The Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage Radio Program
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Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage spot ad from October 7 1953
Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage spot ad from August 1954
Announcement of premiere program over KNX, ''On Stage With Elliott and Cathy Lewis'' from January 7 1953
The Columbia Network's Drama showcases over the years represented some of the most innovative, often cutting edge, and forward-looking dramatic productions ever broadcast over Radio. Beginning with its Columbia Workshop in the late 1930s, through its CBS Forecast concept for previewing potential prime-time programs, and the several showcases of the work of Norman Corwin through the 1940s, CBS continually presented a brand and flavor of Radio never heard before--or since, in many instances.
Throughout this era of innovation, CBS continued to shine a spotlight on its brightest up and coming stars, among them: William N. Robson, William Spiers, Norman Corwin, Jack Johnstone, Norm Macdonnell, and Elliott Lewis. Elliott Lewis, in particular, proved to be the most versatile of CBS' young, multi-talented, multi-faceted stars.
A fine actor and voice talent in his own right, Elliott Lewis honed and polished his numerous performance and production skills from the mid-1930s forward for CBS. From his seemingly effortless natural progression from voice talent, to co-starring acting roles, to writing, early directing efforts, and production supervision, at each juncture Elliott Lewis continued to distinguish himself as a rare and versatile talent for CBS. Lewis' early work with Jack Benny and his Jell-O Program established his comedic timing and versatility. This connection would ultimately lead to one of Lewis' most memorable character roles as Remley, in the Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show.
Indeed right up until his talents were pressed into service for the AFRS during World War II, he was appearing with Radio's greatest directors and producers and was commanding more noteworthy character roles in Radio's most prestigious straight dramatic presentations. His AFRS experience provided him even more experience with production, writing and editing skills. When he returned to civilian life, he soon resumed writing, directing, producing, and performing in a bewildering array of productions for CBS.
As Lewis embarked on his second decade with CBS he was already being promoted as 'Mr. Radio' by CBS' Publicity Department--and for good reason. Indeed, in spite of the early explosion of Television in the 1950s, Elliott Lewis continued to express his preference--very publicly--for Radio as a dramatic medium over Television. Lewis sincerely believed--throughout his performing life--that Radio remained the most compelling, most satisfying dramatic medium primarily because of its demands on--and liberties with--a listener's imagination.
This was the background and framework for Elliott Lewis' production of Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage. During a period when most other producers and directors were focusing on and expressing their newest innovations over Television, Elliott Lewis and his wife, Cathy, joined forces to demonstrate--perhaps one last time--the extraordinary versatility and appeal of well mounted, well produced, well written and well performed Radio Drama.
Throughout the period during which Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage aired, both performers were actively involved in either co-starring roles or key production roles in separate productions of their own. Elliott Lewis was directing many episodes of Suspense and other dramatic productions of the era, as well as producing, directing, writing and performing in his own production, Crime Classics. Cathy Lewis, for her part, was not only appearing in a customarily wide variety of independent dramatic Radio productions, but was also co-starring in the Television version of the popular situation comedy, My Friend Irma, a role she'd starred in for six years over Radio.
Thankfully, Elliott Lewis wasn't alone in embracing the conviction that a thoughtful, imaginative core of the Radio listening audience would continue to return to Radio as its medium of choice for newer, more innovative dramatic productions. He was joined in this conviction by some of Radio's finest production talent, and also found no end of West Coast Radio talent for supporting performances throughout the production. It didn't hurt that Elliott Lewis had, by 1952, acquired an extraordinarily loyal network of friends, peers, production personnel and writers who'd not only worked with Lewis hundreds of times each in most cases, but were also admirers of both Lewis' steadfast loyalty to the medium and his reciprocal loyalty to his network of Radio friends and associates.
The richness and breadth of this backdrop of support for Cathy and Elliott Lewis' dramatic productions provided an extrordinary last gasp of air to keep Radio Drama afloat against the inroads of Television. Indeed, Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage was so successful--and both critically and popularly received--by the time it had run its course, that it emboldened CBS to undertake one last run at its own last series of prestigious, innovative and in many respects, experimental Radio: CBS Radio Workshop (1956-1957).
The Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage Canon
A quick peek at the production details below will show a distinctly eclectic combination of sources and original writing for the Lewis' On Stage productions--from beginning to end. It's also worth noting that the Lewis' and their production staff could also prove quite agile in responding to other network developments at the same time. This was a very busy time for Elliott Lewis. Lewis had launched Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage in January of 1953. Halfway through its run, his own Crime Classics production and Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage were heard back-to-back in CBS's lineup for much of the remainder of the Crime Classics' run--in most markets outside of California, in any case.
Indeed, following Elliott Lewis' own Crime Classics episode, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, which aired December 9, 1953 outside of California, Lewis chose to re-enact the play, 'Our American Cousin' for the Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage program. Though clearly an inspired segue for On Stage for that night, it's been anecdotally reported that the combination met with the disfavor of no less than CBS President William S. Paley himself. We find this doubtful since this was clearly inspired programming, but the anecdote stands. Given Paley's somewhat infamous and quixotic reputation, one supposes it could very well be true --but. . . .
In revisiting this fine anthology, one can't help but be impressed by the exceptional production values--in every respect. Ray Noble's lovely 'Cathy & Elliott Theme' almost perfectly introduces and frames each production. The informative introductions and exposition by both Cathy & Elliott Lewis in the prologue to each production make for a fuller appreciation of and perspective on the production to follow. Both stage direction and music direction are crisp, perfectly complimentary, and beautifully well-timed from the first word of the script to the last. Even the end credits are equally well performed--informative, reflective and invariably respectful of the talented contributions to each production. This was a classy, thoughtful, highly satisfying production in every measurable way--and the equal of anything over Radio that had preceded it--or would follow it.
And yet this was also a bittersweet time for the Cathy and Elliott Lewis. Indeed, by the time Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage began breathing new life into popular Radio Drama, CBS was referring to the couple as Mr. and Mrs. Radio, for their extraordinary contributions--individually and together--over the almost sixteen years of their marriage. Even so, by 1958 Cathy and Elliott's marriage would be crumbling, and by 1959, Cathy and Elliott Lewis would be divorced. Elliott Lewis re-married in 1959--lovely Mary Jane Croft, another of the top twenty noteworthy Radio actresses of The Golden Age of Radio. Cathy & Elliott Lewis would never appear together again over Radio, but Elliott Lewis and Mary Jane Croft would continue to appear together--in both Radio and Television--for another twenty years in one capacity or another.
As alluded to above, the acting talent heard in this production was absolutely top-drawer from beginning to end. Drawing on some of the finest West Coast Radio talent ever heard, the Lewis' apparently found themselves with an embarrassment of riches from which to draw upon for the entire production run. The camaraderie alone between these extraordinary professionals could be felt in every production--whether fanciful or melodramatic. Indeed, the very sincere gratitude expressed by the Lewis' at the end of every production seemed entirely heartfelt--and reciprocal.
We've already mentioned Ray Noble's lovely 'Cathy & Elliott Theme', but that was simply the icing on the cake. The underscoring, incidental, and atmosphere music accompanying every production was absolutely superb in every way. Composed, conducted and performed by the likes of Lud Gluskin, Fred Steiner and Hans Roemheld, the utter variety of tones, coloration, and absolute adherence to the arc of each script made for a seamless marriage of script to score. And of course it goes without saying that the foley work, sound effects, sound shaping and sound engineering undertaken by Ross Murray and Burns Surrey contributed immeasurably to a complete and polished performance of every script from first line to last.
Indeed, this run of Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage is so similar in quality to the CBS Radio Workshop that followed it a couple of years later, comparisons and contrasts are inevitable. But this was also a final showcase of the tour de force that Cathy & Elliott Lewis presented at the top of their form. Indeed, although Elliott Lewis continued to even greater heights in both Radio and Television in the twenty years subsequent to 'On Stage', Cathy Lewis had but ten more years ahead of her to continue to make her own mark.
One inescapable conclusion remains--with the possible exception of a handful of Radio drama Revival efforts between the mid-60s and the mid-80s: Radio of the quality of Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage and the CBS Radio Workshop that followed it, marked the last of its kind during the Golden Age of Radio. For dyed in the wool supernatural thriller fans, adult western fans, and science-fiction fans, the waning years of The Golden Age of Radio would continue to provide the vain hope for a major revival. But it simply wasn't to be. Radio of the quality, breadth, innovation, and pure escapism of progamming like CBS Radio Workshop, Suspense, and Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage were Radio's last gasps for the most part.
But fast forward fifty years and it's as if Time has literally stood still. Most of the finer, better preserved and better engineered recordings of the era are entertaining tens of thousands of new listeners every month now. The Golden Age of Radio is finding new fans and admirers of every age, every nationality, and of every ethnicity. Radio of the quality of the best of The Golden Age of Radio simply can't be restrained. It'll always find a way to percolate back up to the top, as it has for the past fifty years now.
And of that body of new fans and admirers, it's a forgone conclusion that Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage will inevitably find a place in the collections of these tens of thousands of new admirers. A fitting tribute to two great proponents of--and an excellent example of--one of Radio's finest productions from The Golden Age of Radio.
|AFRTS [END-435] ''On Stage''
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Variety Dramas
||CBS; The AFRTS
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||52-11-24 [Aud] A Corner Of Autumn
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||53-01-07 01 The String Bow Tie
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||53-01-07 to 54-09-30; CBS; Seventy-eight, 30-minute programs; Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.
||Haven Radio Productions
||Elliott Lewis [Producer | Director | Host | Transcriber]
||Elliott Lewis, Cathy Lewis, Herb Butterfield, Clayton Post, Paula Winslowe, Junius Matthews, Byron Kane, William Conrad, Sheldon Leonard, Mary Jane Croft, Bob Sweeney, Byron Kane, John Dehner, Ben Wright, Tony Barrett, Jerry Hausner, Jeanette Nolan, Barbara Whiting, Charlotte Lawrence, Irene Tedrow, Joseph Granby, Peggy Webber, Howard McNear, Alan Reed, Sammie Hill, Lou Merrill, Barney Phillips, Harry Bartell, John McGovern, Edgar Barrier, Horace Murphy, Jack Kruschen, Joan Danton, Joseph Kearns, Truda Marson, Tyler McVey, Tom Dickson, Paul Frees, Frank Nelson, Larry Merrill, Ge Ge Pearson, Larry Thor, Parley Baer, William Conrad, Clayton Post, Martha Wentworth, Herb Vigran
||Henry James, Frank Stockton, Anton Chekov, Voltaire, Ross Murray
||Morton Fine, Richard Powell, E. Jack Neuman, Shelby Gordon, Walter Newman, Hett Manheim, Thonus Calhoun, Samuel B. Harrison, Arthur Ross, Shirley Gordon, Don Yarrow, David Friedkin, Richard Chandler, Tom Dixon; David Friedkin, Richard Chandlee [Writers | Adapters]
||Frederick Steiner [Composer/Conductor]; Lud Gluskin [Conductor];
Hans Roemheld [Composer]
Ross Murray, Burns Surrey [Sound Effects]
Frank Lightner [Pianist (Audition) ]; Alexander Courage [Music Director (Audition) ]
||Ray Noble, ''The Cathy & Elliott Theme''
||Cathy & Elliott Lewis [Host & Hostess]; George Walsh, Hy Averback, Roy Rowan, Arthur Ross, Gil Warren [Announcers]; Larry Thor [Narrator]
||Estimated Scripts or
||Episodes in Circulation:
||Total Episodes in Collection:
||RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
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The Cathy & Elliott Lewis On Stage Radio Program Biographies
(Host | Director | Producer | Performer)
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actor, Director, Producer, and Writer
New York City, New York, USA
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1939 The Silver Theatre
1939-1941 The Jello Program
1941 Miss Pinkerton, Inc.
1941 The Orson Welles Theatre
1941 We Hold These Truths
1942-1946 The Cavalcade of America
1942 The Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1942 Lights Out!
1944 Command Performance
1945 The Theatre of Famous Radio Players
1945-1948 The Whistler
1945 On A Note of Triumph
1945 Arch Oboler's Plays
1945 Columbia Presents Corwin
1945 Twelve Players
1945 The Life of Riley
1945 The Amazing Nero Wolfe
1946 Lux Radio Theatre
1946 Encore Theatre
1946 The Casebook of Gregory Hood
1946 Columbia Workshop
1946-1951 The Lucky Strike Program
1947 The Adventures of Sam Spade
1947 The Voyage of The Scarlet Queen
1947 Hawk Larrabee
1948 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1948 The Sweeney and March Show
1948-1952 The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show
1949 The Kraft Music Hall
1949 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 The Line-Up
1952-1954 Crime Classics
1953 Onstage with Cathy and Elliott Lewis
1957 The CBS Radio Workshop
1973 The Hollywood Radio Theatre [Zero Hour]
1979 Sear Radio Theatre
1980 Mutual Radio Theatre
Elliott Lewis' comparatively sparse entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory
Elliott Lewis c. 1944
Elliott Lewis c. 1948
|It's safe to say that Elliott Lewis was the most prolific, versatile Renaissance Man of both Radio and Television throughout the Golden Ages of both media. Quite simply, he did it all--and superlatively. Elliott Lewis first made his mark as an actor, writer, producer and director on radio in the late 1930's. Indeed his first recorded radio appearances were in 1937's The Cinnamon Bear.
During World War II, Lewis was responsible for many of the finest Armed Forces Radio Service productions of the War years, working in conjunction with Gower Gulch fellow enlistee, Howard Duff. Indeed, being the ingenious and resourceful non-Coms that they were, they are reported to have often substituted for each other on air. Apparently each had the other's air voice down so pat that they were indistiguishable from each other when they wanted--or needed--to be. Dedicated fans of AFRS' Mystery Playhouse have been tricked without knowing it, through the personae of Sgt. X, who, in reality was often Elliott Lewis subbing for his buddy, Duff.
Lewis' guest appearances on The Adventures of Sam Spade are some of the more memorable episodes of that series for the magical, on-air interplay between Lewis, Duff, and Lurene Tuttle.
In contrast to his extraordinary radio career, in which he worked either alone or in tandem with his first wife Cathy Lewis, and/or his second wife, Mary Jane Croft, his movie career, like those of most radio actors of the period, wasn't nearly as prolific, with only three films to his credit. His voice was also heard on Gordon Jenkins' classic recording of "Manhattan Tower" on Decca Records in 1945.
During the 1950s, he began to concentrate on writing, producing and directing in earnest. During that period, Lewis produced (1950-1956) and directed (1951-1954) CBS's long running, highly collectible Suspense program. He also produced and directed Broadway Is My Beat from 1949-1954. CBS Radio also tapped him to produce and direct Crime Classics from 1953 to 1954.
After the Golden Age of Radio effectively ended, Lewis moved to Television as a producer of such shows as The Lucille Ball Show (1962) and The Mothers-In-Law (1967), and directed all but one episode of the final season of Petticoat Junction (1963). But it was Radio that remained his first love and he continued to direct the occasional radio play well into the 1970s, culminating with Mutual's critically acclaimed Zero Hour (Hollywood Radio Theatre) in 1973, Sears Radio Theatre in 1979, and Mutual Radio Theatre in 1980 as both director and producer. These Golden Age Radio Revival dramas were some of the finest productions of the 1970s, and despite the dominance of Television, represented an enduring, sophisticated tribute to The Golden Age of Radio that Elliott Lewis had loved so very much.
CBS Radio Publicity once dubbed Elliott Lewis "Mr. Radio" because of his contributions to the medium as a writer, producer, director, and actor. Lewis was involved in more than 1,2o0 network radio programs in those various capacities.
(Hostess | Performer)
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actress
Birthplace: Spokane, Washington, U.S.A.
1942 Lights OUt
1944 Lux Radio Theatre
1944 Four For the Fifth
1944 The Rudy Vallee Show
1945 Theater Of Famous Radio Players
1945 Wonderful World
1945 The Whistler
1945 The Eddie Bracken Show
1945 Arch Oboler Plays
1945 Twelve Players
1945 Rogue's Gallery
1945 Pacific Story
1945 Theatre Of Romance
1946 Marcus O'Connor, Detective First Class
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 Encore Theatre
1946 Songs By Sinatra
1946 Michael Shayne, Private Detective
1946 Columbia Workshop
1947 Your Movietown Radio Theatre
1947 Voyage Of the Scarlet Queen
1947 My Friend Irma
1947 The Man Called X
1948 The Adventures Of Sam Spade
1948 Two Lines
1949 Philip Morris Playhouse
1949 This Is Your FBI
1949 The Great Gildersleeve
1950 The Harold Pery Show
1950 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe
1951 Make Believe Town
1952 On Stage
1954 Saturday Theatre
1955 The Bob Hope Show
1958 Whispering Streets
Hollywood Star Playhouse
Here's To Veterans
The Cases Of Mr Ace
Cathy Lewis entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory
Marie Wilson and Cathy Lewis as Irma and Jane from My Friend Irma (1948)
Inset of Cathy Lewis Jane from My Friend Irma (1948)
Cathy Lewis as Deirdre Thompson in Hazel from 1965
From the Galveston Daily News, March 22, 1953:
Versatile Thespian Cathy Lewis Reached Star Level as Jane of 'My Friend Irma'
Cathy Lewis has been a successful vaudeville performer, a band singer, a motion picture, stage and radio actress. But not until television did the versatile thespian attain the "star" level she had been seeking since her theatrical debut as the "Jazz Baby" of 1924.
Cathy's rich, throaty voice that for years made her one of radio's most popular personalities combined with her undisputed ability as a stage actress to make her a "big timer," as sarcastic Jane Stacey on CBS Television Network's "My Friend Irma."
It's fun to step into a cab," Cathy says, "and get that raised eye-brow of recognition from the driver. It happens in restaurants, on the street, in theatres. I love it--but of course all hams do."
Cathy, who was born in Spokane, Wash., on Dec. 27, 1917, got what she calls a "late start in the entertainment biz." She was seven when she was hired by the Jensen Von Herberg chain of theatres as the "Jazz Baby," singer and dancer.
According to Cathy, the sight of her on stage in long curls, ruffles and patent leather slippers, singing the praises of Barney Google and his goo-goo-googly eyes, put her family on the move. The move took them to St. Paul, Minn., where the erstwhile "Jazz Baby" was enrolled in the Nativity Parochial School.
Here, and later at St. Joseph's Academy, her dramatic talent qualified her for leads in student productions and appearances with the St. Paul Civic Repertory Group.
Before she had finished school, Cathy had appeared as guest vocalist with Ben Pollack, Herb Stern, Red Nichols, Johnny Davis and Glenn Gray. After doing a guest spot with Kay Kyser in Chicago, Cathy decided to try her luck in Hollywood.
She came to the West Coast in 1935, sang with Ray Noble's band, landed a leading role with the Ben Bard Players. She appeared in Pasadena Playhouse productions, free-lanced at Warner Brothers and Universal, then joined the West Coast company of "The Man Who Came To Dinner," hoping to troupe her way to New York City. Instead, after six months, the company disbanded in San Francisco when Alexander Woolcott died.
She was signed to an MGM contract, screen-tested with Stuart Erwin, taken to lunch with Robert Taylor, played one brief scene with Spencer Tracy in "Fury," and then sat by waiting for her next part. When weeks had ticked by and nothing happened, she asked for her release and got it. Free lancing, she was more successful. She worked with Laraine Day in five "Dr. Kildare" pictures, did "Escape" for Mervyn LeRoy, appeared with Dick Powell in "Model Wife," with Van Heflin in "Kid Glove Killer," and with Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan in "Shadow of Their Wings."
"About this time," Cathy said, "I heard about the great opportunities in radio. I went into it and loved every minute of it--and now, the monster video, which I love even more."
She is married to CBS Radio producer-director Elliott Lewis. They met in 1941 when they worked a radio show together and were married on April 30, 1943, a union which required no name change for Cathy since her maiden name was also Lewis.
The Lewises have often collaborated at the microphone. Together they have written several outstanding radio shows and have written and recorded two Columbia albums, "Happy Anniversary" and "Happy Holiday," in which they narrate a story and Cathy sings.
Born in Spokane, Wash., Cathy is 5 feet 4 1/2 inches and weighs 125 pounds. She has auburn hair and brown eyes.
|From the March 5, 1951 edition of the Portsmouth Herald:
by Erskine Johnson
HOLLYWOOD (NEA)--It pains me to tattle-tale, but I'm letting all movie queens know that some of their leading men are faithless, sniping low-lifes behind their backs.
Give them a microphone, an air version of last year's movie and a radio actress who's pinch-hitting for a Hedy or Greer and, the skunk pattern down their spines lights up like a pinball machine.
Oooh, what those profile boys say about their celluloid co-stars!
Cathy Lewis, the CBS Bernhardt, unzipped the bag and let the cat out for me.
The minute the studio audience files out, Cathy gets this from the boys:
"Don't breathe this to a soul honey, but I wish you had been in the movie with me instead of that silly, hammy dame who calls herself an actress. Maybe the picture wouldn't have laid such an egg."
It's embarrassing as all get-out, to Cathy and sometimes she's right glad that she's not a movie doll.
She came close to it once when MGM put her under contract and she sat around for months with another discouraged Actress named Greer Carson waiting for a role.
CATHY'S THE RED-HAlRED, big-eyed queen bee in the American Federation of Radio Artists hive and when Loretta Young breaks a leg or the budget won't allow for Ida Lupino, she's right there to wham over the lines that Loretta and Ida once spoke.
The mike's nothing but a metal contraption to Cathy, but she let me know that most movie stars get the jitters, when they see the "On the Air" sign.
Here's how they look, fearless or jittery, to Cathy:
Gregory Peck: "He's fine, but he's very nervous."
Joan Crawford: "She's sure of her talent in radio, but audiences terrify her."
June Havoc: "On her first 'Suspense' show, she was so scared that she had to leave the studio."
Humphrey Bogart: "During rehearsals, he doesn't give a thing. But once you're on the air with him, Bogey's just fine."
Joseph Cotten: "He kept saying, 'Why am I here? What am I doing here? This is murder."
CLARK CABLE IS CATHY'S IDEA of a movie giant who shrinks to midget size when his moustache is level with a microphone instead of Ava Gardner's lips.
"He won't appear before a radio audience," she said. "My husband, Elliott Lewis, worked with him when Clark did 'Command Decision' on the air. Know how it was done? It was taped one night, with Clark reading his lines and Elliot reading his lines and Elliot reading the lines of every other character.
"The next night, Elliot taped another version, but this time he read Gable's lines and the AFRA actors gave the lines he had done the night before. Then Gable's voice was spliced in place of Elliot's and that's how it went over the air."
Cathy's the Jane Stacy of CBS' "My Friend Irma" with Marie Wilson. But nobody even said "Come on over for a screen test" when Hal Walls began to film the "Irma" series.
But does Cathy give a hoot?
"I used to have feelings about it," she told me. "Then I saw Diana Lynn in the picture. She was cute, refreshing and youngtoo young. I'm glad I didn't play the part."
Then Cathy added:
"Jane, as we do her in radio, is really the show's director and producer, the guy who dreamed up IrmaCy Howard. It's just that Cy wrote a woman's part for himself. He's Jane Stacy, inside, I mean. Everything that Jane says or thinks reflects the real Cy.
From the 52-03-02 Oakland Tribune:
Irma's Girl Friend Scores Smash Hit--and Doesn't Like It
By HAL HUMPHREY
HOLLYWOOD, March 1.
--Despite her current success on the TV version of "My Friend Irma," Cathy Lewis is fed up with being just Jane Stacy.
"Don't get me wrong," says Irma's girl friend on both the radio and TV "Irma" shows. "I am amazed and very happy over the marvelous public acceptance I have had since the TV show began. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
"But why did it have to be as Jane Stacy? I don't want to be Jane. I want to be Cathy Lewis, actress," says pert, auburn-haired Cathy.
To understand the irony in Cathy's attitude, it's necessary to know that she's been "doing"
Jane on the "Irma" radio show for five years, and doesn't believe that the part is worth what
she has put into it.
Fans of the new TV show undoubtedly would disagree with her on this point, because Cathy
in many respects has emerged as the star of CBS video "Irma."
But while this success came as a surprise to the viewers, it meant only one thing to Cathy--she is still just Jane Stacy. And for her, this seems a hollow victory after more than 15 years of acting.
Cathy hit Hollywood in 1935 as a singer with Ray Noble's band. Soon after that she got a screen contract at M-G-M, and between this and some free-lance roles at other studios, Cathy played in more than 20 feature
Later, she joined the road company of "The Man Who Came to Dinner," but the company was disbanded in San Francisco upon the death of the star, the late Alexander Woollcott.
Cathy came back to Hollywood and took up radio acting, and in 1943 married Elliott Lewis, producer-director of CBS' "Suspense" and "Broadway's My Beat" programs. This was one time when a gal didn't have to change her maiden name after marriage.
Her problem now is what to do about being identified as Jane Stacy. Cathy's ambition is to become an honest-to-goodness actress and have dramatic roles on such TV shows as "Studio One."
In other words, she wants to prove that she is an actress and not just Irma's roommate. "When they first started talking about putting Marie Wilson and me on an 'Irma' TV show, there were big plans to make us a couple of real gals living in a brownstone-front flat," Cathy recalls.
"But after a few conferences with the sponsor, it was decided that what was needed was some sure-fire gags and situations, and to h___ with the slice-of- life stuff.
"I don't have to tell you what followed. You've seen the old, broken-down couch, and the time we put pots on our head. I told anyone who would listen that the day they put a pie in my face, I'm through. This isn't acting, it's markmanship."
However, with all of these drawbacks, Cathy is thrilled that she is building a whole new set of fans. And her success has caused no strain between her and Marie, with whom she has worked all these years on the radio "Irma."
"If Marie is concerned about the TV show, she has never said so, or used it against me," emphatically states Cathy.
"Marie is a real nice dame, and nobody could have a problem with her."
Copyright, 1952, for The Tribune
Catherine Lewis was born and raised in Spokane, Washington. After appearing in a couple of local dramatic productions and outings as a local band singer, Cathy Lewis struck out on her own, landing first with Ray Noble's Orchestra in 1935, then with Kay Kyser and Herbie Kay.
Cathy had first migrated to Chicago while pursuing work in the entertainment industry. Between singing gigs, Cathy Lewis did a bit of Radio acting, which eventually persuaded her to emigrate to Hollywood and all the opportunities the area presented. Not long after moving to Hollywood, M-G-M signed Lewis to a two-year contract, introducing her to short features in its Crime Does Not Pay series. As she indicates in her Lew Lauria listing to the left, she'd already appeared in eight M-G-M pictures in 1940 alone.
It soon became apparent to Cathy Lewis that her talents were far better utilized in Radio. She continued to appear in an occasional feature film but by the mid-1940s Cathy Lewis' star was rising rapidly in the Radio industry.
Identified as something of an item with Laird Kregar for several years, Cathy Lewis ultimately married Elliott Lewis (no blood relation) in 1943 and the couple were soon appearing together in hundreds of Radio's most successful programs. By 1944, Cathy Lewis began co-starring with character actor Wally Maher in the first incarnation of Private Detective Michael Shayne, as Mike Shayne's secretary and love interest, Phyllis Knight.
A popular west coast Don Lee-Mutual production for two years, the Private Detective Michael Shayne program went national in October 1946 as Michael Shayne: Private Detective. The program aired nationally for another fifteen episodes before ending in January 1947. Both Maher and Lewis were gaining numerous obligations in West Coast Radio by then and the move proved the right one for both of them.
After Elliott Lewis' return to civilian life [he'd worked for the Armed Forces Radio Service for three years during World War II], he and his wife Cathy undertook an ambitious array of Radio projects--both separately and as a couple.
By 1947, Cathy Lewis was again co-starring in a major network hit, My Friend Irma with Marie Wilson as Irma and Cathy Lewis in the role of Jane Stacey, Irma's long-suffering roommate. Having built a highly successful Radio career through the 1940s, she made the jump to Television with the transition of her Jane Stacey character on Radio to the small screen for a season of My Friend Irma (1952) for TV.
1953 found her again co-starring in Radio with her husband, Elliott Lewis in their critically acclaimed tour de force, On Stage with Cathy and Elliott Lewis (1953-54), which ran for a year and a half for CBS. Elliott Lewis and Cathy Lewis separated during the mid-1950s and eventually divorced in 1958.
By then moving comfortably between Radio and Television, 1959 found Cathy Lewis again co-starring in yet another Radio export to Television, as Molly McGee in Television's Fibber McGee and Molly (1959). 1961 brought several recurring appearances in Television's popular Hazel (1961-1966), as Deirdre Thompson.
Throughout the 1960s, Cathy Lewis continued her work in Television, both as a voice talent and as an actress, in Film, overdubbing for several prominent actresses of the era, and occasional return appearances over Radio.
Cathy Lewis was stricken with cancer during her recurring appearances in Hazel and eventually succumbed to cancer in 1968 at the age of only 52, still one of Radio's most successful character actresses to make a successful transition to Television.
With well over 3,000 Radio appearances to her credit, some twenty feature and short films, and at least 100 appearances in Television, it's safe to say that Cathy Lewis remains one of the most distinguished performers from The Golden Age of Radio. Often portraying as many as three to five characters in a single Radio production, Cathy Lewis is considered one of Radio's finest, most versatile actresses in History.
|Ludwig Elias Gluskin
Percussionist; Orchestra Leader; Music Director
Birthplace: New York City(?), New York, U.S.A.
1941 Columbia Workshop
1942 Hello Americans
1942 Celing Unlimited
1944 Get Out the Vote
1945 Word From the People
1945 I Was There
1945 On A Note Of Triumph
1945 Columbia Presents Corwin
1945 Fourteen August
1945 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1945 Theatre Of Romance
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1946 The Jack Kirkwood Show
1947 The Sweeney and March Show
1947 The Adventures Of Sam Spade
1948 The Last Water Hole
1948 The Whistler
1948 The Amazing Mr Tutt
1948 My Friend Irma
1948 Two Lines
1948 The Hunters
1949 Philip Morris Playhouse
1949 Broadway Is My Beat
1949 Life With Luigi
1951 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
1953 The Arthur Godfrey Show
1953 On Stage
1953 Crime Classics
1954 Our Miss Brooks
1954 The Amos 'n' Andy Show
1972 Same Time, Same Station
Lud Gluskin Orchestra circa December 1927
Ludwig 'Lud' Gluskin circa 1927
The Lud Gluskin Orchestra on the road in Amsterdam circa 1929
Lud Gluskin record label from his European recordings
Another of Lud Gluskin's Jazz Hot recordings from Europe
December 19 1974 Article on the Palm Springs connection for Radio stars past. Notice in the pop-up that the Radio stars themselves refer to the era as The Golden Age of Radio.
|Ludwig Elias Gluskin was born in New York City [or possibly Russia] in 1898 to Russian/Jewish emigres. Reportedly a child prodigy, by the 1920s, Lud Gluskin was performing with Jimmy Durante--Durante at the piano and Gluskin on percussion. Gluskin had already acquired considerable 'buzz' as a pit drummer in hundreds of venues.
By the mid-1920s Lud Gluskin began touring Europe with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra as Whiteman's drummer. In 1927, he became leader of The Playboys, a Detroit jazz band that had been stranded in Paris. Gluskin and The Playboys made more than 700 recordings in Paris and Berlin, most of which are highly prized to this day.
Gluskin and his dance band toured Europe for the following seven years. During that time, Gluskin's Orchestra was the only American Jazz Band both touring--and residing in--Europe and he reportedly took Europe by storm. In researching Gluskin's career we found hundreds of rave notices about Gluskin's performances and recording sessions in Europe. He was unquestionably one of the earliest American Jazz legends touring Europe.
Upon his return to the U.S., Gluskin was hired by CBS as the Music Director for CBS Radio. Gluskin's 1989 New York Times obituary credits Gluskin with conducting the orchestra for Orson Welles' famous Mercury Theatre production of War of The Worlds. As legendary as Gluskin's career ultimately was, the credit for the original compositions for War of The Worlds must go to Bernard Herrmann. It's understandable that Gluskin was inadvertently credited with the War of the Worlds score. Herrmann, Gluskin and Lyn Murray were contemporaries at CBS, and during their time together were held in equal esteem.
But by at least the late 1930s, Lud Gluskin was the Music Director for CBSs West Coast operations--he'd both performed and directed for CBS East until as late as 1939. The following interview was conducted in Hollywood by sydicated journalist, Paul Harrison on March 29, 1938:
Helping the Hopefuls
One of the first things a visitor notices is the consideration and assistance given these hopefuls. A topnotch accompanist and sound-mixer are provided. Bill Moore, in charge of musical auditions, is patient, and polite and listens attentively. So, frequently, do Lud Gluskin, the west coast musical director, and Charles Vanda, coast program director. For men with trained ears, it must be a pretty painful experience.
"But we listen to everybody," Gluskin said. "Sometimes you think you can't stand another minute of ityet there's always the feeling that just possibly the next person who walks in the studio will be just the one you're looking for."
And here's a fascinating article and interview from The Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star, dated September 4, 1938 that gives a flavor of Lud Gluskin's disposition and personality:
What's Your Theme Song
By Alice L. Tildesley
What sort of music, or what special number, comes to mind at sight of you? Is it organ music? Is it Jazz? Is it romantic? Is it a sweet old song of home? In other words, what's your theme song?
SOMEWHEREto some onethere's music for- every one. Maybe a whole symphony-maybe just a melody-but madrigal or chant, overture or carol, to a musician each personality brings its appropriate music. That is Lud Gluskin's idea.
Lud Gluskin Is a stocky, smiling gentleman, musical director for the West Coast studios of a nation-wide broadcasting concern, who, when he isn't directing, playing, conferring with composers, actors, artists, musicians, et cetera is listening to music, music, music.
"You can bring to mind a funeral march or a cacophony of discords, if you have an unpleasant personality," he observed. "There are stars in pictures or on the air, just as there are people In private life, who make things difficult for everybody, and these are the inharmonious ones who give an unmusical impression.
"One girl, who has starred on the screen, had her own program on the air and appeared on concert tour, is a headache in any language. When a musician, orchestra leader, actor, singer or business representative is told he is to be on one of her programs or in one of her pictures, he begins to worry.
"That woman will be Inconsiderate and unreasonable," he sighs. "She'll high-hat every one she should be nice to. and upset the cast. Can I get out of the engagement? Can I afford not to take it? What shall I do?
"Anyone who has ever been with her knows that she won't do her work well. When there are mistakes, it will always be the faujt of somebody else. If she flats a note, or comes in a little ahead or behind the orchestra, it will be the conductor who was wrong, or the saxophone player, or the man who beats the drums. Or else it's the music. The man who transposed the score was an amateur, or the fellow who wrote it didn't know what he was doing.
"The Dead March from Saul would be a good choice for her, in my opinion."
WHO wants to remind us of anything so gloomy? "On the other hand, there's Jeanette MacDonald," continued the director, his blue eyes lighting with pleasure. "She's like the music of Victor Herbert, gay and charming.
"There's a warmth and a charm to Jeanette that makes any one working with her feel glad to be there. She is delightful, romantic, with a peppery little temper at timesnot too much, but the sort of thing all stars must have if they are to succeedyet so sweet, so gay, so lovely.
"I traveled with her across Europe, when she was making a concert tour, and always found her co-operative. She worked hard, harder than any one in her company; she always made the most Intense effort to please; she never shirked. If you asked her to rehearse, she never said 'No!' She was open to every suggestion. That doesn't mean the accepted every one made but she approached it with an open mind, tried It out and definitely considered it. There was none of this: 'I should know. Look where I am about Jeanette. I don't believe she would know how. to be highhat.
"If I were to select one special song for her, I think it would be Victor Herbert's 'Kiss Me Again.'"
The song, "Stout-Hearted Men," from the Rudolph Friml operetta, reminds Mr. Gluskin of Nelson Eddy. "Nelson is romantic and handsome," he pointed out. "He has a fine, true voice and a nice manner. You think of him as a gentleman first, yet he has glamour, if you'd care to use that overworked word.
"Real artists, like real actors, are sincere all the way through, so far as their work is concerned. It's the phony ones who aren't looking for criticism or suggestions The real ones are eager to improve."
There is a young stara very young starwhose shining success is beginning to dim her personality, according to our expert.
"She is beginning to go high-hat, to be hard to handle, to think she is important and must have the last word to say on everything. My prediction is that she won't last In her present top spot if her attitude keeps up. I used to think of her as like a strain from Gounod's 'Ave Maria,' but if she keeps up as she is doing, antagonizing those who must work with her, I'll begin to be reminded of one of those old English roundelays that bring you back to where you started from, if you sing long enough.
"ALL stars should get wise to themselves. No one is any better than his last performance, and he must keep on topping himself. He needs help to do this, and who can expect help if he won't co-operate?"
"You're the Top," by Cole Porter, is the air that Norma Shearer brings to mind, according to Mr. Gluskin.
"Norma is like Cole Porter's music: brilliant, sophisticated, sure of herself, admired. Norma knows what she is doing, always; she never steps out of character or forgets that she is before the public and must so conduct herself. She acts like a great lady, because she happens to be a great lady at heart, and she never disillusions you.
"Like Porter's music, there is nothing careless or slipshod about her. She doesn't gloss over anything, any more than he glosses over his work. You can Imagine him painstakingly perfecting a score; Just so you can imagine Norma taking infinite trouble over every detail.
"Jessica Dragonette, top-ranking singing star, now about to make a picture debut, reminds me of the best of the Strauss waltzes Let's say. the 'Blue Danube Waltz.' Her glorious voice, crystal, crystal clear; her delicacy, her Old-Worldliness, are like the Strauss music.
"She's like a minuet, too; say Beethoven's 'Minuet.' She has subtlety and charm and beauty and, like every true artist, confidence in herself, so far as her work is concerned.
"There's a difference in the music a man hears mentally when he sees a glamorous woman and that heard by a woman, I suppose. I may think this because of the varying ideas my wife and I have about Greta Garbo, To Mrs. Gluskin, Garbo is the most remarkable star who ever came to Hollywood. Exotic music, romantic, stirring musicperhaps Russian, perhaps Hungarianis the sort of thing my wife would be likely to hear as a translation of the Garbo personality.
"But to me, Garbo is a woman's star. She makes me think of music by Beethoven or Bach, slow, majestic, maybe even wonderful, but not especially interesting to me. Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' would be my choice, if I had to select a single piece.
"On the other hand, Marlene Dietrich is a man's idea of what is glamorous. She is exotic, mysterious, rarely, beautiful."
"She reminds me of the late George Geishwin's music something from 'Porgy' or 'Lady Be Good.' She's stirring, yet aloof, very diamatic, almost too beautiful, touched with a desire that is just out of reach, if you understand me. Not many women have this quality."
THERE are girls who are like swift hot music; girls who are full of fire, girls who are deeper than they look on the surface and each of these has her own special music.
"Martha Raye is like the 'St. Louis Blues,' by Joe Handy," said the director. "She is always wild and natural, full of fire.
"Judy Garland is the best of the hot, youthful music; we might give her Ted Koehler's 'I can't Pace the Music. Somehow I have the notion that this little kid is going to be tops soon because she has a new, hot, gay quality that appeals.
"Ginger Rogers is like swing music, flapperish, rapid, young, not with the same childish youth of Judy, but a more modern youth. Benny Goodman's 'Don't Be That Way' would be a good selection for her.
"And Bette Davis, who can seem so ice cold and can again show such depths of feeling and fire, is best compared to Ravel's 'Bolero.'"
Back in the days- when Lud Gluskin went to high school, he played the drums in the school orchestrafirst the trap drum, then the small drums. After school, in order to make pocket money, he and Jimmy Durante acted as orchestra for a beer hall, Jimmy playing the piano and Lud the drums Now they are both well-known figures in Hollywood.
After an interruption of two years at the front during the World War, Lud came home with his mind made up to be a musician. His father felt that there would be more money in clerking, so presently Lud ran away from home, went to San Francisco and entered the importing business.
"That wasn't music, either," admitted Mr. Gluskin, "but it happened and I couldn't choose. I was sent to Japan and did fairly well, but the music bug was in my blood and I couldn't lorget it. When I had saved a little money I came back and managed to join Paul Whiteman's band.
"When I toured Europe with my orchestra, we had to give them American music because that was what they wanted from us. Naturally, at first, I thought I'd give them a selection of the best things from modern Europeon composers, but nowe were an American band, we were supposed to play American music. And piay it we did.
"However, vvhen we came back here, imported especially from abroad because we had made a hit over there, I began by playing the same music we had played in paris, Budapest and so on and the managers stopped me. We were from Europe; we were supposed to piay Euiopean music, naturally. Nothing else would do.
"Speaking of youth, Shirley Temple reminds me of 'Toy Trumpet,' by Raymond Scott. She's a miracle, that child, and sweet as they come.
"I was watching her on the set the other day when she had difficulty with a line she had to speak as she danced with Bill Robinson up a stair. It wouldn't come right. They marked the step, they emphasized trie beat of the music, and .still she couldn't quite get it. Then Bill said: 'Tell you what, honey, when it comes time for that line I'll sort of squeeze your hand.' He did and she said the line correctly and all was well.
"A little later she ran up to where Bill and I were talking and pulled him down to her. "" 'Thank you a million times," she whispered. 'Some day, when you are in a tough spot, I hope I'll be on hand to help you."
"You don't have to worry about a kid like that getting high-hat She's a trouper. "Another splendid person in Hollywood is Basil Rathbone. To me he is Stravinsky's 'Firebird.' A little beyond the average range, fine and true; brilliant, almost dazzlingly brilliant, with a spiritual side. He Is stirring; he could be dangerous; instead he is a protection and shield against danger.
"Irving Berlin's music, after his new picture, ought to remind me of Alice Faye, but somehow it's Myrna Loy that he brings to mind. Myrna is romantic in a Berlin mannerI might select 'Cheek to Cheek' especially for her." "As to Alice Faye, I am reminded of 'Stardust' by Hoagy Carmichael. She has developed a great deal, that girl. She has depth and beauty and yet she is still just a wee bit naive."
How about a game tonight? Try analyzing yourself and your friends and making out lists of the music that portrays each one. I wonder if you'll be surprised at the varied songs or scores that are selected for yourself?
Copyright by Ledger Syndicate
By 1940 Lud Gluskin was directing many of CBS's most prestigious West Coast orginating programs with Wilbur Hatch and eventually Bernard Herrmann yet again. CBS entrusted Gluskin with an extraordinary number of its most popular, long-running, and critically acclaimed programs over the next 25 years. Gluskin ultimately provided music direction. compositions, and performances for well over 5,000 radio productions.
In 1948, he became music director for CBS-TV and presided over the network's shows for 10 years. Gluskin's Television career was just as prestigious and successful. Gluskin's Film career was equally productive. Lud Gluskin reached the enviable point in his career when he could work when he wanted to, where he wanted to, and in any medium he wanted to.
That confidence and competence were both well earned and deserved. After a 65 year career as a performer, a 35 year career in Radio, a 12 year career in Film and a 25 year career in Television, Lud Gluskin retired to Palm Springs, California.
Ludwig Elias Gluskin passed away in Palm Springs in 1989 at the age of 90. One of the Performing Arts most beloved and multi-talented musical geniuses, literally thousands of Lud Gluskin's personal recordings and Radio and Television work remain available for the enjoyment of his millions of fans. A fitting memorial to one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century.
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