The first Dangerously Yours spot ad from July 1 1944
Dangerously Yours spot ad from July 22 1944
Dangerously Yours spot ad from Sep 30 1944
Matinee Theatre spot ad from October 28 1944
Matinee Theatre spot ad from November 11 1944 with Jory looking a little less in immediate danger in the caricature
Background and Prologue
Dangerously Yours may--or may not-- have taken a long and tortured path to commercial broadcast. First allegedly auditioned in 1940 by what sounds very much to be Alfred Shirley in the role of host, the audition titled Masquerade announces an episode, Jungle Harvest to follow, but the audition never produced an on-air broadcast. Also note the format: Alfred Shirley introduces the adventure, then leaves it to that week's cast to perform the script. Fast forward to either 1942 or 1944, and now it's Victory Jory auditioning for Dangerously Yours, with Tony Marvin again acting as announcer--the only elements connecting the two auditions were the writer, Jean Holloway, the director, Richard Sanville, the composer, Arnold Johnson, and the announcer, Tony Marvin.
Victory Jory was coming off of a series of extraordinarily diverse roles in the wake of the wildy successful and turbulent Gone With The Wind film of 1939 which propelled several other character actors and B-list performers into the spotlight. But again, the audition didn't take. As with the first audition, the program announces a follow-on episode, It Happened in Gramercy Square.
We point this out because of widely varying acounts of when the two audition episodes actually aired. All the usual sources, citing no proof or rationale whatsoever, state that both episodes aired in June of 1944 within 24-hours of each other. There are several problems with this allegation--apart from the obvious absence of any provenance whatsoever to substantiate their 'complete and accurate,' claims.
On the one hand, four key parties to the auditions are common to both auditions: Jean Holloway, Richard Sanville, Arnold Johnson and Tony Marvin. But the presence of Alfred Shirley apparently voicing the first audition suggests a date earlier than June 1944 for the Alfred Shirley audition. If these were ostensibly two auditions back to back, what possibile point was there in wasting two scripts on them if it was only to audition--and compare--two starring performers? Why the different announcement of the following production? Why Martin Gabel providing exposition for the one and Alfred Shirley providing his own exposition for his audition? And ultimately, Alfred Shirley was already successfully undertaking the program Romance for CBS for most of the summer of 1944. Another plausible explanation is that if indeed, the first audition had been in either June of 1940 or even June of 1942, it's entirely possible for Alfred Shirley to have appeared in it in during either year.
As to the Victory Jory audition, contemporaneous reports of Jory's willingness to suspend his Film appearances for a year to commit to a year of Jean Holloway's Dangerously Yours scripts seems consistent among the various sources reporting it. But could Jory still have recorded The Highwayman as an audition in 1942 just as easily as in 1944? Sure. But again, we have the same common announcer, composer, orchestra, writer and director for both known auditions--Tony Marvin, Arnold Johnson, Jean Holloway and Richard Sanville.
Here's our best informed guess regarding the order and chronology of the two auditions:
The Masquerade audition was recorded in 1944 either the week before or after the other audition, The Highwayman. One other possibility is that they were recorded during the same session. In any case it's clear that both were recorded for the Vick Chemical Company's evaluation. This begs a question of the plausibility of Vick Chemical Company juggling these two auditions over the previously reported period of as much as four years--plausible but only remotely likely.
While Victory Jory was reportedly ready to go all-in with the Dangerously Yours Radio production, we're reminded that such a decision, however well intentioned wasn't always arrived at unilaterally. It may not have been Jory's own decision to make. If I'd have been Vick Chemical Company then, as much as I'd have been interested in signing Victor Jory for a long-term commitment, I'd have wanted to cover my bases just in case something fell through. Hence, the Alfred Shirley hosted audition of Dangerously Yours. Such a format would almost surely have employed an actor of Alfred Shirley or Victor Jory's stature, as host, narrator and expositor for the series. This would have been much like what famous Stage, Film and Radio actor Gayne Whitman had done in many of his later years of Radio appearances.
We also doubt that Victory Jory would have made this same apparent 'commitment' back in 1942, only to wait around for two years to actually commit to it. The bottom line is that we trust our own ears. Arnold Johnson and his Orchestra are audibly credited with at least one of these auditions, but it's clear listening to both of them that it's Arnold Johnson and his orchestra providing the musical accompaniment to both auditions--indeed, sounding very much as if recorded during the very same session.
So why the varying end-teasers and scripts? They were auditions. It didn't really matter what they announced as the following program as long as it might serve to whet the appetite of the intended audience--The Vick Chemical Company. So were Jungle Harvest and It Happened in Gramercy Square simply two favorites of the account executive at Vick Chemical Company's productions? In all likelihood, yes.
The Year of Living Dangerously . . . Yours
Dangerously Yours ultimately debuted commercially on Sunday, July 2, 1944 in a 1:00 p.m. afternoon timeslot. Though titled Dangerously Yours! the program was clearly not blood and guts adventure fare. Indeed it was widely announced as an anthology of romantic adventures. Romantic as in fanciful, given to wanderlust, or naively confident. Not precisely romantic as in "boy chases girl, girl allows boy to catch her, boy thinks he managed it all on his own" kind of romance. More of that would come in the follow-on to Dangerously Yours!--Vick's Matinee Theatre.
Vick was clearly doing everything within their power to both support their star, as well as please their growing national audience. For one, the works of some of modern history's most famous authors were adapted for the series, among them: Booth Tarkington, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Noyes, James Oliver Curwood and George Bernard Shaw. For another, the production seemed to bend over backwards in response to listener requests for future episodes of Dangerously Yours. This would take on a completely different guise in the follow-on Vicks Matinee Theatre productions.
Unfortunately, in the process several quite promising productions--and apparently their scripts--ended up in the round file, or were bounced around the schedule airing as much as four months after they were first announced. Many announced Dangerously Yours productions never made it to the air at all.
As confusing as this might seem for both archivists and the newspaper copywriters of the day, it was great for Vick's Radio audience. They felt like they were gaining a real voice in shaping future productions of a favorite program, and Vick, through the versatility and agility of its ensemble repertory company was quite prepared to juggle the schedule around at the last minute to suit popular demand.
By the end of the Dangererously Yours run, Victor Jory had both demonstrated an extraordinary versatility of his own in this fairly new medium to him, and had also cemented and nurtured a brand loyalty to Vick Chemical Company by remaining so responsive to audience demand for subsequent productions.
Indeed it was audience feedback that drove Dangerously Yours' segue to Vicks Matinee Theatre on October 22, 1944.
Dangerously Yours become less dangerous and more yours as Vicks Matinee Theatre
From the October 19 1944 Cedar Rapids Tribune:
ON THE AIR
Some Outstanding Features Scheduled By Station WMT
"Dangerously Yours" Changes Title,
Victor Jory Continuing As Star
Victor Jory's thrilling portrayal of swashbuckling heroes on the "Dangerously Yours" Sunday series on CBS has stirred such favorable nationwide response that the program policy will be broadened and the title changed to "The Matinee Theater," effective Oct. 22. The change will permit the presentation of a much greater variety of dramatizations of books, plays and motion pictures that have won universl acclaim. Jory will have a wider range for the versatile talents that have made him one of the top-ranking actors of stage and screen as well as radio's newest "matinee idol."
The decision to change the title and expand the scope of the highly successful "Dangerously Yours" series was taken because of the increasing number of listener requests for adaptation of books, stage dramas, and films which did not conform with the original idea of presenting only tales of dangerous living.
The first offering under the new program title, "The Matinee Theater," on Sunday, Oct. 22, will be Emily Bronte's immortal love classic, "Wuthering Heights." The program is heard over WMT Sundays at 1 p.m.
The lineage of Vicks Matinee Theatre to Dangerously Yours was quite understandable. Indeed, the only reason for even further differentiating Matinee Theatre from Dangerously Yours was a matter of degree. The new production retained the same cast, the same production support and the same sponsor--even the same timeslot. But Vick's public had spoken and Vick had listened.
As noted above, Vick was constantly soliciting suggestions or feedback from its programs' listeners--through both its spokepeople and its star, Victor Jory. The audience wanted more romantic romance mixed with its romantic adventure, and so Vick's Matinee Theatre reinvented itself to meet its audience's needs.
A word about the etymology of Matinee Theatre. For the first seven episodes of the new production, it was introduced as Vick's Matinee Theatre starring Victor Jory. Indeed, for the same first eight weeks of continuing to solicit suggestions and feedback from its listeners, Vick had Jory requests that listeners write the program care of Vick's Matinee Theatre at a New York City address.
From episode #8 forward, Vick's Matinee Theatre morphed into Vick Presents The Matinee Theatre, then simply Matinee Theatre by the end of the run. Even the 'care of' address was changed from "Vick's Matinee Theatre, New York 22, New York." to simply care of "Columbia Broadcasting, New York 22, New York.".
The schedule of future programs continued in flux for most of the latter two-thirds of the Matinee Theatre production run. Though somewhat confusing for listeners 50 years hence, there was something of a method to their apparent madness. Throughout the 1930s through 1950s the Radio networks for the most part remained intensely responsive to audience feedback. Moreso with a production such as Matinee Theatre wherein the sponsor even more actively sought the pulse of its audience in shaping its dramatic selections.
But in the process, several otherwise worthwhile productions never aired as announced, for one reason or another. In other cases a program that was overwhelmingly voted for by the audience also somehow fell through the cracks. The program never explained these anomalies so we'll never know what was going on behind the scenes. But as best as we can determine, the following programs, though suggested--or even announced at least once--never made it to air:
Under Dangerously Yours:
- Wallace of Scotland
- The Prince of Darkness (may have been The Shadow of the Raven which did air)
Under Matinee Theatre:
- The Petrified Forest
- The Ballad of Beauty Stewart
- Goodbye, Mr. Chips
- The Great McGinty
- Only Yesterday
We raise this issue because there remain some question as to which program scripts actually aired and which ones were either postponed, delayed, or abandoned entirely--for whatever circumstances. Whether the practice of so baldly pandering to an audience is a wise practice or not, in the case of Dangerously Yours and Matinee Theatre, an often fickle, demanding audience apparently tired of being pandered to after only forty of the Dangerously Yours/Matinee Theatre productions.
We rush to point out that the series continued to receive excellent critical reviews, and from our own listening, the productions were for the most part well mounted, well paced, very well engineered. The two or three circulating exemplars from cracked masters are not a reflection of the originial engineering, but rather the hamfisted manner in which they were encoded to digital media. Victory Jory and Gertrude Warner for their parts, proved themselves highly versatile, multi-genre actors of the highest calibre--qualities that would serve both great character actors for another thirty years each.
The raw resilience of the entire ensemble cast was never more evident than in the constantly morphing weekly schedule their own audience set for them. But with only two exceptions, they seem to have met their audiences' demands on time. All in all a fine experiment but perhaps just not ready for prime time. Nor perhaps should any audience be given free rein to so structurally shape a favored program. Democracy works just fine in most areas except for The Arts. The Arts--Performing or Fine--are an area of society's culture that is usually so diverse, splintered and subjective that they defy democratization.
Such is the case with Radio and Television. One need look no further than to current pandering programming such as Survivor or American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. All of these programs are wildly popular with audiences that get precisely what they vote for, week in week out--predictable, homogenized, drama. No innovation, no experimentation, no Art, no soul, no out of the box thinking. Simply vulcanized, homogenized, sanforized, pasteurized pap. Nothing more, nothing less.
As with most things in society, there are limits to Democracy. The Arts have every logical, subjective and aesthetic reason to remain exceptions to Democracy. These two short-lived, while highly democratic programs, simply underscore our hypothesis.
|Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
We invite you to compare our fully provenanced research with the the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and their Dangerously Yours and Matinee Theatre logs, which the OTRR claims to be correct according to their 'OTTER log' they represent as the "most authoritative and accurate vintage Radio database in the world":
We've provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE and HERE to protect our own further due diligence, content and intellectual property.
Anyone of a Judeo-Christian background can't help but notice the ridiculous spelling of Bethlehem in the circulating title for Vick's Matinee Theater, Episode No. 10, a Christmas special titled, A Stable In Bethlehem, U.S.A. from Christmas Eve, 1944. Their title, such as it is, is A Stable In Bethleham, U.S.A. A simple spelling error to be sure, but also the pointer to the site from which they most otr loggers plagiarize their entire logs: The Vintage Radio Place, notorious throughout the vintage Radio collecting hobby for it's almost laughable spelling errors. Laughable, until one naively attempts to research that title in libraries or newspaper archives, only to waste hours on end with such nonsense. But indeed, this one's so blatant that one might be justified in wondering why the OTRR, referring to their research as 'the most accurate otr database in the world' got something so patently obvious so wrong--yet again. The answer is painfully obvious. They don't do their own research, nor, apparently do they listen to anything they take credit for 'researching.'
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