Original Fort Laramie [Audition] MP3 Cover Art
Original Fort Laramie MP3 Cover Art
Fort Laramie Radio Program
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Fort Laramie spot ad from the February 1 1956
KERN spot ad for Fort Laramie highlighting Vic Perrin in his role as Sgt. Gorce
Fort Laramie as of 1849 featured a thick adobe stockade wall surrounding the garrison.
By the time that Captain Quince would have assumed command of the Second Cavalry the fort's original adobe stockade walls had been partially torn down and abandoned.
This is what remains of the original garrison structure of Fort Laramie in the 1840s
The Billboard announcement of Raymond Burr scheduled to shoot a pilot for Perry Mason (from September 29 1956)
Ground-breaking adult westerns began appearing over both Radio and Television throughout the 1950s. The adult western was the thinking man's western, replete with the psychological motivations of both the genre's protagonists and villains and the often agonizing mental journeys either experienced enroute to the still mostly predictable denouement--in the case of westerns, the showdown and inevitable shootout. The genre was also generally more accurate as to the history of the eras and locations in which they were set. Duel in the Sun (1948), The Gunfighter (1950), High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), and Giant (1955) for example, were some of the popular adult western "A" films that preceded most of the adult western genre over either Radio or Television.
Apart from their more adult themes--as opposed to those of the predominately white hat/black hat shoot-'em-up western variety--they also featured dramatic, previously unseen, new camera angles for the inevitable quick-drawing face-offs that occured near the end of most of them. The proliferation of these new and different shooting angles had become so ubiquitous--and often overreaching--that throughout the 1950s the adult western genre in Film was liberally lampooned and parodied by Ernie Kovacs on Television and Mad Magazine in Print, among many others. And indeed in many respects, the adult western in Film was very much the analog of the film noir crime, detective and mystery films of the same erea.
That ground been having been broken, the genre soon became the western of choice for even the juvenile audiences of the era that had so popularized the white hat/black hat shoot-'em-up morality tales of the preceding twenty years over Radio. Gunsmoke, first aired in 1952 as the adult western analog of the adult crime drama, Dragnet which had debuted three years prior. The popular precedents and precursors to adult westerns of the era over Radio follow:
There were glimpses of more adult western themes throughout 1940s Radio but they didn't always catch on with War-weary America. Saunders of the Circle X (1941) tended to take a more serious approach to its scripts but still exemplified the action-adventure flavor of the mostly juvenile adventure fare that preceded it. Death Valley Sheriff [or The Sheriff] (1944) was an extension of the long-running Death Valley Days series dating to 1930. Often written to both educate and entertain, the more historically authentic elements of Death Valley Sheriff leaned toward some of the early adult westerns of the mid-1940s.
Hawk Durango and Hawk Larabee (1946) were arguably the first modern Radio westerns of the era, but the series, though critically commended for its more adult perspectives languished and soon disappeared. We include Hashknife Hartley (1950), Hopalong Cassidy (1950), Tales of the Texas Rangers (1950), the later Roy Rogers (1951) programs of that series, and Wild Bill Hickok (1951) as other westerns in the vein of Saunders of the Circle X. While admittedly still targeted to a juvenile audience--and sponsored by juvenile-targeted products--they began leaning toward more mature themes while still featuring all the guns-ablaze, white hat-black hat action of the other juvenile adventures of the Golden Age of Radio.
Frontier Town (1949) appears to have been the next arguably authentic 'adult' western of the era, though still attempting to straddle the traditional juvenile western adventures of the era. But Frontier Town's themes and scripts were of a far more serious and adult nature than almost all westerns that preceded it with the exception of the short lived Hawk Durango and Hark Larabee.
Virtually any new Radio western--no matter how novel or 'adult'--was pretty much doomed from the outset during the mid to late 1950s. Television was already in reruns of the twenty to thirty western adventures that proliferated on TV throughout the 1950s; and it was stiff competition, to be sure. Gunsmoke, over both Radio and Television, had achieved off the chart ratings for years, and Have Gun, Will Travel--over Television then Radio--was also very much a thinking person's western.
CBS premiere's Fort Laramie as a sustained feature
Fort Laramie aired over CBS from January thru October 1956 as a one-season, adult western production, directed by Gunsmoke's Norman Macdonnell and featuring much of the same memorable cast and crew from Gunsmoke. During its short, 40-episode run, the series told of "ordinary men who lived in extraordinary times."
Gunsmoke writing veterans John Meston, Les Crutchfield, John Dunkel and Kathleen Hite wrote virtually all the scripts for Fort Laramie. Kathleen Hite, especially, was a doggedly meticulous western historian and researcher, who tended to feature strong female characters in unusual but well researched, authentic situations in her stories.
Sound artists Bill James and Ray Kemper also contributed immeasurably to the exceptionally realistic production values that permeated every episode of both Gunsmoke and Fort Laramie. Following the lead of both Norm Macdonnell and lead writer Kathleen Hite, James and Kemper went to great lengths to accurately and precisely research--and recreate--the most visceral aural elements of the post Civil War, Fort Laramie years.
Though John Dehner was cast as cavalry Captain Lee Quince in the audition for Fort Laramie, it was Canadian-born Raymond Burr that would ultimately assume the role of Captain Quince for the 40 production episodes of Fort Laramie. Burr was ably supported by--among several other Gunsmoke regulars--Vic Perrin, Jack Moyles, John Dehner, Sam Edwards, and Harry Bartell in recurring roles. Virginia Gregg also displayed her extraordinary versatility in several roles.
It was during the last third of the Fort Laramie run that CBS signed Raymond Burr to his signature role of Perry Mason for CBS' long-running and unprecedented Perry Mason (1957) series for Television. Raymond Burr with deep roots in both Radio and Film was reportedly primarily responsible for the vast numbers of veteran Golden Age Radio actors employed throughout the Perry Mason series over Television. For most genuine fans of Vintage Radio, the Perry Mason TV series afforded a first small-screen glimpse of literally hundreds of some of Radio's most familiar voices from the Golden Age.
Fort Laramie was a marvelously well produced and engineered production. The circulating recordings are generally bell-clear and very much showcase Bill James and Ray Kemper's extraordinary sound engineering for the production--and Amerigo Marino's atmospheric scores. Set in the Northwest Frontier, Capt. Quince showed both compassion and when necessary brutal resolve in accomplishing his various missions with his troopers. As Raymond Burr's last lead over Radio prior to his role as Perry Mason, the series stands as an historical Radio marker. Harry Bartell was solid as usual as Captain Quince's first officer, Lieutenant Siberts. Vic Perrin portrayed Sergeant Gorce, Jack Moyles portrayed Major Dagget and Sam Edwards portrayed Trooper Harrison.
As members of the Second Cavalry, Captain Quince and his 'company'--or perhaps 'troop' would be more historically accurate--ranged over an area of some 120,000 square miles comprising the Wyoming and Dakota Territories of the post-Civil War Northwest Territories. Historically accurate, it was during 1864 that the Idaho, Dakota and Wyoming Territories were further delineated.
The post-Civil War setting also made for a richer variety of psychological influences and dynamics in the series' scripts, with post-Civil War alliances and sentiments still creating long-lingering animosities between the settlers, frontiersmen, squatters and 'dog soldiers' of the era. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the troops at Fort Laramie were withdrawn to fight for the Confederacy. They were replaced by components of various volunteer regiments of the--then--Union Army. The Second Cavalry's encounters with the aboriginal tribes of the era were also treated with scrupulous accuracy and sensitivity for their time. Fort Laramie was never truly threatened by the Indian Nations of the era, but it was strategically cited to lend aid to settlers, traders, and emigrants of the era traversing the Oregon Trail.
Had Raymond Burr not taken the role of Perry Mason, Fort Laramie might well have taken off even further. John Dehner, first considered as the lead in Fort Laramie could easily have resumed the role of Captain Quince upon Raymond Burr's departure. But within a year CBS would begin prepping its Frontier Gentleman--yet another adult western, first considering Ben Wright for the lead, then John Dehner as J. B. Kendall of the London Times.
Fort Laramie was as good as it got for the adult western genre of the era, marked by sparkling, authentic performances, marvelous sound engineering, superb writing, fast paced direction and a beautifully atmospheric score. Fort Laramie stands as one of the finer, under-appreciated gems from the waning years of the Golden Age of Radio--and Raymond Burr's final lead role in a Radio production.
|Armed Forces Radio and Television Service [AFRTS] syndication
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Western Adventure Dramas
||Columbia Broadcasting System
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||55-07-25 00 Fort Creed
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||56-01-22 01 Playing Indian
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||56-01-21 through 56-10-21; CBS; Forty-one, 25-minute programs; Saturdays, then Sundays; 3:30 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. (see log -- Wednesdays in some midwest markets)
||Armed Forces Radio and Television Service [AFRTS] syndication
||Raymond Burr, John Dehner, Vic Perrin, Harry Bartell, Jack Moyles
||Captain Lee Quince: Raymond Burr [ John Dehner in Audition ]
Sergeant Gorce: Vic Perrin
Lieutenant Siberts: Harry Bartell
Major Daggett: Jack Moyles
Trooper Harrison: Sam Edwards
||Captain Lee Quince
||Kathleen Hite, John Dunkel, John Meston, Les Crutchfield, Gil Doud, E. Jack Neuman, William N. Robson
||Kathleen Hite, John Dunkel, John Meston, Les Crutchfield, Gil Doud, E. Jack Newman, William N. Robson
||Rex Koury, Amerigo Marino
||Garry Owen [unofficial marching song of the Seventh Cavalry]
"Fort Laramie - starring Raymond Burr as Captain Lee Quince. Specially transcribed tales of the dark and tragic ground of the wild frontier. The saga of fighting men who rode the rim of empire, and the dramatic story of Lee Quince, captain of cavalry!"
||Estimated Scripts or
||Episodes in Circulation:
||Total Episodes in Collection:
||RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, 'The Directory of The Armed Forces Radio Service Series', Terry Salomonson; Contributor at large, Stewart Wright.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
The two productions of The Woman At Horse Creek can be distinguished by their differing Public Service Announcements contained within unadulterated broadcast recordings of the two episodes.
We invite you to compare our fully provenanced research with the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and their Fort Laramie log, 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 to protect our own further due diligence, content and intellectual property.
In comparing the two logs, theirs and ours, one can't help but be struck with the extraordinary difference in dates and sequences for the series. There's a very simple answer: OTRR's is simply copied from four other sites who copied their similarly unsubstantiatied logs from each other to promote their mutually beneficial commercial interests.
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Fort Laramie Biographies
|Raymond William Stacey Burr
(Captain Lee Quince)
Actor, Producer, Director, Vintner
New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Screen Director's Playhouse
Pat Novak For Hire
This Is the Story
Presenting Charles Boyer
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
The Story Of Dr Kildare
The Pendleton Story
The Silent Men
Richard Diamond, Private Detective
Errand Of Mercy
The Railroad Hour
Hallmark Hall Of Fame
CBS Radio Workshop
The Jack Benny Program
Special Delivery: Vietnam
The New Adventures Of Michael Shayne
Words With Music
Raymond Burr c. 1939
Raymond Burr c. 1942
Raymond Burr c. 1943
Raymond Burr c. 1945
Raymond Burr c. 1954
Raymond Burr aboard the U.S.S. Repose a Vietnam War era Hospital Ship c. 1969
Raymond Burr Vintners Label
|Raymond William Stacey Burr was born on May 21, 1917 in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. His father, William Johnston Burr (1889-1985), was an Irish hardware salesman from County Cork, Ireland, and his mother, Minerva Smith (1892-1974), was a concert pianist and music teacher who had emigrated to Canada from Chicago. Raymond Burr later spent part of his childhood in China where his father worked as a trade agent.
Following his parents' divorce, Burr moved to Vallejo, California with his mother, younger sister, and brother. By the age of 18, Burr was working as a ranch hand and photo salesman, in an effort to help support his mother, sister and brother. Burr enlisted in The Navy, and after only two years he was wounded in the stomach on Okinawa, effectively terminating his Navy service. He was processed-out back to California.
In 1937 Burr began his acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse. By 1941, he'd landed his first Broadway role in Crazy with the Heart. Upon returning from his Navy service, he became a contract player at RKO Studios, playing mostly villains, and had roles in over 60 movies between 1946 and 1957. Burr received favorable notice for his role as a prosecutor in A Place in the Sun (1951), co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, but his best-known role of the period was in the Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window (1954), starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
It was during the late 1940s and early 1950s that Raymond Burr's distinctive voice and delivery was first enjoyed by an exponentially growing community of Radio fans. While performing in several straight drama roles, Burr's friendship with other young West Coast actors--Jack Webb, William Conrad, and John Dehner--would see him propelled into a string of wonderfully gritty, Radio-Noir characterizations. Among them, Pat Novak for Hire; Pete Kelly's Blues; Jeff Regan, Investigator; Johnny Madero, Pier 23; The New Adventures of Michael Shayne; Dragnet; Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; The Line-Up; and Night Beat. Burr's timing was a perfect match for both Jack Webb and William Conrad, and the fascinating back and forth between their various characters was pure Radio Noir magic.
Not one to be typecast, Raymond Burr also landed the starring role in Fort Laramie (1956-CBS) as no-nonsense U.S. Cavalry Captain, Lee Quince. But Burr was also emerging as a prolific television character actor in the 1950s--again, much like his friends and rivals, Webb, Dehner, and Conrad. Burr was seen in early episodes of Television's The Amazing Mr. Malone; Dragnet; Chesterfield Sound Off Time; Four Star Playhouse; Mr. & Mrs. North; Schlitz Playhouse of Stardom; The Ford Television Theatre; and Lux Video Theatre--all successful transitions from their Radio versions to their Television versions.
In 1955, Burr co-starred as Steve Martin in Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, a cult favorite that would cling to him for the remainder of his career. But it was in 1956 that Burr auditioned for the role of District Attorney Hamilton Burger in Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason, for CBS, a new courtroom drama based on Gardner's highly successful novels.
William Talman auditioned for the title role of Perry Mason, but, Gardner was present and demanded that the actors switch parts. So it was, that Burr became Perry Mason and William Talman became Hamilton Burger--Television History in the making. It's often re-told that Burr and Talman--both wise, experienced professionals--would purposely blow some of their own lines, so as to relax some of the younger actors on the set. Raymond Burr went on to win two Emmy Awards for his role as Perry Mason between 1957 and 1966.
Burr's parents, William and Minerva, had remarried in 1955 after 33 years of separation. Burr had remained close to both of them during their separation and moreso after their second marriage. Sidelined numerous times throughout his life with medical problems, in January 1993, Burr was diagnosed with cancer in his left kidney. But he refused to undergo surgery, as this would have interfered with the shooting schedule of his final two television movies. After filming was completed, it was determined that the cancer had spread to several other organs, making it inoperable.
Burr was interred with his parents at Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. On October 1, 1993, friends of Burr mourned him at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. The private memorial was attended by Robert Benevides, Barbara Hale, Don Galloway, Don Mitchell, Barbara Anderson, Elizabeth Baur, Dean Hargrove, William R. Moses, and Christian I. Nyby II.
Burr had at least a dozen hobbies over the course of his lifetime: cultivating orchids, collecting wine and art, collecting seashells, cooking, flying, sailing, fishing and throwing small get togethers with friends. Burr was also an avid reader with a photographic memory. In addition, he taught acting classes at Columbia University.
Burr was devoted to his favorite hobby, cultivating and hybridizing orchids. He later developed this passion into an orchid business--Sea God Nurseries--with nurseries in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores Islands, Southern California, and Northern California, and was responsible for adding more than 1,500 new orchids to the worldwide catalogue. Indeed, he developed an orchid he named the "Barbara Hale Orchid".
Burr long held land in Sonoma County, California, were where he raised Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Port grapes--as well as orchids. The land is still in production, and is today known as the Raymond Burr Vineyards. In 1965, Burr also purchased 4,000 acres on the island of Naitauba, Fiji, for raising copra (coconut meat or kernel) and cattle--as well as orchids.
Servicemen will remember him for his participation in United Service Organizations [USO] tours in Korea and Vietnam. He also gave generously over the years to the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, donating some of his Perry Mason scripts.
"Try to live your life the way you wish other people would live theirs."
--- Raymond Burr
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor; Writer; Radio Announcer; Professional Photographer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
1942 The Adventures of Raffles
1942 Cavalcade Of America
1944 Lux Radio Theatre
1944 The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
1944 Command Performance
1945 On A Note Of Triumph
1945 The New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
1945 The Adventures Of Maisie
1946 Rogue's Gallery
1946 The Casebook Of Gregory Hood
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 Let George Do It
1947 The Alan Young Show
1947 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1947 All-Star Western Theater
1948 The Whistler
1948 In Your Name
1948 June's My Girl
1948 Family Theatre
1948 My Friend Irma
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 The Green Lama
1949 This Is Your FBI
1949 The Adventures Of the Saint
1950 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1950 Night Beat
1950 The Adventures Of Sam Spade
1950 My Favorite Husband
1950 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1951 The Adventures Of Nero Wolfe
1951 Wild Bill Hickok
1952 Stars Over Hollywood
1952 Defense Attorney
1952 Dangerous Assignment
1952 Hollywood Playhouse Of Romance
1952 I Was A Communist For the FBI
1953 General Electric Theater
1953 Bakers' Theatre Of Stars
1953 On Stage
1953 Rogers Of the Gazette
1953 Crime Classics
1953 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1953 Stars Over Hollywood
1953 The Six-Shooter
1954 Meet Mr McNutley
1954 San Francisco Final
1956 Fort Laramie
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1958 Frontier Gentleman
1958 Flight 101
1958 Have Gun--Will Travel
1965 Horizons West
1995 KIRO Mystery Playhouse
2003 The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Pride Of the Outfit
When The West Was Young
Douglas Of the World
Harry Bartell publicity photo circa 1952
Harry Bartell as Father Xavier Rojas in the traditional Christmas episode of Dragnet, The Big Little Jesus, originally aired December 24, 1953.
Harry Bartell as Dietrich in Get Smart from 1965
Harry Bartell as Willie the Billiards Pro in Get Smart from 1966
|Born in New Orleans, Harry Bartell got his first start in Radio during the early 1930s in the Houston market over local radio. He reportedly also performed local radio summaries of motion pictures of the era.
In 1937, Harry Bartell moved to the West Coast working, variously, as a disc jockey, looping commercials, and performing at The Pasadena Playhouse. Bartell's first network radio was over CBS inThe Adventures of Raffles (1942), in which he was cast as an Hindu. This was the first of what eventually became a wide and varied arsenal of dialects and accents, including numerous Spanish roles on Romance of the Ranchos, Dragnet, Have Gun Will Travel, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.
Throughout the Golden Age of Radio Harry Bartell was a favorite with many of the West Coast's finest Radio directors, including:
- Jack Webb -- Dragnet, Pete Kelly's Blues, Johnny Madero, Pier 23
- Norm Macdonnell -- Romance, The New Adventures of Philip Marlowe, Escape, Have Gun, Will Travel, Gunsmoke
- Elliott Lewis -- Broadway Is My Beat, On Stage, Crime Classics, Suspense
- William N. Robson -- Escape
- Jack Johnstone -- Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, The Man Called X, The Six Shooter, Hollywood Star Playhouse
He appeared in Norman Corwin's famous On A Note of Triumph broadcast on V-E Day, May 13, 1945. He also appeared in both the first and last episodes of Radio's Gunsmoke and 180 other episodes in between.
Jack Webb justifiably never cast Harry Bartell as a villain in any of his ensemble productions. Webb apparently felt that Bartell was most effective in his various blood and guts crime dramas as a more sympathetic character--in both Webb's Radio productions and Television productions. Bartell was one of several ensemble actors that Jack Webb employed in most of his productions, along with Wilms Herbert, Herb Butterfield, Michael Fox, Raymond Burr, Tudor Owen, Barney Philips, Tony Barrett, John Dehner, and of course Betty Lou Gerson and Virginia Gregg.
Bartell reportedly preferred the ensemble work over the years: “One of the major benefits was that you had great trust in the other actor. You knew if for some reason you got off-track or you made a mistake, they were going to cover for you. And you would cover for them. As a result, there was an ensemble feeling that was very different than if you had a different cast on the show every day.”
Harry Bartell co-starred with John Anderson in Horizons West, an historical radio documentary drama series on the Lewis and Clark Expedition produced for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in the early 1960’s. Bartell portrayed Captain Meriwether Lewis and Anderson played Captain William Clark.
Harry Bartell also enjoyed co-starring or featured roles in The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe as Archie Goodwin, in Fort Laramie as Lieutenant Siberts, in the Charlotte Greenwood Show as Tommy Brooks, and in Rogers of the Gazette as Officer Ed Miller.
With some 10,000+ radio appearances to his credit over an almost thirty-five year career in Radio, it's more difficult to cite a west coast production that Harry Bartell didn't appear in. But a simple sampling of his credits is staggering:
- 180+ appearances in Gunsmoke
- 60+ appearances in Escape
- 15+ appearances in Advs. of Philip Marlowe
- 30+ appearances in Dragnet
- 20+ appearances in Let George Do It
- 45+ appearances in Suspense
- 96+ appearances in Johnny Dollar
- 60+ appearances in Have Gun, Will Travel
Bartell also performed as an announcer over the years. He announced for Silver Theatre, Sherlock Holmes, and The Casebook of Gregory Hood, though he never really considered himself an announcer, per se. He reportedly approached performances as announcer as simply another acting job--acting the role of announcer.
Harry Bartell appeared in at least 80 Television series' over a 25-year career in Television.
Harry Bartell also co-wrote two Gunsmoke scripts for Radio with fellow Gunsmoke cast member Vic Perrin: Chester's Inheritance and Father And Son. Bartell added professional photographer to his resume when not working actively in radio, television or film.
As with most of the more successful Radio performers of the Golden Age of Radio, Harry Bartell reportedly preferred the medium of Radio to all others: “Radio was a dream medium, every day or twice a day was like a first night. There was always a freshness, a challenge. Radio offered an actor or actress opportunities to play roles they couldn’t obtain anywhere else.”
Similar sentiments can be found in other biographies on these pages--Lurene Tuttle's and Virginia Gregg's, especially. All three great Radio actors cite Radio as the magic medium over which they could portray any person of any era, in any situation--and often several different portrayals in the same radio play episode.
Harry was a popular guest at Old-Time Radio Conventions around the country; particularly so with the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound in Seattle. Not only did he get to perform in recreations, he also appeared with friends from the Golden Age of Radio in several contemporary radio dramas of Jim French.
On Friday, June 27, 2003 Harry went into the recording studio for the last time, to record an episode of Jim French's radio series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, called "The Adventure Of The Great American" which Jim had written especially for Harry. This episode aired on the syndicated series Imagination Theatre on August 24, 2003.
Harry Bartell ultimately passed away in February 2004. As with most of his huge body of fans from The Golden Age of Radio, we miss his active contributions to both the background and history of the era, but by the same token, his amazing body of work remains a tribute to his talent, versatility and depth.
And yet, ironically--or perhaps as it should be--Harry Bartell probably claims more active fans and admirers now than he ever did while actively performing over Radio--because of the thousands of exemplars of his work that have survived from the era. The admiration is well-deserved, to say the least.
|John Dehner [John Forkum]
(Captain Lee Quince--Audition)
Radio, Television, Film and Stage Actor, Stage Director, Professional Pianist, News Editor and Commentator, Champion Fencer
Staten Island, New York, USA
1945 Dispatch From Reuters
1947 Family Theatre
1947 Voyage Of the Scarlet Queen
1948 Let George Do It
1948 NBC University Theatre
1948 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1948 The Whistler
1949 Screen Director's Assignment
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1950 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1951 Short Story
1952 The Black Book
1952 The Man Called X
1952 The Pendleton Story
1952 Wild Bill Hickok
1952 The Silent Men
1952 The Judge
1952 Hollywood Playhouse Of Romance
1953 General Electric Theatre
1952 On Stage
1953 Bakers' Theatre Of Stars
1953 Rogers Of the Gazette
1953 Lux Radio Theatre
1953 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1954 Crime Classics
1954 Stars Over Hollywood
1954 Life With Luigi
1956 Fort Laramie
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1958 Frontier Gentleman
1958 Have Gun, Will Travel
1973 Hollywood Radio Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theatre
John Dehner c. 1953
Walt Disney's Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia Draft Illustration
Walt Disney's Bambi (1942)
John Dehner c. 1981
|John Dehner began his career in the Media Arts not as an actor, but as an assistant animator for Walt Disney Studios, working on the classics, "Fantasia" (1940) and "Bambi" (1942), and on several Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Born John Forkum on November 23, 1915 in Staten Island, New York, he was the son of an artist, consequently spending much of his youth throughout Europe. He returned to the U.S. in his teens and briefly tried his hand at stage acting. It was while working for the Walt Disney Studios as an assistant animator, that he volunteered for the Army. Indeed, during World War II served as a publicist for the Army covering the brilliant, flamboyant and quixotic General George S. Patton. Upon completion of his War service, he worked in radio for several years as a disc jockey, newsman, commentator and actor. He also performed as a professional pianist.
But it was during 1945 that he made his Film and Radio debuts. A tall, striking looking man with a rich voice, penetrating blue eyes, and somewhat flamboyant demeanor, Dehner found himself most often cast as an outlaw leader, corrupt banker or saloon owner in westerns and adventure films. As adept in straight dramatic roles as in thriller, adventure, or detective dramas, it was in western adventures that he is most commonly remembered.
Although his most ardent Radio fans will remember his numerous appearances in both light and heavy detective dramas of the late 1940s and early 1950s. His first leading role was in 1947's Voyage of The Scarlet Queen, but some of his most enjoyable and memorable character roles were in Let George Do It, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, The Adventures of Sam Spade, and Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Indeed it was in the lighter detective dramas of the era that he showed a distinctive flair for both sardonic and flamboyantly comedic character roles.
Though originally cast as Capt Lee Quince for the Fort Laramie audition, it was his friend Raymond Burr that assumed that role for the production run of the series. But Dehner remained part of the Fort Laramie ensemble, appearing in several roles throughout the production's run. Dehner's appearances in radio westerns were as numerous as his appearances in radio detective dramas. But it was the western genre that gave him leads as J.B. Kendall in Frontier Gentleman (1958) and as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel (1958).
A highly esteemed and versatile character actor, his distinctive baritone voice--and timing--was instantly recognizable in whatever role he voiced in Radio. But in fact, throughout his Radio performing years he was just as active in Film and Television, appearing in over 280 films and television episodes between 1945 and 1988.
Having mastered virtually every area of the Performing Arts--Animation, Musical Performance (Piano), Stage, Radio, Film and Television, John Dehner stands as one of the most versatile artists and performers throughout the Golden Age of each of the major Performing Arts.
While a Los Angeles radio news reporter, editor and commentator, he garnered KFWB the covetted Peabody Award for his coverage of the first U.N. Conference on International Organization in San Francisco between 25 April 1945 and 26 June 1945. He was also voted "Best Radio Voice" by Radio Life Magazine.
Indeed he became as much of a Renaissance Man in his chosen fields as the famous general he covered during World War II. John Dehner remains one of the 25 most fondly remembered and respected male actors of The Golden Age of Radio, leaving his mark on virtually every major Media endeavor of the 20th Century--in one capacity or another.
|William N. Robson
Writer, Producer, Director of Radio and Television, College Lecturer
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA
B.A., Philosphy, Yale University
Lecturer, New York University
Consultant, U.S. Information Agency
Director, The Voice of America
1934 Calling All Cars
1936 Columbia Workshop
1936 Then and Now
1938 American School Of the Air
1939 Americans All-Immigrants
1939 What Price America
1940 Big Town
1942 The Twenty Second Letter
1943 The Man Behind the Gun
1943 One World
1944 Four For the Fifth
1945 Request Perforance
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1946 Hawk Larabee
1947 Doorway To Life
1947 Hollywood Fights Back
1947 Shorty Bell, Cub Reporter
1948 The Whistler
1950 The Adventures Of Christopher London
1950 Beyond Tomorrow
1955 Girl From Paradise
1956 Fort Laramie
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1958 Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone
1959 The Heart Of America
1960 Have Gun, Will Travel
1964 Theatre Five
Jackson Beck and Paul Luther confer with William N. Robson during Man Behind the Gun (1943)
Robson, seen here behind Frank Lovejoy, directing the Peabody Award winning series, Man Behind The Gun, for CBS, ca 1943
William Robson, Director, ca. 1954
William N. Robson, with sons, ca. 1959
|William N. Robson was yet another of the hundreds of prominent victims of the infamous "Red Channels" promoted blacklisting of professionals in the Performing Arts. His 'sins' in the cowardly, notorious and despicable "Red Channels" pamphlet that named him?:
- Acting as one of the Sponsors of an Artists Front to Win the War meeting he helped organize at Carnegie Hall in 1942.
- A December 1946 speech he gave on the encroachments being made against free speech.
- Being a signator to a 1948 full page 'We Are for Wallace' ad in the New York Times.
- A masthead listing him as an Associate for the Hollywood Quarterly, a scholarly journal of Film, Radio and Television history.
That's apparently all the extreme Right Wing needed during those shameful post-War years to destroy any great professional's career--through whispers and innuendo. Robson had been one of CBS's premiere Radio and Television talents, but their withering support of Robson, fueled by the spurious comments in Red Channels eventually pressured CBS into discharging Robson. The long-festering Right Wing backlash from F.D.R.'s famous Four Freedoms Speech had traversed full-circle. And so it evolved that anyone speaking out for the protection of those very freedoms was targeted for ostracization.
But despite the attempts to destroy his reputation, Robson's career in Radio and Television and in service to his country still stand as one of the finest records of acheivement of the Golden Age of Radio. Indeed, it was Edward R. Murrow himself, under the administration of John F. Kennedy that gained an appointment for Robson as a Director for The Voice of America. His security clearance for that highly sensitive position was expedited without a hitch.
William Robson had every expectation of having a storied career. He showed early promise at Yale, began his writing career with Paramount Pictures, then in 1936, entered Radio while still in his twenties. He was a staff writer and director for CBS for almost 20 years. So instrumental was his role in early CBS Radio dramas that his name was rountinely attached to the promotional efforts for the programs he wrote, directed or produced for CBS--and rightly so. By the mid-1940s Robson had already received two prestigious George Foster Peabody awards for CBS--for 1943's Man Behind the Gun and the documentary, Open Letter on Race Hatred.
Robson's Philosophy degree served him well throughout his career, and its influence on his Radio and Television productions is readily apparent throughout his body of work. Always sensitive to the eternal conflicts between morality and amorality, many of Robson's pet projects strove to shine a light onto the murkier aspects of American society. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons that the first half of his career attracted the prurient interests of the extreme Right Wing during the infamous HUAC era.
And indeed, despite all extreme Conservative attempts to squelch his 'voice' in the Media, he could not be restrained for long. Robson may well have argued himself, that the second half of his career was even more productive and influential on the World Stage than his years in American Radio and Television.
William N. Robson capped an outstanding career in Communications with a highly influential position producing Pro-Democracy documentaries as Chief Documentary Writer, Producer and Director for the Voice of America. Indeed, he won four more Peabody Awards for his work at The Voice of America. How fittingly ironic.
And though his work with The Voice of America may well have eclipsed his work during The Golden Age of Radio, his personal influence in shaping and giving a conscience to those Golden Years stands head and shoulders above his peers.
William Robson died of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Alexandria, Va in April of 1995, survived by his wife, Shirley, and three sons, Christopher, Anthony and Michael.
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