The Devil and the historic denizens of Hell plot to kill Santa Claus and eliminate the celebration of Christmas. A story told in clever verse.
On Sunday, December 4, 1938, Norman Corwin’s Words Without Music debuted, beginning its 26-week run. The fourth program was to air on Christmas Day and Corwin was asked by the CBS publicity department for a title to advertise. Impulsively he replied, The Plot to Overthrow Christmas. After the publicity man left, Corwin realized that no such poem existed to adapt for radio. So, he would write it himself. The resulting program, told entirely in rhyme, won Corwin new fans, including Edward R. Murrow.
The Columbia Workshop The Plot to Overthrow Christmas 24 December 1942 19421224(000)_COLW_PlotToOverthrowChristmas.mp3 CBS net. Norman Corwin (writer, producer, director), Martin Gabel, Ray Collins, Karl Swenson, Luis Van Rooten, Everett Sloane.
An adaptation of the movie, Holiday Inn, in which Bing narrates the plot between songs.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre Holiday Inn 11 January 1943 19430111(000)_LSGT_HolidayInn.mp3 CBS net. Sponsored by: Lady Esther cosmetics. Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Truman Bradley (announcer), Wilbur Hatch (arranger, conductor), Bill Hampton (adaptor).
Talk radio great, Jean Shepherd, tells the story of how Flick's tongue got frozen to the telephone pole.
This is it! The 50 minute rambling story that led to about 2 minutes in one of my all time favorite movies _A Christmas Story_. Jean Shepherd was a crazy midwesterner who made his way to New York in the middle of the last century to pioneer talk radio. There are a number of hilarious anecdotes related by him and about him. My favorite is how he used to consistently promote a book called _I, Libertine_ to his listeners. Frustrated, people would write to him that they were unable to find such a book in their book stores and the proprietors seemed powerless to order the title. When he finally got enough requests that he deemed it worthwhile, Shep wrote _I, Libertine_ and sold a ton of copies! What a huckster!
I recommend you skip the first chaotic minutes and start listening at about 6:30, where the story begins for real.
Stanley Johnstone, a young boy, is missing. So is the .22 caliber rifle he was going to get for Christmas.
Warning - this one is predictably sad. I feel like it's the Christmas show that should never have been made, though it must have been popular because the script was used in four more Christmases over the years. You listen with a real sense of dread as the story is revealed. And the subject seems all too relevant in today's gun-crazy U.S.
Dragnet A .22 Rifle for Christmas 22 December 1949 19491222(000)_DRAG_A22RifleforChristmas.mp3 NBC net. Sponsored by: Fatima. Jack Webb, Barton Yarborough, William P. Rousseau (director), Bud Tollefson (sound effects), Wayne Kenworthy (sound effects), Walter Schumann (music), Hal Gibney (announcer), Herb Butterfield, Peggy Webber, William Johnstone, George Fenneman (commercial spokesman).
A Christmas Carol has been remade countless times in the style of various radio shows. This is a pretty good example featuring the characters of Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Hammy, but fun.
Richard Diamond, Private Detective A Christmas Carol 24 December 1949 19491224(035)_RDPD_AChristmasCarol.mp3 NBC net. Dick Powell, Edward King (announcer), Charles Dickens (author - sort of), Blake Edwards (writer).
Marshal Dillon's horse goes down and he faces a very long walk back to Dodge on Christmas Eve. A chance encounter with a wanderer who offers to let the Marshal ride double promises a chance for making Christmas after all.
This is about as soft-hearted as Gunsmoke gets, which is to say "not very." It's a nice take on a Christmas show though.
Gunsmoke #35 Christmas Story 20 December 1952 19521220(035)_GUNS_XmasStory.mp3 CBS net. William Conrad, Parley Baer, Georgia Ellis, Lawrence Dobkin, Harry Bartell, John Dehner, Howard McNear, Roy Rowan (announcer), Antony Ellis (writer), Norman Macdonnell (producer, director), Rex Koury (music).
The ship's parson dies on Christmas and vows to return one year later to preach and to heal." In the new year the ship is wrecked. When Christmas Eve returns, the captain, his lame son, and a skeptical shipmate return to the wreckage to see if there was anything to the old parson's promise.
Maybe this isn't the most inspired fiction, but I like it as an illustration of the Christmas ghost story. The author takes pains to tie in the notion of ghosts with the Biblical Christmas story. The American Weekly Program #35 Christmas Eve Ghost 21 December 1933 19331221(035)_AMWK_ChristmasEveGhost.mp3 Hearst syndication, "produced in the New York Studios of the General Broadcasting Company." R. C. Wentworth (announcer). [I couldn't find any other credits or the original publication.]
Liz attempts knit a sweater for George and to curb her curiosity about the wrapped present from George in the hall closet.
I know I Love Lucy probably eclipses its prototype, but there I like My Favorite Husband better. For one thing the marriage between Liz and George seems warmer than the one between Lucy and Desi. Anyway, here's a light-hearted comedy for the holiday. My Favorite Husband #67 George's Christmas Present 16 December 1949 19491216(067)_MYFH_GeorgesChristmasPresents.mp3 CBS net. Lucille Ball, Richard Denning, Eleanor Audley, Frank Nelson.
Judy Garland sings The Trolley Song. Les Paul plays the electric guitar. Lum and Abner get hung up on the phrase "two heads are better than one." Judy sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Jerry Colonna, "the mustache that walks," stops by for some one-liners and a silly song. (The band behind him is hot, but Jerry's voice is ... well, not.)
After the break, The Les Paul Trio plays Blue Skies. Lum and Abner and Colonna join Judy on the stage and get her cracking up. Judy sings a medley with the Paul Whiteman orchestra honoring the composer Jerome Kern.
The show ends with Judy giving a passionate speech, "I'm dreaming of a peaceful Christmas." But she doesn't sing it. And the announcer gives a plea to buy war bonds.
I'm exploring some Christmas stuff, which will take me out of my comfort zone. Here's a variety show. I sometimes like these "for the feels" (they give me that cool sense of time travel), but they don't really date well. The saccharine style of music that was popular in the 40's has very little appeal to a modern audience. Judy is mostly singing show tunes and carols in this one, though. I threw in a picture of Jerry Colonna because a lot of his comedy relies on imagining his crazy face. Without his buggy eyes and mustache to "sell" them, his jokes are less good.
We listen as a journalist pieces together audio to tell the story of a man stranded in space.
Shades of The Martian and Apollo 13 with a couple of hard turns!
X Minus One #36 The Cave of Night 1 February 1956 19560201(036)_XMIN_TheCaveOfNight.mp3 NBC net. James E. Gunn (author), Alexander Scourby, Joe DeSantis, Grant Richards, Luis Van Rooten, Charles Carroll, John Moore, Bob Hastings, Ernest Kinoy (adaptor), William Welch (producer), Daniel Sutter (director), Fred Collins (announcer).