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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, July 31 2001

Radio—and early TV—memories

The following letter, from Frank Charney, was received off the list. It's so pertinent to yesterday's topic, and timely, that I'm making it the body of today's Jonal entry.

Your Jonal subject relating to old radio and TV shows struck one of my nerves. On Sunday nights in the late forties, the radio shows featured Jack Benny at 7, Charlie McCarthy at 7:30, and Fred Allen at 8. There were other talented radio and early TV entertainers like Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Bob Hope, and Ernie Kovacs; however, I am citing only those shows and entertainers that, for some reason, ring a bell with me.

Fred Allen with his "Allen's Alley" skit stands out. He would always quiz the "Alley" residents, Senator Claghorn, Mrs. Nussbaum, Titus Moody, and Ajar Cassidy. In sequence, they constituted a Southern blowhard, a Jewish housewife, a taciturn New Englander, and a garrulous Irishman. Was Fred bigoted against the groups each represented? I thought the skits were amusing and original for their time.

Red Skelton was another standout I enjoyed whose impersonations included Clem Kadiddlehopper, a slow witted hayseed; Freddy the Freeloader, a silent tramp; Mean Widdle Kid (a spoiled little kid with the expression "I dood it!"); inebriated Willie Lump-Lump, and punch-drunk boxer Cauliflower McPugg. Red was a genius in immersing himself in these roles. You could visualize each character on the radio even before they became animated on TV.

When early television arrived, Steve Allen with his "Steve Allen Show" also introduced idiosyncratic characters, and introduced "Men on the Street." The characters were Louis Nye, Tom Poston (later a regular on the Bob Newhart Show), and Don Knotts (deputy sheriff Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show). Nye portrayed the slick and cosmopolitan Gordon Hathaway, whose cry was "Hi Ho Steverino." Tom Poston was the sympathetic and innocent guy who would answer any question but couldn't remember his name. The best remembered character was Don Knotts, who always appeared jittery. Steve would ask him if he was nervous and his quick one-word reply was, "No!!!"

During the year 1950, the Dumont Network introduced "Cavalcade of Stars" starring Jackie Gleason. It was Dumont's biggest success. In "Cavalcade," Gleason played sketch characters like the ostentatious millionaire Reginald Van Gleason III; the Poor Soul, a pathetic sreet character played in pantomime; the hapless bumbling Bachelor, and Ralph Kramden, a bus driver tortured by a life that could not support his ego. In the mid-fifties, the hit TV show "The Honeymooners" expanded on the Ralph Kramden role.

On a final note, Gleason appeared again on a show in the sixties titled "The Jackie Gleason Show. In one skit, Jackie played the role of the bartender pitted against the unforgettable Frankie Fontaine as the inebriated "Crazy Guggenheim," who always wore a floppy hat draped on ears that jutted out. Their exchange of banter always left Jackie exasperated and ready to blow his top. On his rise as a comedian, Frankie played the comedy circuit in places like Altoona. An acquaintance of mine once saw him perform in Altoona and stated that "Crazy Guggenheim" and Frankie's persona were closely allied.

Thanks,
Frank

Shades of "Teen Events": I hate the suggestion of sharing gossip, but I can't resist the opening to report that Tom Poston and Suzanne Pleshette, both from Newhart Shows (but with long-running parts in different ones) were married on May 11. -jon

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Martha Stewart's Way vs. My Way
(collect all 19)

Martha's way #18: Potatoes will take food stains off your fingers. Just slice and rub raw potato on the stains and rinse with water.

My way: Mashed potatoes will now be replacing the anti-bacterial soap in the handy dispenser next to my sink.

Martha's way #19: Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer. * Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous china. * Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. *Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka-Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes. * Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka- Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

My way: Put your jewelry, vases, and thermos in the toilet. Add some Alka-Seltzer and you have solved a whole bunch of problems at once.?

Sent by Bonnie Turner

Legacy

Let us so live that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry.

Sent by Zan

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