Lux Radio Theatre, sometimes spelled Lux Radio Theater, a classic radio anthology series, was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network (1934–35) (owned by the National Broadcasting Company, later predecessor of American Broadcasting Company [ABC] in 1943 /1945); CBS Radio network (Columbia Broadcasting System) (1935-54), and NBC Radio (1954–55). Initially, the series adapted Broadway plays during its first two seasons before it began adapting films. These hour-long radio programs were performed live before studio audiences. The series became the most popular dramatic anthology series on radio, broadcast for more than 20 years and continued on television as the Lux Video Theatre through most of the 1950s. The primary sponsor of the show was Unilever through its Lux Soap brand.
Broadcasting from New York, the series premiered at 2:30 p.m., October 14, 1934, on the NBC Blue Network with a production of Seventh Heaven starring Miriam Hopkins and John Boles in a full-hour adaptation of the 1922–24 Broadway production by Austin Strong. The host was the show's fictional producer, Douglass Garrick (portrayed by John Anthony). Doris Dagmar played another fictional character, Peggy Winthrop, who delivered the Lux commercials. Each show featured a scripted session with Garrick talking to the lead actors. Anthony appeared as Garrick from the premiere 1934 episode until June 30, 1935. Garrick was portrayed by Albert Hayes from July 29, 1935, to May 25, 1936, when the show moved to the West Coast.
Famed studio executive and film producer / director Cecil B. DeMille, (1881-1959), took over as the host on June 1, 1936, continuing until January 22, 1945. That initial episode with DeMille featured stars Marlene Dietrich and Clark Gable in The Legionnaire and the Lady. On several occasions, usually when he was out of town, he was temporarily replaced by various celebrities, including Leslie Howard and Edward Arnold.
Lux Radio Theatre strove to feature as many of the original stars of the original stage and film productions as possible, usually paying them $5,000 an appearance. In 1936, when sponsor manufacturer Lever Brothers (who made Lux brand soap and detergent) moved the show from New York City to Hollywood, the program began to emphasize adaptations of films rather than plays. The first Lux film adaptation was The Legionnaire and the Lady, with Marlene Dietrich and Clark Gable, based on the film Morocco. That was followed by a Lux adaptation of The Thin Man, featuring the movie's actual stars, Myrna Loy and William Powell.
|Lux Radio Theatre|
Performing before a studio audience in 1948
|Running time||One hour|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Home station||WJZ (10/14/34-06/30/35)|
CBS WABC (07/29/35-05/25/36)
|TV adaptations||Lux Video Theatre (1950-57)|
|Hosted by||John Anthony, Albert Hayes, Cecil B. DeMille, William Keighley, Irving Cummings|
|Written by||George Wells, Sanford Barnett|
|Directed by||Antony Stanford, Frank Woodruff, Sanford Barnett, Fred MacKaye, Earl Ebi, Norman Macdonnell|
|Recording studio||1934–1936 New York City|
|Original release||October 14, 1934 – June 7, 1955|
|No. of series||21|
|No. of episodes||926|
|Audio format||Monaural sound|
|Podcast||Lux Radio Theater|
Though the show focused on film and its performers, several classic radio regulars appeared in Lux Radio Theatre productions. Jim and Marian Jordan, better known as Fibber McGee and Molly, appeared on the show twice and also built an episode of their own radio comedy series around one of those appearances. Their longtime costar, Arthur Q. Bryan (wisecracking Doc Gamble on Fibber McGee and Molly), made a few Lux appearances as well. Bandleader Phil Harris, a longtime regular on Jack Benny's radio program and his wife Alice Faye, who became radio stars with their own comedy show in 1948, appeared in a Lux presentation. Fred Allen, Jack Benny (with and without his wife, Mary Livingstone), George Burns and Gracie Allen were among the other radio stars who were invited to do Lux presentations as well.
Lux Radio Theatre once presented an adaptation of the film version of a radio series, The Life of Riley, featuring William Bendix as the Brooklyn-born, California-transplanted, stumbling but bighearted aircraft worker he already made famous in the long-running radio series (and eventual television hit) of the same name. At least once Lux Radio Theatre offered a presentation without any known performers; its adaptation of This Is the Army during World War II featured a cast of American soldiers.
A famous urban legend claimed that actor Sonny Tufts was slated to appear as a guest alongside Joan Fontaine for a production of The Major and the Minor on Lux Radio Theatre. When Joseph Cotten read the names of the next week's cast, he supposedly said, with a mixture of shock and astonishment, that listeners would hear "that new, talented personality... Sonny Tufts?!" However, this never happened. The legend began as a fake segment on one of Kermit Schafer's popular "Bloopers" albums, which have been criticized for their re-creations, fabrications and lack of accuracy. In actuality, Tufts was introduced by Cotten on the radio series Suspense, but Cotten's introduction was perfectly normal.
A clash over closed shop union rulings favored by the American Federation of Radio Artists ended DeMille's term as host of Lux Radio Theatre. AFRA assessed members a dollar each to help back a campaign to enact closed-shop rulings in California. DeMille, an AFRA member but a stern opponent of closed shops, refused to pay because he believed it would nullify his opposition vote. When AFRA ruled those not paying faced suspension from the union, and thus a ban from appearing on the air, DeMille was finished in radio (because he also refused to let anyone else pay the dollar for him).
In his 1959 autobiography, DeMille alleged that a former member of the American Communist Party later confided to him that the party had consciously orchestrated these circumstances of his exclusion from radio, as they considered him to be one of their two foremost enemies in radio.
Lux Radio Theatre employed several hosts over the following year, eventually choosing William Keighley as the new permanent host, a post he held from late 1945 through 1952. After that, producer-director Irving Cummings hosted the program until it ended in 1955. For its airings on the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Service (for which it was retitled Hollywood Radio Theater), the program was hosted by Don Wilson in the early 1950s.
During its years on CBS in Hollywood, Lux Radio Theatre was broadcast from the CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine Street in Hollywood, one block south of the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine. The theater was owned by aviator / industrialist/ film producer Howard Hughes in the early 1930s. When it was purchased in 1954 by philanthropist Huntington Hartford, it was briefly called the Huntington Hartford Theater and then the Doolittle Theater. It is now the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre.
Many of leading names in stage and film appeared in the series, most in the roles they made famous on the screen, including Abbott and Costello, Lauren Bacall, Wallace Beery, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Ronald Colman, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Deanna Durbin, Henry Fonda, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, William Holden, Bob Hope, Betty Hutton, Gene Kelly, Hedy Lamarr, Carole Lombard, Jeanette MacDonald, Fredric March, Robert Mitchum, Dennis Morgan, Paul Muni, Laurence Olivier, Robert Preston, Tyrone Power, Edward G. Robinson, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Taylor, Shirley Temple, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, John Wayne, and Orson Welles among many others.
An Australian Lux Radio Theatre was broadcast on the Major Broadcasting Network during the 1940s and 50s. It was heard nationwide at 8.00 pm on a Sunday evening.
On Sunday evening 3 September 1939 and as part of Lux Radio Theatre, the Major network was broadcasting a performance of Leah Kleschna which was suddenly interrupted by the voice of the Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Robert Menzies announcing that Australia was now at war with Germany.
On October 2, 1950, Lux Video Theatre began as a live 30-minute Monday evening CBS Television series, switching to Thursday nights during August 1951. In September 1953, the show relocated from New York to Hollywood.
Alan Walbridge Ladd (September 3, 1913 – January 29, 1964) was an American actor and film and television producer. Ladd found success in film in the 1940s and early 1950s, particularly in Westerns such as Shane (1953) and in films noir. He was often paired with Veronica Lake, in noirish films such as This Gun for Hire (1942), The Glass Key (1942) and The Blue Dahlia (1946).
His other notable credits include Two Years Before the Mast (1946), Whispering Smith, his first Western and color film, (1948) and The Great Gatsby (1949). His popularity diminished in the late 1950s, though he continued to appear in popular films until his accidental death due to a lethal combination of alcohol, a barbiturate, and two tranquilizers.Are Husbands Necessary? (1942 film)
Are Husbands Necessary? is a 1942 American comedy film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Ray Milland and Betty Field. It follows the misadventures of a wacky wife and her sometimes exasperated, but loving, banker husband. The film's screenplay was adapted by the husband-and-wife writing team of Tess Slesinger and Frank Davis, from the novel Mr. and Mrs. Cugat, the Record of a Happy Marriage by Isabel Scott Rorick. This novel would later be a source for the related 1948 radio series My Favorite Husband starring Lucille Ball, which itself would evolve into the television series I Love Lucy.
A one-hour Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film, featuring George Burns and Gracie Allen, aired February 15, 1943 on CBS Radio.Craig's Wife
Craig's Wife is a 1925 play written by American playwright George Kelly, uncle of actress and later Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly. It won the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and has been adapted for three feature films.Crossroads (1942 film)
Crossroads is a 1942 mystery film noir directed by Jack Conway and starring William Powell, Hedy Lamarr, Claire Trevor and Basil Rathbone. Powell plays a diplomat whose amnesia about his past comes back to trouble him.Debra Paget
Debra Paget (born Debralee Griffin; August 19, 1933) is an American actress and entertainer. She is perhaps best known for her performances in Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments (1956) and in Love Me Tender (1956) (the film debut of Elvis Presley), and for the risque (for the time) snake dance scene in The Indian Tomb (1959).Dennis Morgan
Dennis Morgan (born Earl Stanley Morner, December 20, 1908 – September 7, 1994) was an American actor-singer. He used the acting pseudonym Richard Stanley before adopting the name under which he gained his greatest fame.Donna Reed
Donna Reed (born Donna Belle Mullenger; January 27, 1921 – January 14, 1986) was an American film and television actress and producer. Her career spanned more than 40 years, with performances in more than 40 films. She is well known for her role as Mary Hatch Bailey in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. In 1953, she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Lorene Burke in the war drama From Here to Eternity.
Reed is probably most widely known for her work in television, notably as Donna Stone, a middle-class American mother and housewife in the sitcom The Donna Reed Show (1958–66), in which her character was more assertive than most other television mothers of the era. She received numerous Emmy Award nominations for this role and the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star in 1963. Later in her career, Reed replaced Barbara Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie Ewing Farlow in the 1984–85 season of the television melodrama Dallas; she sued the production company for breach of contract when she was abruptly fired upon Bel Geddes' decision to return to the show.Errol Flynn
Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn (20 June 1909 – 14 October 1959) was an Australian-born American actor during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Considered the natural successor to Douglas Fairbanks, he achieved worldwide fame for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films, as well as frequent partnerships with Olivia de Havilland. He was best known for his role as Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); his portrayal of the character was named by the American Film Institute as the 18th-greatest hero in American film history. His other famous roles included the eponymous lead in Captain Blood (1935), Major Geoffrey Vickers in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), as well as a number of Westerns, such as Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940) and San Antonio (1945).Gail Patrick
Gail Patrick (born Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick, June 20, 1911 – July 6, 1980) was an American film actress and television producer. Often cast as the bad girl or the other woman, she appeared in more than 60 feature films between 1932 and 1948, notably My Man Godfrey (1936), Stage Door (1937) and My Favorite Wife (1940).
After retiring from acting she became, as Gail Patrick Jackson, president of Paisano Productions and executive producer of the Perry Mason television series (1957–66). She was one of the first female producers, and the only female executive producer in prime time during the nine years Perry Mason was on the air. She served two terms (1960–62) as vice president of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and as president of its Hollywood chapter—the first woman to serve in a leadership capacity in the academy, and its only female leader until 1983.Granby's Green Acres
Granby's Green Acres is a radio situation comedy from the United States. It was broadcast on CBS July 3, 1950 – August 21, 1950, as a summer replacement for Lux Radio Theatre.I'll Remember April (song)
"I'll Remember April" is a popular song and jazz standard about nostalgia, with music written by Gene de Paul, and lyrics by Patricia Johnston and Don Raye. It made its debut in the 1942 Abbott and Costello comedy Ride 'Em Cowboy, being sung by Dick Foran.
Since then, dozens upon dozens of artists have covered the song as listed below. One of the most notable live renditions of the song is a radio performance by Judy Garland, on a broadcast of Lux Radio Theatre.
'I'll Remember April' can be found in the Real Book tacit vol 1. It also appears as background music in the Adam-12 episode "Something Worth Dying For", in which Officer Reed (played by Kent McCord) is given the Medal of Valor.Joseph Cotten
Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr. (May 15, 1905 – February 6, 1994) was an American film, stage, radio and television actor. Cotten achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original stage productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair.
He first gained worldwide fame in three Orson Welles films: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Journey into Fear (1943), for which Cotten was also credited with the screenplay. He went on to become one of the leading Hollywood actors of the 1940s, appearing in films such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Love Letters (1945), Duel in the Sun (1946), Portrait of Jennie (1948), The Third Man (1949) and Niagara (1953). One of his final films was Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980).List of Judy Garland performances
In a career that spanned more than forty years, Judy Garland performed on stage, screen and television. Garland appeared in 34 feature films. She was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, receiving an Academy Juvenile Award and one Golden Globe. Her film career was interrupted in 1951 after she was cast in a series of films she was unable to complete, but she returned to the screen in 1954 in A Star Is Born and continued to appear in films until 1963.
Although Garland appeared in concert as early as 1943, it was only when her film career stalled that she began regular concert appearances, beginning with a critically acclaimed 1951 concert series at the London Palladium. Garland set a record when she appeared for 19 weeks at the Palace Theatre in New York City, also in 1951, and her 1961 concert Judy at Carnegie Hall is often considered as one of the greatest nights in show business history. She continued to tour until just three months prior to her death in 1969.
Garland starred in a series of television specials beginning in 1955, when she appeared in the first episode of Ford Star Jubilee. The success of these specials led CBS to offer Garland a regular series. The Judy Garland Show premiered in 1963. Although the show was critically well-received, it suffered in the Nielsen ratings from being scheduled across from Bonanza, which was then the most popular show on the air. The Judy Garland Show was canceled after one season but Garland and the series were nominated for Emmy Awards.Paulette Goddard
Paulette Goddard (born Marion Levy; June 3, 1910 – April 23, 1990) was an American actress, a child fashion model and a performer in several Broadway productions as a Ziegfeld Girl; she became a major star of Paramount Pictures in the 1940s. Her most notable films were her first major role, as Charlie Chaplin's leading lady in Modern Times, and Chaplin's subsequent film The Great Dictator. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in So Proudly We Hail! (1943). Her husbands included Chaplin, Burgess Meredith, and Erich Maria Remarque.Sorry, Wrong Number
Sorry, Wrong Number is a 1948 American thriller film noir directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster. It tells the story of a woman who overhears a murder plot. The film was adapted by Lucille Fletcher from her 1943 radio play. It is one of the few pre-1950 Paramount Pictures films that remained in the studio's library (the rest are currently owned by NBCUniversal).Tap Roots
Tap Roots is a 1948 Technicolor Western war film set during the American Civil War. It is very loosely based on the true life story of Newton Knight, a farm owner who attempted to secede Jones County from Mississippi.Made by Walter Wanger Productions and Universal Pictures, it was directed by George Marshall and produced by Walter Wanger from a screenplay by Alan Le May, based on the 1942 novel Tap Roots by James H. Street, with additional dialogue by Lionel Wiggam. The original music was by Frank Skinner and the cinematography by Winton C. Hoch and Lionel Lindon.
The film stars Van Heflin and Susan Hayward with Boris Karloff, Julie London, Whitfield Connor, Ward Bond and Richard Long.
A radio version of Tap Roots, with Van Heflin, Susan Hayward and Richard Long reprising their film roles, was broadcast by the Lux Radio Theatre on September 27, 1948.The Egg and I (film)
The Egg and I is a 1947 American romantic comedy film directed by Chester Erskine, who co-wrote the screenplay with Fred F. Finklehoffe, based on the book of the same name by Betty MacDonald and starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as Ma and Pa Kettle.
The box office success of The Egg and I influenced the production of Universal-International's Ma and Pa Kettle series, which consists of nine feature films most of which star Main and Kilbride together. On May 5, 1947, Colbert and MacMurray reprised their roles in a radio version of the film that was broadcast on the Lux Radio Theatre.
At the 20th Academy Awards, Main was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.Virginia Mayo
Virginia Mayo (born Virginia Clara Jones; November 30, 1920 – January 17, 2005) was an American actress and dancer. She was in a series of comedy films with Danny Kaye and was Warner Brothers' biggest box-office money-maker in the late 1940s. She also co-starred in the 1946 Oscar-winning movie The Best Years of Our Lives.William Bendix
William Bendix (January 14, 1906 – December 14, 1964) was an American film, radio, and television actor, who typically played rough, blue-collar characters. He is best remembered in films for the title role in The Babe Ruth Story. He also portrayed the clumsily earnest aircraft plant worker Chester A. Riley in both the radio and television versions of The Life of Riley. He received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Wake Island (1942).