Old Time Radio … Christmas

Christmas Specials weren’t a television invention. Back in the days of Old Time Radio, the Christmas Special, or special Christmas episode was also a yearly staple.

As my Christmas present to you, I bring you several Christmas shows.

First, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” presented by the Campbell Playhouse, produced by Orson Welles. Shortly after Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater aired its infamous Halloween episode of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” in 1938, Campbell’s Soup signed on as a sponsor beginning on December 9th, 1938. Their third show, aired on December 23, 1938, was their version of the Dickens’ classic.

Campbell Playhouse
Episode:
“A Christmas Carol”
Original Air Date:
December 23, 1938
Narrated by Orson Welles
Run Time:
01:00:50
Listen here.

Have Gun, Will Travel was a western television show in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was one of the few television shows that became so popular, they dramatized many episodes for radio. It was different from many westerns in that the main character, Paladin, was cultured and liked the finer things in life, but if need be, he could wield a gun with the best of them. It was unusual in that many times he solved the problem with intelligence and common sense instead of gunfire. The television show starred Richard Boone. In the radio version, John Dehner starred and seemed to offer a level of sophistication Boone couldn’t achieve. This particular episode, which aired on December 21, 1958 was written by Gene Roddenberry, who would go on to fame as the creator of “Star Trek.”

Have Gun, Will Travel
Episode:
“Hanging Cross”
Original Air Date:
December 21, 1958
Starring John Dehner as Paladin
Ben Wright as Hey Boy
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Run Time:
23:52
Listen here.

And finally, to add a little humor to your Christmas, the Burns and Allen Show. George Burns and Gracie Allen had been together as a team since 1922 in Vaudeville. They had married in 1926. So by the time of this airing, which was December 23, 1937, the two had their patter, their famous give and take, and Gracie’s infamous ditzy act, all practiced to perfection. Here then is George Burns and Gracie Allen in “Gracie’s Christmas Carol.”

Burns and Allen Show
Episode:
“Gracie’s Christmas Carol”
Original Air Date:
December 23, 1937
Starring George Burns and Gracie Allen
Run Time:
26:49
Listen here.

I hope you enjoyed those and I wish you, and yours, a very Merry Christmas.

-30-

Previous blogs on OTR:
How I Discovered OTR
A Background
The Shadow
War of the Worlds
Box 13

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