Friday 31 December 2021

Betty White

“A demure little eyeful, endowed her characterization with appeal and coquetry” is how the Los Angeles Times described the performance of a young singer in a musical comedy at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in March of 1940.

The name of the performer was Betty White.

She has died at age 99.

I should state there is no indication this is the same Betty White beloved by millions upon millions of people starting at the dawn of network television. She never mentioned it in her autobiography, and it’s not mentioned in uncountable newspaper articles about her, but she did so much over the decades she may very well have forgotten it (or perhaps put it out of her mind). But wouldn’t that description fit an 18-year-old Betty White?

As a kid in the ‘60s, I saw Betty White on The Match Game, Password, You Don’t Say and so on, and asked myself “What does she actually do? She’s only on game shows. Doesn’t she act?”

This, of course, was years before she launched a third career as a comedy actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls and a number of other shows. How was I to know her small screen career began in 1939 on experimental TV (likely W6XAO) and that she had at least five regular shows to her credit by 1958?

Here’s Variety of December 3, 1948 at the start of her actual career. Her station had signed on less than three months earlier. (Haynes is not to be confused with singer Dick Haymes).
Thursday, 8.00 p.m., KLAC-TV
With strong format and brisk pace, action rolls steadily, but program is bogged down with oft-repeated gags. Betty White and Tod Cook, supporting Haynes, manage vocal chores well.
Relying greatly on grimacing and gag followups to strengthen his material, Haynes' routine hits occasionally but generally it's wan material. Stronger repartee with off-stage voice of Walter Craig would help in boosting show.
More new material is needed in Joe Lowe's script to heighten interest. Camera director Joe Landis managed well, but was caught short on momentary occasions by bad focusing. Sponsored by Grand Ranges, commercials are simply done, but could be more effective with close-shot views of product.
KLAC was pretty good for Betty White. It was the home of her next show, which she ended up taking over in 1950 (for Western Home Furniture) when the host left. It was there she developed her own sitcom that Guild Films syndicated in the U.S. and Canada. That resulted in a network show. Here’s a profile of her career to date in The American Weekly, a newspaper magazine supplement, of August 15, 1954.
TVs Cinderella

Early last January the bigwigs of the National Broadcasting Company in New York City gathered around a conference table and pondered what appeared to be an imponderable—where to find, for a daytime coast-to-coast television spot, a brand-new personality with the homey warmth of a Mary Margaret McBride, the cheerful folksiness of a Kate Smith and the humor and good looks of an Arlene Francis. You know . . . a sort of female Arthur Godfrey.
Frederic W. Wile, Jr., NBC's vice-president in charge of solving unsolvable cases, took a plane to Los Angeles, the source of persistent rumors about the talents of a comparative unknown named Betty White. He'd hardly settled in his hotel before the tele-victims of Miss White's charms began bowling him over with extravagant claims.
Mr. Wile, a hard-headed businessman, crossed his fingers and auditioned Betty White and the next thing he knew he was making Betty White claims of his own to the bigwigs back home.
Less than a month later—on February 8, 1954—Betty White made her first appearance on the new Betty White Show, a national program originating from the NBC television studios in Burbank, California. A few weeks later she signed a contract with NBC guaranteeing her $1,000,000 over a five-year period.
That's the way things have always happened—and still happen—to Betty.
Hewing to a multiple-job schedule that would floor most entertainers, TV's Cinderella girl speeds from one chore to another with unruffled poise, an engaging chuckle and a rare aptitude for delivering the right words at the right time. Such is her aplomb that she actually welcomes the opportunity to ad lib for minutes on end a theatrical effort that makes the average performer sweat and gives even a master improviser like Groucho Marx pause for thought.
It was not always thus. Four years ago Betty, getting $5 a show on local TV, knew there must be easier ways to make a living.
"But nobody would tell me what they were." she says. "My parents had move from Oak Park, Illinois, to Los Angeles when I was two. Now, lo these many years later, I began to wonder whether I ought to go back. Things couldn't be any worse in Oak Park."
Her first brush with the drama occurred at the Horace Mann High School in Los Angeles.
"That's where the ham in me first showed. I wrote, directed, produced and starred in a tear-jerker called Land of the Rising Sun. I could hardly wait to graduate and foist myself on a panting public. And do you know what? The movie casting directors had the nerve to tell me I wasn't photogenic."
So Betty set her sights on radio, where one didn't have to be photogenic.
After weeks of pavement pounding she landed a commercial on The Great Gildersleeve Show. She got $5. She did a lot of commercials after that but, whether she sang, acted or read them, the fee was always $5. Then she switched to TV and she did some more commercials . . . for $5 apiece, of course. "It was kind of nice," she remembers wistfully. "I never had to worry about the income tax."
On November 7, 1949, a great thing happened to Betty. Al Jarvis, a local disc jockey, called her. He was starting his own TV variety show and wanted Betty to be his Girl Friday. At $5 a week? Oh, no—$50!
The show was on the air five hours a day five days a week. Betty rounded up guest stars, pushed props, answered mail, kept commercials straight. When Al Jarvis moved on to greener pastures she took over temporarily, pending the hiring of a replacement for him. Her sparkle and wit pushed the show right up to a top rating. The "temporary" job was hers to keep.
A five-hour-a-day stint, however, didn't keep her busy enough. In her spare time she dreamed up a young married couple situation comedy called Life With Elizabeth and sold it—with herself as its star—to a local TV station. Distributed by Guild Films, it won her the 1952 "Emmy" award of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as TV's outstanding female personality.
Between The Betty White Show and Life With Elizabeth, she's just about the busiest girl in Hollywood. She used to get up at 5 a. m., five days a week, to prepare for her NBC morning stint. Last month it shifted to an afternoon time spot. Betty now telecasts "live" to the East at 4:30 p. m. (1:30 Coast time), and the show is kinescoped to Coast audiences three hours later, at 4:30 Coast time. Now she can sleep till 7, get to the studio at 10 and work till 6 p. m.
Life With Elizabeth, which has 102 outlets reaching an audience reportedly 90 per cent women, is rehearsed on Thursday and filmed on Friday (sometimes through to 3 a. m. Saturdays at the Burbank though it's not an NBC show. On these days her scramble to fit in The Betty White Show is a show in itself. "I spend most of my life at NBC," she says. "But I like it. I go home at night and say to myself, 'In a few hours, now, I can go back to work.'"
How can she just get up in front of the camera and talk? "It's easy," she says. "Nothing can throw me after my Al Jarvis training. If a guest doesn't show up I just look at the audience and say. This isn't the way I planned it. but this is it.'"
Unmarried at 28 ("What time do I have for romancing?"). Betty lives with her parents in a rambling Brentwood bungalow. She has three dogs a St. Bernard, a poodle and a Pekingese, Bandy, after whom Bandy Productions, the independent outfit which produces Life With Elizabeth, is named.
She never forgets a name, never shows temperament, positively sings her "hellos" and is never too busy to share a laugh or a cry. This life-can-be-beautiful attitude, her infectious smile and her spontaneous giggle endear her to co-workers tired of catering to prima donnas.
"She's as cooperative as Jimmy Durante," they say, than which there is no greater praise.
Betty bombed with a sitcom in 1957 called Date With the Angels and was re-formatted into a live prime-time variety show that lasted about four weeks. Her consolation was she was chosen “most glamorous business woman of the year" by the Hollywood Business and Professional Woman's club.”

For about the next decade, she was a “television personality.” She appeared on television and, well, appeared. She was living away from Hollywood in New York state during that time, thanks to her marriage to game show host Allen Ludden; the wedding may have been the most well-known thing she did in the ‘60s.

We’ll leave the last words to Ludden in a column for the Associated Press that appeared on July 22, 1966. The two of them had a happy marriage (and re-location to the West Coast) that ended with his death in 1981.
Allen Ludden Hailed as Mr. Betty White

(For Cynthia Lowry)
EDITOR'S NOTE — It takes a strong, secure, well-adjusted fellow to marry a well-known woman in show business. Allen Ludden did just that and here tells, without a whimper, what it's like to be — but only occasionally— hailed as Mr. Betty White. And Betty wasn't sure he should write this column.
NEW YORK (AP) – Among the many notable things that have happened to me since the advent of a little television game called Password has been the fact that I am called so many different things. You may take that any way you wish, but what I mean is that people call me different names.
Because they see me on the tube in the afternoon, they associate me with my electronic neighbor Linkletter and I'm hailed as "Art". So, I answer.
Because I emcee a game shew, they call me "Bud," as in Collyer.
Because I wear glasses and belong to that venerable group known as television hosts, I get "Bill" for Bill Cullen, I guess.
But the one I enjoy the most is "Hey, there's the guy who married Betty White!" It's been three years now since Betty and I married and I've become something of an authority on Betty White fans.
Let me make it clear at the outset that I have nothing but the heartiest respect for these people. Obviously I respect their taste. I married the girl! Most of them took upon me as a Johnny-come-lately. They've known her much longer than I have.
There is a very large group who remember Betty from the "Al Jarvis Days". She was doing a 5 1/2-hour daily local show in Los Angeles. There weren't many television sets to begin with (I kid Betty about being a star of the silent TV) and it was a local show. Yet these people turn up all over the country.
When we married we had 9,000 cards and at least 6,000 of them mentioned Al Jarvis. They usually went on to mention "Life with Elizabeth," too, because off of her Al Jarvis friends followed on to that series. They were joined by armies of new and vigilantly faithful followers.
A lot of them must have been about 10 at the time, but they I loved "Life with Elizabeth." I've read some of the scripts just lately, and the reason those shows were so popular is that they were very, very funny.
Betty is constantly amazed to have teen-agers today come up to her to tell her that her's was their favorite show when they were kids.
Then there are the hard-core fans or, even better, friends, who have known Betty through "Life with Elizabeth", "Date with the Angels", and "The Betty White Show", which was her daytime NBC network show.
These are the people from all over the country who know about her love of animals, her jokes, her favorite songs, her wide streak of sentimentality, her curiosity.
They follow Betty's every move. They write regularly. Their generosity is embarrassing. But their affection is so genuine and their intentions are so right, one could only be touched by their gestures.
I think I can safely say that most of the hard-core fans are glad that Betty and I married. At the time of our marriage in fact, many wrote to say that they had picked me out for her.
That was not true of them all. There was another group that came in later, a nighttime group, the "Jack Paar" group. Not all of them were Ludden-oriented. As a matter of fact, it got a bit sticky on several occasions, but time has a way of taking care of those things.
Now when I hear somebody yell, "Hey, there's the guy who married Betty White!" I just smile, keep moving and don't even think about ducking.
All this could have made up an entire career for many. For Betty White, it was only just beginning.

Eyes on the Earth

Bugs Bunny opens a hatch on a spaceship. His eyes react. These drawings are one per frame.

What does Bugs see? The Oit disappearing into the distance.

This is from 1948’s Haredevil Hare, the debut of the little Martian and his dog (both with helmets and skirts like the Roman god Mars. The unnamed Martian has a different voice than in later cartoons.

Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, Ken Harris and Lloyd Vaughan are the animators with Bob Gribbroek designing Mars and Pete Alvarado painting it.

Thursday 30 December 2021

Mirror Monkeys

There’s no plot in Monkey Madness (1930), just monkeys and other characters moving and making noise in time to the beat of the soundtrack.

There is a lot of reused animation in this Disney short. And a lot of mirror-image animation where the character on one side of the screen is the same as one on the other side, just in reverse. In the case of the monkey, the design is modified slightly because one character is female.

Even the reflections are mirror images. There's an awful lot of kissing in this cartoon.

I generally don’t mind plotless musical-type shorts of the first couple of years of the 1930s but this one is devoid of any real humour. The Fleischer studio, with their little surprise gags popping up, were way ahead of this.

Disney paid to use a song in this short. It opens with “Abba Dabba Honeymoon,” though its lyrics about a monkey and a chimp are not heard.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

The Not-All New Groucho For 1961

Your long-running TV show is going off the air. What do you do?

If you’re Groucho Marx, you do just you did on television. You insult people.

You Bet Your Life finished a long run in 1961. Groucho had some spare time. In an interview with United Press International, he explains what was on his mind for the future. And he didn’t have good news for his fellow comedians.

This appeared in papers on February 9, 1961.
Groucho Folds Hit Show for New One

UPI Hollywood Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD (UPI)—Groucho Marx announced today he is folding his popular "You Bet Your Life” television show after 12 dazzlingly successful years.
The deadpan comedian isn’t leaving video, however. He’s cranking up a new quiz-interview series titled "What Do You Want?” which is scheduled to replace "You Bet Your Life” next fall.
How does Groucho feel about killing off the longest-running show in NBC history?
“I don’t feel anything,” he said, puffing on a cigar.
“TV is a good racket. The show paid well and wasn’t too much work. It’s been darn good to me. When we started on radio I had no idea it would last 14 years.”
It was rumored the mustascheoed comedian would switch to situation comedy next season.
“Not me,” he exclaimed. “That means working five days a week in some drab studio. On my show I only work a few hours one day a week. Every Wednesday night I show up at the studio at 6 o’clock to discuss the contestants. Then I go out to dinner and return at 8:30 to film the show until 10:30.
“I don’t want to work any harder than that. I don’t have to.”
Groucho again will lean heavily on humor in his new show.
“We’ll have all different kinds of people on the program who have a good answer to ‘What do you want?’ ” he said.
“Maybe we’ll have a gambler who wants to expose card sharks, or a husband, or a mother searching for a missing son.
“But I’ll have to be funny. When viewers tune in to see a comedian they feel cheated if he doesn’t make them laugh.
“In fact that’s the trouble with TV today, there’s hardly any comedy left on the air except for a few Westerns. I have to stay up late to see who’s on Jack Paar’s show if I want to see comedy.
“And situation comedies aren’t funny at all. They’re all right for kids, but they just aren’t funny. They can’t be because sponsors are afraid of offending someone. And I can’t blame them, maybe. Maybe I'd feel the same way if I were trying to sell a product on TV.
“One of the reasons these new comedy records are selling so well is that people can't find laughs on television. It's just not a comedian's medium.
“In the days of vaudeville a comic would walk on stage and say anything he pleased without worrying about offending anyone. We'll be as funny as possible on the new show and at the same time try not to step on anyone's toes.”
Groucho appeared in something different for him the same year. This appeared in papers on October 26, 1961.
Groucho Plays It Straight

HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 24 (UPI)—"I always thought acting was a racket and now I'm sure of it," Groucho Marx said today.
The caustic Marx brother came to this conclusion after completing the first straight dramatic role in his long (40 years) career in show business.
"I deliberately looked for a serious acting role to prove one of my own theories," he explained.
"My thought has always been that there are thousands and thousands of good straight actors and only 50 good comedians. When I say 50 I'm being generous. Actually there are many fewer than 50 good comics around."
Groucho turned to serious acting by degrees. He will be seen first at a narrator of a Dupont Show-of-the-Week for NBC Nov. 22 in which he is heard more than seen.
In a segment of the "GE Theater" he essays the role of a strict father who refuses to grant his daughter permission to marry.
"Acting is easy compared to comedy," he said.
"In a drama you aren't being tested on every line. You can talk for 15 minutes with no reaction from the audience and nobody gets critical. But a comedian has to get a laugh every 40 seconds or he's in trouble. "
I've come to a point in life where I can afford to gamble with my career. I don't have to worry about money anymore. From here on the things I do will be for fun."
Groucho's TV show left the air after 14 years of rampaging success. He refuses to accept situation comedy series offered him.
"I'm too old for that," he said.
"Now I watch reruns of the show, but I don't get any fun out of it. The real enjoyment was in doing the programs before a live audience.
"Norman Krasna and I wrote a play, 'Time for Elizabeth,' and I'd like to do it as a movie. Broadway doesn't interest me after all these years.
"But no matter what happens I'm not going to sit around doing nothing. And I won't retire, if nothing else works out I may take a job as a writer in one of the studios.
"So far I haven't missed the activity of a weekly TV show, but I imagine I'll be getting restless before long.
"Right now I'm busy writing another book. I like the title—'Confessions of a Mangy Lover.' I'm not saying if it is autobiographical."

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Hidden Reference, Sutherland Style

There are a couple of inside jokes in What Makes Us Tick, a 1952 John Sutherland cartoon produced for the New York Stock Exchange.

As the camera slides down a piece of machinery, little tags appear. Some are gag tags but two are named for people involved with the cartoon. Earl Jonas was the studio's production manager; he later served the same capacity for Chuck Jones at MGM. Ed Starr was the background artist for this short. Starr has been at Disney and, according to his nephew quoted on, marched into Disney’s office and quit, then smashed and buried every piece of Disney artwork he had at his home. He spent some time at Columbia, painting backgrounds for the inexplicable Kongo-Roo and other cartoons before the studio closed in 1946.

“Hawky” refers to Emery Hawkins, who animated part of this cartoon. While the studio had a “Higgy” (Bill Higgins) animating on this short, I don’t think it had anyone with the name “Smoe.”

George Gordon, Carl Urbano, Gerry Nevius and Arnold Gillespie are also credited on this short, with the music by Gene Poddany. Bud Hiestand is the narrator, with typical John Q. Public and a newsboy played by Herb Vigran.

Monday 27 December 2021

Pull the Wool

Beaky, the Bashful Buzzard, swoops in to an innocent lamb (note the long eye-lashes) after his brothers capture sheep to bring them home for dinner.

The camera cuts back and forth on the lamb and Beaky, moving in closer.

Things don’t go according to plan. The lamb can’t be moved from her place—but her wool can.

The simpleton returns the wool and gets bashed with a brush for his trouble.

Bob Clampett directed The Bashful Buzzard from a story by Michael Sasanoff. It was released in 1945.

Sunday 26 December 2021

The Modest Man Was 39

Not only was Jack Benny’s death front page news, papers made space for sidebar stories, too. That’s how beloved Benny was to millions of people when he passed away December 26, 1974.

Here’s one of the many side stories that appeared in print. It’s from syndicated columnist Marilyn Beck, who managed to reach many of Jack’s long-time celebrity friends and get them to speak. She saw Jack a few weeks before he died.

Benny Was a Likeable, Charitable Guy

HOLLYWOOD—Although the thought of death frightened him, Jack Benny died the way he wanted to die—looking forward to his next work assignment.
"Work keeps me young; I never want to retire," the grand old trouper told me recently. He was just 49 days short of his 81st birthday when the end came; yet he was still acting like a "kid" of 39 until a few months ago.
Even a collapse and a hospital siege last October couldn't keep him down for long. The spring in his step had been dulled a bit, but the mind and the sparkle in his eyes seemed as lively as ever when he snapped back to prepare his annual NBC "Farewell" special, and to get ready for February co-starring stints with Walter Matthau in the MGM film adaptation of "The Sunshine Boys."
The last time I saw him, when he arrived at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Dec. 8 to receive the Outstanding Lifelong Achievement Award from the Hollywood Women's Press Club, he told me: "I still feel like I'm 39."
BUT AS IT turned out, his days were numbered, and the press club event would mark his final public appearance. Stricken with stomach pains before he had a chance to accept the award, he was rushed to doctors who would discover several weeks later their famed patient was suffering from inoperable cancer of the pancreas.
Paying a visit to his Beverly Hills home on Thursday night, while he slipped into his final, sedated sleep, were such famed friends as Frank Sinatra, Gov. Ronald Reagan, Danny Kaye, Rosalind Russell, Johnny Carson, and Bob Hope. It was Hope who summed up the sadness of the crowd by saying: "We'll be lost without him. Jack's got one of the most charitable hearts there's ever been in this business."
Hope also made the undeniable point: "This is the beginning of the end of an era; guys who started out together in vaudeville, who've been close all these years—and who've always been there to step in for one another at a minute's notice."
It's amazing, actually, that so many of the old crowd are still around, Bob realizes.
HOPE IS 71, George Burns (Benny's closest buddy, who underwent open heart surgery in August) is 79. Along with 84-year-old Groucho Marx and George Jessel, who's in his late 70s, they formed the group of cronies whose friendship spanned over half a century. They shared vaudeville bills in the ’20’s, went on to vie as radio comedy kings of the ’30’s — and have spent much time together during their twilight years in kibitzing sessions at the Beverly Hills’ Hillcrest Country Club, reliving the old days and the ribald stunts they’d pulled.
Jessel came close to collapsing when informed of Benny’s death. “We were friends for over 50 years,” he said. “And I’m destroyed over this. But I know that if there's a place where the good go — there will be a place for Benny.”
Though Jessel has delivered the eulogies of many filmland notables, Benny requested last year that Bob Hope handle such a task for him. At this point Bob is wondering what anyone can say that’s not already known about the gentle man who added so much to all our lives — who kept millions laughing and listening to his radio “family” that included his wife, Mary Livingstone, Rochester, Dennis Day and Don Wilson. And which fostered the gags that would become legend about Benny’s stinginess, his Maxwell automobile and his assaults on the violin.
ACTUALLY, he started out in vaudeville as a "straight" violinist, practiced religiously on the instrument even during all those years we laughed at his fractured treatment of "Love in Bloom," and in recent times raised millions for charity through violin performances with symphony orchestras.
Services will be held Sunday at Hillcrest Memorial Park, Los Angeles. He leaves behind a wife of 47 years who retired from show business in 1950; an adopted daughter, Joan; and four grandchildren.
The man who accomplished so much in a long life time and left only one thing undone, he had completed only three chapters of his autobiography at the time of his death. "It's really not important if I finish the book," he told me last fall. "After all, what does the world really care about the life and opinions of Jack Benny?"
Modesty was one of the most endearing qualities of the man born Benjamin Kubelesky in Waukegan, Ill., on Valentine's Day, 1894.

Saturday 25 December 2021

From all of us here at the Tralfaz blog, here’s a cheery holiday song from Preston Ward, circa 1952. (Artwork by Tom McKimson, supplied by Devon Baxter).

Friday 24 December 2021

A Ham for the Holidays

The closest Tex Avery got to a Christmas cartoon was One Ham's Family (released in August 1943), where the mean widdle pig outsmarts the wolf (both played by Kent Rogers) dressed as Santa.

The typical Tex Avery wolf notices the pig looking up the chimney for St. Nick. He shakes his head so violently, his eyes get left behind (okay, it’s really smear animation).

As this is a war time cartoon, there’s a meat ration-point gag. Didn’t most of these kinds of gags get cut in the post-war re-releases?

Later, the wolf dresses up as Santa Claus and gets bashed around by the Red Skelton piggie stand-in.

Kent Rogers, by the way, was dead 11 months after this cartoon was released, killed in a WW2 training exercise.

Thursday 23 December 2021

The King and Santa

The Van Beuren cartoon studio made a handful of cartoons involving winter, and Santa Claus appeared at the beginning of the Cubby Bear debut Opening Night (1933), but the studio made only one true Christmas cartoon—The Little King’s Pals (1933).

The king reads a sign in a department store window (note the spiked fingers).

He goes inside. You can’t see them very well in this murky print but there are radiation lines of glee around his head as he sees Jolly Old St. Nick. A little girl and her satisfied mother are frozen while the lines do their thing for several seconds of footage.

Santa is the only one who speaks in the cartoon. He tells the Little King to run along and he’ll bring some toys. He pats His Majesty on the head and then the two exchange a coy wave.

The cartoon stops when the Little King and one of his “pals” (he picked up a couple of hobos) crash into each other in the toy vehicles Santa brought.

This is the last Little King cartoon where Jim Tyer gets an animation credit. The style of his you’re used to at Terrytoons with shrinking heads and bodies that turn into weird shapes isn’t evident yet, but Tyer diehards seem to be able to pick out his work here.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Christmas is On the Air

I don’t remember my first Christmas on the air. I think I was playing taped programming hosted by someone from one of the city stations (I was at a small town station 65 miles away then). I remember my second Christmas (different station). The morning man came in before 6 a.m., put down a 26er of scotch and offered me as much as I wanted. I didn’t want any. He polished off the whole bottle during a six-hour shift, and you’d never know it listening to him.

This was old-school radio in the mid-1970s. I am afraid I wasn’t in radio in the ‘40s, but we can get a glimpse back at what the four main American networks were running on Christmas Day 80 years ago.

The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor a few weeks earlier, so several of the New York stations were now on the air all-night, just in case something happened. Christmas morning, both NBC networks and CBS ran King George’s Christmas message live via shortwave (Mutual recorded it and ran it later). CBS featured two-way conversations between U.S. children and fathers in London, while NBC Blue broadcast British children living in the U.S., Canada and South Africa speaking to parents in England. The U.S. Navy Department has to relax censorship rules to allow it. A review the next day said shortwave difficulties marred the former programme.

Programming on NBC and CBS was still live then. It meant Rudy Vallee, Arthur Godfrey and Virginia Payne (Ma Perkins) had to come in to the station and do their shows on Christmas Day.

If you got a new, 1942 Emerson radio for Christmas, here is what the flagship stations were broadcasting the night of December 25, 1941. Not all stations along the network picked up each show. The information is a compilation from about a dozen papers.

You might be surprised to see television listings for the three stations in New York. Surprising to me was a blurb that the CBS station was broadcasting one programme in colour.

6:15 p.m. – Norman Corwin’s “Plot to Overthrow Christmas.”
Norman Corwin’s radio classic, “The Plot to Overthrow Christmas,” is presented for the third time on Columbia network tonight at 6:15 o’clock over WGST. The production is broadcast from Hollywood, with Norman Corwin directing. It was first done on Christmas Day, 1938, in the CBS “Words Without Music” series as a Columbia Workshop presentation.
“The Plot to Overthrow Christmas” is the story of a diabolical scheme hatched in Hades by “Mephisto” and a group of historically-wicked characters to “purge” the Christmas spirit.

6:45 – The World Today.
7:00 – Amos ‘n’ Andy.
7:15 – Lanny Ross.
7:30 – Maudie’s Diary. A Christmas story, “Life is But a Dream.” With Mary Mason, Robert Walker, Betty Garde and William Johnstone.
8:00 – Death Valley Days: “Cornish Carols.”
A Christmas broadcast of Cornish music from a 2,000 shaft at the Grass Valley Mine, Grass Valley, California—a Cornish settlement. The songs are all traditional unpublished Cornish carols.
8:30 – Duffy’s Tavern. Guest: Fats Waller.
8:55 – Elmer Davis, news.
9:00 – Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour.
10:00 – Glenn Miller, Ray Eberle and Marion Hutton, vocalists.
10:15 – News; Saroyan Christmas Play “Something I Got to Tell You.”
Larry Walters, Chicago Tribune: There’s a characteristic Saroyan story behind the Christmas play, “There’s Something I Got to Tell You, which is to be on the air at 9:15 [CT] tonight over WBBM-CBS. Last year William Saroyan was asked by the network to write a Christmas play. Saroyan was in San Francisco at the time. Two days later he finished the play and transmitted it by teletype to New York.
A couple of days after Christmas a second play came from Saroyan with this note: “While I was writing Christmas plays I thought I might as well do two. I think this one is better than the first.”
The second one will be broadcast tonight.

10:45 – News; Mark Hawley.
11:00 – Christmas in the New World. CBS brings in Montreal, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro for a picture of Christmas Day in the Western Hemisphere.

6:30 p.m. – Rose Bowl Christmas program at Duke University.
6:45 – Three Suns Trio.
7:00 – Chesterfield presents Fred Waring’s Orchestra.
7:15 – News of the World with John W. Vandercook.
7:30 – Camel’s Cugat Rhumba Revue, with Margo, Carmen Castillo and Miguelito Valdes, vocalists, and Bert Parks, emcee.
8:00 – Maxwell House Coffee Time.
Having just received Motion Picture Daily’s award as the “best comedienne” on the air, Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks is expected to be in such a magnanimous mood on her Christmas Day broadcast of Coffee Time that she’ll return all the presents her daddy (Hanley Stafford) has given her during the year. The program is heard over WGST at 8 o’clock.
Meanwhile, “Kris Kingle Morgan Suh,” with Comedian Frank Morgan in the role of the protagonist, will display as fine a pair of reindeer as ever bettered the world’s top air speed of 837 ½ miles per hour—but only in conversation.
John Conte is your singing emcee, with Meredith Willson’s orchestra.

8:30 – The Aldrich Family.
Lawyer Sam Aldrich looks a Christmas gift horse in the teeth and the Yuletide spirit runs low momentarily in “The Aldrich Family,” starring Ezra Stone, over WSB at 8:30 o’clock tonight.
Too much Christmas candy, a mix-up in tags on the presents, and a burn from Henry’s new chemistry set put the head of the house in a very bad humor. He even says uncomplimentary things about the neighbors.
When they drop in for a visit, Henry demonstrates what he has done with his new recording machine. To the consternation of all, Lawyer Aldrich’s scathing remarks are repeated for the neighbors’ edification with only a needle scratch to dull their edge.

9:00 – Kraft Music Hall.
For the sixth consecutive year Bing Crosby will sing “Adeste Fidelis” and “Silent Night: on Kraft Music Hall’s Christmas program tonight at 9 o’clock over WSB. As a Yuletide novelty he will sing for the first time on the air “White Christmas” from his new film, “Holiday Inn.”
The guest panel will be composed by Fay Bainter, celebrated character actress of stage and screen, and tubby zany Frank McHugh. Danish comedian Victor Borge, who became one of the regulars with last week’s K.M.H. proceedings, will play and sing “The Bells Are Ringing for Christmas,” an old Danish folk song. Bing and his colleagues in the Hall will regretfully say farewell to songstress Connie Boswell, who leaves the show to fulfill a series of personal appearances in the east. Her sultry-voiced singing has been one of the pleasantest features of K.M.H. for more than a year.

10:00 – The Sealtest Show.
Lionel Barrymore’s inimitable portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in a radio dramatization of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will mark the Christmas Day broadcast of the Rudy Vallee-John Barrymore program to be heard over WSB tonight at 10 o’clock.
Lionel Barrymore’s portrayal of Scrooge has become a Christmas tradition of American radio, and it is at Rudy Vallee’s invitation that he will carry on that tradition this year for the NBC-Red network audience. Vallee also will be heard in the dramatization of the Dickens classic.
Christmas music and carols sung by Rudy Vallee will be the only other features of this Christmas Day broadcast.
Dix Davis plays Tiny Tim with Vallee as Bob Cratchet.

10:30 – Frank Fay with vocalist Bob Hannon, Beverly and her Boy Friends, and the Harry Salter Orchestra.

WJZ (NBC Blue)
7:00 p.m. – Easy Aces.
7:15 – Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons.
7:30 – Schaefer’s Revue: Allen Roth's orchestra with Bud Collyer.
8:00 – The March of Time.
Re-enactment of the defence of Wake Island against the Japanese.
8:30 – Service With a Smile: Army, Navy and Marine talent. This week from Great Lakes Training School, with Garry Moore, and Ben Grauer, emcee.
9:00 – Rochester Civic Orchestra with Guy Fraser Harrison and conductor Mack Morgan.
10:00 – Metropolitan Opera Guild: Excerpts from “Hansel and Gretel.”
10:15 – First Piano Quartet.
10:30 – News with William Hillman and Raymond Clapper. (local?)
10:45 – Carmen Cavallero’s Orchestra.

WOR (Mutual)
7:00 p.m. – Fulton Lewis, News Commentary.
7:15 – Here’s Morgan.
7:30 – Confidentially Yours, with Arthur Hale.
7:45 – Inside of Sports.
8:00 – Morton Gould’s Orchestra, with Jimmy Shields, tenor.
8:30 – Boake Carter, News Commentary.
8:45 – Eddy Duchin’s Orchestra.
9:00 – Gabriel Heatter, News.
9:15 – News from Manila with Royal Arch Gunnison.
9:30 – America Preferred. Deems Taylor, commentator; Alfred Wallenstein’s orchestral Salvatore Baccaloni, basso.
10:00 – Raymond Gram Swing, News.
10:15 – Spotlight Bands, Ray Noble’s orchestra.
10:30 – War at Sea, with Paul Schubert.
10:45 – Under Western Skies, Ramona and the Tune Twisters with the Mountaineers.

8:30 p.m. – Hansel and Gretel. Musical Fairy Tale with Adriana Caselotti and Ivy Dale.
9:00-9:30 – Christmas Varieties with Yola Galli (songs), Carla and Fernando (dancers), Southernaires Quartet.

2:30-4 p.m. – Christmas party; Police and Fire Department toy campaign. In Color!
8:00 – News.
8:15 – Bob Edge, sports.
8:30 – Visual Quiz.
9:25 – News.

7:30-9 p.m. – Tests and Selected Films.

And for readers in Canada, here is what the CBC was sending out that evening from Toronto. Not all stations picked up every programme and Western stations had a different line-up after hearing from General McNaughter, who had been wounded overseas. Incidentally, "Stag Party" eminated from CBR Vancouver and starred a young local man named Angus Young. He decided "Angus" was a bit stuffy for a comedian, so he changed his name to Alan Young. He also wrote "Stag Party." As for the 6 p.m. news, it is quite likely read by (unless he got Christmas off) Canada's Voice of Doom, a gentleman named Lorne Greene.

6:00 - CBC News Service.
6:15 - “Hello Children.”
Greetings from British Parents to Children Over Here.
6:30 - Programme summary, etc.
6:45 - BBC London News.
7:00 - “The Mysteries.”
Drama of the Nativity.
8:00 - Montreal Variety.
9:00 - Chuhaldin’s strings.
9:30 - “Stag Party” from Vancouver.
10:00 - Period of the Drama.
Christmas Carol, 1941, a 20th century version of the immortal story of Scrooge. Scrooge, in this version, is a hard-boiled businessman, who is taken in hand by the spirits of Christmas past (in a London air raid shelter); Christmas present (in Germany occupied countries) and Christmas that is yet to come (if Canada loses sight of her precious heritage of freedom). What Scrooge sees, and the conclusion he draws, carry an important message to Canadians on their third war-time Christmas. [Summary from the Windsor Star].
10:30 - Toronto Choristers.
10:45 - The King’s Message (rebroadcast).
11:00 - CBC News Service.
11:15 - Lt. General A.G.L. McNaughton, commander of the Canadian Corps in Britain, by phone direct from London.
11:30 - The BBC News Reel.
12:00-12:30 a.m. - Romanelli Orchestra, dance music.