Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dr. Seuss on Radio: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

This Friday is National Reading Day, which coincides with Dr. Seuss' birthday. It was over 80 years ago that Theodore Geisel (1904 - 1991) took on the nom de plume "Dr. Seuss" and entered the children's book market. His greatest stories have been adapted into box office hits, TV specials, kiddies records, and even Broadway plays.

One of the earliest media adaptations of Dr. Seuss' works was a radio adaption of "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" for The American School Of The Air on January 18, 1940. The program was directed by Nila Mack "the fairy godmother or radio" behind the children's classic Let's Pretend (1929 - 1954 CBS).

Actor Howard Lindsay and writer/director Nila Mack. From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 17, 1940 page 19.

While this broadcast does exist, what I have posted on YouTube is an adaptation by Mack that was broadcast August 18, 1940 for the Columbia Workshop. It is unknown if this is the same script that was used for the earlier broadcast. Heard in the cast is child actor Jack Grimes, a regular "Let's Pretender", best remembered today for being the second Jimmy Olsen on radio's Adventures of Superman.

Dr. Seuss was just on of many classic children's books authors to have their works adapted during that great period known as the "Golden Age of Radio". Following National Reading Day I will post more classic adaptations of children's literature. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

This Month in Children's Media: February 2018, Part I

80 Years Ago - For this edition I am sticking with 1938.

February 17, 1938 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer directed by Norman Taurog and starring the late child actor Tommy Kelly premieres. Considered one of the best versions of Mark Twains' classic, it is strangely out of print with no official American DVD or streaming release to date.

Two page ad for "The Lone Ranger" serial. From Motion Picture Daily February 03, 1938.
Image from the Media History Digital Library

February 12, 1938 - The popular matinee serial "The Lone Ranger" is made available to theaters. Based on the radio drama that had been on the air since 1933, it is often regarded as the best western serial. It is notable for creating the masked man's origin as a survivor of a massacre of Texas Rangers, thus making him the "Lone Ranger".

Original review from the Motion Picture Daily, Wednesday, January 26, 1938.

"The Lone Ranger"

With "The Lone Ranger" the exhibitor has a 15-episode serial that will probably be a prominent factor when an accounting of profits is taken. The film, based on the popular radio serial, has been produced with an eye to providing thrills. If the initial installment gives an idea of what is to come, bookers should be busy.

The basic story deals with terrorism in Texas at the close of the Civil War which is spread by a self-constituted dictator. The Lone Ranger, so named because he is the sole survivor of a troop of his fellows who have been ambushed, vows to wipe out the murderer and his ilk.

With the aid of Tonto, an Indian friend, and the victimized settlers, he sets out to bring a close to the dark state of affairs. He is ruthless in his determination. The character who plays the Lone Ranger has been robed in mystery. There are five men who seem to take the part. This angle is part of the attraction.

The picture uses fine outdoor set- tings. William Nobles has done a handsome job with the photography. The well chosen cast includes Lynn Roberts, Hal Taliaferro, Herman Brix, Lee Powell, Lane Chandler, George Letz, Chief Thundercloud, Sammy McKim, Stanley Andrews and Tom London. Silver Chief, a splendid Arab horse, is a striking photographic subject as the hero's mount. William Witney and John English have done well with the direction.

The first chapter runs 26 minutes, the remaining 14 run 18 minutes each.


Full page ad for Republic Pictures' The Lone Ranger serial. From the Motion Picture Herald, October 02, 1937.
Image downloaded from the Media History Digital Library
February 04, 1938 
Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is released nationwide, over two months after its December 1937 premiere in California. An ABC-TV or Disney Channel special would have been nice, but at least FREEFROM aired a commemorative marathon.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

This Month in Children's Media: January 2018

A 1941 Newspaper advertisement for a regional sponsor of "The Lone Ranger" radio program.
85 Years Ago - The Lone Ranger radio series first airs in a broadcast on either January 30th or January 31st, 1933. The masked man and his eventually introduced faithful Indian companion Tonto, would become the most popular masked man in America via radio, a equally famous TV program, movie serials, feature films, comic strips, comic books and more. Perhaps his fame was not surpassed until the "Batmania" of 1966. 

100 Years Ago - "Tarzan of the Apes" starring Elmo Lincoln and Enid Markey,  the very first film with the famous jungle man premieres, January 27, 1918. While not completely seen as a "kids" character, the impact of Tarzan on juvenile films and literature can't be ignored (Bomba The Jungle Boy, George of the Jungle, Disney's Tarzan).

80 Years Ago - "Tarzan's Revenge" starring professional swimmers Glenn Morris and Eleanor Holm, may be one of the most family friendly of the Ape Man's adventures. The movie premiered January 7, 1938.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Children's Comics 005: Little Audrey In "Hooked Playing Hooky"

Little Audrey jumped into comic book pages a little more than a year after her first appearance in 1947's Santa's Surprise. Last year I also uploaded the 1953 cartoon "The Seapreme Court" on the CMA YouTube channel and it has been very popular

While looking through here earliest comic book stories, I was surprised to find this earlier undersea adventures from Little Audrey #05 Vol. 1, April 1949. So those of you who like "Seapreme Court" should enjoy this story.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Children's Comics 004: "Funland" by A. W. Nugent

As a kid I grew up with Bob Weber's Slylock Fox puzzles and games section. It is amazing to discover how far back the "Junior Page" or "Kids Section" goes back in newspaper comics. One great (and still running) example is "Funland" or "Uncle Art's Funland" which was created in 1933 by Arthur William Nugent (1891 - 1975) also known as Art Nugent, or A. W. Nugent. The following are early reprints for this long running children's feature from Famous Funnies comics magazine.

From Famous Funnies #76, November 1940
From Famous Funnies #077, December 1940

From Famous Funnies #94, May 1942

Saturday, December 16, 2017

This Month in Children's Media: December 2017 Part II

60 Years Ago
December 14, 1957 - The Ruff and Reddy Show, the first animated for television series by Hanna-Barbera premieres on television.

70 Years Ago 
December 27, 1947 - Howdy Doody premieres on television, originally titled "Puppet Playhouse"

80 Years Ago
December 21, 1937 - "Disney's Folly" Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Vintage Kiddie Records in the Great 78 Project

Classic children's records are still very collectible and the internet has made it possible to hear many hard to find albums. The Internet Archive is home to the Great 78 Project which is a "community project for the preservation, research and discovery of 78rpm records". The album were digitized from a group of collector and archive collections. Among the thousand of "sides" the project has digitized hundreds of vintage kiddie records from the George Blood collection.

For Christmastime I want to highlight this 1955 Christmas Album by "Miss Frances" Horwich of the pioneering preschool series Ding Dong School (1952 - 1956). She introduces the album by ringing the shows' trademark bell. If the embedded player does not work CLICK HERE