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Original Lives of The Great header art

The Lives of The Great Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Lives of The Great
Thomas Alva Edison
Benjamin Franklin
Hiram Ulysses Grant
Benjamin Disraeli
Samuel Langhorn Clemens
Henry Clay
Robert E. Peary
Andrew Jackson
Robert E. Lee
P. T. Barnum
Abraham Lincoln
Buffalo Bill Cody

Many predominant--and understandably popular--programming vehicles during the early 1930s were educational or documentary programming. Packaged, serialized and often syndicated by local or regional affiliates, they represented all manner of historical retrospectives, biographical sketches, vignettes on the history of poetry, the arts, literature and popular science of the era. While sadly not as popular with the wider body of vintage Radio collectors, a great many of these historical restrospectives hold up surprisingly well even 80 years hence--and in many instances offer snippets of history or vignettes often forgotten, overlooked or simply dismissed by contemporary historians or archivists.

We've chronicled several of these interesting historical waypoints in Golden Age Radio History among our articles and logs:

We'll continue to explore and showcase many of the other fine historical retrospectives from The Golden Age of Radio in coming months. We find these windows onto early to mid-20th Century historical, scientific and sociological perspectives to be a fascinating commentary on the timelessness of independent obversations regarding what constitutes 'greatness' from century to century. The rarity of aural exemplars from the mid to late-19th Century make a study of recorded retrospectives near impossible to obtain. But the abundance of surviving exemplars of these fascinating 20th Century recordings makes comparisons between how our great leaders, scientists, politicians and thinkers were viewed eighty years ago, to the way they're viewed today an interesting study in contrasts.

In many instances, for example, one or more fascinating asides or trivia regarding these fascinating personalities have been lost to contemporary historical accounts. Indeed, the breadth and depth of History instruction in primary and secondary schools has contracted dramatically since the mid-20th Century for a host of political, religious and sociological reasons.

For many, the fascinating asides, details of trivia, and often more chronologically recent--for their times--observations about these great personalities are even more compelling than the more commonly known--or taught--details of their life histories.

As to the specifics of this production, while there are only a handful of circulating exemplars of this series, the circulating examples were apparently recorded direct from transcriptions. A transcribed, syndicated packge, the twelve known titles were apparently widely available to any radio station that cared to purchase and air it. The only contiguous reference we could find for the known twelve-episode run was over the CBS affiliate, WMAQ out of Chicago. Syndicated, packaged programming, even as early as 1933 was customarily packaged in thirteen episode blocks--a period that would cover any possible combination of three months of contiguous programming.

We don't yet know enough about the productions details to make the call one way or the other, but we feel there's a plausible case to make for the existence of a thirteenth title in this canon--or perhaps another fourteen episodes, for that matter.

The sound quality is superb for the era. The sound effects and underscore contribute a great deal to the snippets of docudrama contained within each episode. We can recognize both Hanley Stafford and Jay Jostyn in at least three of the circulating exemplars so it's possible that they were part of an ensemble of actors contracted for this syndicated package. There are no commercial cues or announcements in any of the circulating examples, since they were recorded direct from their electrical transcriptions.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Historical Dramas
Network(s): NBC [WMAQ]
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 33-11-27 01 Thomas Edison
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 33-11-27 to 34-02-12; NBC [WMAQ]; Twelve, 12-minute programs; Mondays, 7:00 p.m.
Syndication:
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Unknown
Principal Actors: Hanley Stafford, Jay Jostyn
Recurring Character(s): Varied from production to production
Protagonist(s): Varied from production to production
Author(s): Unknown
Writer(s) Unknown
Music Direction: Unknown
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Unknown
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
12
Episodes in Circulation: 4
Total Episodes in Collection: 4
Provenances:
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.

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The Lives of The Great Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
33-11-27
1
Thomas Edison
N
33-11-27 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
33-12-04
2
Benjamin Franklin
Y
33-12-04 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
33-12-11
3
Hiram Ulysses Grant
Y
33-12-11 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
33-12-18
4
Benjamin Disraeli
N
33-12-18 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
33-12-25
5
Samuel Langhorn Clemens
Y
33-12-25 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
34-01-01
6
Henry Clay
N
34-01-01 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
34-01-08
7
Robert E. Peary
N
34-01-08 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
34-01-15
8
Andrew Jackson
N
34-01-15 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
34-01-22
9
Robert E. Lee
N
34-01-22 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
34-01-29
10
P. T. Barnum
N
34-01-29 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.
34-02-05
11
Abraham Lincoln
N
34-02-05 Chicago Daily Tribune - 7 P.M. WMAQ--"Lives of the Great," sketch.
34-02-12
12
Buffalo Bill Cody
Y
34-02-12 Sheboygan Journal - 7:00 P.M. Lives of the Great, WMAQ.






The Lives of The Great Radio Program Biographies




Hanley Stafford [Alfred John Austin]
(Ensemble Performer)

(1899-1968)

Birthplace: Hanley, Staffordshire, U.K.

Radiography:
1930 The Count Of Monte Cristo
1932 The World Adventurer's Club
1932 Strange Adventures In Strange Lands
1932 Last Of the Mohicans
1932 Police Headquarters
1932 Tarzan Of the Apes
1932 The Origin Of Superstition
1933 Chandu the Magician
1933 Lives Of the Great
1934 Tarzan and the Diamond of A'Sher
1934 Calling All Cars
1935 That Was the Year
1935 Palmolive Players
1935 Front Page Drama
1935 The Further Interplanetary Adventures Of Flash Gordon
1936 Goodrich Silvertown Time
1936 The Dodge Program
1936 Speed Gibson Of the International Secret Police
1937 John Barrymore Theater
1937 Amos 'n' Andy
1937 Big Town
1937 Special Assignment
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1938 Frontier Fighters
1938 Good News of 1938
1938 Captains Of Industry
1938 Log Cabin Jamboree
1938 Daredevils Of Hollywood
1938 Town Hall Tonight
1939 Good News Of 1939
1939 Your Hit Parade
1939 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1939 The Shadow Of Fu Manchu
1939 Blondie
1940 Good News Of 1940
1940 Superman
1940 Woodbury's Hollywood Playhouse
1940 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1941 Miss Pinkerson, Inc.
1941 Barrell Of Fun
1942 Command Performance
1942 It's Post Toasties Time
1942 Suspense
1943 It's Time To Smile
1943 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1943 Treasury Star Parade
1943 Mail Call
1944 The Fanny Brice-Frank Morgan Show
1944 Radio Hall Of Fame
1944 Three Of A Kind
1945 The Eddie Cantor Show
1946 The Baby Snooks Show
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1947 National Air Travel Club
1947 Here's To Veterans
1947 The Right To Live
1947 Operation Nightmare
1948 Just Outside Hollywood (Audition)
1948 Guest Star
1948 America Calling
1950 Presenting Charles Boyer
1950 The American Challenge
1950 The Halls Of Ivy
1950 The Big Show
1953 The Railroad Hour
1957 The Ruggles
Beau Brummen
Showtime
To the Rear, March
The Loan Ranger
Makers Of History
Guest Critic Series
Arm Chair Romance
Yarns For Yanks
A Woman's World
Hanley Stafford as Lancelot 'Daddy' Higgins with Fanny Brice from Baby Snooks
Hanley Stafford as Lancelot 'Daddy' Higgins with Fanny Brice from Baby Snooks

Fanny Brice with Hanley Stafford
Fanny Brice with Hanley Stafford

Hanley Stafford as J.C. Dithers on Blondie circa 1941
Hanley Stafford as J.C. Dithers on Blondie circa 1941
Hanley Stafford was involved in American network Radio from it's very inception as a viable commercial medium. From 1928 until his death in 1969, Hanley Stafford lived breathed and slept American Radio in one form or another. Indeed, long after the Golden Age of Radio had all but waned permanently, Hanley Stafford kept his hand in Radio in one fashion or another, in spite of his increasing success in Film and Television.

One of Radio's most versatile--and ubiquitous--voices, there were precious few genuinely popular Radio programs during the entire thirty year span of The Golden Age of Radio that didn't feature Hanley Stafford's voice talent in some fashion or another. Indeed, though most often cited for his long association with Baby Snooks, Hanley Stafford was even more regularly involved with many of the action/adventure programs from the earliest days of network Radio.

Programs such as The Count of Monte Cristo, The World Adventurers' Club, The Last of The Mohicans, Tarzan, The Origin of Superstition, Chandu the Magician, Calling All Cars, Flash Gordon, and Speed Gibson, all featured Hanley Stafford's voice in lead and recurring supporting roles for a full ten years before his notable success in both Baby Snooks and Blondie. From Lord Tennington in Tarzan (1933) t0 heart-tugging characterizations in The Court of Human Relations (1936) to classical Shakespearan roles opposite John Barrymore in Barrymore's Streamlined Shakespeare (1937) to his signature roles in both Baby Snooks and Blondie, Hanley Stafford was never an actor that could be pinned down, nor typecast. That was his genius.

Stafford was also a member of the famous cast of The Cinnamon Bear (1937), virtually all of whom went onto extraordinary individual successes in their own careers. Stafford portrayed as many as five different characters in The Cinnamon Bear, in yet another display of his extraordinaty versatility. Stafford would often portray as many as five or six different characters in a radioplay, while either uncredited or taking credit for only one character.

From comedy to action to adventure to who-dun-its to classic drama, Hanley Stafford became one of Radio's most time-tested, reliable, and ubiquitous voices in Radio. Indeed, Hanley Stafford's Radio career alone shows a versatility and breadth of character roles unmatched by all but a handful of Radio--and Film--history's most versatile talents.

But Stafford later built on that extrordinary Radio success with infrequent, though memorable, performances in Television and Film.

Credited with an estimated 7,000+ appearances over Radio, it goes without saying that Hanley Stafford was one of The Golden Age of Radio's giants. Some might say Stafford stayed too long in Radio. He was clearly attractive enough to pursue Television even further than he had. But one must also consider what it often meant to a true Radioman to be a Radioman throughout the Golden Age of Radio.

And Hanley Stafford was unquestionably a Radioman, from virtually the moment he gained his United States citizenship, until the moment he passed away from a heart attack. Stafford put his heart and soul into Radio and it showed. Indeed, with literally thousands of surviving representative recordings of his appearances, he might arguably be acquiring new Radio fans in greater numbers today than he ever had during The Golden Age of Radio. A more than fitting epitaph to a life devoted to versatile, quality family entertainment.

From the Hayward Daily Review of September 11, 1968:

Baby Snooks'
Radio Daddy
Dies At 69

HOLLYWOOD (AP) - Baby
Snooks' Daddy is dead.
Hanley Stafford, a veteran character actor in radio and films, died at his home Monday at 69.
For a decade he played Daddy to Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks on radio. Stafford also carried the role of Mr. Dithers Dagwood's boss, on the Blondie radio show.
Born Alfred John Austin, the actor adopted the name of his birthplace — Hanley, Staffordshire, England. He became a naturalized American in 1926.
When the two radio shows ended after World War II, Stafford acted in motion pictures. Survivors include his widow, former radio singer and atitress Viola Vonn; a son Graham and a sister.
Private funeral services are planned.




Eugene 'Jay' Jostyn
(Ensemble Performer)
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1901-1976)

Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Education: Marquette University; University of Wisconsin Drama School

Radiography:
1933 Lives Of the Great
1937 Our Gal Sunday
1937 Rubinoff and His Musical Moments Revue
1937 Phyl Coe Mysteries
1938 Great Plays
1938 This Day Is Ours
1939 Radio Guild
1939 Mr District Attorney
1939 Doctor Christian
1940 The Parker Family
1942 Man Your Battle Stations
1944 Foreign Assignment
1945 Radio Hall Of Fame
1945 Treasury Salute
1945 New World A' Coming
1946 Radio Reader's Digest
1946 The Raleigh Room
1945 Lest We Forget:  These Great Americans
1946 NBC Parade Of Stars
1946 I Shall Not Want
1948 Marine Story
1949 Closed Circuit:  Parade Of Stars Weekly Preview
1960 Heartbeat Theater
You Are the Jury
Jay Jostyn as Morgan from Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Jay Jostyn as Morgan from Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Jay Jostyn as Morgan with James Coburn in Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Jay Jostyn as Morgan with James Coburn in Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Jay Jostyn rehearses Mr. District Attorney with Len Doyle
Jay Jostyn rehearses Mr. District Attorney with Len Doyle

Jay Jostyn (background) live on Mr. District Attorney with James Van Dyke, Luis Van Rooten, Al Scott, who supplies sound effects, Jerry Lesser and Stefan Schnabel from 1939
Jay Jostyn (background) live on Mr. District Attorney with James Van Dyke, Luis Van Rooten, Al Scott, who supplies sound effects, Jerry Lesser and Stefan Schnabel from 1939


Jostyn was voted 'handsomest actor in radio' by the students of Hunter College an all-girl college.

Jay Jostyn talent card circa 1948
Jay Jostyn talent card circa 1948

One of Wisconsin's favorite sons Jay Jostyn in article about his long-running appearance in Mr. District Attorney from 1942
One of Wisconsin's favorite sons Jay Jostyn in article about his long-running appearance in Mr. District Attorney from 1942

Jay Jostyn in Night Court U.S.A. from 1958
Jay Jostyn in Night Court U.S.A. from 1958
Actor Jay Jostyn's career seemed inexorably connected to some sort of legal tether for almost his entire career in Radio, Television and Film. For almost five years, the title role of the NBC dramatic show, "Mr. District Attorney," fell each week into the capable hands of Jay Jostyn, a, by then, well-known radio player. Jostyn, a handsome Milwaukee lad, was a product of Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin Dramatic School. He made his professional debut in his home town at 19, then took his turn at stock and landed in radio in 1936, while on the West Coast. As Mr. D. A., Jostyn was heard every Wednesday at 8:30 p. m., EST, over the NBC-Red network.

Even though he'd had only a couple of years of stock experience by the late 1930s, he'd attained his degree in Dramatic Arts from the University of Wisconsin. By 1938 he was teaching Radio Drama himself. From the Nov. 1, 1938 Emporia Gazette:

EMPORIA GETS IN.

Jay Jostyn, who married Ruth Hill, an Emporia woman with a great deal of acting ability, has been a member of Blanche Yurka's Summer School of the Theater in Carmel, N. Y., serving as a teacher. Mr. Jostyn is head of the radio department of the school and will intruct students in a professional understanding of the technique of the air. Mrs. Jostyn is a niece of Jay Robinson and Alice B. Robinson of Emporia.

One of Radio's busiest young actors, we find this notice from the July 29, 1940 edition of the Time Recorder, underscoring just how busy he was:

"Radio actor Jay Jostyn once appeared in 35 script shows in one week, portraying 45 different characters."

By 1940, Jay Jostyn and his wife, Ruth Hill, a former actress, were settling into a very successful Radio career from their home on Long Island. But apparently Jay Jostyn often took his work home with him. This, from a June 18, 1942 Bell Syndicate wire release:

Canned: Police of Manhasset, L.I. rushed to a house in which neighbors the other afternoon heard sounds of a gun fight and struggle. The officers sirened their way to the front door, forced their way in and, to their amazement, found, instead of a raging battle, merely a peaceful family scene. It seems that Jay Jostyn and bis wife had been listening to a recording of the radio program in which Jostyn plays the title role and the neighbors had mistaken the canned revolver fire for the real thing.
(Bell Syndicate—WNU Service)

Jostyn, at left voted "the handsomest actor on Radio," by the girls of Hunter College, didn't need a lot of help in the grooming department. This, from the September 9, 1943 Troy Record:

Actor Cuts Hair

Manhasset <AP>— An actor without a barber is practically an actor out of work, unless the actor is Jay Jostyn. For Jostyn cuts his own hair. Fifteen years ago he formed the habit when he was playing in stock companies—and couldn't get a barber to cut his hair the way he wanted it cut.
Now Jostyn, a successful radio star, cuts the hair of both his sons—and occasionally that of his wife.

As is turns out, Jostyn was apparently taking his Radio role as Mr. District Attorney very seriously, indeed. From 1939 forward, Jostyn was often seen in local court rooms and Night Court sessions, absorbing as much as he could from the real-life legal proceedings. You'll want to hold that Night Court thought for a bit, but in the interim, here's a newsy notice from the January 9, 1944 Zanesville Signal:

If his neighbors in Manhasset, L.I., have anything to say about it, it will be Congressman Jay Jostyn after the coming elections. Jostyn known to millions of dialers as the "Mr. District Attorney" of the air (Wednesdays,' 9:30 p. m., EWT NBC), is being urged by friends in the district to run for Congress in November!

If those were the same neighbors that almost turned him in a couple years earlier, we can perhaps infer that Manhasset was a gun-totin', gun-rights, Republican stronghold. As it turned out, Jostyn didn't take them up on their suggestion to run for Congress. But he did re-enter the courtroom in 1958, this time as a sitting Judge: Judge Jay Jostyn of Night Court over local Television station KTLA, until it went national as Night Court U.S.A.

In a Radio career spanning almost thirty years, Jay Jostyn compiled an impressive array of Radio credits, but it seems he'll be forever associated with his role as Mr. District Attorney. In Film and Television, Jostyn was also often cast as an attorney or judge of one era or another. To his great credit, he wasn't above parodying himself from time to time as well--in both Radio and Television.

Jostyn's Television career was as busy as his Radio career had been. Though never again finding a starring vehicle after his stint on Night Court, Jay Joystyn remained very busy indeed for the remainder of his acting career in a wide array of solid supporting roles and guest appearances.

One of Radio's more durable--and personally popular--radio stars, Jostyn succumbed to a reported heart ailment in 1976. He was survived by his wife of 48 yrs and their sons.




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