The Quiet! Please Radio Program
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Quiet Please premiere spot ad from Mutual affiliate KPAC, June 8, 1947
''the man who spoke to you'', alias Ernest 'Chap' Chappell circa 1943
Spot cartoon from July 4 1948
From the August 25th 1947 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
This Airlane Dish Has an Odd Flavor
By JOHN CROSBY
The author and director of a fairly new and rather unusual dramatic series called "Quiet,Please" is Wyllis Cooper and the principal actor and narrator is Ernest Chappell. This information is imparted right at the outset because these two make an excellent team and between them they have given this series a personality all its own. Mr. Cooper writes fanciful stories, some of them dipping deeply into the grotesque, which consistently quiver with suspense.
They have an odd flavor, extremely difficult to describe, and they represent, I should say, pure radio. The best way to describe this program is simply to tell you a few of Mr. Cooper's yarns. There was a recent one in which two young men, the sons of prosperous mning executives in Butte, Mont., tagged along more or less as a lark with a group of politicians on an inspection trip of the mines. They descended 3700 feet. When the time came to return, the cage was quickly filled with politicians and went up to the surface without them. The wo boys were left alone 3700 feet down. One boy named Lincoln had been in and out of the mines many times, the other, Louis, had never been down there and was frankly scared to death.
To reassure his timorous friend while waiting for the cage to reurn for them, Lincoln invited him to proceed down a passage about 20 feet from the elevator shaft and inspect an odd and totally unexplainable tunnel. This tunnel, Lincoln explained, had been uncovered accidentally when crosscut busted right into it.
It was not a man made tunnel or at least it had not been made by miners in our time. Apparently t had been there for centuries, 700 feet straight down, and the strangest part of all was the fact the shaft was covered with what looked like Indian hieroglyphics.
While looking over the Indian picures, though they were only 20 feet from the elevator shaft, the boys found themselves inexplicably lost, their miners' lamps blown out. Soon they were several hundred miles into the earth, led by a spectral figure. I don't think I'll tell you any more than that. After that, he story began to dissolve a little into total malarky. However it is Mr. Cooper's gift to lead you into these macabre stories so skillfully that you don't really mind his enouements.
'MILL' GOES HAYWIRE
There was another story about a radio writer, beset by constant remorseless deadlines, whose typewriter suddenly started creating real, live characters. One character, a pirate, walked into the room and kissed the writer's wife. This so upset the girl she tore up the manuscript, which successfully exorcised he pirate. Weeks later, in the wee hours, the writer was trying to wrest an idea for a radio script from his strange typewriter. After some false starts, he began a story about an escaped convict, who invaded a man's home, entered the bedroom of his sleeping wife, knocked the husband cold ...
Knowing the way that typewriter behaved it was a foolish thing to put on paper. When the writer picked himself up from the floor, the window was open and the convict had abducted his wife. With rare presence of mind, the writer resuscitated that pirate who casually decapitated the convict and returned the wife, unscathed though mad as hops.
That's the sort of stories they arejust weirdand if you're of literal mind, I suggest you avoid them. Their great charm for me is the fact that I don't know what Mr. Cooper will do next. Also, these stories are handled with extreme skill. Mr. Cooper presents you with a fantastic idea but he never piles the unlikely on top of the unlikely.
REST IS LOGICAL
Once you accept the original premise, the rest follows logically. Incidentally the fantasies are never fully explained. There's the secret. Never explain anything fully. Leave 'em guessing. "Quiet, Please" is broadcast Sundays at 10:30 p.m., on KFRC.
Small, Irritable Memorandum to Women Commentators, Disk Jockeys, Masters of Ceremonies, Anouncers, and Hildegarde (especially Hildegarde): The adjective "awful" and the adverb "awfully" are not synonymous with "very," "extremely" or "ordinarily." While the' colloquial use of those words in that sense is occasionally permissible, the constant use of them to exclusion of all other words is getting tiresome. The language is filthy with adverbs, boys and girls. Let's dig up another one.
Copyright 1947 for The Tribune
48-03-12 Oakland Tribune
New Twist Given Radio Mystery Tale
by JOHN CROSBY
"Quiet, Please" on the Mutual Broadcasting System on Mondays (not carried in West), is a rather remarkable series of dramas whose unexpected twists and curious inflections put them almost in a class apart. Wyllis Cooper, who writes all of them, has a puckish humor and a deep interest in teh macabre. His stories, which seldom involve more than one or two persons, one of which is always played by Ernest Chappell, start out quietly, almost conversationally as if he were addressing you personally in your living room.
Some of these stories are almost parodies on other radio programs except they are too ingenious to be entirely satire. Here's an example of a recent one about a private detective named Kramer who started off addressing his audience.
"I wouldn't be caught dead in an alley with a derby hat. I have a 45 automatic which I never refer to as a roscoe or a rod. I have never been called a private eye. I must admit I do have a secretary. Here she is . . ."
The secretary was none of your crisp, efficient glamour babes that clutter up all the whodunits on the air. She was an ancient and tired old crow who responded invariably to her boss's ring with: "Well, whaddyas want?"
"This is my secretary," introduced Kramer. Mrs. Mellvaine, how many jewel robberies have I solved?"
"You ain't solved any."
"How many times have I been kidnaped?"
"Look Mr. Kramer," said this beldame with asperity, "I'm busy. I'm going to leave early. Parent-Teacher meeting. Don't forget to lock the door after you."
Having thus demolished all the traditions of the mystery story racket in one minute, Cooper settled down to his story. Scarcely had Mrs. Mellvaine departed than a visitor glided in, a timorous, fussy, apologetic little man who announced that he didn't know who he was and didn't particularly care.
"What do you want me to find out?" inquired Kramer.
"I want to know who murdered me," said the little man mournfully. "Someone should be punished."
There was a pause as this rather surprising statement sank in, and then the little Milquetoast of a ghost added gently, "Oh, please, sir! Don't call the police. I should just disappear. You'd look very foolish."
"I don't believe in ghosts," declared Kramer belligerently .
"You mean you didn't believe in ghosts," sighed the little ghost.
After a justifiable hesitation, Kramer agreed to take on the unusual case, chiefly because his polite little visitor waved a sheet of banknotes in his face. "Where does this money come from?" asked Kramer, after making sure it was negotiable, not ectoplasmic currency.
"I ... I really don't know," said the ghost in distressed tones. "I seem to have a good deal of it. No good to me, of course. Just find out who murdered me and you can have it all."
It was not an easy case. The ghost not only didn't know his name but also had no idea where or when he was murdered. Not much to go on. Nevertheless, Kramer agreed in return for a $1,000,000 fee which the ghost produced rather casually in large bills, to track down the murderer and then to kill him in person rather than hand him over to official organizations of justice. Just how he did this is too long a story but he did track down the murderer. The murderer, Kramer discovered, was himself. It had happened years earlier in a drunken brawl which neither murderer nor murderee remembered. This explained why the little ghost knew so little about himself. The story ended with the shy little ghost pleading insistently with Kramer to carry out the second half of his bargain.
Most of the "Quiet Please" dramas are weird, ingenious, and intimate affairs. Not all of them are as creepy as this one and even when they are, Cooper usually takes the curse off by injecting a wry humor. Above all they are pure radio.
Copyright, 1948, for The Tribune.
Introduction and Background
Quiet Please was promoted by both the Mutual Broadcasting System and Wyllis Cooper as a "new-type psychological drama with the listening audience slated to become part of the program." That description sums up virtually all of the scripts that Wyllis Cooper ever wrote for Radio during the Golden Age. Wyllis Cooper, arguably more than many of his contemporaries, viewed his Radio audience as individuals. He wrote to individuals. He crafted most of his scripts from an individual point of view. Personal dilemmas, personal foibles, personal obsessions, and personal terrors formed the basis for the overwhelming body of his work.
The intimacy that embodied the majority of Wyllis Cooper's stories provided Radio audiences with an equally intimate experience over Radio. Cooper himself acknowledged that this atmosphere wasn't created in a vacuum. The sound engineers and theme music that accompanied most of Wyllis Cooper's radio plays were integral to creating the ambience Cooper demanded from his productions. From Radio's Lights Out! to his first abortive attempt at a Television anthology of his work, Wyllis Cooper's highly charged psychological dramas created a remarkably loyal audience. It seems that the audience he was touching with these highly personal dramas couldn't get enough of him.
Quiet Please was clearly no exception. Successfully making the jump from the Mutual Broadcasting System to the American Broadcasting Company between seasons simply underscores the loyalty of Cooper's audiences of the era. This, in the face of criticism by John Crosby, and other Radio critics of the era, of the violence inherent in most psychological dramas of the 1940s. As must be obvious from even John Crosby's critiques of Cooper's work, Wyllis Cooper's writing talent was never at issue. Rather, it seems it was the very nature of psychological dramas as a genre.
Indeed, we opened this piece with two of John Crosby's Radio In Review columns precisely because they were contemporaneous accounts of the general attitudes of the radio criticism of the era and because the author of this piece wasn't even born until five months into Quiet Please's first season. My first exposure to Quiet Please was during many of the west coast Golden Age Radio retrospectives that aired over F.M. radio in the 1960s. Back then I was more of a fan of The Whistler, The Shadow, and Inner Sanctum. I found Quiet Please somewhat disquieting as a teenager.
Over the years, however, I've become quite a fan of Wyllis Cooper's work. Perhaps it was greater maturity. Perhaps Wyllis Cooper is simply an acquired taste. I'd always enjoyed Lights Out! restrospectives a great deal more for some reason. But for whatever combination of reasons, I never got back into Quiet Please until recently. Perhaps my own previous ambivalence over Cooper's work isn't that uncommon.
The psychological dramas of the 1930s and 1940s, especially, were pretty tame fare compared to the movies and television programs of that genre from the past thirty years. The Golden Age of Radio was, as we often repeat, a ''kinder, gentler era'' during which, even though ravaged by the collapse of Wall Street, The Great Depression, and World War II, remains one of the more tolerant eras in American History. We use the word tolerant with some specific targetting, however. We recognize the racial, political and gender intolerance of the era, to be sure. But the irony is that even those groups who were victims of the previously cited specific intolerance were overwhelmingly supportive of both their country and their broader culture throughout the era.
When you reflect on the bewildering array of the genre that aired over Radio throughout the first half of the Golden Age of Radio, that body of work alone, arguably represents at least 10% of the Radio programming that has survived from the era. It certainly remains one of Radio's most popular genres of the era.
Note that we didn't include the myriad other psychological dramas often contained within the canon of Suspense, Escape, and The Shadow. Of note is the observation that four of the above programs of the era were either predominantly written by Wyllis Cooper, or contained many of Wyllis Cooper's scripts. Beginning with Witching Hour in 1932, through to his own Quiet Please of 1947, it's clear that Wyllis Cooper was one of the genre's primary proponents.
Quiet Please: Production Background
Quiet Please's production values were excellent for its genre. Though aired over the two wannabe networks of the era, Mutual Broadcasting System and American Broadcasting Company, the production staff and resources invested in this production--on both networks--certainly reflected Wyllis Cooper's fifteen years of experience with psychological dramas. Even more interesting was Ernest Chappell's contribution to both seasons of Quiet Please. One of Radio's most likeable, versatile and experienced announcers and emcees, Chappell's acting credits since entering Radio in 1924 were somewhat sparse--Radio Reader's Digest (1942) for the most part.
As it was, Ernest Chappell not only embodied the sense and feel of Quiet Please with the addition of his hosting voice, but further demonstrated his acting talent in all but a few of the episodes from the entire run. Chappell sometimes appeared with his wife of four years, Claudia Morgan, already a Stage and Radio star in her own right. Indeed, Chappell's father-in-law, Ralph Morgan appeared with both Chappell and Claudia Morgan in Episode #13 of the first season, Three Sides to A Story. Claudia Morgan appeared in two other episodes with hubby, Chappell.
The choice of Ernest Chappell was truly inspired. His low, almost comforting delivery of introductions, exposition and narrative, as well as his characteristic sign-off, "quietly yours" from "the man who spoke to you", were perfectly framed in juxtaposition to the frequently bone-chilling aspects of most of Quiet Please's scripts. It's almost as if Wyllis Cooper, via Ernest Chappell's soothing voice, was telling his listeners, "it's o.k., sure I'm gonna scare the bejeebers out of you, but we'll always bring you back down to reality again with Chap's soothing voice."
Cooper also enjoyed some interesting little ironies in both naming his scripts and in framing them. The above example of Ernest Chappell, Claudia Morgan and Ralph Morgan in Episode #13's Three Sides to A Story is a case in point. But also note in the log below, Wyllis Cooper's sense of both history and irony in titling the MBS Season closer Symphony In D-Minor, which was in fact the, by then ubiquitous title of Quiet Please's theme, Cesar Franck's soothing 2nd movement to his Symphony in D-Minor. The ABC Season finale was titled, aptly, Quiet Please, a repeat of a script from the MBS Season. One of his most famous scripts, The Thing On the Fourble Board, remains to this day, one of radio collecting's most misspelled episodes, if not most misunderstood titles.
At this point we digress, but by way of exposition we offer the following:
- A fourble is a length of pipe assembled from four, shorter lengths of pipe (usually approximately 90 feet in length). The fourble evolved from the double (two-lengths of pipe), and tribble (three lengths of pipe) used in earlier years of oil rigging. As technology and materials improved the standard length of most drilling sections became the fourble--or four-joint sections.
- A fourble board is a length of board, approximately 40 inches wide, used to elevate and stabilize a fourble of pipe before it's lowered down onto the section most recently drilled into the well. It also serves as something of a catwalk on drilling rigs, but is a temporary structure only, designed primarily to stabilize and raise a length or lengths of pipe.
We digress, if only to explain somewhat further, Wyllis Cooper's often obscure references amongst his titles and scripts. There were more little Cooper ironies contained within the canon of his Quiet Please scripts:
- I Have Been Looking For You (Ep. 2) was an oblique homage to the recently popular Warner Bros. cartoon character Pepe le Pew, voiced by Mel Blanc
- Baker's Dozen (Ep. 33) was an oblique reference to the number '13'
- A Red and White Guidon (Ep. 36) was an homage to Cooper's service with the Army Signal Corps
- It Is Later Than You Think (Ep. 59) was an obvious homage to Lights Out!
- Dark Rosaleen is an homage to the nationalistic Irish poem "Dark Rosaleen" by James Clarence Mangan
For that matter, almost all of the Quiet Please scripts were very cleverly titled. Many were homages, sendups to other contemporary productions on Stage, Screen and Radio. Numbers of one kind or another titled 23 of the 103 scripts of the run. Ghosts were an understandable reference in several of his titles. The script titles became even more esoteric for the ABC Season of Quiet Please. It's clear that Cooper was having as much fun with the production and its audience as the audience was having with him.
The theme music, as represented above, was an important element of each production as well--on several levels. Initially executed by Gene Perazzo, from December 1947 and on, it was Albert Buhrman at the pedals and stops. The underscore, with it's lilting, soothing theme, was quite calculatedly provided as a bit of reassuring misdirection prior to yet another weekly, terror-filled personal dilemma or situation. Yet another of Cooper's signature counterpoints throughout the series.
The production's sound engineers, Albert April, Bob Berman and William J. McClintock as well, deserved a far greater deal of the credit for Quiet Please's productions than they were ever truly accorded, though it's obvious that Bill Cooper held all of them in the highest esteem.
Collecting and Researching Quiet Please
Given the number of tribute sites and vintage radio groups that have sprung up in support of Quiet Please over the years, one might have expected a bit more in the way of actual research into this fascinating two-season production. What information there is on these sites, while clearly voluminous, often beg more questions than provide answers. For whatever combination of reasons, spelling errors abound, inaccuracies litter most of these sites, and provenances for any of the information presented generally derives from hand-transcribed scripts from the body of some 90+ exemplars currently in circulation. The last referenced 'provenance' remains the most troublesome. If the circulating scripts are merely transcribed from having listened to the surviving exemplars of Quiet Please, this provides an almost meaningless provenance.
There are several problems with even the best references--actual on-air, as-broadcast provenances. In this instance the problem is Wyllis Cooper himself. Cooper begins the MBS Run by regularly reciting the number of episodes broadcast by that airing. He goes even further in the MBS Season by announcing during the program of March 22, 1948, A Night To Forget, that the night's presentation was the "fortieth in the series", and that the following week's presentation would be the forty-first. The only apparent problem with both those statements is that by every count we could arrive at, the chronological count of episodes up to that point was that A Night To Forget was actually Episode #42 and the following week's presentation would have been Episode #43. At the end of the MBS season, Cooper thanks his technicians for ''63 weeks of support.''
The following season, at the end of Pavane, the penultimate program, Wyllis Cooper announced that the following week's program would be number 107 of the series. The problem with Cooper's continuity is that Pavanne, by every accounting we could cross-check chronologically, was Episode #105 and that the season finale, as announced, would actually be Episode #106.
What remains most obvious about this series are the thousands of ardent Quiet Please and--by natural extension--Wyllis Cooper fans. Indeed, most Wyllis Cooper fans praise Quiet Please far more than Lights Out! or even Witching Hour. Even more obvious, present company included, is that the more people exposed to Quiet Please, the more avid fans the series acquires.
Give Quiet Please another listen. If it's before 11 p.m., you'll probably learn to enjoy them all over again. If it's after 11 p.m., there's every possibility that 'Chap' Chappell's soothing voice will put you to sleep better than counting sheep--a win, win situation. You can't lose.
|AFRS R-Series 'Quiet Please'
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Psychological Mystery Dramas
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||MBS Run: 47-06-08 01 Nothing Behind the Door
ABC Run: 48-09-19 66 Anonymous
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||MBS Run: 47-06-08 to 48-09-13; MBS; Sixty-five, 30-minute programs;
ABC Run: 48-09-19 to 49-06-25; ABC; Forty-one, 30-minute programs;
||Wyllis Cooper; Daniel Sutter [Director/Transcriber]
||MBS Run: Ernest Chappell, Charme Allen, Pat O'Malley, Vicki Vola, Martin Lawrence, James Van Dyke, Claudia Morgan, Peggy Stanley, Martin Wolfson, Nancy Douglas, Walter Black Kermit Murdock, Floyd Buckley, Lon Clark, Roc Rogers, Anne Seymour, Frank Dane, Frederick Bell, John Morely, Sylvia Cole, Helen Marcy, Walter Bryan, Catherine Meskill, Nancy Sheridan, Charita Bauer, Don Briggs, Ed Latimer, Evie Juster, Cameron Prud'Homme, Vinton Hayworth, James Monks, Arthur Kohl, Sid Cassell, Ted Osborne, William Adams, Muriel Kirkland, Audrey Christie, Michael Odist, Harry Worth, Jim Boles, Lotte Stavisky, Murray Forbes, Bill Huggins, Gus Gordon, Michael Fitzmaurice, Floyd Buckley, Martin Weaver, Leora Thatcher, Frank Thomas, Edgar Stehli, Jack Tyler, Lon Clark, Polly Cole, Margaret Draper, Mary Lee Joel, Jack Lescoulie, Connie Lembcke, Bruno Wick, Roy Irving, Ellen Sparrow, Sid Cassell, Court Benson, Cathleen Cordell, Charles Penman, Harriet Priestly, Alice Reinheart, Bruno Wick, Hilda Palmer, Phil Tonken, Abby Lewis, Cecille Roy, Daniel Sutterl, Brad Barker, Kathleen Deday, Lon Clark
ABC Run: Ernest Chappelll, Athena Lorde, Floyd BUckley, Kathleen Neday, Pat O'Malley, G. Swain Gordon, Nancy Sheridan, Charles Egleston, Lotte Stavisky, Warren Stevens, Anna Maude Morath, Claudia Morgan, Sarah Fussell, Arthur Kohl, Murray Forbes, Ruth Last, Kermit Murdock, Mary Patton, Ralph Schoolman, Cathleen COrdell, William Adams, Bess Johnson, Martin Lawrence, Daniel Sutter, Floyd Buckley, Mel Ruick, Warren Stevens, James Monks, Ed Latimer, Frank Thomas, James Goss, Abby Lewis, Cecille Roy, Cecille Roy, Daniel Sutter, Carl Emory, Jack Arthur, Leora Thatcher, Don Briggs, Arthur Kohl, Jean McBride, Charita Bauer, Mark Forbes, Frank Thomas, Walter Black, Edgar Stehli, Helen Choate, Joyce Gordon, Bess Thompson, William Marshall, Jean White, Mark Forbus, Betty Reggie, Jack Lescoulie, Anne Seymour, Joan Lazer, Vinton Hayworth
||"the man who spoke to you"
||Gene Perazzo [Composer/Conductor]; Albert April [Sound Effects]; Bob Berman [Engineer]; William J. McClintock [Sound]; Pipe Major James Petrie on the pipe.
||2nd Movement of Cesar Franck ’s “Symphony in D Minor”; Albert Buhrman [Organ]
||Ernest Chappell ["the man who spoke to you"]; Les Tremayne [Narrator]; Mel Ruick [Announcer]
||Estimated Scripts or
||Episodes in Circulation:
||Total Episodes in Collection:
||RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
Those who've read some of our other provenance sections among our articles and logs have noted our frequent observations on commercial otr plagiarism--or 'borrowing'. Rather than go over old ground, let's simply get it out of the way. 'Borrowing,' throughout the otr community, is pervasive, rampant, and apparently enjoying a resurgence for the forseeable future. Nowhere is this more apparent than in simple spelling errors--in names, episode titles and credits. We can't take the radioGOLDINdex to task over this, simply because it's where much of this plagiarism emanates from. You can't blame the party being plagiarized for the theft of their scholarship--even in the extremely rare instances when it's inaccurate.
The composer, conductor and organ accompanist for the first season of Quiet Please is a case in point. Gene Perazzo was a noted pianist and organist during the Golden Age of Radio going back as far as 1925. Now, granted, when one hears either Wyllis Cooper or Ernest Chappell recite Perazzo's name over the air, it's a perplexing name to sound out. Is it Jean or Gene? Is it Paratzo, Peratzo, Parazzo, Parazo, Perazo, or Perazzo? How to resolve it? Look it up, no? Simple. We thought so anyway . . . until we began searching for references to Gene Perazzo only to turn up hundreds of suggested references to "Gene Paratzo." Apparently the otr community's rampant plagiarism is a source of endless confusion for Google itself.
And where were all of those "Gene Paratzo" references cited? The RadioGOLDINdex, naturally, but the others were from mevio.com and--no big surprise here--the OTRRPedia. That's OTRRPedia as in the Old Time Radio Researchers Group's 'authoritative' radio encyclopedia, apparently used by thousands of neophyte vintage radio fans as their 'bible' in researching vintage radio. The OTRRpedia broadly disclaims their plagiarism and utter nonsense with the following notice on their OTRRPedia home page:
"We are well aware that various sources provide conflicting information. If you see information that is incorrect and/or incomplete, we encourage you to send us the correct information using the form that is accessible from any of the pages for the people and programs. Just click on the item "Contact the Editors" that is near the bottom of the page."
Somebody help us out here: if their logs, database and OTTER are already the 'most accurate in the world', what needs to be corrected?
The use of the euphemism 'conflicting information' (e.g., this and our other hundreds of fully provenced logs), obviates the obligation to get it right the first time, while still retaining their claim as the most authoritative vintage Radio research resource in the world. Nor, of course, do they ever cite the source(s) that corrected their misinformation. Attribution--in any form--is the bane of existence of commerical otr. It's far easier to copy the scholarship of others and simply subsume the credit for it. They have their cake and eat it too. They don't credit anyone who corrects their absurd misinformation, then they simply take the credit for the marginally increased accuracy that source leant to their misinformation.
We feel the above observations speak for themselves.
You're welcome to compare our fully provenanced research with the log from the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and what they call their Quiet Please log, which the OTRR claims to be correct according to their 'OTTER log. We've provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE to protect our own ongoing due diligence and intellectual property.
Let's simply take the most obvious and glaring shortcoming of most commercial CATAlogs: they title Episode No. 65, Symphony in Minor. The actual title is Symphony in D Minor. Why is this so glaring? The 2nd Movement of Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D Minor is the theme song heard in each and every Quiet Please that ever aired! The actual title couldn't be more obvious.
Many of you may be wondering why several of the circulating Quiet, Please! episodes are only 21-23 minutes in length. That's almost certainly because they're actually AFRS transcriptions that some otr seller has clipped to remove any reference to the actual AFRS source. There are approximately ten such altered AFRS exemplars in current circulation. Unfortunately, due to that butchery, no intact AFRS-denatured exemplars are in current circulation.
Further, the litany of inaccurate titles that have accumulated over the years for Quiet Please, from the vacuum of scholarship in support of the program, has littered the series with a whole host of inaccurate titles. Here's the one issue we'll never ever understand about commercial otr. It goes without saying that vintage Radio recordings are an aural medium. Is it too much to ask of a commercial otr organization to actually listen to the recordings they so 'authoritatively and accurately' CATAlog? We realize what an imposition that would be for them. But really. How can one catalog a program without ever listening to it?? We've corrected all of their errors in the two logs below. Of course do any of them care in the least? Nah. 'Nuff said on that score.
[Update: A tip o' the hat to alert visitor, Rick Hurdle for his correction of our episode No. 97 at 49-04-24, which we'd previously titled, The Vale of Glen Cove. We agree with his suggestion that the episode is more correctly titled, The Veil of Glen Coe, which is both more in keeping with the plot, as well as more geographically correct as regards the topography and historical sites of Southern California. Both Glen Cove and Glencoe are either cities or unincorporated areas of California.
The unincorporated town of Glencoe, CA is far closer in proximity to Mission Santa Ines, near San Jose. Glen Cove, by contrast is located near Oakland, CA, which serves to dispel the notion that the title is a geographical reference. Given the Scottish orientation of the plot, it's more plausible that the correct title would more likely have been The Veil of Glen Coe, as a nod to the ethereal, ghostlike flashbacks to clashes between the MacDonalds and Campbells back story cited in the script. At about 27:16 in the circulating recording, the ghostly figure of Makean MacDonald tells the protagonists that they've entered the 'Vale of Glen Coe', MacDonald territory.
Wyllis Cooper was noted for his clever, cryptic and often ambiguous titles for his scripts. The title for this episode could therefore be literally interpreted as either The Vale of Glen Coe or The Veil of Glen Coe--'veil' more indicative of the 'veil' of Scottish history related during the plot, and 'vale', though arguably redundant since 'vale' and 'glen' are somewhat synonymous, the literal recitation of Mackean MacDonald in the script. ]
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The Quiet! Please Radio Program Biographies
Radio Director, Actor, Announcer, Producer; Journalist
Birthplace: Syracuse, New York, U.S.A.
Education: Syracuse University
1938 Campbell Playhouse
1939 Hobby Lobby
1939 Monday At 8:30
1940 Behind the Mike
1942 Reader's Digest
1942 Vox Pop
1942 Are You A Geniuis?
1942 Radio Reader's Digest
1942 The Adventures Of Ellery Queen
1943 The Chamber Music Society Of Lower Basin Street
1944 Two Men On A Raft
1944 Words At War
1944 Treasury Salute
1945 The Abbott and Costello Show
1945 Texaco Star Theater
1945 Between the Bookends
1947 Ernest Chappell (Audition)
1947 Ted Malone
1947 Quiet Please
1947 CBS Is There
1947 The Big Story
1948 Edward R. Murrow News
1950 Cavalcade Of America
1953 This I Believe
Ernest Chappell byline circa 1925
1933 announcement of resumption of The Richfield Country Club over NBC/WJZ, with Ernest Chappell as emcee.
Ernest Chappell circa 1942
Ernest Chappell married lovely Stage Film and Radio star Claudia Morgan, daughter of Ralph Morgan and niece of Frank Morgan in 1943
Quietly Yours . . .
6'3" Ernest Chappell, born and raised in Syracuse, New York was literally and figuratively, Syracuse's fair-haired boy. Star athlete in high school and Syracuse University, local sportscaster, graduate of Syracuse University, local D.J. and emcee, Radio Director of local Syracuse station WFBL [''First Broadcast License''], and local columnist for the Syracuse Herald with his own byline, Riding The Waves with Chap.
Universally well liked and admired, for Chappell, Radio was his oyster for 50 years throughout The Golden Age of Radio.
From the August 22, 1965 Denton Record-Chronicle:
Radio Pioneer Hopes To Begin New Career
By SANDRA NEWTON
One of radio's pioneers was in Denton this week for a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Conley, 108 Forest St.
Ernest Chappell, voice of the American Tobacco Co. on radio and television for more than 20 years stopped in Denton en route home from a 10,000-mile business - vacation trip.
Accompanying him were his wife, Margie, and their two children, Susie and Jimmy.
Chappell began in radio 42 years ago, when the industry was an infant of 15 years. In the past, his fame spread to the extent that he received mail in New York City, addressed simply, "Chappy."
Now, he's preparing for semi-retirement from that field, only to embark upon new career.
Chappell said, "I'm not interested in making a pile of money now--I don't need that. But what I am interested in is doing something about this country's sense of values."
He plans, with other backers, to found a non-sectarian college in Palm Beach, Fla., and eventually to add it to a school of engineering for radio and television aspirants.
Also included in Chappell's future plans is ownership of management of a television station. He'd like to work with Dr. Tom Moody, president of the Southern Baptist Pastors Association, in founding a new method for aiding in the spiritual development of the young people of America.
The method he has outlined would begin daily telecasts in the morning with a "thought for the day." Noon programs would be designed to help viewers develop the habit of meditation. And final moments of daily telecasting time would be a presentation of a hymn by such artists as Kate Smith and "Tennessee" Ernie Ford.
But looking ahead to a new field occupies only a portion of Chappell's time--he also recalls stories about some of the big-name stars with whom he's worked during the past 42 years.
Rudy Vallee was one. And there was Orson Welles on CBS' "Hello, Americans," and David Ross and Edward R. Murrow. And a list too long to complete. And, of course, North Texas State University artist-in-residence Eugene Conley.
Conley and Chappell met "back in '35 or '36" when the future Metropolitan opera star was still singing in church choirs.
Chappell was in Boston to hear auditions for one of his radio programs. He heard Conley sing, and sent him on to New York City. They've been fast friends ever since, even though Conley and his wife eventually came to Texas and NTSU.
When Chappell became an independent contractor in 1932, he was asked to cast a program for Herbert Diamond Co. of New York. It became the Herbert Diamond Entertainers, with Vallee singing two numbers. A dance band played and guest artists appeared regularly.
"I thought the show was going along fine," Chappell recalls. "The firm was selling it's merchandise and they liked the show.
"Then one day the manager called me into his office and said, "Look here at this stack of letters."
"All of them were protesting against presenting dance music on Sunday afternoon. So the show--and Vallee--had to go.
"Later I put him in another show on Thursday nights, and that was okay. But not on Sunday, no matter how popular he was."
|Willis Oswald 'Bill' Cooper [Wyllis Cooper]
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Writer, Producer, Director, and Actor
Birthplace: Pekin, Illinois, U.S.A.
1929-31 Empire Builders
1932 Tales of the Foreign Legion
1933 Desert Guns
1933 Armistice Day Program
1934-36 Lights Out!
1934 Hello, America
1934 Daffy-Dilly Christmas
1935 Immortal Dramas
1935-36 Flying Time
1935-36 Betty and Bob
1944 Arthur Hopkins Presents
1945 Lights Out
1947 Crime Club
1947 Quiet Please
1948 Radio City Playhouse
1950 Cloak and Dagger
1951 Living 1951
1951 Philip Morris Playhouse
1951 Scotland Yard
1951 WHItehall 1212
Wyllis Cooper at work in Hollywood ca. 1947
U.S. Army Signal Corps Emblem
1st Batallion, 131st Infantry Coat of Arms.
Willis Cooper (1935)
Arthur Hopkins Presents spot ad from 1944
|Willis Cooper was born in 1899 in Pekin, Illinios, to Charles Edgar and Margaret (Oswald) Cooper. He was joined a year later by his younger brother Harry Edgar Cooper.
Upon graduating from Pekin High School, he entered the the U.S. Cavalry, serving initially as a Sergeant patrolling the U.S. border with Mexico. By 1917 he was in the Army Signal Corps as a member of the Allied Expeditionary Forces until 1919, at which time he returned to Illinois. His three years in the Army were far from uneventful. He'd chased Mexican Bandits on the border, he'd shipped overseas with the 131st Infantry, suffered a head injury from a German shelling in Germany, and he'd been gassed in the Argonne Forest. He continued to serve with the Illinois National Guard, as a Captain of the 31st Infantry. Cooper retained his commission from 1923 through 1933, serving the last five years of his commissioned service with the U.S. Cavalry Reserve.
When not serving on active duty between 1919 and 1929, Cooper found several writing positions with Advertising concerns. Throughout that period he'd been employed variously as a photographer and ad copywriter in various places between Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois. He'd reportedly started his own advertising company while in Santa Monica. He'd married his first wife Beatrice shortly upon returning to civilian life. And by 1929 he'd apparently divorced his first wife and married the former Emily Beveridge in Chicago.
Willis Cooper began writing for CBS some time around 1931, as a continuity editor until 1933, at which time he took a position with NBC as a continuity editor. He apparently worked as a free-lancer, since he was writing for NBC's Empire Builders (1929-1931) while reportedly working for CBS at the same time. In any case, Cooper left NBC in 1935 to devote his full interest to Lights Out!.
Apparently he was simply hedging his bets, since 1935 found him writing for Betty and Bob for WGN, Chicago before leaving Illinois for Hollywood, California to work as a screenwriter for the 20th Century Fox, Universal and Paramount studios. He tried to keep his hand in Lights Out! from L.A., but by 1936 he was notified that Arch Oboler had been contracted to take over Cooper's writing duties with Lights Out!.
Between 1936 and 1939, Cooper received screen credits for Think Fast Mr. Moto (1937), Thank You Mr. Moto (1937), Mr. Moto Takes A Chance (1938), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and the serial, The Phantom Creeps (1940) with Bela Lugosi. Some time around 1940, in response to a request from his wife--an ardent numerologist--Willis changed his name to Wyllis with a 'y'.
A prolific writer for Radio, Cooper wrote almost all of the 1934-36 scripts for Lights Out!, at least eight more Lights Out! scripts post-1945, all of the scripts for Quiet Please!, and of course the 500+ other scripts he penned before lending his hand to screenwriting in Hollywood.
Television was a natural extension for both his writing and producing talents. Wyllis Cooper contributed to many of Television's earliest dramas, including his own short-lived Volume One (1949) and Stage 13 (1950), Escape (1951), Lights Out! (1951), Tales of Tomorrow (1951) and CBS's prestigious drama anthology, Studio One (1951).
Cooper was not without his severest critics, the curmudgeonly Radio critic, John Crosby among them, from his Radio In Review columns:
From the September 5th 1949 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
Writer Puts Unique
Tone In Air Plays
By JOHN CROSBY
Wyllis Cooper, who looks like a cross between a gnome and Alexander Woollcott, is an arresting and, in one respect, almost unique figure in radio. He is one of the few writers whose own personality is impressed on listeners more vividly than that of the actors.
He is the author of "Quiet Please," now off the air, and of a short-lived television program. Any single drama on either of those programs was instantly recognizable as the handiwork of Cooper, whose mind works in strange ways. In almost all Cooper scripts a sense of dread, or imminent catastrophe, hangs over the characters from the outset to about one minute before the closing commercial. Yet nothing much happens in the half hour. There are long, long pauses, so long sometimes you wonder if your radio has gone on the blink. Networks are horrified at the amount of dead air they purchase along with Cooper. (A half hour Cooper script played at ordinary tempo would run about 11 minutes.)
ALWAYS SURPRISE END
A Cooper story always ends with a surprise, a twist of some sort, many of them unexplained. The supernatural figures strongly, though in strange ways. Supernatural characters in Cooper's dramas are not terribly sinister. Many of them are more likeable than the humans in the script and some of them are just ridiculous and a little poignant. They are likely to pop in unexpectedly. You'll see (or hear of) a couple of guys at a bar drinking beer and suddenly become aware that one of them has four arms and hails from the moon.
A Cooper story starts so slowly you can hear your heart beat, sometimes with a satiric twist right at the beginning. There was one about a private eye to whom nothing had ever happened. He'd had no adventures at all. And his secretary was no glamor girl, but a battleaxe, roughly 112 years old. Then a man walked in to discuss a murder. "Who was murdered?" asked the private eye.
"I was," said the man, rather aggrieved about it.
EXCELS IN CHARACTER
Some of these twists are little too elfin to stand analysis, but then Cooper is not long on plot anyhow. His gift is for mood and character. The listener gets so wrapped up in a Cooper character, wondering who he is, what he's doing there, and how its all going to come out, he'll sit on the edge of his chair for half an hour. And at the end of half an hour, he may still be pretty fuzzy about what happened depending on how explanatory pending on how explanatory Cooper feels at the moment.
Like Henry Morgan, Cooper has no respect for or interest in listeners who are doing the dishes or who drop out to the icebox for a beer during his stories. He never repeats himself. "Why should I make concessions to the audience that doesn't pay attention?" he says. As a matter of fact, he doesn't make very many concessions to the people who do pay attention. At the end of half an hour they may be just as baffled as the dishwashers.
Cooper's Holinshed, at least his principal one, is the Bible. "Quite a source book," he explains. Cooper loves to lift stories from the Bible and then wait around for the mail to see how many people recognized the source. Biblical stories are put into modern dress and sometimes re-arranged rather drastically to suit Cooper's peculiar point of view. In the Cain and Abel story, for example, it was all Abel's fault. Abel was such a nasty character he provoked his brother into what Cooper considered justifiable homicide. (A lot of people wrote in to say they agreed.)
USES NARRATIVE FORM
There are few characters in any Cooper script, two or three or sometimes just one, and he uses more straight narrative than almost anyone. Besides insisting--against all the rules--on long stretches of silence. Cooper frequently has two people talking at once--again against all radio rules. In ordinary conversation, says cooper, everyone talks at once and they appear to understand one another, so why not in radio?
While unquestionably a rare and entertaining writer, Cooper has some strong faults. He avoids cliches with such intensity that he's creating his own. Some of his characters, surprising as they are, bear as much resemblance to human beings as a baby in a bottle at Harvard. His tricky but obscure endings sometimes seem an easy way for a writer to get out of a bad hole.
In his single invasion of television Cooper's crotchets were as individual and startling as they were in radio. But that will have to wait until tomorrow.
Copyright, 1949, for The Tribune
From the September 7th 1949 edition of the Portsmouth Times:
'You Can't Do That!'
By JOHN CROSBY
Wyllis Cooper, a writer of eerie, sometimes incomprehensible though remarkably literate radio and television dramas looks as if he'd stepped out of one of his own scripts. He's a short, bespectacled man, broad of brow and sweeping of girth. His double chin is an expanse of incomparable grandeur. He works, hunched over a typewriter like an intelligent spider, in a large office in the Hotel Brittany behind drawn blinds. The drawn blinds, he explains, are to protect him from street noises, which is the sort of contradiction he loves to use in his radio plays. After his single brush with television, a six-program series on ABC-TV entitled characteristically Volume 1 (Nos. 1 to 6), he is brimming with theories about television, most of them heretical. Television, he says, is neither a movie nor an illustrated radio show. Too much television, he feelsl, is just a bad adaptation of Hollywood techniques with cameras running wild all over the place. WINDOW IN ROOM Television, says Cooper, is really a window in your living room and should be treated that way. In his own series, Cooper tried to get the home audience to forget all about the cameras, to become eavesdroppers. The audience was told in the first of the plays, that it was seated behind a mirror. The audience could see every move of the characters; the characters, of course, could see only their own reflections in the mirror. Into the room--a hotel room--crept a man and a woman who had just robbed a bank and were using the place as a hideout. The camera never budged throughout the half hour. The woman would tidy her hair in front of the mirror--which was your television screen--then walk away. The man would stamp out a cigarette on an invisible bureau over which the mirror hung. An ordinary kitchen chair was the only prop. There was no scenery. The room was black as a cave except for spots illuminating the actors. Gradually, the couople became aware there was something very fishy about the hotel room. The bellhop, the only other character, seemed to know all aobut their crime and to pity them for it. Their money disappeared. They couldn't get food or, a more desperate need, cigarettes. And they couldn't get out of the room. Finally--if my interpretation of the convolutions of Cooper's brain is correct, and I wouldn't swear to it--they realized they were doomed to spend eternity in that hotel room with a neon light flashing off and on, off and on, outside the window and a jukebox playing the same dreary tune down stairs. It's a torment I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. TYPICAL OF STORIES That is typical of the stories Cooper tells and also of this methods. He used no scenery in four of his six plays and only rudimentary scenery in the other two. The purpose was not to save money. The televisionscreen is so small, he says, that the viewer can't absorb the scenery and also see what the people are doing. He uses small casts because he thinks too many characters clutter up the action. As in radio, he was spate with dialogue. Cooper feels there is too much chatter in television. Yet the first script totaled 74 pages, two-thirds the length of a two-and-a-half housr play. Most of it was stage directions. Cooper is trying to establish on television the intimacy that was radio's peculiar distinction among dramatic forms. He admits it's difficult, but he says that the imitation of movie technique is the wrong way to go about it. "The movies can go into great detail," he points out. "In television, we can't. We haven't the time, the clarity, the size, or the Audience stimulation." (Audience stimulation: people in an audience stimulate one another. Two people in a living room don't vary much.) On the other hand, television has an urgency and a freshness that can't be duplicated by the movies. Cooper used to writer his little vignettes and throw them in front of the camera--three one-hour reading periods, six hours for rehearsals--before he had time to grow cold on the.
HE STILL INSISTS his series was not experimental and was wildly indignant when ABC press releases listed them as such. "I had some theories about television and I proved them--to my satisfaction at least. The main rule, says Cooper: "Don't try to do what you can't do. You can't do 'Gone with the Wind' on television. Why does anyone want to do it anyway?" His brief experience with television left him unbowed--he'll undoubtedly be back--but he admits it wilted him a little. " I never heard 'You can't do that' so many times in my life," he says.
Copyright, 1949, The Tribune
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