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Original Textron Theatre header art

The Textron Theatre Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Textron Theatre
1945 Textron ad with Textron Theatre spot ad
1945 Textron ad with Textron Theatre spot ad

Announcement of Textron Theatre from September 8, 1945
Announcement of Textron Theatre from September 8 1945

Textron Theatre spot ad from Sept. 8 1945
Textron Theatre spot ad from Sept. 8 1945

Textron Theatre spot ad from Sept. 15 1945
Textron Theatre spot ad from Sept. 15 1945

Textron Theatre spot ad from Sept. 22 1945
Textron Theatre spot ad from Sept. 22 1945

Textron Theatre spot ad from Oct. 6 1945
Textron Theatre spot ad from Oct. 6 1945

Textron Theatre spot ad from Oct. 13 1945
Textron Theatre spot ad from Oct. 13 1945

Textron Theatre spot ad from Nov. 17 1945
Textron Theatre spot ad from Nov. 17 1945

Background: Helen Hayes' Recurring Radio Vehicles

Radio listeners adored Helen Hayes. All of America did, for that matter. One of the era's most beloved performers and personalities, Helen Hayes made over 500 appearances during The Golden Age of Radio. Beginning in 1935, Helen Hayes undertook an almost unbroken run of Radio programs over fifteen years, hosted by and/or starring herself in drama anthologies. A brief list follows:

  • The New Penny [1935-1936]
  • Bambi [1936-1937]
  • Helen Hayes Theatre [1939-1941]
  • This Is Helen Hayes [1945]
  • Textron Theatre [1945-1946]
  • Electric Theatre [1948-1949]

The New Penny was a serial melodrama. From the September 25, 1935 edition of The Hammond Times:

THE NEW PENNY

That's the name of Helen Hayes' new radio serial starting next Tuesday October 1, 8:30, WBNR. Edith Meiser, radio script vet who adapted the coffee's Sherlock series, is writing the continuity. Although each episode will try to keep complete in itself, Miss Meiser says there will be a connecting thread between each week. This will be okay if they don't fall back on the old movie thriller method of building up the plot, then dropping you with a CONTINUED NEXT WEEK tag which cheapens so many of our current radio skits.

The title of the vehicle refers to the main character, Penelope Edwards, who, after her marriage has come a cropper, seeks to make her independent way in the world. The "typical American town" in which Penelope attempts to do this puts many an obstacle in her path through its narrow viewpoint that woman's place is in the home.

The self-glorifying social worker and society leader, played by Agnes Moorehead (of Evening In Paris and Pop-Eye fame), and Fred Uttal as the reckless and thoughtless husband-that-used-to-be are but two of the menaces. The rest of the cast, such as Steve ("just a friend—a brother" ) and Mattie, faithful Negro maid, are to be picked during further auditions which started yesterday upon Helen's return from Europe on the Normandie.

Helen's next Radio outing was Bambi. From the September 8, 1936 Lima News:

Helen Hayes To Open New
Dramatic Series Over WJZ
Wilmer Walter And Laura Bowman To Again
Support Star

"The Surprise Marriage," opening chapter of the Helen Hayes' new radio dramatic series "Bambi," will be heard over WJZ circuits at 8 p. m. Monday. Wilmer Walter and Laura Bowman, radio actors who appeared with the blonde actress last year in the successful "New Penny'' sequences, again will play supporting roles. Miss Hayes will portray the part of a young woman possessed of strong ambitions for the man she loves. In the first episode, she prevails upon Jarvis Trent, impractical playwright, to marry her.

Helen Hayes Theatre for Liption Tea

Next up for Helen Hayes was her Helen Hayes Theatre for Lipton Tea. From the September 28, 1940 edition of The Mason City Globe Gazette:

Helen Hayes Theatre Opens Sunday
Mark Warnow's Band Will Join Helen Hayes

Harry Von Zell Announces as First
Program Airs Sunday Night at 9:30

Helen Hayes, "First Lady of the American Theater," comes to radio by popular demand when she brings her own ''Helen Hayes Theater" to the CBS audience, including KGLO, in the premiere presentation Sunday at 9:30 p. m.
   Every Sunday night thereafter Miss Hayes will be heard on KGLO from 9:30 to 10 o'clock under the sponsorship of Lipton's tea.
   Miss Hayes is to be starred in plays which give her full opportunity to portray characters she has always wanted to play. Dramatic material is to be drawn from originals, motion pictures, stage plays, magazine stories and best sellers.
   Mark Warnow's orchestra, which for years has been a Columbia network symbol for "tops" in music will be a feature of the new series. Harry Von Zell, one of radio's best-known voices, will be the program's announcer.
   The great star whose stage career reached a glorious moment with "Victoria Regina," and who was awarded the coveted Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Award for her performance in "The Sin of Madelon Claudet," won the acclaim of the nation's listeners in 1939-40.
     Miss Hayes is to be starred in "Victoria and Albert" as the premier vehicle for the new series Sunday evening.
    Perhaps no drama will have as dramatic a background as this play.
     In the selection of "Victoria and Albert," Miss Hayes' first offers to a coast-to-coast network audience, a portrayal which has brought her international fame--Queen Victoria.
     Secondly, "Victoria and Albert" is a dramatic composite of stories, plays and excerpts from the diary of the great British ruler.  To get permission for the use of much of this material, Miss Hayes had to have the consent of Laurence Housman, author of "The Golden Sovereign," and "Victoria Regina."
     A cable to London arrived at the height of the "Battle of Britain" and while an earnest and efficient messenger service sought Houseman amid the dust, din and destruction, production time fast was slipping away in America.
     At Miss Hayes' behest, CBS officials resorted to the shortwave radio and asked Columbia's London correspondent, Edward R. Murrow, to seek out Author Housman.
     The cable service and the Columbia staff of correspondents went out among the Londoners--seeking through air-raid shelters, all known haunts and all possible havens.
     Murrow came up with Harold Pinker, the author's agent.
     The cable service came up with a belated reply from the author.
     Two messages reached Miss Hayes in America granting her use of the source material on the life of the queen whose empire now is struggling for its existence.
     Thus went into production "Victoria and Albert."

Helen Hayes followed her Helen Hayes Theatre with This Is Helen Hayes over The Mutual Broadcasting System. From the February 25, 1945 edition of The Port Arthur News:

This is Helen Hayes spot ad from 45-02-25

The above spot ad is all the promotion that The Mutual Broadcasting System ever gave to Helen Hayes' Textron-sponsored drama anthology. On its actual page, the ad was about an inch high by two inches wide. Meager to say the least. Textron, understandably vexed at the total absence of any promotion of their Helen Hayes drama anthology stayed with MBS for only four months.

This brings us to the Helen Hayes drama anthology which is the subject of this article.

Helen Hayes' Textron Theatre Over CBS

From the September 6, 1945 Cedar Rapids Tribune:

     Helen Hayes, celebrated actress hailed as "The First Lady of the Theater," will be the star of a new weekly series of dramatic programs starting over the Columbia network Saturday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m.  Miss Hayes will be heard both in original radio dramas created for her by leading stage and radio playwrights, and in adaptations of stage hits which won her considerable acclaim.
     Miss Hayes has been a glowing figure in the American theater ever since the day her name first found its way into a program; on that occasion she was the Little  Mime in "Old Dutch."  After a number of years in such productions as the
"Prodigal Husband," "Pollyanna" and "Penrod," she had her first real opportunity as William Gillette's daughter in "Dear Brutus."
     The next season found her in "Clarence, with Alfred Lunt, and she then dedicated five years to establishing herself as an ingénue.  After appearing in "Caesar and Cleopatra," Miss Hayes gave a luminous performance in "What Every Woman Knows, a performance that nudged her into the highest bracket of American actresses.
     Never one to quake at the rigors of travel, even in their awkward war-time variations, Miss Hayes has toured extensively in all her successes.  She has toured with "Harriet" since October.  Statistically, Miss Hayes has played 4,210 performances on New York stages and another 3,000 appearances throughout the country.
     Miss Hayes, of course, has done her share of motion pictures.  She won the Academy Award for her performance in "The Sin of Madelon Claudet."
     Miss Hayes will play the title role in "Madame Curie" for the premiere broadcast of her new program Saturday, Sept. 8, at 6 o'clock.

As we've shown already in the sidebar, both CBS and Textron took their newly revived Helen Hayes drama vehicle far more seriously and conscientiously than Mutual had. The promotional material for the entire run was both informative and entertaining in its own right. This was clearly a far more appropriate vehicle, network, and sponsor for Helen Hayes and her avid fans.

The continued promotion of the new series had apparently been planned well in advance of the move from MBS to CBS. Note that the mini-columns from Helen Hayes were called "This Is Helen Hayes." We can only surmise that, given the advance artwork and copy that accompanied the promotional columns to advertise and tie into the new series, it was too abrupt a network move to recomposite the mini-columns by Helen Hayes. And of course, Textron, hoping as much to highlight their own involvement in the production, had abandoned the This Is Helen Hayes title for Textron Theatre with Helen Hayes.

Textron LIFE magazine ad from December 3rd 1945

The promotional spot ads alone, were an impressive, highly personalized, and thoroughly enjoyable campaign in support of the series. The wonderful newspaper articles/spot ads were accompanied by a nationwide magazine campaign (above) from Textron, highlighting their newest products and technologies (a highly expanded use of rayon and other synthetic textiles), which included a reference to their Helen Hayes Textron Theatre over Radio.

Even more appropriately, the productions themselves were superbly mounted, wonderfully directed, starred Hollywood's finest actors, and showcased some of the finest stage plays, novels, best sellers and original dramas of the 20th Century. The series under CBS was highly well received. Indeed, its production of My Little Boy on November 3, 1945 received an award presented by Harold E. Stassen, perennial Republican candidate for President, and--at the time--Chairman of American Brotherhood Week. The presentation was made during a special rebroadcast of My Little Boy on February 16, 1946.

This series was arguably one of the finest drama vehicles Helen Hayes ever participated in over Radio--certainly the finest series she'd ever starred in as a recurring production. Textron had begun polling readers of its ad copy as part of its advertising campaign. Textron reportedly employed the results of their polling to suggest possible radioplays to be included in the Textron Theatre canon. Helen Hayes often introduced the radioplay for the evening as the result of Textron's polling exercises. This is reminiscent of the similar practice of polling listeners in the Vick-sponsored Dangerously Yours and Vick's Matinee Theatre productions of 1944 through 1945.

The resultant audience contribution to shaping the productions to come was just another in a series of very clever and thoughtful promotional strategies employed to ensure the success of this regrettably brief drama anthology. Even more regrettable, there are only seven of these productions in wide circulation. As always, we hope that this article will encourage collectors to release a few more of these fine productions from their holdings.

Comparing Helen Hayes' personal columns and their corresponding radioplay selections, it becomes obvious that this series was targeted to a female audience. This is entirely understandable, given the target audience of its sponsor, Textron, Inc. This was, after all, a coordinated campaign to introduce America's women to Textron's line of synthetic fabrics and products.

Many of the Textron Theatre productions were incorporated into two AFRS drama compilations for distribution to troops overseas: The Globe Theatre [H-5] and Radio Playhouse.

After Textron Theatre

From the October 3, 1948 edition of The Syracuse Herald-Journal:

PREMIERE PLAY on the CBS Electric Theater at 9 tonight over WFBL will be James Hagen's comedy, "One Sunday Afternoon," starring Henry Fonda. Helen Hayes, permanent star of the program, will return November 14 from England, where she is appearing in "The Glass Menagerie." Substituting on the series, besides Fonda, will be Basil Rathbone, Margaret Sullavan, Herbert Marshall, Marlene Dietrich, and another star, as yet unchosen.

Sponsored by a coalition of electric companies. From the June 30, 1948 edition of The Frederick News-Post:

SPONSORING HELEN HAYES

Helen Hayes, brilliant actress of the theater, motion pictures and radio, will be starred in a new series of dramas, The Electric Theater, starting October 3 at 9 p. m, est on the Columbia network.
The sponsors are the business-managed electric companies. The Potomac Edison Company serving this area is one of the group of electric companies which will sponsor this program.

Helen Hayes continued to remain in demand over Radio through the very end of The Golden Age of Radio--and beyond. Textron Theatre and the Helen Hayes anthologies that preceded it and succeeded it were the finest, concentrated showcases of her talent and a lasting tribute to one of the 20th Century's finest--and most beloved--acting talents.

Series Derivatives:

AFRS Globe Theatre; AFRS Radio Playhouse
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Dramas
Network(s): CBS, The AFRS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 45-09-08 01 Madame Curie
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 45-09-08 to 46-03-23; CBS; Twenty-nine, 30-minute programs; Saturdays, 7 p.m.
Syndication:
Sponsors: Textron
Director(s): Lester O'Keefe [Producer]
Principal Actors: Helen Hayes, José Ferrer, Karl Swenson, Ralph Bellamy, Walter Huston, Dean Jagger, Burgess Meredith, Tonio Selwart, Brian Aherne, Alfred Drake, Maurice Evans, Martin Gabel, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Boris Karloff, Michael O'Shea, Otto Kruger, Maurice Evans, Gene Lockhart, Verna Felton, Winston O'Keefe, George Petrie
Recurring Character(s): Varied from production to production
Protagonist(s): Varied from production to production
Author(s): Eve Curie, Stephen Vincent Benet, Henrik Ibsen, Rose Franken, Lucille Kallen, Maxwell Anderson, Thornton Wilder, Patrick Hamilton
Writer(s) Robert Cenedella [Adapter]
Luther Davis, Lucille Kallen
Music Direction: Vladimir Selinsky [Composer/Conductor]
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Helen Hayes [Narrator]
Frank Gallop
William Johnstone [AFRS Host]
Hunter Galloway [AFRS Announcer]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
29
Episodes in Circulation: 7
Total Episodes in Collection: 8
Provenances:

Billboard announcement of Textron Theatre from June 30 1945
Billboard announcement of Textron Theatre from June 30 1945

Contributor Jerry Haendiges.

Notes on Provenances:

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

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The Textron Theatre Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
45-09-08
1
Madame Curie
Y
45-09-08 Mason City Globe-Gazette
The TEXTRON THEATRE presents Helen Hayes & Jose Ferrar in "MADAME CURIE" over station KGLO 7:00 to 7:30 P.M.
45-09-15
2
To the Ladies
Y
45-09-15 Mason City Globe-Gazette
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes and Karl Swenson in "TO THE LADIES" over Station KGLO 7:00 to 7:30 P.M.
45-09-22
3
Let the Hurricane Roar
N
45-09-22 Mason City Globe-Gazette
TEXTRON THEATRE presents Helen Hayes & Ralph Bellamy in "LET THE HURRICANE ROAR" over Station KGLO 9:45 to 10:15 p.m.
45-09-29
4
The Late Christopher Bean
N
45-09-29 Mason City Globe-Gazette
TEXTRON THEATRE presents Helen Hayes & Walter Huston in "THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN" over Station KGLO Saturday, 9:45 to 10:15 p.m.
45-10-06
5
Arrowsmith
N
45-10-06 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Dean Jagger in "Arrowsmith" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-10-13
6
Chopsticks
N
45-10-13 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Burgess Meredith in "CHOPSTICKS" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-10-20
7
Victoria Regina
N
45-10-20 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Tonio Selwart in "VICTORIA REGINA" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-10-27
8
Intermezzo
N
45-10-27 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Brian Aherne in "INTERMEZZO" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-11-03
9
My Little Boy
Y
45-11-03 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes in "MY LITTLE BOY" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-11-10
10
Shadow Play
N
45-11-10 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Alfred Drake in "SHADOW PLAY" over Station KWQ 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-11-17
11
The Ghost and Mrs Muir
N
45-11-17 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Maurice Evans in "THE GHOST and MRS. MUIR" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-11-24
12
Wuthering Heights
N
45-11-24 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes & Martin Gabel in "WUTHERING HEIGHTS" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-12-01
13
Happy Journey To Trenton and Camden
Y
45-12-01 Oakland Tribune
TEXTRON THEATER presents Helen Hayes in "HAPPY JOURNEY TO TRENTON & CAMDEN" over Station KQW 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
45-12-08
14
Angel Street
Y
45-12-08 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): with Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Boris Karloff in "
Angel Street."
45-12-15
15
Miss Rhudabaker Takes Off
Y
45-12-15 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): and Michael O'Shea in "Miss Rhudabaker Takes Off."

45-12-15 Mason City Globe-Gazette
HELEN HAYES stars in "Miss Rhudabaker Takes Off," an original whimsical radio drama by Broadway playwright Luther Davis,
written expressly for her current KGLO-CBS dramatic series, Saturday
at 9:45 p. m.
Miss Hayes plays a meek office'worker whose strange fascination with views from skyscraper windows involves her in the rescue of a window cleaner and a romance with paratrooper atop the Empire State building. "Miss Rhudabaker Takes Off is the 2nd script written for Miss Hayes by Davis, the first being "Chopsticks," in which Bliss Hayes played with Burgess Meredith.
45-12-22
16
A Child Is Born
Y
45-12-22 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): portrays role of Mary in "Family Portrait," story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of his family.
45-12-29
17
Cinderella
Y
45-12-29 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): and Alfred Drake in "Cinderella."
46-01-05
18
Kind Lady
N
46-01-05 Mason City Globe-Gazette
HELEN HAYES takes the role of an eccentric spinster in the drama "Kind Lady," which will be heard on the Textron Theater, Saturday at 9:45 p.m. over KGLO-CBS. Jose Ferrer plays opposite Miss Hayes in the sinister role of the stranger who attempts to defraud her. Mary Herries, played by Miss Hayes, chances to meet Henry Abbott, played by Jose Ferrer, and invites him into her home for tea. Henry, who represents himself as an art connoisseur, proceeds to lift her jade cigaret case. However, he returns later to tell her he has pawned it to help a sick wife and child. Kind Mary invites them into her home and little by little the Abbots and 3 supposed relatives join the household. They strip the spinster of her art treasures and hold her prisoner. Their plans progress nicely until a scheme goes awry. Vladimir Selinsky provides the dramatic musical interludes.
46-01-12
19
The Sobbin' Women
N
46-01-12 MasonCity Globe-Gazette
"The Sobbin' Women," adapted from the Stephen Vincent Benet short story is Helen Hayes' offering on her KGLO-CBS dramatic series Saturday at 9:45 p.m. Miss Hayes plays the role of Milly, mountain bride of one of the "terrible Pontipees." Milly finds her new husband anything but fearsome, recalling that Roman warriors were not gentle with their brides, captured from the "Sobbins or Sabbins or some such." The Pontipee brothers take the tip, and the result resounds throughout the mountains. Vladimir Selinsky arranges and conducts. Lester O'Keefe produces.
46-01-19
20
A Doll's House
N
46-01-19 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): and Otto Kruger in Ibsen's "Doll's House."
46-01-26
21
Run, Gabriel, Run
N
46-01-26 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): "Run, Gabriel, Run."
46-02-02
22
Jane Eyre
N
46-02-02 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): in Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre."
46-02-09
23
Ann Rutledge
N
46-02-09 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): story of Ann Rutledge.
46-02-16
24
My Little Boy
N
Special Rebroadcast

46-02-16 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): repeats "My Little Boy" and receives award from Harold E. Stassen, general chairman, American Brotherhood week.
46-02-23
25
Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness
N
46-02-23 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): in Dickens tale, "Dick Swiveller and Marchioness."
46-03-02
26
Romeo and Juliet
N
46-03-02 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): and Maurice Evans in "Romeo and Juliet."
46-03-09
27
Another Language
N
46-03-09 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): in Rose Franken's "Another Language."
46-03-16
28
Siren Song From Baltimore
N
46-03-16 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): "Siren Song from Baltimore," by Lucille Kallen.
46-03-23
29
Mary Of Scotland
N
46-03-23 Wisconsin State Journal
6 p.m.--Helen Hayes (WBBM): in Maxwell Anderson's "Mary of Scotland."





AFRS Globe Theatre Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
45-09-08
269
Madame Curie
N





AFRS Radio Playhouse Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
46-03-16
320
Siren Song From Baltimore
N






The Textron Theatre Radio Program Biographies




Helen Hayes Brown
(Host--Narrator)

Stage, Screen, Television and Radio Actor
(1900-1993)

Birthplace: Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Radiography:
1933 Fleischmann's Yeast Hour
1937 Monster Benefit For the American Red Cross
1937 NBC Presents Eugene O'Neill
1938 Rally For the National Foundation For Infantile Paralysis
1938 Silver Theater
1939 Campbell Playhouse
1939 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1940 Cavalcade Of America
1940 Lux Radio Theatre
1941 Helen Hayes Theatre
1941 Young America Wants To Help
1942 Dear Adolph
1942 The March Of Time
1942 Treasury Star Parade
1944 Radio Hall Of Fame
1944 Something For the Girls
1945 Textron Theater
1946 Victory Clothing Collection
1946 Radio Reader's Digest
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1946 These Are My People
1947 BOrn In A Merry Hour
1947 Theatre Guild On the Air
1948 Electric Theatre
1949 Voice Of the Army
1949 Ford Theatre
1950 You Can Be An Angel
1950 The Quick and the Dead
1951 I Took It Lying Down
1952 A Letter To Joan
1952 NBC Symphony Orchestra
1952 Best Plays
1953 This I Believe
1953 Medicine U.S.A.
1953 The Korea Story
1954 Anthology
1954 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1954 Salute To Eugene O'Neil
1955 Biography In Sound
1955 The Tex and Jinx Show
1955 What Christmas Means To Me
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1957 Recollections At Thirty
1959 Eleanor Roosevelt Diamond Jubilee
Adventures Of A Quarter
Helen Hayes with famed Stage actor William Gillette in 1918
Helen Hayes with famed Stage actor William Gillette in 1918

Helen Hayes circa 1928
Helen Hayes circa 1928

Helen Hayes with husband, playwright Charles MacArthur circa 1928
Helen Hayes with husband playwright Charles MacArthur circa 1928

Helen Hayes circa 1931
Helen Hayes circa 1931

Helen Hayes holding her first Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet circa 1932
Helen Hayes holding her first Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet circa 1932

Helen Hayes as a young Victoria Regina in the Hanna Theatre production of the same name (1937)
Helen Hayes as a young Victoria Regina in the Hanna Theatre production of the same name (1937)

Helen Hayes as an aged Victoria Regina in the Hanna Theatre production of the same name (1937)
Helen Hayes as an aged Victoria Regina in the Hanna Theatre production of the same name (1937)

Helen Hayes circa 1955
Helen Hayes circa 1955

Helen Hayes circa 1980
Helen Hayes circa 1980
From the September 18, 1993 Titusville Herald, Titusville, PA:

First Lady of the American Theater, Actress Helen Hayes, Dies at Age 92

     NYACK, N.Y. (AP) — Helen Hayes, who won the highest honors of stage, screen and television and was dubbed "First Lady of the American Theater," died Wednesday.  She was 92.
     Miss Hayes was brought to Nyack Hospital, in this New York suburb where she made her home, early last week suffering from congestive heart failure.  Her death was announced by hospital spokeswoman Nancy Kriz.
     Miss Hayes made her professional debut at age 5.  Her career spanned eight decades and roles ranged from Little Lord Fauntleroy to Queen Victoria to the cantankerous passenger in "Airport," for which she won an Oscar. 
     She received three Tonys and an Emmy as well as two Oscars, and in 1981 was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement.  In 1980, she was selected as one of 10 American artists to be commemorated on a gold medallion issued by the Treasury Department.
     Despite her size — she was 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds — she brought lofty command to historical roles, and she added grace and mischief to parts as ingénues and elderly sleuths.
     "Victoria Regina," in which Miss Hayes played 80 years of Queen Victoria's life in 2 1/2 hours, was among her greatest triumphs. It opened on Broadway in December 1935.  She starred in the role for 517 performances on Broadway, and played it more than 400 times more in a 1937-38 tour that grossed an unheard of $1.2 million at the box office.  "Even if you don't make it as an actor, it's an act of courage to try," she once said.
     Miss Hayes left the theater in 1971, after 66 years, because of allergies to dust that aggravated chronic bronchitis. But she always said the theater was still her first love.  "Sometimes the audience is annoying, sometimes they go to sleep and snore," she said. "But sometimes they're a true inspiration."
     "As a performer, I yearn for the personal connection with an audience, and the theater is the only place you can get it," she said.  After leaving the stage, she continued to work before the camera and was active in a number of causes, including the rights of the aged.
     She said she enjoyed old age, "the dividend, years," and joked that she expected to live to be 100.  "I came in with the century and I don't think it's polite to leave it without my escort," she said in 1987.
     Miss Hayes denied stardom meant greatness and poked fun at her fame. "When I get panicky at rehearsals," she said in 1966, "I reassure myself, 'No, they wouldn't dare fire me. It would be like spitting on the American Flag."'  Her first Tony Award came in 1947 for her performance in "Happy Birthday" and the second in 1958 for 'Time Remembered." The third, in 1980, was for lifetime achievement.
     Among other notable plays were "What Every Woman Knows" in 1926, "The Good Fairy" in 1931, "Mary of Scotland" in 1933, "Ladies and Gentlemen" in 1939, "Candle in the Wind" in 1941, 'The Wisteria Tree" in 1950 and "Mrs. McThine" in 1952.
     At age 55, she had a Broadway theater named for her, an honor accorded no other living actress except Ethel Barrymore. After a battle that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Helen Hayes was torn down in 1982 to make way for a hotel, but another theater was renamed in her honor.
     Miss Hayes made her first movie appearance, apart from an occasional silent film, in 1931 in 'The Sin of Madelon Claudet." The film, written by her husband, playwright Charles MacArthur, won Miss Hayes the Academy Award as best actress.  "Airport" won her a supporting actress Oscar in 1970.  She also appeared in "Arrowsmith," "A Farewell to Arms" and "Anastasia."  A television Emmy, in 1952, was for no specific performance, but followed a season in which she appeared in three live dramas on the "Schlitz Playhouse." In her 70s, she starred as a title character in the "Snoop Sisters" TV mysteries.  She also played the detective Miss Marple in TV movies in 1982 and 1983.
     The unlikeliest of her awards was a recording-industry Grammy in 1976 for a record on which she read the Bill of Rights. "Duller reading you never heard, but I was thrilled," she said. "I felt like a country and western singer."
     She was born Helen Hayes Brown on Oct. 10, 1900, in Washington, D.C., daughter of a wholesale butcher company manager, and was sent to dancing school to correct pigeon toes.  Lew Fields, a Broadway producer, saw her in a school play and told her mother to train her for the stage.
     In 1905, Miss Hayes debuted professionally as Prince Charles in a Washington stock company production of 'The Royal Family.'  A number of child roles followed in the capital before she made her Broadway bow at age 9 in Fields’ production of "Old Dutch."  Star billing came in 1920 in "Bab," subtitled 'The Sub-Deb." 
     She and MacArthur married in 1928, and the marriage lasted until his death in 1956. Miss Hayes insisted a responsibility of stardom was that "your personal life must be above reproach."  They had a daughter, Mary, in 1930. She died of polio at age 19, shortly before opening on Broadway in a play with her mother.  The couple also adopted a son, James, who became a movie and television actor known for his role in the 1970s detective series "Hawaii Five-0."  The family lived in Nyack, on the Hudson River 20 miles north of New York.


As is often the case, the above obituary failed to mention Helen Hayes' extraordinary Radio career. Contemporary journalists can, we suppose, be forgiven the oversight. But however the oversight occured, it doesn't discount Miss Hayes' extraordinary contributions to The Golden Age of Radio.

In addition to fifteen years of starring in her own radio programs between 1935 and 1950, Helen Hayes made frequent appearances in the finest, most prestigious dramatic programs of the era. Indeed, between 1933 and 1956 Helen Hayes made over 500 appearances over Radio. Given her extraordinary reputation, popularity and legendary acting talent, each of her appearances on Radio were met with considerable promotion and fanfare.

Among her many repeat performances over Radio, she compiled:

  • Four appearances on Silver Theatre
  • Eight appearances on Campbell's Playhouse
  • Seven appearances on Cavalcade of America
  • Six appearances on Hallmark Hall of Fame
  • Three appearances on Biography In Sound
  • Four appearances on Anthology

Her own drama anthologies over Radio comprised 240 appearances alone. She also appeared in all twelve episodes of the Orson Welles narrated Adventure of A Quarter, in addition to numerous other public service, war bond campaign and World War II patriotic anthologies.

The "First Lady of Theater" sobriquet was aptly applied to Helen Hayes throughout her long, highly productive, highly inspirational life. The sobriquet was as equally applied to her work on The Stage, the big screen, Television, and Radio. Her great legacy stands better represented over Radio than over any other medium she enhanced with her enormous talent and grace.

"We rely upon poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resilience to push on."

"Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn't original sin. He's born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it's a tragedy. A lot of people don't have the courage to do it."

"Age is not important unless you're a cheese"
          ----- Helen Hayes




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