The Adventures by Morse Radio Program
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Premiere broadcast of Adventures by Morse over KALL, Salt Lake City on January 20 1946
Adventures by Morse over KALL Salt Lake City on March 31 1946
Adventures by Morse over KALL Salt Lake City on August 4 1946
The announcement of the premiere airing of Adventures By Morse over CJOC in Canada Dec 17 1949
Jack Edwards' entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory. Jack Edwards portrayed Skip Turner for most of the run of Adventures By Morse
Captain Bart Friday as envisioned by Carlton E. Morse in 1945
1945 advertisement promoting Adventures by Morse package. Note that (in the pop-up) Carlton E. Morse declines to accept syndications subscriptions from beer, ale, yeast or gelatin accounts.
Carlton E. Morse business card
|Adventures by Morse is the greatest 1944 Radio adventure series that never aired in either 1944 or 1945. Or at least, so say the old time radio community--or 'otr'--that invented itself in the mid-1970s for the express purpose of commercializing and exploiting Vintage or Golden Age Radio. The otr community has long claimed that Adventures By Morse was one of the three, legendary Radio Adventure series' penned by Carlton E. Morse.
There are a multitude of problems with the above otr-perpetuated hypotheses:
- None of Carlton E. Morse's adventure drama programs were particularly legendary--by any critical measure.
- Only two of Morse's adventure dramas ever actually aired when created--I Love A Mystery and I Love Adventure.
- Carlton Morse, while justifiably recognized as one of the 20th Century's most prolific serial drama writers, was not a particularly gifted, let alone imaginative, adventure or suspense writer.
- The otr community, while claiming air dates for Adventures by Morse can cite not one single air time or station for a single 1944--or 1945--run of the series.
- Nor can the otr community produce a single transcription label from a single--as sold--transcription disc.
- Nor can the otr community produce a single 1944 or 1945 newpaper listing entry for even one single continguous 1944 or 1945 broadcast run.
- Nor can the otr community produce a single 1944 or 1945 promotional broadcast article about either the program, Carlton Morse's involvement with the program, nor any of the program's stars' involvement with the program.
This rather awkward situation begs several additional observations.
The first observation that leaps to mind is the legendary nature of the travesty that's been foisted onto the otr community for over 35 years regarding this 'legendary radio program.' We say this with some justifiable conviction since:
- the program was certainly never legendary
- it was neither aired nor fully broadcast over Radio in 1944 or 1945
- there's some question as to whether is was even intended as anything more than an elaborate bargaining chip in Carlton Morse's long-running efforts to keep one of his adventure serials airing over a national network.
Building even more elaborately on this extraordinarily 'invented' series of broadcasts, numerous morally challenged collectors, dealers and otr 'authors' cite both 'east coast' and 'west coast' sets of Adventures By Morse that supposedly aired throughout 1944 and 1945--but never did--on either coast. Nor, as must be quite obvious, could there ever be a 'designated set'--of any kind--in any case.
- In the first place, Carlton E. Morse himself owned every single copy of the physical Adventures By Morse transcriptions.
- In the second place, since this was a transcribed, syndicated program there was no order--on either coast. Period. The affiliates that subscribed to Adventures By Morse aired them in any three-or ten-episode arc order they chose to.
- And finally, since Carlton E. Morse himself would never have sanctioned such absurd concepts as an 'east coast set' or a 'west coast set', then there simply wasn't such a set. Period. Q.E.D. Any otr vendor who tells you there is, is a charlatan.
On sum, even though this 'legendary radio program' was neither particularly legendary, nor broadcast Radio, nor a program per se, it's clear that it was something. Just what that 'something' was, remains to be discovered.
Now we come to the facts of the matters at hand:
- Carlton E. Morse famously retained all rights to his intellectual property, going as far as 'renting' the transcriptions of his adventure serials to subscribing stations. This, by way of explanation for why we find no circulating transcription discs of Morse's adventure programs.
- As it turns out, Adventures By Morse took almost three years to find a broadcast outlet--by syndicated transcription, airing in a very limited number of markets during 1946. It never fully aired during either 1944 or 1945.
- The vast majority of broadcasts of Adventures by Morse didn't occur until the very end of The Golden Age of Radio years--in 1953 and 1954. And again, over an extremely limited number of outlets.
Indeed, to this day, all rights to Adventures By Morse are retained by MorseLCo, Incorporated, the Morse Family's California-registered Trust. While they have occasionally issued a license to some of Carlton Morse's holdings, the vast majority of his work remains in the exclusive possession of the Family's trust. Apparently the Morse Family has been counseled that a resurgent market for Carlton E. Morse's adventure serials will yet present itself one day in the future.
While we respect the Morse family's aspirations for their progenitor's body of work, we have our doubts that such a situation will present itself after all this time. While we can envision no resurgence of interest in Morse's adventure writing in all but the most distant future, this is by no means a reflection on Carlton Morse's amazing output of serial melodrama over his extraordinary career. But for all intents and purposes, that boat has sailed.
Now that we've dispensed with most of the otr hokum associated with this otherwise fine adventure serial, we can move on to specifics:
The full fifty-two installment arc of eight adventures first aired over a fully newspaper-provenanced affiliate in 1946, over Salt Lake City's KALL. This was also one of the few markets of the era that could meet Morse's stringent proscriptions for airing Adventures By Morse. The basic framework of Adventures By Morse was a series of eight macro-adventures, broken down into three or ten episodes each. This was a syndicated, transcribed production, so we have no real idea of either the intended order or recorded order for any of the eight adventures. Their titles and episode counts follow:
- The City of The Dead in ten episodes
- A Coffin for The Lady in three episodes
- The King Cobra Strikes Back in ten episodes
- The Girl On Shipwreck Island in three episodes
- Dead Men Prowl in ten episodes
- You'll Be Dead In A Week in three episodes
- The Land of The Living Dead in ten episodes
- It's Dismal To Die in three episodes
If the titles seem somewhat childish or unimaginative, it's not your imagination. In most cases, the sub-titles for most episodes were also rather silly or obtuse. We don't wish to put too fine a point on it, but Carlton E. Morse was not a particularly noteworthy adventure writer. His strong suit was his extraordinary ability to keep a large cast of diverse characters sufficiently updated, while maintaining the continuity for each individual characterization over a span of weeks, months, or even years of that character's development. While certainly an exceptional talent in itself, simply being able to juggle ten, twenty, or even fifty characters with equal development and continuity, does not a spell-binding adventure make.
This is not to say that Adventures By Morse was either uniformly poor, uniformly mediocre, or even occasionally brilliant--or any combination of the three, for that matter. It's just that--in our experience, anyway--canned, pre-recorded, syndicated adventure programming would generally be expected to be of a much higher quality than in that found in this series. It certainly wasn't for lack of talent in any case. Versatile writer, director, producer and actor, Elliott Lewis, lends his voice to the lead character, Captain Bart Friday. Bart Friday was also portrayed by David Ellis and Russell Thorson over the 52-week run. Equally solid character actors Jack Edwards and an occasional Barton Yarborough take the role of Skip Turner at one time or another. Both actors were alumni of Morse's 27-year, 14.7 million spoken-word run of One Man's Family.
The modular concept by which the series was packaged was also of note. With story arcs alternating between three and ten epsiodes each, it was designed to appeal to virtually any affiliate station's seasonal programming cycles. It could be sold as a 13-week, 26-week, or 52-week series, as well as in blocks of individual episodes. In addition, each episode went to great pains to exposit all necessary continuity from the preceding episodes of that story arc, so as to allow any listener a full enjoyment of each individual or subsequent episode even if they missed one or more installments.
If you get the impression that this was a very well thought out concept and design for a programmed adventure product you've hit the nail square on the head. Indeed that seems precisely what this was: a cleverly designed product. It might have been executed even better had it been thought through from more than a packaging standpoint. Subscribers interested in building character or actor loyalty over more than a 26-week arc were out of luck. In the role of Captain Bart Friday, Elliott Lewis committed to only the first thirteen installments, David Ellis to the next twenty-three installments and Russell Thorson to the final sixteen installments. As a brilliantly conceived packaging concept, the planning seems to have broken down a bit in the retaining-the-main-star portion of the production planning.
This in itself begs even more questions. In virtually all other programming that Carlton E. Morse undertook, his casts would remain with him for as long as twenty-seven years. The question remains: What made this relatively short, modular production so unattractive that Morse couldn't retain the same cast for fifty-two relatively short, contiguous episodes?
Even more difficult to understand is the dearth of information that the Morse Family Trust has released in regard to Adventures By Morse. Other than the announcer, a few of the lead characters and the director and writer, we know almost nothing about the production side of Adventures By Morse.
As best as we can reconstruct what was actually going on with Adventures By Morse, we can surmise the following:
- Contrary to the stated, intended concept, this series seems more an accumulation of programming that Morse simply pieced together over the years.
- Having recognized the modular nature of syndicated programming, it was intuitively natural to assemble this series in segments over as many as three to five years.
- Given the somewhat quixotic flow of the locations and continuity over the 52 installments, it would seem that they were individually conceived over a period of far more than the stated year of production planning and transcription.
- The manner by which Morse obtained his lead artists for the series raises even more questions about the series' failure to retain its lead performers.
There's little dispute that this relatively short series--for Carlton E. Morse, anyway--raises as many questions as it answers. But then that's what continues to keep Golden Age Radio research as fascinating and fulfilling as it is; the more questions one answers, the more one often raises.
At the least, in this instance, the answers are worth pursuing. For all its shortcomings and inconsistencies, Adventures By Morse remains something of a tactical--if not strategic--bridge between the longer network runs of I Love A Mystery, Carlton Morse's longest running adventure drama series. To the extent that it gave Morse more ammunition for the next round of network negotiations for I Love A Mystery, it's unlikely that Adventures by Morse provided Morse much leverage in the end.
On the plus side of the ledger, the source transcriptions for the circulating series of recordings are absolutely superb in every way. In this respect, the Morse Family Trust's decision to retain total control over Adventures By Morse has ensured the highest possible quality of the 1st-generation source transcriptions. On the downside, one loses the local color and flavor of local sponsors' spot advertisements or announcements. But as exemplars of the original recordings, the circulating set leaves little more to be desired.
For dyed-in-the-wool Carlton Morse adventure fans, this set of Adventures By Morse remains the single, most complete rendition of one of Morse's adventure serial concepts both fully intact, and as well transcribed as anything in Carlton Morse's entire body of representative work. All told, an excellent treat for any Carlton Morse adventure fanatic.
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Adventure Dramas
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||Unknown [two known promotional recordings]
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||46-01-20 01 The City of The Dead Part 1 The Adventure Begins
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||46-01-20 to 47-01-12; KALL Salt Lake City and WMAL Washington, D.C.; Fifty-two, 25-minute installments of three or ten episodes, comprising eight unique adventures; Sundays 9:00 p.m.
||Syndicated by Carlton E. Morse Productions
||Varied from outlet to outlet
||Carlton E. Morse
||Elliott Lewis, David Ellis, Jack Edwards, Russell Thorson, Barton Yarborough
||Captain Bart Friday [Elliott Lewis] and Skip Turner [Jack Edwards]
||Captain Bart Friday [Elliott Lewis] and Skip Turner [Jack Edwards]
||Carlton E. Morse
||Carlton E. Morse
||Estimated Scripts or
||Episodes in Circulation:
||Total Episodes in Collection:
||RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenance was the log of the RadioGOLDINdex, Broadcasting Magazine, and newspaper listings. The least helpful provenances were all other circulating logs for Adventures By Morse, which are univerally in error.
Given the OTRR's all-inclusive misinformation, it shouldn't surprise any genuine vintage Radio collector that the OTRR's own provenances HERE and HERE, disprove their OTTER log.
You'll note from the screen shots, that they cite not only completely wrong dates for the actual syndicated broadcast dates, but their own referenced source (e.g., the angelfire biography of Carlton E. Morse) states categorically that Morse created Adventures By Morse in 1945-1946:
"A year long series, "Adventures By Morse" (ABM) was also produced by Morse in 1945-46."
You might well ask how such a widely logged program such as Adventures By Morse could have been so universally miscataloged for so many years. The answer is quite simple. A great many of the self-styled 'credentialed authorities' in the world of 'otr' simply plagiarize from each other, rarely--if ever--citing any genuine provenances for their widely disseminated misinformation. Indeed, the whole point of the overwhelming number of circulating logs seems to be a promotional vehicle for the commercial otr purveyors that the loggers traditionally cite as their 'sources.' This remains a troublingly disingenuous practice.
Clearly, the first syndication of Adventures by Morse couldn't possibly have been during either 1944 or 1945, as we've amply and thoroughly supported and proved, Q.E.D. Morse didn't even create the series until 1945-1946. He didn't even advertise the series until late 1945--and his own biographers support our findings. Clearly the only thing wrong with the OTRR's completely inaccurate log of Adventures by Morse is that it was simply plagiarized from multiple, wholly inaccurate commercial sources.
Why has no one else spoken out about this before? Simple. The vast majority of 'OTR misinformers' simply cover for each other, the better to justify their own mutual plagiarism. That's the long answer. The practical answer? They value their spurious 'credentials' and the incomes they derive from their misinformation more than they value American Broadcasting History.
What you see here, is what you get. Complete transparency. We have no 'credentials' whatsoever--in any way, shape, or form--in the 'otr community'--none. But here's how we did it--for better or worse. Here's how you can build on it yourselves--hopefully for the better. Here's the breadcrumbs--just follow the trail a bit further if you wish. No hobbled downloads. No misdirection. No posturing about our 'credentials.' No misrepresentations. No strings attached. We point you in the right direction and you're free to expand on it, extend it, use it however it best advances your efforts.
We ask one thing and one thing only--if you employ what we publish, attribute it, before we cite you on it.
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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.
All rights reserved by their respective sources. Article and log copyright 2009 The Digital Deli Online--all rights reserved. Any failure to attribute the results of this copywritten work will be rigorously pursued.
The Adventures by Morse Program Biographies
|Carlton Errol Morse
(Writer, Producer & Director)
Radio, Stage, Film and Television writer, director and producer
Birthplace: Jennings, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Education: Sacramento Junior College; U.C. Berkeley
1930 Bible Stories
1932 One Man's Family
1940 The Romance Of Helen Trent
1940 I Love A Mystery
1944 Adventures By Morse
1944 An American Family Saga
1945 A Tribute To . . .
1945 The Victory Chest Program
1945 His Honor, the Barber
1946 Tell Me A Story (Audition)
1946 The Bennetts
1947 The Upper Room
1948 I Love Adventure
1949 Family Theater
1950 Behold A Woman
1950 That's Our Boy
1951 Uncle Judge Ben (Auditions)
1951 The Woman In My House
1953 Family Skeleton
1972 Whatever Became Of ...
It's the Berries
Families Need Parents
Inscription reads: To Eddie Dunham From one Radio fella to another. Carlton E Morse - circa 1938
Carlton E Morse - circa 1950
Carlton E. Morse at the typewriter
The Barbour Family Tree from One Man's Family
Morse's I Love A Mystery ran for thirteen years over Radio
I Love A Mystery spot ad from 1941
Carlton E. Morse with a stack of some of the books of scripts from One Man's Family over the years
Carlton Morse and his wife announce the adoption of their daughter Noelle
TIME MAGAZINE 51-05-14
Writer Carlton E. (for Errol) Morse, 49, sat in a Hollywood studio one day last week, blinking back a sentimental rush of tears. He was listening to Actor J. Anthony Smythe, the Father Barbour of One Man's Family (weekdays 7:45 p.m., NBC), thank the "great American listening audience for its wonderful and sincere loyalty" to the program over the past 19 years.
It was not surprising that Writer-Producer Morse was moved by the tribute. He had composed it himself in honor of the family he had first introduced to the U.S. in 1932. Then there were only Father and Mother Barbour and their five children. Today the clan totals 20, including twelve grandchildren, and six of the original cast have grown grey in the service of one of radio's oldest, best-known families.
Love, Marriage, Divorce.
Unlike most of their 20 million listeners, the Barbours have always had plenty of money (Father is a retired broker worth "approximately $300,000"), and Morse strongly believes that the strength of the U.S. lies in "the Barbour type of family." But the Family's greatest appeal lies in the sobs, heartaches and all-around pluckiness of the Barbours in their encounters with love, marriage, divorce and sickness.
Through the years the Barbours have mirrored the changing moods, crises and enthusiasms of a generation of U.S. families. Daughter Claudia and son-in-law Nicky were lost at sea during the war when their ship was torpedoed (they turned up several years later as the result of a lucky rescue). Son Jack was a Marine, and is currently a struggling lawyer. Daughter Hazel has a "problem" child. Son Paul, the family philosopher, often seems to speak for the changing moods of Author Morse himself.
A Dozen Typewriters.
When not in his 17-room Hollywood house, Carlton Morse can usually be found in his cubbyhole in an unused theater, where he has worn out a dozen typewriters producing the 20 million words that have gone into his shows. Stacked about him are the bound volumes of his scripts:
- One Man's Family (14,704,000 words)
- I Love a Mystery (3,400,000 words)
- The Woman in My House (102,000 words)
- His Honor the Barber (182,000 words)
Bulking large on the shelf, and even larger in Morse's imagination, are the 765,000 words of the TV version of One Man's Family.
The Family got its TV start two years ago when Morse was summoned East to put together a TV show to compete with CBS's The Goldbergs. Morse recast his show "for the eye instead of the ear," and began to think in terms of visible characters. The result was so successful that Morse now considers the TV Family (which has a different cast, headed by Bert Lytell, and a different storyline) much more top-drawer than the radio Barbours. Says Morse: "Father Barbour has become much more human than the stuffed-shirt character I created for radio; Mother Barbour is a more brilliant, society-type woman." Judging by their success to date, there seemed no reason to doubt that the TV Barbours would go right on spinning out their Family saga for just as long as their radio counterparts.
Carlton Errol Morse was born on June 4th, 1901, near Jennings, Louisiana, one of six children born to George and Ora Anna Phyllis Morse (née Grubb). Young 'Carl' and his family moved out west in 1906, to San Francisco, California. The family ultimately settled near an agricultural center in Talent, Oregon.
Carl Morse attended Ashland High School from 1915 to 1917. The family then moved to Carmichael, California--a section of Sacramento--working yet again in the agricultural industries. The family began to set down roots in the area, with Carl's brother Wilbur practicing Law, his brother Melvin selling insurance and his father George eventually becoming the superintendent of the then-thriving National Rice Mills of Northern Sacramento.
Carl completed high school at Sacramento High School in 1919, playing on the varsity basketball team and editing the school paper. He played basketball for Sacramento Junior College for two years as well.
In 1922, Carl enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he took Drama and Writing courses, both precursors to what was shaping up to be a major in Journalism. It was while attending U.C. Berkeley that Morse is alleged to have met future One Man’s Family, I Love Adventure, and I Love A Mystery collaborators, Michael Raffetto, Barton Yarborough, and J. Anthony Smythe. Whether fact or fancy, Morse, himself later maintained that he'd never set eyes on any of his actors until they'd shown up for auditions for his various productions. But as with much of the lore that Morse often ascribed to himself, history has yet to separate much of the fact from fancy.
As proof of both the folly and bravado of Morse's alleged protestations about remembering his performing associates from college, one is reminded that Michael Raffetto was widely advertised both throughout the campus and Central California newspapers as the Director of U.C. Berkeley's Little Theatre.
- a.) that obvious fact simply escaped Morse's attention for two years, or
- b.) Morse's considerable ego couldn't abide the notion of someone virtually the same age as he, already so accomplished in the theatre arts, then
- c.) Morse had an ego problem from an early age that must have colored most of his professional recollections for the remainder of his life.
Indeed, both Raffetto and Morse were members of The Bohemian Club, so they had to have known one another. There's one other possibility: one of the major sources of the gross misinformation circulating about Carl Morse's career is a 'major OTR author of twelve books on old time radio and television.' We leave the reader--yet again--to draw his or her own conclusions.
Scheduled to graduate with his Class of '23, Morse was expelled prior to graduation after flunking mandatory Martial Arts (military) classes. He employed his college journalism lessons at the Sacramento Union for the next year, beginning as copy boy and junior reporter for the Radio and Crime desks.
Disappointed with the nugatory pay at The Union, Morse left after a year to work at the copy desk of The San Francisco Chronicle, where he remained for the next two years. In 1925 he was offered a column with the San Francisco Illustrated Daily Herald. After two years writing columns for the Daily Herald, he moved to the Seattle Times for a year. Morse returned to California a year later as a columnist for The San Francisco Bulletin.
Though having moved around a great deal during this period, the coverage his daily and weekly columns received was quite helpful in furthering his exposure to a West Coast readership. Several of his columns were picked up by both smaller and larger local newspapers throughout the West Coast.
It was during his stint at The San Francisco Bulletin, that he met his first wife, Patricia Pattison De Ball. The couple married on September 23, 1928.
During 1929, The San Francisco Bulletin became absorbed by the Hearst Empire. Carl Morse was one of thousands of employees that found the axe during the Hearst consolidations. Responding to advertisements in his own newspaper, Carl found job openings at the young NBC West Coast network for scriptwriters for serial melodramas.
The Stock Market Crash of September 1929, couldn't have been better timed for Morse. Already securely ensconced at NBC, Morse rode out the Great Depression by busying himself with scripts for One Man’s Family. Morse subsequently penned I Love A Mystery, Adventures By Morse, I Love Adventure, and numerous other Radio programs--both memorable and not so memorable.
One Man's Family remains Morse's greatest legacy--and body of work--with over 3,200 unique scripts having aired over twenty-seven years--and the above cited 14.7 million words. Morse cited several elaborate rationales over the years for his inspiration to create a serial melodrama to celebrate the American family. The fact that the family he created bore no resemblance to 97% of mainstream America of any era during which One Man's Family aired seems to bely Morse's assertions about his motivations for this series. But to the extent that One Man's Family represents a triumph of character development--and sustainability--over a 27-year period, the series absolutely established Carlton Morse as a legend in the genre.
But as an action-adventure or mystery genre writer, not so much. Morse could certainly spin an elaborate yarn, but the almost cult status that his I Love A Mystery exemplars have attained over the years is just that--a cult. The I Love A Mystery series has little remarkable to recommend it other than its elusiveness and artificially imposed rarity. If not for the fact that a handful of the more influential collectors who 'invented' OTR during the 1970s were I Love A Mystery fans there'd be no remarkable demand for the series to this day. I Love Adventure and Adventures By Morse, for all their similar shortcomings, are all at least available. Indeed as examples of Morse's adventure writing skills, I Love Adventure and Adventures By Morse are more than adequate.
The Thousand Oaks Library Foundation, currently archives a large collection of radio scripts from I Love A Mystery, I Love Adventure, Adventures By Morse, One Man’s Family and His Honor the Barber. Stanford University currently archives the largest single repository of Morse material.
Carlton E. Morse died of natural causes on May 24, 1993.
(Captain Bart Friday)
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actor, Director, Producer, and Writer
New York City, New York, USA
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1939 The Silver Theatre
1939-1941 The Jello Program
1941 Miss Pinkerton, Inc.
1941 The Orson Welles Theatre
1941 We Hold These Truths
1942-1946 The Cavalcade of America
1942 The Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1942 Lights Out!
1944 Command Performance
1945 The Theatre of Famous Radio Players
1945-1948 The Whistler
1945 On A Note of Triumph
1945 Arch Oboler's Plays
1945 Columbia Presents Corwin
1945 Twelve Players
1945 The Life of Riley
1945 The Amazing Nero Wolfe
1946 Lux Radio Theatre
1946 Encore Theatre
1946 The Casebook of Gregory Hood
1946 Columbia Workshop
1946-1951 The Lucky Strike Program
1947 The Adventures of Sam Spade
1947 The Voyage of The Scarlet Queen
1947 Hawk Larrabee
1948 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1948 The Sweeney and March Show
1948-1952 The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show
1949 The Kraft Music Hall
1949 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 The Line-Up
1952-1954 Crime Classics
1953 Onstage with Cathy and Elliott Lewis
1957 The CBS Radio Workshop
1973 The Hollywood Radio Theatre [Zero Hour]
1979 Sear Radio Theatre
1980 Mutual Radio Theatre
Elliott Lewis' comparatively sparse entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory
Elliott Lewis c. 1944
Elliott Lewis c. 1948
|It's safe to say that Elliott Lewis was the most prolific, versatile Renaissance Man of both Radio and Television throughout the Golden Ages of both media. Quite simply, he did it all--and superlatively. Elliott Lewis first made his mark as an actor, writer, producer and director on radio in the late 1930's. Indeed his first recorded radio appearances were in 1937's The Cinnamon Bear.
During World War II, Lewis was responsible for many of the finest Armed Forces Radio Service productions of the War years, working in conjunction with Gower Gulch fellow enlistee, Howard Duff. Indeed, being the ingenious and resourceful non-Coms that they were, they are reported to have often substituted for each other on air. Apparently each had the other's air voice down so pat that they were indistiguishable from each other when they wanted--or needed--to be. Dedicated fans of AFRS' Mystery Playhouse have been tricked without knowing it, through the personae of Sgt. X, who, in reality was often Elliott Lewis subbing for his buddy, Duff.
Lewis' guest appearances on The Adventures of Sam Spade are some of the more memorable episodes of that series for the magical, on-air interplay between Lewis, Duff, and Lurene Tuttle.
In contrast to his extraordinary radio career, in which he worked either alone or in tandem with his first wife Cathy Lewis, and/or his second wife, Mary Jane Croft, his movie career, like those of most radio actors of the period, wasn't nearly as prolific, with only three films to his credit. His voice was also heard on Gordon Jenkins' classic recording of "Manhattan Tower" on Decca Records in 1945.
During the 1950s, he began to concentrate on writing, producing and directing in earnest. During that period, Lewis produced (1950-1956) and directed (1951-1954) CBS's long running, highly collectible Suspense program. He also produced and directed Broadway Is My Beat from 1949-1954. CBS Radio also tapped him to produce and direct Crime Classics from 1953 to 1954.
After the Golden Age of Radio effectively ended, Lewis moved to Television as a producer of such shows as The Lucille Ball Show (1962) and The Mothers-In-Law (1967), and directed all but one episode of the final season of Petticoat Junction (1963). But it was Radio that remained his first love and he continued to direct the occasional radio play well into the 1970s, culminating with Mutual's critically acclaimed Zero Hour (Hollywood Radio Theatre) in 1973, Sears Radio Theatre in 1979, and Mutual Radio Theatre in 1980 as both director and producer. These Golden Age Radio Revival dramas were some of the finest productions of the 1970s, and despite the dominance of Television, represented an enduring, sophisticated tribute to The Golden Age of Radio that Elliott Lewis had loved so very much.
CBS Radio Publicity once dubbed Elliott Lewis "Mr. Radio" because of his contributions to the medium as a writer, producer, director, and actor. Lewis was involved in more than 1,2o0 network radio programs in those various capacities.
|William Barton Yarborough
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actor; Playwright
Birthplace: Goldthwaite, Texas, U.S.A.
1932 One Man's Family
1935 Unsolved Mysteries
1939 I Love A Mystery
1939 The Chase and Sasnborn Hour
1941 One Man's Family
1944 Adventures By Morse
1944 Radio Almanac
1944 The Human Adventure
1944 The Life Of Riley
1944 Attorney For the Defense
1945 Words At War
1945 Cavalcade Of America
1946 Hawk Larabee
1947 Voyage Of the Scarlet Queen
1948 In Your Name
1948 The First Nighter Program
1948 Decision Now!
1948 I Love Adventure
1948 Jeff Regan, Investigator
1948 Family Theatre
1948 The Eddie Cantor Pabst Blue Ribbon Show
1948 Errand Of Mercy
1948 Guest Star
1949 Three For Adventure
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 Let George Do It
1949 Today's Children
1949 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 Frontier Town
1950 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1950 The Adventures Of Christopher London
1950 Hopalong Cassidy
1950 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1950 One Man's Family
1950 Adventure Is Your Heritage
1951 The Story Of Dr Kildare
1951 The Line-Up
1951 Lux Radio Theatre
1951 Wild Bill Hickok
1951 Melody Ranch
1951 Meet Millie
1951 Bold Venture
1951 The Halls Of Ivy
1952 I Was A Communist For the FBI
The Black Ghost
Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens
The Cisco Kid
Three For Adventure
The Capture Of Lizzie Stone
Barton Yarborough circa 1944
Barton Yarborough was a member of the famed Eva Le Gallienne Company.
Barton Yarborough as Doc Long with Jim Bannon as Jack Packard in I Love A Mystery (1945)
News clipping for I Love A Mystery from April 2 1943
Barton Yarborough was briefly married to beautiful Stage, Screen, Radio and Television actress Barbara Jo Allen, better remembered in Radio as Vera Vague.
'Doc', Reggie and Jack camp it up for publicity still for I Love A Mystery
Barton Yarborough as Detective Sergeant Ben Romero in Dragnet (1951)
|William Barton Yarborough was born in 1900 near Goldthwaite, Texas to Patrick and Molly Ardena Yarborough. During high school, Yarborough ran away from home, attracted to Vaudeville.
Yarborough began his acting career on the Stage, studying with the famed Eva Le Gallienne Company. Yarborough began his Radio career while in his early 20s, starring in several long-running programs as well as in hundreds of character roles during a twenty-six year career in Radio. It was while appearing in early radio that he met and briefly married his first wife, actress Barbara Jo Allen, best remembered by Golden Age Radio fans as Vera Vague, a character she'd developed in San Francisco in 1935. The couple had one child together before divorcing in 1931. The two later appeared in two long-running Radio programs together: One Man's Family (as Beth Holly from 1937) and I Love A Mystery (1939).
He appeared in the premiere cast of one of Radio's longest running serial melodramas, One Man's Family (1932), portraying young Clifford Barbour--eventually portraying Cliff Barbour for his entire adult life as a professional actor.
Yarborough was probably best known for his role as Doc Long in Carlton E. Morse's I Love a Mystery (1939), an occasional Skip Turner in Adventures By Morse (1944), and Doc Long in I Love Adventure (1948), his starring role in Hawk Larrabee (1946), and as Sergeant Ben Romero on Dragnet (1949). Indeed, Bart Yarborough owed most of his Radio career to either Carlton E. Morse or Jack Webb. Yarborough appeared in virtually every production Carlton Morse ever initiated and in every production that Jack Webb was associated with during Yarborough's career.
Barton Yarborough debuted in a credited Film role in the Dr. Christian feature, They Meet Again (1941) with Jean Hersholt. Yarborough subsequently co-starred as 'Doc' Long, of the A-1 Detective Agency in three movies based on the Carlton E. Morse radio series I Love a Mystery: I Love a Mystery [a.k.a. The Decapitation of Jefferson Monk] (1945), The Devil's Mask (1946), and The Unknown (1946).
Throughout the 1940s he appeared in another fourteen character roles, in a variety of characterizations. Notable among his other Film appearances was his role as Dr. Kettering in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), the ill-fated mastermind, Joseph Bradish in the Charlie Chan film The Red Dragon (1945), and a small, uncredited role in Alfred Hitchcock's classic, Saboteur (1942).
But it's Yarborough's Radio work that remains his greatest legacy. Yarborough's distinctive drawl and nasally twang were his most easily recognizable voice characterizations, although it's clear from his other Radio work and Film work that he could just as easily dispense with his native twang for hundreds of other versatile characterizations.
Barton Yarborough added playwright to his already considerable resumé in 1948 with his play, These Tender Mercies, which concerns lynching and racial discrimination in a small Southern town of the early 1900's. It was presented in both Los Angeles and at the Lenox Hill Playhouse in New York as part of Experimental Theatre's Invitational Series, sponsored by the American National Theatre and Academy.
Yarborough began his highly productive--yet brief--association with 28-year old Jack Webb in Webb's gritty detective drama Jeff Regan Investigator (1948) with an appearance as one of Regan's fellow operatives, Joe Canto of Anthony J. Lyon's dubious International Detective Bureau. The Lady With the Golden Hair (48-07-31) was the fourth episode of Jeff Regan, and costarred Hans Conreid [Max Vladny], Betty Lou Gerson [Hilda Graham], and Wilms Herbert [Anthony J. Lyon] as well. In one of the series most entertaining episodes, Joe Canto takes a gunshot in the lung during the second half of the program. Joe Canto would survive to appear in at least two other Jeff Regan adventures.
In 1949, Webb approached Yarborough with his idea for a ground-breaking new, true-to-life cop show. The stories would come straight from the files of the L.A.P.D., with the full support of legendary L.A. Police Chief William Parker. Dragnet would star Jack Webb as Detective Sgt. Joe Friday and Bart Yarborough as his partner, Detective Sgt. Ben Romero.
Homicide was Dragnet's premiere Radio episode, airing on June 2, 1949. Friday and Romero would work together in 133 appearances on Radio's Dragnet until Yarborough's unexpected fatal heart attack of December 19, 1951 that took his life.
Webb and Yarborough had already begun filming their Television version of Dragnet. With the pilot already in the can, Webb and Yarborough both anticipated a December 1951 roll-out of the equally ground-breaking Television version of Dragnet.
Television's Dragnet pilot episode, The Human Bomb, aired on December 16, 1951, three days before Yarborough's fatal heart attack, starring Radio standbys Stacy Harris, Herb Butterfield, Jack Kruchen, and Sam Edwards. Barney Philips appeared as Officer Sam Erickson and Raymond Burr as Watch Commander Thad Brown. The pilot was a critical and popular sensation and the series was set to premiere on January 3, 1952. The second episode, The Big Actor, was already in the can. They'd begun filming the third episode when, on the evening of December 19,1951 at 8:55pm, Barton Yarborough died of a heart attack at his home at 122 South Valley Street in Burbank, California. He was survived by his second wife, Janet, and their daughter, Joan.
On December 27, 1951, eight days after Yarborough's death, Jack Webb remembered his friend and partner in a Dragnet radio episode he dedicated to Barton Yarborough. The Big Sorrow, has Joe Friday working Homicide when he gets the news that his partner, Ben Romero, has died at his home from a heart attack--a poignant memorial to one of Radio's giants.
Barton Yarborough's last I Love A Mystery adventure, Find Elsa Holberg - Dead or Alive, aired posthumously on December 29, 1949.
Yarborough's One Man's Family character, Cliff Barbour, heard for 19 years, was written out of the storyline.
On January 3, 1952, the first Dragnet television episode of the season, The Big Actor, aired--the last screen appearance of Performing Arts legend, Barton Yarborough.
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