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Original The Magnificent Montague header art

The Magnificent Montague Radio Program

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Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came To Dinner the role that would frame the remainder of his career
Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came To Dinner the role that would frame the remainder of his career


Anacin shared the sponsorship of The Magnificent Montague
Anacin shared the sponsorship of The Magnificent Montague

Chesterfield was one of the co-sponsors of The Magnificent Montague
Chesterfield was one of the co-sponsors of The Magnificent Montague


The 1951 Ford was a co-op sponsor for The Magnificent Montague
The 1951 Ford was a co-op sponsor for The Magnificent Montague


RCA portable radios with the 'golden throat' helped pick up the tab for The Magnificent Montague
RCA portable radios with the 'golden throat' helped pick up the tab for The Magnificent Montague


NBC Staff Organist Jack Ward provided the underscore for The Magnificent Monague
NBC Staff Organist Jack Ward provided the underscore for The Magnificent Monague



Background

As Radio neared the 1950s it was already feeling the pinch of Television nipping at its heels. Already long a status symbol among the wealthy for some eleven years, by 1950, the post-World War II years were marked by the growth of the Middle Class in America, and the beginning of an unprecedented period of 'keeping up with The Joneses.' G.I.'s able to take advantage of the G.I. Bill of Education, saw an almost immediate increase in their disposable income once they'd acquired their sheepskins. Disposable income is precisely what the exponentially growing Television industry hoped for. With the increase in demand, Television manufacturers were having a heyday. Television ownership almost tripled within ten years of V-J Day.

These facts were not lost on the Radio industry. The late 1940s and early 1950s found both networks and independent programming syndicators like Frederic Ziv and Louis G. Cowan casting around for name talent upon which to build a Radio program. Big name talent was the key. Television was coaxing all the name talent it could afford into Television programming. But conversely, the Radio networks and sponsors alike were attempting to pare down their expenses in an effort to support both their Radio and Television programming efforts.

The $5,000 to $10,000 per episode budgets for half-hour shows were quickly becoming the rare exception rather than the rule. Indeed the target cost for a half-hour was rapidly approaching a standard of no more than $2,500 per program. By way of paring down costs, networks, sponsors, syndicators and name talent alike were attempting all manner of alternatives to the compensation tiers and structures of the past in Radio. Some name stars opted for participation deals to gamble on their own success. Some sponsors--and networks--bracketed their options by launching Radio and Television versions of their programming simultaneously to better hedge their bets. But far and away the most successful gambits of the era were the networks' respective 'time-sharing' or time-blocking schemes for both network sponsors and down-line sponsors.

The networks, each with their own schemes, would block out a prime time block of two to three hours for five or six nights every week. Those blocks of time would be broken down to the quarter hour, and sold either ala carte or in larger blocks to sponsors large and small. Thus, guaranteed prime time exposure for their various products, sponsors and broadcast outlets alike could both specifically target an audience segment, while at the same time, not having to foot the bill for an entire production.

For the greater majority of the newly introduced programming of the era, the system worked quite successfully well into the end of the 1950s and beyond. During a period of a waning talent pool for Radio, the various co-op sponsorship and participation schemes kept Radio attractive to big name performers of the era--performers who could almost certainly attract a new audience for at least a year's worth of programming.

NBC coaxes Film star Monty Woolley into a lead role in Radio

Monte Woolley had been no stranger to Radio. Indeed throughout the Golden Age of Radio Monty Woolley appeared with regularity as either himself or in character roles in the hundreds of Film, Stage and magazine-adapted Radio dramas of the era. But he'd yet to star as the lead in his own program. Indeed, several big name stars and major character actors of the era had made their debut over Radio in leading roles between 1943 and 1954:

The list is by no means all-inclusive, but the common denominator in all of the above programs from that ten-year period is that they all starred major Hollywood names that hadn't ever appeared as the leads in their own dramatic Radio vehicles. All of them made numerous appearances as either guest stars in single episodes over Radio, or numerous appearances as themselves in the hundreds of variety programs of the era. But the above programs were their only leading vehicles over Radio. Also common to almost all of them, their starring vehicles lasted only a season or two.

In November 1950 The Magnificent Montague became Monty Woolley's 'one-off' lead in a recurring, dramatic Radio program. Both the concept and the role were tailor-made for Woolley's widely perceived Film personae. The premise found Edwin Montague, ex-Shakespearean actor, founding member of the Proscenium Club of Shakespearean thespians, and supremely enamored of his own great Stage talent casting about for work. But discerning to the nth degree, Montague regularly refused any script, concept, or offer of acting work that failed to meet his--by then--unattainable standards.

Edwin Montague (Woolley) is married to the former Stage actress Lily Boheme (Anne Seymour) and they're both holding on--barely--to their housekeeper of 25 years, Agnes (Pert Kelton). As the Montagues' financial situation continues to deteriorate, the apparent final straw comes when their housekeeper and cook, Agnes, can no longer supply the imported kippers that Montague demands with his breakfast on a daily basis. She attempts to make due with domestic kippers and Montague becomes outraged.

Lily determines to take matters into her own hands and finds Edwin a job on a local soap opera as 'Uncle Goodheart', on the face of it, the antithesis of Edwin Montague's persona. But presented with the prospect of domestic kippers or none at all, Montague deigns to give the soap opera a try, but only after securing a vow of silence from the household regarding "The Magnificent Montague's" condescension to appear over Radio. After all, if the members of the prestigious Proscenium Club should ever get wind of how far the Magnificent Montague had fallen, he'd be forced to resign in shame.

Montague storms into the Radio studio determined to let them all know what's what when it comes to serious drama only to find that Drama over Radio is simply not performed as it is on The Stage. Be that as it may, Montague determines to fashion 'Uncle Goodheart' into a character more like himself. The studio crew and cast are obviously aghast at Montague's performance and after the broadcast, Montague retires home, supremely confident that he'll never be asked to work in Radio again. But . . .

Here's noted Radio and Television critic, John Crosby's take on the first episode of The Magnificent Montague from the December 19, 1940 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

MONTE WOOLLEY
CHARACTER ACCEPTED
 

Public Expects Him to Be Constantly Insulting 

By JOHN CROSBY
 
      NEW YORK, Dec. 19--The personality and general characteristics of Monty Woolley have now attained what is known in the trade as audience acceptance.  That means the mass public will not only accept but even demand from Woolley certain eccentricities they wouldn't take from anyone else.
     If you have Charles Boyer on a radio program, all the female members of the cast start acting like 16-year-old fillies.  The fact that Boyer is well advanced in years now, that the girls don't really feel that way about Boyer, and that it's all a terribly tired joke doesn't alter circumstances.  Boyer has to be treated in certain ways in deference to tradition; the babes will continue to swoon over him if he lives to be 96.
     From Woolley you expect--in fact, demand--something different.  Insults.  Woolley's waspish temper originated in "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and has since been embaldem in countless movies, magazine articles and radio programs.  Sooner or later it was bound to be fixed permanently in a radio program of his own and it has been.  "The Magnificent Montague" (NBC 6 p.m., PST Fridays).
STANDARDS LOWERED
     "The Magnificent Montague" is composed almost exclusively of insults, padded here and there only with enough plot to move Woolley from scene to scene.  In radio where sweetness and light reign so uninterruptedly, a little barbed wire sounds refreshingly candid.  Just the same, somewhere in the establishment of the Woolley personality in the magazines, the movies, the stage, there has been a diminution of values, a cheapening of standards and a general lowering of tone.
     In "The Man Who Came to Dinner," a nurse had the temerity to tell the invalided Woolley that he mustn't eat candy.  "My dear woman," rasped Mr. W., "my great Aunt Sarah ate candy every day of her life and she lived to be 102 and two days after she died she looked better than you do now. "  Then there was the movie wherein Woolley, dressed as Santa Claus, uttered a monstrous belch.  A woman gave him an indignant glare.  Said Woolley:  "What did you expect, Madam?  Chimes?"
     Nothing in "The Great Montague" quite approaches the candlepower of these particularly bright inspirations.  On his radio program, quantity is substituted for quality.  Here is Woolley on the subject of his breakfast.  "Gad, was a messy sight; Just because the eggs were laid by a Plymouth Rock, must they look like a Pilgrim just pulled his foot out of it...I don't mind strong coffee but I do not like it when it comes out of the cup swinging."
WRITING LABORED
     All those remarks have beads of sweat on them as if the writer (Nat Hiken) were not temperamentally suited to the art of insult, as if he were a gentle soul who loves children, dogs, and other people's grandmothers.  If this is true, they had better dig up someone more suitable--the type of man who steals pennies out of a blind man's cup.
     To get down to some more specific details, Woolley plays the part of an ex-Shakespearean actor who has fallen in the social scale to the point where he is playing Uncle Goodheart on an afternoon radio program.  This gives him an opportunity to insult his maid, his director, writer, and producer, radio in general and an occasional dog.  He does all this with such great exuberance and genuine feeling that even the most mechanical of his lines ring with a certain amount of conviction.  It's really a pretty funny show, especially when Woolley lights into radio, which he loathes.
     Radio, incidentally, has taken to insulting itself with surprising vehemence.  The other day on the "The Big Show," Clifton Webb and Tallulah Bankhead were having at each other on the subject of Noel Coward.
NASTY THRUST
     "Did  you tell dear Noel I was on the radio?"  inquired Tallulah.
     "Certainly not," said Webb.  "I'm a friend of yours.  I shouldn't dream of telling him you'd fallen so low.  I said you were on relief."
     One more item about Woolley's program.  On the opening two shows, the laughter was actually dubbed in from other shows, a final refinement of the studio audience idea.  Since then, real live studio audiences contribute real live laughter.  However, the real live laughter doesn't sound any more genuine--in fact, it sounds a little phonier--than the mechanical laughter.  For a long time, it has seemed to me that the laughter of studio audiences has sounded increasingly brassy and contrived.  Real people, I'm forced to conclude, have outlived their usefulness as studio audiences.  I'll bet RCA's laboratories could produce a sound machine that would produce far merrier and far more real laughter than people, in these days, seem able to summon up themselves.
Copyright, 1950, for The Tribune

We'd rush to remind anyone reading Crosby's review that he was one of the more caustic--albeit honest to a fault--reviewers of the era. But John Crosby was also a contemporary reviewer who wrote daily columns on all manner of Radio and Television programs, personalities and industry developments. As emersed as he'd been, he had every right to demand higher standards.

Those of us who've become fans of this national treasure forty to eighty years hence tend to view each new Radio find as a novelty and in the case of The Magnificent Montague, we have the perspective of history to inform us that this was Monty Woolley's only lead role in a recurring Radio drama. Most of us also view these wonderful mid-2oth century programs through the prism of the ensuing decline in Film, Radio and Television entertainment during the intervening years. Most of what passes for contemporary Television and Cable entertainment can't hold a candle to even the mediocre productions from The Golden Age of Radio.

Viewed through that prism, The Magnificent Montague remains a fascinating and somewhat offbeat treat. Monty Woolley is everything one might have expected him to be as Edwin Montague. If one is a fan of his performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner, then The Magnificent Montague is a delightful, 52-installment extension of that characterization. But added to the mix are both Anne Seymour and Pert Kelton's contributions as Lily Boheme and Agnes, respectively. Both great actresses acquit themselves well throughout the series and this was also their own major outing in Radio as co-stars in a recurring dramatic, prime time program.

Series creator and writer, Nat Hiken, gets something of a bad rap from Crosby in his review. The writing does improve a great deal as both Woolley and his writer 'grow into' The Magnificent Montague character. Anne Seymour and Pert Kelton also find their roles expanding over the run of the series and by the series' end, even Monty Woolley seems a far more sympathetic character than the one Crosby reviewed in the show's premiere.

With great stage talent in such abundance, Monty Woolley must certainly have felt at home with The Magnificent Montague ensemble. Even more entertaining were the several intentionally overacted radioplays within radioplays heard in many of the Montague broadcasts. With the radically transformed Uncle Goodheart commanding greater and greater compensation, The Magnificent Montague finds himself ever-reluctantly tripping and stumbling into greater and greater fame over Radio--and Film--simply by being his curmudgeonly, egotistical self.

Pert Kelton and Anne Seymour were almost co-equal standouts in the series. It was also one of Art Carney's first, most identifiable appearances over Radio in a recurring role. And in another facinating irony, Pert Kelton had already begun to appear as the first Alice Kramden in The Honeymooners skits as part of the Cavalcade of Stars (1949). And, of course, Art Carney was already appearing with her--for better or worse--as Ed Norton.

All in all, The Magnificent Montague remains one of those comparatively overlooked series' that remain historical on several levels. It's certainly a must-listen for any situation comedy fan and, of course, anyone who can't get enough of Monty Woolley portraying Monty Woolley.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Situation Comedies
Network(s): NBC
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 50-11-10 01 A Starring Role in Radio
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 50-11-10 to 51-11-03; NBC; Fifty-two, 30-minute programs;
Syndication: NBC
Sponsors: RCA Portrable Radios; Ligget & Myers Tobacco [Chesterfield]; Anacin; 1951 Ford; Stationer's Corporation [KFI]
Director(s): Nat Hiken [Creator]
Principal Actors: Monte Woolley, Anne Seymour, Bob Hastings, Art Carney, Jackson Beck, Santos Ortega, Lillian Buyeff, Pert Kelton, Dan Ocko, John Gibson, Arnold Stang
Recurring Character(s): Edwin Montague [Monty Woolley]; Lily Boheme [Anne Seymour]; Agnes [Pert Kelton]; Zinzer [Art Carney]
Protagonist(s): Edwin 'The Magnificent' Montague (Woolley), an out of work thespian and his wife, Lily, who goes by her stage name Lily Boheme (Seymour)
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Nat Hiken, Billy Friedburg
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Jack Ward [organ]
Announcer(s): Don Pardo
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
52
Episodes in Circulation: 40
Total Episodes in Collection: 40
Provenances:

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

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

As with any number of commercial OTR collections, the race to the bottom continues with all manner of mischief. The Magnificent Montague has not escaped the mischief of OTR dealers great and small. There were at least three The Magnificent Montague scripts that were 'recycled' for later episodes in the run. An unfortunate number of collectors, groups and dealers, in their zeal to say they possess something they do not, take the earlier, similarly scripted episodes and simply slap the revised or rebroadcast date on them. Thus they manufacture a missing episode from previous similar or identical scripts and pronounce them later broadcasts. There are at least three such similar scripts in The Magnificent Montague canon:

  • Episode No. 6 from December 15, 1950 finds The Proscenium Club falling behind in their Christmas Fund. The similar script, Episode No. 39 from August 4, 1951 finds The Proscenium Club falling behind in their Summer Fund.
  • Episode No. 18 from March 9, 1951 opens with Lily and Agnes reading a Walter Winchell column. The similar script, Episode No. 43 from September 1, 1951 opens in a similar manner. The performers differ and they bear different titles.
  • Montague undertakes a diet in Episode No. 19 from March 16, 1951. He undertakes another diet in Episode No. 41 from August 18, 1951.

There may well be a couple of others, but with only two-thirds of the canon in circulation we can't determine them as yet. In most instances the mischief is immediately discernable by the file sizes, but with the OTRR and other large trading groups creating all manner of both stereo and mono encodes from the source recordings that distinction may not be immediately noticeable. Solution? Actually listen to what you collect. That advice should be self evident, but the overwhelming majority of 'OTR' collectors never actually listen to what they acquire. They simply continue to acquire more.

On the positive side, there's sufficient continuity in this series to piece together a chronological timeline for most of the circulating episodes. The South Pacific play arc, in particular, continues over several episodes, as do the initial seven episodes and the two-episode Wrestling arc. In addition, the series adhered chronologically to holidays and seasons within the scripts.


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The Magnificent Montague Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
50-11-10
1
A Starring Role in Radio
Y
50-11-10 Capital Times
The Wisconsin-Ohio State football game,
a new series starring Monty Woolley, and the return of Duffy's Tavern" will headline the weekend on WIBA and WIBA-FM.
Woolley will 'be featured in "The Magnificent Montague," a series of radio plays, at 8 p. m. Fridays beginning tonight. Woolley has been seen in Madison in both the stage and the screen version of "Man Who Came to Dinner," as well as other films.

50-11-10 Mt Verson Register-News
8:00—
New Monty Woolley series
"Magnificent Montague," story of
a Shakespearean actor turned into a radio soap opera player
.
50-11-17
2
Aunt Agatha
Y
50-11-24
3
To Play Romeo
Y
50-12-01
4
To Shave Or Not To Shave
Y
50-12-01 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA): Monty Woolley, Anne Seymour.
50-12-08
5
Agnes Quits
Y
50-12-08 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
drives veteran maid to resignation.
50-12-15
6
One Thousand Dollar Prize
Y
50-12-15 Long Beach Press-Telegram
6:00— KFI—
Matters look very desperate tonight for the "Magnificent Montague" in the comedy episode which stars Monty Woolley

50-12-15 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.— Magnificent Montague (WIBA): Monty Woolley
fearfully awaits visit from fellow' actor. . .

50-12-15 Corpus Christi Times
Be sure to hear Monte Wooley as The Magnificent Montague tonight at 8:00. As a former Shakesperean actor turned soap opera star. Montague is in a constant frenzy for fear his friends will find out. And stay tuned at 8:30 for your date at Duffy's Tavern
50-12-22
7
A Child Visits
Y
[Christmas Program]

50-12-22 Corpus Christi Times
The Christmas spirit permeates the air at the home of the Magnificent Montague. Scrooge himself couldn't be more sardonic than Montague (Monte Wooley) as he comments
on the gifts from, his admiring fans.
And no one could be funnier either. Don't miss the Magnificent Montague on KRIS tonight at 8:00.
50-12-29
8
The Montague's New Year's Eve
N
50-12-29 Capital Times
A big treat seems in store for patient Lily when her husband, Edwin Montague, decides to take her out New Year's Eve for the first time since their marriage. Usually Edwin spends the last evening of the year declaiming from "Macbeth" or an audience composed cosily of his wife, Lily, and their maid, Agnes.
Frustrated in his happy plans for a gay evening on the town by an ill-timed payoff of a contest on his "Uncle Goodheart" radio program, Montague takes a dim view of the New Year.
51-01-05
9
That's My Pop
Montague's Father

Y
51-01-05 Syracuse Herald Journal
EDWIN MONTAGUE gets put in his place during his Silver Jubilee dinner, given by the Proscenium Club, on The Magnificent Montague oyer WSYR at 9 tonight. If you ' haven't yet heard the show, I advise you to. It's a comedy treat.

51-01-05 Corpus Christi Times
The Magnificent Montague is upstaged by his father when the two get together at the Proscenium Club award dinner; Don't miss the fun at 8:00 tonight. KRIS.
51-01-12
10
Montague Gets A Hollywood Bid
Movie Offer
Y
51-01-12 Capital Times
AN OFFER FROM Hollywood evokes roars of indignation from Edwin Montague (Monty Woolley) during tne NBC comedy, "The, Magnificent Montague," over WIBA and WIBA-FM at 8 tonight. Agnes the maid (Pert Kelton) is only too right when she predicts, "We better not tell him I spoke to someone from Hollywood over that phone. He'll have it taken out and sterilized." But Edwin is due for a major surprise when he learns the views Monty Woolley of the directors of the Proscenium club.. whose members are dedicated to the legitimate theater and that alone.
51-01-19
11
Lost In Hollywood
Y
51-01-26
12
The Screen Test
Y
51-02-02
13
Evicted from Sweetheart Nest
Y
51-02-02 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
housing situation becomes critical.
51-02-09
14
Montague's 25th Wedding Anniversary
Y
51-02-09 Corpus Christi Times
Monty Woolley stars as The Magnificent Montague at 8:00.
51-02-16
15
Montague and the Kentucky Playwright
The New Playwright from Kentucky
Y
51-02-23
16
Measles
Y
51-02-23 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p. m. — The Magnificent Montague: starring Monty Woolley — WIBA.
51-03-02
17
Piggy Pinkerton Visits
Honorary Doctorate
Y
51-03-09
18
Raised Eyebrow Department
Gossip Column
Y
51-03-16
19
Montague's Diet
Y
51-03-16 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
college roommate's visit becomes unpalatable.
51-03-23
20
Title Unknown
N
51-03-30
21
Spring Cleaning
Cuckoo Clock
Y
51-03-30 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
Monty Wooley goes on economy campaign.

51-03-30 Corpus Christi Times
Economy is a brand new word in the vocabulary of The Magnificent Montague. So when Montague makes up his mind to save money, he takes drastic measures. Listen to Monty Wooley as The Magnificent Montague
at 8:00. KRIS
51-04-06
22
Montague Goes to The Track
Y
51-04-06 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
at the races.
51-04-13
23
South Pacific Road Show
Y
51-04-13 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
"Uncle Goodheart" decides to make cross-country tour.

51-04-13 La Crosse Tribune
MAGNIFICENT MONTAGUE again abandons radio in a comedy episode that pokes none-too-gentle fun at the soap opera tonight at 8:00 o'clock. The caustic comic, as played by
Monte Woolley, decides that he can do better reading Shakespeare in a cross-counttry tour.
51-04-20
24
Romeo and Juliet Over Radio
Y
51-04-27
25
Summer Get-Away Cottage
Y
51-04-27 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
lessons in bridge.

51-04-27 Long Beach Press-Telegram
ON RADIO
What else can I say but The Magnificent Montague, who acts the way he sounds (Monty Woolley) KFI at 6





51-05-05
26
South Pacific Auditions
Y
[Moves to Saturdays]

51-05-04 Capital Times
"Dangerous Assignment," adventure series starring Brian Donley, will move into the 8 o'clock period tonight, replacing "The Magnificent Montague " The latter, featuring Monty Wooley, will be heard at 7-30 p. m, Saturdays.

51-05-05 Racine Times
NBC, 7:30, Monty Woolley's "The Magnificent Montague" with Anne Seymour, changing time with Man Called X, now Fridays.
51-05-12
27
Baby in the House
Y
51-05-19
28
Proscenium Clubhouse Mortgage Woes
Big Ed McClune
Y
51-05-19 Corpus Christi Times
Three bright comedians
bring you merriment on KRIS tonight: Monty Woollcy, Dennis Day, and Judy Canova.
Monty Woolley portrays The Magnificent Montague at 7:30. It's the gleeful tale of a tart old Shakespearian actor who's been reduced to working secretly on radio in order to make a living.
51-05-26
29
Montague's Surprise Birthday Party
Y
51-05-26 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
Monty Woolley disclaims knowledge of his age.

51-05-26 Corpus Christi Times
The Magnificent Montague has conveniently forgotten what year he was born, but his family and friends are determined to find out, much, to Montague's consternation.
Monty Woolley plays the role of the crotchety Shakespearean actor, The Magnificent Montague, tonight at 7:30 on KRIS.
51-06-02
30
Shakespeare for The PTA
School
Y
[Poor recording ripped as stereo; 2nd half damaged]

51-06-02 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
actor invited to be ticket-seller at amateur show.
51-06-09
31
Citizens' Committee for Widening the Street
Y
51-06-16
32
Father of the Year
Y
51-06-23
33
Shakespeare Under the Stars
Y
51-06-23 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
Shakespeare in Brooklyn.
51-06-30
34
Title Unknown
Y
51-06-30 Manitowoc Times
For Saturday Night—
NBC—

7:30 p.m.—Monty Woolley

51-06-30 The Bridgeport Telegram
8:30 — "The Magnificent Montague" with Monty Woolley— WNBC
51-07-07
35
Fourth of July Uncle Goodheart Contest
Y
51-07-07 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
picnic for unemployed Shakespearean actors.
51-07-14
36
Chickapoo Lodge
Kickapoo Lodge
Y
51-07-21
37
'Edwin Montague Day'
Y
51-07-28
38
Gwendolyn Visits for A Week
Y
51-07-28 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
Monty Woolley collides with 9-year-old girl's imagination.

51-07-28 The Capital Times
7:30 p.m.—Magnificent Montague:
Monty Woolley and troublesome 9-year-old—WIBA.
51-08-04
39
Five Hundred Dollar Prize
Fifty Dollar Prize
Y
[Script similar to 50-12-15; The earlier episode cites a crisis for the Proscenium Christmas Fund. This time it's the Proscenium Summer Fund]

51-08-03 Portsmouth Times
SATURDAY
8:30 p.m.--NBC:
Edwin Montague treads on dangerously thin ice when he uses his radio personality of "Uncle Goodheart" to raise $500 for the difnified Proscenium Club, to which the very word "radio" is anathema. Monty Wolley portrays Montague.

51-08-04 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
"Uncle Goodheart" raises $500 for Proscenium club
51-08-11
40
Montague vs. The Great Benaru
Agnes Joins a Cult
Y
51-08-18
41
Diet for Proscenium Club Centenary
Y
51-08-18 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
Monty Wooley opposes dieting.
51-08-25
42
Lily's New Puppy Is Sick
Lily Gets a Dog
Y
51-08-25 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
vacation problems.
51-09-01
43
Raised Eyebrow Department Redux
N

51-09-08
44
Boo Boo Foo Foo
Y
51-09-08 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
Monty Woolley in romance trouble.
51-09-15
45
Title Unknown
N
51-09-15 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA): with Monty Woollely.
51-09-22
46
Title Unknown
N
51-09-22 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA): with Monty Woolley.
51-09-29
47
The Mix-Up
N
51-09-22 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA): with Monty Woolley.
51-10-06
48
Title Unknown
N
51-10-06 Wisconsin State Journal
7 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA): Monty Woolley
at new time.

51-10-06 The Capital Times
"The Magnificent Montague" comedy series starring Monty Woolley. will move to 7 p.m., and "Inside Bob and Kay," the zany variety show, will take over the 7:30 period.
51-10-13
49
Title Unknown
N
51-10-13 La Crosse Tribune
MAGNIFICENT MONTAGUE Woolley leads off the new parade of hits at 7:00, with his comedy portrayal of a wonderful, short-tempered radio actor.
51-10-20
50
Title Unknown
N
51-10-20 Wisconsin State Journal
7 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WIBA):
it's a "special Day" and Monty Woolley wonders why.
51-10-27
51
Title Unknown
N
51-10-27 Wisconsin State Journal
9:30 p.m.--Magnificent Montague (WMAQ): Monty Woolley's show
at new hour.
51-11-03
52
Title Unknown
N






The Magnificent Montague Radio Program Biographies




Monty Woolley [Edgar Montillion Woolley]
(Edwin Montague)

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1888-1963)

Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Education: Yale University

Radiography:
1940 Information Please
1942 This Is Our America
1942 Saturday Night Bondwagon
1943 The Al Jolson Program
1943 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1944 The March Of Dimes
1944 Radio Almanac
1944 The Dinah Shore Program
1944 Democratic National Committee Program
1944 Mail Call
1945 The Fred Allen Show
1946 G.I. Journal
1946 Kraft Music Hall
1947 The Charlie McCarthy Show
1950 The Magnificent Montague
1950 Operation Tandem
1951 The Big Show
Yarns For Yanks
Monte Woolley circa 1950
Monte Woolley circa 1950

Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came to Dinner
Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came to Dinner

From the May 6, 1963 edition of the San Mateo Times: 

'Man Who Came
To Dinner' Dies

 
     ALBANY, N.Y. (UPI)--Monty Woolley, the bearded actor famed as "The Man Who Came to Dinner," died today in Albany Medical Center Hospital.  He was 74.
     Woolley had been on the critical list since April 6 with a heart ailment.  He was moved to the medical center from Saratoga Hospital about 30 miles north of here.
     He had lived in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for the past few years.
     Death occurred at 4 a.m., a hospital spokesman said.
     The cause of death was listed as a kidney failure with related heart disease.
     Born Edgar Montillion Woolley, in New York City, he taught for 12 years at his alma mater, Yale, before heading to Broadway.
     Because of his chin foliage, he was nicknamed "The Beard."  His most famous role was as Sheridan Whiteside in"The Man Who Came To Dinner."  He originated the role on Broadway and later portrayed Whiteside in the movie version of the play.
     It was a role Woolley perpetuated for years to the delight of movie, radio and television audiences--that of a white-bearded patriarch, with fierce blue eyes, at times clenching a cigarette holder between his teeth.
     Woolley built his reputation as an irascible curmudgeon on the stage and screen.  But he insisted he actually was "mild-mannered and easy to get along with."
     That was in 1955, when he came to Hollywood to play Omar the tent maker in "Kismet," his last major venture in the movies before retiring to New York.
     Woolley, born Aug. 17, 1888, enjoyed a long success as a distinguished actor on stage and screen in spite of or perhaps because of, his long and unusual beard.
     "The Beard," first appeared in chin foliage in the Broadway hit "On Your Toes," in 1929.  From then on despite pleas of some film producers, he refused to shave off the magnificent beard and wore it in such films as "The Man Who Came to Dinner," in which he repeated his 1939 stage role that brought him his greatest success.  The part was one of a self-centered, booming voiced egocentric who resembled in part a famed theatrical critic and personality of the day, Alexander Woollcott.



Anne Seymour [Anne Eckert]
(Lily Boheme)

Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actress
(1909-1988)

Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.A

Education: American Laboratory Theatre School

Radiography:
1935 The Story of Mary Marlin
1937 The Royal Gelatin Hour
1941 Inner Sanctum
1942 This Is Our Enemy
1942 Mutual True Story Theater
1944 Palestine Speaks
1945 Words At War
1945 A Woman Of America
1945 Treasury Salute
1945 The Radio Edition Of the Bible
1947 Vienna
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1947 Quiet Please
1947 The Eternal Light
1947 The Ford Theatre
1947 Studio One
1948 Cavalcade Of America
1948 You Are There
1948 Great Scenes From Great Plays
1950 MGM Theatre Of the Air
1950 The Magnificent Montague
1951 The Private Files Of Rex Saunders
1952 California Civil Defense
1952 The Chase
1954 My Secret Story
1955 Inheritance
1955 X Minus One
1964 Theatre Five
1974 CBS Radio Mystery Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theater
Early Anne Seymour circa 1927
Early Anne Seymour circa 1927

Early Anne Seymour circa 1931
Early Anne Seymour circa 1931

Anne Seymour before the NBC mike during Grand Hotel (1935)
Anne Seymour before the NBC mike during Grand Hotel (1935)

Early Anne Seymour circa 1936
Early Anne Seymour circa 1936

Anne Seymour opposite Ralph Bellamy in the Stage play Sunrise at Campobello
Anne Seymour as Sara Delano Roosevelt opposite Ralph Bellamy in the Stage play Sunrise at Campobello

Anne Seymour was as versatile and durable a character actor as ever graced the Stage, Film, Radio or Television of the 20th century. It was her voice that was most recognizable to larger audiences early in her career and she showed that versatility in a wide range of roles over a forty-five year career in Radio. When Television began to reign supreme, Anne Seymour's face became equally recognizable to millions of Television viewers throughout the Golden Age of Television.

Born in New York City to a very comfortable upper middle class family, Anne Eckert's father was the respected copper expert, William Stanley Eckert, and her mother was the actress--and museum curator--May [Seymour] Davenport.

Anne Seymour could trace her theatrical heritage back almost seven generations to Ireland of the 1740s. Her great-uncle was Harry Davenport, a popular character actor for his day and her older brothers were James Seymour of 42nd Street fame (1933) and John Seymour, an equally durable Stage and Film actor.

Anne Seymour took her mother's maiden name and studied under Maria Ouspenskaya at the American Laboratory Theatre School. She made her theatrical debut with the Jitney Players touring throughout New England. Her first taste of the Broadway Stage came with a role in Mr Moneypenny (1928). The following three years found her appearing in At The Bottom (1930) and A School for Scandal (1931).

It was in 1932 that she debuted over Radio and by 1935 she was appearing as the first Mary Marlin in The Story of Mary Marlin, one of the more successful and durable soap operas of the era. She became identified with that role for the following eleven years, punctuated by hundreds of appearances in other Radio dramas of the era.

She made an auspicious debut in Film with 1949's All the King's Men as Lucy Stark. A year later she was co-starring with Monty Woolley over Radio as Lily Boheme, the upbeat, ever-optimistic wife of the curmudgeonly Edwin Montague, an ex-Shakespearean actor who fancied himself The Magnificent Montague in the 1950-1951 Radio program of the same name.

With the advent of Television, Anne Seymour was entering her 40s and though still possessing a remarkable character range over Radio, found herself portraying more matronly or authoritarian--yet benevolent--roles in all manner of dramatic showcases throughout the Golden Age of Television.

1958 found her back on the Stage, cast as Sara Delano Roosevelt in the critically acclaimed Sunrise at Campobello, opposite Ralph Bellamy. When the 1960 Film version of Sunrise At Campobello was cast she lost the role of Sara to Ann Shoemaker.

Working steadily in Television, Anne Seymour's face, voice and bearing became instantly recognizable to millions of Televisioni viewers. She'd been active with the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), often serving on their respective boards in one capacity or another.

A bachelorette her entire life, her last Film role was a small but memorable appearance as the officious Chisolm Newspaper publisher in Field of Dreams (1989). The film was released just after her death of natural causes in 1988. One cant' help but appreciate the sublime irony of the title of her last Film credit.

Anne Seymour led a storied life in the Dramatic Arts, and one rarely matched by her peers--male or female. Two generations of Americans came to know her as long-suffering Mary Marlin for almost eleven years. Another four generations of Americans came to know Anne Seymour as that perennially 'stern lady with the good heart' in literally hundreds of Television appearances over her thirty-five year career on the small screen.


Forty-five years in Radio, thirty-five years on Television, almost forty years in Film and some thirty-five years on the Stage. Anne Seymour was married to her craft and we're all the better for that 60-year Marriage made in Heaven.




Pert Kelton
(Agnes)

Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actress
(1907-1968)

Birthplace: Great Falls, Montana, U.S.A

Radiography:
1941 We Are Always Young
1947 The Milton Berle Show
1948 It's Always Albert
1948 Texaco Star Theater
1949 The Henry Morgan Show
1950 The Magnificent Montague
A young Pert Kelton on a Player's Cigarette card
A young Pert Kelton on a Player's Cigarette card

Art Carney and Pert Kelton in an early Honeymooners skit from Cavalcade of Comedy
Art Carney and Pert Kelton in an early Honeymooners skit from Cavalcade of Comedy.

Ralph Bell circa 1950 in the Suspense episode The Suicide Club
Ralph Bell circa 1950 in the Suspense episode The Suicide Club


The aptly named Pert Kelton was born and raised in typical Small Town America--Great Falls, Montana. By the mid-1920s, young Ms. Kelton was already appearing in vaudeville and the Broadway Stage. Between 1925 and 1933, Pert Kelton had already appeared in two musical comedies, Sunny (1925) and The Five O'Clock Girl (1933) and one operetta, The DuBarry (1928). Her natural gift for musical comedy served her well for her entire career.

This despite the fact that an important portion of what should have been her most productive years were clouded by her marriage to Ralph Bell, himself one of the era's great character actors.

Bell you see, was one of the hundreds of fine actors, technicians, writers, directors and producers that were 'blacklisted' during the scandalous McCarthy Era of the House Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC. Throughout that era, virtually any collective bargaining activities by any tier of entertainment craft unions were construed as Communist. Had the HUAC's crusade against Communism been genuinely noble, there's no question that it may have been more charitably viewed by History.

But as it transpired, the overwhelming rationale for the 'Communist outing' activities undertaken by the HUAC was simply an elaborate gambit to restrain collective bargaining and bring all union-organizing activities to a chilling halt--to the financial benefit of Corporate America during the rebuilding years following World War II.

Guilt by association was the albatross that hung around the neck of anyone married or related to--or even acquainted with--those identified in one of the circulating blacklists of the era. Ralph Bell's blacklisting lasted just long enough to damage his rapidly rising star in dramatic circles. Pert Kelton's equally rising star was taken down the same reprehensible path simply by virtue of her steadfast loyalty to her husband.

In the case of both of the Bells, the injustice was tragic indeed. Both were remarkably gifted actors. Both had ten of their most productive years tainted and damaged by the blacklists, yet both remarkable actors managed to surmount the blacklist to emerge as two of the 20th century's finer charactor actors.

By the mid-1940s Pert Kelton had begun appearing over Radio in many of the east coast productions of the era and, as the hysteria of the McCarthy years approached, she'd begun straddling the Stage, Radio, and Television in featured roles. 1950s Radio found her co-starring with Monty Woolley and Anne Seymour as the maid and housekeeper to The Magnificent Montague. At about the same time she was tapped to portray the first Alice Kramden to Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden in 15-minute The Honeymooners skits that were part of the Cavalcade of Stars (1949) program over CBS.

During the 1940s she'd appeared in another three Broadway plays, All in Fun (1940), Guest in the House (1942), and Lady, Behave! (1943). Indeed everything was on the rise for Pert Kelton until the McCarthy witch hunts brought both her husband's and her own careers to a grinding halt for almost ten years. Due to the blacklisting she lost the role of Alice Kramden to Audrey Meadows. Ralph Bell, who'd already begun appearing in all manner of early Television ended up stalling his own rising career as well.

By the time producers, writers, and directors were prepared to take a chance on her again, she landed on her feet with the role of Mother Paroo in the long-running, Tony-winning musical comedy, The Music Man (1958). And when the Stage play became a major motion picture, Kelton reprised the role in 1962's The Music Man.

Destined to be forever after identified as Mother Paroo, Pert Kelton was one of the mid-20th century's most active performers. The mother of two boys, Brian Bell and Stephen Bell, she was survived by both sons and husband, Ralph Bell, when after going to her weekly exercise swim she suffered a fatal heart attack.

From the October 31, 1968 Press-Telegram:

Death Takes
Actress
Pert Kelton
 
     RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (UPI) -- Pert Kelton, the Broadway veteran who was the first Alice in Jackie Gleason's "Honeymooners" television show, died in Valley Hospital Wednesday, apparently of a heart attack.
     Miss Kelton, who was in her early 60s, was getting ready to go swimming at a local YMCA when she complained of chest pains.  She was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
     A native of Great Falls, Mont., Miss Kelton had lived in Washington Township for the past 11 years with her husband, Ralph S. Bell, a television actor, writer and radio personality, and their two sons.
     She made her Broadway debut in 1925 in a play called "Sunny."  She played Mrs. Paroo in "The Music Man," which opened on Broadway Dec. 18, 1957.  Other plays she appeared in were "Come Blow Your Horn," "Guest in the House," "Minor Miracle," and "The Bad Seed."

It's unfair to measure Pert Kelton's widely ranging dramatic career by only three roles-- one on Radio, one on early Television and one on The Stage--and yet those three roles captured the essence of her talent for comedy. Her voice alone remains one of the most recognizable of the 20th Century. And while her country never quite apologized for what it allowed to happen to her, she soldiered on, returning to the Stage and Film and triumphed in both. A fitting testament to the resolve and talent of one of American History's finest musical comediennes.




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