December 2002


Laughter, jokes and just good fun was the theme of our November luncheon when we saluted some of the greatest comedy writers in television history. I wish I could repeat every word that was uttered…but I even missed some because of the laughter from the audience. Collectively, they have written funny lines for probably every radio and television show of the past sixty years. Additional credits include acting, producing, directing and more… Listed are the talented writers and some of their credits: SAM DENOFF—Steve Allen, "McHale’s Navy," Dick Van Dyke, "That Girl," "The Bill Cosby Special"; SEAMAN JACOBS—Bob Hope, "I Love Lucy," "Burns and Allen," Danny Thomas, Johnny Carson, Red Skelton; JACK ELINSON—Andy Griffith, "Gomer Pyle," "Good Times," "Real McCoy," "One Day At a Time"; ARTHUR MARX—"Alice," "Family Affair," "Good Heavens," "Life With Lucy," "McHale’s Navy," "Petticoat Junction," "The Jeffersons," "Nanny and the Professor," "The Paul Lynde Show"; BOB MILLS—"The Bob Hope Show"—for seventeen years; GENE PERRET—"The Jim Nabors Show," Phyllis Diller, Slappy White, "Laugh In," "The Carol Burnett Show," "Welcome Back, Kotter," "Three’s Company," "The Tim Conway Show"; BOB SCHILLER—"Duffy’s Tavern," "Abbott and Costello," "The Mel Blanc Show," "The Jimmy Durante Show," Danny Thomas, Red Buttons, Garry Moore, Ann Sothern; BERNIE WEST—"All in the Family," with partner, created "The Jeffersons," "Three’s Company." What a Group, and what you missed, if you weren’t there.

PPB President GIL STRATTON did a magnificent job of emceeing. Entertainment Chair JEAN DeVIVIER BROWN read a very funny letter from our in-house humorist, HAL KANTER, who was unable to attend. GIL STRATTON introduced former honoree Alan Young, who was in the audience.

In presenting the Diamond Circle Award, Chairman of the Board and Founding President ART GILMORE went back to the beginnings of PPB, in 1966, and welcomed a Charter Member who has reached the Diamond Age.

He served CBS for nearly fifty years, starting in radio and ending his career as technical director for the popular game show "The Price Is Right." He has a personal record of doing over 3000 consecutive programs of that show. Plus, he did over 600 syndicated nighttime shows starring Bob Barker and TOM KENNEDY.

He worked most of the Goodson/Todman shows, plus other CBS shows—"The Mike Douglas Show," "The Young and the Restless," "Lawrence Welk," and CBS news. He received an Emmy nomination for the "$25,000 Pyramid Show," and he received six Emmys for "The Price is Right." He has been an active member of the TV Academy, since 1978, serving as governor of his peer group for six different two-year terms. Some of his shows are still heard today— "Match Game," with Gene Rayburn, and "The Pyramid Show," with Dick Clark.

The man-of-the-hour retired in 1993, but is still active in recording the big bands, and is an accomplished photographer. We take pleasure in welcoming into the Diamond Circle fraternity, Mr. RAY ANGONA.

Nostalgia Night Co-Chairs LINA ROMAY and RAY BRIEM did it again in November and December. In-house musician HERM SAUNDERS guested November 7, and delighted the audience with his piano playing and singing, and his wonderful stories about Jack Webb and "Dragnet," which he produced, as well as the many other facets of his illustrious career. Former PPB President FRANK BRESEE presented a delightful Christmas program, December 5. The January guest is still in limbo as LINA and RAY are having problems booking a guest so soon after the holiday season. But rest assured, they will come up with somebody well worth hearing… Don’t forget, Nostalgia Night is the first Thursday of every month in our Clubroom on the lower level of Washington Mutual, Sunset and Vine. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and close promptly at 7:30 p.m.

Happy to report that our hard-working Membership Chairman and Assistant Treasurer, MARGOT EWING, is out of the hospital after surgery, and doing well. She was missed—and a couple of people had to pitch in to cover her many duties, many of which none of us are aware. Diamond Circle awardee DICK WILSON, aka "Mr. Whipple," has been in the Motion Picture Hospital. And Board Member EWING "LUCKY" BROWN has recovered from cuts and bruises and sore muscles after someone rear-ended his Volvo just before the Thanksgiving holidays.

Our out-of-town member and former Vice President, LOYD SIGMON was honored October 2, at Pepperdine University, with an honorary doctorate. The Loyd Sigmon Radio Center was dedicated on the campus of Pepperdine University in the Communications and Business building. President David Davenport spoke, as well as Chancellor Charles Runnells. Congratulations to LOYD SIGMON, who is also the father of "Sigalert" and winner of two Emmys. Several PPB members were present, according to PPBer Mrs. KIPP PRITZLOFF, who attended.

BEA WAIN, along with Gogi Grant and Robert Clary, have just returned from being invited guests of "The Friends of Old Time Radio," in Newark, New Jersey. It was the 27th annual event for this group. BEA says the folks there made her feel like a queen. "It was truly a heart-warming experience, and it was good to see Soupy Sales and BEVERLY GARLAND again." I know other PPBers attended, but they forget to send me the news. Incidentally, there are two BEA WAIN CDs, just released by Baldwin Street Music, in the record stores, as well as several on which she is featured with the Larry Clinton orchestra.

PPBer ALICE BACKES has once again agreed to be a member of the foreign film screening committee for the Motion Picture Academy’s upcoming Oscars. ROBERT L. HECKER was guest speaker at the October meeting of SPERDVAC, where he told about his experiences in writing radio drama in the 1950s and ’60s. HECKER wrote for "The Saint," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Suspense," "Let George Do It," "Family Theatre," "Behind the Story," "The Jack Kirkwood Show" and others, as well as for TV shows. ROBERT had a wealth of stories, and says they kept asking questions long after the allotted time. "I had no idea there were so many fans of old time radio," he said. Busy HECKER also has two new novels in release, Rush to Glory and Whispers in the Night.

JOHN HARLAN and his Beverly celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary with a seven-day cruise to Mexico on the Star Princess, with stops at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. JOHN GRIFFIN returned from Africa just in time for the November luncheon. JOHN was gone almost a month on a camera safari, spending time at four different camps. GRIFFIN says he got some remarkable animal shots. He ventured over to the island of Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. He spent four days in London, resting up. What an exciting city, he adds. They were already gearing up for the Christmas holidays. SHIRLEY MITCHELL LIVINGSTON back from a trip to Edinburgh and London as a patron of the L.A. Philharmonic, spending nine days listening to Esa-Pekka Salonen. Many thanks to VAN ALEXANDER for adding to our PPB Archives with two video tapes from kinescopes of "The Guy Mitchell Show" and the 1965 "World’s Fair Entertainment Spectacular." VAN was the Musical Director.

DANA (Clark) HARDY is on a role. She’s just done a "Sabrina," "Reba" and "Malcolm in the Middle" (to be shown February 2), Bruce Almighty, a Jim Carey movie and "Lucky," a pilot… Congratulations.

PPB member CHARLES CAPPLEMAN received the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmys 2002 Engineering and Interactive Television Programming Awards at the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood. The award honors a living individual whose contributions over a long period of time have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering. Carol Burnett was the surprise presenter. A note from author Tom DeLong, who was our Nostalgia Night guest in May, again thanks us for a wonderful time. He sent coverage of the event in the Westport Historical Society newsletter which contained a picture of DeLong and HERM SAUNDERS, and nice mentions of Nostalgia Night Co-Chair RAY BRIEM and former PPB President FRANK BRESEE.

A note from JANE PURCELL, saying that the newsletter item about her award at her Alma Mater, ISU, brought interesting results. EDITH JEFFERSON called to tell her that a relatively new member, ARLANDO SMITH, was also a graduate of ISU. JANE said he was born in 1945, the year she graduated.

HELEN GELLER is touring with the National Company of The Allergist’s Wife. She writes that they close April, 2003, and she is coming home straight away. GERALD FRY fully recovered from gall bladder surgery and busy planning an AFN (Armed Forces Network) reunion.

PPB’s EDDIE CARROLL writes that the International Jack Benny Fan Club and the National Comedy Hall of Fame will present "39 Forever," a celebration of the life and comedy of Jack Benny, February 14–16, 2003, and features a weekend of events dedicated to the master of timing. The celebration kicks off on Friday at the Airport Sheraton Gateway Hotel with a reception and a re-creation of a Jack Benny radio show where Jack celebrates his birthday. The re-creation features EDDIE CARROLL as Benny. The event continues on Saturday with a marathon of Benny programs, exhibits and speakers, including daughter Joan Benny and manager Irving Fein. A celebrity banquet Saturday night at the Friars Club with music by The Ink Spots is capped by the formal induction of Benny into the National Comedy Hall of Fame. Those wishing to attend can get more information from EDDIE CARROLL at www.jackbenny.org.

Gregg Oppenheimer, son of PPB member Mrs. JESS OPPENHEIMER, produced and directed a re-creation of Orson Welles’ radio show, "The Lives of Harry Lime" as the entertainment for the SPERDVAC Old Time Radio Convention’s Saturday evening banquet in November. The re-creation starred voice-actor Joe Leahy in the Welles role, and featured Harold Gould and GLADYS HOLLAND. JOHN HARLAN announced, and RAY ERLENBORN provided the sound effects.

PEGGY WEBBER had a very busy year with The California Artists Radio Theatre. In 2001 they moved their venue to the Beverly Garland Theatre, and PPB Board member BEVERLY GARLAND was hostess on the radio show recordings. In December, they did a big Christmas show. In May, 2002 they presented Hobson’s Choice with 12 members from London and Dublin Players, with top USA credits and USA stars Linda Henning and TOM WILLIAMS. In June, they did Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre with Michael York, Samantha Eggar, BEVERLY GARLAND and others. In July, PEGGY adapted, directed and produced two short stories of Ray Bradbury with James Whitmore, Shelley Long, TOM WILLIAMS and more. A Stroll with the Poets was presented in August with top performers including BEVERLY GARLAND. In September, the Glendale Public Library did a tribute to audio books and radio. CART Players did scenes and songs from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, She Stoops to Conquer, Playboy of the Western World and others. Don’t have an upcoming schedule, but am sure PEGGY and CART will be busy during the holiday season.

PPB Board member TOM SHELLEY was the presenter in December when Board Chairman and Founding President ART GILMORE received The Emerald Star Halo Award at the 66th annual Southern California Motion Picture Council’s Star Galaxy Christmas Celebrity Award Luncheon in the Empire Room of the Sportsmen’s Lodge. GILMORE was cited for his distinguished career and high standards in all facets of the industry he has worked in. PPB Vice President CHUCK CECIL’s "Swingin’ Years" is now heard on Saturday and Sunday on KKJZ-FM (88.1) from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

JEANNE and LUCKY BROWN’s Movie Tech Studios hosted a Make A Wish Foundation youngster, Dustin Brown, recently. Fifteen-year-old Dustin, who has undergone four heart surgeries, and has an automatic implantable cardiac defibrillator in his chest, is very interested in film making. JEANNE and LUCKY spent time showing him how movies are shot and edited. An October issue of the Daily News carried a story about Dustin’s visit.

Our U.K. member, SHEILA TRACY, recently was presented the Alan Bell Award for her contribution to music in the U.K. Just received my first Christmas card—a picture of Carbondale member RALPH PORTNOR and his dog, Molly. STANLEY FRAZEN writes that ladies interested in playing golf should contact his wife, Diane, (818) 762-1014, as the Poudre Puff Ladies Golf Club at Van Nuys Golf Course (off Victory, just west of Woodley) has a few memberships open. The group meets every Tuesday morning. PPB member and former Honoree, legendary singer PATTI PAGE, has a new Christmas album, Sweet Sound of Christmas. The new 12-song collection is her first new holiday release since 1966. PATTI continues to tour and to host the "Patti Page Music of Your Life Radio Show." In December, PATTI made her first appearance in two years at the Grand Ole Opry. For more information, PATTI’s website is www.misspattipage.com. Great article on cruises in a recent AARP magazine by the much-travelled and talented PPB member, NORMAN CORWIN.

I hope you didn’t miss the Los Angeles Times article about STANLEY FRAZEN and the First Motion Picture Unit (Fort Roach) 60th reunion. FRAZEN was quoted at length, and there was a good picture. The group were honored at a dinner at Warner Bros., a trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (Reagan, as well as Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Alan Ladd, William Holden, George Montgomery and others, were members of the unit.). The article tells of the films they made, saying they used all the skills of Hollywood. Sound effects genius RAY ERLENBORN was highlighted and quoted about the same event. The First Motion Picture Unit’s 60th anniversary in a great article in the Daily News. Congratulations to both.

"What do you recall about the mid-1930s?," PPB Audio Historian LES TREMAYNE was asked after Frank Pierson and Stanley Sheinbaum exchanged letters and reminiscences of that period, and decided to turn some of their memories into a book. The result is A Nation Lost and Found: 1936 America Remembered by Ordinary and Extraordinary People, published by Tallfellow Press. Although LES began his radio career in 1930 and has enough material to fill three books. Editor Mamie Mitchen wisely selected the best for his contribution to the history of this important time. What’s next, LES—a memoir?

Just received a copy of Radio Crime Fighters which contains information on over 300 mystery programs from radio’s Golden Age. Author Jim Cox, who has had four other books on radio published, sent this along for our archives. The book includes many of our PPB members, and makes great reading. Jim sent along a note saying that he and his wife visited Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (the town named after Board Chairman Emeritus RALPH EDWARDS’ radio show) in July. Jim says it was a real thrill. He had heard about it since 1950, but never thought he’d get there. Cox says he got a great photo of himself and the official marker on the highway.

Legendary singer Keely Smith has a new album called Keely Swings Basie Style. She’ll be signing copies of the CD at Border’s Westwood, 1360 Westwood Boulevard, January 16, beginning at 7:30. PPB Board Member CHUCK SOUTHCOTT will be there conducting an in-store broadcast style interview with Keely.

PPB Historian JANET WALDO reports on two performances of Mame, one of the famous works of Bob Lee and JEROME LAWRENCE. Amanda McBroom played Mame in Thousand Oaks, and Carol Lawrence did it in Long Beach—both were great, says JANET.

Our September Honoree, JUNE FORAY, much in the news recently. A Los Angeles Times story was headlined "Annies Hope to Draw Some of Oscar’s Glory," and Animation magazine read: "Feature Animation Catches Oscar Fever." Both articles mentioned that the Annies, the Animation Awards, were founded by JUNE FORAY thirty years ago, and have grown to great stature—and lots more, as both articles were two columns long.


Membership Chairman MARGOT EWING reports:

New Member




We Will Remember With Admiration




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January 24, 2003