Saturday, April 3, 2021

April 4 Radio History

➦In 1906...Actress Beatrice Benaderet born (Died at age 62 from lung cancer – October 13, 1968). She was a radio and television actress and voice actress. Born in New York City and raised in San Francisco, she began performing in Bay Area theatre and radio before embarking on a Hollywood career that spanned over three decades. Benaderet first specialized in voiceover work in the golden age of radio, appearing on numerous programs while working with comedians of the era such as Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, and Lucille Ball. Her expertise in dialect and characterization led to her becoming Warner Bros.' leading voice of female characters in their animated cartoons of the early 1940s through the mid-1950s.

Benaderet was then a prominent figure on television in situation comedies, first with The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show from 1950 to 1958, for which she earned two Emmy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress. In the 1960s, she had regular roles in four series up until her death from lung cancer in 1968, including the commercial successes The Beverly Hillbillies, The Flintstones, and her best known role as Kate Bradley in Petticoat Junction. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honoring her work in television.

In 1926, Benaderet joined the staff of KFRC San Francisco, which was under the new ownership of Don Lee and where her duties included acting, singing, writing, and producing. Initially seeking work as a dramatic actress, she switched to comedy and performed on multiple shows in nine years with the station, in particular the Blue Monday Jamboree variety program, where her castmates included Meredith Willson, Elvia Allman, and future I Love Lucy producer Jess Oppenheimer. She additionally hosted the musical variety show Salon Moderne and gained attention for her work as a female announcer, which had become a rarity in radio in the 1930s.

Benaderet moved to Los Angeles station KHJ in 1936. She made her network radio debut upon being hired by Orson Welles for his Mercury Theatre repertory company heard on The Campbell Playhouse.  The following year she received her first big break in the industry on The Jack Benny Program, where she played Gertrude Gearshift, a wisecracking Brooklyn-accented telephone operator who gossiped about Jack Benny with her cohort Mabel Flapsaddle (Sara Berner).  Intended as a one-time appearance, the pair became a recurring role starting in the 1945–46 season, and in early 1947, Benaderet and Berner momentarily took over the actual NBC switchboards in Hollywood for publicity photos. She performed in as many as five shows daily,  causing her rehearsal dates to conflict with those of The Jack Benny Program and resulting in her reading live as Gertrude from a marked script she was handed upon entering the studio.

Other recurring characters Benaderet portrayed were Blanche Morton on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show; school principal Eve Goodwin on The Great Gildersleeve; Millicent Carstairs on Fibber McGee & Molly; Gloria the maid on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; and Iris Atterbury on the Lucille Ball vehicle My Favorite Husband, opposite Gale Gordon. Benaderet voiced various one-time parts before joining the main cast as Iris, the neighbor and friend of Ball's character Liz Cooper. The 1950 CBS program Granby's Green Acres, a perceived spinoff of My Favorite Husband, was her one radio lead role and reunited her with Gordon as a husband and wife who abandon city life to become farmers, but it lasted only eight episodes.

Beginning in 1943, Benaderet became Warner Bros.' primary voice of adult female supporting characters for their Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes animated shorts.

Benaderet was Lucille Ball's first choice as Ethel Mertz for the sitcom I Love Lucy; Ball said in a 1984 interview that she had "no other picture of anyone" for the role of Ethel.  However, Benaderet had to turn down the offer since she was contracted to the television adaptation of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, so Vivian Vance was eventually cast. Benaderet guest-starred on the January 21, 1952 first-season episode "Lucy Plays Cupid" as the character of Miss Lewis, a love-starved spinster neighbor.

➦In 1906...John Cameron Swayze born (Died – August 15, 1995), He was a news commentator and game show panelist during the 1940s and 1950s who later became best known as a product spokesman for Timex watches.

Swayze first wanted to be an actor; however workon Broadway ended when acting roles became scarce following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.  Swayze returned to the Midwest and worked for the Kansas City Journal Post as a reporter.

From there he graduated to radio, doing news updates for Kansas City's KMBC in 1940 and, reportedly, an experimental early television newscast. In Kansas City, Swayze broadcast news items prepared by United Press Kansas City bureau overnight editor Walter Cronkite. Four years later, Swayze went farther west, to Los Angeles and Hollywood, where NBC hired him for its western news division before moving him to its New York City news operation in 1947.

During 1948, Swayze provided voiceover work for the Camel Newsreel Theatre, an early television news program that broadcast Movietone News newsreels.

At the same time, Swayze proposed and obtained a radio quiz program, Who Said That?. The radio version lasted only a year, but Swayze was an occasional panelist in the television version of the program, which was broadcast on NBC from 1948 to 1955.

NBC, meanwhile, made Swayze the host of its national political convention coverage in 1948, the first commercial coverage ever by television. (NBC Television did broadcast the Republican National Convention from Philadelphia during 1940 on a noncommercial, semi-experimental basis, seen in just three cities: Philadelphia, New York City and Schenectady, NY).

In October 1948, Swayze was a permanent panel member of the quiz show Who Said That? and was referred to as the anchorman in what may be the first usage of this term on television.

Swayze was chosen in 1949 to host NBC's first television newscast, the 15-minute Camel News Caravan. He read items from the news wires and periodically interviewed newsmakers, but he is remembered best for reporting on the Korean War nightly and for his two catchphrases: "Let's go hopscotching the world for headlines" and his signoff: "That's the story, folks—glad we could get together. And now, this is John Cameron Swayze saying good night." Veteran broadcaster David Brinkley wrote in a memoir that Swayze got the job because of his ability to memorize scripts, which allowed him to recite the news when the primitive teleprompters of the time failed to work properly.

➦In 1914.
.. Julia Frances Langford born (Died at age 89 – July 11, 2005). She was a singer and entertainer who was popular during the Golden Age of Radio and also made film appearances over two decades.

While a young girl she required a tonsillectomy that changed her soprano range to a rich contralto. As a result, she was forced to change her vocal style to a more contemporary big band, popular music style. Cigar manufacturer Eli Witt heard her sing at an American Legion party and hired her to sing on his local radio show. After a brief stint in the Broadway musical "Here Goes the Bride" in 1931, she moved to Hollywood appearing on the Louella Parsons' radio show "'Hollywood Hotel' while starting a movie career. While singing for radio during the early 1930s, she was heard by Rudy Vallee, who invited her to become a regular on his radio show.  From 1935 until 1938 she was a regular performer on Dick Powell's radio show. From 1946 to 1951, she performed with Don Ameche as the insufferable wife, Blanche, on The Bickersons.

➦In 1922...WAAB (Baton Rouge La) becomes 1st US radio station with call-letters starting with a "W".

➦In 1964...As the April 4 issue of Billboard magazine demonstrates, the Beatles were simply dominating the American music scene. And during that unforgettable week, their music occupied the top five chart positions — the only time in pop-music history that a single act has accomplished such a feat. With “Can’t Buy Me Love” holding down the top slot, “Twist and Shout” was second and “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me” rounded out the top five.

Even more incredibly, the Beatles held seven additional positions on Billboard’s Hot 100, including “I Saw Her Standing There” at No. 31, “From Me to You” at No. 41, “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” at No. 46, “All My Loving” at No. 58, “You Can’t Do That” at No. 65, “Roll Over Beethoven” at No. 68 and “Thank You Girl” at No. 79.

As if to underscore the awe-inspiring power of Beatlemania during that fabled period, two Beatles tribute acts clocked hits that very same week, including the Carefrees’ “We Love You Beatles” at No. 42 and the Four Preps’ “A Letter to the Beatles” at No. 85. For April 11, 1964, issue of Billboard, the Beatles added two more hits to the Hot 100, including “There’s a Place” at No. 74 and “Love Me Do” at No. 81, giving them a total of 14 hits songs on the Billboard charts at the very same time.

Don Imus
➦In 2007...Don Imus called the Rutgers women basketball team "nappy-headed hos". The comment erupted into a firestorm of condemnation which a week later led to him being fired from his nationally syndicated radio show.

On April 4, 2007, during a discussion about the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, Imus characterized the Rutgers University women's basketball team players as "rough girls," commenting on their tattoos. His executive producer Bernard McGuirk responded by referring to them as "hardcore hos". The discussion continued with Imus describing the girls as "nappy-headed hos" and McGuirk remarking that the two teams looked like the "jigaboos versus the wannabes" mentioned in Spike Lee's film, School Daze; apparently referring to the two teams' differing appearances.

After outrage from the initial reports, Imus dismissed the incident as "some idiot comment meant to be amusing".  He also stated that "nappy-headed hoes" is a term that rap artists use to refer to African-American women.

He said: "That phrase [nappy-headed ho] didn't originate in the White Community. That phrase originated in the Black community. Young Black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by their own Black men, and they are called that name in Black hip hop."

In response to mounting public censure, Imus issued a statement of apology:

I want to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team, which lost to Tennessee in the NCAA championship game on Tuesday. It was completely inappropriate and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry.

On April 9, Imus appeared on Al Sharpton's syndicated radio talk show, Keepin' It Real with Al Sharpton, to address the controversy. Sharpton called the comments "abominable", "racist", and "sexist", and repeated his earlier demand that Imus be fired. Imus said, "Our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far. And this time we went way too far. Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it."

The Rutgers basketball team held a news conference at which coach C. Vivian Stringer stated that the team would meet with Imus to discuss his comments. Several of the players expressed their outrage over his remarks. Team captain Essence Carson said Imus' remarks had "stolen a moment of pure grace from us".

On April 11, 2007, Steve Capus of NBC News, announced that MSNBC would no longer simulcast Imus in the Morning, effective immediately. The next day, CBS Radio canceled Imus in the Morning, effective immediately. CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves stated:

From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University in the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship with such class, energy and talent. There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society. That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.  Moonves had met with Sharpton and Jesse Jackson shortly before the announcement was made.

  • Actor Craig T. Nelson is 77. 
  • Actor Christine Lahti (“Chicago Hope”) is 71. 
  • Singer Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers is 70. 
  • Actor Mary-Margaret Humes (“Dawson’s Creek,” ″History of the World Part 1″) is 67. 
  • Writer-producer David E. Kelley (“Ally McBeal,” ″The Practice”) is 65. 
  • Amanda Righetti is 38
    Actor Constance Shulman (“Orange Is the New Black”) is 63. 
  • Actor Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix,” ″Lord of the Rings”) is 61. 
  • Bassist Craig Adams (The Cult) is 59. 
  • Talk show host Graham Norton is 58. 
  • Comedian David Cross (“Arrested Development,” ″Mr. Show”) is 57. 
  • Actor Robert Downey Jr. is 56. 
  • Actor Nancy McKeon is 55. 
  • Country singer Clay Davidson is 50. 
  • Singer Josh Todd of Buckcherry is 50. 
  • Singer Jill Scott is 49. 
  • Bassist Magnus Sveningsson of The Cardigans is 49. 
  • Magician David Blaine is 48. 
  • Singer Kelly Price is 48. 
  • Singer Andre Dalyrimple of Soul for Real is 47. 
  • Guitarist Josh McSwain of Parmalee is 46. 
  • Actor James Roday (“Psych”) is 45. 
  • Actor Natasha Lyonne (“Orange Is the New Black,” ″American Pie”) is 42. 
  • Actor-comedian Eric Andre (“The Eric Andre Show”) is 38. 
  • Actor Amanda Righetti (“The Mentalist”) is 38. 
  • Actor-singer Jamie Lynn Spears (“Zoey 101″) is 30. 
  • Actor Daniela Bobadilla (“The Middle,” “Anger Management”) is 28. 
  • Singer Austin Mahone is 25.

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