X Minus One
X Minus one ran on NBC from 1955-1958 weekly and had one episode, The Iron Chancellor, written by Robert Silverberg, in 1973. It started off as a revival of Dimension X, with 15 of the same stories including tonight’s show, Mars is Heaven, which played on July 7th, 1950. It also incorporated 4 stories from a short lived radio anthology called Tales of Tomorrow, which ran in 1953. The stories were so popular that 50 years later, Counter-Productions Theatre Company in Boston, staged three episodes.
Mars is Heaven was written by Ray Bradbury and this episode was originally broadcast Mar 8, 1955. This story was also among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one the best science fiction short stories of all time.
The radio version of Gunsmoke ran from 1952 to 1961. This episode, Joke’s On Us originally aired January 9th, 1954 and starred William Conrad, Georgia Ellis, Parley Baer and Howard McNear. Also heard were Vic Perrin, Lou Krugman, John Dehner and Harry Bartell. This is truly an amazing cast:
William Conrad: Conrad estimated that he appeared in over 7,500 roles on radio. He was regularly heard inviting listeners to “get away from it all” on CBS’ Escape. Conrad’s other radio credits include appearances on The Damon Runyon Theater, The Lux Radio Theater, Nightbeat, Fibber McGee and Molly and Suspense. For “The Wax Works,” a 1956 episode of Suspense, Conrad demonstrated his versatility by performing all the roles. Because of his CBS contract, Conrad appeared on other network radio shows as “Julius Krelboyne”.
Parley Baer: Baer’s portrayal of Chester was generally considered his finest and most memorable role and, as he often said, the one he found most fulfilling. He was also featured on many other radio programs but also made a big splash in film and on television. A few of his television roles were on The Andy Griffith Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Addams Family, Hogan’s Heroes, Bewitched, Three for the Road, Three’s Company, The A-Team, Star Trek: Voyager, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Dukes of Hazzard, Night Court, Little House on the Prairie, and Mad About You.
Howard Mcnear: Though McNear was best known for his performances as the vague, chatty barber Floyd Lawson on television on The Andy Griffith Show, he worked as a theatrical actor as early as 1930 and worked in radio from the late 1930s, distinguishing himself in the 1937–1940 radio serial Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police as ace operator Clint Barlow. Along with his lengthy tenure on Gunsmoke, Howard also (From 1955 to 1960) appeared frequently, in various quirky roles, in the popular (and one of my favorite) radio detective series Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.
The television version of Gunsmoke ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975 and was the United States’ longest-running prime time, live-action drama with 635 episodes. In 2010, Law & Order tied this record of 20 seasons (but only 456 episodes).
Five Minute Mystery: Command Performance.
Five Minute Mysteries were produced and syndicated to individual local radio stations as what is still known as a “barter/trade” program. In other words, they were used to sell advertising to local merchants or trade the advertising announcements for goods, services or premiums such as the prizes awarded to listeners in the radio station’s contests or promotions. To facilitate personalizing the shows to the individuals stations and insert the local ads, the producers inserted musical interludes in the shows where time is left for a local announcer to introduce the episode, present the advertiser’s message and wrap things up with other local information.
Next Week: Burns and Allen and Richard Diamond, Private Detective.