This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Raymond Knight (1899-1953)

Raymond Knight was born February 12, 1899, in Salem, Massachusetts. A scholar, Ray graduated from Boston University with undergraduate and law degrees and passed the Massachusetts Bar examination. But rather than go into law, he went in for more education and attended Harvard University's 47 Workshop, where he studied drama and writing. Ray then began studying drama at Yale University. 

In 1927, he made his debut on Broadway in the musical revue, The Manhatters, which ran from August through October of that year.  

Ray earned most of his living from writing. He was a very versatile performer who was witty, charming, and mostly satirical. In 1929 Bertha "Betty" Brainard (1890-1956), who was the programmer for NBC in New York, told Ray, who was writing several shows and commercials at the time, to come up with something cuckoo for the Blue Network.

What he came up with was the most popular radio comedy program of the 1930s: The KUKU Hour.  This show was the forerunner to most of what America thought was funny afterwards. Ray, unlike most of the other radio personalities at the time, didn't have a background in vaudeville. He did all of his work within a short distance from home. Consequently, Ray had a good grasp on what people did when they were at home. Nothing was safe from Ray Knight's sarcasm. It wasn't meant to be rude or upsetting. But the KUKU Hour was so different from anything that was going on at the time. He would bounce back and forth between networks. The show started on NBC and was there for a few years before moving to Mutual. 

The KUKU Hour did not always have the same characters but it would have the same elements in each show. One of these was a segment called the "Firing Squad." In this, Ray would make comments about a person, a group, or an idea, and then have everyone in the studio shoot at it with toy guns (paper cap guns were provided for members of the studio audience and even the technical people got involved in this!)

Ray also worked on the children's series Wheatenaville Sketches, in which he played Billy Batchelor, the publisher of the town newspaper. 

Ladies Love Hats was Ray's one motion picture appearance. This 18 minute film premiered at movie theaters on November 1, 1935.

In 1938, Ray wrote a comedy play for Broadway, Run Sheep Run. It started on November 3 and ran for 12 days, closing on November 15. Two of the cast members were William Bendix and Dick Van Patten (who was quite young at the time)

Ray created a soap opera called A House in the Country. It was the story of Joan and Bruce and their trials and tribulations. Ray played the part of shopkeeper on the show, which aired from October 1941 to October 1942. 

During World War II, after ABC (the Blue Network) broke off from NBC, Ray was the network's national program manager (roughly the same job that Betty Brainard had at NBC). 

He wrote articles of all kinds for many magazines. 

Ray's last job was writing for the radio comedy team of Bob and Ray (Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding) on CBS from about 1949.

Ray Knight died on his 54th birthday, February 12, 1953, in New York City. His widow, Lee, married Bob Elliott in 1954. 




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