. The allies dubbed them “Foo Fighters.” In 1946, numerous UFO sightings were reported in Sweden. Known as “Ghost Rockets,” they put the Swedish Defense Staff on high alert. No confirmation of what they were was ever achieved. All of these paled in comparison to what happened in Washington State in June of 1947. On June 24th a transport with thirty-two marines on board crashed near Mount Rainier, Washington. A private pilot, Kenneth Arnold, was flying from Chehalis (SHA HAY LISS) to Yakima on a business trip. Arnold had six years of experience flying in and around the rugged Mount Rainier terrain. He went off course to look for wreckage. On April 6th, 1950 he spoke with Edward R. Murrow about his experience. As the objects passed Mount Rainier, Arnold turned his plane parallel to their course. He timed their rate of passage. They moved from Mount Rainier to Mount Adams —a distance of about fifty miles—in one minute forty-two seconds. That put their speed at over seventeen-hundred miles per hour. That was three times faster than any manned aircraft in 1947. The next day Arnold told his story to a newspaper in Pendleton, Oregon. The military questioned Arnold on three occasions, doubting his experience. But, other pilots soon told of sightings. On July 4th, The Oregon Journal received a letter from an L. G. Bernier of Richland, Washington who saw three objects flying toward Mount Rainier about one half-hour before Arnold. Bernier suggested they might have been extraterrestrial in origin. Arnold soon agreed. The problem with simply dismissing what Arnold saw lies in the fact that he was a credible witness. Sure, he could have been seeing things, but here was a man both highly trained and highly observational. Two weeks later, the most speculated UFO crash of the twentieth century was reported in Roswell, New Mexico.

    BW - EP128: June 1954—The End as We Knew It

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 27, 2022 182:47

    In Breaking Walls episode 128 we wrap up our six month look at 1954 by ending in June with network cancellations. —————————— Highlights: • The State of Radio and The Union • The End of Escape with John Dehner • News with Frank Edwards on Mutual • Let's Pretend with Arnold Stang • Autolite Drops Suspense • Goodbye To Jack Benny (For Now) • What's At Stake in the Fall 1954 Midterm Elections • CBS Cancels The Lux Radio Theatre • The End of James Stewart's The Six Shooter • Looking Ahead to July and Roswell —————————— The WallBreakers: Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts. To support the show: —————————— The reading material used in today's episode was: • On the Air — By John Dunning • Network Radio Ratings — by Jim Ramsburg • The Complete Escape and Suspense Logs — By Keith Scott As well as articles from: • Broadcasting Magazine • LIFE Magazine • Newsweek • Radio Guide —————————— On the interview front: • Parley Baer, Ken Carpenter, Elliott Lewis, and Paula Winslowe spoke to Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chats at • Herb Ellis, Virginia Gregg, Jack Johnstone, Elliott Lewis, and Herb Vigran spoke to SPERDVAC. For more info, go to • John Gibson, Elliott Lewis, Vincent Price, and Arnold Stang spoke to Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio. Hear these full interviews at • John Dehner and Vic Perrin spoke with Neil Ross at KMPC. • Dennis Day spoke with John Dunning for 71KNUS. • Morton Fine was with Dan Haefele. • Orson Welles with Johnny Carson. • Jimmy Stewart with Larry King. • Jack Benny spoke with CBS. —————————— Selected music featured in today's episode was: • Living Without You and Too Much Between Us — By George Winston • The Last Rose of Summer — By Tom Waits • Seance on a Wet Afternoon — By John Barry —————————— A special thank you to Ted Davenport, Jerry Haendiges, and Gordon Skene. For Ted go to, for Jerry, visit, and for Gordon, please go to —————————— Thank you to: Tony Adams Steven Allmon Orson Orsen Chandler Phil Erickson Jessica Hanna Perri Harper Briana Isaac Thomas M. Joyce Ryan Kramer Earl Millard Gary Mollica Barry Nadler Christian Neuhaus Aimee Pavy Ray Shaw Filipe A Silva —————————— WallBreakers Links: Patreon - Social Media - @TheWallBreakers

    Candy Matson: The Devil and the Deep Freeze—09/30/1949

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 27, 2022 29:27

    Airing out of KNBC in San Francisco was a ground-breaking lady detective anthology named Candy Matson. Produced, written and directed by Monty Masters and starring his wife, Natalie Masters, Candy Matson debuted on Saturday June 26th, 1949 at 8:30PM Pacific Time on NBC's west-coast circuit. Natalie was from San Francisco and began her career with the Wayfarers Repertory of the San Francisco Little Theatre Group. The creative couple were locally successful and had nearly fifteen years of experience by 1949. Henry Leff was Police Detective Ray Mallas, with Jack Thomas as Rembrandt Watson. Candy's number was YUkon 3-8309, and each episode began with a telephone call. The Masters' leaned heavily on their prior associations in the Bay Area. Plots were also reliant on the audience's knowledge of local San Francisco. Unfortunately, because NBC was sustaining production costs, they moved the show around frequently. They'd often air a program a day or hours ahead its scheduled air date, apologizing later to the growing body of Candy Matson fans. Candy solved almost ninety cases. The series ran until May 20th, 1951.

    When Vincent Price Was A Coney Island Fortune Teller on Suspense

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 23, 2022 23:09

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls EP92: Radio and Coney Island (1906 - 1960) ___ Late in 1956, CBS was able to sell individual commercial breaks for Suspense at reduced prices. On November 4th, 1956, the show moved to Sunday afternoons at 4:30. Now directed by William N. Robson. On June 9th, 1957 Suspense broadcast a play called “The Green and Gold String” starring Vincent Price as a Coney Island fortune teller. Although Price was a film star, he'd long had a clause in his contract for radio.

    BW - EP128—010: June 1954—Looking Ahead To July And Roswell

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2022 5:58

    Well, this brings our six-month look at 1954 to a close. Jack Benny again had radio's highest-rated show the following season in what would ultimately turn out to be his swan song. Benny's last new radio episode aired in May of 1955. Joseph McCarthy would finally be censured by the Senate in December. He never recovered from that political storm, and died three years later, ravaged by disease and addiction, at the age of forty-eight. Although in some ways the Red Scare ended in 1954, the cold war was just reaching its height. But fears of nuclear bombers were only half the reason people were looking up. It's time we focused on the other. Next time on Breaking Walls, in honor of its seventy-fifth anniversary, we examine our places in the universe with the utterance of a single word: Roswell.

    Parley Baer On His Feud With Jack Webb

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 18, 2022 2:43

    On August 14th, 1982, Parley Baer was a guest of SPERDVAC ( along with John Dehner, Virginia Gregg, Peggy Webber, Harry Bartell, and Vic Perrin. Throughout the course of the interview, they told many stories about Jack Webb, including this great one by Parley Baer about his eight-year feud with Dragnet's creator.

    BW - EP128—009: June 1954—The End Of James Stewart's Six Shooter

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 17, 2022 10:53

    Even with James Stewart leading the cast and Jack Johnstone directing, without a national sponsor cancellation was around the corner for The Six Shooter. Unlike with CBS, it was uncommon for NBC to sustain shows for long. Stewart had turned down sponsorship from Liggett and Myers Tobacco. The Six Shooter would be canceled after the June 24th, 1954 episode. Thirty-nine shows were produced. Parley Baer played parts in many episodes. The next year Baer would work with Johnstone on CBS' Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. In the finale Ponset falls in love with Myra Barker. He proposes, but at the conclusion they realize married life isn't possible so long as Ponset still has wrongs to right and people to save. In the end, Britt rides off into the sunset. Fortunately for radio fans, the entirety of The Six-Shooter's one season survives. For more info, tune into Breaking Walls episode 122.

    The Halls of Ivy: D-Day—06/07/1950

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 16, 2022 28:58

    On the June 7th, 1950 episode of The Halls of Ivy, it's a lazy Saturday morning. The college staff members who live on faculty row are enjoying their free time. Professor Quinn-cannon is trimming a hedge, Professor Warren is transplanting some flowering quince, Professor Heslip is weeding his lawn, and Dr William Toddhunter Hall, Ivy's president is upstairs in his bedroom fast asleep. Of course, that doesn't last very long. ——————————— The Halls of Ivy premiered coast-to-coast on NBC on Friday January 6th, 1950 at 8PM eastern time. NBC programmed the show opposite the evening's highest-rated show: ABC's The Fat Man. The program debuted with a rating of 9. Don Quinn was a master of quips and puns, but much of the actual writing was left first to playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee, and later to Milton and Barbara Merlin. Quinn acted as editor and creative director. For the half-season, The Halls of Ivy pulled a rating of just 6.5. It was ABC who had reason to celebrate. For the first time since its 1927 inception as NBC‘s Blue Network, it placed five programs in a night's Top Ten.

    BW - EP128—008: June 1954—CBS Cancels The Lux Radio Theatre

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2022 31:59

    At network radio's height, no dramatic show was more popular than CBS' Lux Radio Theatre. Between 1936 and 1954 it never finished lower than eighth in the ratings, and it was radio's top show between 1947 and 1952. Ken Carpenter announced. Radio's best supporting talent, like Paula Winslowe, worked opposite Hollywood's biggest stars. Mondays at 9PM eastern was appointment radio, and CBS built the rest of its powerhouse Monday schedule around Lux. It helped shows like My Friend Irma, Inner Sanctum, Screen Guild, and Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts reach new heights. It was also radio's most-rehearsed show. All the players were expected to be available for an entire week leading up to the live Monday broadcast. John Gibson, best known as Ethelbert on Crime Photographer, remembered the schedule. Vincent Price, one of the only Hollywood stars contractually allowed to do as much radio as he wanted, remembered working the show. A TV version of Lux premiered in 1950. Near the end of the radio run it was estimated that Lux had gone through more than fifty thousand pages of script, five-hundred stars, fifteen-hundred supporting players, twenty-thousand music cues, and twenty-thousand sound effects. In 1954 Lux was still rated fifth overall with a 6.2, but even radio's most famous dramatic show wasn't immune to the times. Towards the end of the season it was announced that CBS and Lux would be cutting ties in June. All that was left was to put a bow on one of the most successful shows in radio history. Lux would run one more season, moving to NBC where it was still a top-four show. The Lux Video Theatre also shifted to NBC. It ran until 1957 before changing formats and bringing in Rosemary Clooney as star. In its final season in 1959, the show became The Lux Playhouse before being canceled.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2022 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP128—007: June 1954—What's At Stake In The Fall 1954 Midterm Elections

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 14, 2022 13:40

    On Sunday June 13th, 1954 at 6PM Eastern, The American Forum of the Air signed on Mutual with a discussion on the 1954 midterm elections. The featured Senators were Republican Homer Ferguson of Michigan and Democrat Mike Monroney of Oklahoma. The two political parties had deep divides within on key issues. While many Republicans were conservative, they didn't support Joseph McCarthy's communist raids. Northern democrats were likely to be liberal and in favor of the underway de-segregation. Many southern Dems were known as Dixiecrats and upset at the recent Brown vs. Board of Ed. ruling. The 1954 elections were held on November 2nd. The Republicans would lose both the House and Senate, a direct result of anti-McCarthy backlash. The elections caused a divided government that continued to the end of Eisenhower's presidency. Republicans wouldn't retake the Senate until 1980 and the House until 1994.

    Jack Benny On His Love of Violin

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 13, 2022 0:54

    This is an excerpt from an episode of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in 1973 featuring Jack Benny. In this clip Jack talks about his love of the violin.

    BW - EP128—006: June 1954—Goodbye To Jack Benny (For Now)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 12, 2022 17:34

    On June 6th, 1954 Jack Benny closed his broadcast for the end of the season. Jack was going to headline in Dallas. The show featured a semi-rare appearance from Mary Livingston. Although radio audiences were rapidly waning and Benny was a TV star as well, he kept his radio program going. Out of home listening was adding an additional forty percent to primetime radio audiences. That means Benny's 8.2 1954 rating was actually closer to 11.5.

    Radio Legend Elliott Lewis Explains Why He Called Ad Execs The League of Frightened Men

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 10, 2022 1:31

    In the early 1980s, radio actor/writer/producer/director Elliott Lewis was a guest of John Dunning's Old-Time Radio program for 71K Newstalk Radio in Denver, CO. During the course of the conversation the two were talking about the need for ad execs to be less paranoid and to butt out of the creative process more often.

    BW - EP128—005: June 1954—Autolite Drops Suspense

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 8, 2022 34:12

    By June of 1954, the thirty-six year-old Elliott Lewis was producer/director of four shows and the star of two. His peers affectionately dubbed him “Mr. Radio.” Perhaps most prominently, he'd been producer and director of Suspense since the fall of 1950. Program sponsor Autolite preferred to keep its commercials humorous, feeling that the change of pace shocked the audience to attention. Each 30-minute episode required over five-hundred total hours of work from fifty people. With Lewis at the helm, Suspense was able to stave off some of the decline in ratings other shows succumbed to. This was partly due to his partnership with Morton Fine and David Friedkin. Although the series, now airing on Mondays at 8PM, was still heard by roughly 12.5 million people each week, at season's end Autolite decided to discontinue their sponsorship after six years. The last Autolite Suspense episode was “A Terribly Strange Bed” on June 7th. Adapted by Morton Fine, it guest-starred Peter Lawford as an English cop in France who wins big at a gambling table, gets drunk, and ends up in a hotel room in a booby-trapped bed. Featured in this episode as The Cropier was Vic Perrin. After the episode climax, announcer Harlow Wilcox signed off for the two-hundred-forty-sixth and final time. Elliott Lewis left the production after July 27th. Suspense would remain a sustained show until finding multiple sponsorship in late 1956. Unfortunately for Lewis, his other shows would soon be canceled. Phil Harris and Alice Faye went off the air on June 18th. Crime Classics on June 30th. Broadway is My Beat on August 1st. And On Stage on September 30th. For more info on Elliott Lewis' career, tune into Breaking Walls episode 113.

    BW - EP128—004: June 1954—Let's Pretend With Arnold Stang

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2022 20:01

    Originally broadcast as The Adventures of Helen and Mary, radio's preeminent children's show first took to the air on September 7th, 1929 over CBS. It became Let's Pretend on March 24th, 1934. Hosted by “Uncle” Bill Adams, it was in many ways the brainchild of Nila Mack, who penned, produced, and directed each show. Ms Mack was born in 1891 in Kansas and became an ingenue on Broadway and in vaudeville. She arrived at CBS in 1928, and in August 1930 assumed control of the show. Mack felt the best way to tell a children's story was to let the children tell it. Acting talent could play a lead one week and a character part the next. She soon became CBS director of children's programming. One of Ms. Mack's staples was her open door policy. Any child could audition. She was responsible for developing two generations of some of the best child-turned-adult acting talent in radio history, like Arnold Stang. Radio Guide wrote that Ms Mack instantly knew if a child had it. If so, he or she would be given a small part and slowly work their way up to lead roles. Perhaps Newsweek said it best in 1943: “Let's Pretend is filled with kings and queens who ride talking horses through enchanted forests. It has maidens who must be rescued from witches, dragons, and dwarfs. Its characters travel in coaches, wear purple robes through emerald halls into jade rooms, and drink from golden goblets.” Cream of Wheat became the sponsor that year. It was a partnership that lasted until 1952. At 2PM on Saturday June 5th, 1954, Let's Pretend signed on the air over CBS in New York. Unfortunately, Nila Mack passed away from a heart attack on January 20th, 1953, but the show kept on. In its final two years the Nila Mack Award was given to the top players. The show would air until October 23rd, 1954. And thanks to Ms Mack, men and women like Arnold Stang were able to have long careers.

    D-Day: First Confirmation of Invasion on NBC—6.6.1944 3:30AM Eastern War Time

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 6, 2022 4:23

    This is the first confirmed bulletin to take to the airwaves on the morning of D Day, June 6th, 1944 at 3:30AM Eastern War Time. NBC newsman Robert St. John made the announcement from the New York newsroom: "Men and women of the United States, this is a momentous hour in world history. This is the invasion of Hitler's Europe—the zero hour."

    BW - EP128—003: June 1954—News With Frank Edwards On Mutual

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 5, 2022 5:52

    On June 4th, 1954 at 10PM, The Frank Edwards news program signed on from WOR in New York. During this month there were more than one-hundred-twenty major American cities with significant unemployment. The Secretary of Commerce officially announced the country was in a recession. Meanwhile, Vietnam was given technical independence within the French Union. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (DUH LUSS) felt the U.S would have to send troops to Southeast Asia to prevent Communist expansion. In other news, on June 6th the San Francisco Chief debuted. On June 13th, NASCAR held its first ever event in Linden, New Jersey. It was won by Al Keller. That same day, the last steam locomotive ran on the Maine Central Railroad. And on Flag Day, June 14th, the words “under God” were officially added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 3, 2022 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP128—002: June 1954—The End Of Escape

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 2, 2022 17:28

    As Escape and shows like it were canceled, there were fewer opportunities for radio's west-coast actors on network sustained programs. This episode, “An Ordinary Man” was written by Kathleen Hite and starred John Dehner and Virginia Gregg, with Tony Barrett, Edgar Barrier, and Harry Bartell. It aired on June 3rd, 1954. Escape would be canceled on September 25th. Gregg, Bartell, and Dehner would continue to work together on shows like Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Gunsmoke, Frontier Gentleman, and Have Gun, Will Travel. For more info on John Dehner's career, tune into Breaking Walls episode 101.

    BW - EP128—001: June 1954—The State Of Radio And The Union

    Play Episode Listen Later May 31, 2022 21:10

    By June 1954 network radio drama was facing huge sponsor disinterest. Shows canceled in the first half of the year included The Quiz Kids, Dr. Christian, Front Page Farrell, Bulldog Drummond, Rocky Fortune, Ozzie and Harriet, and The Six Shooter. ABC, CBS, Mutual, and NBC reduced ad sale charges for the sixth consecutive year. It was an attempt to offset TVs broadening market share. It didn't work. For the first time in sixteen years revenue fell. The only category to see an increase in sales was local advertising, and even that rose less than one percent. In 1948, radio's top show was heard by roughly twenty-eight million people. In 1950, by twenty million. In 1952, by fourteen million. And in 1954, by roughly nine million. West-coast radio actors, like Herb Vigran and Herb Ellis were moving into TV, but television was already going through budgetary changes. By the summer of 1954, more than sixty percent of U.S. homes had a TV set. I Love Lucy pulled a rating of nearly sixty. Radio's top show, People Are Funny had a rating of 8.4. Along with oncoming transistor sets, nearly thirty million cars now had radios, but there was still no system to measure this audience. The next year it was estimated that out-of-home listening added an additional forty percent to at-home audiences. People Are Funny's actual rating was closer to twelve. But these incidentals didn't matter to the industry's character actors. Network production habits were changing. More and more documentaries and news were airing from New York, more and more drama was airing from Los Angeles. Things would be tougher by the end of the decade, but we're not there yet. Tonight, we'll head to June of 1954 as network radio reaches a point of no return. ____________ As June got underway, the Army-McCarthy hearings dragged on. This early focus was on the continued testimony from McCarthy attorney Roy Cohn, cross-examined by Ray Jenkins. After lunch Vermont Republican Senator Ralph Flanders compared McCarthy, his own party mate, to Adolph Hitler. He accused him of “axe-happy attempts to divide the country and split the Republican party.” He also compared McCarthy to Dennis The Menace. Flanders speculated that if McCarthy were a double-agent for the Communists, he would have been doing a perfect job. Later on McCarthy accused Flanders of being a senile, racist, religious bigot.

    Lum & Abner: Memorial Day Speech—05/30/1941

    Play Episode Listen Later May 30, 2022 14:24

    On the May 30th, 1941 Memorial Day episode of Lum & Abner, the duo take a holiday from their duties at the Jot ‘Em Down Store. Lum has recently given a Memorial Day speech at the school house. In this episode of the serial, Abner stops by Lum's home to talk about how the speech went.

    The Jack Benny Program: Last New Radio Show—05/22/1955

    Play Episode Listen Later May 28, 2022 29:22

    In May of 1955, radio's highest rated show was still The Jack Benny Program. Just under three-million homes tuned in, and many more in their cars. On May 22nd after twenty-three seasons on the air, Jack Benny brought his radio show to a close. At the time, the cast and crew didn't realize this would be their last new radio program, so there was no big sendoff. However, In the fall, Benny and his program would move solely into TV. This is the last episode.

    BW - EP127: May 1954—A Portrait of The United States

    Play Episode Listen Later May 26, 2022 180:30

    In Breaking Walls episode 127 we keep on with our look at 1954 by picking up in May during one of the most important months of the decade. —————————— Highlights: • The Big Sound in Nashville • Everett Sloane and The 21st Precinct • Ray Milland and Meet Mr McNutley • An Eisenhower Presser and Other Current Events • I Love a Mystery — Born Again • Wild Bill Hickok • Grace Kelly Guest Stars on Bob Hope's Show • Brown vs. The Board of Education • Lewis and Clark on NBC's Inheritance • The Army/McCarthy Hearings Continue with Roy Cohn's Testimony • Bing Crosby on Anthology's Memorial Day Show • Looking Ahead to June and The End as We Knew It —————————— The WallBreakers: Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts. To support the show: —————————— The reading material used in today's episode was: On the Air — By John Dunning Network Radio Ratings — by Jim Ramsburg As well as articles from: Broadcasting Magazine and LIFE Magazine —————————— On the interview front: • Parley Baer, Jim Boles, Mercedes McCambridge, Carlton E. Morse, and Russell Thorson, spoke to Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chats at • Harry Bartell, Himan Brown, Lawrence Dobkin and Virginia Gregg spoke to SPERDVAC. For more info, go to • Vincent Price spoke to Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio. Hear this full interview at • Bob Hope spoke to Johnny Carson • Andy Devine spoke to Betty Rogge —————————— Selected music featured in today's episode was: • Once I Had a Secret Love — By Dolores Watson • The Battle Cry of Freedom — By Jacqueline Schwab • Bare Necessities — By Matthias Gohl, Jay Ungar, and John Kirk • Morning Prayer — By Matthias Gohl and Ken Littlehawk • Loch Lomond (arranged for Choir) — By Musica Intima —————————— A special thank you to Ted Davenport, Jerry Haendiges, and Gordon Skene. For Ted go to, for Jerry, visit, and for Gordon, please go to —————————— Thank you to: Tony Adams Steven Allmon Orson Orsen Chandler Phil Erickson Jessica Hanna Briana Isaac Thomas M. Joyce Ryan Kramer Gary Mollica Barry Nadler Christian Neuhaus Aimee Pavy Ray Shaw

    BW - EP127—011: May 1954—Looking Ahead To June And The End As We Knew It

    Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2022 5:27

    Next time on Breaking Walls, we finish our mini-series in June of 1954 and mourn the end of an era with The Road To Happiness, Crime Classics, The Phil Harris & Alice Faye Show, The Six Shooter, The Lux Radio Theatre, Suspense, and Jack Benny.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP127—010: May 1954—Bing Crosby On Anthology's Memorial Day Show

    Play Episode Listen Later May 22, 2022 26:07

    At 3PM on Sunday, May 30th, 1954, Anthology signed on NBC. Directed by John Malcom Brennen, produced by Steve White, and announced by Harry Fleetwood, Anthology offered dramatic readings of famous and lesser-known plays. Memorial Day weekend's episode featured Agnes Moorehead reading “Barbara Fritchie,” and Frank Lovejoy and Bing Crosby performing “The Man Without a Country.” Anthology would air into June of 1955 when it was canceled in favor of the debuting Monitor. For more information on that, tune into Breaking Walls episode 116.

    Mel Brooks Tells Johnny Carson About a Prank He Pulled on General Sarnoff, Head of RCA/NBC

    Play Episode Listen Later May 21, 2022 2:34

    On the February 13th, 1975 episode of The Tonight Show, Mel Brooks was the guest for an interview not long after the debut of Young Frankenstein. During the chat, Mel told a hilarious story of a prank he pulled on top level NBC brass David Sarnoff and Pat Weaver while employed as a writer for Sid Caesar.

    Himan Brown On How the Red Scare Hurt the Radio Industry

    Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 2:48

    On October 21st, 1993, Larry and John Gassman of SPERDVAC interviewed radio producer/director Himan Brown and actor Ralph Bell at Brown's home in New York city. During the course of the interview Himan was asked about the Red Scare, which damaged his career in the 1950s.

    BW - EP127—009: May 1954—The Army-McCarthy Hearings Continue With Roy Cohn's Testimony

    Play Episode Listen Later May 19, 2022 10:45

    On Friday May 28th, 1954 as beaches and public parks opened for Memorial Day weekend, families hopped in their cars, turned on the radio dial, and heard the continuing testimony of McCarthy's Attorney Roy Cohn during the Army-McCarthy Hearing. CBS radio was there. Cohn played a major role in McCarthy's crusade. He helped create the Lavender Scare, which claimed overseas Communists blackmailed closeted government employee homosexuals into passing on secrets. Convinced that the employment of homosexuals was now a threat to national security, President Eisenhower signed an executive order on April 29th, 1953, banning homosexuals from working for the federal government. Cohn also saw that colleague G. David Schine receive special treatment when he was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1953. He contacted military officials from the Secretary of the Army down to Schine's company commander and demanded that Schine be given light duties, extra leave, and exemption from an overseas assignment. It was this behavior that hastened McCarthy's downfall, as during these hearings both Cohn and McCarthy claimed the Army was holding Schine “hostage” to squelch McCarthy's Communist investigations. Cohn testified from May 27th through June 2nd.

    BW - EP127—008: May 1954—Lewis And Clark On NBCs Inheritance

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 17:16

    Inheritance was a joint production of NBC and The American Legion at the height of The Red Scare. It first took to the air on April 4th, 1954. The American Legion was at the forefront of The Red Channels pamphlet which outed alleged communist sympathizers. The Legion's connection to The Red Channels had long been disclosed by the time Inheritance took to the air. It has been speculated that perhaps both NBC and The Legion hoped to distance themselves from McCarthyism as criticism for his tactics was rapidly growing. Fifty-seven episodes were produced featuring the best west-coast radio actors available. The writing staff spanned both coasts and included Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. This episode on The Lewis and Clark expedition aired on Memorial Day weekend: Sunday, May 30th, 1954 at 10PM eastern time.

    BW - EP127—007: May 1954—Brown Vs. The Board Of Education

    Play Episode Listen Later May 15, 2022 14:19

    On Sunday May 23rd, 1954 at 6PM Eastern, The American Forum of the Air signed on Mutual with a discussion on the Supreme Court Decision of Brown versus The Board of Education. On May 17th, The Court ruled that racial segregation within the U.S. public school system was unconstitutional. It repealed the “separate but equal” doctrine from 1896. By the early 1950s the NAACP was filing lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs in South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware, with Thurgood Marshall as attorney. In the most famous case, Oliver Brown filed suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas after his daughter, Linda Brown, was denied access to Topeka's all-white elementary schools. Brown claimed it violated the fourteenth Amendment. This case and four others eventually went before the U.S. Supreme court in December of 1952. At first, the justices were divided on how to rule. Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson felt the 1896 verdict should stand. But, he died in September of 1953 and President Eisenhower replaced him with California governor Earl Warren. Eisenhower knew this appointment would help overturn the nineteenth century verdict. In the decision, issued on May 17, 1954, Warren wrote that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal' has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” Days after that decision, there was considerable debate in the media over whether desegregation was fair. In this episode of The American Forum, the debate is between Democrat Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois and Democrat Senator Price Daniel of Texas. The American Forum of the Air's roots were planted in Gimbels department store in 1928. Gimbels owned WGBS. Theodore Granik, a young law student who worked for Gimbels, did continuity, wrote dialogue, and reported sports events. He had an idea for a panel discussion on all kinds of legal issues. When the station was sold, WOR gave Granik a similar job. The American Forum of the Air premiered in 1934. By 1943, it had become a staple for those looking to stay abreast of socio-economics and politics. The format was tight. Proponents and opponents were allowed an opening statement; a panel discussion followed, questions were taken from the audience, and closing summations wrapped it all up. It was the only radio show printed verbatim in the Congressional Record and won a Peabody Award in 1949.

    BW - EP127—006: May 1954—Grace Kelly Guests On Bob Hope

    Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2022 16:40

    Bob Hope joined NBC's red network in December of 1937. For the next ten years he starred on The Pepsodent Program, racking up the top-rated show five consecutive seasons between the fall of 1942 and the spring of 1947. Then, as radio's ratings were hitting an all-time high, Hope opened the fall of 1947 to harsh reviews. Both the critics and public were bored with his formula. Ratings dropped and Hope responded with a shakeup the following year. Gone were Vera Vague and Jerry Colonna: the show became more of a situation comedy. It was the radio itself that had begun to fade. Hope spent two seasons being sponsored by Swan Soap, and then by Chesterfield, Jell-O, and American Dairy. His top show fell to fifth overall, then seventh, then tenth, thirty-third, and finally to forty-seventh in 1953. In 1954 his Friday at 8:30 rating was under 3.3. On May 14th his guest was the twenty-four year-old actress Grace Kelly. She'd won the Academy Award for best actress in Country Girl two months prior. Her fourth starring role, Dial M For Murder was about to premiere. Grace Kelly would appear in seven more films over the next two years. She retired after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Her last film was High Society, opposite Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. By 1954 Hope was appearing on TV. He did commentary for NBC's coverage of the 1952 political conventions, and although he never had a regular TV series, he starred in two-hundred seventy two TV specials between 1950 and 1996. In later years he became the network's senior statesman and his theme song, “Thanks for the Memory,” became synonymous with his comedy.

    John Dehner on Leaving a Disney Animation Job for Radio Acting

    Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2022 3:26

    In August of 1982, SPERDVAC hosted a CBS character actor panel featuring Virginia Gregg, Peggy Webber, Parley Baer, Vic Perrin, Harry Bartell, and John Dehner. In this clip Mr. Dehner explains how he came to be a radio actor in the 1940s. For more information on John Dehner, tune into BW - EP101: Frontier Gentleman and The Saga of Belle Siddons (1958)

    BW - EP127—005: May 1954—Wild Bill Hickok

    Play Episode Listen Later May 9, 2022 19:32

    James Butler “Bill” Hickok was born on May 27th, 1837 in LaSalle County, Illinois. An excellent marksman from a young age, in 1855 he became a Kansas Abolitionist Jayhawker. From there he became a constable, joined the Pony Express parent company, was badly wounded by a bear, and committed his first justifiable homicide. This was all before the age of twenty-five. During the Civil War, Hickok became a Union Army teamster, a wagon master, joined the Kansas Brigade, and became a spy for the provost marshall of Missouri. He was also a gambler and drinker, known to carouse for days at a time. On July 21st, 1865, Hickok took part in his first duel, killing a man named Davis Tutt. He shot Tutt through the heart from seventy-five yards away. A subsequent interview with Harper's New Monthly Magazine labeled him Wild Bill for the first time. Rather than become an outlaw, Hickok became a lawman. He was soon a deputy Marshal at Fort Riley, and scouted for Custer's Seventh Cavalry. By December of 1867 he was a Marshall in Hays City, and later sheriff of the same town. In April of 1871 he became Marshall in Abilene, Kansas. That October, Hickok justifiably killed a saloon owner named Phil Coe. But, during the fight, Hickok saw a man running towards him. He wheeled and fired, killing what turned out to be his own deputy. The event haunted Hickok the rest of his life. It was the last time he was ever involved in a gunfight. Radio's version bore little resemblance to the real man. The format was the same used by the producers of Hopalong Cassidy and The Cisco Kid. Bill's comic sidekick, Jingles B. Jones was voiced by the famed Andy Devine. Guy Madison was Wild Bill. Hollywood regulars supported. It was directed by Paul Pierce. The show first aired over Mutual on May 27th, 1951. On May 14th, 1954 the episode was called “Dangerous Advice.” Wild Bill Hickok aired until New Year's Eve 1954. Mutual brought it back the following July. It ran until February of 1956. In early 1876 Hickok was diagnosed with glaucoma. Fearing blindness, he joined friends Charlie Utter and Calamity Jane Cannary in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. On August 2nd, 1876 he was playing poker. He'd badly beaten a man named Jack McCall the night before at cards. Although Hickok usually sat facing the door, no such seats were available. That afternoon he was playing five-card poker and holding a pair of Aces and Eights. Jack McCall walked in and shot Hickok in the back of the head from point blank range. Wild Bill died instantly. He was thirty-nine.

    BW - EP127—004: May 1954—I Love A Mystery

    Play Episode Listen Later May 7, 2022 24:13

    Carlton E. Morse' I Love A Mystery first took to the air Weekdays at 3:15PM on NBC's West-Coast network in January of 1939. Michael Raffetto starred as Jack Packard, head of the A-1 Detective Agency, with Barton Yarborough as Texan Doc Long, and Walter Paterson as the British Reggie Yorke. The show told of three world travelers in search of action, thrills, and mystery. From the ghost towns of wind-swept Nevada, to the jungles of vampire-infested Nicaragua, they righted wrongs, rescued women, battled evil, and explored unknown parts of the globe. By that autumn it was airing nationally. The show ran from the west coast for five years, first over NBC's Red Network, then its Blue, and then CBS. It went off the air at the end of 1944, but was revived in the spring of 1948 on ABC and then from New York for Mutual Broadcasting in October of 1949. It ran for three more years, this time starring Russell Thorson, Jim Boles, and Tony Randall, as Thorson remembered. Jack Packard was a hero with quiet strength. Once a medical student, he shrugged off superstition in favor of logic. Reggie Yorke was educated, strong, and had the British stiff upper lip. Doc Long was a red-headed alley fighter from Texas who defied the laws of chance and loved women. Three characters could be murdered in a single episode. People were killed in ghoulish, imaginative, and sometimes mystifying ways. Throats were ripped out by wolves; there were garrotings, poisonings, and mysterious slashings. Although the serial went off the air in 1952, in May of 1954 a new audition record was produced for CBS in Hollywood. It starred Thorson, Ben Wright, and Parley Baer.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP127—003: May 1954—An Eisenhower Press Conference And Other Current Events

    Play Episode Listen Later May 5, 2022 7:06

    On Friday, May 14th, 1954 President Eisenhower gave a news conference, immediately opening the floor to reporters for general questions. The day prior The World Chess Championship was won by Mikhail Botvinnik in Moscow. On this day, The Boeing 707 was released. On Monday the 16th, The Kengir uprising broke out at a Soviet Labor camp. Political prisoners forced out guards and administration. It would last over a month. Meanwhile in the U.S., Senator McCarthy's tirade had resulted in each political party's questioning of the other's loyalty, as well as talks of treason within the armed forces. Eisenhower simultaneously had both nothing, and a lot to say on these matters. On Tuesday, May 17th, Brown versus The Board of Education of Topeka would finally be decided.

    BW - EP127—002: May 1954—Ray Milland And Meet Mr. McNutley

    Play Episode Listen Later May 2, 2022 5:42

    Meet Mr. McNutley first took to CBS' airwaves on September 17th, 1953. Ray Milland played Ray McNutley, English professor at Lynnhaven College. Phyllis Avery was Peggy, his wife. It aired concurrently on TV with much of the same cast. The show would be short-lived, going off the air after June 10th, 1954. The TV show lasted one more season, changing the character's name to McNulty in the process.

    Mercedes McCambridge On Radio's Imaginative Power

    Play Episode Listen Later May 1, 2022 1:13

    In October of 1976, Chuck Schaden sat down with famed actress Mercedes McCambridge to talk about her career (full interview available to stream for free here - During the course of the conversation, Ms. McCambridge spoke of why radio drama was—to her—the most powerful imaginative entertainment medium.

    BW - EP127—001: May 1954—Everett Sloane And The 21st Precinct

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 30, 2022 30:00

    As the US began May of 1954, there was word that a new Soviet bomber had the ability to reach the United States. It was displayed for the public for the first time at the Moscow May Day Parade. On May 7th, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu would end in a French defeat. U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles declared Vietnam non-essential to security in Southeast Asia. The U.S. would not intervene for France. And as several massive U.S. fishing vessels were sinking off the coast of Alaska, the Boeing 707 was being released after two years of development. On May 1st, NBC affiliate WSM signed on with The Big Sound. WSM is a 50,000-watt clear channel station located in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, the station's call sign stands for We Shield Millions. WSM first signed on October 5th, 1925. The next month on November 28th, The WSM Barn Dance took to the air for the first time. On December 10th, 1927, the program's host, "Judge" George D. Hay referred to the show for the first time, as The Grand Ole Opry. The Opry began running coast-to-coast on Saturday evenings in 1939. The show moved to the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. As it developed in importance, so did the city of Nashville, which became America's country music capital. By 1954, WSM was considered the outstanding music station in the country. That October 2nd a teenage Elvis Presley would have his only Opry performance. The times, they were a-changin'. Tonight, we'll dive in for a closer look. ___________ Welcome to Breaking Walls episode 127. My name is James Scully. Tonight we keep on with our look at 1954 by picking up in May during one of the most important months of the decade. ___________ Everett Sloane was born in New York City on October 1st, 1909. At age of seven, he played Puck of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and decided to become an actor. In 1927 he joined a Theater company. He made his New York stage debut in 1928. In the 1930s Sloane was appearing on The March of Time. It was there he met a young Orson Welles. Welles hired Sloane to be part of his Mercury Theatre. He moved from New York City to Los Angeles after Welles signed his contract with RKO. Sloane had a prominent role in Citizen Kane. In the 1940s, he worked on both coasts, guest-starring in radio on Inner Sanctum Mysteries, The Shadow, The Mysterious Traveler, and in films such as The Lady From Shanghai, Journey Into Fear, and Prince of Foxes. By 1953 he was being featured on TV and starring on radio in The 21st Precinct as Captain Frank Kennelly. The 21st Precinct debuted on July 7th, 1953 over WCBS radio in New York. It put the listener into the drama from the opening phone call until the final report. In May of 1954 it was airing Wednesdays at 8:30PM against The Great Gildersleeve on NBC. Starring with Sloane was Ken Lynch as Lieutenant Matt King and Harold Stone as Sergeant Waters. John Ives produced and Stanley Niss directed. Everett Sloane continued to be a busy actor until 1965. On August 6th of that year, recently diagnosed with Glaucoma and fearing blindness, he took his own life. He was survived by his wife Lilian and two children. Everett Sloane is buried at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.

    Frank Sinatra On Why He Enjoys Acting

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 29, 2022 2:20

    On May 13th, 1988, Frank Sinatra was a guest of Larry King's for an incredible chat about the legend's life and career. During the course of the chat, the conversation turned to Frank's acting career. He had this to say about it. The full interview can be watched here -

    Don Wilson Remembers Jack Benny

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 28, 2022 0:58

    Don Wilson remembers Jack's brilliance, and explains how Jack Benny differed from most "funny" comedians in this clip.

    BW - EP126: April 1954—Joseph McCarthy vs. The US Army

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2022 152:37

    In Breaking Walls episode 126 we continue our mini-series in April of 1954. —————————— Highlights: • Eisenhower talks fear • Lum and Abner's April Fools' Joke • The Eternal Light • Nightwatch — A New CBS Real Police Show • Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator • Illegal Immigrant Fears • Gildersleeve's Dinner Party • Easter Sunday and The End of The Whistler • Jack Benny Holds a Seance • The Army-McCarthy Hearings Begin • Phil Harris and Alice Faye's Red Cross Blood Drive • Looking Ahead to May —————————— The WallBreakers: Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts. To support the show: —————————— The reading material used in today's episode was: • On the Air — By John Dunning • Network Radio Ratings — by Jim Ramsburg • The Complete Escape Log — By Keith Scott As well as articles from • Broadcasting Magazine • LIFE Magazine —————————— On the interview front: • Parley Baer, George Balzer, Himan Brown, Phil Harris, Elliott Lewis, and Willard Waterman, spoke to Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chats at • Himan Brown also spoke to Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio. Hear these full interviews at • Himan Brown, Bill Froug, and Betty Lou Gerson spoke to SPERDVAC. For more information, go to • Elliott Lewis also spoke with John Dunning for his 71KNUS program from Denver. —————————— Selected music featured in today's episode was: • Voodoo Dreams — By Les Baxter • Manhattan — By Blossom Dearie • Walking In The Air — By George Winston —————————— A special thank you to Ted Davenport, Jerry Haendiges, and Gordon Skene. For Ted go to, for Jerry, visit, and for Gordon, please go to —————————— Thank you to: Tony Adams Steven Allmon Orson Orsen Chandler Phil Erickson Jessica Hanna Briana Isaac Thomas M. Joyce Ryan Kramer Gary Mollica Barry Nadler Christian Neuhaus Aimee Pavy Ray Shaw —————————— WallBreakers Links: Patreon - Social Media - @TheWallBreakers

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 25, 2022 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP126—011: April 1954—Looking Ahead To May

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 24, 2022 9:19

    Next time on Breaking Walls, as the weather heats up in May of 1954, Brown vs. The Board of Education delivers a landmark decision. It decreed racial segregation within the U.S. School system to be unconstitutional. Dixiecrats opposed the ruling, while many others felt it was an injustice rectified ninety-years too late. We'll cover this and every other radio and national happening, as we move towards Memorial Day, 1954.

    BW - EP126—010: April 1954—Phil Harris And Alice Faye's Red Cross Blood Drive

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2022 9:47

    In April 1954, Phil Harris and Alice Faye were in the midst of their last season on the air. The husband-wife duo had been starring together on radio since 1946. Harris spent the better part of the last decade working with Elliott Lewis. They both worked under Jack Benny for years. On April 30th, they presented a special Red Cross Blood Drive program. Opposite on NBC-TV, The Big Story pulled a rating of 29.5, while the season rating for Harris/Faye was under 3.3. With radio on its way out, RCA cancelled the show at the end of the season. The last episode aired on June 18th. By then, Elliott Lewis was getting sick of dealing with agency and network red tape. For more information on The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show, tune into Breaking Walls Episode 108: Halloween 1948—Dewey Vs. Truman. For more information on Elliott Lewis, tune into Breaking Walls Episode 113: A Week With Elliott Lewis in 1953.

    BW - EP126—009: April 1954—The Army-McCarthy Hearings Begin

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 18, 2022 6:43

    In January 1953, Joseph McCarthy began his second term as U.S. Senator from Wisconsin as the Republican Party regained control of the Senate. McCarthy was made chairman of the Committee on Government Operations. This included a permanent subcommittee that allowed McCarthy to continue Communist investigations within the government. He appointed Roy Cohn as chief counsel and Bobby Kennedy as assistant. McCarthy's committee investigated the U.S. Army. They believed the Army Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth had been infiltrated. At the time, the investigation was largely fruitless. Then the Army accused McCarthy of seeking special treatment for Private G. David Schine, a chief consultant and close friend of Cohn's. Schine had been drafted the previous year. The Senate decided that these conflicting charges should be investigated. South Dakota Republican Senator Karl Mundt chaired the subcommittee. John G. Adams was the Army's Counsel. Joseph Welch, Special Counsel. The hearings were telecast nationally on both ABC and the DuMont network. Eighty million people saw these hearings that lasted thirty-six days. They began on April 22nd. CBS Radio was there. Early in the hearings, a photo of Private Schine was produced, with Joseph Welch accusing Roy Cohn of doctoring the image to show Schine alone with Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens. Cohn and Schine both insisted the picture was unedited. Welch then produced a wider shot of Stevens and Schine with Colonel Jack Bradley and McCarthy aide Frank Carr. This lie hurt McCarthy's side. McCarthy was quickly losing steam and allies. His policies were turning up little evidence. His “list of two-hundred known Communists” never materialized and this turn of attention to the Army was a political gamble. It wouldn't work and later would cost McCarthy his position in the Senate.

    BW - EP126—008: April 1954—Jack Benny Holds A Seance

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 16, 2022 14:19

    As The Jack Benny Program moved into the spring of 1954, the comedian was still seen as a ratings boon. Through the years, Benny made little tweaks to his team without losing his audience. Bob Crosby replaced Phil Harris as bandleader in the fall of 1952. In 1954, Mary Livingstone, always a victim of stage fright, began to record her lines at home. Joan Benny or Jeanette Eymann played the Mary role for the audience, and the real Mary was dubbed in for the broadcast tape. If a household had both a radio and TV they could tune into Benny's CBS radio show at 7PM eastern time on Sundays, and then switch over to his TV show, which aired at 7:30. Benny's 1949 deal with CBS helped make the network the 1950s powerhouse. For more info on Benny's landmark deal and the CBS talent raids which followed, tune into the Breaking Walls episodes 108, 109, and 110.

    BW - EP126—007: April 1954—The End Of The Whistler

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 14, 2022 14:56

    April 18th, 1954 was both the first day of Passover and Easter Sunday. In Los Angeles, the weather was warm and foggy. The front page of The LA Times predicted record crowds at Easter services. The Major League baseball season was underway. It would be three years before Los Angeles imported the Dodgers from Brooklyn. Two days prior, V.P. Richard Nixon told the press he feared the U.S. would be forced to send troops to Vietnam. That evening, at 7:30PM over CBS' KNX, The Whistler signed on the air, guest-starring Betty Lou Gerson and John Stephenson. The Whistler had been one of west-coast radio's most-famous regional programs since its launch in 1942. For much of its run it was sponsored by Signal Oil. ​​Voiced by Bill Forman, the Whistler's narration omnisciently taunted the characters. Stories were often told from the guilty party's perspective. Their guilt was known, but the outcome was in doubt. The Whistler character was so popular that Columbia Pictures made eight films between 1944 and 1948. Dorothy Roberts whistled the notes. The Whistler would finally go off the air after the September 8th, 1955 episode.

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