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The Free Company Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> The Free Company
Journalist James Boyd was the Chairman of The Free Company of Players
Journalist James Boyd was the Chairman of The Free Company of Players


The Free Company planning session
The Free Company planning session February 14 1941


Article announcing of The Free Company
Article announcing The Free Company


Writers' Chairman Robert Sherwood and Actors' Chairmon Burgess Meredith confer over The Free Company manuscripts
Writers' Chairman Robert Sherwood and Actors' Chairman Burgess Meredith confer over The Free Company manuscripts

Long Beach Independent article of May 9 1941 suggesting a continuation of The Free Company beyond the original eleven original plays.
Long Beach Independent article of May 9 1941 suggesting a continuation of The Free Company beyond the original eleven original plays.

Background:

James Boyd, journalist, author, and chairman of The Free Company of Players introduced each broadcast of The Free Company with:

"The Free Company is a group of writers, actors, and radio workers who have come together voluntarily to present a series of plays about our basic liberties. We are unpaid, unsponsored, and uncontrolled. Just a group of Americans saying what we believe about this country and about freedom. Trying to say it by means of plays, just as the Bible parables or the anecdotes that Lincoln used to tell illustrate other truths by means of stories.

Some of our plays deal with the whole subject of freedom, others with the different basic civil rights on which that freedom rests."

James Boyd was one of thousands of Federal employees during the World War I and World War II years referred to as "dollar-a-year-men [or women]." In other words they undertook the position--usually by political appointment during a time of national crisis--for either literally a dollar a year, or some other typically nugatory form of compensation. In James Boyd's case he had volunteered for the the Ambulance Corps during World War I, then after a distinquished writing and journalism career between wars, Boyd took a political appointment with the War Department during the outset of World War II. Working with the Radio Bureau of The Office of War Information, Boyd formed a volunteer corps of other patriotic journalists, actors, technicians, and influential writers of the era. They called themselves The Free Company of Players.

CBS gives The Free Company a Radio platform.

Working with the Columbia Broadcasting Company, The Free Company of Players laid out a patriotic drama anthology they would call The Free Company--both a hook for the freedoms the entire series would underscore, and representative of the name of their group of players.

The understandable build-up for The Free Company was an obvious nod to the extraordinary literary and Performing Arts talent the group represented. Indeed, in retrospect, the literary talents alone from this group represented a core of eight to eleven of the most important authors and literary thinkers of the Twentieth Century. In case you miss it in the details of the log below, here's just a sampling of the talented professionals represented within The Free Company of Players:

Writers/Authors:

  • Maxwell Anderson
  • Sherwood Anderson
  • Stephen Vincent Benet
  • James Boyd [Chairman]
  • Walter Van Tilberg Clark
  • Paul Green
  • Archibald MacLeish
  • William Saroyan

Producers/Directors/Playwrights:

  • George M. Cohan
  • Marc Connelly
  • Norman Corwin
  • Elia Kazan
  • Sidney Lumet
  • Robert Sherwood [Writers' Chairman]
  • Orson Welles

Dramatic Actors:

  • Charles Bickford
  • Harry Carey
  • Alan Dineheart
  • Melvyn Douglas
  • Henry Fonda
  • Edmund Gwenn
  • Margaret Hamilton
  • Georgette Harvey
  • Paul Henreid
  • Tim Holt
  • Canada Lee
  • Myron McCormick
  • The Mercury Theatre Players
  • Burgess Meredith [Actors Chairman]
  • Paul Muni
  • Luis van Rooten
  • Franchot Tone
  • Claire Trevor

Music Directors/Choral Directors/Conductors/Composers:

  • Howard Barlow
  • Bernard Hermann
  • The Juanita Hall Singers
  • Lyn Murray
  • Leith Stevens

And the above is still only representative. Indeed, the series garnered the attention of far more than just network people and their normal audiences. From the 41-02-24 Syracuse Herald-Journal:

My Day

BY

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

I hope you saw the announcement of a new series of nationwide dramatic programs presented by the Free Company, which makes its debut this Sunday from 2 to 2:30. I hope that many of you listened in, because the script writers are among the best known in our country. The producers and actors are all people we know and admire. One part of their description of what they mean to do stands out before me: "It's America in the Spring of 1941, It's a frank appraisal of the freedom we wish to retain and the faults we wish to remove. It's America today. With all its flaws and all its problems, still the best place on earth to live."
They should make us realize this superlatively well. It is good to see Americans as a whole take stock of what we want to do.

The Free Company Program Synopses

Here follows a brief synopsis of the eleven The Free Company broadcasts:

Program No. 1 The People With Light Coming Out Of Them

A wonderfully sympathetic essay on small town America written by William Saroyan and starring Burgess Meredith, Henry Fonda, John Garfield, Edmund Gwenn, Nancy Kelly and Tim Holt.

Originally broadcast February 23, 1941.

Program No. 2 The Mole On Lincoln's Cheek

An eloquent argument for intellectual freedom with a caution against censorship written by Marc Connelly. The program features Burgess Meredith, Robert Young, and Charles Bickford. This was the first of several The Free Company broadcasts that both captured the attention and the wrath of William Randolph Hearst and his huge chain of right wing conservative yellow journalism newspapers--The NewsCorp equivalent of the World War II years. Hearst felt that Connelly's treatment of fascism was reactionary in itself. His ire only grew even greater after Orson Welles' presentation of His Honor, The Mayor.

Originally broadcast March 2, 1941.

Program No. 3 An American Crusader

Written by The Free Company Writers Chairman, Robert Sherwood, this is an historical drama about Elijah Lovejoy, abolitionist newspaper publisher and martyr to the ideal of Freedom of the Press. It features Franchot Tone, Gail Patrick and Burgess Meredith.

Originally broadcast March 2, 1941.

Program No. 4 One More Free Man

Free Company Players Chairman James Boyd himself wrote this drama about Freedom of Speech. It features Betty Field, Dorothy McGuire, and Elia Kazan. Directed by Norman Corwin.

Originally broadcast March 16, 1941.

Program No. 5 Freedom's A Hard-Bought Thing

Written by Stephen Vincent Benet, this is a story about a slave who catches the disease of "Freedom." Features Eric Burroughs, James Boyd, Harrington Lewis, Georgette Harve and the Juanita Hall Singers.

Originally broadcast March 23, 1941.

Program No. 6 The Ox-Bow Incident

The basic American right of trial by jury is explored in Walter Van Tilburg Clark's thought-provoking The Ox-Bow Incident. Widely discussed by critics of the era as a new type of western novel, Clark's work is a psychological study of events leading to a mob lynching in cattle country. The script moves swiftly from reports of a cattle rustling murder to the capture of three men and their hanging without due process of law. Burgess Meredith narrates The Ox-Bow Incident with a leading cast of Hollywood players broadcasting from Columbia's Hollywood studios.

Originally broadcast March 30, 1941.

Program No. 7 His Honor The Mayor

Orson Welles wrote this story of Freedom of Speech in a small American town. It features Welles, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane, Paul Stewart, and Erskine Sanford (basically the Mercury Theatre Players).

Originally broadcast April 6, 1941.

Program No. 8 A Start In Life

Written by Paul Green, this story describes the daily indignities of the lives of a typical African-American family. It features Canada Lee and Luis Van Rooten.

Originally broadcast April 13, 1941.

Program No. 9 The States Talking

A blank verse drama written by Archibald MacLeish, the States answer the criticisms of Europe, especially the Axis Nations. Burgess Meredith again hosts; it was directed by Irving Ries and Leith Stevens conducted his own score based on American folk song manuscripts from the Library of Congress.

Originally broadcast April 20, 1941.

Program No.10 The Miracle Of the Danube

Maxwell Anderson wrote this drama of a Nazi Captain who is visited by Christ and undergoes a spiritual and political conversion. It features Burgess Meredith and Paul Muni.

Originally broadcast April 27, 1941.

Program No. 11 Above Suspicion

This script was initially to have been written by Sherwood Anderson. His untimely passing a month prior to the broadcast prompted the completion of his project by other members of the Company. A story of a visitor from Nazi Germany who has great difficulty understanding basic values of American life, it features George M. Cohan, Paul Henreid, Eddie Ryan Jr., Lilly Valenti, Betty Jane Tyler, and Earle Chaney.

Originally broadcast May 4, 1941.


As alluded to above, the music direction and compositions for The Free Company were an absolutely integral element of each broadcast. The Free Company Players was especially gifted in this area of production as well. With virtually every great director/composer on Columbia's staff to chose from, The Free Company listeners were treated to the finest efforts of no less than Leith Stevens, Lyn Murray, Howard Barlow and the legendary Bernard Herrmann. In addition to Lyn Murray's choral presentations, The Free Company audiences were treated to The Juanita Hall Singers.

The series was both highly popular as well as controversial for its era. The American Legion [fascist black shirt chapter] posted editorials all over the newspapers of America decrying Orson Welles' original play, His Honor The Mayor, as both communist and anti-American, and calling for Welles' deportation as an undesirable alien. Initially airing for only the eleven plays described above, upon the series completion discussions began to extend The Free Company Radio franchise even further. Booklets to accompany the aired plays were available for 10 cents a copy and were being widely employed as patriotic education aids as well as examples of the playwright's craft in Drama schools throughout America.

The Free Company and its Free Company of Players' eleven original plays represent--to this day--some of the most heroic and courageous attempts to push back against the more jingoistic and fascist elements in America that were seizing on the events leading up to America's involvement in World War II as an excuse to impose fascist, right-wing controls over America's citizens and their liberties.

The airing of The Free Company was one of only a handful of such attempts to shine a light on some of the often secretive efforts of right wing politicians and societies throughout America to use the fear of impending War to restrict America's hard-fought freedoms. The series clearly struck a chord throughout America. But as history has demonstrated, in spite of the outpouring of support for the series--or others proposed in the same vein--the right wing corridors of power in America succeeded in quashing any further popular attempts to strike a balance in American thinking of the era.

Indeed, the right-wing elements of American society never forgot the efforts of The Free Company of Players. Within only seven years after the airing of The Free Company, virtually all of the surviving playwrights who contributed to The Free Company came under the scrutiny of that same American Legion and its infamous and cowardly 'Red Channels' pamphlets, in an attempt to 'out' the participants of The Free Company of Players as communists.

The Free Company remains an historic series of Radio plays that belongs in every Golden Age Radio collector's holdings. For the plays alone, the series remains one of the most patriotic and stirring efforts from the era, providing eleven cautionary tales that ring as true today as they did in 1941.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Propaganda Dramas
Network(s): CBS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 41-02-23 01 The People With Light Coming Out Of Them
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 41-02-23 to 41-05-04; CBS; Eleven, 30-minute programs; Sundays, 1:00 p.m.
Syndication: None
Sponsors: The Free Company Players; James Byrd [Chairman, The Free Company Players]
Director(s): Irving Ries, Charles Vanda, Norman Corwin, Earle McGill
Charles Vanda, Norman Corwin [Producers]
Principal Actors: Burgess Meredith, Henry Fonda, John Garfield, Edmund Gwenn, Nancy Kelly, Tim Holt, Eduardo Cianelli, William Trach, Clinton Rosamon, Charles Bickford, Melvyn Douglas, Clair Trevor, Edward Ellis, Margaret Hamilton, Franchot Tone, Gail Patrick, Sidney Lumet, Myron McCormick, Alan Dineheart, Elia Kazan, Eric Burroughs, Harrington Lewis, Georgette Harvey, The Juanita Hall Singers, Harry Carey, William Davidson, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloan, Paul Stewart, Erskine Sanford, Norman Corwin, Canada Lee, Luis Van Rooten, Paul Green, Edna Mae Harris, Marietta Kantie, Paul Muni, George M. Cohan, Paul Henreid, Eddie Ryan Jr., Lily Valenti, Betty Jane Tyler, Frances Chaney
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s) William Saroyan, Marc Connelly, Robert Sherwood, Stephen Vincent Benet, Walter Van Tilberg Clark, Orson Welles, Archibald MacLeish, Maxwell Anderson, Sherwood Anderson
David Eskin [Adapter]
Music Direction: Leith Stevens [Composer/Conductor]
Bernard Hermann [Composer/Conductor
Lyn Murray [Composer/Conductor]
Howard Barlow [Conductor]
Musical Theme(s): Unknown Organ Music
Announcer(s): Burgess Meredith [Host/Narrator]
W. B. Lewis [Host/Free Company Radio Division Chairman]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
11
Episodes in Circulation: 11
Total Episodes in Collection: 10
Provenances:
Long Beach Independent article of May 9 1941 suggesting a continuation of The Free Company beyond the original eleven original plays.
Long Beach Independent article of May 9 1941 suggesting a continuation of The Free Company beyond the original eleven original plays.
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

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

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


OTRisms:

In comparing the OTRR's log of The Free Company and it's accompanying references to the series, one can't help but be struck by the OTRR's utter lack of scholarship regarding this historic series:

  • As must be obvious from the article at left in the sidebar, there were never twelve episodes of The Free Company. There were eleven, and only eleven. Indeed, the Time Magazine article of February 24, 1941 that they cite in their own references tab clearly states that there would be only eleven plays produced.
  • The title of Episode No. 5 of the series was Freedom's A Hard-Bought Thing, by Stephen Vincent Benet, not Freedom's a Hard Thing, as the OTRR cites, in their capacity as 'the most authoritative and accurate otr database in the world.'

"Most accurate in the world" is a pretty high bar to set for oneself. Given their claim of twelve episodes of The Free Company and their mangling of one of the titles, yields an 83% accurate log. That's like a 'B-,' isn't it? Hardly 'most accurate in the world.' They could have elevated their 'score' had even one of the vaunted 1,500 researchers around the world actually listened to Freedom's A Hard-Bought Thing. Is it too much to ask of the 'most authoritative and accurate otr research organization in the world' to simply listen to what they sweepingly take credit for?


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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 Free Company Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
41-02-23
1
The People With Light Coming Out Of Them
Y
41-02-23 Capital Times - John Garfield and Nancy Kelly have been cast in the starring roles with Burgess Meredith in William Saroyan's "The People With Light Coming Out Of Them," first presentation of the Free Company dramatic series over WBBM at 1 o'clock today.
41-03-02
2
The Mole On Lincoln's Cheek
Y
41-03-02 Wisconsin State Journal - 1 p.m. -- Free Company (WBBM): Robert Young, Andrea Leeds, and Charles Bickford star with Burgess Meredith in Marc Connally's original radio play, "The Mole On Lincoln's Cheek," which is based on free speech.

41-03-09
3
An American Crusader

Y
41-03-09 Wisconsin State Journal - With Franchot Tone as the central character, Burgess Meredith as narrator, Robert E. Sherwood's speciallly-written drama, "An American Crusader," will be the third presentation of the Free Company over CBS-WBBM at 1 p.m. today. Sherwood tells the story of Elijay Lovejoy, minister and crusader for abolition of slavery in the period before the Civil war.
41-03-16
4
One More Free Man

Y
41-03-16 Wisconsin State Journal - James Boyd's "One More Free Man" will be the fourth play the Free Company presents today at 1 p.m. through WBBM. With Margo, Alan Dinehart, and Lionel Stander in the leading roles, the Boyd play reveals a mother's dreams of her child as he fights against double-dealing and coercion throughout his youth and later life.
41-03-23
5
Freedom's A Hard-Bought Thing
Y
41-02-23 Wisconsin State Journal - "Freedom's A Hard Bought Thing," by Stephen Vincent Benet, Pulitzer poetry prize-winner, will be the fifth presentation of the Free Company in its "drama of liberty" series today at 1 p.m. through WBBM. The story tells the dramatic escape of a Negro slave through the underground railroad to the north in pre-Civil war days.
41-03-30
6
The Ox-Bow Incident
N

Radio Show
Depicts Right
of Jury Trial

The basic American right of trial by jury inspired Walter Van Tilburg Clark to write "The Ox-Bow Incident," which is to be dramatised as the sixth presentation of the Free Company series over KGLO-CBS Sunday from 1 to 1:30 p. m. Widely discussed by critics as a new type of western novel, Clark's work is a psychological study of events leading to a mob lynching in the cattle country.
The Free Company adaptation preserves the book's dramatic intensity as its moves swiftly from reports of a cattle rustling murder to the capture of three men and their hanging without due process nf law.
An anti-climax shows the remorse of the lynch leaders when they realize the stringing parly,.. was a ghastly mistake. Clark's book avoids moralistic preaching, hammering home its major theme of the right of individuals to trial by jury.
Burgess Meredith will be the narrator in "The Ox-Bow Incident." A cast of leading actors is being signed for the play which is to be broadcast from Columbia's Hollywood studios.

41-03-30 The Capital Times
The basic American right of trial by Jury inspired Walter Van Tilburg Clark to write the "Ox-Bow Incident," a lynching incident to be dramatized by The Free Company over WBBM at 1 o'clock today.

41-03-30 Wisconsin State Journal - Free Company (WBBM): the basic right of trial by jury, "The Ox-Bow Incident" by Walter Van Tilburg Clark.

41-04-06
7
His Honor, the Mayor
Y
41-04-06 Wisconsin State Journal - 1 p.m. -- Free Company (WBBM): Orson Welles does three jobs: writes, directs, and acts in an original production.
41-04-13
8
A Start In Life
Y
41-04-13 Capital Times - An original play by Paul Green, "A Start In Life will replace the Archibald MacLeish drama as the Free Company presentation over WBBM at 1 o'clock today.
41-04-20
9
The States Talking
Y
41-04-13 Wisconsin State Journal - 1 p.m. -- Free Company (WBBM): Archibald MacLeish's "The States Talking," free speech in action.
41-04-27
10
The Miracle Of the Danube
Y
41-04-27 Capital Times - Paul Muni will star in the role of a totalitarian army captain in Maxwell Anderson's "The Miracle Of the Danube," an original drama for the Free Company series, over WBBM at 12 noon today.
41-05-04
11
Above Suspicion
Y
[Last episode]

41-05-04 Wisconsin State Journal - Paul Lucas will be heard in the leading role in the posthumous production of Sherwood Anderson's play, "Above Suspicion," through WBBM at noon today. The drama will close the current series of Free Company production based on American Freedom and will tell the story of a young German who comes to live in New York and sees the American Way of life.

41-05-04 Nebraska State Journal
The eleventh and final broadcast on the drama series, "The Free Company," to be aired at 12 noon today by KFOR, presents posthumously Sherwood Anderson's play, "Above Suspicion."






The Free Company Radio Program Biographies




Oliver Burgess 'Buzz' Meredith
(Performer)

Radio, Television, Film and Stage Actor;Singer; Producer; Director; Screenwriter
(1907-1997)

Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

Education: Hoosac School; Amherst College

Radiography:
1937 Columbia Workshop
1937 Shakespeare Cycle
1939 Campbell Playhouse
1939 The Pursuit Of Happiness
1939 Texaco Star Theatre
1940 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1941 Lux Radio Theatre
1941 The Free Company
1941 We the People
1941 Forecast
1941 The Spirit Of '41
1941 Cavalcade Of America
1941 Inner Sanctum
1944 The Kate Smith Hour
1944 Freedom Never Dies
1945 The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre
1945 Arch Oboler's Plays
1945 Command Performance
1945 Theatre Guild On the Air
1945 Radio Hall Of Fame
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1948 Studio One
1950 Hands Across the Sea
1950 Hallmark Playhouse
1950 Friday Is A Big Day
1952 Best Plays
1953 End Of An Era
1954 Stagestruck
1960 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1960 Bob and Ray Present the CBS Radio Network
1960 Have Gun, Will Travel
1972 Same Time, Same Station
1976 Goodnight and Good Luck
Burgess Meredith circa 1939
Burgess Meredith circa 1939

Burgess Meredith with wife Paulette Goddard circa 1948
Burgess Meredith with wife Paulette Goddard circa 1948

Burgess Meredith at the CBS Mike circa 1941
Burgess Meredith at the CBS Mike circa 1941
Burgess Meredith with Ingrid Bergman at the Forty-Fourth Street Theatre
Burgess Meredith with Ingrid Bergman at the Forty-Fourth Street Theatre

Burgess Meredith with Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, and Artie Shaw
Burgess Meredith with Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, and Artie Shaw

Burgess Meredith goes over script for The Story of G.I. Joe with Ernie Pyle
Captain Burgess Meredith goes over script for The Story of G.I. Joe with Ernie Pyle

Burgess Meredith in Street of Chance 1942
Burgess Meredith in Street of Chance 1942

Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis from the famous Twilight Zone episode Time Enough at Last from 1959
Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis from the famous Twilight Zone episode Time Enough at Last from 1959

Burgess Meredith and Zero Mostel in a Hirshfeld caricature from Waiting for Godot circa 1961
Burgess Meredith and Zero Mostel in a Hirschfeld caricature from Waiting for Godot circa 1961

Burgess Meredith at Oscar ceremony 1994
Burgess Meredith at Oscar ceremony 1994
Burgess Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Ida Beth (née Burgess) and Canadian-born doctor, William George Meredith. Speaking of his childhood, he poignantly observed:

"All my life, to this day, the memory of my childhood remains grim and incoherent. If I close my eyes and think back, I see little except violence and fear...In those early years I somehow came to understand I would have to draw from within myself whatever emotional resources I needed to go wherever I was headed. As a result, for years I became a boy who lived almost totally within himself."

He graduated from Hoosac School in 1926, then attended Amherst College as a member of the Class of 1931. In 1933, he joined Eva Le Gallienne's Theatre Company in New York.He became a favored protege of dramatist Maxwell Anderson, premiering in Film in Anderson's Winterset (1936).

He garnered generous criticism playing George in a 1939 adaptation of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and later as war correspondent Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe (1945). Having served in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II as a Captain, Meredith's first-hand experience served him well in the Ernie Pyle role.

Meredith enjoyed a very successful Film and Radio career throughout the 1940s, featured in a wide range of both comedic and dramatic roles. He was featured in three films with his wife, Paulette Goddard, in Second Chorus (1940), Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) and On Our Merry Way (1948). He also starred with Lana Turner in Madame X (1966).

Just as his career and both critical and popular fame were arcing, he was named as an unfriendly witness by the House Un-American Activities Committee for his proudly avowed liberal views, at which point his Studio work predictably vanished.

With influential help from Otto Preminger, he soon began to restore his Film career, while continuing to appear on Radio and Television. Meredith had a moment of just retribution 15 years later when he portrayed Joseph Welch, the man who humbled and humiliated McCarthy before the full Committee, in 1977's Tail Gunner Joe Television drama.

Meredith's liberal causes and views continued unabated. An avowed opponent of the Vietnam War, he was also an evironmentalist. Indeed, a fascinating anecdote regarding Meredith's encounter with a dolphin speaks volumes as to his humanity:

"He was fascinated by the subject of non-human intelligence, particularly dolphins. He once believed that a dolphin somehow called to him for help in the middle of the night while he was staying at a friend's home on the beach. He ran out and found the dolphin, caught in a net under a dock down the beach, although there was no way he should have been able to know it was there. He released it, saving its life. He believed it had made some sort of connection with him, perhaps telepathic, to call for help."

Younger audiences know Burgess Meredith best for either the Rocky (1976) or Grumpy Old Men (1993) films, and of course as The Penguin in both the Batman Movie of 1966 and the wildly successful Batman (1967-1968) Television series.

Meredith also did a large amount of commercial work, serving as the voice for Skippy Peanut Butter and United Air Lines, among many others.

Suffering from bouts of melanoma, and deteriorating Alzheimer's Disease, his last years as an actor found him often resorting to cue cards for the first time in his extraordinary career, but trooper that he remained, he continued on for the love of his craft.

The Alzheimer's disease and a host of other complicating ailments ulitimately took him at the age of 89, after a forty year career in Radio, a thirty year career in Television, a sixty year career in Film and a seventy year career on the public stage. He was survived by his fourth wife, Kaja, and son Jonathon, a musician, and daughter Tala, a painter.

"I was born a character actor. I was never really a leading man type."

"Like the seasons of the year, life changes frequently and drastically. You enjoy it or endure it as it comes and goes, as it ebbs and flows."




Leith Stevens
(Arranger)

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Music Director and Composer
(1909-1970)

Birthplace: Mount Moriah, Missouri, USA

Education: Horner Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Conservatory of Music
at the University of Missouri-Kansas City

Radiography:
1937 Saturday Night Swing Club
1937 Columbia Workshop
1938 No Help Wanted
1938 Men Against Death
1938 American School Of the Air
1939 Arch Oboler's Plays
1940 Big Town
1941 The Free Company
1945 The Doctor Fights
1945 Rogue's Gallery
1945 Request Performance
1946 Academy Award
1946 Encore Theatre
1947 Lights Out
1949 Escape
1949 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1949 Suspense
1950 The Miracle Of America
1950 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
1952 The Black Book
1952 Action Eighty
1952 The Judge
1953 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1954 Anthology
1955 Biography In Sound
1956 CBS Radio Workshop

Caption: Leith Stevens is another ex-[Mark] Warnow arranger turned maestro (1938)
Caption: Leith Stevens is another ex-[Mark] Warnow arranger turned maestro (1938)

Leith Stevens circa 1939
Leith Stevens circa 1939

.
Leith Stevens circa 1944
Leith Stevens circa 1944

.
Leith Stevens obituary
Leith Stevens obituary

Leith Stevens was already a musical child prodigy at the age of 5. By the age of 14 he was making his performing debut. At the age of 16, he was Madame Schumann-Heink's accompanist and mentor to her own students. At the age of 21, the Columbia Broadcasting System wisely scooped him up as a network vocal arranger and within three more years he was a CBS composer/conductor for many of the network's top recurring programs.

From the Star-News - July 24, 1970, Pasadena, California:

Fatally Stricken
When Told Wife
Killed in Crash

HOLLYWOOD (UPI) — Leith Stevens, director of television music at Paramount Studios, was called to an extension telephone to take an emergency long distance call.

The party on the other end advised him his wife, Elizabeth, 40, had been killed when her car plunged over a 150-foot cliff in the Santa Rosa Mountains near Palm Springs.

Stevens, 60, nominated three times for Oscars for songs or movie scores took the telephone call about his wife on a Hollywood studio phone, put down the receiver, walked across the room and slumped in death Thursday, witnesses said.

Stevens was a composer and a conductor during his long career. He was nominated for an Academy Award three times. He was founder and first president of the Composers and Lyricists Guild of America in 1954.

Stevens' wife was driving with her three pet dogs when she was killed. The accident occurred on California 74, the co-called "Palms to Pines Highway," near where Jimmy Durante simulated an accident in the movie "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The dogs escaped with minor injuries when the vehicle rolled over and landed upside down.


Oscar nominations were accorded Stevens' movie scores for The Five Pennies and A New Kind of Love. His melody Julie was given an Oscar nomination as Best Song.

What is the function of a director of television music at a studio producing many hours of video entertainment every week for the consumption of millions of viewers?

Does he select the composer? How closely does he supervise the work during writing? How much of his personal touch is reflected in the finished piece?
Leith Stevens, the bearded Director of Television Music at Paramount Studios, is eminently qualified to answer these questions regarding the writing of music lor television.

A child prodigy, Stevens took his first piano lesson from his father when he was five years old. He made his piano debut at 14, and when he was 18 he was a coach for the students of the legendary Madame Schumann-Heink. He subsequently went on tour with the contralto as her accompanist.

He was 21 when he joined CBS as a vocal arranger and three years later he was made a composer and conductor for many of the network's top radio shows. In 1941 he began composing for motion pictures--he had been nominated three times for an Academy Award--and when television came along he entered that field.

Stevens said that assigning a composer is like casting an actor for a part. "A composer is chosen whose particular talents fit certain dramatic problems." he explained. "This is usually done in conjunction with the series producer, who has specific ideas about what he wants the music to accomplish. My chore is to guide the composer right and see that he follows through."

"Bruce Geller has strong instincts in this area and almost without exception selects the composer for his productions of Mission: Impossible and Mannix." Bruce chose Lalo Schifrin, a comparative newcomer to the business, to write the theme for Mission four years ago. "Schifrin's ability to provide the right music in the right context is why Bruce also had him write the music for Mannix."

Stevens points out how it is possible to angle music several different ways, giving mysteries as an example. "A producer may wish to highlight the romance in a whodunit and play down the mystery." And then he may wish to go the other way. "I usually check the score while it is in progress and supervise the recording.", Stevens said. "But I try to keep my personal touch out of the work. I don't want our composers sounding like Leith Stevens. A composer's stock in trade is his own personal sound which gives a distinctive quality to his music and I wouldn't want to take that away from him."

Summing up his role as music director, Stevens said: "My function is not to have musicians do something I want them to do but to make sure that what the composer does is in his own style and that the result is right for the show."




Bernard ['Benny'] Herrmann
(Music Direction)
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1911-1975)

Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

Awards:
1948 Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor
1950 Academy Award for Best Actor as Cyrano de Bergerac

Radiography:

1937 Columbia Workshop
1937 The American School Of the Air
1938 Men Against Death
1938 Mercury Theatre
1938 Campbell Playhouse
1941 The Free Company
1941 Orson Welles Theatre
1941 We Hold These Truths
1942 Suspense
1942 Hello Americans
1943 Passport For Adams
1944 Columbia Presents Corwin
1945 Service To the Front
1945 On A Note Of Triumph
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1946 CBS Symphony Orchestra
1949 Mind In the Shadow
1951 Eileen Farrell
1951 Hallmark Playhouse
1952 Crime Classics
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1960 Have Gun, Will Travel

Bernard Herrmann, ca. 1934
Bernard Herrmann ca. 1934

The two wunderkind of Radio, Welles and Herrmann, ca. 1938
Two wunderkind of Radio, Welles and Herrmann, ca. 1938

Welles and Herrmann confer on Mercury Theatre score, ca. 1938
Welles and Herrmann confer on Mercury Theatre score, ca. 1938

Alfred Hitchcock mugging with Herrmann, ca. 1955
Alfred Hitchcock mugging with Herrmann, ca. 1955

Herrmann's secret weapon--lots and lots of coffee, ca. 1968
Herrmann's secret weapon--lots and lots of coffee, ca. 1968
Bernard Herrmann's genius was widely respected and appreciated while he was still working. As more of his work becomes available through newly circulating recordings from The Golden Age of Radio--and new releases of his work in Film--Bernard Herrmann's body of work has reached a far larger audience. This new audience rightfully recognizes Herrmann as one of the great Music Directors and composers of the 20th Century.

A favorite of Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese alike, Herrmann's work spanned the atmospheric woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the piercing, frenetic violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976). All were signature Herrmann touches. He was one of the most original, distinctive, and influential composers to ever work in film.

'Benny' Herrmann showed his precocious talent early on, winning a composition prize at the age of 13. He founded his own orchestra at the age of 20. After writing scores for Orson Welles's radio shows in the 1930s--including Welles' alarming "The War of the Worlds" broadcast of 1938--he was the obvious choice to score Welles's debut film, Citizen Kane (1941). Welles then tapped Herrmann to score The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Herrmann directed that his name be removed from The Magnificent Ambersons score credits with Welles' concurrence. While Welles was in Europe after releasing the film to RKO, RKO studio executives, displeased with the length of the Mercury Production, chopped fifty minutes from the completed film. In the process they rescored much of the soundtrack, destroying Herrmann's meticulously crafted continuity in the process.

Herrmann was a prolific film composer, producing some of his most memorable work for Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote nine scores. A notorious perfectionist and intensely demanding. He once observed that most directors don't have a clue about music, and routinely ignored most of their instructions--such as Hitchcock's suggestion that Psycho (1960) should have a jazz score and no music in the shower scene.

Herrmann, understandably so, had little patience for studio executives meddling with his meticulously scored film work. He ultimately ended his professional relationship with Alfred Hitchcock after Hitchcock rejected Herrmann's score for Torn Curtain (1966) on--again--pressure from studio executives.

He was also an early experimenter in the sounds used in film scores, most famously The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), which he scored for two theremins, pianos, and a horn section. The use of the theremin in a mainstream film score was considered risky at the time but, as usual, Herrmann proved the studios wrong. The theremin scoring for The Day The Earth Stood Still stands as one of that film's most immediately recognized and effective elements. Though mimicked in several other B-movie Sci-Fi films that followed, none of them showed how to use the atmosphere it created as effectively as Herrmann had.

Herrmann's last score was for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976.) Herrmann passed unexpectedly in his sleep just hours after recording Taxi Driver's score.

Bernard Herrmann remains one of the most influential composers and arrangers in the history of both Radio and Film. For Golden Age Radio collectors, Herrmann's radio work remains some of the most prized recordings in their holdings. We count ourselves among them.



Lyn Murray [ a.k.a. Lionel Breeze and Lynn Murray]
(Music Director, Composer, Arranger)

(1909-1989)
Birthplace: London, U.K.

Awards: 1986 Emmy for Best Original Score, Documentary

Radiography:
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)
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. 1948

Lyn Murray, ca. 1978

Lyn Murray, ca. 1978

Murray's Hollywood Journal

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.'




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