Over the years, I’ve mentioned that I’m a big fan of old-time radio shows, especially Jack Benny. Throughout his 23 years on radio, Jack Benny had a handful of Halloween-themed episodes. They even helped to inspire a Halloween tradition for myself, as I discussed yesterday.
So here’s two of my favorite Jack Benny Halloween-themed episodes. The second episode features Basil Rathbone, who starred in Son of Frankenstein two years earlier. If you’ve never listened to a Jack Benny radio show, then you’ve probably never listened to any old-time radio show. Give it a chance. You may like it if you’re a retro/vintage-minded person.
And if comedy isn’t your thing and you want some chills & thrills, well, radio could get pretty scary, too. Sometimes what your mind creates is more terrifying than anything practical effects and CGI can show you, so check out a trio of horrific tales from a previous blog post: Old-Time Radio Horror: “Fugue In C Minor”, “The Thing on the Fourble Board” and “The House In Cypress Canyon”
Quick! I know it’s late but if you’re not too sleepy, too full of candy or too drunk, take a listen to these classic radio episodes of horror tales from the old-time radio series Suspense and Quiet, Please.
I love old-time radio but I mostly stick with comedy. Some of the suspense and horror series are just too creepy. Even The Shadow creeps me out, but since it’s Halloween, it’s good to get creeped out… right?
Suspense – “Fugue In C Minor”
June 1, 1944
Suspense – “The House In Cypress Canyon”
December 6, 1946
Quiet, Please – “The Thing on the Fourble Board”
August 9, 1948
So last year the OTR bug bit me again (as you can tell by looking here). Being that this is the age of iTunes, I wondered to myself if there were any old time radio podcasts and sure enough there are a number of them. The very best of which is the Jack Benny Show – OTR Podcast! hosted by “Buck Benny”.
It’s a great podcast where Buck often gives great behind the scenes information and speaks about the history of the show, characters, actors and crew before getting on with the actual broadcasts. This is why I really love it. If you’re an OTR buff, this is a fun way to learn a bit more history and I find these stories fascinating. I wouldn’t mind if Buck devoted an entire podcast to just TALKING about OTR.
Other than that, the main selling point for me is Jack Benny’s show but don’t let the name of the podcast fool you (as it did me originally)– there’s a variety of shows posted by Buck. Gunsmoke, Phil Harris & Alice Faye, Fibber McGee & Molly, Suspense, Bob Hope, Command Performance, Bing Crosby, Burns & Allen and Fred Allen are shows that are always in rotation.
If you have even a passing interest in the golden age of radio, this is a must-listen podcast!
BTW – I hope everyone had a great Halloween. I had planned on dressing up but ended up with a terrible headache all day and just chilled watching some horror movies all night and the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. I loved the comic book, so I expected the show to decent… it was spectacular. Great production values, surprising amount of gore for cable. It looked and felt like a movie. Can’t wait for next week’s episode! I wonder how closely they’re gonna follow the book.
Last month I discussed The Adventures of Superman now it’s time to tackle yet another old time radio show that featured a hero…
The Shadow featured a superhero of a different breed. The character wasn’t all smiles and handshakes like Superman and his show wasn’t really for young listeners either. It was detective/mystery, thriller and horror all rolled into one. My first introduction to the Shadow was with 1994’s live action film starring Alec Baldwin and Penelope Anne Miller. I wasn’t sure who this Shadow guy was, but he appeared to be a superhero so that was enough to hook me to watch the movie. Well, the movie sucks. Looking back, having become familiar with the original incarnation of the Shadow, they really screwed things up. The Shadow just doesn’t fit into the summer blockbuster mold.
Since I’m in the mood to talk old time radio, let’s move on to what some of my favorite shows are. I was mostly a fan of comedies (and don’t kid yourself, OTR was a great era for comedy) but I strayed into action/adventure and mystery shows now and again.
This will be a short running feature on my blog because my list isn’t too long (Any bets on how long it will take me to finish this series?) so let’s start things off with the first show I ever heard…
The Adventures of Superman
One of the first shows to hook me on OTR, thanks to picking up a cassette at Cracker Barrel. The show was done initially in a 15 minute serial format (with stories running for as long as a month or two) and then switched over to 30 minutes in its final days. The show ran two, three or five days a week during its run.
I had a lot of love for this show just because it was Superman, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t initially a bit disappointed that Superman didn’t really make many appearances. There’s not a lot of action in this show, it was really built around Clark Kent as more of a mystery/adventure show (as ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was). While it still doesn’t make much sense to me to have a TELEVISION show where Superman isn’t in action all that much, having grown older & wiser, I can totally see how an investigative reporter radio show works a lot better than an indestructible superhero radio show.