About Orson, Plus Bonus Dracula

2013-03-11 09.43.37Although Radio Girl is fiction, Orson Welles (who plays a role in Cece’s story) is, or was, altogether real. In the summer of 1938 he was just married, a new father, and a rising star in the entertainment industry, both in live theater and on the radio. At age 23.

While he spent his days and nights rushing from broadcast studio to broadcast studio to the Mercury playhouse to his apartment in New York, to dinners out and meetings and more, the public’s awareness of him grew. In ’38, he took on the role of The Shadow for the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of their most popular characters. He was offered his own program that summer, a Sunday night series of classic literature pieces adapted for radio, with him, his awesome deep voice, both narrating and playing one or more of the major roles. Originally to be called “First Person Singular” it was changed to “The Mercury Theater on the Air” at the very last minute.

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Orson Welles, with his first wife, Virginia.

Many of these Mercury programs were recorded (although they were always broadcast live) so it’s not hard to find them online and hear Mr. Welles for yourself. Here’s the Mercury Theater’s “Dracula”, broadcast on July 11 , 1938.


Source: Archive.org

Readers of Radio Girl will remember this production (moved to an autumn date in the novel) which Cece watches through the plate glass window.

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Photo of CarolCarol Brendler is the author of the young adult novel RADIO GIRL (Holiday House) September 5, 2013.
Coming 2014: A picture book, NOT VERY SCARY, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, from FSG.
Also by Carol Brendler: WINNIE FINN, WORM FARMER (FSG, 2009) a picture book illustrated by Ard Hoyt.

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Northwestern Confers Degree Upon Dummy

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Top billing goes to the one on the left.

On this date in 1938, the Dean of Speech at the esteemed Northwestern University awarded an honorary degree to Edgar Bergen’s wooden ventriloquist dummy. The details, and video of the actual ceremony:

Watching Bergen’s lip move, I now understand why his ventriloquism act was so successful on radio. Sheesh.

Barrymore Big? Know Your Noses

In Radio Girl, Bev asks Cecelia to describe a certain boy’s nose using a comparison of two popular big-nosed actors of the day. So in case you were wondering …

John Barrymore

Actor John Barrymore

Actor John Barrymore

or Jimmy Durante

Actor, comedian, singer Jimmy Durante

Actor, comedian, singer Jimmy Durante

PS~~Smoking will ruin your health and make you smell bad. Do not attempt.

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Photo of CarolCarol Brendler is the author of the young adult novel RADIO GIRL (Holiday House) September 5, 2013.
Coming 2014: A picture book, NOT VERY SCARY, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, from FSG.
Also by Carol Brendler: WINNIE FINN, WORM FARMER (FSG, 2009) a picture book illustrated by Ard Hoyt.