Tuesday 20 December 2011

An Old Time Radio Christmas

How well do you know your Old Time Radio?

John Crosby, radio columnist of The New York Herald Tribune crafted this lovely Christmas poem for 1947, rhyming the names (as best he could) of the network stars. Yet there are probably names that may leave even the most diehard OTR fan wondering who he’s talking about.

Maybe you’ve heard of Pegeen Fitzgerald (and her husband Ed) on WOR New York. But “R. Schmohopper”? And Syd Eiges? (Jack Eigen, yes, but ... who?)

Read along and see how many of these radio personalities, industry bosses and sponsor products you recognise. And consider how many managed to make the jump to television not long after.

Critic Hard
Turns Bard
In Yule Card

Now Ivory! Now Lifebuoy! Now Lava and Veto!
On Toni! On Jergens! On Arrid and Rinso!
Away to the heavens! We’ve gifts to bestow
On Everyone in radio!

To all, good health and gifts galore!
We’ve nothing but hosannahs for
Ginny Simms and Dinah Shore,
The indestructible Barrymore,
All the clerks in The Village Store
And the FBI in Peace and War.
A great big bag of sponsored goodies
For Paley, Trammell, Kobak, Woodies.
Here’s a potent Christmas stogie
For Frankie, Perry, Andy, Hoagy.
A merry cap with all the felt on for
Eddie Cantor, Happy Felton,
Tiny Ruffner and Red Skelton,
Lassie, Hildegarde and Melton.

All the best, young Doc Malone! A
Little kiss for McElhone.
Hail to Candid Microphone and
How are you, Vic Damone!
Here’s a toast to put our heart in—
To Frances Langford, Tony Martin,
Lum ‘n’ Abner, Superman,
Dr. Christian, Charlie Chan,
The Thin, The Fat, The Answer Man.
To suffering Portia long, long life;
Same to you, Backstage Wife.
Lots of heartbreak, tears and strife.

Connubial bliss and all that’s merry
To the working wives—Portland, Mary.
Dorothy, Pegeen, Jinx McCrary.
Open a bottle, share a bird
With Jimmy Durante, Mortimer Snerd.
A handful of bellylaughs wild and hearty
For Allen and Benny and Charlie McCarthy.

A bottle of grog and long hay hay
for Duffy’s Tavern and Alice Faye,
For Gildersleeve and Dennis Day
For Kaltenborn and RCA,
For Breneman and Sammy Kaye
For Blanche and Moon and Dorothy Shay.
And while we’re running down the roster,
Don’t forget Judy Foster,
Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper,
Jimmy Fidler, R. Schmohopper,
Groucho Marx, Nancy Craig,
Don Ameche, Vera Vague,
Walter Winchell, Jessica Tandy,
Studio One, Amos ‘n’ Andy,
Blondie, Bergen, both McGees,
Jolson, Information Please,
Parkyakarkus, Tommy Nix.
Arthur Godfrey, Georgie Hicks
George and Gracie, Meet the Press,
And the Right to Happiness.
Naturally we mustn’t rob—
The other Crosbys, Bing and Bob.
Here’s to this Your FBI
And David Harding—Counterspy.
A Christmas Carol round the organ
For Robin, Frank and Henry Morgan,
A very hearty Christmas wessel
To perennial guest star, Georgie Jessel.
And we’ll pin a Christmas star on
Lucky Strike if it keeps Jack Paar on.
Big hello to March and Sweeney;
A reverent bow to Toscanini,
Cheerfuller news and headlines sweeter
To Edward Murrow and Gabriel Heatter.
Swing, Leseuer, Sevareid;
Lowell Thomas, Margo McBride.

A football cheer, rackety rax!
For Barber, Stern, Stan Lomax.
A long and heartfelt Christmas rave
For Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky, Dave.
A hey nonny nonny, a la di di
For all vice-presidents of NBC.
A special bit of midnight erl
For Garry Moore and Milton Berle
Another sponsor for Billy Rose
A special garland for Bob Hope’s nose
A bit of holly for Abe Burrows,
And don’t forget the Leland Stowes.

Get moving, my lovelies. Away we go
To lay a little mistletoe
On Whiteman, Waring, Mark Warnow,
Carson, Gardiner, Vaughn Monroe,
Abbott and Cos-tell-o
We haven’t space and haven’t rhymes
For Kate and Sammy Smith, Dave Taylor,
Syd Eiges, Phil Harris,
Rochester, Joan and Jack Sullivan,
Pete and Mary Hayes,
Bob Saudek and Art Linkletter.
But we’d like to offer a small apology to Frank Sullivan,
Who does this every Christmas and does it much better.
Copyright, 1947, for the Tribune

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