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Original Damon Runyon Theatre header art

The Damon Runyon Theatre Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> The Damon Runyon Theatre


The Brighter Side column head


Pat O'Brien ca. 1945
Pat O'Brien ca. 1945

Wendy Barrie ca. 1943
Wendy Barrie ca. 1943

John Brown was 'Broadway' for the production run of Damon Runyon Theatre
John Brown was 'Broadway' for the production run of
Damon Runyon Theatre


Time Magazine cover of Dec. 29, 1947

Time Magazine cover of Dec. 29, 1947

The seal of the American Federation of Musicians
The seal of the American
Federation of Musicians

James Caesar Petrillo ca. 1947
James Caesar Petrillo ca. 1947

Nixon Attacks Petrillo


Guys and Dolls logo
Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit from 1955's Guys and Dolls
Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit
from 1955's Guys and Dolls

Background

The Damon Runyon Theatre was another of Alan Ladd's Mayfair Transcription Company productions. Ladd, long an admirer of 'The Brighter Side', Damon Runyon's long-running newspaper column, initially signed Pat O'Brien to star as 'Broadway' in the program. Indeed we have an alleged audition from the program, titled "Princess O'Hara" in which O'Brien and Wendy Barrie are heard announcing the next production of the series, 'A Piece of Pie'. Newspaper listings of the era describe Pat O'Brien slated to cut all 52 programs upon completing principal filming of the Howard Hughes/RKO feature, The Boy with Green Hair. But the quixotic Hughes decided the 'message' element of The Boy with Green Hair was a bit too risky for late-1940s audiences. He directed that the film be re-shot, as needed, to remove the social intolerance message from the completed celluloid.

Newspaper accounts cite O'Brien as anticipating a New York recording session for all 52 episodes of The Damon Runyon Theatre sometime during the Summer of 1948. But owing to the re-shoot and re-cutting of The Boy with Green Hair, the movie wasn't completed until September of 1948. This may--or may not--explain Pat O'Brien's absence from the remaining episodes of The Damon Runyon Theatre--or whether any were recorded beyond Princess O'Hara. Given the common practice of cutting two to five transcribed recordings in one session, one might well imagine that O'Brien recorded as many as five Damon Runyon Theatre programs before his performances were cut short. But it's intriguing to wonder how many of the episodes they actually did record before O'Brien had to rush back to RKO's West Coast studios to complete The Boy with Green Hair.

As it turns out, Ladd tapped short-lived veteran Radio actor John Brown to voice the recurring 'Broadway' character so central to the exposition of every episode of The Damon Runyon Theatre. As most fans of the program would attest, John Brown's 'Broadway' was as good as it gets in Radio. Brown had already begun performing a similar character on My Friend Irma (1947) as Irma's (Marie Wilson) shiftless boyfriend, so the leap to yet another Lower East Side accent wasn't that great for Brown. Indeed, one wonders if Brown ever got out of character for the seven years that My Friend Irma aired over CBS.

Yet another stumbling block for many new programs produced in 1948 was the infamous 'Petrillo Ban' on producing any new professional Radio recordings. The following is from the Time Magazine article of December 29, 1947:

"Cocky little James Caesar Petrillo just sat back and waited. Recording companies rushed symphony orchestras, hillbilly bands and blues singers in & out of studios, trying to record as much as possible by January 1, when Petrillo's ban on record-making becomes effective. Record officials gloated that they had piled up a big enough backlog of new records to last a year or more. They were hopeful that Petrillo's Musicians' Union might not be able to stand so long a layoff.

Last week, James Petrillo pointed his stubby finger at a point they had apparently overlooked. The Taft-Hartley law prevented record companies from signing a new contract which would pay royalties to a union-administered fund—but the record companies had obligingly recorded a year's supply under the old contract. All those phonograph records to be doled out over the bleak months ahead, he thought, would net his union around $10,000,000.

The record companies looked as if they had been hit over the head with a kettledrum. Together with men from radio, television, and phonograph manufacturers, they formed a united industry committee to fight Petrillo. But Petrillo wasn't budging an inch: "We are never going to make records again—ever. That's one New Year's resolution we've made and one we are going to keep."

James Caesar Petrillo was president of the American Federation of Musicians, who had successfully imposed a ban on professional recordings between 1942 and 1944 until an appropriate royalty system could be established to the benefit of his union members. Petrillo successfully reimposed the ban for most of 1948--it was finally lifted on November 22, 1948. Indeed, then Freshman Congressman Richard M. Nixon made headlines taking up the cudgel for the Recording Industry in an attempt to thwart Petrillo's union.

This is the reason the same music theme is employed in both the alleged Pat O'Brien audition recordings and the final production pressings of The Damon Runyon Theatre. Having dodged two potential stumbling blocks, Ladd's The Damon Runyon Theatre was first aired over independent radio station KSEL, Lubbock, Texas.

The program was soon heard over most major outlets between November 1948 and December 1951. As with Mayfair's other syndicated programs, the production quality and engineering is superb. Veteran Mayfair producer Vern Carstensen again supervises the production and Richard Sanville directs. Mayfair writer Russell Hughes adapts Damon Runyon's wonderful short stories, maintaining the very Runyonesque flavor of both the dialogue and settings.

But what is it that makes a character or storyline Runyonesque? For three generations of Americans, a Damon Runyon character evoked a social archetype from the Brooklyn or Midtown demi-monde elements of New York society. Think of it as the Bizarro World version of New York's 'The 400'. Runyon spun fascinating, tongue-in-cheek tales of gamblers, hustlers, actors, and gangsters--and their dolls. Most self-respecting denizens of Runyon's fanciful world preferred colorful monikers such as 'Nathan Detroit,' 'Big Jule,' 'Harry the Horse Thief,' 'Good Time Charlie,' 'Dave the Dude,' or 'The Seldom Seen Kid.'

Runyon spun his tales in a uniquely vernacular style that mixed overly formal speech with richly colored slang. This idiomatic language was invariably spoken in the present tense, quite deliberately devoid of any contractions. Runyon is credited as the first major American writer to "stylize both the language and the behavior of gangsters and depict them as another part of the socio-economic system, showing how the underworld provided clients with gambling, sex and hard-to-get sports tickets and, during Prohibition, with liquor," according to Cornell University English Professor, Daniel Schwarz.

Runyon's flamboyant street characters, with their aggressive one-line retorts, have shaped the world's image of 20th Century New York City for over eighty years. That's the charm and flavor that makes each of these recordings so timeless. Those familiar with Runyon's work will remember that the famous Frank Sinatra/Marlon Brando vehicle Guys and Dolls (1955) was based on Damon Runyon's unique vision of New York City and its inhabitants--and the long-running play of the same name. Indeed, had Guys and Dolls been filmed six years earlier, one might well imagine that The Damon Runyon Theatre may have been named Guys and Dolls.

The Mayfair rendition of Damon Runyon's fascinating world remains as true to form and substance as both the 1200-performance Guys and Dolls stage play and the Oscar-nominated Guys and Dolls film. Runyon's most celebrated short stories were spun into a 52-week long, seamless atmosphere of a New York City that shaped popular perceptions of The Big Apple throughout the remainder of the Golden Age of Radio and the Golden Age of Television as well. Veteran dialecticians Gerald Mohr, Herb Vigran, Sheldon Leonard, Luis Van Rooten, Alan Reed and Lionel Stander gave every program of the run an authenticity and indelible flavor that were imitated in both Radio and Television for decades to come.

The Damon Runyon Theatre stands as one of Mayfair's finest contributions to The Golden Age of Radio and remains a valuable addition to any Golden Age Radio collector's library. As an artifact of American Society it represents an invaluable time capsule of period vernacular. But most of all it stands as an enduring reminder of the genius of Damon Runyon's insight into the class warfare that evolved during and after the Roaring 20s and The Great Depression.

The Damon Runyon Theatre over CBS in 1956

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Dramas
Network(s): NBC, CBS, ABC, MBS, and several other local affiliates and networks while in syndication.
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): 47-10-xx Aud Title Unknown [Pat O'Brien]
48-07-xx Aud Princess O'Hara
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 48-10-03 01 Tobias the Terrible
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 48-10-03 to 49-09-25; KSL, Salt Lake City; fifty-two, 30-minute programs, Sundays, 6:30 p.m.
Syndication: Mayfair Transcription Company
Sponsors: Various sponsors' commercials added locally
Director(s): Richard Sanville; Vern Carstensen [Production Supervisor for Mayfair Transcriptions]
Principal Actors: John Brown, Pat O'Brien [Audition], Wendy Barrie [Audition], Dick Sanders [Audition], Alan Reed, Luis Van Rooten, Joseph Du Val, Gerald Mohr, Frank Lovejoy, John Brown, Herb Vigran, Sheldon Leonard, Willam Conrad, Jeff Chandler, Lionel Stander, Sidney Miller, Olive Deering, Joe De Santis
Recurring Character(s): 'Broadway' [John Brown]
Protagonist(s): 'Broadway'
Author(s): Damon Runyon [Alfred Damon Runyan]
Writer(s) Russell Hughes [Writer, Adapter]
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Ed Herlihy [Audition]; Frank Gallop
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
52 plus 1 Audition
Episodes in Circulation: 52 plus 1 Audition
Total Episodes in Collection: 52 plus 1 Audition
Provenances:

Initial Billboard magazine announcement of Pat O'Brien to star in 52-week run of Damon Runyon Theatre from Oct 25 1947
Initial Billboard magazine announcement of Pat O'Brien to star in 52-week run of Damon Runyon Theatre from Oct 25 1947

Billboard magazine review of The Damon Runyon Theater from Sep 3 1949
Billboard magazine review of The Damon Runyon Theater from Sep 3 1949
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

All above cited provenances are in error in one form or another. The most helpful provenances were the logs of the radioGOLDINdex and Billboard magazine.

The circulating logs for The Damon Runyon Theatre cite KFI, Los Angeles as the first station to broadcast this transcribed, syndicated program. In fact, the first station to broadcast the program was KSL [CBS], Salt Lake City, Utah. They began airing their run of The Damon Runyon Theatre on October 3, 1948. As indicated at left in the Billboard review, WOR [MBS] premiered its run of Damon Runyon Theater on August 13, 1949, almost a year after the first broadcasts of the series over KSL.

Billboard magazine announcement of production recordings of Damon Runyon Theater from November 1 1947
Billboard magazine announcement of production recordings of Damon Runyon Theater from November 1 1947

OTRisms:

As to the purported audition of The Damon Runyon Theatre currently in circulation, it appears, instead, to be one of an initial session of programs recorded by Pat O'Brien for Mayfair, rather than an audition for the program. Our hypothesis is supported by the above article from Billboard magazine. Contemporaneous news articles from the era report O'Brien preparing to record all 52 programs for Mayfair during the Summer of 1948, "after O'Brien finishes his assigment on The Boy with Green Hair". As we know now, for whatever reasons, O'Brien was unable to complete his contractual obligation to Mayfair. It should be noted that at the end of the Princess O'Hara recording currently circulating as an audition, O'Brien and Wendy Barrie are heard announcing the "A Piece of The Pie" program to follow. This provenance, in addition to the commonly accepted practice of recording several transcriptions at a session, makes a strong case for one or more of the Pat O'Brien recorded transcriptions to have been completed during the session that Princess O'Hara was recorded.

To add further confusion, the program, 'A Piece of Pie' circulating as another audition for The Damon Runyon Theatre is actually one of the far rarer two auditions for 1944's Damon Runyon Says program.


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Damon Runyon Theatre Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
47-10-xx
--
Title Unknown [ Auditon for intended Pat O'Brien, run of Damon Runyon Theater]
47-11-xx
1
Princess O'Hara [ First recording of intended Pat O'Brien, Wendy Barrie and Dick Sanders run of Damon Runyon Theater]
48-07-xx
--
Title Unknown
Princess O'Hara
[ Audition ]
48-10-03
1
Tobias the Terrible
Y
[Premiere Program] first aired over KSL, Salt Lake City, UT, in syndication order

48-10-03 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-10-10
2
Little Miss Marker
Y
48-10-10 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-10-17
3
Romance in the Roaring Forties
Y
48-10-17 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-10-24
4
The Lemon Drop Kid
Y
48-10-24 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-10-31
5
A Nice Price
Y
48-10-31 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-11-07
6
The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown
Y
48-11-07 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-11-14
7
For a Pal
Y
48-11-14 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-11-21
8
Princess O'Hara
Y
48-11-21 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-11-28
9
Butch Minds the Baby
Y
48-11-28 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-12-05
10
Breach of Promise
Y
48-12-05 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-12-12
11
Dancing Dan's Christmas

Y
[Christmas Program]

48-12-12 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-12-19
12
Pick a Winner
Y
48-12-19 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
48-12-26
13
Hold `Em Yale
Y
48-12-26 Salt Lake Tribune
6:30 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-01-02
14
The Brain Goes Home
Y
48-01-02 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-01-09
15
Blood Pressure
Y
48-01-09 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-01-16
16
Old Em's Kentucky Home
Y
48-01-16 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-01-23
17
Blonde Mink
Y
48-01-23 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-01-30
18
Leopard's Spots
Y
48-01-30 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-02-06
19
All Horse Players Die Broke
Y
48-02-06 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-02-13
20
The Hottest Guy in the World
Y
48-02-13 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-02-20
21
A Piece of Pie
Y
48-02-20 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-02-27
22
Barbecue
Y
48-02-27 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-03-06
23
Lonely Heart
Y
48-03-06 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-03-13
24
Broadway Complex
Y
48-03-13 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-03-20
25
Madame La Gimp
Y
48-03-20 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-03-27
26
Baseball Hattie
Y
48-03-27 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-04-03
27
The Big Umbrella
Y
48-04-03 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-04-10
28
Earthquake
Y
48-04-10 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-04-17
29
The Bloodhounds of Broadway
Y
48-04-17 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-04-24
30
The Lily of St Pierre
Y
48-04-24 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-05-01
31
It Comes up Mud
Y
48-05-01 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-05-08
32
Broadway Financier
Y
48-05-08 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-05-15
33
Bred for Battle
Y
48-05-15 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-05-22
34
So You Won't Talk
Y
48-05-22 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-05-29
35
Social Error
Y
48-05-29 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-06-05
36
Cemetery Bait
Y
48-06-05 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-06-12
37
The Melancholy Dane
Y
48-06-12 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-06-19
38
The Brakeman's Daughter
Y
48-06-19 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-06-26
39
The Lacework Kid
Y
48-06-26 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-07-03
40
Maybe a Queen
Y
48-07-03 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-07-10
41
Joe Terrace
Y
48-07-10 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-07-17
42
Lillian
Y
48-07-17 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-07-24
43
Palm Beach Santa Claus
Y
48-07-24 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-07-31
44
Tight Shoes
Y
48-07-31 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-08-07
45
That Ever-Lovin' Wife of Hymie's
Y
48-08-07 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-08-14
46
A Light in France
Y
48-08-14 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-08-21
47
A Story Goes with It
Y
48-08-21 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-08-28
48
Dark Dolores
Y
48-08-28 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-09-04
49
What, No Butler
Y
48-09-04 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-09-11
50
Neat Strip
Y
48-09-11 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-09-18
51
Sense of Humor
Y
48-09-18 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL
49-09-25
52
Dream Street Rose
Y
[ Last Program ]

48-09-25 Salt Lake Tribune
8:00 p.m. --Damon Runyon--KSL






Damon Runyon Theatre Biographies




Alfred Damon Runyan
(Damon Runyon)

Newspaper Columnist, Sportswriter, and Author
(1880-1946)

Birthplace: Manhattan, Kansas

Radiography:

1940 Good News of 1940
1942 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1945 The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre
1946 Columbia Workshop
1946 Radio Reader's Digest
1948 Damon Runyon Theatre
1950 Screen Director's Playhouse
1950 The Whistler
1951 Lux Radio Theatre
1954 NBC Star Playhouse
1960 Hollywood Radio Theatre
Damon Runyon Says

Damon Runyon, sportwriter, ca. 1940, his suit sporting his AEF campaign medal from The Spanish-American War
Damon Runyon, sportswriter, ca. 1940, his suit sporting his AEF campaign medal from The Spanish-American War
Runyon at his desk, ca. 1943
Runyon at his desk ca. 1943

Tall, lanky Damon Runyon walking with an unidentified man, ca. 1943
Tall, lanky Damon Runyon walking with an unidentified man ca. 1943

Damon Runyon, feet up at desk,--and chain smoking, ca. 1943
Damon Runyon, feet up at desk,--and chain smoking ca. 1943

Runyon sitting with his wife, Ellen and their dogs, ca. 1943
Runyon sitting with his wife, Ellen and their dogs ca. 1943

The dapper Runyon, dressing, ca. 1943
The dapper Runyon, dressing ca. 1943

Runyon's The Brighter Side column ran for 9 years, ca. 1938
Runyon's The Brighter Side column ran for 9 years (ca. 1938)
Damon Runyon was born Alfred Damon Runyan in Manhattan, KS, to a long line of newspapermen. His grandfather had been a newspaper printer in New Jersey. He'd relocated his young family to Manhattan, Kansas in 1855. Damon Runyon's father was the editor of his own newspaper in Manhattan, who upon being forced to sell his newspaper, moved his family out west in 1882. Runyon's family ultimately settled in Pueblo, Colorado in 1887. Runyon spent the remainder of his youth in Colorado and learned his trade as a newspaperman under the guidance of his father in Pueblo.

Over the next few years Runyon worked for several local and regional Rocky Mountain newspapers. Indeed it was while working as a Colorado journalist that The Pueblo Evening Express misspelled his name 'Runyon' instead of 'Runyan'. Runyon let the misspelling stand, changing his byline from that point on to the misspelled 'Runyon'.

When the U. S. declared war on Spain, Damon Runyon was 18. In 1899, Runyon joined the Army Expeditionary Forces, serving two years in the Phlippines. While a soldier, Damon Runyon was assigned to write for the Manila Freedom newspaper and Soldier's Letter magazine.

Runyon returned to civilian life in 1901 to work at The Pueblo Evening Express. Over the next nine years, Runyon worked as a stringer for several Rocky Mountain newspapers and magazines. In 1905, Runyon joined The Denver Post as a sportswriter--and was subsequently fired a year later. Runyon was then hired as a political journalist by The Rocky Mountain News. He also began to be published in Collier's magazine and McClure's magazine where his 'runyonesque' form of expression began to appear in his short stories and articles. Runyon also took a stab at organizing a minor baseball league in Colorado. When that effort failed, Runyon decided it was time to take a bite out of The Big Apple.

Runyon moved to New York City, and from 1910 to 1920 he covered the New York Giants and Boxing for the New York American. It was with his first New York byline, that the New York American editor dropped the Alfred from Runyon's name and Damon Runyon appeared for the first time in Journalism history. Runyon's Th' Mornin's Mornin' began to be carried well outside the New York area, and in 1937 evolved into Runyon's famous 'The Brighter Side' column, which was carried in over 200 newspapers across America. Runyon's frequent submissions to The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and Collier's established both his 'Broadway' character and the numerous, colorful denizens of Damon Runyon's New York City underworld. Runyon's stories about race-track hangers-on, fighters, and screwy Broadway blondes earned him half a million dollars writing about them.

A heavy drinker as a young man, he purportedly went on the wagon soon after his drinking nearly cost him the courtship of his first wife, Ellen Egan. He remained a heavy smoker until his death in 1946--of throat cancer.

During his time at the New York American, Runyon had frequently contributed sports poems on boxing and baseball themes. Runyon also began writing numerous short stories and essays. Beginning in 1911, he became the Hearst newspapers' baseball columnist for many years. His writer's eye for the eccentric and the unusual--on the field and off--is recognized as revolutionizing the way baseball was covered from that point on. Indeed, in 1967 Runyon was posthumously awarded the J. G. Taylor Spink Award and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Runyon was also inducted into The International Boxing Hall Of Fame. Also an inveterate gambler, Gambling was a common theme of Runyon's stories. Runyon's long-running byline under 'The Brighter Side" entertained American readers for over nine years.

Prior to the 1928 breakup of Runyon's marriage to Ellen Egan, they'd raised two children--Mary and Damon, Jr.. Runyon subsequently took Patrice Amati del Grande, as his companion after his separation. Ellen Runyon later died from the effects of her own drinking and Runyon and Patrice married. Runyon became closer to his children, but his marriage to Patrice ended when she left him for a younger man in 1946, the same year Runyon died.

Runyon died in New York City from throat cancer at age 66. His body was cremated, and his ashes were reportedly scattered over Manhattan by famous American flyer, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker on December 18, 1946. Back in In Pueblo, Colorado, Runyon Field, The Damon Runyon Repertory Theater Company and Runyon Lake were named in his honor.



John Brown
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1904-1957)

Birthplace: Hull, Yorkshire, England, UK

Radiography:

1932 Police Headquarters
1933 The Salad Bowl Revue
1935 Shell Chateau
1936 Album Of Life
1936 Town Hall Tonight
1936 The Jello Program
1938 The Rudy Vallee Hour
1939 Silver Theatre
1939 Arch Oboler's Plays
1939 On Your Job
1939 The Fred Allen Show
1940 Texaco Star Theatre
1941 The Shadow
1941 The Treasury Hour
1942 Command Performance
1942 Suspense
1943 The Jack Benny Program
1943 The Busy Mr Bingle
1943 Duffy's Tavern
1943 The Abbott and Costello Show
1944 The NBC War Bond Parade
1944 Radio Almanac
1944 Three Of A Kind
1944 A Date With Judy
1944 The Human Adventure
1944 The Life Of Riley
1944 The Lucky Strike Program
1944 This Is My Best
1944 The Jack Carson Show
1944 Matinee Theatre
1945 The Eddie Cantor Show
1945 The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet
1945 Mail Call
1945 The Marlin Hurt and Beulah Show
1945 The Beulah Show
1945 Cavalcade Of America
1945 Twelve Players
1946 Strange Wills
1946 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 The Cass Daley Show
1946 The Jack Kirkwood Show
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1946 A Day In the Life Of Dennis Day
1946 The Amos 'n Andy Show
1946 The Alan Young Show
1947 The Whistler
1947 My Friend Irma
1947 Mystery In the Air
1948 Damon Runyon Theatre
1948 Just Outside Hollywood
1948 Ellery Queen
1948 Casey, Crime Photographer
1948 The Baby Snooks Show
1948 Family Theatre
1948 The George O'Hanlon Show
1949 Young Love
1950 For the Living
1950 Screen Director's Playhouse
1951 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
1951 The Adventures Of the Saint
1951 The Bickersons
1952 Stars Over Hollywood
1952 Stars In the Air
1953 Mr President
1954 Proudly We Hail
1959 Monitor
To the Rear March
Any Bonds Today?
The Telephone Hour
Here's To Veterans
Bits Of Life
Love Tales

In Character: John Brown (far left) with Minerva Pious (far right) and Eileen Douglas and Charlie Cantor from their Fred Allen Show days together.
In Character: John Brown (far left) with Minerva Pious (far right) and Eileen Douglas and Charlie Cantor from their Fred Allen Show days together.

Clockwise from left, Charlie Cantor, Minerva Pious, John Brown, and Eileen Douglas at the NBC mike for the Fred Allen Show
Clockwise from left, Charlie Cantor, Minerva Pious, John Brown, and Eileen Douglas at the NBC mike for the Fred Allen Show.

John Brown at CBS mike circa 1947
John Brown at CBS mike circa 1947

John Brown with Gracie Allen from 1949's The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
John Brown with Gracie Allen from 1949's The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
John Brown and Marie Wilson, from 1947's My Friend Irma
John Brown and Marie Wilson, from 1947's My Friend Irma

Publicity photo for 1947's My Friend Irma
Publicity photo for 1947's My Friend Irma

The My Friend Irma crew on the steps of Mrs. O'Rielly's Boarding House, 1947: John Brown at upper right, Marie Wilson at the bottom of the steps
The My Friend Irma crew on the steps of Mrs. O'Rielly's Boarding House, 1947: John Brown at upper right, Marie Wilson at the bottom of the steps
John Brown was another brit that emigrated to the U.S. to become one of our greatest, most prolific character actors--on the Stage, in Film, on Radio and on Television. Although details on his early years are somewhat sparse, it's clear that he began his Radio career in the U.S. in 1932. From that point on, and for the rest of his relatively short life, John Brown became a Radio legend for the next 25 years.

His most memorable performances were as Irma's shiftless boyfriend in My Friend Irma (1947), as 'Broadway' in Mayfair Productions' syndicated The Damon Runyon Theatre (1948), and as Chester Riley's long-suffering next door neighbor, Gillis, in The Life of Riley (1944). Brown was also heard as Digby "Digger" O'Dell, "the friendly undertaker" on Radio's The Life of Riley.

A gifted American dialectician, especially considering his British roots, John Brown was one of Radio's hardest working voices. His uncanny Radio depictions ranged from a bewildering array of ethnic New Yorkers to cowboys and British aristocrats. As adept at straight dramatic roles as comedy and suspense, John Brown's skills behind the mike became a staple of American Radio from Coast to Coast.

Brown's transition to a Television career was equally successful, contributing to many of Television's earliest comedy successes. He was the first Harry Morton on TV's George Burns and Gracie Allen Program for Carnation (1949), a regular on Television's Life of Riley (1949) reprising his 'Digger' O'Dell character from the Radio program, and made frequent appearances on I Love Lucy (1951).

Brown also appeared in Film, beginning with an uncredited role in 1944's Cassanova Brown, then appearing in several more uncredited roles in American and British films, before his first Film credit in Three Desperate Men (1951). Alfred Hitchcock then tapped him for a role in Strangers on a Train (1951). Brown was also seen in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) as George Barley. After two years in other uncredited roles and some voice-over work, Brown found himself rounding out his Film career in 1953's critically acclaimed cult film, The Wild One, as Bill Hamegan.

With a continuing busy career in Radio, John Brown continued recurring roles in Radio's The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1951), The Bickersons (1951), and various roles in Mr. President (1953). With a promising career looming in Film and Television, Brown's life was tragically ended with a massive heart attack. Brown had just turned 53.

John Brown's body of work throughout the Golden Age of Radio is remembered as some of the most diverse, talented and well-timed performances in Radio History. Brown's range was truly extraordinary and the singular characters that he brought to life over the years are remembered by some of Radio's most dedicated fans.

We count ourselves among them.



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