The That Was The Year Radio Program
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Transco Radio Transcriptions produced That Was The Year in 1935 for syndication
Canadian promotion of That Was The Year over CKY from March 31 1939
American spot ad for That Was The Year over WHDL from Nov. 22 1940
Transcribed programming for syndication was all the rage over Radio beginning in the mid to late 1920s and quickly established itself as a viable, cost-effective and relatively risk-free programming alternative for early broadcast networks. The independents also thrived on canned programming. For many of the independents it was their primary means of obtaining new programming.
The better syndications aired over both the early networks and independent stations equally. Those that were produced specifically for a network often found themselves in wider syndication after the network had exhausted the run. Indeed the more popular syndications from the mid to late 1920s to the mid 1950s continue to be as popular with contemporary 21st Century audiences as they were 50 to 70 years ago.
The more successful syndicators invested in the finest talent, writing, and direction to ensure the highest sales potential for their programming. Some of the most interesting syndicated programming arrived in the wake of the Great Depression. The relatively young networks were understandably still recovering from the Stock Market crash and its wake. Thousands of 'mom and pop,' family-owned independents were equally struggling to hold their broadcast audience without risking deeper debt investing in original programming.
So it was that literally thousands of syndicated programs--both popular and not so much--flooded the airwaves of the late 1920s and early 1930s. The most successful syndicated programming of the era was of the music or variety genre. The most popular dramatic programming of the era took the form of comedies and adventures.
The Transcription Company of America, Ltd. (Transco) was one of the more prolific early developers of transcribed Radio programming for syndication. Some of the more commonly available programs from its extensive canon are as follows:
1930 The Story Behind the Song
1930 World Adventurer's Club
1931 Cocoanut Grove Ambassadors
1931 Slim Martin and His Transco All Americans
1932 Plantation Echoes
1933 Pinto Pete
1934 Nonsense and Melody
1935 That Was The Year
1935 Ports of Call
1937 Cinnamon Bear
1937 Komedy Kingdom
1938 Frontier Fighters
1949 The Adventures of Frank Race
Generally 15-minute features, many of its syndicated programs became perennial favorites in their own right. Transco's history features were almost always very entertaining, as well as historically accurate for the era.
Transco introduces That Was the Year for syndication
A west coast production, it may have been produced out of the studios of KMPC, Los Angeles. Transco executive Lindsay MacHarrie was an employee of both Transco and KMPC. While little is known about the production details, it's clear that Gerald Mohr narrated the entire series, with Lindsey MacHarrie himself providing most of the announcing. West coast talent heard in the series are Jay Novello, Gale Gordon and Gerald Mohr.
That Was the Year was a compilation of historical vignettes from the years 1896 through 1934, for a total of thirty-nine programs. Only fifteen minutes in length, the series followed a fairly consistent format. Each program focused on one year, highlighting the most significant social, scientific, political, crime and cultural events for each year, often closing with a popular song of the era.
Time permitting, each program dramatized two to four of the most important events of the year under review; an ambitious task given the eleven minutes or so alotted to the dramatic script. Transco was very good at dramatizing such vignettes and That Was the Year is no exception. As America has become more politically and socially polarized over the past twenty-five years, a great deal of our history--in K-12 textbooks, especially--has been rewritten to advance a political agenda, depending on how the political winds blow. This series and the many others like it from The Golden Age of Radio are compelling time capsules of the historical facts that preceded the era. Granted, that issues like race relations still weren't treated evenly during the 1930s, the remaining historical retrospectives of the era remained reasonably true to the most accurate scholarship then available.
If for nothing other than a showcase for the most popular--and often forgotten--songs of the years 1896-1934, the series remains a treasure. But the historical vignettes are equally priceless. As an example, in the episode for the year 1927, the first demonstration of a Television broadcast is faithfully dramatized. Each episode is full of such vignettes. Gerald Mohr's narration is particularly noteworthy. Clear as a bell, Mohr's enunciation of every word in the script makes the identification of events, places, names and songs of the era perfectly understandable.
First recorded in 1935, they first aired in 1937 and almost annually thereafter for another five to seven years. The package was a very attractive promotional vehicle for local sponsors throughout the U.S. and Canada. The circulating set of thirty-nine recordings are direct from the orginal transcriptions and are thus devoid of any commercial spots. The transcriptions provided ninety seconds of musical fill at the beginning of each recording and another ninety seconds to two minutes at the end.
These marvelous retrospective dramatizations from the 1920s and 1930s are remarkable booksmarks in time that should be a part of every student of American culture and history. The circulating recordings are wonderfully preserved and transferred and sound much as if they have if you'd heard them in your parlor during the late 1930s.
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Historical Dramatizations
||NBC, CBS, and several other local affiliates and networks while in syndication.
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||37-02-01 01 The Year 1907
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||37-02-01 to 37-10-25; KMPC, KHDL and others; Thrity-nine, 15-minute programs; Various days and times [often three a week]
||Transcription Company of America, Ltd. (Transco) 
||Sair's Used Tire Exchange; Public Loan Co., Inc.
||Gerald Mohr, Jay Novello, Gale Gordon, Lindsey MacHarrie
Gerald Mohr [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 That Was The Year Radio Program Biographies
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor, Writer, Director;Head of Programming for ABC
Education: University of Washington
Military Service: Served as Chief of the Radio Section and Public Information Secretary of the London contingent of The American Red Cross
1931 On With the Show
1933 California Cocktails
1933 The Rangers
1934 Crazy Quilt
1934 Komedy Kapers
1934 The Laff Parade
1934 The Blue Monday Jamboree
1934 Calling All Cars
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1937 Komedy Kingdom
1938 The Rudy Vallee Hour
1939 Lux Radio Theatre
1939 Silver Theatre
1940 Can You Imagine That
1942 The Blue Theatre
1943 Mayor Of the Town
1943 Red Cross Reporter
1944 Ellery Queen
Myrt and Marge
Brief obituary for Lindsay MacHarrie from May 23 1960
Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie met while working at KHJ Hollywood
Crazy Quilt spot ad for S. & L. Co. from March 20 1935
|Despite a relatively busy career in West coast Radio of the 1930s, surprisingly little is currently known about the personal and professional details of Lindsay MacHarrie's life.
MacHarrie broke into Radio first at radio station KUJ, then migrated to California to work at Hollywood station KHJ in numerous capacities between 1926 and 1938. His most popular early performances over network Radio were in On With The Show (1931), California Cocktails (1933), The Rangers (1933), and the several 1934 sketch comedies of the legendary Elvia Allman, including Crazy Quilt, Komedy Kapers, The Laff Parade, and The Blue Monday Jamboree. MacHarrie later teamed up with Allman in Komedy Kingdom (1937).
MacHarrie was also a member of the ensemble responsible for 1937's legendary The Cinnamon Bear Christmas serial, serving as both actor and director with a cast of what would eventually become many of Radio's Golden Age luminaries.
He acted in, wrote, directed and produced mostly syndicated West Coast productions such as Can You Imagine That (1940), for which he also acted as host and narrator. He'd also appeared in nationwide programs such as Calling All Cars, Myrt and Marge, The Rudy Vallee Hour, Lux Radio Theatre, Silver Theatre, The Blue Theatre and Mayor of The Town.
He took a break from civilian life during World War II, serving for two years as the Chief of the Radio Section and Secretary of Public Information for the London contingent of The American Red Cross.
Upon completing his contract with The Red Cross, he returned to performing, writing directing, and producing Radio features for the American Broadcasting Company.
Striken with tuberculosis, MacHarrie was in and out of hospitals during his 50s, and ultimately suffered an overdose of barbiturates shortly after being discharged from his latest hospitalization in 1960. He was reportedly despondent over the progress of his treatment regimen.
MacHarrie's versatility in Radio and Telvision spanned a career of over 35 years in Broadcasting. Noted for his bell-clear voice, engaging delivery and comedic and dramatic timing MacHarrie was a popular West Coast favorite definitely marked down for even greater opportunities in Broadcasting. But bedeviled by his persistent illness, MacHarrie's premature passing was a reflection of both his impatience with his health and the effects of the extraordinary competition in early Television broadcasting.
His 1940 Can You Imagine That series captures much of his on-air personality for generations to come. His promise, though regrettably never fully realized, is reflected in the over two-hundred circulating recordings that showcase his talents.
Stage, Screen, Radio and Television Actor, Stage Director and Producer
Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Education: The Dwight School, NYC, NY
1935 That Was the Year
1935 Anne Of the Airlanes
1935 The Adventures Of Jungle Jim
1938 Front Page Drama
1938 Dr Christian
1939 Lux Radio Theatre
1939 The Shadow Of Fu Manchu
1941 Cavalcade Of America
1942 Command Performance
1942 The Adventures Of Red Ryder
1942 This Is Our America
1942 Hello Americans
1942 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1942 Mayor Of the Town
1943 The Whistler
1943 The Bob Burns Show
1943 Wings To Victory
1944 Lest We Forget
1944 American School Of the Air
1945 Mystery Is My Hobby
1945 Rogue's Gallery
1945 Arch Oboler's Plays
1945 Theatre Of Romance
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 Encore Theatre
1946 Academy Award
1946 The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players
1946 This Is Hollywood
1946 The Lucky Strike Program
1947 Holiday Wilde (Audition)
1947 The Story Of Holiday Wilde
1947 The Alan Young Show
1947 Family Theatre
1947 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1947 Sound Stage For Joan Crawford
1947 Criminal At Large
1947 The Man Called X
1947 The Judy Canova Show
1948 Damon Runyon Theatre
1948 The Private Practice Of Dr Dana
1948 In Your Name
1948 Shorty Bell, Cub Reporter
1948 Hallmark Playhouse
1948 The Adventures Of Superman
1948 Errand Of Mercy
1948 Guest Star
1948 Let George Do It
1949 Sam Pilgrim's Progress
1949 Our Miss Brooks
1949 My Favorite Husband
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 Camel Screen Guild Theatre
1949 The Adventures Of Frank Race
1949 Box Thirteen
1949 Broadway Is My Beat
1949 The Lone Ranger
1949 NBC Little Theatre
1950 For the Living
1950 The Ammident Show
1950 The Scarlet Cloak
1950 The Prudential Family Hour Of Stars
1950 Night Beat
1950 Sara's Private Caper
1950 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1950 Front Page Drama
1950 Screen Guild Theatre
1950 Tales Of the Texas Rangers
1951 Your Voice Of America
1951 The Adventures Of Nero Wolfe
1951 The Amazing Nero Wolfe
1951 The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe
1951 The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show
1951 Crime Does Not Pay
1951 Adventure Is Your Heritage
1951 Rocky Jordan
1951 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1951 The Railroad Hour
1952 The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet
1952 Freedom U.S.A.
1952 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
1953 The First Nighter Program
1953 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1953 You Were There
1954 That's Rich
1954 The Six-Shooter
1955 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1959 The Jack Benny Program
I Was A Communist For the FBI
Little Theatre Workshop Players
The Adventures Of Maisie
Mandrake the Magician
Gerald Mohr in recording session for CBS, ca. 1950
Gerry Mohr entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory
Gerald Mohr as the infamous Dr. Zodiac (uncredited), from 1939's Charlie Chan at Treasure Island
Mohr's first credited Film performance in 1941's Jungle Girl Serial
Gerald Mohr as The Lone Wolf, ca. 1947
Gerald Mohr Publicity photo, ca. 1948
Mohr appeared as both a Film version and Radio version of Michael Lanyard, 'The Lone Wolf'
Gerald Mohr as Crimp Ward in Bat Masterson, ca. 1961
Mohr as Courtney Shepard in Bat Masterson, ca. 1959
Gerald Mohr as Doc Holiday in Maverick, ca.
Promo still from Foreign Intrigue, ca. 1955
Mohr as Joe Medici in Perry mason, ca. 1961
Two great stars of Stage, Screen,
Radio and Television--Gerald Mohr and Estelle Winwood, in Perry Mason, ca. 1966
|A native New Yorker, Gerald Mohr was born into comfortable privilege. Educated at the prestigious Dwight Preparatory School in New York, Mohr became fluent in French and German as well as learning to ride horses and play the piano. Upon graduating from The Dwight School, Gerald Mohr attended Columbia University, ostensibly for Pre-Med. Ironically, about the same time, Mohr was stricken with appendicitis. It was while recovering in the hospital that he met another patient--a radio broadcaster. Mohr's ward-mate recognised the potential in Mohr's distnctive baritone voice and suggested Mohr consider a career in Radio.
Mohr joined his new friend's radio station, becoming a junior reporter. By the mid-1930s Orson Welles had invited him to join Welles' and John Houseman's fledgling Mercury Theatre Repertory. It was during Mohr's apprenticeship with The Mercury Theatre that he gained his first theatrical experience on the Broadway--in The Petrified Forest.
By 1935 Mohr had become the co-lead in Anne of the Airlanes, a juvenile adventure serial. That led to his first Radio lead in The Adventures of Jungle Jim (1935). From that point forward there was no stopping Mohr's relentless Radio career. It's estimated that Mohr appeared well over 4,000 times in various Radio roles over his twenty-five year career.
As comfortable with character roles as he was in lead roles, Gerald Mohr was one of Radio's more versatile voice talents. Perhaps best remembered for his numerous radio noir roles, Gerald Mohr enjoyed lead roles in The Adventures of Bill Lance (1947), The Lone Wolf (1948), Philip Marlowe (1949), and Johnny Dollar (1954). But Mohr was also Nero Wolfe's right hand man, Archie Goodwin in The Adventures of Nero Wolfe (1951) . Indeed, Gerald Mohr's frequent recurring roles in a myriad of popular radio thrillers, comedies, westerns and straight drama anthologies, made him Radio's go-to guy for any role.
Mohr made several appearances each in The Whistler, The Adventures of Maisie, Dr. Christian, Rogue's Gallery, Suspense, The Man Called 'X', The Damon Runyon Theatre, The Adventures of Superman, Our Miss Brooks, Escape, The Lone Ranger, Night Beat, Richard Diamond, The Adventures of Rocky Jordan, Box 13 and Gunsmoke, to mention only a notable few. In several of the above programs, Mohr was heard so often that he was considered more an ensemble player in them.
Rarely skipping a beat in his numerous careers, Mohr did take some time out for a three year tour with The Army Air Forces from 1942-1945, which explains the absence of his appearances in Radio for that period. But his Radio voice wasn't silent during his time in the Service. Mohr voiced several public service announcements (P.S.A.s), training recordings, and appeared in several patriotic specials and appeals during the period.
Indeed the only career his Service time slowed a bit was his Film career. He'd gotten his start in Film as the villain in the fifteen-part Serial Film Jungle Girl (1941). Upon his return to civilian life he jumped right back into Film, picking up from Warren William as Michael Lanyard in the long running franchise, The Lone Wolfe. Mohr starred in three of The Lone Wolfe films between 1946 and 1947. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed Rita Hayworth vehicle, Gilda (1946) and co-starred in The Magnificent Rogue (1946).
Busy now on several fronts, the 1950s found Mohr starring in two Radio dramas, Humphrey Bogart's Sirocco (1951), The Detective Story (1951), and The Sniper (1952). It was reported at the time that Mohr was so concerned that The Lone Wolf films and Radio role had typecast him that he had some minor facial surgery performed to narrow his nose a bit and he began wearing something of a crew-cut. Whether either step was really needed was open to conjecture, but success is its own reward, and doors began opening for him on Stage, in Film, in Radio and on Television.
His leap into Television was as prolific as his other media successes had been. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Mohr appeared in over 200 Television episodes in character, co-star or starring roles in every genre imaginable. His numerous guest appearances in many of the formulaic situation comedies of the era showed his natural comedic versatility to a new generation of fans. By the mid-1950s Mohr had been seen on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1951), I Love Lucy (1953), Our Miss Brooks (1952), My Friend Irma (1952), Private Secretary (1953), and The Red Skelton Show (1957).
From 1954 to 1955, Gerald Mohr starred as Christopher Storm in 41 episodes of the third series of Foreign Intrigue, a critically acclaimed espionage pot-boiler produced in Stockholm, Sweden for American distribution. His contribution to Foreign Intrigue saw it nominated for Emmy Awards in 1954 and 1955.
The second half of the 1950s saw him appearing--and reappearing--in most of the more popular adult westerns of the day. But throughout, Gerald Mohr continued to appear in most of the more prestigious straight dramatic anthologies of the early Television era.
Gerald Mohr soon became a Warner Bros. Television staple, as well as one of Dick Powell's--and his Four Star Productions--favorite performers. Those relationships paved the way for Mohr to appear in virtually every significant production from both of the Television giants for their day.
As busy as Gerald Mohr had become in Radio and Television, his Film career stalled at the 'B' Movie stage. For the remainder of his Film career, Mohr appeared in no less than twelve more 'B' Movie horror, terror, thriller, sci-fi and psychological Saturday afternoon churners. But clearly he was laughing all the way to the bank.
Hoping to strike out on his own, Mohr and his wife Mai, began developing their own international Film company based out of Stockholm. With a ready supply of gifted American and Swedish writers, performers and technicians, the stars seemed aligned for a very successful production company. The company planned to feature syndicated comedy, adventure, crime and drama shows for worldwide distribution. Mohr, already fluent in his fourth language--Swedish--was also preparing to star in a made for Television film for Swedish audiences.
He'd already co-produced--and acted in--a comedic Western called Wild West Story (1964) and he continued to market his amazing voice via important voice credits in several animated super-hero series'. In 1968 Mohr appeared in a cameo role as Tom Branca in Funny Girl and was preparing to guest star in another The Big Valley episode with friend Barbara Stanwyck.
He'd flown back to Stockholm, Sweden, in September 1968, to star in the pilot of a proposed new TV series called Private Entrance. But not long after completing principal cinematography for theTV film, Mohr succumbed to a massive heart attack in Södermalm, Stockholm, at the age of only 54.
Gerald Mohr was one of those actors who left an indelible impression on the viewer or listener. Given the dizzying array of villains Mohr portrayed over the years, likely as not, for many of his most ardent admirers he was the man they loved to hate. But there are just as many of his admirers that watched and listened to the greater range of his roles, loving both his villainous roles and heroic and comedic roles with equal gusto.
I'd have to say we fall into the latter category. Mohr's Radio work especially, was some of the finest work ever aired over Radio. And without diminishing Mohr's lifetime body of work in the least, it goes without saying that his Radio fans are unquestionably his most ardent. He was a giant in Radio--or should that be is a giant in Radio. We still have literally thousands of his recordings from which to remember his incomparable voice and his amazing talent.
And we do . . . and we will continue to.
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