Katharine Hepburn in Little Women

This series originated on radio in the 1940s as Theatre Guild on the Air. Organized in 1919 to improve the quality of American theater, the Theatre Guild first experimented with radio productions in Theatre Guild Dramas, a CBS series which ran from December 6, 1943 to February 29, 1944.

Actress-playwright Armina Marshall, a co-administrator of the Theatre Guild, headed the Guild’s newly created Radio Department and in 1945, Theatre Guild on the Air embarked on its ambitious plan to bring Broadway theater to radio with leading actors in major productions. It premiered September 9, 1945, on ABC with Burgess Meredith, Henry Daniell and Cecil Humphreys in Wings Over Europe, a play by Robert Nichols and Maurice Browne which the Theatre Guild had staged on Broadway in 1928-29.

Within a year the series drew some 10 to 12 million listeners each week. Presenting both classic and contemporary plays, the program was broadcast for eight years before it became a television series.

In 1933, Katharine Hepburn won her first Oscar in Morning Glory, as a young actress who rejects romance in favor of her career. That same year, Hepburn played Jo in the Big-screen adaptation of Little Women, which broke box-office records, and for which she won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival.

In 1950, Hepburn signed on to play Rose Sayer in The African Queen, a prim spinster missionary in Africa (around the time of World War I), who convinces Humphrey Bogart’s character, a hard-drinking riverboat captain, to use his boat to destroy a German ship. The African Queen was shot mostly on location in Africa, where almost all the cast and crew suffered from malaria and dysentery, except director John Huston and Bogart, neither of whom ever drank any water. Hepburn disapproved of the two men’s drinking and drank gallons of water each day to spite them. She wound up so sick with dysentery that, even months after she returned home, the actress was still ill. The film gave Hepburn her fifth Best Actress nomination, but she lost to Vivien Leigh for A Streetcar Named Desire.The trip and the movie made such an impact on Hepburn that later in life she wrote a book about filming the movie: The Making of The African Queen: Or, How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind, which made her a best-selling author at the age of 77.
In this version of Little Women, Hepburn plays the parts of both the Narrator and Jo.

Enjoy!

Next time: X minus One and Gunsmoke

Play

The Six Shooter and It Pays to be Ignorant

The Six Shooter: THE COWARD
In the second episode of The Six Shooter, former gunman and old friend of Britt Ponset’s, Will Peter, at his wife’s request, promises never to use his weapon again. Unfortunately, Noah Temple is trying to take away the Peter ranch and Will is having trouble keeping his promise. This series began just a year after Gunsmoke though The Six Shooter wasn’t the first popular adult western to air over Radio, a case can be made that it was the first to thoroughly legitimize the genre over the medium. Not only were The Six Shooter scripts (and casts) the equal of any of the first wave of adult westerns, but the series carried the considerable weight of James Stewart in the starring role. The theme song “The Highland Lament” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, became a star in its own right and NBC was flooded with inquiries and requests in the mail on how to obtain the record. The answer from producer Jack Johnstone was always the same: “It’s a special English recording restricted to broadcast use only.” Originally Aired 09/27/1953.

It Pays To Be Ignorant
This series, which ran for nine years starting in 1942 was a spoof on popular “intellectual” series as Quiz Kids and Information Please while the beginning of the program parodied the popular quiz show, Doctor I.Q. With announcers Ken Roberts and Dick Stark, the program was broadcast on Mutual from June 25, 1942 to February 28, 1944, on CBS from February 25, 1944 to September 27, 1950 and finally on NBC from July 4, 1951 to September 26, 1951.
The satirical series featured “a board of experts who are dumber than you are and can prove it.” Tom Howard was the quizmaster who asked questions of dim-bulb panelists Harry McNaughton, Lulu McConnell and George Shelton. The Irish-born Howard and Shelton had previously worked together as a team in vaudeville and comedy film shorts, while McConnell and British comic McNaughton had both appeared in many Broadway musical comedies and revues between 1920 and the late 1930s.
The original radio cast brought the show to television. It was first seen on CBS from June 6 to September 19, 1949. After two years, the series returned on NBC from July 5 to September 27, 1951.
The series was revived by Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall Productions as a weekly syndicated series from September 10, 1973 to September, 1974. In this version, host Joe Flynn queried panelists Jo Anne Worley, Billy Baxter and Match Game regular Charles Nelson Reilly.
A spoof of this spoof was done in the mid-1950s by Jackie Gleason.
Originally broadcast October 6, 1944

Play