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Original The Brownstone Theater header art

The Brownstone Theater Radio Program

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Longacre Square circa 1880, later renamed Times Square
Longacre Square circa 1880, later renamed Times Square


The soon-to-open Longacre Theatre in 1912
The soon-to-open Longacre Theatre in 1912

Interior view of the Longacre Theatre circa 1913
Interior view of the Longacre Theatre circa 1913

Harry Frazee's own 'A Pair of Sixes' ran for a year at the Longacre in 1914
Harry Frazee's own 'A Pair of Sixes' ran for a year at the Longacre in 1914


1927 Longacre Theatre program cover
1927 Longacre Theatre program cover

Brownstone Theater spot ad from August 26 1945
Brownstone Theater spot ad from August 26 1945


The Brownstone Theatre was also broadcast via kinescope over the early DuMont Television network's New York station WABD
The Brownstone Theatre was also broadcast via kinescope over the early DuMont Television network's New York station WABD

Background

Of all the drama adaptations during the era of The Golden Age of Radio, Broadway play revivals and adaptations were among the most popular. Early to mid 20th Century America never seemed to tire of anthologies of Broadway plays of any era. Understandably inaccessible to the wider listening audience throughout North America, the opportunity to bring the best of both the classics and Broadway Stage plays to Main Street and rural America usually made for a very novel and highly sought-after listening experience. The more current Stage plays naturally garnered the most 'buzz' but America's fascination with even turn of the Century Broadway plays of late 1800s to 1920s continued to find a ready audience throughout Radio's Golden Age.

Generally hosted by one or more respected Drama critics of the era, almost all of the revivals of even the oldest plays did very well over Radio--some even finding well-heeled sponsors for the duration of the canon. A sampling of such offerings from the era follows:

Note that the above exemplars represent mostly revivals of Broadway or off-Broadway plays of the 19th and 20th centuries. The more ambitious Stage anthologies of the era would often reach back to the Classics--from the Greek comedies and tragedies to the Globe Theatre era of Shakespeare.

The Longacre Theatre

Among the many beloved Stage venues just off midtown Manhattan's Broadway, was the Longacre Theatre, built in 1913 by Harry H. Frazee. One of the many 'brownstone' theatres of the era, the Longacre became a popular venue for some of the more ambitious Stage plays of the first half of the 20th Century. Sited in Times Square, famed architect Henry B. Herts designed the Longacre with a distinctive, French neo-Classic exterior and a then popular Beaux-Arts interior. New York's famous--or infamous during some eras--Times Square was formerly known as Longacre Square, hence the inspiration for the name of the theatre. Longacre Square was recognized as Times Square during the 1900s owing to the presence of the original New York Times building located there.

With New York's famed 'Great White Way' just a few blocks west of Times Square, the older Stage venues of Times Square soon became known as the more important 'off-Broadway' Stage venues of the era. The Great White Way encompassed an area of Broadway between 42nd Street and 53rd Street. From the 1880s forward, that Theatre District became one of New York City's earliest, mile-long, fully lighted areas, hence the name, The Great White Way, coined in 1902 by the newspapers of the era. In a further exquisitely symmetrical historical irony, Longacre Square had originally been named after a district of London named Long Acre, which also eventually became a major Theatre District of London.

The Longacre Theatre was home to some of Times Square's longer running, off-Broadway Stage successes, among them:

  • 1913 Fine Feathers [H.H. Frazee]
  • 1914 A Pair of Sixes [H.H. Frazee]
  • 1917 Leave It to Jane [P. G. Wodehouse and Jerome Kern]
  • 1927 The Command to Love [starring Basil Rathbone]
  • 1935 Waiting for Lefty [Clifford Odets]

Theatre impresario Harry Frazee was better known outside theatrical circles as the infamous owner of the Boston Red Sox who sold slugger Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees--essentially to fund his expensive theatrical undertakings.

The Longacre Theater became a studio theater for the Mutual Broadcasting System's Radio station WOR in 1944, serving in that capacity until 1953. The famous venue also served the DuMont Television network's station WABD, New York during the period. The Longacre resumed theatrical productions, reopening as a traditional theatre venue with Dorothy Parker's original play Ladies of The Corridor premiering on October 21, 1953.

Mutual debuts The Brownstone Theater from the Longacre Theatre

Between 1944 and 1953, the Mutual Broadcasting System and Radio station WOR, New York leased the Longacre Theater as one of its studio and production facilities. Rechristened the Mutual Longacre Theater, Mutual, WOR, DuMont's early Television station, WABD, New York and WOR's own WOR-TV recorded or broadcast many of their Radio and Television productions directly from the stage of the Longacre Theatre. Among the many productions mounted for Radio and Television there during the period were Broadway Talks Back, Exploring the Unknown, The Brownstone Theater and The Jackpot Show.

The Brownstone Theater premiered on February 21, 1945 as a nostalgic tribute to the many older Broadway and off-Broadway plays that were often mounted in 'brownstone theatres' much like Mutual's own Longacre Theatre. Mutual's The Brownstone Theater inaugurated its first cycle of sixteen, half-hour productions with an adaptation of Charles Klein's 1905 sensation, The Lion and The Mouse. Following a two-week break, the series returned on Sunday evenings with Edward Rose's 1919 hit Cappy Ricks. Thereafter followed another eleven productions, ending with yet another revival of Richard Sheridan's timeless comedy, The Rivals, on September 23, 1945. Dating from 1778, Sheridan's The Rivals had been revived eight other times between 1778 and 1942--and almost always in brownstone theaters much like Mutual's Longacre.

The Brownstone Theater presentations were produced and directed by Mutual's 'Jock-of-All-Trades,' Jock MacGregor, with an ensemble cast comprised of some of New York's finest Radio voices and Stage actors, including Jackson Beck, Gertrude Warner, Les Tremayne, Jan Miner, Neil Hamilton, Walter Hampden, Michael Fitzmaurice and Shep Mencken.

The Radio series' productions were also filmed for early Television kinescope broadcasts over DuMont's New York Television station, WABD. Usually airing two to three weeks after the original Radio performances were recorded live, the Television productions added only a miniature stage and curtains through which to introduce and close each Television presentation. Bob Emery directed the Television productions for WABD. Sylvan Levin's wonderful musical background and transitions were retained in the DuMont Television productions as well.

The Brownstone Theater's commentator and host was the esteemed Drama critic and author Clayton Hamilton, who'd written four influential studies on Stage Drama between 1910 and 1920: The Theory of The Theater, Studies In Stagecraft, Problems of the Playwright, and Seen on the Stage. Hamilton's 1939 opus, The Theory of Theater, compiled the four previous works into an even further expanded commentary on the past and future of Stage Drama. Somewhat lighter in commentary than the competing Stage Drama adaptations over Radio of the era, Clayton Hamilton nevertheless managed to add his unique perspective to each of The Brownstone Theater productions.

The Brownstone Theater was something of a departure for Mutual, but given the competing Stage and Broadway adaptations which were finding increasing popularity over Mutual's competing networks, The Brownstone Theater acquitted itself well. Stage icon Walter Hampden was of course brilliant, but Jackson Beck, Jane Cowl, Les Tremayne, Jan Miner, Gertrude Warner and Neil Hamilton turned in equally inspired performances during the short-lived series. The series also offered the ensemble players the opportunity to perform in the manner of the repertory companies of the turn of the century. These were dramatic roles not usually available to them in the course of their regular commercial Radio work--and live, from the stage of a classic venue so very prized by any dyed in the wool Stage actor. It was also an opportunity to appear on one of Television's earliest widely viewed programs of the era.

The surviving exemplars of The Brownstone Theater remain a wonderful, nostalgic tribute to the venerable plays mounted in hundreds of similar brownstone theaters and lyceums across North America during the turn of the 2oth century through the 1940s. It was also a unique foray into Stage play adaptations for Mutual, even more unique for Mutual and DuMont's ability to leverage the productions into a fine early Television offering as well.

Series Derivatives:

The Brownstone Theater over DuMont Television
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Broadway Play Adaptations
Network(s): MBS [WOR]
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 45-02-21 01 The Lion and The Mouse
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 45-02-21 to 45-09-23; MBS; Twenty-eight, 30-minute programs; Wednesday nights, 9:30 EWT then Sunday nights, 9:30 EWT from 45-07-08 forward
Syndication: Mutual Broadcasting [WOR]
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Jock MacGregor [Producer, Director and Adapter]
Bob Emery [Director for the DuMont Television presentations]
Principal Actors: Gertrude Warner, Jackson Beck, Les Tremayne, Inge Adams, Jan Miner, Elissa Landi, Jane Cowl, Edward Rose, Anthony Hope, Neil Hamilton, Walter Hampden, Michael Fitzmaurice, Shep Mencken, Bob Emery
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): Varied by production
Author(s): Charles Klein, T.W. Robinson, Henrik Ibsen, Charles Dickens, Edward Charles Carpenter, Victorien Sardou, Winchell Smith, Victor Mapes, Anthony Hope, Edmond Rostand, Booth Tarkington, Margaret Mayo, Edward Everett Hale, Edward Rose
Writer(s) Peggy L. Mayer, Anzie Strickland, Florence North, Gladys Milliner, Jock MacGregor, Eleanor Abbey, Keith Thompson [Adapters]
Music Direction: Sylvan Levin
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Clayton Hamilton [Host and Commentator]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
28
Episodes in Circulation: 12
Total Episodes in Collection: 6
Provenances:

Billboard review of DuMont TV station WABD's presentation of the Radio performance of David Garrick over The Brownstone Theater (from April 7 1945)
Billboard review of DuMont TV station WABD's presentation of the Radio performance of David Garrick over The Brownstone Theater (from April 7 1945)

Billboard article from May 19 1945 citing the rationale behind the two-week interruption in The Brownstone Theater
Billboard article from May 19 1945 citing the rationale behind the two-week interruption in The Brownstone Theater
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.

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[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]







The Brownstone Theater Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
45-02-21
1
The Lion and the Mouse
Y
[The Lion and The Mouse first 45-02-19 Zanesville Signal
NEW YORK--(AP)--Plays of the 90's and the early early 1900's are to be revived in a series of half-hour radio adaptations being set up for MBS. In keeping with the period, the program will be identified as the Brownstone theater. A regular radio stock company is to be formed in time to prepare for opening night February 21, at 9:30. The plays will include Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" and
"The Lyon and the Mouse." Narrator is Clayton Hamilton, lecturer, author and dramatic critic at the time when some of the dramas were broadway hits.

45-02-20 Dunkirk Evening Observer
WOR-Mutual has come up with what sounds like a good radio program idea to start this Wednesday evening at 9:30 EWT. "Brownstone Theater" is the name of it and the fare will consist of half-hour condensations of famous dramas of 30 years and more ago. The first offering, for example, will be Charles Klein's
"The Lion and the Mouse," which was a sensation back in 1905. "The Climax," "If I Were King" and "Mrs. Dane's Defense" are some of the others to be used. Clayton Hamilton, author and former drama critic, will serve as commentator. He'll have first-hand knowledge of what he's talking about.

45-02-21 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU):
new series of revivals of dramatic hits of early Broadway.
45-02-28
2
The Witching Hour
N
45-02-28 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN): Jackson Beck and Gertrude Warner in
"The Witching Hour."
45-03-07
3
David Garrick
N
45-03-07 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN):
"David Garrick" by T.W. Robertson, first produced in 1864 in London and on Broadway in early 1900s.
45-03-14
4
The Cinderella Man
Y
45-03-14 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN): revival of
"The Cinderella Man," 1916 Broadway show.
45-03-21
5
A Doll's House
N
45-03-21 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN): Henrik Ibsen's
"Doll's House."
45-03-28
6
Polly of the Circus
Polly At the Circus
Y
45-03-28 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN):
"Polly of the Circus."

Announces the next production "the week after next" as If I Were King
45-04-04
--
Pre-Empted
--
45-04-04 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Jr., (WGN, WIBU): addresses Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, on
"Our Foreign Economic Policy."

45-04-04 New York Times
9:30--WOR--
Our Foreign Economic Policy Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, at Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs Dinner
45-04-11
7
If I Were King
N
45-04-11 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU):
"If I Were King," Broadway hit of early 1900s.
45-04-18
8
Madame X
N
45-04-18 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN): Jane Cowl stars in
"Madame X."
45-04-25
9
A Scrap Of Paper
N
45-04-25 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU):
"A Scrap of Paper" by Sardou.
45-05-02
10
Mrs. Dane's Defense
N
45-05-02 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBA, WGN,): Elissa Landi in
"Mrs. Dane's Defense."
45-05-09
11
The Boomerang
N
45-05-09 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN):
"The Boomerang," comedy first produced in 1915.
45-05-16
12
The Prisoner Of Zenda
Y
45-05-16 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU):
"The Prisoner of Zenda."

Announces Daddy Long Legs as next
45-05-23
13
Daddy Long Legs
N
45-05-23 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU): revival of
"Daddy Long Legs."
45-05-30
14
The Man Without A Country
Man Without A Country
Y
45-05-29 Wisconsin State Journal
Wednesday 8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WIBU, WGN): Neil Hamilton in
"The Man Without a Country."
45-06-06
15
The Fortune Hunter
N
45-06-06 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN): Revival of Winchell Smith's
"The Fortune Hunter."
45-06-13
16
Cyrano de Bergerac
Y
45-06-13 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU): Walter Hampden in
"Cyrano de Bergerac."

45-06-13 The Chester Times
Walter Hampden, distinguished
American actor, will recreate
scenes from his theatrical success,
"Cyrano de Bergerac," on WIP's "Brownstone Theatre," at 9:3o

Announces "With this performance we bring the Spring Season of Brownstone Theater to a close" and Spotlight Bands for the following Wednesday
45-06-20
--
No Broadcast
N
45-06-20 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 Spotlight Bands--WGN WIBU

45-06-20 New York Times
9:30--WOR--Spotlight Band
45-06-27
--
No Broadcast
N
45-06-27 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 Spotlight Bands--WGN WIBU

45-06-27 New York Times
9:30--
WOR--Spotlight Band--Secy of Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr., Speaker
45-07-08
17
Cappy Ricks
N
{Returns on Sunday evenings]

45-07-08 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU): returns at new time and day, with Les Tremayne in
"Cappy Ricks."
45-07-15
18
Clarence
N
45-07-15 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN): Booth Tarkington's
"Clarence," with Les Tremayne.
45-07-22
19
The Rainbow
N
45-07-22 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN): Gertrude Warner and Les Tremayne in
"The Rainbow."
45-07-29
20
The Curtian Rises
N
45-07-29 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN, WIBU):
"The Curtain Rises."
45-08-05
21
A Gay Nineties Revival
N
45-08-05 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN): Les Tremayne and Gertrude Warner in a Gay Nineties revival.
45-08-12
22
The Only Way
N
45-08-12 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN):
"The Only Way," adapted from Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities."
45-08-19
23
The Truth
N
45-08-19 Wisconsin State Journal
9 pm.--Brownstone Theater (WGN): "
The Truth," Broadway comedy of 1907, starring Gertrude Warner and Les Tremayne.
45-08-26
24
Title Unknown
N
45-08-26 Wisconsin State Journal
9:00 Brownstone Theater--WGN

45-08-26
New York Times
10:00--
WOR--Brownstone Theater
45-09-02
25
Death Takes A Holiday
N
45-09-02 Wisconsin State Journal
9 p.m--Brownstone Theater (WGN):
"Death Takes a Holiday."
45-09-09
26
Title Unknown
N
45-09-09 Wisconsin State Journal
9:00 Brownstone Theater--WGN
45-09-16
27
Finger of God - Cupid's Bow
N
45-09-16 The Sunday Messenger
10:00--'Brownstone Theater' offers
"Finger of God" and "Cupid's Bow." MBS-WHKC.

45-09-16
New York Times
10:00--
WOR--Brownstone Theater

45-09-16
Washington Post
10:00--
WOL--Brownstone Theater

45-09-16 Chicago Tribune
9:00--W-G-N--Leave It to the Girls, with Jossleyn Hennessy, British lecturer, guest speaker; Paul Stone, M, C.

45-09-16 Wisconsin State Journal
9:00 Leave It to the Girls--WGN.

45-09-23
28
The Rivals
N
45-09-23 Laredo Times
MBS--9 Brownstone Theater
"The Rivals."

45-09-23 New York Times
10:00--
WOR--Brownstone Theater

45-09-23
Washington Post
10:00--
WOL--Brownstone Theater
45-09-30
--
--
45-09-30 New York Times
10:00--
WOR--Operatic Revue






The Brownstone Theater Radio Program Biographies




Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor
(Producer, Director and Adapter)

Singer, Songwriter, Radio, Stage and Television Actor, Radio Producer, Radio Director
(190?-19??)

Birthplace: Unknown

Radiography:
1938 American Portraits
1942 Murder Clinic
1942 WOR Summer Theatre
1942 The Cisco Kid
1942 Just Five Lines
1943 The Adventures Of Raffles
1943 Nick Carter, Master Detective
1943 Beatrice Kay's Capers
1944 The Mysterious Traveler
1945 Brownstone Theatre
1945 The Sealed Book
1945 The Strange Dr Weird
1946 For Your Approval
1947 The Bitter Herb
1947 The Trojan Women
1947 Crime Club
1947 Did Justice Triumph?
1948 Stars Of the Air
1948 Meet the Stars
1948 Secret Missions
1948 Roger Kilgore, Public Defender
1953 Cavalcade Of America
1955 Inheritance
1957 X Minus One
1957 Five-Star Matinee

Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor as Morris Fink, Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler from The Honeymooners, ca 1956
Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor as Morris Fink, Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler from The Honeymooners, ca 1956

The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Bensonhurst Chapter of the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons Makes His Entrance
The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Bensonhurst Chapter of the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons Makes His Entrance


Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor was one of The Mutual System's most successful producers and directors during The Golden Age of Radio. MacGregor began his career in Radio as a singer, heard over Radio as early as 1926, singing mostly minstrel songs and dressed for public appearances of his minstrel act in traditional Highlander garb--kilts and all.

Ever the thrifty Scot, Jock MacGregor was quoted in 1927 as boasting that he and his new bride saved the expense of a honeymoon at Niagara Falls by simply listening to its roar over a broadcast on Radio. One of MacGregor's contemporaries, 'Sir' Harry Lauder was often heard singing tradional Highland songs over the early Enna Jettick Melodies program (1929). Contemporaneous newspaper articles often favorably compared Jock MacGregor to the more famous Sir Harry Lauder.

Apparently both loved and respected for his early Radio work, the famous pioneering Radio station KDKA (Pennsylvania) devoted an entire prime-time, 15-minute program to MacGregor on August 31, 1936 as an on-air Farewell Party for him. By 1938 he was producing and directing many Radio programs for NBC-Blue [WJZ] as a staff director and writer.

But it was Jock MacGregor's move to the Mutual Broadcasting System's flagship station, WOR that ultimately afforded MacGregor the latitude and artistic freedom that made him famous. Beginning with WOR Summer Theater (1942), MacGregor was soon writing, directing and producing WOR staples such as The Cisco Kid (1942), The Adventures of Raffles (1943) and Nick Carter, Master Detective (1943-1953). Indeed it was while producing Nick Carter that Jock MacGregor first teamed up with the famous fiction writing team of Robert Arthur, Jr. and David Kogan. That same team would soon produce many Nick Carter programs together, as well as the long-running The Mysterious Traveler (1943-1952), The Sealed Book (1945), and several episodes of The Strange Dr. Weird.

The team's success producing The Mysterious Traveler was cut short when the series was abruptly cancelled by WOR during the infamous witch-hunts of the HUAC blacklisting years. With the successful team broken up, MacGregor continued producing and directing several Radio programs and early Television programs, occasionally appearing as an uncredited actor.

MacGregor produced the successful Inheritance (1953), X Minus One (1957) and Five-Star Matinee (1957) programs for competing networks. During the 1950s Jock MacGregor returned to his acting roots appearing in both Stage productions and Television. MacGregor also helped produce the James Cagney feature Shake Hands with The Devil (1959).

The late 1950s and early 1960s found him both acting in Television and producing Television features in Great Britain. MacGregor's last notable appearance on Television was as Jed Morgan in The Wahoo Bobcat (1963), a Walt Disney Presents television episode.



Lester 'Les' Tremayne (Enemble Player)
Radio, Television, Film and Stage Actor
(1913-2003)

Birthplace: Balham, London, England, UK

Radiography:

1936 The First Nighter Program
1941 Helen Hayes Theatre
1942 Columbia Workshop
1943 The Bob Crosby Show
1943 Lux Radio Theatre
1944 NBC War Bond Parade
1944 The Jackie Gleason-Les Tremayne Show
1944 The Adventures Of the Thin Man
1945 Adventures Of the Falcon
1945 Inner Sanctum
1945 Treasury Salute
1945 Kraft Music Hall
1945 The Chesterfield Supper Club
1945 The Raleigh Room
1945 The Danny Kaye Show
1945 The Eddie Cantor Show
1945 The Adventures Of the Thin Man
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1947 Quiet Please
1947 The Big Story
1947 Hallmark Playhouse
1947 Guest Star
1948 Ford Theatre
1948 Your Playhouse Of Favorites
1948 Joyce Jordan, M.D.
1948 Marine Story
1948 The New Adventures Of the Thin Man
1948 Decision Now!
1948 Drew Pearson
1949 Great Scenes From Great Plays
1949 Theatre U.S.A.
1949 I Love A Mystery
1950 Cavalcade Of America
1950 Cloak and Dagger
1950 Dimension X
1951 The Whistler
1951 The Harold Peary Show
1951 MGM Theatre Of the Air
1951 The Woman In My House
1951 This Is Your FBI
1952 Errand Of Mercy
1953 Cousin Willie
1953 Confession
1953 You Were There
1954 That's Rich
1954 Stars Over Hollywood
1954 Inheritance
1954 Fibber McGee and Molly
1956 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1959 Heartbeat Theatre
1973 Hollywood Radio Theatre
1974 The Tomorrow Show
1975 CBS Radio Mystery Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theatre
Sound Off
Your Playhouse Of Favorites
Treasury Salute
Horizons West

[Trivia Note: Also appearing in North by Northwest were Golden Age Radio actors:

  • Ken Lynch
  • Edward Platt
  • Edward Binns
  • Patrick McVey
  • Larry Dobkin
  • Carleton Young
  • Frank Wilcox
  • Walter Greaza

The screenplay was written by CBS Radio Staff writer Ernest Lehman and famous Golden Age Radio Music Director Bernard Herrmann penned the score. All in all a treasure trove of Golden Age Radio talent in one of Film's greatest thrillers.]


Les Tremayne publicity photo, ca 1936
Les Tremayne publicity photo, ca 1936

Les Tremayne , ca. 1939
Les Tremayne , ca. 1939

Lester Tremayne entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory
Lester Tremayne entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory

Les Tremayne, who co-stars with Barbara luddy on the popular CBS “First Nighter” programs, now has a life partner in lovely Eileen Palmer, radio actress. The couple weremarried recently in Chicago and will postpone their honeymoon until late summer when both will be free from their acting jobs

Les Tremayne and Claudia Morgan at a CBS mike for The Adventures of The Thin Man, ca. 1944
Les Tremayne and Claudia Morgan at a CBS mike for The Adventures of The Thin Man, ca. 1944

Les Tremayne close-up from The War of The Worlds, ca. 1953
Les Tremayne close-up from The War of The Worlds, ca. 1953

Two Radio legends--Olan Soulé and Les Tremayne, in one frame from Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959)
Two Radio legends--Olan Soul
é and Les Tremayne, in one frame from Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959)


Closeup of Tremayne, exasperated by Cary Grant's erratic bidding in North by Northwest, (1959)
Closeup of Tremayne, exasperated by Cary Grant's erratic bidding in North by Northwest, (1959)
Born an English subject, Lester Tremayne and his family emigrated to the U.S. when Tremayne was only four years old. His mother, Dolly Tremayne, had been a stage actress in England. Tremayne, told to quit school by his father, began working in community theater, performing in Vaudeville and as a barker in area amusement parks.

At the age of seventeen, Les Tremayne landed his first job in Chicago Radio, going on from there to scores of appearances in serial melodramas, adventures and variety and drama revues of the era. But it wasn't until 1936 that Tremayne appeared as a lead; he replaced Don Ameche in the popular Drama anthology, First Nighter.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1943, then to New York. It was in New York that he starred with Bob Crosby on The Old Gold Show until Crosby had to enter military service in 1943 for two years. The young--and relatively unknown--Jackie Gleason replaced Bob Crosby. Les Tremayne also appeared in the Thin Man adventures and The Falcon adventures, trading places with Les Damon and vice versa over the run of both programs, as Les Damon left for his own military service in the AAF. The two actors often found themselves filling in for each other during the 1940s and 1950s. Tremayne married Radio actress Eileen Palmer on May 2, 1940 (see left). Tremayne later married beautiful young Radio actress Alice Reinhart, on December 10, 1945, remembered for her early starring appearances in Radio's Flashgun Casey. Tremayne and Reinhart also performed together on the WOR-Mutual Broadcasting morning breakfast show, The Tremaynes.

With as many as 35 to 45 appearances a week for much of the late 1930s and early and late 1940s, Les Tremayne was quickly becoming one of America's most often heard Radio personalities. Some wag has circulated an estimate that Tremayne appeared in over 30,000 Radio episodes during his career. Even at a solid average of forty-five appearances a week, that would have him doing nothing else for over thirteen and a half years. The actual number of Radio appearances is probably half of that number, but still kept Les Tremayne one of New York's busiest Radio performers. Tremayne later appeared on Stage in Heads or Tails (1947) and for an 18 month Broadway run of Detective Story (1949).

Possessed of one of Radio's most authoritative voices, Tremayne's transition to a long line of Television and Film appearances was a natural progression. Tremayne's Film work included The Racket (1951), the sci-fi masterpiece, The War of the Worlds (1953), A Man Called Peter (1955), and North by Northwest (1959) as the frustrated auctioneer forced to cope with Cary Grant's ridiculous bidding.

No stranger to bad guy roles, Tremayne was just as versatile in roles as shifty executives, cheating husbands, and scheming middlemen as he was in roles as doctors, generals and judges. He took on all roles with equal aplomb in such popular Television staples as Perry Mason (1957), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), 77 Sunset Strip (1958), and a bewildring array of another 400 Television appearances over his forty year career in Television.

Having completed a thirty year career in Radio and a forty year career in Television, Tremayne went into semi-retirement in the 1980s, still appearing occasionally for voice-overs and documentaries. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.

Les Tremayne passed away from natural causes at the age of 90. One of Radio's most enduring voice talents, Les Tremayne's powerful, yet mellow, voice is still heard tens of thousands of times daily by Golden Age Radio fans both old and new. In that respect Les Tremayne's body of work remains a timeless contribution to the Performing Arts of the 20th Century.

Click for Les Tremayne obit on NPR.



Gertrude 'Trudy' Warner
(Ensemble Player)

Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actress
(1917-1986)

Birthplace: Hartford, CT, U.S.A.

Radiography:
1939 Guy Hedlund and Company
1940 Against The Storm
1940 Listener's Playhouse
1940 Behind the Mike
1940 Beyond These Valleys
1940 The O'Neills
1941 City Desk
1941 Ellen Randolph
1941 The Mystery Man
1942 Perry Mason
1942 Columbia Workshop
1944 Dangerously Yours
1944 Matinee Theater
1944 Mrs. Miniver
1944 Romance
1944 Theatre Of Romance
1945 Mysterious Traveler
1945 Brownstone Theatre
1945 The Adventures Of Ellery Queen
1946 Treasury Salute
1947 Studio One
1947 Joyce Jordan, M.D.
1949 The Shadow
1949 Secret Missions
1949 Murder By Experts
1949 Cavalcade Of America
1949 MGM Theatre Of the Air
1951 The Fat Man
1951 American Portraits
1951 Dimension X
1952 Nick Carter, Master Detective
1958 Whispering Street
1961 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1961 Suspense
1964 Theatre Five
Young Doctor Malone
Your Movietown Radio Theatre


Gertrude Warner poses to support Chinese Women's Relief efforts from 41-05-23
Gertrude Warner poses to support Chinese Women's Relief efforts from 41-05-23


Gertrude Warner as Joyce Jordan M.D. circa 1948
Gertrude Warner as Joyce Jordan M.D. circa 1948

Gertrude Warner circa 1941 as Ellen Randolph in the soap opera of the same name
Gertrude Warner circa 1941 as Ellen Randolph in the soap opera of the same name.

Trudy Warner practices fencing to improve her skills for Radio circa 1941
Trudy Warner practices fencing to improve her skills for Radio circa 1941

Gertrude Warner still providing Home Economics tips in this article from 41-01-10
Gertrude Warner still providing Home Economics tips in this article from 41-01-10


Another Home Ec tip from Gertrude Warner from 41-10-24
Another Home Ec tip from Gertrude Warner from 41-10-24

Gertrude Warner announcment of her appearance in The Glass Slipper episode of The Mystery Man 11 November 1941
Gertrude Warner announcment of her appearance in The Glass Slipper episode of The Mystery Man 11 November 1941

Gertrude 'Trudy' Warner was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating from high school and college she found herself hosting a series of Home Economics daytime programs of the era, making something of a name for herself in the process. In addition to her local Home Economics spots on WTIC Hartford she was also appearing in some dramatic productions for the station as early as the mid-1930s. Station WTIC, appropriately enough, is the wonderful station that produced the Golden Age of Radio series during the 1960s and 1970s, following that with their A One Night Stand with The Big Bands Series from the same era.

1939 took her to the NBC Red network for 1939, after which she moved to CBS in 1940. Trudy Warner debuted in her first lead role in Radio as Rebecca Lane in Beyond These Valleys (1940) for CBS. Trudy Warner brought a great deal of diversity to CBS--before her Radio career she'd been a blues singer. Her Radio colleagues tagged her with the nickname "Butch" for her year or so over WTIC, broadcasting butcher tips, home economics advice and table etiquette.

Warner's jump into Radio proved to be the wisest career move she'd ever make. Within two years she was appearing regularly in as many as six to eight daytime soaps, adventure, or romance dramas. By 1944 she'd been noticed and selected for both lead and co-starring support roles in a wide array of straight dramas and mystery or detective dramas. She was also on her way to becoming one of Radio's most prosperous young stars.

After the extraordinarily well received Lux Radio Theatre production of Mrs. Miniver, CBS elected to spin-off Mrs. Miniver as a Radio series of its own. Gertrude Warner was selected to portray Greer Garson's role from the Film version. Trudy Warner portrayed Mrs. Miniver for almost two years with Karl Swenson in the role of 'Clem'.

From the Rhinelander Daily News 44-12-20:

A Tough Business

But some of the biggest moneymakers in radio are hardly known by name. They're the soap opera stars and hard-working announcers. Clayton Collier and Karl Swenson, who play in at least a half-dozen shows a week, keep the wolf from their door to the tune of nearly $100,000 a year. Pert Julie Stevens and blues-singer-turned actress Gertrude Warner vie with their radio sisters for top place at similar salaries.

Following the success of her co-starring appearances with Victor Jory in Dangerously Yours (1944) and Matinee Theatre (1945), she was picked up as the co-star in The Adventures of Ellery Queeen. She was also still appearing in Theatre of Romance, Brownstone Theatre and several daytime soap operas of the era.

Trudy Warner was first married in June 1946, prompting a voluntary suspension of her Radio career and her departure from the successful Ellery Queen Mystery program. Apparently the retirement/suspension was short-lived, since by 1947 she was again appearing in yet another array of daytime dramas, regular adventure series' and specials.

By 1949 she'd begun to appear as Margot Lane [the third] in The Shadow, with Brett Morrison. She was also appearing in several Calvalcade of Americas, as well as the now routine number of concurrent daytime soap operas. During the 1950s and 1960s she began to occasionally appear in Television soap operas, but it was her Radio work that kept her most busy throughout The Golden Age of Radio.

By any account, Trudy Warner's career in Radio and Television has to stand as one of the ten most ambitious, successful such careers in the history of Radio. And yet, it's virtually impossible to find anything about her other than a few snippets of repetitive information regarding this remakable actress and her equally remarkable career.

Account after account from the era has her appearing in several Radio dramas at the same time, volunteering for one worthy cause or another, continuing to contribute Home Economics tips to the Nation's homemakers, or improving her skills either formally or informally. All of this over a Radio career of some 28 years and well over 4,000 performances.

Miss Warner also appeared in television commercials and taught acting for television at Weist Barron studios and at Oberlin College.

One of Radio's most versatile, ambitious, and hardest working young performers, Trudy Warner's entire career in the Performing Arts underscored the ethics of hard-work, continued education in one's craft--whether formal or on-the-job--and seizing opportunities the very instant they present themselves.

While unaccountably under-recognized for the past fifty years, we hope we can be the catalyst to create renewed interest in this fine actress and her amazingly successful career--by anyone's measure.




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