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Original Komedy Kingdom header art

The Komedy Kingdom Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Komedy Kingdom

Komedy Kingdom premiere spot ad from March 15 1937
Komedy Kingdom premiere spot ad from March 15 1937

Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie met while working at KHJ, Hollywood
Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie met while working at KHJ, Hollywood

The Don Lee Network circa 1938
The Don Lee Network circa 1938

Komedy Kingdom Program No. 3 from Transco
The Komedy Kingdom Program No. 3 from Transco


Lindsay MacHarrie and Elvia Allman had worked together in one capacity or another at Hollywood radio station KHJ for almost six years between 1926 and 1933. MacHarrie was a successful up and comer in West Coast Radio during both the CBS affiliation of KHJ and its transition to an exclusively Don Lee-Mutual affiliate. He was also an executive with TransCo, an early programming syndication company developing 'turnkey' Radio programming for both smaller independent stations and even larger networks and their affiliates seeking fixed price, turnkey programming for an exponentially growing Radio audience hungry for newer, more diverse and innovative entertainment.

Elvia Allman for her part had begun working in Radio at KHJ in 1926, first doing arranging work, then on-air performances such as children's reading programs, light sketch comedy, recitals, and singing. Both Allman and MacHarrie worked together in several local KHJ specials, some recurring feature programming and with the long running West Coast sensation--for its time--Blue Monday Jamboree. MacHarrie and TransCo had also created a program called Komedy Kapers in 1933 and 1934. The word 'Kapers' had become something of a fairly hackneyed euphemism during the early 1930s. Heard at various times and regions throughout the U.S. and Canada, one could have tuned in to, variously:

  • Keyboard Kapers [and Skippy Keyboard Kapers]
  • Kapital Kapers
  • Klub Kapers
  • Koon Kapers [don't ask, please]
  • Kunz's Ketchup Kapers [with Rudy Vallee]
  • Kollege Kapers
  • Kannibal Kapers [don't even ask, please]
  • Koncert Kapers
  • Kutie Kapers
  • Kiddie Kapers
  • Kampus Kapers

. . . and ultimately Comedy Capers, one of TransCo's early programming efforts similar to both Blue Monday Jamboree and the Komedy Kingdom that followed them in 1937.

The Komedy Kingdom Koncept

Komedy Kingdom seemed a natural concept to both Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie. They'd already collaborated in the past, and already knew most of the talent that might be pressed into service for the effort. Also, given Komedy Kingdom's proposed 15-minute format, the ensemble players could be packaged and promoted as ideal comedy and variety additions to the programming of stations large and small. Sponsorshop arrangements could be equally packaged and marketed with far greater versatility--to sponsors and advertisers large and small.

Indeed, the first large market station to acquire Komedy Kingdom for syndication was CKY in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Their sponsor? Campbell's Soups. The Winnipeg run was reportedly very well received. Clearly, Campbell's Soups thought so, in any case. CKY was also a very illustrative example of what TransCo could offer to often remote markets in the way of quality comedy and variety.

Elvia Allman in particular, had already acquired a very diverse, versatile, and both critically and popularly acclaimed combination of talents well suited to both the comedy/variety genre of Komedy Kingdom. She'd been a singer with several other regional and network broadcasting variety formats, including California Cocktails (1933-1934) for WEAF, NBC Red's flagship station out of New York, Crazy Quilt (1935-1937) for TransCo syndication, Laff Parade (1934) for Don Lee-Mutual, and Komedy Capers (1934), for TransCo--later reissued and syndicated as Comedy Capers (1937) for Bruce Eells and Associates. Her arsenal of characters, while only still in her late 20s and early 30s, already comprised Madam Toncilia Lungbuster, Auntie MacCasser (or MacKasser), Octavia Smith-Whiffen, home economist Pansy Pennypincher, and several other fascinating characterizations. She was also a fine songstress, as well as a gifted diseuse, or 'reciter', comparable to the monologists of the modern entertainment era.

Given her background with Lindsay MacHarrie she was therefore the obvious choice to host and lead Komedy Kingdom. Dubbed the Queen of Mirth for the series, the title suited her well. Indeed, much of the sketch comedy and variety throughout the run of Komedy Kingdom played off of her 'title'.

The Production and Players

As noted above, both Lindsay MacHarrie and Elvia Allman had a wealth of talented and versatile resources at their disposal for the run of thirty-nine Komedy Kingdom installments. The artists they'd both worked with in Crazy Quilt, Komedy Kapers, and Blue Monday Jamboree were, for the most part comprised of either prior Vaudevillans, up and coming West Coast comedians and musicians, or some of the same ensemble talent they'd worked well with in the past.

The format of each of the installments was consistent throughout the run. In keeping with the 'royalty' theme of Komedy Kingdom, the intro to most installments comprised various paens to the Queen of Mirth, Elvia Allman's introductory comments to her 'minions' and a sketch piece or introductory variety act. The pace was fast and seamless--both well directed and well produced. Lindsay MacHarrie, by 1937, had a great deal of experience with the basic format. Each production had an identifiable 'theme', such as ''Marriage,'' ''Sports,'' ''Fashion,'' and even ''Etiquette,'' all of which invariably lent themselves to appropriate gag routines, sketches and vocal or musical accompanying pieces.

What made the series timeless, in many respects, was the selection of almost universally timeless themes. Indeed, with the exception of some of the technology-oriented themes, the material comprising the themed presentations wear as well today as they did in the late-1930s. Even those themes that presented somewhat dated topical references retain their charm and fascination for the most modern of audiences. It was neither hi-brow or low-brow. Most presentations struck a very clever balance in the supporting acts, sketches and musical selections.

The series also helped further introduce younger, up and coming acts and performers to the national stage, among them: Morey Amsterdam, Tommy Harris, Clark Ross, Tony Romano, Ben Carter, Mabel Todd, and Maureen O’Connor. The series also provided further national exposure to groups such as The Rhythmettes, The Basin Street Boys, The Hallelujah Quartet, The Yodelers Three and Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Moe.

The series also served as something of a time capsule for the last of the performing Vaudeville acts, monologists and groups in the waning days of their heyday, such as Doakes and Doakes (Betty and Hardy Gibson), Al K. Hall, Al Herman, and Gus Van.

The entire thirty-nine installment series was recorded in Hollywood before a live audience, pressed onto 16" electric transcription discs by the American Record Corporation, then labeled for TransCo for marketing and promotion by TransCo's sales team. 1937 was the same year that TransCo produced and pressed the annual Christmas Radio favorite, The Cinnamon Bear, starring a cast of what would eventually become some of the most widely known and respected performers of The Golden Age of Radio. Elvia Allman performed in The Cinnamon Bear as well.

Series Derivatives:

Comedy Capers; The Blue Monday Jamboree
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Comedy Variety
Network(s): CKY [Canada]
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 37-03-15 01 Royalty
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 37-03-15 to 37-06-11; CKY [Canada]; Thirty-nine, 15-minute programs; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 9:00 p.m. CST
Syndication: TransCo
Sponsors: Campbell's Soups
Principal Performers: Elvia Allman, Joe Blow, The Rhythmettes, Tony Romano, Broder and MacDonald, A1K, Morey Amsterdam, Mabel Todd, The Court Choristers, The Yodelers Three, Maureen O'Connor, Null and Void, Ben Carter, Hipp and Keough, Ole and Oscar, The Plantation Boys, The Basin Street Boys,  The Three Dots, Harrison and Elmo, Betty Borden, Al Herman, Peter Kent, Al Herman, Paul Kiest, Lee Keener, Eenie Meanie Miney and Moe, Hardy Gibson, Donald Orlando, Doakes and Doakes (Betty and Hardy Gibson), Shirley Watson, The Three Guesses, Harry Lash, Loretta Lee, Gus Van, Dick Faber, Clark Ross, The Hallelujah Quartet
Recurring Character(s): The Queen of Mirth [Elvia Allman]
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Elvia Allman [Hostess]
Estimated Scripts or
Episodes in Circulation: 37
Total Episodes in Collection: 37
Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the Winnipeg Free Press.

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The Komedy Kingdom Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
37-03-15 Winnipeg Free Press
37-03-17 Winnipeg Free Press
37-03-19 Winnipeg Free Press
37-03-22 Winnipeg Free Press
The Movies
37-03-24 Winnipeg Free Press
Geography and Travel
37-03-26 Winnipeg Free Press
37-03-29 Winnipeg Free Press
37-03-31 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-02 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-05 Winnipeg Free Press
The Gay Nineties
37-04-07 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-09 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-12 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-14 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-16 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-19 Winnipeg Free Press
School Days
37-04-21 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-23 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-26 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-28 Winnipeg Free Press
37-04-30 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-03 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-05 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-07 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-10 Winnipeg Free Press
The Orient
37-05-12 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-14 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-17 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-19 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-21 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-24 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-26 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-28 Winnipeg Free Press
37-05-31 Winnipeg Free Press
37-06-02 Winnipeg Free Press
The Seasons
37-06-04 Winnipeg Free Press
Travel Bureaus
37-06-07 Winnipeg Free Press
37-06-09 Winnipeg Free Press
37-06-11 Winnipeg Free Press

The Komedy Kingdom Radio Program Biographies

Elvia Allman [Tourtellotte]

Birthplace: Enochville, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Education: University of Chicago

1931 On With the Show
1933 California Cocktails
1934 Crazy Quilt
1934 Comedy Capers
1934 The Laff Parade
1934 The Blue Monday Jamboree
1936 Lux Radio Theatre
1937 Komedy Kingdom
1937 John Barrymore Theatre
1937 Cinnamon Bear
1937 The Jell-O Program
1938 Hollywood Mardi Gras Mummers
1938 The Pepsodent Show
1940 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1942 Command Performance
1942 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
1942 The Jack Benny Program
1942 The Abbott and Costello Show
1943 Fibber McGee and Molly
1943 Mail Call
1944 THe Bakers Of America Show For the Armed Forces
1944 Radio Almanac
1944 G.I. Journal
1944 Radio Hall Of Fame
1945 The Eddie Bracken Show
1945 Birds Eye Open House
1946 The Life Of Riley
1946 The Alan Young Show
1946 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1947 The Lucky Strike Program
1947 The Mel Blanc Show
1947 The Bill Goodwin Show
1947 Guest Star
1947 The Victor Borge Show
1947 The Jack Paar Program
1948 The Eddie Cantor Pabst Blue Ribbon Show
1948 Blondie
1948 The Railroad Hour
1949 Sealtest Variety Theatre
1949 Young Love
1949 My Favorite Husband
1949 The Amos 'n' Andy Show
1950 The Henn House
1950 The Adventures Of Maisie
1951 The Baby Snooks Show
1951 Mr and Mrs Blandings
1952 Broadway Is My Beat
1953 The Edgar Bergen Show
1954 The New Beulah Show
1954 The Six Shooter
1954 Meet Mr McNutley
1954 That's Rich
1956 Recollections At Thirty
1962 Heartbeat Theatre
1973 Hollywood Radio Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theatre

Elvia Allman circa 1942
Elvia Allman circa 1942

Elvia Allman got her start at KHJ, Hollywood over both CBS and Don Lee-Mutual throughout the 1930s
Elvia Allman got her start at KHJ, Hollywood over both CBS and Don Lee-Mutual throughout the 1930s

Elvia Allman promotional spot from November 6 1933
Elvia Allman promotional spot from November 6 1933

razy Quilt promo for S. & L. Co. from March 20 1935
Crazy Quilt spot ad for S. & L. Co. from March 20 1935

Elvia Allman as jane Adams appears with Gracie Allen in The Burns and Allen Program (1952)
Elvia Allman as Jane Adams appears with Gracie Allen in The Burns and Allen Program (1952)

Elvia Allman as jane Adams appears with George Burns in The Burns and Allen Program (1952)
Elvia Allman as Jane Adams appears with George Burns in The Burns and Allen Program (1952)

Elvia Allman appears as Henrietta Swanson in the Andy Griffith Show with Francis Bavier (1961)
Elvia Allman appears as Henrietta Swanson in the Andy Griffith Show with Francis Bavier (1961)

Elvia Allman as Henrietta Swanson in the Andy Griffith Show (1961)
Elvia Allman as Henrietta Swanson in the Andy Griffith Show (1961)

Elvia Allman as Julia Slovak in Perry Mason (1961)
Elvia Allman as Julia Slovak in Perry Mason (1961)

Elvia Allman as Mrs. Forbes in Perry Mason (1961)
Elvia Allman as Mrs. Forbes in Perry Mason (1961)

[Note: The thing you can't help noticing in virtually all of Elvia Allman's Television appearances are the reactions of her peers in each performance. It's as if they're trying not to stare at her as she's peforming, but they can't help their own reactions to her characters. They've almost certainly observed her rehearsals and outtakes, but it's as if they simply can't get enough of her. The only reason most people don't notice the reaction of her on-screen peers is that they usually can't take their eyes off of Elvia Allman's actual performance.]

Elvia Allman as Mrs. Luftwaffe in Bewitched (1966)
Elvia Allman as Mrs. Luftwaffe in Bewitched (1966)

Elvia Allman appears just a wee bit dubious as Mrs. Emily Graham in My Favorite Martian (1964)
Elvia Allman appears just a wee bit dubious as Mrs. Emily Graham in My Favorite Martian (1964)

Elvia Allman as Princess Millicent von Schlepp in The Addams Family (1965)
Elvia Allman as Princess Millicent von Schlepp in The Addams Family (1965)

Elvia Allman as the imperious Princess Millicent von Schlepp from The Addams Family (1965)
Elvia Allman as the imperious Princess Millicent von Schlepp from The Addams Family (1965)

Radio's Queen of Mirth, Elvia Allman was born in North Carolina but raised and educated in Texas. The local newspapers recorded her high school graduation exercise of June 1, 1921 from The Academy of Mary Immaculate--a graduating class of ten young ladies.

Upon reaching her majority, she emigrated to Southern California and began her radio career in 1926 at KHJ. Hired as a program arranger and children's story reader, she later became a singer for the station as well. She was also noted early on as a gifted dialectician and diseuse--a woman who is a skilled and professional reciter.

It was in 1930, while working as a studio singer, that she met her first husband, Wesley B. Tourtellotte, a studio musician. Though they divorced within two years, Elvia Allman and Tourtellotte criss-crossed the nation for three more years performing in the long-running California Cocktails (1933) program, Crazy Quilt (1934), Laff Parade (1934), and Komedy Kapers (1934)--and making quite a name for herself as a multi-talented singer, comedienne, and diseuse in the process. She'd also made a successful alliance with talented Lindsay MacHarrie.

MacHarrie and Allman had worked together at KHJ for almost five years. Lindsay MacHarrie rose to the position of Dramatic Director at KHJ while Elvia was coming up on her own at the station. Elvia Allman's rising star didn't go unnoticed. Indeed, while working at KHJ, MacHarrie was also the Production Manager for TransCo, a company which recorded and marketed programming on electrical transcription discs for syndication to independent Radio affiliates as a turnkey production.

KFRC's The Blue Monday Jamboree had been airing over first CBS from KHJ and then Don Lee-Mutual throughout the 1920s over KFRC and KHJ. Elvia Allman developed several of her most memorable early characters during the Blue Monday Jamboree years, among them: Auntie MacCasser, Octavia Smith-Whiffen, and home economist Pansy Pennypincher. MacHarrie remembered Elvia Allman's captivating and versatile contributions to Blue Monday Jamboree and when it came time to develop a comedy -- variety format, for syndication he tapped Elvia Allman to fill a variety of needs in the format--singer, dialectician, straight-man and comedienne. Their first outing together was with Komedy Kapers (1933), which TransCo licensed or sold to Bruce Eells and Associates for 1934 syndication as Comedy Capers. Elvia Allman appeared in at least thirteen of the Komedy Kapers installments.

Elvia Allman's first major, coast-to-coast exposure was over Bob Hope's The Pepsodent Show. In September of 1938 she introduced Hope's nationwide audience to her character, Cobina, the man-chasing, man-crazy debutante. Much as with Barbara Jo Allen's ''Vera Vague'' and Minerva Pious' ''Mrs. Nussbaum'', Elvia Allman's ''Cobina Gusher'' was so successful in her own right that Allman reprised the role in both Film and Animation. During the Swan Soap run of the Burns and Allen program, Elvia Allman was cast as Gracie's best friend 'Tootsie Sagwell'.

Indeed, her debut in Animation came five years earlier than her Film debut. By the mid-1930s, a favorite of both the Leon Schlesinger -- Warner Bros. animated features as well as those of The Disney Studios, Elvia Allman voiced numerous, well-remembered characters from the early animated classics, including the voice of Clarabelle Cow in several of the Walt Disney animated features between 1930 and 1942.

Elvia Allman married popular sports promoter, C.C. 'Cash & Carry' Pyle in January of 1937. He'd become famous--or infamous--for the Bunion Derby (1929), a trans-continental marathon comprised of athletes from virtually every possible discipline--and reputation. He was also responsible for successfully recruiting ''The Galloping Ghost'' himself, Red Grange, to professional football. Within two years Pyle would be dead of an unexpected heart attack at the age of 56. Elvia Allman was at his side when he passed.

A tall, strikingly attractive young woman in her own right, it wasn't long before she began appearing in feature films. There was clearly a method in the apparent madness of a woman as naturally attractive and statuesque as Elvia Allman downplaying her classic figure and beauty. As with many of the most successful comediennes throughout modern entertainment history, she discovered that the secret to longevity was continually playing to the irony of such an inherently attractive woman portraying oddball, neurotic, outlandish, or eccentric female characters of one stereotype or another.

Viewed by her contemporaries much as the generation of the 1980s viewed Carol Burnett, Elvia Allman was taking on a dimension of her own with the extraordinary success of her Radio work. She'd been heard coast-to-coast over both CBS and NBC at one time or another, as early as 1933. Her work with Bob Hope on his Pepsodent Show made her a natural addition to Hope's film Road To Singapore (1940), the first of the sextet of 'Road' films starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Though appearing uncredited, it's clear that her appearance at all in the film was a tip of the hat from Hope to Allman in recognition of her contribution to The Pepsodent Show--and her talent. Bob Hope was long known for both his loyalty to, and promotion of, his hardest-working ensemble players. Elvia Allman was no exception.

Never truly a 'star', as Carol Burnett eventually became, Allman's consistent contributions to all manner of character roles over the next fifty years of an incredibly prolific Film and Television career simply underscored her reputation and lustre.

It's also worth noting that even with her increased success in Television, Animation and Film, Elvia Allman compiled an estimated 4,000 appearances in Radio over a fifty-year career that spanned the entire Golden Age of Radio, including its Revival years in the 70s and 80s. Among her most memorable roles throughout the era were her numerous characters cited above, as well as Cora Dithers on both the Radio and Television versions of Blondie, and literally hundreds of other archtypal, matronly shrews.

Viewed as much as an ensemble player on virtually every program she contributed to during the era, she ultimately became one of Radio's most recognizable voices from the era. But the best was yet to come.

It was Elvia Allman's Television audiences that identified most closely with her various characters over the years. As recognizable as her voice had already become, the tall, statuesque queen of mirth lent that same towering height to even more over the top performances via the more visual medium of Television. The highly practiced, matronly authority figures from her greatest Radio triumphs were ideally suited to all manner of situation comedies throughout the Golden Age of Television.

Once again leveraging her tried and true formula of self-deprecation and self-parody, she now lent an even more ironic dimension to her portrayals. With her long graceful neck, her patrician nose, her high cheekbones and perfect jaw, combined with her relatively towering height, she was a natural to portray everything from snoopy neighbors to snooty blue-bloods--and every objectionable, overbearing and irritating matron or spinster in between. And she most certainly did.

A simple review of the names alone of her 100+ characters in Television during her career speaks volumes about the types of characters she portrayed. Indeed, given her own considerable comedic writing talent over the years, one finds it easy to imagine her devising the vast majority of those characters' names herself. Allman became a familiar face to television viewers throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s with numerous guest appearances on the most successful situation comedies of the era.

With frequent appearances on Abbott and Costello, I Married Joan, I Love Lucy, December Bride, The People's Choice, The Bob Cummings Show, and Bachelor Father, America was soon demanding she appear in numerous other similar roles on Television. And the smarter producers and networks of the industry complied.

Known for her brilliant comedic timing from her Radio work, her most memorable Television characterizations continued on through seven appearances on The Jack Benny Program, several guest appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hazel, The Addams Family, and then recurring roles in both Petticoat Junction (as Selma Plout) and The Beverly Hillbillies (as Elverna Bradshaw).

As Ms. Allman approached her 70s, her more active Television and Film careers began to wane--by choice, reportedly. But her Radio work continued, in voicing Elliott Lewis' wonderful Radio Revival programs Hollywood Radio Theatre and Sears Radio Theatre.

Indeed, once Hollywood sat up and took notice, yet again, of Elvia Allman, she was tapped for another fifteen Television appearances during the 1980s.

And in one of the Entertainment Industry's wonderfully seredipitous ironies, 1990 brought her entire, sixty year career full circle with her voicework as Clarabelle Cow for the animated feature film The Prince and The Pauper.

Within two years she would pass away from complications of pneumonia at the age of 87. She'd lost her third husband, Jerome Bayler in 1978.

One of the Entertainment Industry's most identifiable voices, faces and figures, Elvia Allman's body of work over some sixy-five years in one entertaining capacity or another spanned the very beginnings of The Golden Age of Radio, encompassed the Golden Age of Film, outlived the Golden Age of Television, and appropriately enough, memorialized that entire expanse of talent with her last credited performance.

A sublime and fitting end to one very extraordinary woman's career. A classically attractive woman who, wisely, found that her very genius in downplaying her own attractiveness and figure were the secret to her resounding success in every entertainment venue she pursued. She was brilliant, charming, exceptionally well grounded, and clearly one of the Entertainment World's most respected performers.

All we can say to that is "Here, here!"

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