OLD TIME RADIO - 1 CD - 21 mp3 - Total Playtime: 10:04:03
Emerson Drug and CBS Debut Hollywood Star Playhouse
Emerson Drug had been a long-time sponsor of Radio programming, prominently highlighting their Bromo-Seltzer line. Emerson promoted Bromo-Seltzer with the following programs of the era:
1935 NTG [Nils Thor Granlund] and His Girls
1935 Pathe News of The Air
1935 The Intimate Revue with Bob Hope
1937 Hollywood News with Sid Sokolsky
1938 Hollywood News with Harriet Parsons
1940 Ben Bernie
1941 Vox Pop
1942 The Adventures of Ellery Queen
1942 Troman Harper, Rumor Detective
1945 The Saint
1946 Forever Ernest
1946 Inner Sanctum
1950 Hollywood Star Playhouse
Their--by the 1940s--ubiquitous "BRO-mo-Selt-zer, BRO-mo-Selt-zer, BRO-mo-Selt-zer," mantra was heard during most of the sponsor's commercial messages. Needless to say, by the 1950s, Emerson Drug had a strong relationship with the major networks--CBS, especially.
That new promotional platform became Hollywood Star Playhouse, a playhouse format, mystery drama anthology featuring major--and emerging--Hollywood Film stars in original, 30-minute productions written, for the most part, for a specific star. Hollywood Star Playhouse's premiere presentation of April 24, 1950 featured James Stewart in 'Nor Gloom of Night,' adapted to a 30-minute format. And true to its charter, Hollywood Star Playhouse continued to provide major stars in mostly original mystery dramas for the following three years over three different networks:
CBS (for Bromo-Seltzer) from April 1950 to July 1951
ABC (sustaining) from July 1951 to January 1952
NBC (for Bakers of America) from February 1952 to February 1953
The CBS, Bromo-Seltzer-sponsored run promised "tales of mystery, thrills and suspense," most of the productions written specifically for a particular performer by Milton Gieger or Maurice Zimm. The Hollywood Star Playhouse format also featured the star of the following production introducing that production, indicating that at several productions were probably performed and recorded in the same recording session. Herbert Rawlinson served as host of the CBS run, with the entire CBS run produced and directed by Jack Johnstone. Jeff Alexander composed and conducted the musical accompaniment for the CBS run.
The ABC-sustained run of Hollywood Star Playhouse continued the 'tales of suspense, thrills and adventure' format. The ABC run also continued under the direction of Jack Johnstone and continued to feature original dramatic productions penned specifically for the productions' stars, penned by Milton Geiger, Maurice Zimm and Leonard St Clair among others. Basil 'Buzz' Adlam served as the music director for the ABC [KECA] run. The ABC run also continued the practice of the stars of the following productions announcing their appearances with teasers of the script. It was the ABC run that also introduced credits for the supporting actors of each production, a practice that the production continued over the following NBC run.
The NBC run in particular--for the Bakers of America--was noteworthy for introducing James Stewart's characterization of The Six Shooter, which was ultimately spun-off into James Stewart's only recurring dramatic role over Radio. It's related elsewhere that Safari, starring Ray Milland, was also under consideration for a spin-off over Radio--one that never fully materialized.
That NBC season also saw the debuts of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Charlton Heston in their first dramatic performances over Radio. The NBC run also presented Janet Leigh in one of her first Radio performances. The series continued to be directed by Jack Johnstone, but with Wendell Niles acting as the host and product spokesperson. The Bakers of America also included baking tips and recipes presented by Miss Helen Reed, Home Economist for the Bakers of America. The series continued its 'tales of suspense, thrills and adventure' format with scripts written specifically for the star of each performance.
The Bakers of America run over NBC represented yet another sponsor poached from CBS during the era. Bakers of America was a consortium made up of the American Bakers' Association, The Bakers of America, and Quality Bakers of America--the organization best known for the Sunbeam Bread brand. But as part of the deal, CBS mounted the Bakers Theatre of Stars for a limited, thirteen installment run following six days after the final 1953 Hollywood Star Playhouse installment over NBC. Bakers Theatre of Stars over CBS was another star-studded feature airing predominantly straight dramatic productions. Thus, Bakers of America was able to leverage its messaging throughout the 1953 period culminating in its major annual convention during June of 1953.
None of the network runs stinted on quality and name talent--not even the ABC-sustained run. With a budget averaging between $5,000 and $7,000 per production throughout the canon, the series continued to attract the finest stars and writers of the era. The west coast productions also showcased most of Radio's finer west coast character actors of the era: Lurene Tuttle, Virginia Gregg, Irene Tedrow, Bill Conrad, Gerald Mohr, Harry Bartell, Paul Frees, Alan Reed, Tony Barrett, and Joan Banks among many others.
The final Hollywood Star Playhouse production aired on February 15, 1953 with The Chase occupying that timelsot the following week over NBC. Wendell Niles teased another Bakers of America production [Bakers Theatre of Stars], to follow on another network [CBS] on the Sunday following--February 21, 1953. The Bakers of America were attempting to maintain interest in their message as the organization approached its major annual convention in June of 1953.
The eight repeated scripts during the Hollywood Star Playhouse canon were interpreted by different actors the second time around, so they're not repeat performances or rebroadcasts, but rather repeats of a script. Some of those repeated scripts would make for an interesting comparison between performances. Especially, one might well imagine, the two interpretations of "Statement In Full," the first performed by Joan Crawford and the second interpreted by Marilyn Monroe in her first ever Radio debut performance. Other potentially interesting 'mash-ups' were:
James Stewart and Alan Young in respective interpretations of Nor Gloom of Night
Barbara Stanwyck and Claire Trevor's interpretations of Father's Day
BroderickCrawford and Paul Douglas' interpretations of Quiet, Hospital Zone
Dan Dailey and Barry Sullivan's interpretations of Death Is A Right Hook
Barbara Stanwyck and Mercedes Cambridge's interpretations of Not the Nervous Type
Robert Ryan and Dennis O'Keefe's interpretations of The Reluctant Witness
Robert Young and Richard Conte's interpretations of Blackout
Should any of the corresponding pairs of repeat script exemplars enter circulation, several of the above comparisons would make for very interesting studies of the actors' craft. In most of these instances, the stronger, more seasoned actor appeared in the first airing, and the less experienced actor in the subsequent airing, with the possible exceptions of Barbara Stanwyck and Claire Trevor, Barbara Stanwyck and Mercedes McCambridge, and Broderick Crawford and Paul Douglas.
Principal Actors: James Stewart, Broderick Crawford, Ray Milland, Claire Trevor, John Lund, Evelyn Keyes, David Brian, Edward Arnold, Cornel Wilde, Dorothy McGuire, John Hodiak, Wendell Corey, Audrey Totter, Lee Bowman, Van Heflin, Ronald Reagan, Dick Powell, Victor Mature, Herbert Marshall, Richard Widmark, Mercedes McCambridge, Anne Baxter, William Powell, Ida Lupino, Joseph Cotten, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Robert Cummings, Barbara Stanwyck, Mel Ferrer,Rosalind Russell, Barry Sullivan, John Payne, Patricia Neal, William Holden, Dane Clark, Alan Ladd, Joan Bennett, Joan Crawford, Dick Haymes, Vincent Price, Edmund Gwenn, David Niven, Howard Duff, MacDonald Carey, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Chandler, David Brian, Dan Dailey, William Holden, Dean Stockwell, Dana Andrews, Robert Young, Richard Basehart, Mickey Rooney, Frank Lovejoy, Deborah Kerr, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., William Bendix, Eve Arden, George Murphy, Millard Mitchell, John Payne, Cesar Romero, Tyrone Power, Robert Cummings, Dennis O'Keefe, Mary McCarty, Jane Wyman, Paul Douglas, Gary Merrill, Diana Lynn, Alan Young, Gloria Grahame, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Charleton Heston, Ida Lupino, Lynn Bari, Ruth Hussey, Joanne Dru, Richard Conte, Janet Leigh, Ted Von Eltz, Wilms Herbert, Paul Dubov, Maggie Moreley, Harry Bartell, Ken Peters, Herbert Lytton, Shepard Mencken, Tony Michaels, Lurene Tuttle, Herb Vigran, Joan Banks, Stacy Harris, Paul McVey, Ed Max, Tom Tully, Jean Tatum, Sheldon Leonard, Mary Jane Croft, Will Wright, Jane Morgan, Frank Gerstle, Gerald Mohr, Alan Reed, Bob Griffin, Ann Stone, Tony Barrett, Billy Hallup, Irene Tedrow, Glenn Vernon, Virginia Gregg, William Conrad, Steve Garay, Paul Frees, Barbara Eiler, Peter Leeds, Lester Jay, Jeanette Nolan, Parley Baer, Byron Kane, Chester Stratton, Kurt Martell, Stan Waxman, Wendell Niles, Gloria Blondell, Junius Matthews, Wiliiam Lundigen, Susan Hayward
Hollywood Star Playhouse 50-06-19 (009) Venom
Hollywood Star Playhouse 50-09-18 (022) A Question of Time
Hollywood Star Playhouse 50-10-09 (025) Of Night and the River
Hollywood Star Playhouse 50-11-13 (030) Exhibit A
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-01-15 (039) Statement in Full
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-01-29 (041) Later Than You Think
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-02-05 (042) Calculated Risk
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-07-09 (064) Knee High to a Corpse
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-07-26 (066) I'm a Coward
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-08-16 (069) An Obit for Joe
Hollywood Star Playhouse 51-09-20 (074) Hour of Truth
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-01-10 (090) The Frontier
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-04-13 (099) The Six Shooter
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-04-27 (101) Nor Gloom of Night
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-05-18 (104) Safari
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-08-17 (117) Haunt Me Not
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-09-07 (120) The Tenth Planet
Hollywood Star Playhouse 52-11-02 (128) The Big One
Hollywood Star Playhouse xx-xx-xx Hour Of Truth-VincentPrice
Hollywood Star Playhouse xx-xx-xx Nightand The River-Joseph Cotton
Hollywood Star Playhouse xx-xx-xx The Tenth Planet
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