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

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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Cinnamon Bear - - Part II

I noticed some of you all were looking for pictures of some of the actors on the Bear. Unfortunately, I can't get any that were taken during production. And some of the folks, well, it's difficult to find pictures of them. Here are the ones I could find:

Elvia Allman

Penelope the Penguin

Verna Felton


Gale Gordon

Weary Willie

Oliver Ostrich

Joe Kearns

Crazy Quilt Dragon

Cy Kendall

Captain Taffy

Indian Chief

Elliott Lewis

Mr. Presto

Howard McNear

Samuel the Seal

Slim the Cowboy

Frank Nelson

Captain Tintop

Ted Osborne

King Blotto

Professor Whiz

Hanley Stafford (with Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks)

Snapper Snick Crocodile

Walter Tetley


Bill Thompson


Martha Wentworth

Wintergreen Witch

Barbara Jean Wong


Remember that the Bear was done purposely anonymously. Someone way back in 1937 knew that some armchair historians (like this tuba playing English teacher living in Mindanao) would be trying to figure out who all the cast was. These might all be wrong.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Cinnamon Bear [Orinially heard November through December 1937]

The Cinnamon Bear was a popular show for kids that played every night between the Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. It was the imaginary adventures of twins Judy and Jimmy Barton. Many children and adults have listened to this program through the years. I played the show here in the Philippines for some of my adult students and they love it.

Here are some details about the performers:

Paddy O'Cinnamon (Cinnamon Bear)--Bud Duncan (1883-1960)
He was a popular actor in silent films and was heard on many radio shows in the 1930s. He retired in 1943.
Mother--Verna Felton (1890-1966)
A native Californian, she was famous on radio for portraying the mothers of Dennis Day, Harriet Nelson, and Red Skelton. She was heard in almost every major Disney animated feature between Dumbo and The Jungle Book. Years after she died, her picture was used for the portrayal of the wife of Colonel Sherman T. Potter on the TV series, M*A*S*H.
Judy--Barbara Jean Wong (1924-99)
Her biography is mentioned elsewhere here. This was one of her first programs. Famous for portraying children of all races and ages, she was 13 here.
For as big a part as this young actor had, no one remembers who he was. Some people believe that Jimmy was played by Walter Tetley (1915-75), who was 22 years old when the Bear was recorded in early November 1937. Walter had some condition (only he and his girlfriends knew exactly what it was) in which his body development and voice remained pre-pubescent. He always played children on the radio. On the Bullwinkle show in the 1960s (a cartoon series on TV), he was the voice of Mr. Peabody's boy, Sherman.
Crazy Quilt Dragon--Joe Kearns (1907-62)
Mentioned here. This was one of his first radio acting gigs. He was 30.
Snapper Snick Crocodile--Hanley Stafford (1899-1968)
Born Alfred Austin, he is mentioned here. He was one of the busiest radio actors of all time.
Samuel the Seal/Slim the Cowboy--Howard McNear (1905-69)
Native Angeleno McNear was best known on TV as Floyd the Barber on the Andy Griffith Show and on radio as Doc Adams on Gunsmoke. He was another active radio performer.
Penelope the Penguin--Elvia Allman--(1904-92)
Busy with radio, movies and TV, she first made her mark in Hollywood as the voice of Clarbelle the Cow in 1933 for Walt Disney.
Mr. Presto--Elliott Lewis (1917-90)
This was one of Elliott's first radio acting gigs. The recordings for the shows were done in early November. His twentieth birthday wasn't until November 28.
Santa Claus--Lou Merrill (1912-1963)
This Canadian actor was a master of various accents. He was on many shows. Died one week after his 51st birthday.
Captain Tintop--Frank Nelson (1911-86)
Very distinctive voice ("Yay-yuss!") Lifelong friend of Hanley Stafford. When Hanley died, his widow married Frank. Hanley's mother, Hanley, Frank, and Veola Vonn, the wife, are all interred together in the same mausoleum crypt at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Captain Taffy/Indian Chief--Cy Kendall (1898-1953)
Heavyset actor known for chomping a cigar and acting very nervous (and nasty) in movies. The parts he played on the Bear were a change of pace.
Weary Willie/Oliver Ostrich--Gale Gordon (1906-95)
Charles T. Aldrich, Jr., is written about here. This man was on the radio almost every night of the week at this time.
King Blotto/Professor Whiz--Ted Osborne (1905-87)
Ted was also a very prolific radio performer. He was on mostly horror and science fiction shows. In 1939, he was Dr. Fu Manchu.
Fe Fo--Joe Duval (1906-66)
Joe only did radio until the 1950s, when radio died. He was seen in a handful of movies.
Wintergreen Witch--Martha Wentworth (1889-1974)
Known as the Woman of a Thousand Voices. She could do any character, any age.
Fraidy Cat--Dorothy Scott
She was a voice actress for Disney. Her last film was My Bodyguard (1980).
Assistant Blotto Executioner/Mudley--Ed Max (1909-80)
Edwin Max originally acted under the stage name of Ed Miller (in the movies). He always used his real name for radio.
Narrator--John Hiestand (1907-87)
Often listed as "Bud." He announced many radio shows in Hollywood (1930s-1950s) and later on TV.
Snowman--Bill Thompson (1913-71)
Defined by two characters--Wallace Wimple (on Fibber McGee and Molly) and Droopy the Dog (in MGM cartoons).

Script: Glanville Heisch (d. 1989) [a manager at station KFI in Los Angeles] and Elizabeth Heisch (1908-2003) [his wife--uncredited]
Director: Lindsay MacHarrie [was a voice actor in his own right]
Composer: Don Honrath [Broadway stage performer in the 1930s]
Orchestra Conductor: Felix Mills (1901-87) [Worked for many years at CBS in Hollywood]

You can download the entire show and other fun stuff at the official Cinnamon Bear website.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Manila Broadcasting Company

Hello. It's been a while. Last week I got the flu. It wasn't the flu that everyone has been so afraid of lately... in fact it was worse! Which is why they didn't quarantine the hotel where I stay... Hmmm!

I listened to a little bit of local radio last week. In the Philippines there are very few truly local radio stations. (On TV the local stations would be called LPTV in the United States.) Anyway, I was tuning the FM band. Everything is the same Top-40. I used to wonder why Top-40 was dropped as a radio genre in America. Living here, I now know. It gets old listening to the same songs over and over and over and over and over again. Ugh!

So I went to the AM band. There isn't much music there, mostly talk (and mostly in a Pilipino language, which I still don't understand). I found a great station at DXKH (972 kHz) here in Cagayan de Oro (CDO).

It sounded like a television program. My radio picks up TV signals (something you can't do in the United States in most locations, since the advent of Digital TV) so I thought maybe my radio was set to the wrong band. But no, it was honest to goodness radio comedy. After that, there was a romantic soap opera followed by a 19th century superhero adventure, much in the spirit of Zorro. At the hour and half-hour it gave station IDs from both DZRH (the mother station in Manila, which just happens to be the oldest radio station in the Philippines, having gone on the air June 15, 1939, as KZRH, as the Philippines was a US commonwealth then, the Ks would be dropped ten years later and substituted with Ds, thus the Philppines is one of the few countries in the world that identifies radio stations by call letters) and DXKH in CDO.

It's just too bad I don't speak Tagalog. There was enough English and Spanish (Spanish in the adventure program) that I could follow the stories. It is nice to know that radio variety is alive and well in the Philippines. Now my job is to learn Tagalog! (Even though I live in a place where most people speak Cebuano/Bisayan.)

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