The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope: From the Battleship South Dakota (NBC; Armed Forces Radio Service Rebroadcast, 1945)
Even after a war is over the men remaining on the battleships need a little comic relief, and Ol’ Ski Nose is there to give it to them, in a show featuring the usual machine-gun fire of one-liners; a nod to much-decorated Cmdr. Dave McCampbell, considered to have been the Navy’s leading flying ace; and, a typical enough bid to score himself a date while Sad Sack (Mel Blanc) tries to score with Frances Langford.
Here’s evidence enough that Bob Hope was too much of his time, particularly in the war years, to be taken all that seriously when heard beyond it, except in terms of the history of the hour and what John Dunning would call “what people found funny in an unfunny time.” He was hardly the only topical comic on the air or on stage (Fred Allen, phone home), but he was probably the most in-the-moment topical comic, the one least likely to think of his humour reaching beyond the moment in which he stood and fired.
It’s a sad thing to say and believe about one of America’s all-time comic icons, a taboo-breaker in his own arch and did-you-hear-that? way (“Is this the snob with the knobs?” he’ll ask a prospective date tonight), and a no-questions-asked patriot whose morale boosting for the deployed American military was invaluable to the day he did his last such show. But it is, unfortunately, what it is.
Additional cast: Jerry Colonna. Announcer: Wendell Niles. Music: Skinnay Ennis Orchestra, Frances Langford. Director: Possibly Bob Stephenson. Writers: A cast of several.
FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .
The Clock: Hazel; a.k.a. The Mystery of Loring Square (ABC, 1947)—Hazel Gifford’s (Wendy Clayfair) disillusionment in her husband’s (Leon Pierce) pie-in-the-sky promises provokes talk of divorce, his heart attack, an order of long bed rest, and—after lying to his physician about their marital bliss and her satisfaction with her lot in life—a possible way out in which nobody could be suspect, seemingly. Just a little soapish, but considering the writer was working also for the soap-sudsing Hummerts (Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons), you come to admire how he managed to melt the soap in due course to become one of the respected among his breed. Additional cast: Edwin Howell, Owen Weingarth. The Clock (a.k.a. Father Time): Hart McGuire. Announcer: Gene Kirby. Music: Bernard Green. Director: John Soule. Writer: Lawrence Klee.
Our Miss Brooks: The School Safety Advisor (CBS, 1949)—Connie (Eve Arden) has enough trouble chafing under Conklin’s (Gale Gordon) attribution of every known disaster at school to her doing, without being named Madison High’s school safety advisor and fretting over a major, fireworks-blasting school football rally. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Stretch: Leonard Smith. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Jensen: Bob Gellson. Mr. Blanchard: Ed Begley. Announcer: Bob Lamond. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer/director: Al Lewis.
The Couple Next Door: Looking for a Lawyer (CBS, 1958)—He’s (Alan Bunce) spent a spell in the clink for jaywalking, she’s (Peg Lynch) a little surprised when he refuses to just pay the man the fifteen dollars and decides to hire a lawyer to fight it, and then there’s a little matter of keeping daughter Betsy from being needled at school over her father being a jailbird. Additional cast: Martha Duckworth, Madolyn Pierce. Writer/director: Peg Lynch.
Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: Natalie Attired (Don’t prompt us, we’ll get it, 1959)—Natalie (Ray Goulding) reads a fresh batch of letters and sings a high school’s fight song; the duo (Goulding, Bob Elliott) needs to hire a replacement for a trusted aide; a pump for a Swiss vacation contest; and, a pump for the Bob & Ray Mystery Trip Contest. Writers, we’d like to think: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.