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The Great Plays Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Great Plays

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From the February 5, 1938 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press:

By some sort of coincidence NBC made a simultaneous announcement to the effect, Masterpieces of theater literature, selected from the classics to trace the development of drama from the productions in the Theater Dionysus in ancient Athens down to the stage of present-day Broadway, will be presented in a series of full-hour weekly broadcasts starting Saturday, February 26. The series, entitled Great Plays, will be heard from 4 to 5 p.m. CST over the NBC-Red Network. Starting with "The Birds," a satiric comedy by Aristophanes, the plays will include examples of morality drama, the comedia dell'arte of Italy, pre-Shakespearean and Shakespearean drama in England, the French theater, the English theater of the 18th century, early American drama, the Irish theater and contemporary American drama.

Great Plays was arguably the NBC Blue Network's most prestigious, serious Drama presentation before World War II. For its time it was unquestionably one of the most highly engineered, well-mounted, well produced series of its kind in Radio.

One glance at the stunning array of respected dramatic talent among the actors who participlated in this long-running flagship series reveals that--for a time, anyway--NBC's Blue Network skimped nothing on production values or talent. Nor did they shy away from otherwise difficult scripts or stage plays. These were Great Plays from around the world, a great many of which had never been heard before on American Radio. The production rights and licensing costs for this series had to have been staggering for their time, given the calibre of the plays they mounted in the first four seasons alone.

Neither are any of these plays light-weights by any measure. These were serious, time-honored, highly respected literary stage presentations written by the world's most famous and respected literary talents. The various works upon which this series was based could form the basis of any serious Library of Drama anywhere in the world.

These productions were Classics for lovers of The Classics, and NBC made no bones about promoting the series just that way. Indeed, they produced a reading guide to accompany the first four seasons, to aid both seasoned and novice Classics aficionados to both navigate and anticipate each season's new offerings. The production values--for their time--were absolutely top-notch and the series first four seasons were both highly acclaimed and avidly received.

As always with any Golden Age Radio era production, one must keep an historical perspective of the series under review. This was an immediately post-Depression production aimed as much toward reminding America that it's Performing Arts were both intact and as readily available as they were during the Turn of the Century and the post Great War recovery years. The Great Depression clearly destroyed the economically disenfranchised, but had an even more devastating effect on what had been a growing Middle Class.

This series remained a reminder as much to students of the Classics as to a highly civilized nation still crawling out of the most devastating economic collapse in its young history that, despite its setbacks, the backbone of its cultural connection to the world's civilization was still intact. These plays were as much of a comfort to America's middle class as it was to its national sense of pride and determination to rise above its economic collapse and scratch, claw and scrape its way back to a stable, civilized Democracy.

To those ends, this series remains an important and historical bridge spanning those difficult years of sacrifice and determination to rise above this young nation's first serious taste of economic and moral collapse--a lesson we're currently revisiting at the beginning of our nation's 21st Century.

As to the demise of Great Plays, and all the fine NBC stage play productions of the previous twelve years, Time Magazine made this observation in their article from Monday, Apr. 13, 1942:

Radio: Great Plays

Last week, for the first time in more than twelve radio seasons, neither NBC (the old Red network) nor the Blue Network broadcast an hour-long adaptation of a stage play. None was scheduled for the future. Possibly not many millions of listeners noticed this, but it meant that the book was closed on an era of radio.

Early enthusiasts and amateurs of broadcasting took the theater as their heritage, as a matter of course. At first, being poor, they stuck to classics on which no royalties had to be paid. In 1928 pioneering NBC broadcast The Tempest—the first Shakespeare on the air. In that year it also produced classic Victorian melodramas like East Lynne.

By 1930, having progressed to Ibsen, NBC formed a Radio Guild, boldly undertook to produce one play a week, 52 weeks in the year. For several years one man, Vernon Radcliff, adapted every play, directed every performance. NBC, prospering in the great Depression, gave him enough money to allow productions of Galsworthy, Barrie, George S. Kaufman.

By 1938 another type of radio drama was in full flower, especially at CBS: the original radio script, with its narrators, its musical "bridges," its fade-outs, fade-ins, sound effects. Daytime serials had long since arrived.

Another arrival in radio about this time was "the educational tie-up" by which networks displayed their utility and virtue. Colleges listened as NBC's "Great Plays Series," successor to the Radio Guild, started off in 1938 and in 1938-39 went on a grand tour of the ages, opening with Blanche Yurka in The Trojan Women. Other items that year: Molière, Tolstoi and George Bernard Shaw's own adaptation of Back to Methuselah. In the last three years this sort of thing has been overshadowed by commercial radio theaters, the fresh work of the Columbia Workshop, variety shows.

Last week NBC producers and directors, meditating on the twelve-year experience, wondered if the future belonged to "original" radio writing (many examples of which have not exceeded the talents of a smart high-school boy), or if the classic works of the theater would again be broadcast. Conceding that about one in 20 of their past productions had had truly professional finish, they agreed on certain requirements for future radio playhouses. One requirement: more than the six to seven hours of rehearsal that are now routine.

As it turned out, neither Famous Fireside Plays nor The Blue Network's Blue Theatre Plays rose to Time Magazine's cited standards. Apparently Blue Network executives agreed with them.

The Great Plays production run remains a highly collectable, influential, highly educational series for its time, and is well worth the effort finding, enjoying, and preserving this landmark cultural waypoint in Golden Age Radio History.

Series Derivatives:

Famous Fireside Plays
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Stage Dramas
Network(s): National Broadcasting Company; Blue Network
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): Season 1: 38-02-26 01 The Birds by Aristophanes

Season 2: 38-10-16 01 The Trojan Women by Euripides

Season 3: 39-10-15 01 Antigone by Sophocles

Season 4: 40-10-13 01 A Cavalcade Of Drama: From Ancient Greece To Modern Broadway by Various Authors

Season 5: 41-11-16 01 A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

Famous Fireside Plays: 42-02-01 01 Thunder Rock

Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): Season 1: 38-02-26 through 38-05-07, Saturdays, at 5:00 pm for 60 minutes
Season 2: 38-10-16 through 39-05-07, Sundays, at 1:00 pm for 60 minutes
Season 3: 39-10-15 through 40-05-05, Sundays, at 2:00 pm for 60 minutes
Season 4: 40-10-13 through 41-05-04, Sundays, at 3:00 pm for 60 minutes
Season 5: 41-11-16 through 42-01-25, Sundays, at 3:00 pm for 60 minutes

Famous Fireside Plays:
42-02-01 through 42-03-29, Sundays, at 2:00 pm for 60 minutes

Blue Theatre Plays (
a completely unrelated program):
42-04-05 through 42-08-30, Sundays, at 2:00 pm for 30 minutes

Syndication: None
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Joseph Bell, James Church, Albert N. Williams; Producer: Charles Warburton
Principal Actors: Season 1: Luis Van Rooten, Burford Hampden, John Brewster, William Shelley, Charles Webster, Ralph Locke, Mark Smith, Louis Hector, Mark Smith, William Shelley, Jerry Macey, John McGovern, John Brewster, Junius Matthews, Alfred Shirley, Peter Donald, Barbara Weeks, Lucille Wall, Peggy Allenby, Barbara Bruce, Joseph Vitale, Al Oakes, Harold McGee, Brad Barker, Francesca Lenney, Elizabeth Adams, Richard Kollmar, Kay Strozzi, Richard Shelley, Charles Webster, Dennis Hoey, Ralph Locke, Herbert Deans, Carl Eastman, Earle Larrimore, Stanley Waxman, John Wooster, Florence Malone, Douglas Ferguson, Ruth Warrick, Milo Boulton, Bernard Lenrow, Peter Bovay, Neal O'Malley, Manden Hooley, William Sweatland, Irene Tedrow, Waldemar Capell, Turney Walker, Tom Gorman, Stanley Waxman, James Van Dyke, Selena Royle, John Moore, John Kane, William Podmore, William Shelley, John McGovern, Mary Michaels, Elaine Dumont, Beatrice Pons, Phyllis Langner, Alfred Shirley, Burford Hampden, Harry Nevil, William Podmore, Joseph Granby, John McGovern, Fred Baron, Selena Royle, Jacqueline DeWitt, Jan Owen, Lucille Wall, Harry Cooper Cliff, Richard Gordon, George Gaul, Eustace Wyatt, Harry Nevil, Marilyn Erskine, Eric Dressler, William Johnstone, Edward Fevre, Carl Benton Reeds, Eustace Wyatt
Season 2: Blanche Juka, Kay Strozzi, Florence Malone, Selena Royle, Carl Vincent Reid, Jerome Lessor, Jay Jostyn, William Shelley, Alan Reed (billed as "Teddy Bergman"), Edmonia Novis, Audrey Love, Alfred Shirley, Louis Hector, Anthony Kimball-Cooper, Earle Larrimore, Ian MacAllaster, Sirella Dorne, Selena Royle, Charles Webster, Flora Campbell, Mary Morris, Carl Benton Reid, Whitford Kane, Ian Martin, Robert Strauss, J. Malcolm Dunne, Irene Tedrow, Helen Walpole,Richard Kollmar, William Podmore, Burford Hampden, Anthony Kimball Cooper, Joy Hathaway, Jan Owen, Selena Royle, Marcel Journay, Tom Tully, Jim Backus, Henriette Kaye, Roy Fant, Tom Lewis, Howard Smith, Eddie Mayehoff, Winfield Honie, Sandy Strauss, Beatrice Miller, Carl Benton Reed, Selena Royle, Burford Hampden, Richard Gordon, Jerry Lesser, Ellen Maher, Raymond Bromley, William Thornton, Don Morrison, Junius Matthews, Alfred Shirley, Harry Cooper Cliffe, Lillian Tonge, Mark Smith, Charles Webster, Eustace Wyatt, Kay Strozzi, William Podmore, Harry Neville, Joseph Granby, Helen Walpole, Selena Royle, Phillip Tong, Burford Hampden, Harry Neville, J. Malcolm Dunne, Paul Porter, Jan Owen, Ann Starrett, Ivy Scott, Jean KaDell, Alice John, Earle Larrimore, James Creagar, Kenneth Danio, Neal O'Malley, William Thornton, George Gaul, Selena Royle, John Brewster, John McGovern, Luis Van Rooten, Joseph Curtin, John Barclay, Francis Compton, Burford Hampden, T. Coffin Cooke, Ian MacLaren, William Shirley, John McGovern, Percival Vivian, Eustace Wyatt, John Hewitt, Franz Bendtsen, Herbert Ranson, David Vivian, John Brewster, Jeanette Nolan, Jay Clark, Harriet Sterling, Reed Brown, Jane Huston, William Edmonson, Roger De Koven, William Pringle, Florence Pendleton, James Kirkwood, Joseph Granby, Ethel Everett, Arthur Breuse, Laura Bowman, Frederick Lewis, Jane Wyatt, Parker Fennelly, Arthur Maitland, James Kirkwood, Harry Neville, Ruth Gordon, Vincent Price, Octavia Kenmore, Ellen Marr, Muriel Dickson
Season 3: Ara Gerrold, Dorothy Darling, Cheery Hardey, Alfred Shirley, Raymond Edward Johnson, Mark Smith, William Shelley, Dennis Hoey, Burford Hampden, Horace Braham , Florence Malone, Raymond Edward Johnson, Rex O'Malley, Carl Benton Reid, Charles Webster, Harry Mestayer, William Shelley, J. M. Dunn, Neill O'Malley, Edmond O'Brien, Horace Braham, Harry Neville, Burford Hampden, Henry Herbert, Michael Dine, Clifford Devereaux, Wesley Addy, Burford Hampden, Horace Braham, William Podmore, John McGovern, John Hewitt, Samuel Glennister, J. P. Nelson, Harry Neville, Florence Malone, Florida Friebus, Alice Cooper Cliff, Carl Benton Reid, Horace Braham, Jack Roseleigh, Harry Mestayer, Raymond Bramley, Selena Royle, Ralph Locke, Clifford Stork, Sidney Cassell, Swain Gordon, Stefan Schnabel, Ruth Gates, Fred Irving Lewis, Tom Donnelly, Edward Trevor, Marilyn Miller, Florence Pendleton, Ian Martin, Bob Strauss, Clifford Stalk, Irene Wicker, William S. Rainey, Florence Malone, Richard Goren, Burford Hampden, Peter Donald, Barbara Lee, Horace Braham, Joan Warburton, Eustace Wyatt, Lillian Tong, Leslie Barrie, Stanley Harrison, Cherry Hardey, Florence Pendleton, Helen Claire, Alice Frost, Harold Vermilyea, Ruth Gilbert, Robert Walker, Fred Irving Lewis, William Janney, Georgette Harvey, Wiley Adams, Kenneth Michael, Tom Gunn, Robert Dryden, John James, Audrey Christie, Guy Robertson, Harry Townes, Tommy Hughes, Gerald Henry, Joe White, Eric Dressler, Burford Hampden, Robert Tomes, Jay Seymour, Suzanne Jackson, Jean Owen, Abby Lewis, Charles Latour, Hester Sondergaard, Templeton Fox, Ruth Gilbert, Milton Herman, Linda Watkins, Arthur Hughes, Ralph Locke, James Bell, John McGovern, Anne Elstner, Walter Graves, John Donahue, Eric Dressler, Ann Bolie, Lotte Stavisky, William Litel, Blanche Gladstone, Jane Hamilton, Richard Gordon, Ned Wever, John Griggs, Ethel Everett, Clifford Stork, Raymond Bramley, John Wheeler, Kingsley Colton, Ellen Mahr, G. Swain Gordon, Jerry Macey, Junius Matthews, Wiley Adams, Myron McCormick, Inge Adams, Harold Vermilyea, James Meighan, Joseph Curtin, Luis Van Rooten, Edward Trevor, Jerry Macey, Alan MacItyre, Elmer Laire
Season 4:
Louis Hector, Neal O'Malley, Alan MacItyre, Parker Fennelly, Harold Vermilyea, Burford Hampden, Maurice Wells, Elmer Laire, Stanley Harrison, Alfred Shirley, Norman Stuart, Clifford Stark, Peter Capell, Elspeth Eric, Mitzie Gould, Kay Strozzi, Katherine Squire, Raymond Edward Johnson, Bartlett Robinson, Peter Capell, Sanford Meisner, John Griggs, Kermit Murdock, Jean Ellen, Ian MacAllaster, Ann Shephard, Helen Warren, Paula Truman, William Watts, Martin Wolfson, Elliott Reid, Paul Dubov, Cedric Hardwicke, Jessica Tandy, Louis Hector, Irene Wicker, William Podmore, Horace Braham, Carleton Young, John Abbott, John Moore, J. P. Wilson, William S. Rainey, Richard Kollmar, Florence Malone, Linda Watkins, Marjorie Clark, Stanley Harrison, Winston O'Keefe, Harry Nevil, William Thornton, Maurice Wells, Clinton Sundberg, G. Albert Smith, Charles Webster, William S. Rainey, Elliott Reid, Charita Bauer, Alfred Shirley, Kingsley Colton, Stanley Harrison, Burford Hampden, J. Malcolm Dunne, Ian Martin, William Shelley, Ian MacAllaster, Sean Dylan, Vincent Donahue, Mary Michael, Edward Jefferson, Stanley Harrison, William Podmore, Ara Gerald, Eustace Wyatt, Joan Warburton, Patricia Calvert, Philip Tongue, Bertram Tamswell, Alan Hewitt, Eric Dressler, Phillip Tong, Sidney Smith, Harold Vermilyea, Ted Osborne, Catherine Anderson, John Cherry, Estelle Winwood, Alfred Shirley, Stanley Harrison, Phillip Tong, Kay Strozzi, Jean Muir, Marjorie Maude, George Coulouris, Barry Jones, Marjorie Clark, Morgan Farley, G. Albert Smith, Florence Malone, Virginia Campbell, Ruth Gates, Catherine Mescal, Ian Martin, Clifford Stork, Aragh Jerrold, Florence Williams, Richard Gordon, Peggy Allenby, Evelyn Barden, Raymond Edward Johnson, Fred Irving Lewis, Jeff Davis, Billy Lee, Walter Kinsella, Ted de Corsia, John Griggs, Spencer Bentley, Joe Helgeson, Neal O'Malley, G. Albert Smith, Peter Donald, Raymond Bramley, Joseph Curtin, Winfield Honie, Dorothy Sands, Ted Jewett, Charles Webster, Nancy Marshall, William Pringle, Alexander Kirkland, Jean Muir, Wesley Addy, Pauline Ward
Season 5:
Grace Copen, Herbert Rudley, Sylvia Marlowe, Junius Matthews, Les Damon, Betty Winkler, Alexander Scourby, Arad Moulton, Donald MacDonald, Arnold Moss, Peggy Allenby, Irene Hubbard, Sammie Hill, Peter Capell, Betty Garde, Joe DeSantis
Recurring Character(s): Varied from production to production.
Protagonist(s): Varied from production to production.
Author(s): Season 1: Aristophanes, Christopher Marlowe, Lawrence Kara, Molière, William Congreve, Richard Sheridan, Henry Arthur Jones, John Millington Synge, Maxwell Anderson
Season 2: Euripides, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Pierre Corneille, Moliere, Oliver Goldsmith, Richard Sheridan, Friedrich Schiller, Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Alexandre Dumas, Edmond Rostand, James Barrie, Maurice Metterlinck, John Galsworthy, George Bernard Shaw, John Drinkwater, Lenox Robinson, Maxwell Anderson
Season 3: Sophocles, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, Washington Irving, Henrik Ibsen, Arthur Wing Pinero, William Gillette, Clyde Fitch, Ferenc Molnar, David Belasco, Maxwell Anderson
Season 4: Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Pierre Corneille, Moliere, Arthur Wing Pinero, Edmond Rostand, Edward Bulwar Lytton, Dion Boucicault, T. W. Robertson, Leopold Lewis, W. S. Gilbert, Henry Arthur Jones, Clyde Fitch, John Millington Synge, Ferenc Molnar, Maxwell Anderson, Laurence Stallings, George Kelly, Robert Sherwood, John Drinkwater, George S. Kaufman, Charles Rand Kennedy
Season 5: Gogol, William Shakespeare, Emile Augier, Jules Sandeau, Henrik Ibsen
Writer(s) Season 1: James Church, Joseph Bell, Blevins Davis, Lawrence Langner, Lawrence Kara
Season 2: Race Dovier, Maurice Dolbeay, Harry McFadden, Blevins Davis
Season 3: Ranald MacDougall, Welborn Kelly, Gerald Holland, Blevins Davis
Season 4: Blevins Davis
Season 5: Blevins Davis
Music Direction: Joseph Hauntie, Van Cleve, Harold Sanford
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Season 1: Jack Costello
Season 2: Harry Clark
Season 3: Robert Waldrop
Season 4: George Putnam
Season 5: Barrett H. Clark
Estimated Scripts or
Season 1: 11
Season 2: 28
Season 3: 28
Season 4: 30
Season 5: 11
Total Great Plays: 109

Famous Fireside Plays(unrelated to Great Plays): 9

Blue Theatre Plays (unrelated to Great Plays): 22

Overall Total Programs logged: 139

Episodes in Circulation: Season 1: 10
Season 2: 18
Season 3: 22
Season 4: 12
Season 5: 4

Famous Fireside Plays: None

Blue Theatre Plays: None

Overall Total: 67

Total Episodes in Collection: 77

Spot ad for Great Plays 'The Cid' production from December 8 1940
Spot ad for Great Plays 'The Cid' production from December 8 1940

Spot article for The BLUE Theatre Players highlighting Joan Banks and Frank Lovejoy from 42-06-26

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, New York Times, Martin Grams' Radio Drama.

Notes on Provenances:

All above cited provenances are in error in one form or another. The most helpful provenance was the log of the radioGOLDINdex.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc

While there were, indeed, five seasons of Great Plays, there were also two alleged derivatives: Famous Fireside Plays and the alleged Blue Theatre Plays extension of Great Plays, neither of which maintained either the production values or classical patina of the five seasons of Great Plays, proper. One can only surmise that, with the break up of NBC by the U.S. Justice Department, Great Plays, one of NBC's corporately produced and sustained productions, suffered somewhat during the period of the breakup and transition.

  • Famous Fireside Plays ran briefly from 42-02-08 through 42-03-29, airing on Sundays at 1:00 pm, for 55 minutes.
  • Blue Theatre Plays (a completely different program, as it turns out) ran from 42-04-05 through 42-08-30, airing on Sundays at 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm, depending on time zone, for 25 minutes.

Blue Theatre Plays differs so materially from Great Plays as to question the lineage of this derivative, but provenances clearly show this derivative in the same timeslot, on the same days, but solely on the Blue Network, hence the name of the series. Conflicting logs and provenances abound for this series. The Grams book makes no distinction whatsoever between the five seasons of Great Plays and it's two derivatives, but nevertheless, cites a continuous run of Great Plays from 38-02-26 through 42-08-30. This is patently false [see below]. The Hickerson Guide shows Blue Theatre Plays running from 42-04-05 through 42-09-06, but this is not supported by any newspaper or alternative contemporary provenance.

There were several material errors in most of the alternate logs for this series, as follows:

  • 1. Season 1, Episode 4, is properly titled 'Tamburlaine' not 'Tamerlane'.
  • 2. Season 1, Episode 10, is properly titled 'The Playboy of The Western World' not 'Playboy of The Western World'.
  • 3. Season 2, Episode 8, is properly titled 'The Cid' or 'Le Cid', but not 'El Cid' as it's a French classic not a Spanish classic.
  • 4. Season 2, Episode 12, is properly titled 'School For Scandal' not 'The School Of Scandal'.
  • 5. Season 2, Episode 20, is properly titled 'Camille' not 'Camile'.
  • 6. Season 3, Episode 19, is properly titled 'The Second Mrs. Tanqueray' not 'The Second Mrs Tanquerry'.
  • 7. Season 3, Episode 19, is properly titled 'Pelleas et Melisande' not 'Pelleas at Mellisands'.
  • 8. Season 4, Episode 1, is properly titled 'A Cavalcade Of Drama: From Ancient Greece To Modern Broadway' not 'Greece To Broadway'.
  • 8. Season 4, Episode 28, is properly titled 'Trelawny Of The Wells' not 'Trelawny Of The Walls'.
  • 9. Season 1 of Great Plays aired on Saturdays, not Sundays.
  • 10. Season 5, Episode 6 of Great Plays was pre-empted, but should have been 'Jeppe of The Hill'. Though this episode appears to not have aired, or rescheduled, it's referred to in a release from NBC to newspapers, announcing a series of Season 5 Great Plays, to include "A Doll's House, The Playboy of the Western World, The Inspector General, Camille, The American Way, Jeppe of The Hill, and The Taming of The Shrew" to be broadcast during November and December of 1941. The provenance is the Sunday, November 16, 1941 edition of the Kingsport Times [HERE]. Since we can account for six of these productions and their air dates, the only production not to be aired during the last two months of 1941 was 'Jeppe of The Hill'. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the production that would have aired on 41-12-22, but was pre-empted, but not rescheduled should have been 'Jeppe of The Hill'.
  • 11. Episode 1 of Blue Theatre Plays is properly titled, 'There Goes Ichery Van', not 'There Goes Ichery Man'. The title is derived from a Henry David Thoreau reference to a child's nonsense poem of the era that goes, "Iery-wiery ichery van, tittle-tol-tan", from Thoreau's "Walking", from 1862.
  • 12. As it turns out, Blue Theatre Plays had nothing whatsoever to do with Great Plays. Blue Theatre Plays appears to have been one of The Blue Network's new offerings, comprised of a repertory group named, appropriately enough, The Blue Theatre Players, comprised of Frank Lovejoy, Joan Banks, Santos Ortega, and Lindsay MacHarrie, among others. This lends further support to our contention that Blue Theatre Plays was not, in fact, a continuation of Great Plays at all. Note our provenance [HERE] .

All we can continue to do, is much the same as what the OTR Errors site does for all circulating vintage radio errors but the OTTER database errors: continue to cite the most glaring circulating errors of all--those exponentially perpetuated by the OTRR's OTTER database.

Circulating recording fraud alert:

  • A set of some thirty-nine fraudulently encoded exemplars of Great Plays is in wide circulation:
    • 128kbps, 44000hz, Mono (5.5:1) recordings up-encoded from nominal 32kpbs, 22000hz, 11:1 recordings
    • 192kbps, 44000hz, Stereo (7.41:1) recordings up-encoded from nominal 128kpbs, 44000hz, 11:1 stereo recordings
  • The great majority of these fraudulent encodes seem to emanate from the currently circulating collection of Great Plays recordings from the OTRR collection. Exercise caution when downloading from such sources.
  • None of the Great Plays canon were broadcast in stereo--ever.
  • The result of this type of fraud is that iPod and other .mp3 player users give up between 300Mbs and 600Mbs of disk or memory space when employing these fraudulent encodes.
  • The original 1938-1941 transcriptions were understandably monaural recordings. There's no point whatsoever in encoding such recordings as stereo. There's no separation, in any case, and all one ends up with is left and right channels of the identically same monaural recording. But that adds as much as 33% to the storage size of even nominal encodes.
  • The vast majority of previously circulating encodes of Great Plays were nominal 32kbps, 22000hz or 64kbps, 44000hz, 11:1 monaural recordings. Short of first-generation encodes, these are more than high enough fidelity to appreciate the most subtle nuances of any of the surviving Great Plays recordings currently in wide circulation. This will also save most iPod and .mp3 player users as much as 600 Mbs of disk space.

What you see here, is what you get. Complete transparency. We have no 'credentials' whatsoever--in any way, shape, or form--in the 'otr community'--none. But here's how we did it--for better or worse. Here's how you can build on it yourselves--hopefully for the better. Here's the breadcrumbs--just follow the trail a bit further if you wish. No hobbled downloads. No misdirection. No posturing about our 'credentials.' No misrepresentations. No strings attached. We point you in the right direction and you're free to expand on it, extend it, use it however it best advances your efforts.

We ask one thing and one thing only--if you employ what we publish, attribute it, before we cite you on it.

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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

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Great Plays Series Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
The Birds
[ 1st Play of 1st Season ]
By Aristophanes
Saturdays, at 5:oo pm

38-01-31 The Daily Messenger
Masterpieces, of theatrical literature, dating back to the earliest days and covering the years through present-time Broadway, are to be depicted in a new
dramatic series for WEAF-NBC.
Adapted and produced by Blevins Davis of the NBC staff, each program, under the title "Great Plays." will be presented in a manner stimulating the period from which the play was taken. Opening date is February 26 with "
The Birds" by Aristophanes.
The idea is lo trace the development of the drama from its beginnings

38-02-05 Winnipeg Free Press
By some sort of coincidence NBC made a simultaneous announcement to the effect, Masterpieces of theater literature, selected from the classics to trace the development of drama from the productions in the Theater Dionysus in ancient Athens down to the stage of present-day Broadway, will be presented in a series of full-hour weekly broadcasts starting Saturday, February 26. The series, entitled Great Plays, will be heard from 4 to 5 p.m. CST over the NBC-Red Network. Starting with "The Birds," a satiric comedy by Aristophanes, the plays will include examples of morality drama, the comedia dell'arte of Italy, pre-Shakespearean and Shakespearean drama in England, the French theater, the English theater of the 18th century, early American drama, the Irish theater and contemporary American drama.

38-02-26 Freeport Journal-Standard
The dawn of dramatic literature in the great open-air arenas of the Greek theatre will be represented in the first performance of the series, "Great Plays," which will be broadcast at 4 today over WENR. "
The Birds," a gay and satiric comedy by Aristophanes, will be the first drama produced.

38-03-05 Freeport Journal-Standard
The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, will be the studio setting for the broadcast of the second in the series of "Great Plays" to be presented by the National Broadcasting comopany today. "
Everyman," most famous of all the middle ages morality plays, will be the presentation to be heard at 4 over WMAQ. Prior to the actual dramatic production, the Rt. Rev. William T. Manning, bishop of New York, will speak briefly on "Drama and the Church."

The Great Magician
[ Poor recording]

38-03-12 Freeport Journal-Standard
A type of drama never before attempted in radio, the comedia dell'arte of 16th and 17th century Italy, will be the third production in the series of great plays to be broadcast at 4 today over WMAQ. The unique presentation, entitled "
The Great Magician," was compiled and written by Lawrence Carral and is the result of graduate degree research work in the department of drama, Yale university.

38-03-19 Charleston Gazette
NBC--5 Great Plays, Christopher Marlowe's "
Tamburlaine," a dramatic study of dictators.

A Midsummers Night's Dream
38-03-26 Freeport Journal-Standard
Dramatic genius that burst upon the scene in Elizabethan times and has influenced the entire field of English literature ever since will be representated in the National Broadcasting Company's current series of "Great Plays" with a production of William Shakespeare's "
A Midsummer Night's Dream" at 4 today over WMAQ.

The School For Husbands
38-04-02 Freeport Journal-Standard
The French theatre of the 17th century will be represented in the National Broadcasting comopany series of "Great Plays" with the production of Moliere's classic comedy, "
The School for Husbands," on WMAQ at 4.
Love For Love
38-04-09 San Antonio Express
An early restoration drama, "Love for Love" by William Congreve, will be presented as the seventh in the series of Great Plays, this afternoon at 4 o'clock over WOAI. First viewed by the public on April 30, 1695, at New Theatre, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. "
Love for Love" revolves about the silly misunderstandings of Angelica and her two swains, the elderly, Sir Sampson Legend and the young man, Valentine. Other characters are Scandal, Tattle, Valentines sailor brother, Ben, Foresight, Jeremy, Mrs. Foresight, Mrs. Frail and Miss Prue. The radio version, prepared by Blevins Davis, employs certain portions of another Congreve play, "The Way of the World." Charles Warburton of the NBC production staff will direct the performance.

The School For Scandal
38-04-16 Syracuse Herald
School for Scandal," Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy masterpiece first produced at the Drury Lane Theater in London in 1777, will be heard in the Great Plays broadcast over NBC-WEAF at 5 o'clock.

The Silver King
38-04-23 Freeport Journal-Standard
The soft, mellow glow of the gaslit era--New York city in the 1880's--will be rekindled with the production of "
The Silver King," first great English melodrama written by Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Merman, during the broadcast of "Great Plays" at 4 today over WMAQ.

The Playboy Of The Western World
38-04-30 Freeport Journal-Standard
The Abbey theatre, flowering point of Irish poetic and dramatic literature, will contribute one of its outstanding masterpieces, J.M. Synge's comedy, "
The Playboy of the Western World," as the presentation of the "Great Plays" series at 3:15 today over WMAQ.

By John Millington Synge

Valley Forge
38-05-07 Freeport Journal-Standard
Representative drama of the contemporary Broadway stage, Maxwell Anderson's historical drama, "
Valley Forge," will ring down the curtain on the series of "Great Plays" with the broadcast over WMAQ at 3.

The Trojan Women
[1st Play of 2nd Season]

38-10-16 Charleston Gazette
NEW YORK, Oct.15.--(AP)--The series of Great Plays, presented in the first group last year, are being resumed tomorrow. They will be carried via WJZ-NBC at 1 p.m., to be continued 26 weeks. In the opener will be Blanche Yurka taking the lead in "
The Trojan Women," written by Euripides and first played in Athens in 415 B.C.
38-10-23 Arizona Independent Republic
11:00--Great Plays Series--"Everyman"--NBC.

The Great Magician
38-10-30 Arizona Independent Republic
11:00--Great Plays Series--"
The Great Magician," An Italian Comedy Of The 16th Century--NBC.
The Tragical History Of Dr Faustus
38-11-06 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Marlowe's "
Dr. Faustus."
A Midsummers Nights Dream
38-11-13 Ogden Standard-Examiner
A Midsummer Night's Dream" first of three plays by Shakespeare to be heard on NBC's Great Plays series, will be presented this morning from eleven to twelve noon, over KGLO and the NBC-Blue network. Excerpts from Mendelssohn's Overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will provide musical background for the drama.

38-11-12 Radio Guide
Let's look at the histrionic highlights:
Sunday: NBC's "Great Plays" series presents "
A Midsummer Night's Dream" in midwinter. Only Shakespeare's genius could do that. Do you believe in fairie~? The Bard of
Avon did, and what's sauce for his goose-quill is worth a gander (he liked slang, too!). Even if you don't believe in fairies, you probably agree with other readers of Shakespeare that this play is his piece de resistance for fancy and frolic, drollery and romance, and Bottom is tops for humorous asininity. This is a Puck production.
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
38-11-20 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
Julius Caesar"--with a new scene!
38-11-27 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Walter Hampden in "
The Cid
El Cid
38-12-04 Albuquerque Journal
Richard Kollmar, juvenile lead of the new Broadway musical success, "Knickerbocker Holiday," will be heard in the title role in Pierre Corneille's great French romantic drama, "The Cid," on Sunday at 11 a.m. This will be the eighth in NBC's series of great plays.
Life Is a Dream
38-12-11 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Life Is a Dream" by Calderon, 17th Century Spanish author and playwright, will be the next presentation in the NBC cycle of Great Plays on Sunday, from eleven to twelve noon, over KLO and the NBC-Blue network. Calderon, considered the greatest playwright of Spain, wrote 120 three act plays, of which "Life Is a Dream" is the most familiar and most widely read.
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
38-12-18 San Antonio Express
At 12:00 noon WOAI presents another "Great Play" from NBC's New York studios. Today's drama is to be "
Bourgeois Gentilhomme" by Moliere--produced in 1670.
[ Pre-empted ]

38-12-25 Wisconsin State Journal
1938 News Review—WENR
The Nervous Wreck
[ Pre-empted ]

39-01-01 Wisconsin State Journal
12 n.—NBC Group (WENR):
"The Nervous Wreck."

39-01-01 San Antonio Express
This week's play in the "Great Plays" series broadcast over the National Broadcasting Company and WOAI, is "
The Nervous Wreck." Continuing with the progress of dramatic productions, dating from the earliest Greek acting up to the present time, today's production is one which should prove of interest to most everyone. The broadcast extends from 12 noon to 1:00.

39-01-01 Wisconsin State Journal
NBC's "Magic Key" heads today's parade with
a two-hour program, originating in New York, Washington, London, with pickups from six other foreign lands.
The program will be aired through stations WIBA, WMAQ, WENR,
and WTMJ at 1 p. m. The "Key's" show will include a dramatization by Charles Laughton, and his wife, Elsa Lanhester; tone and his wife, Elsa Lanhester; president; music by Kirsten Flagstad, Ezio Pinza, Dr. Walter Damrosch, and Larry Clinton's orchestra, and comedy by Olsen and

39-01-01 Chicago Tribune
12:00--WENR--"The Nervous Wreck."
She Stoops To Conquer
39-01-08 Ogden Standard-Examiner
NBC's series of Great Plays
will be resumed on Sunday, with a performance of Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer," from eleven to twelve noon, over KLO and the NBC-Blue network. The play, which employs the mistaken identity theme, was first produced in Covent Garden on March 15, 1773, and immediately won the favor of its audience.

39-01-06 Logansport Tribune
Margalo Gilmore, star of the recent
Broadway hit, "The Women,"
will play the lead in Oliver Goldsmith's
classic comedy, "She Stoops to Conquer," the
opening performance of the second half of the series of great plays, over the NBC-Blue network Sunday, January 8, at 12 noon. CST.
The School For Scandal
39-01-15 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
The School for Scandal."
Mary Stuart
39-01-22 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Jane Cowl as Mary, Queen of Scots, in "Mary Stuart".
39-01-29 San Antonio Express
Having outlined the development of the theater by dramatizing plays written during the various centuries of the past, the Great Plays series comes to day to the year 1830--the year in which Victor Hugo wrote the immortal "
Hernani." In this, its 16th broadcast, the cast of NBC's dramatic department have at their comand a story rich in color and--according to many critics--unrivaled in its true representation of the folly of life. WOAI carries the play to its completion.
39-02-05 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Richelieu" by the English author Bulwer-Lytton, a play which has been delighting audiences both in England and America for the past 100 years, will be the nextr presentation of the NBC cycle of Great Plays, to be heard Sunday from eleven to twelve noon over KLO and the NBC-Blue network. The hirstorical drama, dealing with the administration of the famous French cardinal, was first produced on March 7, 1839, at Covent Gardens, London, and had its American premiere in New York City six months later. Walter Hampden, famous theatrical star whose portrayal of the cardinal has been greeted by packed houses wherever the production has been staged, will essay this role in the NBC presentation.
The Octoroon
39-02-12 Odgen Standard-Examiner
The Octoroon", by the Irish playwright, actor and producer Dion Boucicault, a drama woven around the slavery question, will be presented as the next in teh series of Great Plays on Sunday, from eleven to twelve noon over KLO and the NBC-Blue network. "The Octoroon" was first produced in New York in 1859.
39-02-19 Ogden Standard-Examiner
"Redemption" by the eminent Russian author and dramatist, Count Leo Tolstoy will be presented as the NBC Great Play over KLO and the NBC-Blue network on Sunday, from eleven to twelve noon. The play, written in 1900, bore the title "The Live Corpse", but has been presented in England and America under the title of "
Redemption". John Barrymore played the leading role in the drama when it was presented at the Plymouth theatre, New York City on October 3, 1918.
A Doll's House
39-02-26 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Henrik Ibsen's "
A Doll's House", the play which injected a new spirit into the European and English theatre during the close of the Nineteenth Century, will be presented during the great plays series on Sunday, from eleven to twelve noon, over KLO and the NBC-Blue network.
39-03-05 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Gilbert and Sullivan, two of the most important contributors to the theatre of the Victorian age, will be represented on teh Great Plays series with their comic opera "
Patience", during the broadcast over KKLO and the NBC-Blue network on Sunday, from eleven to twelve noon.

[ La Dame Aux Camélias]

39-03-12 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Jane Cowl in "
Cyrano De Bergerac
39-03-19 Ogden Standard-Examiner
One of the greatest masterpieces in teh field of theatrical literature will be presented on teh NBC Great Plays series when Edmond Rostand's "
Cyrano De Bergerac" is heard over KLO and the NBC-Blue network on Sunday, from eleven to twelve noon.
Peter Pan
39-03-26 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Eva LaGallienne will be the Peter Pan in NBC's presentation of James M. Barrie's famous play of childhood on Sunday from eleven to twelve noon over KLO and the NBC-Blue network, as the 22nd in the Great Plays series. Miss LeGallienne has played Peter in her own production for five seasons. She looks forward to playing it again for radio, but says she will miss the flying. It ook her two weeks to learn, and once she nearly broke both legs when the trolley that suspended her was too low. She has to wear a metal harness weighing over ten pounds all through the stage play.
The Blue Bird
39-04-02 Charleston Daily Mail
Ireene Wicker, conductor of the NBC "Musical Plays" series, plays three roles in Maeterlinck's "The Blue Bird." Great Plays, NBC-Blue, 1 p.m.
39-04-09 San Antonio Express
At high noon the NBC Great Plays series dramatizes John Galsworthy's "
Justice." According to Burns Mantle, eminent dramatic critic and commentator for this series, the play horrified English audiences when it had its premiere in 1910, causing Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary, to take action which resulted in the modernization of Britain's prisons
Back To Methusaleh
39-04-16 Wisconsin State Journal
12 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): abbreviated version of George Bernard Shaw's "
Back to Methuselah," satire on the evolution of mankind.
Oliver Cromwell
39-04-23 San Antonio Express
In 1923 John Drinkwater created a remarkable story concerning the lives, loves and circumstances surrounding Oliver Cromwell and his cronies. The Great Plays cast of the National Broadcasting Company today writes a new chapter in radio with its full hour broadcast of this sage in its entirety, "
Oliver Cromwell" will be broadcast to San Antonio listeners over WOAI. This dramatization is to be the last of WOAI's broadcast of Great Plays.
White Haired Boy
39-04-30 Capital Times
The White-Haired Boy," whimsical drama about modern Ireland, will be presented during the Great Play series, over WENR at 11 o'clock this morning.
Elizabeth The Queen
[Last Play of 2nd Season]

39-05-07 Charleston Daily Mail
Wesley Addy and Mady Christians, Broadway stage stars, have the leading roles in Maxwell Anderson's "
Elizabeth the Queen," the final performance of the season. Great Plays, NBC-Blue, 12 noon.

[1st Play of 3rd Season]

39-10-15 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Great Plays returns to KLO and the blue network of the National Broadcasting company Sunday for the third consecutive season with presentation of Sophocles' immortal "
Antigone," considered by many the finest drama ever written. This tragic masterpiece of the ancient Greek theatre is to be enacted by an all-star cast over KLO from twelve noon to one p.m., to be followed at weekly intervals by 27 other plays which will trace the development of drama.
39-10-22 Ogden Standard-Examiner
The immortal "
Alcestis" of Euripides will be the Great Plays presentation today from twelve noon to one p.m. over KLO and the NBC-Blue network. Recipient of Radio Guide's annual award for the best educational dramatic program, Great Plays will present the Greek drama as a vital link in the development of stage productions. The series is broadcast in cooperation with the American Library association and offers a study manual prepared by Blevins Davis, of NB's program department.
[Intro cut and close cut]

39-10-29 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Alexander Kirkland and Flora Campbell in "
Everyman," a morality play.
Edward II
39-11-05 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Edmund O'Brien in Christopher Marlowe's "
Edward II."
Romeo and Juliet
39-11-12 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
Romeo and Juliet."
Much Ado About Nothing
39-11-19 Capital Times
Ireene Wicker will make her Shakespearean debut as Beatrice, tomboy heroine of "
Much Ado About Nothing," during the Great Plays program over WENR at 1 o'clock today. Alfred Shirley will be the dashing Benedick.
39-11-26 Capital Times
The third and final Shakespearean drama in the Great Plays series will be
Macbeth," and heard today over WENR at 1 o'clock.
39-12-03 Syracuse Herald-American
2:00 P.M.--WSYR, WJZ. Great Plays. "
Volpone," by Ben Johnson.
39-12-10 Charleston Daily Mail
Tartuffe," Molliere's satirical comedy of French life, which was suppressed for two years by King Louis XIV because it wounded the sensibilities of certain members of his corrupt court, will be the great play presented over the NBC-Blue network, Sunday at 2 p.m. "Tartuffe" had its premiere in Paris 272 years ago with the complete approval of the king. The next morning a terrific hue and cry broke because each member of the court thought that Moliere had used him as a prototype for the scheming and unscrupulous central character. King Louis reluctantly banned the work of his friend and protege who, in turn, rewrote it repeatedly and pulled every wire in Paris until the ban finally had to be lifted. "Moliere's comedy is a joy to produce because it ight have been originally written for radio," says James Church of NBC production department. "The story is painted in bright colors; the plot is simple and easy to follow, there is little stage direction and listeners will have no difficulty in distinguishing between the various characters who, like the little girl with the curl, are either very, very good or absolutely horrid."
The Beggar's Opera
39-12-17 Capital Times
The Beggar's Opera," John Gay's satire of 18th century aristocracy, will be the Great Plays presentation through WENR at 1 o'clock.
[ Pre-empted for Play, 'Man Named Christmas' ]
[Pre-empted for New Year's Message by Eleanor Roosevelt ]
The Rivals
40-01-07 Capital Times
The Rivals," Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy-drama about English life, which was based on the 23-year-old author's elopement with Elizabeth Linley and written in less than six weeks, will be the Great Plays presentation for today, over WENR at 1 o'clock.
William Tell
40-01-14 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Schiller's "
William Tell."
Ruy Blas
40-01-21 Capital Times
Victor Hugo's "
Ruy Blas," written in five weeks for the purpose of lambasting the Bourbons in general, and his patron, King Louis Phillipe, in particular, will be the Great Play for today, over WENR at 1 o'clock.
Rip Van Winkle
40-01-28 Ogden Standard-Examiner
Richard Gordon, noted stage and radio player whose last Broadway appearance was in "The Fabulous Invalid", will have the equally fabulous title role created by Joseph Jefferson when "
Rip Van Winkle" is presented in the great plays series over KLO and the NBC-Blue network, Sunday, from twelve noon to one p.m. Harry A. MacFayden, veteran member of the NBC production division, has adapted the drama for radio from Jefferson's own acting version and will direct it in the tradition of the original.
40-02-04 Charleston Gazette
Arrah-na-Pogue," Dion Boucicault's thrilling drama bout revolutionary Ireland which called down upon him the wrath of Queen Victoria because it revived an almost forgotten street ballad--"The Wearing of the Green"--will be the Great Plays produced over the NBC network and WGKV at 2 p.m.
Peer Gynt
40-02-11 Charleston Daily Mail
William S. Rainey plays the lead in Henrik Ibsen's "
Peer Gynt" in the Great Plays presentation Sunday at 2 p. m. over the NBC-Blue network and Irene Wicker sings and plays the role of Solveig. As is customary in every production of Ibsen's masterpiece, Greig's "Peer Gynt Suite" will be used for background and mood music. The orchestra will be directed by Josef Honti
The Playboy of the Western World
[ RB of 38-04-30 play with new cast ]

40-04-18 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Whitford Kane and Mary Michael in "
The Play Boy of the Western World."
The Pirates of Penzance
40-02-25 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
The Pirates of Penzance."
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray
40-03-03 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray" with an all-British cast.
Secret Service
40-03-10 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Onslow Stevens in "
Secret Service," a spy drama of the Civil war.
40-03-17 Capital Times
Ian Martin, youthful NBC actor, will fill a role made famous by Sarah Bernhardt when he plays the lead in "
L'Aiglon," Edmond Rostand's six-act masterpiece, which is the Great Play production for this afternoon, over WENR at 1 o'clock.
Captain Jinks Of The Horse Marines
40-03-24 Capital Times
Guy Robertson will play the title role, and Audrey Christy will portray Madame Trentoni, in the Great Plays presentation of Clyde Fitch's "
Capt. Jinks of the Horse Marines," over WENR at 1 o'clock today. The plot is slightly hystserical involving three soldiers and a temperamental opera star.
Three Sisters
40-03-31 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): Anton Chekhov's "
The Three Little Sisters."
Pelléas et Mélisande
40-04-07 Syracuse Herald-American
2:00 P.M.--WSYR-WHAM-WJZ. Great Plays present Maeterlinck's "
Pelleas and Mellisande."

40-04-07 Capital Times
Nineteen-year-old Inge Adams, who has been on tour in "Peter Pan," will have the difficult opart of Melisande in Maeterlinck's "
Pelleas and Mellisande," the Great Play to be presented over WENR at 1 o'clock today.

40-04-07 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
Pelleas and Melisande."
40-04-14 Charleston Gazette
Strife", John Galsworthy's provocative drama about a strike, will be heard as the Great Plays presentation at 2. Charles Warburton, noted Shakespearian actor, will direct.
40-04-21 Syracuse Herald-American
2:00 P.M.--WSYR-WHAM-WJZ. Great Plays presents Molnar's "
The Return Of Peter Grimm
40-04-28 Lima News
One of the most charming ghosts in all stage history will haunt the Great Plays program on WJZ, Sunday, at 1:00 p. m., when David Belasco's "
The Return of Peter Grimm" is revived. This drama, which stands at the head of a list of the 30 plays written by Belasco, the 20 on which he collaborated, and the 200 which he adapted or rewrote, had a sensational run when it opened on Broadway in 1911 with David Warfield in the role of the kindly but stubborn old Dutch nurseryman who returns after death to rectify the error he made while alive.

[Last Play of 3rd Season]

40-05-05 Capital Times
Myron MacCormack, who appeared in teh Broadway production of "
Winterset," will have the leading role of Mia when this Maxwell Anderson classis is revived as the last of this season's Great Plays, over WENR at 12 noon.

A Cavalcade Of Drama From Greece to Broadway
[1st Play of 4th Season ]
Sundays, 3-00 pm,
'Great Plays Cavalcade'

40-10-13 Capital Times
The Frogs," which was, in effect, a survey of the drama from earliest times to 405 B.C. will br brought tup to date by scriptwriter Ranald R. MacDougall in order to introduce the fourth season of Great Plays over Station WIBA at 2 o'clock today.

40-10-13 Hutchinson News Herald - 2:00 p.m.--Great Plays, Drama "
From Greece to Broadway" NBC-R
The Birds
40-10-20 Wisconsn State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Aristophanes' "
The Birds."
[RB of 39-10-29 w. Alexander Kirkland]

40-10-27 Wisconsn State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Alexander Kirkland in "
Everyman," a morality drama of the 16th century.

Dr Faustus
[ RB of 38-11-06 with new cast ]

40-11-03 Wisconsin State Journal - 2 p.m.--Great Plays: "
Love's Labor Lost," WIBA.

40-11-03 Capital Times
A straight-forward adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's masterpiece, "
Dr. Faustus," stripped of the medievil frippery with which it is sometimes surrounded on the stage, will be the Great Plays presentation for today, over WIBA at 2 o'clock. Dr. John Faustus actually lived from 1485 to 1540, according to good authorities. He was a German charlatan, astrologer, and soothsayer, and is mentioned as being very much alive in Begardi's "Index Sanitatis," published in 1539.

40-11-03 Port Arthur News
2:00--Great Plays--"
Dr. Faustus."

40-11-03 Charleston Gazette
A straight-forward adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's masterpiece, "
Dr. Faustus," stripped of the medieval frippery with which it is sometimes surrounded on the the stage, will be presented as the Great Play at 3.
Love's Labor Lost
[ Provenance ]

40-11-10 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): "
Love's Labor Lost."
Merry Wives of Windsor
40-11-17 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): "
The Merry Wives of Windsor."
The Tempest
40-11-24 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Ruth Gordon, Irene Wicker, and Louis Hector in Shakespeare's "
The Tempest."
The Revenge Tragedies
40-12-01 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WMAQ): "
The Revenge Tragedies," an original play.
The Cid
El Cid
[RB of 38-12-04 w. Richard Kollmar]

40-12-08 Capital Times
FOUR aspiring actresses will be heard as they audition for two lead roles in Moliere's "
Imaginary Invalid" during the Behind the Mike program over WIBA at 4:30 today. The winners will appear in the Great Plays Program next Sunday. Richard Kollmar, who will be remembered for his stage success in "Crazy With the Heat," "Too Many Girls," and "Knickerbocker Holiday," will be heard in the title role of "The Kid," Corneille's masterpiece, as the Great Plays presentation on WIBA at 2 o'clock this afternoon.

40-12-08 Wisconsn State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Richard Kollmar in Corneille's "
The Cid."

40-12-08 Port Arthur News
2:00 P.M.--Sunday GREAT PLAYS "
The Cid."
Imaginary Invalid
40-12-15 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Moliere's "
The Imaginary Invalid," a satire on the medical profession of old.
Second Sheperds Play
40-12-22 Capital Times
2 p.m.--WIBA: Great Plays presents adaptations of the "
Second Shepherd's Play," attributed to Don _andali, a monk of Chester Abbey of Chester, England, and believed to be England's first comedy, and of the Wakefield "Nativity," an elaborate verse play which originated in Coventry
The Pigeon
40-12-29 Hutchinson News Herald
2:00 Great Plays (Galsworthy's "
The Pidgeon" Drama)
The Drama of The English Restoration
41-01-05 Capital Times
A GAUDY panorama of the Restoration theater will be enrolled for WIBA listeners in "
The Restoration Drama," an original work by Charles Newton, to be presented on Great Plays, this afternoon at 2 o'clock. The drama, which will introduce Nell Gwynn, one-time London stage darling, Samuel Pepys, the inspired diarist, and the conceited John Dryden, will be based on English life for 100 years following commonwealth.
The Barber of Seville
41-01-12 Charleston Daily Mail
The Barber of Seville," Beaumarchais' biting satire on the foibles and frailties of royalties which had a great deal to do with touching off the French revolution, will be presented in the "Great Plays" series over WGKV-NBC today at 3 p.m.
The Rivals
41-01-19 Capital Times
The story of one of the world's most famous elopements will be dramatized when Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "
The Rivals," is presented on Great Plays, over WIBA at 2 o'clock. Sheridan wrote the play, his first dramatic effort, at the age of 24 and in the short space of six weeks. In it he drew heavily on exciting adventures which followed his elopement with Elizabeth Linley, beautiful and talented singer, to prevent her marriage to an older man.
Excerpts of Early American Plays
Summary Of Early American Drama
41-01-26 Capital Times
Excerpts from Americ. Plays: WIBA Today. The peculiar spectacle of the American theater, which existed since 1606 but which produced little of outstanding dramatic merit until the turn of the present century, will be surveyed in an original script by Gerald Holland to be presented in the Great Plays series over WIBA, this afternoon at 2 o'clock. The hour will cover the continent's first theatrical performance, a masque written in French by Marc Lescarbot and performed at Port Royal in Arcadia; the showing in 1665 of "Ye Bare and Ye Cubb;" excerpts from Royall Tyler's "The Contrast," first comedy written by an American; the climax from "Uncle Tom's Cabin;" recreation of the extemporaneous tragic ending supplied by John Wilkes Booth for a performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater, and the melodramas of Augustin Daly.
The Thunderbolt
41-02-02 Charleston Gazette
3:00 p.m.--Great Plays--"
The Thunderbolt" (NBC)
41-02-09 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p. m.—Great Plays- (WIBA,
WENR): Henrik Ibsen's "
Cyrano De Bergerac
41-02-16 Capital Times
FREDRIC MARCH and his wife, Florence Eldridge, will be costarred as big-nosed Cyrano and his lovely cousin Roxane, in Edmond Rostand's "
Cyrano de Bergerac," to be presented in the Great Plays series over WIBA and the NBC-Blue network this afternoon at 2 o'clock. The Marches are appearing at the personal invitation of Director Lester Vail, an old friend of the family and Fredric's fraternity brother. March will play the role which has been graced by such masters as Richard Mansfield and Walter Hampden, while Miss Eldridge follows in the footsteps of Sarah Bernhardt and Margaret Anglin. One of the most interested listeners to the drama will be Dr. Walter Damrosch, 79-year-old director of the NBC Music Appreciation Hour. On Friday of this week Damrosch is to direct the world premiere of a symphonic version of his famous "Cyrano de Bergerac" opera, also scheduled on WIBA, at 1 p.m.
Drama of The Victorian Era
41-02-23 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): the story of the "
Victorian Drama."

41-02-23 Capital Times
An original radio drama telling the story of "
Victorian Drama," will be the Great Plays presentation for this afternoon, to be heard through WIBA at 2 o'clock.
The Climbers
41-03-02 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): from the 1905 period, "
The Climbers."
The Well Of The Saints
41-03-09 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): "
The Swan" by Molnar.

41-03-09 Capital Times
The Well of the Saints," by Synge, will be the Great Plays production for this afternoon, at 2 o'clock over WIBA.
The Swan
41-03-16 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): a pre-depression satire, "
The Swan" by Ferenc Molnar
The American Theater 1920-40
41-03-23 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): "
The American Theater, 1920-1940" a resume of legitimate hits.

41-03-23 Capital Times
A HEART-TO-HEART conversation between Boxcar O'Boyle, world's champion flagpole sitter who climbs down from his perch in 1930 when he loses his audience, and J. Parker Upturn, investment-counselor-turned-street-corner-apple-vendor, sets the stage for an original radio drama by Gerald Holland, for the Great Plays series on WIBA at 2 o'clock this afternoon. Entitled "
The American Theater 1920-1940," the survey includes excerpts from such socially significant dramas as "What Price Glory," by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings; "The Showoff" by George Kelly, and Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize winning Abe Lincoln in Illinois." The drama also attempts to explain why with theater attandance at a minimum, the American stage has presented more worthwhile production in the past two decasdes than in the previous century and a half.
Robert E. Lee
41-03-30 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): John Drinkwater's "
Robert E. Lee."
Beggar On Horseback
41-04-06 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): George Kaufman's "
Beggar on Horseback."

1-04-06 Capital Times
The Beggar on Horseback", side-splitting satire on thestrange ways of American businessmen, considered by many critics to have predicted the crash of 1929 five years before it occurred, will be the "Great Play" presented over WIBA at 2 o'clock today. Written by those past masters of comedy George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, "The Beggar on Horseback" was produced on Broadway for a seven-month run in the spring of 1924 while the post-World war boom was in full swing. It told its fantastic story through the medium of a young composer who was torn between love for the girl who "inspired" his symphonies and the urge to live on easy street for the rest of his life by marrying the silly daughter of a multi-millionaire "widget" manufacturer.
The Servant In The House
41-04-13 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Charles Rann Kennedy semi-religious drama, "
The Servant in the House," the Golden rule saves a marriage.
Trelawny Of The Wells
41-04-20 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Sir Arthur Wing Pinero's comedy on theatrical life, "
Trelawny of the Wells."
Pride and Prejudice
41-04-27 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WIBA, WENR): Jane Austen's "
Pride and Prejudice."
Prologue To Glory
[Last Play of 4th Season]

41-05-04 Capital Times
Wesley Addy, noted Shakespearean actor, and Colleen Ward of the stage, radio and screen, will play the roles of Young Abraham Lincoln and Ann Rutledge, respectively, in E.P. Conkle's "
Prologue to Glory," last production in this season's Great Plays, over WENR at 1 o'clock today.

A Doll's House
[1st Play of 5th Season]

'41-11-16 Kingsport Times

'A Doll's House'
Opens Fifth Year
For Great Plays

New York-Ibsen's "A Doll's House," thc play which started a social revolution 'against Victorian prudishness, has been chosen to introduce the National Broadcasting Company's fifth consecutive season of "Great Plays" over the NBC Blue Network, today from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., EST.
Ruth Gordon, winsome and talented artist who brought New York theater-goers to their feet when she revived thc vital role on Broadwav in 1937 and who scored an equally great success in a radio version over NBC on its second "Great Plays" season in 1939, will again be heard as the doll-like heroine , who finally declares her independence from a husband who worships, but does not respect her.
For the second play of the series on Nov. 23, NBC plans to present John Millington Synge's immortal "Playboy of the Western World," played by a brilliant cast. And on succeeding weeks of November and December, the tentative schedule calls for productions of Ludwig Holberg's "Jeppe of the Hill; Robert Ardrey's Thunder Rock"; "The Inspector General" of Gogol: "Camille" by Damas Fils, and Shakespeare's "The Taming of The Shrew." Some of these will be new to "Great Plays" listeners. Others are being repeated by popular request from the general public and from students and educators who follow the series closely.
"Great Plays" are to be presented under the personal supervision of Clarences L. Menser, NBC's national production manager. Lester O'Keefe, a leading member of the company's production division, will direct. Radio adaptations of the classics are to be prepared by Chalres H. Newton, jr., a student of the drama and a member of the Script Division. Tom Bennett, of the NBC Music Division, will compose original scores for many of the broadcasts.
"Several innovations will be introduced in 'Great Plays' this season," Menser reports. "We intend to keep the aspects that have appealed to students and educators so far as the choice of classics and stars is concerned. However, for the benefit of the general public, we are going to stress entertainment first and education aspects second."

The Playboy Of The Western World
[ RB of 38-04-30 play with new cast ]

41-11-23 Capital Times
The strong right arm of Barrett H. Clark, instrumental in making possible the original American run of "
The Playboy of the Western World," will be ready once more to quell any disturbance in the studio audience, today at 2 p.m. over WENR, when J.M. Synge's tempestuous comedy of Irish life is revived for the second time in two years by the NBC-Blue Network's "Great Plays" series. The play made its American debut in 1912 in Boston by actors of Dublin's world-famous Abbey theater.
[ RB of 39-03-12 play with new cast ]

41-11-30 Lima News
Camille," the masterpiece which Alexander Dumas adapted from his equally famous novel,l "The Lady of teh Camellias" (apparently for the express purpose of horrifying Nineteenth Century censors) will be the third presentation in the "Great Plays" series, Sunday at 3 p.m. over WJZ.
The Inspector General
[ Full, as broadcast recording partially pre-empted for Pearl Harbor Attack announcements ]

41-12-07 Long Beach Independent
"THE INSPECTOR GENERAL," Nicolai Gogel's biting satire on the graft, corruption and incompetence of Czarist officials, which set all Russia by the ers in the 1830's, will be the Great Play presented today at 11 a.m. over KECA-NBC. The masterpiece has been translated by John Anderson. The story deals in raucous fashion with a young poet who arrives in a provincial town and is mistaken for a governmnet investigator from St. Petersburg. The shocked reactionof the Russian censor who originally read the play made him consign it to the waste basket. Gogol, a court favorite, brought the manuscript to the personal attention of Czar Nicholas I. The Czar laughed and laughed. After that he fired teh censor, lifted the ban, and set "
The Inspector General" on its way to becoming a classic.
The American Way
41-12-14 Syracuse Herald-Journal
Drama: Great Plays present "
The American Way" by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart--2 p.m., WJZ.
Jeppe of The Hill
[Pre-empted in Midwest for Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants football playoff game]

41-12-21 Capital Times
WENR— Bears vs. Giants

41-12-21 Waterloo Daily Courier
1:00--WENR Great Plays

41-12-21 Syracuse Herald Journal
2:00 WJZ Great Plays

41-12-21 Chicago Tribune
12:55 WENR
Chi. Bears vs. N.Y. Giants.

41-12-21 Charleston Gazette
2:00 Great Plays. Dramatic--nbc-blue
The Taming Of The Shrew
41-12-28 Capital Times
1 P.M. WENR--Great Plays

41-12-28 Portsmouth Times
WJZ 2:00 Great Plays

42-01-04 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): John Galsworthy's "

M. Poirier's Son-in-Law
42-01-11 Hutchinson News Herald
1:00 p.m.--Great plays--"
M. Porriers Son-in-Law"--NBC-B
The Tragic Story Of Dr Faustus
[ RB of 38-11-06 play with new cast ]

42-01-18 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
Dr. Faustus."
The Pillars Of Society
This Was A Man
42-01-25 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
Pillars of Society."

[End of Great Plays]

Famous Fireside Plays Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
Thunder Rock
42-02-01 Wisconsin State Journal
2 p.m.--Great Plays (WENR): "
Thunder Rock."

42-02-01 Capital Times
1 P.M. "Great Plays," the radio presentation of Robert Ardrey's "
Thunder Rock," WENR.

42-02-01 Chicago Tribune
WENR Great Plays, drama [B]

42-02-01 New York Times
2 :00-WJZ-Play-
Thunder Rock

Thunder Rock
[ Name changed to Famous Fireside Plays ]

42-02-07 Northwest Arkansas Times
Sunday Brings:
Blue: 1,
Famous fireside plays

42-02-08 Capital Times
On the educational side, the final plays of the 1940-41 series of "Great Plays" were heard in the spring. And this last fall, the weekly Sunday afternoon hour-long dramas were resumed and scheduled to continue into 1942. The new "Great Plays," which have Barrett H. Clark as commentator, place entertainment aspects ahead of educational values.

42-02-08 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--
Famous Fireside Plays (WENR): S.N. Behrman's "Biography."
This Was A Man
42-02-14 Freeport Journal-Standard
Famous Fireside Plays;

42-02-15 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Fireside Plays (WENR): Thomas Broadhurst's play on Abraham Lincoln, "
This Was A Man."
Nothing But Disunion
Nothing But Discussion
42-02-21 Warren Times-Mirror
Famous Fireside Plays, Hour—blue

42-02-08 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--
Fireside Plays (WENR): "Nothing But Disunion," an original George Washington play with morals.
Dead End
42-02-28 Warren Times-Mirror
Famous Fireside Plays, Hour—blue

42-03-01 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Fireside Plays (WENR): "
Dead End," by Sidney Kingsley.
The Truth
42-03-07 Altoona Mirror
2:00-WJZ - Famous Fireside Plays: "
The Truth," Clyde Fitch
42-03-15 Waterloo Daily Courier
1:00—WENR Famous Fireside Plays

42-03-15 Long Beach Independent
Eve Arden, of the "Let's Face It" Broadway hit, will play the lead in James Barrie's "
Holiday," one of the best portrayals of the playboy, pre-depression era--KECA-Blue.
Officer 666
42-03-21 Warren Times-Mirror
Famous Fireside Plays, Hour—blue

Long Beach Independent
The first successful American play to combine mystery and comedy, "Officer 666," by Angustin MacHugh, will be presented as the Famous Fireside Play, today at 11 a. m. over KECA-Blue. A melodramatic farce written in 1912, the play is the real predecessor of such current hits as "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Angel Street."
The Front Page
42-03-29 Long Beach Independent
Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's scampering drama of newspaperdom, "
The Front Page," will be the final production of "Famous fireside Plays" over KECA-Blue net, 11 a.m. today. "Front Page" was produced in 1928 with Lee Tracy in the leading role of Hildy Johnson.

[Last of Famous Fireside Plays]

Blue Theatre Plays Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
There Goes Ichery Van
[ Blue Theatre Plays
Sundays, 2:00 pm, 30 minutes
over The Blue Network.
These are not a continuation of Great Plays. We provide this log extension to distinguish these productions from the five actual seasons of Great Plays.]

42-03-29 Capital Times
The Blue Theater Players,
newly created repertory company of the air, will be the first to be previewed. The new group, Including Frank' Lovejoy, Joan Banks, Santos Ortega and Lindsay MacHarrie, will appear in scenes from their first scheduled performance, "There Goes Ichery Van."

42-04-05 Waterloo Daily Courier
1:00—WENR Blue Theatre Plays

42-04-05 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p. m. — Blue Theater Players (WENR): new series; "
There Goes Ichery Van," a fantasy.
Sing A Song of Supermen
42-04-12 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR): "
Sing a Song of Supermen."
Hideout For A Friend
42-04-19 Altoona Mirror
2:00-WJZ — Blue Theatre: "
Hide Out for A Friend"
Toast of The Post
42-04-26 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p. m. — Blue Theater Players (WENR): "
Toast of the Post"
Going Home
42-05-03 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p. m. — Blue Theater (WENR): "
Going Home," story of a Polish-American and the war.
My Mother Part 1
My Mother Part 2
42-05-17 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p . m. — Blue Theater (WENR): "
My Mother."
Toast of The Post
42-05-24 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p. m. — Blue Theater Players (WENR): "
Toast of the Post"
The Picnic
Letter From The Old World
42-06-07 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater Players (WENR): "
Letter From the Old World."
Rembrandt Jones
Rembrandt Brown
42-06-14 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p. m. — Blue Theater Players (WENR): "
Rembrandt Jones."
House For Sale
Lou Rose Part 1
[Theatre Players in Chicago Tribune]

42-06-28 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR): "
Lou Rose," the life of a prize fighter.
Lou Rose Part 2
42-07-05 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater Players (WENR): Frank Lovejoy, Santos Ortega and Joan Banks in "
Lou Rose."
Day of Glory
42-07-12 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater Players (WENR):
present day France dramatized to commemorate Bastille day.
Say "Uncle"
42-07-19 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR): "
Say Uncle," a comedy about race horses.
He Answered, "Three"
42-07-26 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR):
three men adrift in an open boat.
The Exiles
42-08-02 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR): "
The Exiles."
Lefty Strikes Her Out
42-08-09 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR): baseball comedy, "
Lefty Strikes Her Out."
Army Without Banners
42-08-16 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR): "
Army Without Banners."
Monday Morning Class
42-08-23 Wisconsin State Journal
1 p.m.--Blue Theater (WENR):
contributions to America by fighting men of Negro race.
Postmarked 'Today'
[Last of Blue Theatre Plays]

Great Plays Biographies

The RCA[/GE] Building, Rockerfeller Center
(NBC/RCA Studios)

(1933 -)
New York City, NY

Radio City Matinee
The Magic Key of RCA
Great Plays
Radio City Revels
Radio City Music Hall Symphony Orchestra
Radio City Music Hall On The Air
Radio City Playhouse

Built in 1931-1933 for the Radio Corporation of America, after sixteen months of work, this building became, at 853 feet, the tallest in the Rockefeller Center. RCA moved into this simplified slab from its art-deco-topped Lexington Avenue tower and housed its National Broadcasting Company and operations in the dramatic new structure.

Clad in white Indiana limestone, the 70-story building's jagged form follows zoning regulations imposed on high-rise buildings of the era, each setback corresponding to a reduction in the amount of elevators, and thus in the total size of elevator shafts.

The construction of this building was made possible--from a legal zoning standpoint--by combining all of the land in Rockefeller Center into one zoning lot, so that there was enough "air" space around the building.

The relative "economy" of the 2 million square feet of the building impressed even the hardened businessmen who rented the office space to various tenants: no rentable area exceeded a 'profitable' distance from the windows; it was also their aim to provide every workroom with direct natural lightning. The building housed, at the time of its completion, the largest floor area of any commercial building hitherto constructed in Manhattan.

The 65th floor houses the stylish Rainbow Room restaurant with generous views over Midtown Manhattan. For decades the terraced open-air observatory was open to the public, until the expansion of the restaurant and its adjoining Rainbow Grill bar lounge necessitated the closing of the rooftop facility.

The Art Deco architecture of the building follows heroic and mythical themes, combined with praise of modernity and visualized in form of classical figures at work, or gods and goddesses of varying virtues. The Rockefellers, in fact, employed the mind of consultant philosopher Hartley Burr Alexander who defined the ideological theme for the Center. In the niché above the entrance is Lee Lawrie's relief Genius. The lobby artwork was originally to be commissioned from such heavyweights as Matisse and Picasso, but eventually José Maria Sert made the murals, American Progress and Time, whereas Diego Rivera's mural incorporating Lenin as "the leader of the worker's movement" was too much, leading to its removal...

At the foot of the building is the sunken plaza, originally planned as an entrance to the center's subway station. As the construction of the subway station was delayed, the plaza was lined with below-grade luxury shops. In 1936, to divert attention from the commercial failures of the retailers, the plaza was first turned into a public roller rink and subsequently into a more upper class wintertime ice skating rink and a summertime café. Paul Manship's gilded bronze sculpture Prometheus lies above the fountain pool of the plaza. Every Christmas an illuminated giant spruce is erected on Rockefeller Plaza above the statue -- the first one was the 1931 construction workers' tree, albeit a far more down-to-earth decorated one.

The flat roof between the main tower and the wing facing Sixth Avenue (the GE Building West) houses a roof-top garden.

The building changed hands in 1986, when General Electric incorporated RCA, along with its subsidiary NBC. Ten years later, when the Center was bought by a group led by Goldman Sachs and Jerry Speyer, the condominium interest of the building was sold to NBC for $440 million.

This splendid spindly tower became the General Electric Building when its lead tenant, RCA Victor, was wooed away to Rockefeller Center to put its name on 30 Rockefeller Plaza, is one of the city's most exquisite Art Deco jewels.

It is ironic that General Electric should end up putting its initials atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The moral must be that if you lease a lot of space here there's a big future for your logo spectacular at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

After General Electric replaced the large RCA red neon logo atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza with its own, it gave this building to Columbia University, which, in turn, entered a venture with Bernard Mendik, the developer, and other investors, to lease much of the office space to other tenants.

Tucked behind St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church that fronts on Park Avenue, this tower boasts a fantastic top that may well be the most original and attractive skyscraper roof in the world. (The Chrysler Building's spire, a few blocks south, is wonderful pure Art Deco, but this is a far more elaborate sculpting and is more thematically consistent with its lead tenant's business than the Chrysler's stainless steel wings' relations to an automobile company.)

Rising from its small site, this tower serves as an unofficial campanile to the church and honors it further with its warmly intense color, most unusual for a commercial building and a very early example of skyscraper design.

By today's standards, the lobby, which cannot hold a proverbial candle to the building’s top, is sedate and small, although its polished walls and vaulted ceilings are handsome. But in its day it was innovative in its attempt to break new ground.

John W. Cross, the architect, placed an important emphasis on the lobby:

"Designing this first floor hall was the sort of task of which one borrows nothing consciously from the wealth of past developments in architectural art, but strikes out into the future as far as imagination can penetrate."

"Romantic though radio may be, it is at the same time intangible and elusive - a thing which can be captured visually only through symbolism. There is vitality in the aluminum ceiling, and although it is vaulted it is free from any suggestion of past times or places. The severity of the vertical lines, which intersect the curves of the ceiling with daring abruptness, is intended to convey the directness and penetration of radio itself. And the slabs of light which issue from concealed sources in the side wall sconces to be reflected downward at a thousand angles from the ceiling’s bright surface, hint at the broadcast stations which curl their signals into every corner of the land," Cross said in the May 30, 1931 issue of the Real Estate Record and Guide.

Robert Burns Mantle
Drama Critic, Editor
Watertown, New York

Great Plays
The Texaco Star Theatre
The Theatre Guild On The Air

Born in Watertown, New York, Burns Mantle, Dean of Manhattan Drama Critics, became a drama critic in 1898, serving on Denver and Chicago newspapers before coming to New York in 1911 as critic for the Evening Mail. A newspaper typesetter in 1896, Burns Mantle was once unable to decipher a critic's longhand review, wrote one of his own, then went on writing reviews until he retired. In 1922 Mantle moved to the Daily News, where he remained until 1943. Although he was the author of American Playwrights of Today (1929) and Contemporary American Playwrights (1938), he is best remembered as the originator and editor of the Best Plays series, an annual anthology of plays and statistics covering every Broadway season from 1899 to 1947, which he continued to edit from 1920 until shortly before his death in 1948.

His critiques generally were warm and reasonable, with little of the ostentation of most of his fellow critics. Burns Mantle was a
kindly observer who occasionally risked being dull in his efforts to be fair. He advised his Daily News successor that Broadway was his oyster:

"Season it with a dash of salt and a lot of pep—but go easy with the tabasco."

Charles Blevins Davis
Teacher, Stage Entrepreneur, Author, Drama Critic, Theatrical Producer, Playwright, Arts Philanthropist

Osceola, Missouri

Appointment At Westiminster
[ NBC Red ]
Great Plays
[ NBC Blue ]
The Theatre Guild On The Air
[ ABC ]

Charles Blevins Davis was born in Osceola, Missouri but was raised in Independence. As a child he attended school in Independence with Fred Wallace, the younger brother of Bess Truman. He visited the Truman home often, playing piano duets with Harry S. Truman, and even teasing the young Margaret Truman. He attended Kansas City Junior College, then Princeton, briefly, before returning to Independence to face a dire reversal in his family's fortunes. He eventually graduated from the University of Missouri in 1925, then taught high school English for a few years and was Principal of a junior high school.

Blevins Davis directed a few local dramatic productions and traveled often to the East Coast and back. His personal fortunes increased to the point that he could return to college, Yale Drama School this time, on a fellowship. It was at Yale Drama School that Blevins Davis met William Randolph Hearst during a 1937 luncheon. Over lunch, Hearst commissioned Blevins Davis to write a series of articles on the forthcoming English Coronation. Those articles attracted the attention of NBC, who asked Blevins Davis to write a dramatic treatment of the Coronation for Radio. NBC subsequently hired Davis to write adaptations for the Great Plays series. But Blevins Davis had even loftier ambitions.

For years after Charles Blevins Davis left Missouri to become a theatrical producer in New York, Dame Fortune cruelly eluded this otherwise nondescript ex-schoolteacher. He eventually found some
Broadway angels to mount a couple of productions, but they were unceremonious flops. Life in Manhattan was hard and gritty in those early days of the Golden Age of Broadway.

In the process of seeking even more backers, he traveled widely, met the famous--and infamous, acquired good tailoring and manners,
shaved his head bald, and shortened his name to a more fashionable C. Blevins Davis. In 1946, at the age of 45, he married an aging heiress named Marguerite Sawyer Hill, a daughter-in-law of famous rail tycoon (Great Northern) James J. Hill. When Marguerite died in 1948, Blevins Davis inherited $9,000,000.

From that point on, for C. Blevins Davis, The Great White Way became easy street. Headwaiters snapped forth to greet him, smiling with appropriately lowered eyes. He reinvented himself as a patron of the arts, sponsoring a show of new German paintings in Munich. He threw a reception and dinner party for his fellow Missourians, President & Mrs. Harry Truman, at his fabulous Missouri 'farm', Trianon, and frequently squired daughter Margaret Truman to public functions.

Life among The 400 had its ebbs and flows, and Blevins Davis endured his own share of them. Indeed, one of his more notorious speed-bumps along the Great White Way arose from a suit by Joseph Williams Collins, a salesman, alleging that he essentially created the C. Blevins Davis persona by grooming him for rubbing shoulders with The 400. Collins apparently bought Blevins Davis' clothes and settled legal judgements against Davis--all apparently in preparation for finding a suitably wealthy society matron for Blevins Davis, with which to act as matchmaker for the inevitable wedding bans. Clearly, his ministrations to Mrs. Hill proved fruitful and the match was made. Collins further alleged that, in those days C. Blevins spoke gratefully of buying his trainer & manager a farm where Collins "could raise a few cows or chickens."

Instead--once married--Davis gave Collins the New York Brushoff. Collins sought $250,000 for his efforts to aid Davis socially, $100,000 in damages for Davis having twice beaten him up, and the
$4,300 which he claimed to have spent in keeping Davis groomed and presentable for The 400.

C. Blevins Davis' lawyer dealt swiftly with the lawsuit. The statute of limitations had already run on the assault cases, and as to the rest, Collins didn't have a leg to stand on—he wasn't a licensed marriage broker. And almost parenthetically, the lawyer added, Client Davis denied the whole story in any case.

Blevins Davis' fortunes further waxed and waned over the next 20 years, but as occasionally happens with wealth from 'found money', Blevins Davis eventually lost Trianon, repeatedly over-mortgaging the property to finance failed stage productions and his lavish lifestyle, moved to Peru, and eventually died penniless in London in 1971. His body was flown back to Independence, MO for interment.

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