Television's Ford Theatre Hour began airing in 1948 and ran for three seasons. After a year hiatus, Ford launched its Ford Television Theatre in 1952 for five more seasons.
Ford Theatre spot ad from April 1 1948
Billboard announcement of premiere of Ford Theater from September 6, 1947
Billboard article on Mr. D.A. script to be repeated over Ford Theatre in an hour long format from November 17, 1947. Though an intriguing concept, the episode evidently never aired.
George Faulkner, George Zachary and Howard Teichmann hammer out another Ford Theatre production.
Billboard article citing the loss of Miracle on 34th Street to Lux Radio Theatre from November 22, 1947
Ford Theatre Spot Ad from February 18th 1949 for Shadow of A Doubt
Ford Theatre Spot Ad from March 11th 1949 for Welcome Stranger
1947 - 1950 promised to be banner years for America's motor companies. G.I.s were returning to the workforce, many were completing college and trade school programs under the G.I. Bill, working wives were returning to raising families full-time, and America was rapidly expanding into hundreds, then thousands of tract communities in the suburbs. These facts were not lost on America's automobile companies.
Advertisements for all manner of vehicles were saturating America's print publications. They were airing in a glut of Radio commercials and over early Television as well. Even movie theatres were inundated with all manner of both automobile ads and tract home ads with the coming attractions prior to the screening of features.
A 20-minute clip, 'In the Suburbs' from 1957
This was the backdrop to Ford Motor Company's full-court press during the entire four to six year design to production cycle that resumed full-tilt as their Wartime production facilities re-tooled for domestic production once again. Ford had much to offer, as well as great confidence that they could once again compete head to head with General Motors and Chrysler Corporation, not to mention the hundreds of European and Japanese models that G.I.s had been exposed to first-hand while overseas.
But the full-court press had to be promoted as agressively as possible to get the jump on the competition. The motor companies weren't exactly sitting on the sidelines during America's massive industrial re-tooling efforts throughout the War Production years. They knew the War would end, and as that likelihood approached, America's motor companies expended as much effort as practical on that inevitable eventuality. They had every expectation that the extraordinary demand for their post-War products would more than merit a hefty Advertising and Marketing budget.
Ford Theatre debuts against history's slowest World Series
Ford couldn't have known that it picked one of the worst nights possible for its premiere of Ford Theater, here recounted by avid baseball fan--and Radio reviewer, John Crosby from the October 31, 1947 edition of his Radio Review column in the Portsmouth Times:
SEEING RADIO IN REVIEW
By JOHN CROSBY
I HAVE a rather unusual criticism against the "Ford Theater" which has replaced the NBC symphony from 5 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
There has been a conspiracy to prevent me from hearing this program. On opening night, I doubt if anyone heard it. That was the day, if you'll think back, on which the Yankees and the Dodgers played the slowest world series game in history. In New York, according to Mr. Hooper, 91.5 per cent of the radios were tuned in to the ball game that day.
The figure probably didn't vary much of of town. Since the game ran until 5:30,, it thoroughly wrecked Ford's opening night.
I didn't hear the second performance the following week because some people dropped in and stayed untiol 7. As for the third performance, I missed that, too. Somebody--a spy from Chevrolet probably--set my clocks back one hour. I got hold of the program just in time for the announcer to advise me to tune again next week.
Well, I'll do my best, but I'm beginning to doubt that I'll ever hear that program, and I'll tell you just why.
Five o'clock on Sunday afternoon is one of those periods when people get restless. They have finished the comic strips and the crossword puzzle and they are beginning to stir uneasily. Right here, the Ford people probably figured they go over and turn on the radio, preferrably the "Ford Theater".
Well, they don't--at least the people I know don't. At just about five minutes to 5, your wife says: "Let's go over and see the O'Reillys." Or else the O'Reillys come over and see you. Pretty soon you have a drink in your hand, either your own or one of O'Reillys' and you are discussing Russia.
(Copyright, 1947, New York Tribune)
Though an unfortunate choice of its debut, the choice was an important one for Ford. Ford Motor Company launched its Ford Theater sponsorship in the Fall of 1947 to coincide with the roll-out of their 1948 models. Their post-War model lines had met with mixed success following VE Day on May 8, 1945. But VJ Day on August 14, 1945 provided the final boost America's manufacturers needed to secure funding for domestic retooling, advertising and revised infrastructure.
During the post-War years, Ford was sponsoring:
The Ford Sunday Evening Hour for 1945 and 1946
The Bob Crosby Show for the first six months of 1946
In the midst of this mix of predominantly Variety, Comedy and Detective Mystery programming, Ford made a corporate decision to mount a prestigious Drama program with the highest production values and the finest production and acting talent they could obtain, the better to enhance its post-War appeal to a predominantly upwardly mobile society. Ford Theater was produced to fill that missing niche in its strategic advertising campaign.
Twelve minutes of Ford's 1949 Promotional short, 'The Human Bridge'
Equally mindful of the dramatically increased demands of suburban living, Ford agressively marketed its entire production line to meet the growing demand for:
Economical transportation for an exponentially growing commuter workforce
The need of a second vehicle--most commonly a low-end station wagon or four-door sedan--for suburban homemakers and their own transportation needs
A growing demand for niche and prestige vehicles
All manner of commercial, utility and farm vehicles
It was obvious to Ford, and all other manufacturers that could successfully retool and compete, that every dollar spent during this period would realize an exponential return. Ford therefore had every expectation that a no-expense-spared production like Ford Theater would both restablish Ford as a sophisticated, quality brand, as well as positioning itself for further success throughout its entire four to six year design, production and marketing cycle.
But the nexus of this high-quality programming was its 1947-1948 Ford Theater season over NBC. Ford jumped to CBS for its 1948-1949 season with its Ford Theater over CBS. At the same time, Ford launched the Television version of Ford Theater over CBS Television in the Fall of 1948, joining several other high-profile sponsors who found--as Ford had--that sufficient demand existed for high-profile dramatic productions over both mediums.
Ford's gamble apparently paid off in spades. So well in fact, that Ford doubled-down on its marketing strategy with even an even greater investment in early Television with its above mentioned Ford Theatre Hour from 1948 through 1951 and a further run of five successful seasons from 1952 through 1957 with it's Ford Television Theatre program.
Despite the critical and popular success of Radio's Ford Theater, Ford ended the production with its second season while wisely transitioning much of it's Radio production talent to its CBS Television production.
As is evident in the numerous sidebar advertisements and via the extraordinary number of spot ads and promotional articles throughout the newspapers and magazines of the era, Ford both recognized and met the need to promote its high-profile dramatic offerings of the era. Despite the relative dearth of other Radio advertising of the era--in favor of Television program promotion and spot ads--Ford continued to agressively promote its Radio programs through the end of Radio's run of Ford Theater presentations.
As to the productions themselves, NBC, Ford, and CBS spared no expense in obtaining the talent they demanded for these two seasons of Ford Theater. All parties to this prestigious production assembled a mix of both brilliant young talent and highly seasoned professionals to mount both seasons. Young George Zachary--of Ellery Queen radio fame--was tapped to helm the first season of Ford Theater over NBC. When the production moved to CBS for its second season, CBS tapped brilliant young CBC director, Fletcher Markle to head the CBS production season. Both young directors were at the height of their talents and their crisp direction more than validated NBC's, Ford's and CBS' choices to lead Ford's most prestigious program ever aired.
The Billboard review below [in Provenances] bestows effusive praise on Ford Theater's premiere production, Mark Twain's brilliant A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Noted Radio and Television critic John Crosby also found much to praise about Ford Theater in the following Radio Review of Ford Theater from the November 15, 1947 edition of the Arizona Republic:
Ford Theater Based On Repertory Idea
By JOHN CROSBY
The Ford Motor Company obviously did a bit of deep thinking before it embarked on its hour-long Ford Theater (KTAR, 3 p. m., Sundays). There already are three hour-long dramatic programsLux Theater, Theater Guild of the Air and Studio One. Each of them is a little different. Lux with its move adaptations and its famous Hollywood actors is frankly aimed at popular tastes.
Theater Guild of the Air aims a good deal higher with its adaptations of Broadway plays, usually performed by the original cast. Currently Studio One is out-classing the field with its adapted novels, short stories and plays. Anyway, between the three of them the field of one-hour drama is pretty well covered.
In trying to be a little different from the other three, Ford has come up with an idea that is old in the theater but new to radiorepertory theater. Ford Theater plans to build up a library of adaptations from stage, screen and literature, and. more importantly, it eventually hopes to assemble a presentable collection of original radio dramas written especially for Ford Theater. Both originals and adaptations will be presented several times over. THIS IS a long-term proposition. Until Ford Theater gets under way a little more it will be difficult to pass judgment on it. The whole idea of repertory is the revival of old. well-established well-liked favorites.
Ford's originals will have to win popular acceptance before they have much value as classics. Nevertheless, it's certainly a splendid idea and I hope Ford sticks with it long enough to make it work. The difficulties ahead are manifold.
In the first place, Ford is aiming high in its originals. It wants first-rate work and it will have quite a job getting it. Early this season, Fred Allen tried to procure the services of Howard Lindsay (now narrator on the Ford Theater) and Russell Grouse to help out with his scripts. THEY WERE not expected to write anything; Allen wanted them only to sit in on script conferences and toss out a few comic ideas which he would embody in the script. The authors of Life With Father said no. Radio is no place for perfectionists. There isn't time for perfection and there isn't enough money to recompense the writer even if someone achieved it.
However, there will be some added inducement for Ford Theater writers. The originals will be revived now and then and the writer paid for each performance. Also the writer retains movie, stage and book rights.
In one other respect, Ford is planning to do it the hard way. Experienced radio actors rather than Hollywood's glittering names will be in the leading roles. It's a laudable choice but it may not work out well. While radio actors have consistently proved more capable in their own medium than movie stars, the public remains apathetic toward them. STUDIO ONE started out with a similar aim but recently the Columbia Broadcasting System decided to stir up a little public interest in its productions by inserting in them an occasional Hollywood celebrity. If Ford sticks to its plan, it will have a genuine repertory theater.
All of which is a rather lengthy but necessary introduction to the two Ford Theater productions I have heard. Ah, Wilderness and A Coffin for Dimitrios. I have some rather grave misgivings about both of them. In Ah, Wilderness, the role of Nat Miller, the small town editor, was forever preempted, by the late George M. Cohan.
Cohan endowed the role with such a wealth of humanity that all his successors are forced to fly in the face of odious comparisons. Nevertheless, the radio actor, whose name I don't know, could have done a little better with it.
IN AH, WILDERNESS a great playwright was for the first time in his life frisking his heels. The result was a wide-angled, slow-moving nostalgic play about a whole family. The radio production missed most of the point. The emphasis here was placed on one rather innocent misdeed of Nat Miller's son which was just part but by no means all of the original play. The lovesick son was made to sound almost exactly like Henry Aldrich, who, I'm afraid, has placed his imprint on all adolescence. The comedy was stressed. The pathos was somehow missed by a mile.
So much for Ah, Wilderness. As for A Coffin for Dimitrios, the production was excellent but that particular detective story doesn't adapt itself to radio very well.
It was an unusual yarn, composed of a lot of separate stories, and in an attempt to hang it all together for radio, Ford Theater succeeded in contriving only a passable and fairly routine who-dunit.
IN SPITE of these carping comments, the Ford Theater is an ambitious and welcome venture in radio. It must be judged not in light of two productions but of its entire first 13-week schedule which offers an immense variety of drama for serious radio listeners. The list includes three other plays, On Borrowed Time, George Washington Slept Here (scheduled for November 23) and Dangerous Corner (November 30); two novels, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Cimarron December 14.
Two motion pictures, The Great McGinity and Miracle On 34th Street (December 21); one operetta, Carmen Jones (scheduled this Sunday with members of the original cast); the revival of Norman Corwin's radio drama, We Hold These Truths (December 7), and two original radio dramas written for Ford Theater, one of which was presented last Sunday after this was written. (In cases where no dates are affixed above, the dramas already have been presented.
Both young directors--George Zachary and Fletcher Markle--were supported by the most gifted Music and Sound Engineering talent of the era:
NBC tapped Lyn Murray to direct, compose and conduct the music for Season One, aided by Howard Barlow and Ken Hopkins and with sound engineering by Sam Moore and Ed Whittaker.
CBS chose brilliant young composer, Cy Feuer--later of Broadway musical comedy fame--as the Music Director and composer - conductor for Season Two.
The dramatic works chosen for both seasons represented western history's finest authors, with scripts adapted by Ben Hecht, George Zachary himself, Fletcher Markle himself, John Houseman, Irving Pinkus and Sinclair Lewis, among many notable others.
The casts were made up of both NBC and CBS' finest contract players supporting some of the brightest stars of Film and Stage. CBS' Season Two, in particular pulled out all the stops in bringing big name Stage and Screen talent to the production.
Ford Theater remains one of Vintage Radio's under-valued gems. The NBC Season is almost completely available and the CBS Season is surfacing in drips and drabs each passing month and year. Grab them whenever you can. They're wonderful examples of the best drama available over Radio during its Golden Age.
Ford Theatre; Ford Theater on CBS; Ford Theatre Hour and Ford Television Theatre over Television.
Anthology of Golden Age Radio Dramas
Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
1947 NBC Run: 47-10-05 01 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 1948 CBS Run: 48-10-08 01 Madame Bovary
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
1947 NBC Run: 47-10-05 to 48-06-27; NBC; Thirty-nine, hour-long programs; Sundays, 5:00 p.m.
1948 CBS Run: 48-10-08 to 49-07-01; CBS; Thirty-nine, hour-long programs; Fridays, 9:00 p.m.
1947 NBC Run: Ford Motor Company
1948 CBS Run: Ford Motor Company; Bulova, locally
1947 NBC Run: George Zachary [Producer/Director - For CBS]; Kenyon and Eckhardt [Producers - for Ford] 1948 CBS Run: Fletcher Markle [Host, Director, Producer, Adapter, Narrator, and Performer]
1947 NBC Run: Mason Adams, Eric Dressler, Anne Seymour, Les Damon, Muriel Smith, Luther Saxon, Alton Warren, Irving Barnes, Valerie Black, Juano Hernandez, Early Snyder, Barbara Weeks, Ed Jerome, Lauren Gilbert, Bryan Herbert, Karl Swenson, Charita Bauer, Ian Martin, Santos Ortega, John Moore, Reese Taylor, HOrace Braham, Neil Fitzgerald, Rosemary Rice, Raymond Ives, Alan Bunce, Frank James, Elsie Hicks, Evie Juster, James McCallion, Edgar Stehli, Frank Thomas, Chuck Webster, Earl Sider, Elton J. Warren, Warren Brian, Amzie Strickland, Mitzie Gould, Frank Thomas, Guy Spaull, Gene Leonard, Helen Lewis, Fran Carlon, Bill Adams, Frank Behrens, Alan Hewitt, Margaret Berlin, Fran Rafferty, Joe Latham, Bert Parks, Daniel Otto, Gladys Thornton, Evelyn Varden, Guy Wallace, Charlotte Keane, Brad Barker, Jane Houston, Walter Vaughn, Harold Dryanforth, Avril Harris, Ted De Corsia, Sarah Fussell, Hugh Marlowe, Geoffrey Bryant, Sanford Bickart, Eva Condon, Wendell Holmes, Jackson Beck, Art Carney, Adelaide Klein, Carl Eastman, Ted Osborn, Monica Lewis, Larry Douglas, Marilyn Daye, Elwood Smith, John Marriot, Ken Reynard, Milton Williams, Mercedes Gilbert, Marshall Cole Jr., Avon Long, John D. Battle, Dorn Alexander, Janis Long, Pauline Meyers, Viola Dean, Muriel Kirkland, Jean Gillespie, Cliff Carpenter, Staats Cotsworth, Richard Gordon, Irene Hubbard, Ginger Jones, Gary Merrill, Ted Osborne, Philip Wolfe, Cameron Prud'Homme, Carl Eastman, William Zuckert, Helen Lewis, James Van Dyke, Ruth Yorke, Neil Fitzgreald, Una O'Connor, Matt Crowley, John Larkin, Walter Burke, Bill Smith, Ian Martin, Audrey Egan, Walter Kinsella, Ed Begley, Mary Patton, William Quinn, Doris Dalton, Florence Robinson, Jean Ellen, Lauren Gilbert, Toni Darnay, James Meighan, Elaine Rost, Virginia Gilmore, Charles Penman, Charles Mendick, Florida Freburg, Alice Goodkin, Shirley Booth, Larry Haines, Arthur Q. Bryan, Arnold Moss, Maurice Franklin, Fran Carlon, Peter Capell, Art Carney, Raymond Edward Johnson, Julian Noa, Vivian Barry, Dean Carlton, Leora Thatcher 1948 CBS Run: Burt Lancaster, Joan Bennett, Lucille Ball, Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Joan Lorring, Dorothy McGuire, Barbara Bel Geddes, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Blondell, MacDonald Carey, Geraldine Fitzgerald, John Emery, Gladys Cooper, Ronald Colman, Dana Andrews, Ingrid Bergman, Edward G. Robinson, Stephan McNally, Linda Darnell, Claudette Colbert, Glenn Ford, Bob Hope, Ann Blyth, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Charles Laughton, Dan Dailey, Montgomery Clift, Walter Huston, Paul Douglas, Bette Davis, Fredric March, Ida Lupino, Claude Rains, Margo, Burgess Meredith, Ruth Hussey, Helen Hayes, Walter Pidgeon, Marlene Dietrich, Van Heflin, Robert Dryden, Hedley Rennie, Ivor Francis, Mercedes McCambridge, Ronald Liss, Miriam Wolfe, Alan Debit, Burt Lancaster, Myron McCormick, Joe DeSantis, Ivor Francis, Susan Douglas, Jack Manning, Rita Vale, Robert Dryden, Neal Fitzgerald, Gregory Morton, John Qualen, Broderick Crawford, Anne Revere, Byron Kane, Phil Gould, Gus Bayes, Jack Warner, Anne Whitfield, Edward Marr, Hans Conried, Herb Vigran, Jane Morgan, Jay Novello, Jeanette Nolan, Jerry Farber, John McGovern, Joseph Kearns, Julian Upton, Paul McVey, Sidney Miller, Patricia Weil, John Merlin, Carl Emory, Alan Devitt, Everett Sloane, Hester Sondergaard, Walter Black
Varied from production to production
Varied from production to production
1947 NBC Run: Mark Twain, Eugene O'Neill, Jules Eckerd Goodman, Marc Connelly, Lee Bloomgarten, A.A. Milne, Sidney Howard, Preston Sturges, J.B. Priestley, Norman Corwin, Edna Ferber, Ellery Queen, Robert Sherwood, Alexander Dumas, Agatha Christie, Booth Tarkington, Elmer Rice, William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, Vera Caspary, Liam Flaherty 1948 CBS Run: James M. Cain, Somerset Maugham, Eugene O'Neill, Emily Bronte, Ernest Hemingway, Gustav Flaubert, Alexander Dumas, Booth Tarkington, Dorothy L. Sayers
1947 NBC Run: Therese Lewis, Irving Pinkus, Manfred B. Lewis, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Sinclair Lewis [Writers]
Lillian Shane, Sylvia Cyril, Claudia Clayton, George Zachery, Max Wiley, Gilbert Seldes, Nancy Moore, Sylvia Berger, John Houseman [Adapters]
George Faulkner [Script Editor]
Howard Teichman [Editor] 1948 CBS Run: Howard Snyder, Hugh Wedlock [Writers]; Brainard Duffield, Emerson Crocker, Elwood Hoffman, Vincent McConnor, Ben Hecht, Fletcher Markle [Adapters]; Rennie Rubin [Script Preparer]
1947 NBC Run: Lyn Murray [Composer/Conductor]; Howard Barlow [Conductor]; Ken Hopkins [Music Adapter]; Sam Moore [Sound Engineer]; Ed Whittaker [Studio Engineer] 1948 CBS Run: Cy Feuer [Composer/Conductor]; Lana Domian [Composer]
1947 NBC Run: Oscar Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Max Steiner, Amadeo Di Filipi, Ira Gershwin, Millard Lampell, Earl Robinson [Composers] 1948 CBS Run: "Ford Theatre Opening Theme" by Lyn Murray
1947 NBC Run: Kenneth Banghart [Commercial Spokesman and Announcer]
Howard Lindsay [Host/Narrator]
Alfred Drake, Eddie Dowling [Host]
Maurice Ellis, Les Tremayne[Narrators]
Martin Gabel [Announcer] 1948 CBS Run: Frank Martin, Nelson Case
Billboard review of premiere of Ford Theatre from October 18 1947
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Martin Grams Radio Drama.
Notes on Provenances: The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
You're welcome to compare our fully provenanced research with the Ford Theater log from the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR. We've also provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE, to protect our own further due diligence.
The very reason we published three provenances for Season 2, Episode 34, was precisely because of the previous OTTER log errors. And, as usual, all of the references they cite are equally in error.
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.
We continue to provide honest research into these wonderful Golden Age Radio programs simply because we love to do it. If you feel that we've provided you with useful information or saved you some valuable time regarding this log--and you'd like to help us even further--you can help us keep going. Please consider a small donation here:
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 Ford Theatre Radio Program [NBC] Log
A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
47-10-04 Bridgeport Telegram - The Ford Theater opens on WNBC tomorrow at 5 p.m., with Mark Twain's classic, "A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court," starring Mason Adams.
The Great McGinty
47-10-12 Fresno Bee - In the dramatic field the Ford Theater will present its second dramatization today at 2:00 p.m. with Preston Sturges' satire on American political graft and corruption, "The Great McGinty."
On Borrowed Time
47-10-19 Fresno Bee - A radio adaptation of "On Borrowed Time," the story of an old man who chased death, in the person of Mr. Brink, up a tree and held him there while he tried to find a proper home for his grandson, will be the Ford Theater presentation today at 2:00 P.M.
A Coffin For Dimitrios
47-10-24 Reno Evening Gazeette - FORD THEATER--2:00 P.M. "A Coffin for Dimitrios," story of a mystery writer who searches all Europe to fill in the blanks in the life of a certain infamous Mr. Dimitrios, will be dramatized Sunday.
47-11-02 Mexia Daily News - 4:00 Ford Theater: "Ah Wilderness!" Eric Dressler, Anne Seymour.
The Power and the Glory
47-11-09 Mexia Daily News
4:00 Ford Theater: "The Power and The Glory"; With Les Damon.
47-11-16 La Crosse Tribune - A RADIO ADAPTATION of "Carmen Jones," the Oscar Hammerstein II version of "Carmen" with the original music of Georges Bizet will be the Ford Theater offering, tonight over NBC and WKBH at 10:15. The radio adaptation has been made by George Zachary, director of Ford Theater. The title role will be played by Muriel Smith. Luther Saxon will have the role of Joe (Don Jose) and Alton Warren will be Cindy Lou (Michaela). These three were heard in the original Broadway production of Hammerstein's play which opened in December, 1943. Others in the cast will be Irving Barnes as Husky (Escammillo), Valerie Black as Sally, Juano Hernandez as Brown and Early Snyder as Rum. This will be the first hour-long production of "Carmen Jones" on the air, and it will be the Ford Theater's first show with an audience. The broadcast will originate in the NBC New York studios.
George Washington Slept Here
47-11-23 Mexia Daily News - 4:00 Ford Theater: "George Washington Slept Here."
47-12-07 Fresno Bee
Since this is the sixth anniversary of the Jap attack on Pearl Harbor Howard Lindsay, host on the Ford Theater, will present a revival of the now famous drama of the Bill of Rights. At 2:00 P.M. you will hear Norman Corwin's "We Hold These Truths" which was first broadcast in December, 1941.
47-12-14 Amarillo News-Globe - At 4 o'clock on the Ford Theater, KGNC-NBC, it's Edna Ferber's epic novel of the opening of the Southwest and the Oklahoma territory, "Cimmaron." Barbara Weeks is cast as Sabra, gentle southern wife of a newspaperman and dreamer Yaney Cravat.
47-12-21 Amarillo News-Globe - "The Man Who Played God," the story of a man who regained his faith through good works, is th Ford Theater dramatization on KGNC-NBC at 4 this afternoon.
Father, Dear Father
47-12-28 Amarillo News-Globe
Ed Jerome has leading role in Ford Theater comedy, "Father, Dear Father," KGNC-NBC at 4 this afternoon.
The Adventures Of the Bad Boy
48-01-04 Amarillo News-Globe - An Ellery Queen whodunit is revived for Ford Theater, KGNC-NBC, when "The Adventures of the Bad Boy" is heard at 4 this afternoon.
Storm In A Teacup
48-01-11 Amarillo News-Globe
"Storm in a Teacup" is title of comedy for 4 this afternoon on Ford Theater, KGNC-NBC.
['Girl Crazy' Rehearsal]
48-01-18 Amarillo News-Globe
Musical comedy of life on dude ranch "Girl Crazy" is Ford Theater play for this afternoon at 4 on KGNC-NBC, and includes several Gershwin hit tunes.
Arsenic and Old Lace
48-01-25 Amarillo News-Globe - Four members of original Broadway cast of "Arsenic and Old Lace" join Ford Theater presentation of that play at 4 this afternoon on KGNC-NBC.
48-02-01 Fresno Bee - The Ford Theater will present another outstanding hour long drama at 2:00 P.M. today. It is Marc Connelly's famous fable "The Green Pastures", which 18 years ago on Broadway was acclaimed a stage classic. Credit for the radio adaptation goes to Max Wolfe and an all-negro cast.
Abe Lincoln In Illinois
48-02-08 Fresno Bee - Today at 2:00 P.M. the Ford Theater presents Abe Lincoln in Illinois, adapted by Max Wylie from the great Robert Sherwood drama. Next week a sequel will be dramatized called Abe Lincoln in Washington especially prepared by Robert Sherwood. This will be the first two hour complete dramatic biography of Abraham Lincoln ever broadcast. This double teaming on the Ford Theater represents a forward step in American radio in the idea of a radio sequel to a monumental project first brought forth in other media. Karl Swenson, veteran dramatic actor will play Lincoln on both broadcasts and Muriel Kirkland who played Mary Todd in the Broadway show will handle the same role.
Abe Lincoln In Washington
48-02-15 La Crosse Tribune - FORD THEATER will present the premier of a play of first-rank importance during its broadcast on WKBH-NBC at 4:00 this afternoon. The play is "Abe Lincoln in Washington," written by Robert Sherwood especially for the broadcast. A radio adaptation of Sherwood's stage play "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" was presented last week.
The Bishop Misbehaves
48-02-22 La Crosse Tribune - FORD THEATER program on WKBH-NBC is turning to the comic-suspense story for its hour long dramatization on WKBH-NBC at 4:00 this afternoon. The play will be "The Bishop Misbehaves," which was first presented on the New York stage. The story concerns a cherubic clergyman who is a mystery fan, and who suddenly is thrust in the midst of a jewel robbery.
The Count Of Monte Cristo
48-02-29 Fresno Bee - Alexander Dumas' famous story of a man unjustly imprisoned, who escaped and became a fortune hunter and vengeance seeker, will be the Ford Theater production today at 2:00 P.M. It's "The Count Of Monte Cristo" and Lauren Gilbert plays the lead role.
48-03-07 Amarillo News-Globe - Trainload of screwballs provides comedy for the Ben Hecht-Charles McArthur farce, "Twentieth Century," adapted for radio presentation on Ford Theater. KGNC-NBC, at 3:00 with Arnold Moss and Barbara Weeks in starring roles.
48-03-14 Amarillo News-Globe
Late-flowering romance of English school mistress on vacation in Alps is theme of "Autumn Crocus," Ford Theater KGNC-NBC, at 4.
It's A Gift
48-03-21 Amarillo News-Globe
Original comedy, "It's a Gift," about a group of characters who live by their wits is presentation on Ford Theater, KGNC-NBC, at 4.
48-03-28 Amarillo News-Globe
Radio version one of the most notable motion pictures ever made, "The Informer," is production on Ford Theater, KGNC-NBC, at 4. Bryan Herbert, British stage and screen star now appearing with the touring Dublin Gate Players, will fly to New York from Canada to play part of Terry in the show.
The Goose Hangs High
48-04-04 Amarillo News-Globe
Old Broadway play, "The Goose Hangs High," will be heard on Ford Theater, KGNC-NBC at 4.
The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd
48-04-11 Fresno Bee Republican
The slaying of an English country squire and its solution through an unprecedented technical ruse are related in Agatha Christie's "The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd" on the Ford Theater today at 3:00 P.M. The case is solved by the famous great detective "he of the little grey cells" Hercule Poirot.
The Silver Cord
48-04-18 Fresno Bee Republican - Today's dramatic highlight will be the Ford Theater play, "The Silver Cord" a story dealing with the power of overly-possessive mother love, and is regarded by many as Sidney Howard's greatest actor who has won an Oscar. Benny plans to borrow it to give to Ronald Colman, whose Oscar he lost a few weeks ago.
48-04-25 Fresno Bee Republican - The Ford Theater drama, "Personal Appearance" today at 2:00 P.M. concerns the comic effect produced by a screen star on the lives of a small town family whose tourist home she takes over when her imported auto breaks down.
48-05-02 Fresno Bee Republican - Radio adaptations of five plays by noted American dramatists Booth Tarkington, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Elmer Rice, William A. Wellman, Robert Carson and Vera Caspary, will be presented during May on the Ford Theater (2:00 P.M.). Tarkington's "Alice Adams," the play for today, is the story of an imaginative young woman who is frustrated by her middle class environment. Alice charms a wealthy suitor and lives in a world of pretense and fantasy, but he finally marries her for what she is, not what she imagines she should be.
The Front Page
48-05-09 Fresno Bee Republican - The exciting Hecht-MacArthur play about newspapermen, "The Front Page," is scheduled for today at 2:00 on the Ford Theater. It dramatizes and satirizes the fantastic goings on in the Chicago Criminal Courts Building on the eve of a hanging.
48-05-16 Amarillo News-Globe - Story of a young lawyer who gained prominence is retold in the Ford Theater presentation of "Counselor-at-law" on KGNC.
A Star Is Born
48-05-23 Fresno Bee Republican - The Ford Theater drama today at 2:00 P.M. is "A Star Is Born" which concerns Esther Blodgett, of Fillmore, N.D., who goes to Hollywood, and becomes a world famous actress and dream girl of millions.
48-05-30 Fresno Bee Republican - The dramatization of Vera Caspary's intriguing novel "Laura," will be heard on the Ford Theater at 2:00 P.M. It is an unusual combination of romance, mystery and melodrama.
Michael and Mary
48-06-06 Long Beach Press-Telegram
2:00--KFI--A.A. Milne's "Michael and Mary" will be dramatized on "The Ford Theater."
My Sister Eileen
48-06-13 Nebraska State Journal - 4:00 WOW Ford Theater.
The Late Christopher Bean
48-06-20 Amarillo News-Globe - Pathos and Comedy…plus a lot about art "the late Christopher Bean" at the Ford Theater dial 710 at 4 P.M.
48-06-27 Long Beach Press-Telegram - 2:00--KFI--Sinclair Lewis' famous best-seller, "Arrowsmith" will be aired today on "The Ford Theater."
48-07-09 Bridgeport Telegram - The Ford Theater, which will be on CBS when it returns to the air this fall, will come under the direction of Fletcher Markle, who has handled the highly successful "Studio One" productions on CBS during the past season.
The Ford Theater Radio Program [CBS] Log
48-10-01 Cumberland Evening Times - Over at CBS, they're getting ready to roll out a red plush carpet and turn on the searchlights for the season's first "Ford Theater" broadcast on Oct. 8 (9 p.m. EST). Henry Ford II, other top executives of the company and a bevy of Hollywood film stars will be in town for the affair. The Ford Theater is going on television, too, but as a separate program on a once-a-month basis.
48-10-03 Nebraska State Journal - Friday evening at 8 o'clock, over KFAB, a gala premier of the "Ford Theater" is scheduled at CBSs Playhouse 3 on Broadway and 53rd street. Gustave Flaubert's stirring novel, "Madame Bovary," will provide the dramatic vehicle.
48-10-15 Long Beach Press-Telegram - 7:00--KNX--Burt Lancaster and Joan Bennett star tonight in "Double Indemnity," as presented by the "Ford Theater."
Tom, Dick and Harry
48-10-21 Lucile Ball and Eddie Albert, Hollywood screen players, will head the cast of the romantic comedy, "Tom, Dick and Harry," on the Ford theater (8 to 9 o'clock Friday night--WIOU).
Of Human Bondage
48-10-29 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Ray Milland brings his great talents to the "Ford Theater" in a one-hour radio dramatization--"Of Human Bondage"--assisted by Joan Lorring.
The Damask Cheek
48-11-05 Charleston Gazette
9:-- Ford Theater "The Damask Check" Dorothy McGuire.
48-11-11 Kokomo Tribune - The classic love story, "Camille," by Alexander Dumas will be heard on the Ford theater (9 to 9 o'clock Friday night--WIOU) and will star Ingrid Bergman of moving picture fame.
The Male Animal
48-11-18 Kokomo Tribune - Friday night on the Ford theater 8 to 9 o'clock--WIOU) Barbara Bel Geddes and Eddie Albert will appear in James Thurber's "The Male Animal."
The Secret Agent
48-11-26 Long Beach Press-Telegram - 7:00 KNX--Debonair Douglas Fairbanks Jr., stars as a British spy assigned to find a "German Needle in a Swiss Haystack" during the Thrilling dramatization of "The Secret Agent" on Ford theater.
The Big Street
48-12-03 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Lucille Balle recreates her memorable screen role and John Garfield shares top billing when "Ford Theater" presents a full-hour adaptation of Damon Runyon's story "The Big Street" in a program commemorating the 2nd anniversary of teh death of the beloved and gifted author.
Page Miss Glory
48-12-10 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Joan Blondell and Macdonald Carey, 2 of Hollywood's most capable players, are the stars in the full-hour version of the comedy "Page Miss Glory."
The Gentle People
48-12-17 Hutchinson News Herald - 8:00 P.M. KSH Ford Theatre (The Gentle People)
48-12-24 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Stage and screen star Geraldine Fitzgreald heads a star studded cast in "Ford Theater's" production of "Pilgrim's Inn." Featured with Miss Fitzgerald are John Emery, Gladys Cooper, and other well known Broadway and Holllywood players.
49-01-07 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) "Ford Theater," the outstanding full-hour dramatic series directed by Fletcher Markle, shifts its origination point from New York to Hollywood for a series of broadcasts beginning with this program, when Ronald Colman will recreate his starring screen role in "Talk of the Town."
49-01-14 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) "Ford Theater" presents the suspenseful courtroom drama "Boomerang," starring Dana Andrews who recreates his powerful screen role as the young attorney who risks his career and his life in an uncompromising struggle for justice.
49-01-21 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) The stage is set for an outstanding drama! You'll hear Ingrid Bergman starring in Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" on "Ford Theater."
Woman In the Window
49-01-28 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Lovely Screen Actress Linda Darnell shares starring honors with Edward G. Robinson, and Film Actor Stephan McNally has been cast in an important featured role on Ford Theater's production of the movie thriller "The Woman in the Window."
No Time For Love
49-02-04 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) "No Time for Love," a Paramount hit of 1943, stars Miss Colbert as an ace magazine photographer, and Glenn Ford co-stars as a caveman-type sandhog in this full-hour romantic comedy on "Ford Theater."
The Awful Truth
49-02-11 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Radio and Screen Comedian Bob Hope stars in a full-hour adaptation of the turbulent film cmedy "The Awful Truth," depicting the helter-skelter married life of a couople, on "Ford Theater."
Shadow of A Doubt
[Heavily edited and denatured recording; possibly an AFRS recording; no open or close; no credits]
49-02-18 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Ray Milland and Ann Blyth co-star in Fletcher Markle's adaptation of the screen thriller, "Shadow of a Doubt" on Ford Theater.
Palm Beach Story
49-02-25 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) "Palm Beach Story" -- a gay comedy about a beautiful girl and cautious millionaire -- will keep you laughing for a full hour. Don't miss MacDonald Carey on "Ford Theater."
The Horn Blows At Midnight
49-03-03 Cedar Rapids Tribune - Ignoring frantic protests and general heckling from all sides, Jack Benny makes good his threat to star on "Ford Theatre" when he recreates his role in "The Horn Blows at Midnight" (8-9 p.m.)
49-03-11 Tonight on the Ford Theater BING CROSBY and BARRY FITZGERALD in "Welcome Stranger."
49-03-18 Salt Lake City Tribune - Charles Laughton in HOLY MATRIMONY on FORD THEATRE 7:00 P.M.
49-03-25 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Dan Dailey, screen song-and-dance man who is an Academy Award nominee for his portrayal of Skid in "When My Baby Smiles at Me," will star as Aubrey Piper in George Kelly's comedy "The Show-Off."
49-04-01 Democrat And Leader - 8:00 O'CLOCK Ford Theater -- Montgomery Clift in "Wuthering Heights" -- CBS-WMT-WBBM.
49-04-08 Daily Hayward Review - Tonight Ford Theater presents Academy Award Winner Walter Huston in "Ligntnin."
Elmer, the Great
49-04-15 Long Beach Press-Telegram - 6:00-KNX--Paul Douglas, who originally won fame as a CBS reporter and more recently has emerged as an actor, will star in Ring Lardner's "Elmer, the Great," Ford Theater program.
49-04-22 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Bette Davis, one of filmdom's all time great, whose portrayal of dramatic and emotional roles has brought her world-wide acclaim, steps into a hilarious situation in "Skylark" on Ford Theater.
49-04-29 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Fredric March distinguished actor of stage and screen, stars in a full-hour production of "Intermezzo," poignant story of an illfated romance on "Ford Theater."
Ladies In Retirement
49-05-06 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Ida Lupino, one of screendoms foremost actresses, repeats her movie triumph as Ellen Creed, the killer, in "Ladies in Retirement," for the "Ford Theater."
49-05-13 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Dorothy McGuire, distinguished screen actress, plays the title role in a full-hour adaptation of "Alice Adams," Booth Tarkington's amusing an touching story of "growing pains," on Ford Theater.
Crime Without Passion
49-05-20 Long Beach Press-Telegram - 6:00-KNX--The "Ford Theater" presents the suspense-packed drama, "Crime Without Passion," starring Claude Rains and Margo. Claude Rains plays a notorious criminal lawyer who becomes so entangled in legal operations that he ends up as a candidate for the electric chair.
The Gentleman From Indiana
49-05-27 Syracuse Herald Journal - BURGESS MEREDITH will star in Booth Tarkington's "Gentleman from Indiana" on CBSs Ford Theater at 9 on WFBL. The story deals with a young man who comes back home to run a newspaper, finds political corruption and tries to clean it up as a good citizen. The love interest is provided in the sub-plot of a girl who comes back home to look for her father.
49-05-27 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Burgess Meredith stars in Booth Tarkington's "Gentleman From Indiana" on "Ford Theater."
49-05-27 Democrat And Leader - 7:00 O'CLOCK Ford Theater -- "The Gentleman from Indiana"--WBBM.
49-06-03 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Douglas Fairbanks Jr., is the headliner in the "Ford Theater" presentation of "Haunted Honeymoon," a lively mystery-comedy by Dorothy L. Sayers and M. St. Clare Byrne.
49-06-10 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Here's a listening must. "The Ford Theater" presents Ruth Hussey in that dramatic hit, "Craig's Wife," directed by Fletcher Markle.
Peg O' My Heart
49-06-17 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Ford Theater presents a favorite star in an old favorite, "Peg O' My Heart."
A Farewell to Arms
49-06-24 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) The Ford Theater present Helen Hayes in, "A Farewell to Arms."
49-07-01 Mason City Globe-Gazette - (8 p.m.) Pidgeon falls in love with a female plumber in the Ford Theater version of "Cluny Brown." 49-07-01 Democrat And Leader - 7:00 O'CLOCK The Ford Theater, final program of the season, Walter Pidgeon in "Cluny Brown"--CBS-WBBM.
The Ford Theatre Radio Program Biographies
(Producer, Director, Writer and Performer)
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Producer, Director, Writer and Actor
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
1944 What War Means To Me
1946 Columbia Workshop
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1947 Studio One
1948 Ford Theatre
1949 The Lucky Strike Program
1953 General Electric Theatre
1977 CBS Radio Mystery Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theatre
Fletcher Markle circa 1943
Fletcher Markle at work at The CBC
Fletcher Markle circa 1948
Fletcher Markle was married to Mercedes McCambridge for 12 years.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Fletcher Markle began his career with the Canadian Broadcasting Company (The CBC) in the early 1940s in Vancouver, British Columbia. He started out doing radio dramas with a group whose members included John Drainie, Lister Sinclair, Bernie Braden, and Alan Young on local canadian stations and The CBC network.
During World War II Markle performed in Journey Together (1946). Markle subsequently moved to New York City and though uncredited, wrote for Orson Welles'The Lady from Shanghai. During his time with CBS and NBC in New York, he produced, directed, wrote for, and performed in the CBS Radio drama anthology, Studio One. When Ford Theater moved to CBS from NBC, Markle was selected to helm the Ford program while tapping the same pool of excellent Radio actors he employed in Studio One.
He produced, wrote for and played a cameo role in the movie Jigsaw (1949). Night into Morning (1951) saw him direct Nancy Davis, Ray Milland, and John Hodiak.
Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, he was director, producer and host for a number of television series such as Studio One for television, Front Row Center, Boris Karloff's Thriller, Father of The Bride, and Life with Father. He also directed Telescope for The CBC. In 1963 Markle directed the movie The Incredible Journey (1963) for Walt Disney Studios.
Markle met Academy Award winning actress Mercedes McCambridge while working with her during The Mercury Theatre Summer Program of 1946. Markle produced and directed many of the Summer Theatre programs, and subsequently directed his, then, wife Mercedes McCambridge in both Studio One and Ford Theatre for Radio and Television. The couple were married for 12 years and Markle adopted McCambridge's son, John, with her. The couple divorced in 1962.
Markle continued actively producing, directing and writing for Television both in Canada and the U.S. through the 1960s. Markle retired from Television from the 1970s, on.
Awards: 1986 Emmy for Best Original Score, Documentary
1936 Town Hall Tonight
1939 The Fred Allen Show
1941 The Columbia Workshop
1942 Michael Piper, Detective
1942 This Is War
1942 An American In England 1943 Your All-Time Hit Parade 1943 To Your Good Health from The House of Squibb 1944 Music from The House of Squibb 1944 Columbia Presents Corwin 1944 Something for The Girls 1947 The Adventures of Philip Marlowe 1947 The Ford Theatre 1948 The Hallmark Playhouse 1949 Life with Luigi 1950 For The Living 1956 The CBS Radio Workshiop 1956 Suspense
Caption: Chairmaster Lyn Murray had a definite yearning to be a doctor, and play around with test tubes (1938)
Lyn Murray, ca. 1948
Lyn Murray, ca. 1978
Lyn Murray was a natural to complete the last three installments of An American In England. He'd been a staple of many of Norman Corwin's cutting-edge CBS productions and he'd long since established himself as one of CBS's most talented staff vocalists, directors, composers and arrangers.
Beginning as a vocalist with CBS in 1934, his rising star led CBS to have him assemble various groups of singers and staff chorales over the next three years, each time rewarded by more and more acceptance for his beautiful arrangements.
By 1937, with CBS's encouragement, Vocal Director Lyn Murray was touring the country with his 24-voice chorale, The New Yorkers and a sixteen member ballet company--to rave reviews. If you do the math you'll note he was only 28 at the time.
Murray was often quoted as saying he approached directing his choruses as a mechanical engineering exercise, treating each unique voice as a finely tuned instrument which must fit in perfect concert with all of the other complementary vocal instruments, so as for form a perfectly functioning vocal machine. In this regard he was always obsessed with perfect timing throughout the 'machine' during rehearsals, before he'd ever enter the control room for a recording session.
This approach served him well as his star continued to rise throughout the Radio industry. He was repeatedly selected for many of CBS's most ambitious musical projects. In the 1940s, NBC also took notice of his talent, eventually appointing him as Musical Director.
His radio credits included the 'Radio Reader's Digest,' 'The March of Time,' 'Twenty-Six by Corwin' and, a program that used his mixed choir, the Lyn Murray Singers, 'Your All-Time Hit Parade.'
His first work in Film was in 1947's High Conquest, as one of three music directors. His following assignment as the uncredited vocals director for Walt Disney's Cinderella, in 1950 propelled him into the big leagues. In quick succession he composed the original scores for 1952's Son of Paleface, for Bob Hope, the breathtaking sound-track for 1954's The Bridges at Toko-Ri, and Alfred Hitchcock's masterful To Catch A Thief, in 1955, which immediately propelled him to the level of one of Hitchcock's favorite composers, Bernard Herrmann. It's worth re-screening To Catch A Thief to be reminded of its incredible sound-track alone.
Murray was also in demand for Stage work, composing the choral music for the Broadway musicals ''Panama Hattie'' and ''Finian's Rainbow.''
From 1960, through the remainder of his career he worked mostly in Television, as composer or musical director for over 40 Television projects, among them, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, It Takes A Thief, Dragnet, 1974's award winning Lincoln mini-series, and he won an Emmy for his 1986 National Geographic Special score for 'Miraculous Machines.'
Cyrus 'Cy' Feuer
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
2003 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement
1962 Tony Award for Best Musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
1962 Tony Award for Best Producer of a Musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
1951 Tony Award for Best Musical Guys and Dolls
1946 Columbia Workshop
1947 Shorty Bell, Cub Reporter
1948 Ford Theater
1949 Casey, Crime Photographer
Cy Feuer circa 1985
Cy Feuer circa 1975
Original program from the 1953 Broadway performance of Guys and Dolls
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying poster for the 46th Street Theatre production
Cole Porter's original sheet music for Can-Can
Gwen Verdon and Hans Conreid in an original Broadway performance of Can-Can
Cy Feuer circa 2003
From the New York Times, May 18, 2006:
Cy Feuer, a Producer of 'Guys and Dolls' and Other Broadway Musicals, Is Dead at 95
By RICHARD SEVERO and JESSE McKINLEY
For more than a half-century, starting in 1945, Mr. Feuer's partner was Ernest H. Martin. In later years they produced film versions of musicals, including the Oscar-winning "Cabaret." But it was on Broadway where Feuer and Martin became virtually a brand name.
In the press they were "the King and Cy," a producing team with a widely admired knack for sensing what the public, if not always the critics, would like. Demanding and incessantly hard working, they could also be bruising in their relations with the talent they hired.
They were at their peak from 1950 to 1965, a period often called the heyday of the American musical. This was before rock 'n' roll began its reign, when talents like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hammerstein ruled the national culture, and shows like "My Fair Lady" and "West Side Story" went head-to-head on Broadway.
Mr. Feuer and Mr. Martin had a string of hits in those years, working with or competing against some of the era's great figures of the musical stage. Porter wrote the music and lyrics for "Can-Can" (1953) and "Silk Stockings" (1955) for the Feuer and Martin team. In 1962 they tapped a young playwright named Neil Simon to write the book for "Little Me."
A frequent collaborator was the composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, who worked on three of the biggest Feuer and Martin Broadway hits: "Where's Charley?" (1948), "Guys and Dolls" (1950) and "How to Succeed" (1961), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for best musical.
Mr. Feuer and Mr. Martin, who died in 1995, were hands-on producers. They found ideas, assembled (and sometimes disassembled) creative teams and oversaw every aspect of their shows. They also made enemies. There were well-publicized scrapes with the likes of the choreographer and director Bob Fosse, the playwright and director George S. Kaufman and even Loesser, who feuded with Mr. Feuer.
Mr. Feuer (pronounced FEW-er) was widely considered the more creative engine of the team, sometimes directing shows himself, among them "Little Me" (with Fosse), "Silk Stockings," "The Boy Friend" (1954) and "Whoop-Up," a rare clunker from 1958.
In all, Mr. Feuer produced a dozen Broadway musicals, with Mr. Martin or alone, ending with "The Act," in 1977, starring Liza Minnelli. His final Broadway credit came two years later as director of "I Remember Mama," which landed with a thud at the Majestic Theater and lasted 108 performances.
A Life Befitting a Musical
Cy Feuer's life reads as if it should have been made into a musical. He was born Seymour Arnold Feuer in Brooklyn on Jan. 15, 1911, to Herman Feuer, the manager of a Yiddish theater on Second Avenue on the Lower East Side, and the former Ann Abrams, a saleswoman in a dress shop. (Disliking his given name, he later changed it legally to Cyrus, but then went by Cy.)
In his 2003 autobiography, "I Got the Show Right Here," written with Ken Gross, Mr. Feuer described his father as "a vague, almost nonexistent presence in my childhood." The elder Feuer died of cancer when Cy was 13, leaving his mother, himself and his younger brother, Stan, to subsist on Mrs. Feuer's 1920's wages of $25 a week or less.
But Ann Feuer was a woman of forceful ambition. She decided that Cy should learn to play the trumpet, and when he went to New Utrecht High School in South Brooklyn, where he was not an especially good student, he played trumpet in the band. She encouraged him to attend Juilliard.
His first professional date with the trumpet was playing Sousa marches and Dixieland tunes like "Alexander's Ragtime Band" from the back of a political campaign truck. When he was 16 he landed a job playing trumpet in the pit of the Roxy Theater on West 47th Street. He later quit the job when he got a better offer from the newly opened Radio City Music Hall. That job lasted until the mid-1930's, when he left and joined Lionel Belasco's society orchestra. On a trip with the orchestra to the West Coast, he decided to stay to seek his fortune.
Throughout his life he was known to be extraordinarily persuasive and superb at self-promotion. In Los Angeles he soon talked his way into becoming the West Coast representative of Brunswick Records, although, as he later recalled, he knew virtually nothing about the record business.
Brunswick was owned by Republic Pictures, a B-movie mill. Before long he made the studio see the wisdom of making him its music director. By his own estimate he created scores for "a truckload of pictures between 1939 and 1948."
But it soon became clear to Mr. Feuer that he had no talent for film scoring. As he wrote in his memoir, composing and arranging were hard work for him and not much fun. Yet he couldn't go back to the trumpet. "I had long since come to the conclusion that I was a second-rate trumpet player," he wrote.
Then World War II intervened. Joining the Army Air Corps, he spent the war making training films and rose to the rank of captain.
He returned to Republic briefly after the war and, at a cocktail party, met Mr. Martin, a young producer. "Back then, everybody was going west," Mr. Feuer recalled. "All of the talent in the world was going to Hollywood. That's when we said: 'Let's go the other way. There will be a lot less competition.' "
Partners by then, they bought the rights to an 1892 Victorian farce called "Charley's Aunt" from the heir of its author, Brandon Thomas, and turned it into the musical "Where's Charley?" They persuaded Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz," to play the lead and Loesser to write the music and lyrics. George Abbott, an established force on Broadway, agreed to write the book and direct.
"Where's Charley?" received dreadful reviews when it opened at the St. James Theater in 1948, but the public loved it, and it ran for 840 performances.
Meanwhile, Mr. Feuer and Mr. Martin had decided to produce "Guys and Dolls." Mr. Feuer, looking for a witty writer who could draw on the raffish characters of Damon Runyon's stories, picked Abe Burrows, with whom he had gone to high school. Loesser was again hired to write music and lyrics. Opening at the 46th Street Theater in 1950, the show starred Robert Alda and ran for 1,200 performances, winning the 1951 Tony Award for best musical. In that show Mr. Feuer was a pioneer in integrating a Broadway pit by hiring the black trumpeter Joe Wilder.
Then it was on to "Can-Can," a story of lax morals and feminine wiles in an 1890's Parisian dance hall. Mr. Feuer went to England to find Cole Porter, who had a home there, and hired him to write the music and lyrics. (He also hired Burrows again to write the book and direct.) Porter, then in his early 60's, accurately predicted that the reviewers would judge the show "not up to Cole Porter's usual standards." But "Can-Can," opening at the Shubert Theater in 1953, did give the world the songs "I Love Paris" and "C'est Magnifique," and it introduced a talented young dancer, Gwen Verdon.
Giving Julie Andrews a Big Break
The next year Mr. Feuer introduced another promising talent, one he had discovered on a Liverpool stage in England, a teenager with perfect pitch, he recalled, named Julie Andrews. He took her to the United States, acting as her guardian, and gave her the lead in "The Boy Friend." It made her a star.
Mr. Feuer's relationships with the artists he worked with were often contentious. In one episode, he and Mr. Martin unceremoniously dismissed Kaufman from the production of "Silk Stockings," a romantic musical comedy based on the 1939 film "Ninotchka," about a beautiful Russian agent. Kaufman said later that when he died, and was cremated, someone should throw his ashes in Feuer and Martin's faces.
More than 20 years later, unhappy with the director of "The Act," Martin Scorsese, they dropped him, saying he had more promise as a film director. That musical, set in a nightclub, played at the Majestic and lasted less than a year. During the 1970's and 80's, Mr. Martin and Mr. Feuer returned to the West Coast, working with Los Angeles and San Francisco opera companies and producing film versions of "A Chorus Line" and "Cabaret," to mixed success.
"When we made 'Cabaret,' we took a second-rate play and made a first-rate movie," Mr. Feuer wrote. "In 'A Chorus Line,' we took a first-rate play and made a second-rate movie."
"Cabaret" (1972) won eight Academy Awards; the film version of "A Chorus Line" (1985), unlike the Broadway show, was widely considered a creative failure.
Mr. Feuer met Posy Greenberg, an antiques dealer, in 1946 in Manhattan. She was divorced and had a son, Robert. They married and had another son, Jed, now a frequent composer for the stage. (Robert became a lawyer.) The sons survive him, as do two grandchildren. Broadway theaters plan to dim their marquee lights in Mr. Feuer's memory tonight at 8.
Like all producers, Mr. Feuer sometimes missed the boat. When Mr. Martin suggested that they put together a musical based on George Gershwin's orchestral work "An American in Paris," Mr. Feuer recalled thinking, "What the hell is 'An American in Paris'? It's a tone poem. It's not a show." He did nothing with it, but it later became a successful movie starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. The Feuer and Martin team also gave up rights to Meredith Willson's musical "The Music Man," which became the basis of a hit movie in 1962.
But for many years, during the golden age of the American musical, Mr. Feuer's name was synonymous with success. His explanation, he wrote, was simple: "I worked harder than everyone else."
We really couldn't have summed up Cy Feuer's amazing career--and life--any better. What we can address is Cy Feuer's contributions to The Golden Age of Radio, which spanned almost fifteen years in their own right.
Cy Feuer's contributions to Radio spanned virtually every genre of dramatic Radio and variety. One of the industry's most respected young composers, CBS often tapped Feuer for their most prestigious productions. Columbia Workshop, Escape, Ford Theater and Casey Crime Photographer were among CBS' most popular, prestigious programs during The Golden Age. Feuer's longest continuing contribution was to Ford Theater over CBS during the 1948 to 1949 season. Feuer was the Music Director and composer/conductor for Ford Theater's thirty-nine prestigious productions of that season. Feuer's Radio work is just another example of both his dedication to his craft and his versatility as an artist.
Cy Feuer's careers in Film, Television and Radio spanned almost thirty five years, after which Feuer devoted the remainder of his prolific and creative talents to Broadway productions. Having honed his talents in Film, Television and Radio, he was more than well-equipped to make a significant contribution to The Stage.
As it is, with Feuer's passing in 2006, he leaves us a legacy of his work that has few equals in the Performing Arts. His marvelous musical comedies, the Golden Age Radio recordings of his work, and his enormous body of Film and Television contributions provide all of us with a greater insight into this man's enduring musical and creative genius.