'Hap Hazard Illustrations' hint at the nature of premiere of The Hap Hazard Show in a spot ad from July 1st 1941
Caption: 'Ransom Sherman (above) alias 'Hap Hazard' will present the new Johnson Wax show during the summer months.'
Ransom Sherman, having relocated
from the Midwest to Hollywood for Hap Hazard finds little welcome solace
while dining alone at Hollywood's
Hap Hazard spot ad from July 12th 1941
Johnson Wax promoted its 'Car Nu' car wax over Hap Hazard
Caption reads: 'Elmira Roessler is heard in the role of secretary to Hap Hazard (nee Ransom Sherman, remember?), manager of Crestfallen Manor, over the NBC-Red network Tuesdays in the vacationing Fibber McGee’s spot. She was in radio work in St Louis seven years before transferring her activities to Chicago in 1939.'
Procter & Gamble promoted their Ivory Soap and Ivory Snow over the 1942 CBS run of Hap Hazard
1869 Procter & Gamble 'Family Lard' ad shows their 'man-in-the-moon and stars' trademark already in use.
Throughout the Golden Age of Radio, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. remained one of Radio's most enduring and successful sponsors and supporters. For over twenty years over Radio, S.C. Johnson sponsored a popular array of variety and comedy programs:
- 1933 The House by the Side of the Road [Tony Won]
- 1934 Tony Won’s Scrapbook
- 1935-1950 Fibber McGee and Molly
- 1938 Attorney At Law
- 1939 Alec Templeton Time
- 1940 Meredith Willson’s Musical Revue
- 1941 Hap Hazard
- 1942 Meredith Willson’s Musical Revue
- 1943 The Passing Parade
- 1943 Words At War
- 1945 The Victor Borge Show
- 1946 The Fred Waring Show
- 1947 Call the Police
- 1947 The Fred Waring Show
- 1948 Dizzy Dean
- 1948 The Fred Waring Show
- 1949 The King's Men
- 1950 The Penny Singleton Show
- 1950 Presenting Charles Boyer
- 1951 The Jack Pearl Show
By far the most memorable of S.C. Johnson's programs was the long running Fibber McGee and Molly situation comedy-variety series, airing between 1935 and 1956, sponsored by S.C. Johnson for the overwhelming number of its seasons. Most of the other S.C. Johnson-sponsored programs above aired as 'Summer replacement' programs for Fibber McGee and Molly.
A family-owned business for five generations, in 1886 Johnson patriarch, Samuel Curtis Johnson, Sr., purchased the parquet flooring business of the former Racine Hardware Company and launched his 'Johnson's Prepared Paste Wax Company.' As S.C. Johnson diversified and expanded its product line, household products such as Johnson Wax, Glo-Coat, Car-Nu and Blem became synonymous with waxing, polishing and cleaning products throughout North America and beyond.
S.C. Johnson and Family is also remembered for its ultra-streamlined, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Johnson Wax Administration Building, whose main structure was erected in 1939. Commissioned by Herbert F. "Hib" Johnson, the series of Wright-designed administrative buildings and research facilities eventually comprised fourteen structures that were ultimately completed in 1950.
Procter & Gamble: a giant in Radio sponsorship
Procter and Gamble (P&G) was one of radio's most prolific sponsors from the earliest days of radio:
1930 Emily Post [Camay]
1931 Sisters of the Skillet [Crisco]
1932 Stoopnagle and Bud [Ivory]
1932 The Ivory Program [Ivory]
1932 The Mills Brothers [Crisco and Chipso]
1933 Ma Perkins [Oxydol]
1934 Dreams Come True [Camay]
1934 Ivory Stamp Club [Ivory]
1934 The Story of Mary Marlin [Ivory]
1934 Vic and Sade [Crisco]
1935 Pat Barnes in Person
1935 The O’Neills [Ivory]
1936 Barry Wood [Drene]
1936 FiveStar Jones [Oxydol]
1936 Pepper Young’s Family [Camay]
1936 The Ivory Reporter [Ivory]
1936 The Jerry Cooper Show [Drene]
1937 Kitty Keene, Inc. [Dreft]
1937 Road of Life
1937 The Goldbergs [Oxydol]
1937 The Guiding Light [White Naptha]
1938 Central City [Oxydol]
1938 Life Can Be Beautiful [Ivory]
1938 This Day is Ours [Crisco]
1939 Against the Storm [Ivory]
1939 Midstream [Teel]
1939 Professor Quiz [Teel]
1939 The Man I Married [Oxydol]
1939 The Right to Happiness
1939 The Trouble with Marriage
1939 What’s My Name? [Oxydol]
1940 Everyman’s Theater [Oxydol]
1940 Knickerbocker Playhouse [Drene]
1940 Lone Journey [Dreft]
1940 Those We Love [Teel]
1940 Truth or Consequences [Ivory]
1941 The Woman in White [Oxydol, Camay]
1942 Abie’s Irish Rose [Drene]
1942 Hap Hazard
1942 Junior Miss
1942 Snow Village Sketches
1942 Young Dr. Malone
1943 A Woman of America [Ivory]
1943 Brave Tomorrow [Ivory]
1943 Dreft Star Playhouse [Dreft]
1943 I Love a Mystery [Ivory]
1943 Perry Mason [Camay]
1944 Glamour Manor [Ivory]
1944 Let’s Listen To Spencer [Ivory]
1945 Joyce Jordan, M.D. [Dreft]
1945 Life of Riley [Teel]
1945 Meet Margaret MacDonald
1945 Mommie and the Men
1945 Teel Variety Hall [Teel]
1946 Lanny Ross
1946 Mystery of the Week [Ivory]
1946 The Bickersons (as Drene Time) [Drene]
1947 Life of Riley [Dreft, Prell]
1947 Welcome Travelers
1948 Gang Busters [Tide]
1948 The Brighter Day [Dreft]
1948 What Makes You Tick? [Ivory]
1949 Bob Burns [Dreft]
1949 Lorenzo Jones
1949 Red Ryder [Tide]
1950 The David Rose Show [Tide]
1951 Jack Smith [Oxydol]
1951 The Sheriff
1952 Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons
A quick scan of the above list will amply demonstrate why serial melodramas of the era were referred to as 'soap operas.' Procter & Gamble was a steadfast sponsor of 'soaps' throughout Radio's Golden Age.
British candlemaker William Procter and Irish soapmaker James Gamble had emigrated to the United States during the early 1800s, eventually settling in Cinncinati, Ohio. Sisters Olivia and Elizabeth Norris brought the unlikely pair together through marriage.
The girls' father, Alexander Norris, subequently persuaded his pair of new sons-in-law to become business partners, and on Halloween 1837 they formed Procter & Gamble.
By the mid-1850s their sales had grown to $1 million and they were employing approximately eighty workers. Seizing on the outbreak of The Civil War, Procter & Gamble won contracts to supply the Union Army with both soap and candles.
During the 1880s, P&G began marketing inexpensive floating soap bars--the Ivory Soap we know today.
Thereafter followed a period of rapid expansion, extending their factories well outside of Cinncinati, and diversifying into products such as Crisco, the now ubiquitous shortening made of vegetable oils as opposed to animal fats. The advent of Radio brought them even greater opportunities to expand the reach of both Ivory and Crisco, and their several sponsored serial melodramas soon became identified as "soap operas" in the popular vernacular of the day.
Tide laundry detergent emerged in 1946, Prell shampoo in 1947, Crest toothpaste in 1955, Charmin paper towels in 1957, Downey laundry softener in 1960, and Bounce dryer softener sheets in 1972. Their innovative Pampers synthetic diaper line was first test-marketed in 1961. Continued diversification throughout the remainder of the 20th century found P&G acquiring Folgers Coffee, Pepto-Bismol, Noxzema, Old Spice, Max Factor, and Iams, among many others.
Given its product offerings throughout the 20th Century, it becomes obvious that P&G's principal demographic continued to be domestic wives and mothers, 25-54 years of age. With P&G's dominant position in its sector, it's understandable that P&G became increasingly sensitive to cultural pressures. 1981 proved that even an industrial giant like P&G was not immune to innuendo and whispering campaigns emanating from its consumer base and competitors. Case in point, P&G's iconic corporate trademark, a 'man in the moon' surrounded by thirteen stars symbolizing the original thirteen colonies, came under fire during the early 1980s:
Rumors had spread that the P&G man-in-the-moon and stars trademark was a satanic symbol, the charge based upon a passage in the Bible--Revelation 12:1--which states:
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars."
"Some" claimed that the trademark was a "mockery" of the above quoted verse, ergo the 116-year-old, iconic trademark "must be satanic." The ending curls of its flowing beard were said to be a mirror image of the number "666"--the reflected number of the mark of the beast. And last but not least, where the flowing hair at the top and bottom meet the surrounding ring of the 'moon', were said to be "the two horns of the ram."
So sensitive was the giant international conglomerate to such a concerted--albeit spurious and ridiculous--attack, that it ultimately dropped its iconic trademark of over one hundred and sixteen years in 1985, and at a cost of millions of dollars in rebranding and repackaging. But as must be obvious from the 1869 Procter & Gamble newspaper advertisement in the sidebar (left), a rendition of P&G's man in the moon had graced their products as early as the post-Civil War years--without objection from either The North or The South during America's most divisive and tumultuous years.
Hap Hazard replaces Fibber McGee & Molly during Summer of 1941
The fourth in a series of Johnson Wax Program Summer replacements for Fibber McGee & Molly, Hap Hazard premiered on July 1st 1941 as a situation comedy-variety series of thirteen weeks. The new series was headlined by Ransom Sherman, who'd previously appeared in Fibber McGee & Molly--more by his absence than his presence--as Uncle Dennis Driscoll, Molly's hard-living, hard-drinking Irish uncle. Sherman had also appeared in Fibber McGee & Molly as Wistful Vista's movie theater manager, Mr. Wellington.
The setting for Hap Hazard was the summer resort hotel, Crestfallen Manor, owned by Kitty Carson [portrayed by Mary Patton.] Hapgood 'Hap' Hazard, portrayed by Ransom Sherman, was the manager of Crestfallen Manor--and an ardent suitor of its attractive owner, Kitty Carson. Felix Mills and his orchestra provided the music and underscore for the series.
As 'rural slice of life' fare, the series acquitted itself well. The dynamics between Hap and his guests, as well as his interactions with his radio station staff were entertaining, well writting and well paced. As summer replacement fare for Fibber McGee & Molly, Hap Hazard filled the bill as a placeholder for Fibber and Molly's adoring fans, while seamlessly meeting the demographics of its sponsor of long standing and its target audience.
The incorporation of mythical radio station W-U-U into the resort hotel setting was an inspired artifice for the series. It created far more comedic turns for the scripts as well as creating seamless opportunities for the 'comedy-variety' nature of the series--again, entirely in keeping with the format of most of Fibber McGee & Molly's earliest productions. Ray Grant's interpretation of 'Cyclone' smacked as much of Stepin Fetchit as Freeman and Gosden's 'Amos 'n' Andy.' Cyclone also contributed an element of slapstick to the series.
Hap Hazard and Crestfallen Manor move to CBS
During October 1941, both NBC and Johnson's Wax intimated that they might spin Ransom Sherman and his Hap Hazard off onto his own network show--teased to begin October 15th, 1941. However, owing to the steel shortage at the time, S.C. Johnson couldn't produce enough cans of Car-Nu to justify its sponsorship of a Fall run under NBC. Sherman apparently persuaded Procter & Gamble to sponsor a full run, but only over CBS. The move to CBS, resulted in the loss of Sherman's Music Director, Billy Mills, which prevented the series from commencing on December 30th, 1941 for P&G over CBS. That delayed the new series another three weeks while Sherman scrambled to find another Music Director. Once CBS Music Director Gordon Jenkins came on board, the series finally premiered in prime time on January 23rd 1942.
Sherman's new cast comprised songbird Martha Tilton, the orchestra of Gordon Jenkins, and Paula Winslowe, Shirley Mitchell, and Arthur Kohl as supporting cast members.
Billboard review of Hap Hazard from February 21st 1942
Billboard announces the last episode of The Ransom Sherman Show as June 24th 1942
Salt Lake City spot ad for CBS run of 'Ransom Sherman' from March 18th 1942
|Library of Congress; Contributor Jerry Haendiges.
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