THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL   

 

In March 1933, nine men met in the offices of the J. Walter Thompson Company.  Their objective was to fashion a show to introduce a new product called ‘Miracle Whip’ for the Kraft Cheese Company. This was at that time when advertising agencies wrote and produced radio shows for their clients and those present at the meeting were, John U. Reber, Vice-President in charge of radio for the Thompson Company; Carroll Carroll, writer for the Burns and Allen/Guy Lombardo Show; H. Calvin Kuhl and Robert T Colwell, two more of the Company’s top producers; Abbott K. Spencer, producer of Eddie Cantor’s highly popular radio series for Chase & Sanborn; George Faulkner and Gordon Thompson who, together, created the Fleischmann Yeast Hour for Rudy Vallee; Robert A Simon, at that time, music critic for ‘The New Yorker’ and musical adviser to the Thompson Corporation and Sam Moore, another successful writer of radio shows.

In order to incorporate the brand name of the product and to establish an identifiable locale for the listeners, they decided to christen the yet ‘unborn baby’, ‘The Kraft Music Revue’. The other prime decision made at the meeting was that the host should be Paul Whiteman whose orchestra and entourage contained sufficient talent and variety to sustain the show.

There was the up and coming young songwriter and comedy singer, Johnny Mercer; Ken Darby and The King’s Men (Jon Dobson, Bud Lynn and Rad Robinson), a quartet so-called because they appeared with Whiteman - ‘The King Of Jazz’; Johnny House, a ballad singer and Ramona (Davies) the popular pianist/vocalist.  In addition, the orchestra featured some of the best musicians of the day, in the shape of Joe Venuti, Oscar Levant, Tommy Dorsey, Frankie Trumbauer, Roy Bargy, Mike Pingatore and Jack Teagarden. To inaugurate the series and to ensure a ‘smash’ send-off, a two hour show, from the New Amsterdam Roof, starring Al Jolson, was planned for 26th June 1933.  Typically, the egocentric Jolson was still going strong at the scheduled close of the programme, obliging the Thompson Company to hurriedly negotiate for a further fifteen minutes of air time. The series, featuring Whiteman together with special guest stars, ran successfully for two years from New York with the name being changed to ‘The Kraft Music Hall’ in 1934. Bing made a guest appearance on 15th August 1935.  Later in 1935, it was decided that the Kraft Music Hall would move to Hollywood, following the more popular radio stars who were heading NBC2.JPGWest to fulfil screen contracts.

The new host was named as Whiteman’s former ‘Rhythm Boy’, Bing Crosby and on 2nd January 1936 the Kraft Music Hall was presented from Hollywood.  The show was produced by Calvin Kuhl and written by Sam Moore until the spring of 1936, when Moore left and Carroll Carroll took up the writing chores.  Carroll Carroll publicly claimed on many occasions to have been responsible for the development of the personality, which the world would recognise as Bing Crosby.  The much maligned but nevertheless, informative book, ‘The Hollow Man’ by Don Shepherd and Robert F. Slatzer, recounts the familiar story of ‘Bing’s reluctance to talk’ and of how, ‘Guests were given ‘wild’ lines that were not in the script, thereby forcing Crosby to respond’.

Bing’s ‘character’ has always been a matter of some contention, particularly since his death.  In the 1940’s, there were those who were unkind enough so say that he never played anyone but the character that appeared in his first Mack Sennett short - a theory that time proved to be palpably untrue.  Further quotes from the same book, however, offer some sharp contrasts to Carroll’s claims.  For example, referring to the period when Bing was Master of Ceremonies at the Paramount Theatre in 1931, it notes, ‘his relaxed manner, together with his natural wit and humour were so popular that Paramount Publix extended his engagement for a further ten weeks and on his Chesterfield Show (‘Music That Satisfies’),  Bing began establishing a format that he would perfect later on the Kraft Music Hall, (pleasant banter, both written and ad-libbed - Bing was very sharp at ad-libbing) that would eventually make him one of the most popular radio personalities of all time.’

The musical accompaniment for the re-located Kraft programme was supplied by the recently formed Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and to counter-balance Bing’s role as the worldly, hyper-articulate host, the perfect foil was available in the hillbilly humour of Bob Burns - ‘The Arkansas Philosopher’.  Burns has achieved a claim to immortality by appearing in both Webster’s and the Oxford dictionaries as the originator of the ‘bazooka’, a curious instrument, composed of a few lengths of piping, from which he extracted tones, more amusing, than musical and which later gave its name to an anti-tank weapon, first used in the Western Desert during World War II.

For a short period, Don Wilson announced the programme and there is also a mention of Roger Krupp but there is now, little doubt, that Ken Carpenter began performing this duty, much earlier than had been previously supposed.  Carpenter’s contribution to the ‘Hall’s’ popularity should not be under-estimated.  In addition to his announcing duties, he was, on occasions, encouraged to sing (never too seriously), played a wide range of characters in sketches and for the commercials, became a student at ‘Doctor’ Crosby’s imaginary, KMH University which had been created by Carroll Carroll.  The college’s colours were pomegranate and puce and the school poet, Edna St. Vitus Mitnick.  Football games were contested with rival universities, rejoicing in such names as Tich Tach Tech and Pulse Normal.  The school song, ‘Hail, KMH’, written by Carroll Carroll and John Scott Trotter, survived for many years as the closing theme of the show and could still be detected in the later series, hosted by Al Jolson.

It was on 8th. July, 1937 that John Scott Trotter became the Musical Director for KMH and conflicting reasons are given for the departure of the Dorsey outfit.  Dorsey’s own version is that he felt that he was losing his identity and a weekly radio show was not providing sufficient exposure for the band.  However, this may have been inspired to offset the implied slur in the other reason given, that the sponsors considered the orchestra inadequate when handling the mandatory classical ‘spots’ in the programme.

Among the criticisms that have been levelled at Trotter’s arrangements is that he was repetitive and possibly, there is some evidence which may support this.  Students of Bing Crosby’s recordings may well be surprised when listening to the existing Kraft material, for the first time, to hear arrangements to which they had become familiar, as the opening bars in the recordings of ‘East Side Of Heaven’, ‘And The Angels Sing’ and ‘You Lucky People You’ respectively, serving as introductions for, ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ (March 2, 1939), ‘Hurry Home’ (December 8, 1938) and ‘My Mind’s On You’ (March 20, 1941) and there are other examples.  Others have denounced his work as ‘unimaginative’ and it is true that one can detect slight acknowledgments to ‘Rustle Of Spring’ in ‘Sweet Little You’ (October 21, 1937) and more overtly, ‘The Entry Of The Gladiators’ in ‘Marie’ (October 28, 1937) but it would be naive to suppose that John Scott really intended to deceive with these tongue in cheek ‘plagiarism’s’.  A few, unable to express their disapprobation more coherently, merely labelled his accompaniments, ‘hackneyed’ or ‘corny’ but his prodigious workload for the Kraft Music Hall series cannot be denied, including not only arrangements for Bing but also for the Music Maids’ backgrounds, the various female singers’ vocals and at times, some of the guests.

Perhaps it would be as well to leave the last words on this subject to the person who was in the best position to judge. Bing maintained an association with Trotter which endured for twenty years of broadcasting and recording without, it is said, any formal contract.  At the commencement of this comfortable alliance, he is quoted as saying, ‘I just know he is very good and he has marvellous taste’ - and towards the end, that opinion had not changed when he described John’s orchestrations as, ‘....never obtrusive...always in good taste’.

To add a little romantic interest to the proceedings, a regular place was found for an attractive ‘chanteuse’ who, on occasions, dueted with Bing, in addition to having her own solo spot.  Among those engaged to fill this role were Connie Boswell (her adoption of the name ‘Connee’ coincided with her departure from the Hall), Mary Martin, Janet Blair, Marilyn Maxwell, Eugenie Baird and Trudy Erwin.

During his radio career, Bing Crosby seems to have found somewhat more affinity with a ‘backing group’ than some other solo performers.  He would probably have said, ‘I like somebody to share the blame!’ but it is a personal belief that Bing enjoyed this dueting, relishing the competition and at times, taking the opportunity to indulge in musical ‘ad-libs’ and asides, thus enhancing the ‘laid back’ quality of the performance, to the benefit of the listener.  Appertaining to this, the previously mentioned Trudy (Virginia) Erwin had graduated from ‘The Music Maids’, a quintet which joined the programme in February 1939, replacing the Paul Taylor Choristers who had been providing vocal support for Bing until that time. Apart from Trudy, the other four members were June Clifford, Dorothy Messmer, Alice Ludes and Denny Wilson.  Inevitably, the personnel altered over the years and the group was eventually reduced to a quartet, later still to become, variously, ‘The Music Maids & (Hal) (Phil) (Lee) (Men)’.  Other combinations who filled this role were, The Charioteers, a coloured group, composed of Wilfred ‘Billy’ Williams, Eddie Jackson, Ira Williams, Howard ‘Doug’ Daniel and James Sherman (Piano) who were, ultimately, to be carried forward by Bing to his Philco Radio Time series and The Kraft Choral Club (Society) (Group), originally composed of 90 employees from Kraft’s home office in the East, who, invariably made featured contributions at Christmas and Easter.

Sometime, scriptwriter and ‘warm-up’ man for the Hall, Leo ‘UkieSherin found some measure of permanence, for a couple of seasons, playing a buffoon whose general ‘dumbness’ was only exceeded by his ambitions to be the star of the show.  One of KMH’s outstanding discoveries was Victor Borge who came for a week and stayed for more than a year!  On occasions, he hosted the programme, eventually progressing to his own, internationally acclaimed, one-man show. 

Two other popular comics emerged from the ranks of the Trotter orchestra.  Jerry Colonna, a trombonist, described by Bing as, ‘the only singer who started on his high note and then went up’ went on to became an invaluable member of the Bob Hope ‘troupe’ and appeared in several movies including two ‘Road’ pictures.  There was also Spike Jones who, together with John Scott and Perry Botkin, created the inimitable musical style of Spike Jones and his City Slickers, originally intended to accompany Bob Burns’ efforts on the ‘bazooka’.

While not necessarily being regarded as the supreme accolade, it was considered a reasonably prestigious compliment to make a guest appearance on the Kraft Music Hall and indeed, some stars actually asked to appear, even though the remuneration was some way below that by other shows of similar standing.  There were, however benefits in the form of minimal time spent on tiring rehearsals and a bumper hamper of Kraft products from the sponsors.  A perusal of the relevant index reveals that the guest list was nothing short of breathtaking.  Stars from Hollywood and the concert hall, top sporting personalities, as well as literary figures and even politicians dropped in.  There appeared to be a tacit rivalry between the Fleischmann show and KMH as to who could come up with the biggest and the best.  While Rudy Vallee rubbed shoulders with Gertrude Lawrence, Noel Coward, Eddie Cantor and Tyrone Power, Crosby chatted to Leopold Stokowski, Amelia Earhart, Spencer Tracy and John McCormack.

In the beginning, the show was to have no audience, due, it is said, to Bing’s reluctance to ‘dress up’ and to wear his toupee but a compromise was reached when it was decided that an audience was needed to provide the essential laughter for timing ‘gags’.  Members of the show were permitted to bring along friends who were allowed to laugh but not applaud.  Very soon, On Thursday nights, these ‘friends’ were forming extensive queues outside the NBC studios until, in the end, it became so difficult to prevent the audience from breaking into spontaneous applause that the rules had to be abandoned.

After Pearl Harbour and to some degree, even before, KMH became a typical wartime radio programme.  Members of the armed forces and officials from government agencies were featured and in line with other leading radio shows, ‘allocations’ were received from the Office of War Information.  These allocations were in the form of broadcast appeals to the public to join in the war effort of the nation.  The effectiveness of these propaganda ‘plugs’ can be judged by the erroneous announcement (read by Bing), of a minimum age requirement which resulted in a flood of under-age volunteers having to be turned away on the very next day.  The musical content of the shows altered, quite dramatically.  To some extent, the more mawkishly sentimental songs were eschewed in favour of the rousing marching songs of the various branches of the armed services and the patriotic products of Tin Pan Alley, such as, ‘Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer’; ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition’,; ‘Vict’ry Polka’; ‘The Bombardier Song’; ‘A Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin’; ‘Ridin’ Herd On A Cloud etc., and musical invocations stressing the need to invest in War Bonds, as in ‘The Road To Victory’ and ‘Any Bonds Today?’.

Possibly, the most poignant story connected with the show occurred very soon after the beginning of the war with Japan, when General Douglas MacArthur and his troops were beleaguered by the Japanese invaders in the Philippines and a weary corporal in the Signal Corps, felt lonesome for the voice of Bing Crosby.  He sent a coded message requesting a short wave broadcast to the Philippines, ‘in order to divert our thoughts from the pressure of battle’.  The request was transmitted by MacArthur to Washington which resulted in a personal telegram being sent to Bing, saying, ‘General MacArthur is specifically asking you to broadcast to the men in the Philippines on Bataan Peninsula’ and thus on the 29th January 1942, the complete programme was dedicated to the fighting men in that far-off Theatre of Operations. The end of the war roughly coincided with the commencement of hostilities which presaged Bing’s departure from the Kraft Music Hall but by this time, the programme was assured of its rightful place in ‘The Golden Age Of Radio’ and this, surely, was also the Golden Age for Bing Crosby, when he was at the peak of his career, commanding a listening audience measured in excess of an astonishing fifty million!

           

Compiler’s Notes  

      From a personal viewpoint, the Kraft Music Hall radio programme has been always been the Holy Grail of  Crosbyana, covering ten years, during which an emergent crooner, with an agreeable personality, rose to be a Twentieth Century icon. Unlike the later, Philco, Chesterfield or General Electric series of which, complete copies exist, providing a perfect continuity and means of verification, the Kraft series (with the exception of some of the later shows) has no such continuity and relies on hearsay and (notoriously flawed) newspaper columns.  Without being too critical of ‘hearsay’ on which, a great deal of the World’s history is based, it is an accepted fact that a great proportion of the programmes do not survive in complete form, making it impossible for anyone to be certain of their exact content.

It would seem that even regular participants in the shows are not immune to confusion.  A quote by Trudy Erwin appears in the sleeve notes for the LP issue Spokane 23 ‘Bing & Trudy’, thus, ‘one of the songs Bing and I sang together was ‘Stay As Sweet As You Are’.  Strange as it seems, when I was a senior in high school, I had harmonised that very same song with a record of Bing, in a little recording booth at the World’s Fair’.  Discographers would be as delighted to find this record, as I would to find a place for the duet in this Directory!  Or, is Trudy remembering, ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ which qualifies on both counts and has some vague lyrical resemblance.

Fifteen years ago, I produced a very limited edition of twenty-five copies of a Directory for this series.  At that time, I bemoaned the fact that I still had a list of guest stars who were supposed to have appeared and songs that were alleged to have been sung for which I could find no place.  Further research, has resolved many of these queries but some remain and I have little doubt that there are copies of shows in existence that I have not had the benefit of hearing. For example, there is evidence that a copy of the programme of the 18th April 1940 endures, featuring a Crosby duet of ‘Alice Blue Gown’ with Anna Neagle.  (Come on, own up. Who’s got it?).  I am equally sure that there are those whose knowledge is greater than mine who could add more detail to this Directory.  In spite of these pitfalls, a strenuous effort has been made to avoid assumption and I have resisted including the names of even the most regular of the personnel, unless there is a modicum of evidence to support their inclusion.  

There is no doubt that excerpts from the Kraft Music Hall were used in programmes generated by the Armed Forces Radio Service. The transcribed AFRS Music Hall series which was short-waved at noon on Sundays provides glimpses of shows which may no longer be available in their original form.  Here, the hazard to the researcher is that although they may have been based on an original Kraft programme, ‘wild’ songs have been inserted, by Bing or others, from other shows, in order to produce a full hour/half hour, without commercials.  It is also an accepted fact that Kraft provided the source for many of the V-Discs that were issued during World War II. There is a school of thought which suggests that Bing performed the show twice, explaining the difference, between the broadcast version of a song and that issued on V-Disc but it has been established that many of these ‘alternates’ were recorded from same day rehearsals for the programmes.  I would further suggest that these ‘rehearsals’ were somewhat more formal than usual as it has been noted that, at a rehearsal, Bing might ‘la, la, la’ his part, saving the lyric (and his voice) for the actual broadcast. Please note that I have chosen to link these V-Disc issues with either the original programme or its rehearsal, on occasions, pointing out the salient differences.   

As with other sections of this Directory, the 385 separate programmes, which comprise the Kraft Music Hall series, have been divided into ‘seasons’.  Special mention is made because although the ‘seasons’ may still, roughly, coincide with Bing’s annual vacations, compared with other series, they were, perhaps, slightly more unpredictable.  It should be pointed out, however, that the Kraft Music Hall was a year-round programme and during Bing’s absences, ‘The Hall’ was hosted by other personalities, including, Bob Burns, Mary Martin, Bob Crosby, Victor Borge, George Murphy, Frank Morgan etc.   

It has not been deemed practicable to show details of commercials, comedy routines or sketches but when known, musical items by other artistes have been included. Please note that some titles may not be shown in the original order of their presentation.


1935 Season

Programmes Nos.1 to 4 were hosted by Paul Whiteman, in New York and each show included two cut-ins from Hollywood, featuring Bing Crosby.  He was accompanied by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra although there are contra indications that Tommy Dorsey accompanied Bing for the last two shows and Jimmy Dorsey for the first two.  The rift between the Dorsey brothers occurred in May 1935 when Tommy Dorsey left the band.  Bing Crosby regarded both of them as friends and they were persuaded to make one final appearance as the Dorsey Brothers to record Bing’s songs from “Two For Tonight” and “The Big Broadcast Of 1936” on August 14th.  The following is an extract from “Variety” dated 18th September 1935, reviewing a Kraft Music Hall programme, then still under the aegis of Paul Whiteman, “Bobby Burns, a funny, (though) not convulsively so, man who sought laughs by gentle, homey, Will Rogeresque methods and reveals a delivery which has warmth and sincerity was vastly superior to his own material.  This formula will be employed until December 1st when Whiteman takes his crew off the show and Bing Crosby and the Dorsey’s enter.  Crosby should walk into an audience riding at peak size, for the present day set-up makes for edification.  Whiteman’s own announcing is no small measure of the pleasure dished out by the show”. 

From the same journal there are further references in December showing personnel listings for the relevant programmes which identify the brothers separately.  By this time, Tommy Dorsey had his own orchestra, having taken over the Joe Haymes band, virtually intact.  Is it possible that they both had a crack at the job?

 

No. 1  5th December 1935

 

Mississippi Mud                                                                                  Paul Whiteman Orchestra

 

Medley:        (a)                                                                                  accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

*Please

*Learn To Croon

*June In January

*From The Top Of Your Head (To The Tip Of Your Toes)

 

*Red Sails In The Sunset                     (a)

*On Treasure Island                            (a)


Note:

(a)        CD - JSP6701 - “Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall - Lost Radio Recordings”


 

“As star of the Kraft Music Hall series on NBC/KFI at 7 pm, Paul Whiteman will introduce his buddy with a fanfare of tunes made famous by Crosby.  Whiteman opens the programme in New York City and then Bing will take over the microphone in Hollywood.  Crosby will sing, ‘June In January’, ‘Learn To Croon’, ‘From The Top Of Your Head’, ‘Red Sails In The Sunset’ and ‘Without A Word Of Warning’”. 

(“Los Angeles Times” 5th December 1935)

 

“Crosby air-fanatics may rejoice, for the maestro of croondom inaugurates his new series of weekly broadcasts, tonight.  His Majesty, the King of Song joins His Majesty, the King Of Jazz, for one month, in a series of programmes originating in New York with at least two cut-ins from the Hollywood, during each broadcast. At the end of that time, Crosby himself, will take over the entire Music Hall series, bringing the cast to the Pacific Coast.  Perhaps, the most noteworthy and incidentally, most recent addition is bazooka tootin’ Bob Burns.  Burns, at the present time has a 26 week contract with the sponsors.  However, it is quite possible that he will launch a cinema career on arrival in Hollywood.” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 5th December 1935)

 

No. 2  12th December 1935 

 

Medley:   (a)                                                                               accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

*Thanks

*Temptation

*Love In Bloom

*I Wish I Were Aladdin

 

*Here’s To Romance                                           (a)                                                      

*After You’ve Gone                                             (a)

*Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle           (a)


  Introduction To A Waltz                                                             Paul Whiteman Orchestra


Note:

(a)        CD - JSP6701 - “Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall - Lost Radio Recordings”


No. 3  19th December 1935 

 

Medley:        (a)                                                                             accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

*I Kiss Your Hand, Madame                                                        

*I’m Yours

*I Surrender Dear

*From Monday On

 

*Alone                                                                  (a)

*Dinah                                                                  (a)

*Red Sails In The Sunset                                       (a)


Note:

(a)        CD - JSP6701 - “Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall - Lost Radio Recordings”
 

 “Paul Whiteman and Bing Crosby will, again be 3000 miles apart for their current Music Hall programme over NBC and KFI at 7 pm.  Maestro Whiteman will present Anna Hamlin, popular American soprano, on his portion of the bill while Crosby will contribute tune hits of the past and present, including ‘Alone’, ‘Dinah’, ‘I Surrender Dear’ and ‘You Are My Lucky Star’”.

(“Los Angeles Times” 19th December 1935)

 

“Anna Hamlin, popular American soprano, will be the guest of Paul Whiteman during the Whiteman Music Hall on NBC-WSMB at 9 pm.  Bing Crosby and his Orchestra (sic), Ramona and the King’s Men also will be heard.”

(“New Orleans Times-Picayune” 19th December 1935)

 

No. 4  26th December 1935  

 

  Rhapsody In Blue (Gershwin)                                               Opening Theme 

  I Feel A Song Comin’ On                                                     Ramona 

  Caprice Viennois (Kreisler)                                                   Paul Whiteman Orchestra 

  When Day Is Done                                                               Harry (‘Goldie’) Goldfield


Anything Goes Medley:     (a)                                                 accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

*Sailor Beware                                                           

  I Get A Kick Out Of You                                                     Kay Weber

  Anything Goes                                                                      Dorsey Trio

*Moonburn

*My Heart And I


*Thanks A Million                                     (a)

  Jingle Bells                                                                             Bob Burns (bazooka)

*You Are My Lucky Star                          (a)

 

  You Took Advantage Of Me                                                 Ramona

  Rhapsody In Blue (Gershwin)                                                Closing Theme


Note:

(a)        CD - JSP6701 - “Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall - Lost Radio Recordings”

 

1936 Season with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

The Hooper rating for the season was 14.8 which put the show in 17th. position for evening programs. The top program with a rating of 45.2 was the Major Bowes Amateur Hour which was broadcast every Sunday evening. Rudy Vallee’s show had a rating of 28.2.

 

No. 5  2nd January 1936 

 

With Don Wilson, Bob Burns, Ruggiero Ricci, Eleanor Whitney, Bobby Wilson, Bobby Grayson, Kay Weber, The Four Blackbirds, Paddy Patterson, James W. Allred and Cecil B. De Mille.           

 

*Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo                                            (a)

*I’ll See You In My Dreams                                        (a)

*Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle                  (a)


Note:

(a)        CD - JSP6701 - “Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall - Lost Radio Recordings”

 

It was from this point onwards that Bing became resident host of the show which was produced in Hollywood. His first shot at hosting the Kraft Music Hall was not too enthusiastically received:

“About the only thing missing from the conglomeration of entertainment that served to debut Bing Crosby as the master of this Thursday evening spot was a pair of Australian woodchoppers.  (The) programme was not only, badly routined and paced but talked itself into a state of painful boredom.  Even allowing for the fact that the producers equipped him with a lollapalooza of a script, Crosby must have been largely to blame for the fog he walked himself into. There may be many moments in the session when hosts of listeners must have wished that the guy would quit blabbering and go into one of his songs. Introductory stanza as fashioned and run-off did little to bring Jimmy Dorsey’s outfit into favourable relief.  Sparse were the passages permitted this aggregation, while the selections, with one exception, that which gave Dorsey free swing of his clarinet, made this up and coming outfit seem pretty thin.  (The) bill mixed boy violin prodigy, Ruggiero Ricci with the innocuous patter of the gridiron berserkers, Bobby Wilson and Bobby Grayson, the swift and finely clipped tap-dancing of Kay Weber (i) with Cecil B. De Mille’s reminiscences of is struggles and early success as a producer. Crosby had to talk it over, at length, with each act before they could go into their routine but the top piece of awkwardly contrived self-characterisation came when the baritone assumed the pose of a little schoolboy, asking questions of the Dean of Hollywood producers.  It was a self-effacing attempt that had phoniness written all over it.  Nevertheless, Crosby did a version of ‘Boots And Saddle’ that was cooked to the queen’s taste.”

 (“Variety” January 8th 1936)

 

Note (i) Along with juggling, tap-dancing could hardly be called ‘the greatest act on radio’.  Kay Weber, who was featured in subsequent programmes is later described as a ‘singer’ and indeed, she vocalised with several bands, including those of Smith Ballew and Bob Crosby but more significantly, in this context, with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.  In truth, the reviewer has become confused.  Eleanor Whitney is the tap-dancer of the assembly. A piece of sheet music for “Go Fly A Kite”, published in 1939 by the Famous Music Corporation, New York, carries a biographical note on Tommy Dorsey and offers the following, “the Dorseys sometimes made recordings together with radio studio musicians rounding out the band.  The success of these records led them to forming their own band and in the Spring of 1934 they were playing at the Sands Point Beach Club, with Bing (sic) Crosby and Kay Weber as the vocalists”. (A case in point - A genuine error or has history been twisted for dramatic effect?  The male vocalist would have been brother Bob)

 

No. 6  9th January 1936      

 

With Don Wilson, Bob Burns, Joe Venuti, Rupert Hughes, The Clark Sisters, Mischa Levitzki, Kay Weber and The Radio Rogues.

 

*A Little Bit Independent                                             (b)

  Pardon Me, Pretty Baby                                                       Joe Venuti (Violin)

*Some Of These Days                                                (a) & (b)

  Ida (Sweet As Apple Cider)                                                  Bob Burns (Bazooka)

*I Found A Dream                                                     (b)

  Valse (Levitzki)                                                                     Mischa Levitzki (Piano)

  Rock And Roll                                                                      The Clark Sisters

  When I Grow Up                                                                  The Clark Sisters 

  The Dorsey Derby (Dorsey)                                                  Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

*With All My Heart                                                    (a) & (b)

 

Notes:

(a)          JSP1076 - “Bing Crosby In The Thirties - Volume One”      

            Spokane 14 - “Bing In The Thirties - Volume Two”

            CD- JSP 934A – “Bing Crosby – The Vintage Years 1932-1937”

(b)         CD - JSP6701 - “Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall - Lost Radio Recordings”


 “Two extremes of musical interpretation will be represented on Bing Crosby’s programme, tonight when Mischa Levitzki, world-renowned concert pianist and Joe Venuti, etherdom’s hottest fiddler share the radio spotlight with Rupert Hughes, novelist, advocate of the public finger-printing identification system and considered to be the most authoritative source on biographical facts concerning George Washington. In the double role of singer and Master of Ceremonies, Bing will present the guest stars and his regular cast, comprised of Bob Burns, the Arkansas comedian, Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra and Kay Weber, vocalist” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 9th January 1936)

 

Crosby again, will be Master of Ceremonies in gruff manner.  Alas for him, he apparently, will have to run out his contract in this role so unfitted to him.  Everybody makes mistakes and Crosby certainly chalked up an error when he agreed to an m.c. part.  His singing will have to be awfully good to offset it”

(“Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News” 9th January 1936)

 

(Some confusion has been caused, according to which source is consulted regarding a singing group which makes the first of four appearances on this programme.  The Clark Sisters are also referred to as The Clarke Sisters, The Park Sisters and The Park/Clark Kids.  It might be reasoned that they were the singing group who appeared with Blue Barron and his Orchestra in the Thirties, on the other hand they could be three entirely different acts! There may be those who will be more impressed by the fact that Rupert Hughes was also Howard Hughes’ uncle.)

 

No. 7  16th January 1936 

 

With Don Wilson, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Clark Sisters, Nina Koshetz, The Roberts Brothers, The Radio Rogues and John Barrymore.

 

*Someone Stole Gabriel’s Horn

*Please Believe Me

*My Blue Heaven

*One Night In Monte Carlo                                       (a)

*The Music Goes ‘Round And ‘Round

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

           

“John Barrymore and Nina Koshetz, famous operetta star of the Imperial Russian Opera during the Tsarist regime will headline today’s Music Hall show.  Barrymore will be heard in the first dramatic presentation of the new series and Mme. Koshetz will be heard as featured soloist.  Barrymore inaugurates a new policy which will present stage and screen stars on future Music Hall broadcasts.  Mme. Koshetz was born in Kiev and studied at the Moscow Conservatory; she made her concert debut at the age of seventeen and later became a famous personality of the Imperial Opera.  During the Revolution she was forced to flee with other Tsarist supporters, her flight eventually taking her to America.  Her first appearance was in Detroit, since then she’s been soloist with the leading Symphonies and a star of the Chicago Civic Opera Company.  Bing Crosby as master of ceremonies will introduce the stars at his weekly party and will sing some of the songs he has popularised during his movie and radio career, in addition to several new numbers”.

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 16th January 1936)

 

No. 8  23rd January 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Clark Sisters, Percy Grainger and Joe E. Brown.

 

*You Hit The Spot

*Beautiful Lady In Blue

*Margie

*Roll Along Prairie Moon                                            (a)

 

Note: 

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“Continuing with what seems to be a policy of presenting distinct opposites of the entertainment field on his programme, Bing Crosby presents comedian, Joe E. Brown and pianist, Percy Grainger as guest artists on tonight’s broadcast.  A comedy sketch will provide Brown with the opportunity to display his unique humour and Grainger will offer several piano solos, some of his own composition.  Bing will croon currently popular songs to accompaniment by Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra.” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 23rd January 1936)

 

“Joe E. Brown, screen comedian, and Percy Grainger, pianist and composer, have the guest spots on this evening's Music Hall (KFI, 7o’clock). The singing master of ceremonies, Bing Crosby, will present Brown in a comedy sketch, while Grainger offers several of his own compositions at the keyboard. KFWB’s pride, “Sons of the Pioneers,” also will take part in the show.”

(“Los Angeles Examiner” 23rd January 1936)

 

No. 9  30th January 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Clark Sisters, Nina Koshetz and Leopold Stokowski.

 

*Stay On The Right Side Of The Road

*I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

*I Never Knew

*With All My Heart

 

“Leopold Stokowski steps down from the podium to chat informally with Bing Crosby on tonight’s Music Hall programme.  The world famous conductor will take part in one of the interviews, which have become a regular feature of the Crosby air show.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, Bob Burns will toot an accompaniment for a new supply of his Ozark anecdotes on the bazooka.”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 30th January 1936)

 

No. 10  6th February 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Kay Weber, Cleo Brown, Josef Lhevinne, Marina Schubert and Walter Huston.

 

*I’m Shooting High

*I’m Sorry Dear

*Moon Over Miami                                                    (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“It’s a field day for film stars on the air lanes and of probably of most interest to the San Francisco dialler, is the air appearance tonight of Walter Huston who completed a local engagement, last week.  Huston’s role for tonight is not known as yet but in few of his recent stage role here it is possible that he will do an excerpt from ‘Dodsworth’.  Joseph Lhevinne, a protege of the great Anton Rubenstein, in Russia and one of the foremost classical pianists of the generation will offer a group of classic compositions.  Nina Koshetz who was Bing’s guest, last week has sent along her daughter, Marina Schubert, whose soprano voice will be lifted in operatic aria.  Miss Schubert recently sang in place of her mother when the famous individual was taken ill, just before ‘going on’ time” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 6th February 1936)

 

“There will be much to do this evening when Music Hall takes the air through KFI at 7 o’clock.  For various reasons, Bob Burns and Bing Crosby will be in exceptionally good humour and entertaining mood.  Earlier this week, Crosby was named the nation’s outstanding male vocalist of popular songs.  Burns was chosen the outstanding new radio star.  Since both appear on the same programme, felicitations are expected to fly back and forth”

 (“Los Angeles Examiner” 6th February 1936)

 

No. 11  13th February 1936 

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, Andres Segovia, Vi Bradley, Alice Faye and Spencer Tracy.

 

*I Feel Like A Feather In The Breeze

*Please Believe Me

*Beautiful Lady In Blue

*If I Should Lose You                                                  (a) 

I’m Shooting High                                                                  Alice Faye

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“Spencer Tracy and Alice Faye are Bing Crosby’s guests in the Music Hall, tonight.  Crosby and Tracy will reminisce a bit while Alice Faye is slated to sing a bit.  Andres Segovia, guitar virtuoso, will perform difficult feats on his guitar.  Bob Burns, homely philosopher from Van Buren, Arkansas, Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra, songs by Kay Weber and swinging tempos in the Crosby rhythm will complete the broadcast over KPO tonight” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 13th February 1936)

 

“Spencer Tracy and Alice Faye of the movies; Andres Segovia, guitarist and Vi Bradley, ‘hot’ pianist and singer, will be  Bing Crosby’s guests on the Music Hall NBC-WSMB at 9 pm”

(“New Orleans Times-Picayune” 13th February 1936)

 

No. 12  20th February 1936 

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, Marina Schubert, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Johnny Bejsbak, J. R. Budstoller, Dorothy Wade, Leonard Pennario and Charles Ruggles.

 

*I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

*Dinner For One, Please James

*Dear Old Girl

*I’m Building Up To An Awful Let-Down                    (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“The ‘Sport Of Kings’ will be the main topic of conversation on Bing Crosby’s show, tonight.  Crosby, who freely mentions that he has one of the finest stables, will have as his guests on the broadcast, none other than the millionaire turf man, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.  With Vanderbilt will be his jockey, Bejsbak and trainer, J.R. Budstoller who will indulge in the four way conversation to be broadcast on a coast to coast NBC network.  Charles Ruggles, screen comedian, will be featured in an original sketch written especially for the programme.  Musical highlights will be reflected by two prodigies, Leonard Pennario, 11 year-old pianist and Dorothy Wade, 10 year-old violinist who will offer solos.  Comedy by the Arkansas humorist, Bob Burns and popular music by Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra with Kay Weber, vocalist will round out the evening’s entertainment from the Music Hall”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 20th February 1936)

 

No. 13  27th February 1936

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, William A. Brady, Lotte Lehmann and Ann Sothern.

 

 *Saddle Your Blues To A Wild Mustang

*Lights Out

 

Medley:

*Moon Over Miami

*I Found A Dream

*Here’s To Romance

 

*You’re Driving Me Crazy

  Do Not Chide Me (Ralogh)                                                  Lotte Lehmann

  Canto Di Primavera (Cimarosa)                                            Lotte Lehmann

  Ungeduld (Schumann)                                                          Lotte Lehmann

*Happy Birthday To You                                             (a)      with Lotte Lehmann, Ann Sothern & Bob Burns (Bazooka)

*West Wind                                                                (b) 

 

Notes:

(a)                Sung as brief tribute to Jimmy Dorsey whose birthday was 29th February.

(b)               Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall” (Date shewn as 23.2.36)

 

No. 14  5th March 1936

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, Marina Schubert, Wini Shaw, Alex Brailowsky and Jack Oakie.

 

*Goody Goody

 

Medley:

*With All My Heart

*Please Believe Me

*If I Should Lose You

 

*Deep Night

*The Touch Of Your Lips

 

“Music Hall introduces the first actor to be a radio stooge and heckler and ranking Number One figure in heckledom is Jack Oakie, who has been hired to heckle Bing Crosby on the Thursday night series.  Jack would probably heckle even if he wasn’t paid for it - he loves to heckle and it’sjake’ and ‘okay’ with Bing to be heckled by Jack Oakie (gag).  Actually, the idea grew from a good-natured feud between the two screen stars that has been carried on for years.  Oakie has interrupted Crosby’s public appearances all over the cinema capital.  This is the first time he’s been paid for it, however.  Bing’s guest from the world of art is Alexander Brailowsky, who is a Russian pianist of note and he will offer a group of concert numbers.  Wini Shaw will sing popular songs and Marina Schubert will appear for the third time as a guest on the show.  The regular cast of Burns, Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra and Kay Weber will be led by maestro, Bing.” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 5th March 1936)

 

No. 15  12th March 1936

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, Owen Davis and Patsy Kelly. 

 

*Sing An Old-Fashioned Song (To A Young Sophisticated Lady

 

Medley:

*I’m Shooting High

*Lights Out

*Beautiful Lady In Blue

 

  Some Of These Days                                                                        Kay Weber

*’Way Down Yonder In New Orleans

*But Where Are You?                                                            (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall” (Shown as ‘Where Are You?’)

 

No. 16  19th March 1936    

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, Marina Schubert, Lyda Roberti, Emmanuel Feuermann, Fred Stone, Dorothy Stone and Paula Stone.

 

*It’s Been So Long

 

Medley:

*I Wish I Were Aladdin

*West Wind

*The Touch Of Your Lips

 

  Let Yourself Go                                                                                Kay Weber

*In A Little Spanish Town

*Goody Goody

*Everything’s In Rhythm With My Heart                              (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

(Fred Stone, better known as a vaudeville and musical comedy performer (he played The Scarecrow in the original Broadway production of “The Wizard Of Oz”) had character parts in movies for most of the major companies.  He appears here with two of his three daughters, all of whom aspired, without any notable success, to film careers)

 

No. 17  26th March 1936

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Grete Stueckgold, Jean Hersholt and Virginia Bruce.

 

*From The Top Of Your Head (To The Tip Of Your Toes)

*Just One More Chance

*Let’s Face The Music And Dance

*A Melody From The Sky

*Say The Word And It’s Yours                                             (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

No. 18  2nd April 1936    

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Albert Spalding, Edward Everett Horton, Ned Sparks and Binnie Barnes.

 

*What’s The Name Of That Song?

 

Medley:

*It’s Been So Long*

Sing An Old-Fashioned Song (To A Young Sophisticated Lady)

*Everything’s In Rhythm With My Heart

*A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody

 

*So This Is Heaven

*Twilight On The Trail

 

“Albert Spalding, renowned violinist, Edward Everett Horton, screen comedian and Binnie Barnes, cinemactress are headliners on Bing Crosby’s current Music Hall broadcast over KFI at 7 pm”

(“Los Angeles Times” 2nd April 1936)

 

“Ned Sparks, the screen’s dead-pan comedian, will be Bing Crosby’s guest artist on the Music Hall programme at 9 pm.  Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra and Bob Burns will also be heard”

(“New Orleans Times-Picayune” 2nd April 1936)

 

No. 19  9th April 1936

 

With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Mme Ernestine Schuman-Heinck, Rudolph Ganz, Florence Gill and Joan Crawford.

 

*Robins And Roses

*Alexander’s Ragtime Band

*Lovely Lady

*Lost                                                                           (a)        with The Paul Taylor Choristers

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“Celebrities in a variety of fields will be presented on Bing Crosby’s show at 7 pm.  Joan Crawford, in an interview with Bing, will tell about some of her experiences in pictures and some behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood.  In keeping with the season Madame Schuman-Heinck will sing several, familiar Easter songs.  Rudolf Ganz, concert pianist, will play and Florence Gill, ‘Queen Of Cackle’, will offer animal imitations”

(“Los Angeles Times” 9th April 1936)

 

“Crosby has taken a leaf out of the Vallee book.  It wasn’t long ago that Bing, fresh from Gonzaga, was just a singer with Gus Arnheim.  Tonight, my friends, he is the Master of Ceremonies who will introduce the grand old Ernestine Schuman-Heinck, pianist Rudolph Ganz, cinemactress Joan Crawford and Van Buren’s own, Bob Burns.”  

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 9th April 1936)

 

From the scant information available, it would appear that a three song medley, by Bing, had become a regular feature of the shows and with this in mind, it would seem that some titles are missing from this programme (and others). Mme. Schuman-Heinck, a mezzo soprano of German/Bohemian birth, was 75 years old and died within six months of this appearance.

 

No.  20  16th April 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Zasu Pitts, Efrem Zimbalist and Maxine Lewis.

 

*I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

*Blue (And Broken-Hearted)

*Would You? (Freed/Brown)

 

Medley:

*A Melody From The Sky

*Lovely Lady

*Let’s Face The Music And Dance

 

*Desire                                                                        (a)        with The Paul Taylor Choristers

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

No. 21  23rd April 1936       

 

With Bob Burns, Kay Weber, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Fritz Leiber, Fred Keating and Grete Stueckgold.

 

*It’s No Fun

 

Medley:

*Robins & Roses

*Would You? (Freed/Brown)

*Lost

 

*Swanee River (The Old Folks At Home)

*Who Is Sylvia?

*We’ll Rest At The End Of The Trail

*With All My Heart                                                                  with Grete Stueckgold & Chorus

 

“One of the most noted Shakespearian actors of our time, Fritz Leiber, is to appear on Bing Crosby’s show on KFI at 7 pm and others on the bill are Grete Stueckgold, Metropolitan Opera star and Fred Keating, stage and screen comedian”.

(“Los Angeles Times” 23rd April 1936)

Note: Although he appeared in musicals for most of the big Hollywood production companies in the Thirties, one might be excused for overlooking Fred Keating were it not for his appearance as the ‘baddie’ in “Doctor Rhythm” where he almost ran off with Mary Carlisle.  One newspaper of the time describes him as ‘magician’- another ‘natural’ for a radio spot!

 

No. 22  30th April 1936  

 

With Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Una Merkel, Leopold Stokowski, The Philadelphia Orchestra and  Louis Prima and his Jam Band.

 

*Yearning (Just For You)                                                      

  Toccata And Fugue in D Minor (Bach)        The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski  

  Dinah                                                                        Louis Prima and his Jam Band

                       

“Leopold Stokowski dominated practically all of the Kraft programme on Thursday night, with the first half solid for the Philadelphia Orchestra together with certain stanzas in the last portion, taken up by the guest conductor.  Bing Crosby in top singing and MC position, handled the crossfire banter but it was flat.  Louis Prima’s crew was in the last ten minutes and while a marked contrast to the Wagner and Debussy fare by Stokowski’s contingent, did not create any excitement - the regular Dorsey Band was better.  Kraft has been delivering some sock entertainment of late. This programme seemed overboard on guests but the J. Walter Thompson office, smoothed it out quite expertly.  (The) idea of allotting the Symphony first place was OK and a quartet of classic examples were distinguished for ether listeners.  Especially, the Debussy composition which took up nearly 16 minutes - first commercial came at 10.35, showing the free rein permitted the conductor for this appearance. Crosby managed to bring the programme around for the Prima flash while tracing certain milestones in US musical and front page history.  ‘Dinah’ was Prima’s offering with typical variations running riot and most attention centred on extended trumpet blasting.  Bob Burns and programme’s chorus were pushed into the background for this broadcast.  Singer’s chores were also clipped.  Closing conversation between Crosby and Stokowski took in the currently RCA sponsored tour of the Philly Orchestra.”    

(“Variety” 6th May 1936)

 

“Bing Crosby has his heart set upon startling the listening American, tonight and from this angle it appears that he will do that little thing.  Mr. Crosby is to sing with the Philadelphia Orchestra while famed Leopold Stokowski conducts.  In itself a novelty, the idea suggests that the eminent Stokowski is no chump in getting publicity.  From an artistic point of view, there is no excuse for Mr. Crosby singing with the Philadelphia Orchestra, many will argue.  In the meantime the programme will have a tremendous audience.  Astute Crosby goes a step further, or two, or three; he adds to Mr. Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, two other instrumental groups, Louis Prima’s Hotcha Band and Jimmy Dorsey’s swinging combination then throws in Bob Burns and Una Merkel for good measure.  The hour will remind of the all-star shows of Dodge Brothers and other days.  The time is 6 to 7 pm over KPO and it is sad that it isn’t at least an hour later”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 30th April 1936)

 

Note: It is regarded as highly unlikely that Bing actually sang with the Philadelphia Orchestra and there is no indication from other sources that he did.  Imagination, possibly but is the writer for the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ suggesting that Bing (amongst his other duties) is responsible for hiring the ‘help’ and producing the show? The apparent massive ‘takeover’ by the Philadelphia Orchestra serves to explain a long-running mystery of why only one song has ever been credited to Bing for this show.


No. 23  7th May 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Toscha Seidel, Una Merkel and George Raft.

 

*Let Yourself Go

*I’ll Stand By

*June Night

 

Medley:

*Desire

*Twilight On The Trail

*I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

 

  Symphonie Espagnole Op 21 - II. Scherzando Allegro molto         Toscha Seidel

  Coolin' Off                                                                            Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra


 *The Touch Of Your Lips

 

“Then there is the matter of Bing of the Crosby’s who comes to the ladies and gentlemen of the radio audience with another humdinger of a programme.  With the eminent violinist Toscha Seidel, heading a bill which includes Bob Burns, Una Merkel, George Raft and Mr. James Dorsey.”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 7th May 1936)

 

No. 24  14th May 1936

 

With Bob Burns, Mayor Tom English, Murdo McKenzie, Ted McKinley, Bonnie Lake and Jean Stoddart.

 

*Goody Goody

*You (Gee! But You’re Wonderful)

*Sleepy Time Gal

*You Started Me Dreaming

*All My Life

 

“Bob Burns will have as his guest on the Music Hall programme over NBC-WSMB at 8 pm, Mayor Tom English of Van Buren, Arkansas, scene of the bazooka playing comedian’s fantastic stories.  Bing Crosby, as singing star and Master of Ceremonies will be heard with Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra”

(“New Orleans Times-Picayune” 14th May 1936)

 

No. 25  21st May 1936          

 

With Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, The Avalon Boys, Mischa Levitzki and Frank Morgan.

 

*Wake Up And Sing

*Alpha Beta Pi Sweetheart

*Do You Ever Think Of Me

*Moonrise On The Lowlands                                     (a)        with The Paul Taylor Choristers 

  Rondo Capriccioso (Saint-Saëns)                                         Mischa Levitzki (Piano)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“Diversified entertainment is the theory in Bing Crosby’s 6 pm KFI show with Frank Morgan, screen actor, The Avalon Boys and Mischa Levitzki, concert pianist, as the headliners.  Bing and Bob Burns, the Arkansas philosopher are to be rushed to Hollywood, by a special car from Lone Pine where they are in the midst of filming ‘Rhythm On The Range’”

(“Los Angeles Times” 21st May 1936)

 

No. 26  28th May 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, John Erskine, Rose Bampton, Harmon O. Nelson and Bette Davis.

 

*You Can’t Pull The Wool Over My Eyes

 

Medley:*

The Touch Of Your Lips

*I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

*We’ll Rest At The End Of The Trail

 

*Robins And Roses

*You (Gee! But You’re Wonderful)                          (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“Bette Davis is to be interviewed by Bing Crosby on his 6 pm KFI broadcast and she will present her husband, Harmon O. Nelson (conductor and singer).  Other celebrities on the bill, include Rose Bampton, Metropolitan star and John Erskine, writer”.

(“Los Angeles Times” 28th May 1936)

 

“Two young fellows who, today, might have been just a couple of other singers in a dance band, occupy prominence with an ‘earring’ nation, this afternoon and tonight.  They are Rudy Vallee and Bing of the Crosby’s who did pretty well with a megaphone in days gone by but really went with ‘Mr. Deeds’ after some smart inventor moulded a microphone.  Today, they are American institutions, having sung their way into the hearts of millions, although vocal teachers will insist that they defy every musical law and violate a flock of musical traditions.  They both are to admired for the manner in which they have megaphoned and microphoned themselves to fortune and fame and today, they are smart enough to surround themselves with the best talent available and are not afraid of the competition in their hours.  Crosby, who had already taken on Stokowski, Stueckgold and others will have Metropolitan’s, coloratura, Rose Bampton in his show, tonight, along with Bette Davis and her husband, Harmon Nelson.  John Erskine, the writer and Bob Burns and Jimmy Dorsey, after making a flock of friends here and in Oakland will be another drawing card.  They’ll all be on KPO at 6”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 28th May 1936”)

 

No.  27  4th June 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Jackie Searle, Edith Fellows, Feodor Chaliapine, Norma Talmadge and George Jessel. 

 

*The Glory Of Love  

*The Last Of My Past                                                                        with The Paul Taylor Choristers

*Ja Da

*There’s A Small Hotel

*All My Life                                                               (a)

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall”

 

“Feodor Chaliapine, famous Russian basso will make what is said to be his only American appearance, in 1936, on the Bing Crosby hour from KFI at 6 pm.  Mr. Crosby’s other guests will be George Jessel (comedian) and his wife, Norma Talmadge; Edith Fellows, 12 year-old screen player and Jackie Searle, 14 years, also of the motion picture world.”

(“Hollywood Citizen News” 4th June 1936)

 

“First time on the air for Norma Talmadge and George Jessel (Mr. & Mrs.), as a team, was an auspicious one.  They were presented with an ingratiating routine, indulging in three-way ribbing that put them right with the listening audience.  The stunt started as something of an interview with Miss Talmadge by Crosby, bringing out the fact that she’s retired from the screen and is now, just, Mrs. Jessel, with plenty of work in just phoning Jessel’s relatives.  Then Jessel broke in and from thereon it was a ribbing session that even included Bob Burns.  One of the elements of their bit was the Crosby and the Choral Group singing, ‘The Last Of My Past’, lyrics of which were written by Jessel, title by Miss Talmadge and music by Paul Oakland.  Jessel’s material was strong on the humorous side.  His take-off on himself, speaking to his relatives in Bob Burns’  Arkansas twang, being especially neat.  Coupled with his wife Madge as the ideal American pair, Jessel and his frau were a natural for the Kraft Phoenix product and they fit perfectly into the underlying ‘June Bride’ theme of the Crosby broadcast.”           

(“Variety” 10th June 1936)

 

“Bing presents Norma Talmadge and her husband, George Jessel plus 12 year-old Edith Fellows who was in ‘She Married Her Boss’, 14 year-old Jackie Searle of ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’, Bazooka Bob Burns and Jimmy Dorsey.” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 4th June 1936)

 

11th  June 1936 - No programme due to Republican Convention although some newspapers stated that a show hosted by Bing with guests Ernest Hutcheson, Virginia Bruce, and Bert Wheeler was to take place.

 

.No. 28  18th June 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Virginia Bruce, Pat O’Brien and Ernest Hutcheson.

 

*You Can’t Pull The Wool Over My Eyes

*These Foolish Things

*All Alone

*We’ll Rest At The End Of The Trail

 

“The big fight will be on KPO tonight, starting at 6 o’clock.  Joe Louis is to tangle with a chap called Schmeling who comes from a small town in Germany.  The broadcast will be short-waved to Germany.  An hour of airtime will be reserved for the scrap but if it starts at 6 o’clock we should be in for some Hollywood musical entertainment at about 6.20 (according to the boxing experts).  But boxing experts are often confounded as those who heard the Braddock/Baer waltz will remember.  Mr. Vallee will be in at 4 o’clock, Amos ‘N’ Andy at 7.  The mentioned Hollywood entertainment will include Bing Crosby singing and discussing the fight with Pat O’Brien.  San Francisco’s Josephine Tuminia will be with Crosby, if time permits - all these are from KPO.  Crosby’s programme on this particular day, was scheduled to start at 6.45” 

(“San Francisco Chronicle 18th June 1936)

 

(The promised, ‘Hollywood musical entertainment’ did not occur.  Not on this particular evening, anyway - The contest, scheduled for the Yankee Stadium in New York, was postponed until the following night, due to heavy rain and the ‘boxing experts’ were confounded!  Although the fight lasted twelve rounds, Joe Louis suffered the only defeat in his career until he retired in 1949)

 

25th  June 1936 - No programme due to Democrat Convention although it had been planned that Bing would host a show with guests Bert Wheeler and Jean Arthur.

 

“Do you know what they’re saying about Bing Crosby?  They’re saying he’s more interested now in winning new fame as a showman than fortifying his reputation as a crooner.  They are further saying, that he sees the handwriting on the ‘ether walls’, realises he can’t get along forever on his touchy vocal chords and is hoping for the same solution that saved Rudy Vallee from the discard.  This slow transformation is apparent in his Thursday night, Music Hall shows.  They slid down the ways as ‘Bing Crosby and guest artists’, now they are, ‘Guest artists presented by Bing Crosby’.  Tonight’s line-up shows the trend.  He offers Toscha Seidel, world-famous violinist, Jean Arthur and Bert Wheeler, two of filmland’s more personable folk.  Yes, Bing will sing a few songs accompanied by Jimmy Dorsey’s band and Bob Burns, bazooka and all will be on hand.  There’s a rumour that Burns will attempt a piano solo, tonight.  Dial KPO at 6 o’clock and find out.  The Crosby extravaganza just misses being pushed off the air by the Democratic Convention”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 25th June 1936)

 

Note: The last sentence provides another enigma. There are no songs or show for this date.  However, Jean Arthur and Bert Wheeler turn up on Programme No. 30 of the 9th July.

 

‘Bing Crosby is set on a string of options for a 3-year contract with Kraft.  The deal calls for an increase each year.  At the same time, he has agreed to remain on the current series for another six weeks before he takes his vacation’

(“Variety” 24th June 1936)

 

No. 29  2nd July 1936  

 

With Bob Burns, Toscha Seidel, Frank Morgan, Frances Farmer and Martha Raye.

 

*The House That Jack Built For Jill

*I Can’t Escape From You

*Empty Saddles

*I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)                    with Martha Raye

 

“Radio previews of motion pictures are fast becoming the rule, rather than the exception.  In fact Hollywood’s producers apparently believe a new show is not completely ready for the market until it has been once-overed via the air and they aren’t letting the fore-doomed mediocrity of twenty minute condensations daunt them either.  Each week ‘Hollywood Hotel’ does its little bit, along this line and today, Bing Crosby’s Music Hall joins the parade.  You’ll hear Bing, Bob Burns, Frances Farmer and Martha Raye skip through scenes from ‘Rhythm Of (sic) The Range’, the forthcoming Crosby vehicle in which Burns, the Van Buren bazooka player, makes his screen debut.  Also on the sixty minute show are, Toscha Seidel, famed violinist, Frank Morgan, hesitant character star and Jimmy Dorsey’s Band.”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 2nd July 1936)   

 

At four o’clock on broadcast day we stood in line at the NBC studios in Hollywood. Then the usher told us to take our seats silently, and my friend and I sat approximately in the fourth row. The rehearsal was in progress and Bing was singing a song that turned out to be “Empty Saddles”. Bing was surrounded by the Paul Taylor Choristers. We noticed that two young women with bright red hair were also standing in the back. They were the guests of the evening, Frances Farmer and Martha Raye. Their strange hair color I understood, was designed to be more photogenic for the film Rhythm On the Range which they had just completed. In the middle of the stage sat Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra.

Just before air time, Bob Burns, known as the “Arkansas Traveler”, addressed the audience and said, “My name is Bob Burns and this musical instrument is a bazooka. And that fella back there in the corner is Bing Crosby.” Bing tipped his cap, and continuing, Bob Burns added “Our guests tonight are Frances Farmer and Martha Raye, who are starring in the new Bing Crosby movie Rhythm On the Range opening in Paramount theaters around the country.” Bob Burns continued, “The Kraft people welcome you all here and ask you not to applaud, but if you find something funny, feel free to laugh. Now, when that green light turns to red, we will be on the air. And then, when the red light goes off and the green light comes on again, if you feel like applauding, please do.”

When the broadcast began, Bing opened with “I’m An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)”, and later he sang “Empty Saddles.” Bing interviewed Frances Farmer, and Martha Raye sang “You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr. Paganini)”. This was the first time that Martha Raye was heard on national radio. Bing seemed to always open the KMH with a peppy song in those days. Bob Eberly, the vocalist with the Jimmy Dorsey band, was not allowed to sing on the KMH broadcast and just sat in a chair during the program. This was because the Kraft people who paid good money believed this was Bing’s show and Bob Eberly wasn’t needed. Helen O’Connell had not yet joined Jimmy Dorsey at that time.

Upon leaving the Kraft Music Hall broadcast, we passed by the Fred Astaire radio program. Fred was dancing on a small platform with the microphone close to the floor. Outside, a large crowd was standing as Bing drove away in a convertible with a driver, waving to them.

(George McCabe, writing in BING magazine, Spring, 1999)

 

No. 30  9th July 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Jean Arthur and Bert Wheeler. 

 

*Wake Up And Sing

*Waiting For The Robert E. Lee

*I Can’t Escape From You

*There’s A Small Hotel

*Empty Saddles

*Take My Heart (And Do With It What You Please)

 

“Dempsey versus Willard? - Not bad.  Dempsey versus Firpo? - Fair enough.  Louis versus Schmeling? - Pretty good.  But - Crosby versus Vallee - There, fans, is really a tussle and it’s a weekly brawl, too.  Each Thursday Bing and Rudy take the ring, not to toss fists but to throw glittering guest line-ups about the ether and hope for your shouts of approval.  Today, the odds are about even - In the Vallee corner, repose Josephine Hutchinson and June Knight.  Reclining on Crosby’s side are Jean Arthur and Bert Wheeler who have been trying, vainly to get on the air.  On his first billing he was shoved off by the Republicans, next time the Democrats elbowed him out, so, he’ll probably vote Socialist.  Bob Burns and Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra round out Bing’s contingent”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 9th July 1936)

 

No. 31  16th July 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Marjorie Gateson, Rose Bampton and Robert Taylor.

 

*The Glory Of Love

*Great Day

*These Foolish Things

*Rendezvous With A Dream

 

“In case you have been sprouting grey hairs and developing wrinkles trying to figure out the reason for Robert Taylor’s meteoric film rise, you will be relieved to know that your worries are at an end. This burning question, certainly one of the utmost importance, will be answered tonight when Bing Crosby interviews the handsome youth on KPO at 6 pm.  Taylor is definitely pretty and the mere sight of him on the screen causes the gallery gals to either swoon on their escorts shoulder or stagger blindly into the sunlight, to be revived by the corner cop, then they are ready for another sight of him.  Tonight’s dialogue should run like this - Crosby: ‘Well, Bob, uh, how come you’ve gotten so high, so soon?’ Taylor: ‘Well, Bing, uh, I dunno really, guess I just got the breaks.  Well, g’night Bing’- And so another of life’s major problems will be settled.  Other guests tonight, include Rose Bampton, Metropolitan Opera contralto, Marjorie Gateson, prominent character actress and of course, Bob Burns and of course, Jimmy Dorsey.  Crosby, incidentally can claim a technical victory in the battle of crooners inasmuch as Rudy Vallee’s guest talent hasn’t been announced but Rudy probably doesn’t know himself!”

(“San Francisco Chronicle’16th July 1936)

 

23rd  July 1936  - No programme (Speech by Alfred Landon)

 

“Lucille Friml, daughter of composer Rudolf Friml, is a member of the Paul Taylor Choristers.”

 (“Variety” 29th July 1936)

 

No. 32  30th July 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Albert Spalding, Dolores Costello Barrymore, Vera Van and Joan Bennett. 

 

*On The Beach At Bali Bali

*Honest And Truly

*Take My Heart (And Do With It What You Please)           (a)        with The Paul Taylor Choristers

*Would You (Freed/Brown)

*Long Ago And Far Away (Rainger/Robin)                          (a)        with The Paul Taylor Choristers

 

Note:

(a)                Limited Edition Club JGB1011 - “Music Hall” (Dates shewn as 9th July 1936)

 

“Bing Crosby also bids heavily for attention on today’s radio market.  His guests include Dolores Castle Barrymore in one of her infrequent air appearances,  Albert Spalding, renowned violinist and Vera Van who sang in San Francisco with Ted Fio Rito’s orchestra, not so long ago  (“San Francisco Chronicle” 30th July 1936)

 

“For once nothing interferes with Bing Crosby and his Music Hall programme, unless some unforeseen emergency bobs up at the last minute.  Today, he presents as featured soloist the eminent Albert Spalding, who does as many tricks with the violin as Thurston does with cards.  Crosby will also have blonde, Vera Van on for this one show.  Miss Van is a sister of Jimmy Grier’s, Dick Webster and does some right smart torch singing, in her own right.  Bob ‘Movie Actor’ Burns contributes a solo or two on his famed bazooka, father of all the little bazookas which are now making their appearance”

 (“Los Angeles Times” 30th July 1936)

 

No. 33  6th August 1936      

 

With The Paul Taylor Choristers, Ernest Hutcheson, Robert Young and Ann Sothern. 

 

*It Ain’t Right

*Jealous

*Robins And Roses

*Did I Remember?

*Empty Saddles                                                                      with The Paul Taylor Choristers 

  Where’s The Boy? Here’s The Girl!                                      Ann Sothern

 

“The radio world joins with Bob Burns in mourning the death of his wife.  Some Eastern theatres, incidentally, are giving Burns preference over Bing Crosby in advertising, ‘Rhythm On The Range’ not that Crosby would care, anyway - he’s that kind”

(“San Francisco Chronicle” 6th August 1936)

 

“Ann Sothern, RKO film player made a guest appearance on Bing Crosby’s, Kraft Music Hall Hour on Thursday evening the 6th, with a George Gershwin song.  While being no knockout in giving out with the number on the air-waves, Miss Sothern’s vocal efforts compensated greatly for the meaningless chatter, she indulged in, ahead of it, with Crosby.  The talk intended to give the impression (that) Miss Sothern was hungry. This opened the opportunity for a Kraft ‘plug’- J.L. Kraft, head of the commercials sponsoring Crosby’s programme was on the air that night and offered to send Miss Sothern a basket of his products.  That’s apt to be a businessman’s idea of showmanship.  Miss Sothern also said something about her tennis playing.  However, with adequate material, listening to her would be more of a pleasure.  If any complaints, at all, the film industry has a squawk coming against radio for the dumb material afforded players - it makes them seem like amateurs.”        

(“Variety” 12th August 1936)

 

“Bob Burns and his bazooka will be absent from the Music Hall at 6 over KFI but they will return to the series with next week’s programme¼  

(“Hollywood Citizen News” 6th August 1936)

 

No. 34  13th August 1936  

 

With Bob Burns, Josephine Tuminia, Anita Louise, Alison Skipworth and Louis Armstrong.

 

*I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)

*Until The Real Thing Comes Along

*No Regrets

*Sometimes I’m Happy

*Rendezvous With A Dream

 

“A pot pourri of entertaining offerings is to be found on Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall over KFI at 6 pm today.  Anita Louise and Alison Skipworth, ingenue and comedienne, respectively, are to represent the motion pictures.  Josephine Tuminia of the San Francisco Opera is to represent the cultural field and Louis Armstrong, ‘world’s hottest trumpeter’, dispenses the jazz”

(“Los Angeles Times” 13th August 1936)

 

“....there’s the Crosby show with Anita Louise, Alison Skipworth, Josephine Tuminia and Louis ‘Satchelmouth’ Armstrong, as guests.  No introductions are needed to the above, at least, none should be needed.  Miss Louise and Miss Skipworth will stage a short skit.  Miss Tuminia, San Francisco coloratura, featured so successfully by Sigmund Romberg will sing a song or two and Armstrong will demonstrate his distinctive ‘hot’ trumpet playing.”

“San Francisco Chronicle” 13th August 1936)

 

No. 35  20th August 1936 

 

With Bob Burns, Harold Bauer, Dorothy Lamour and Joan Bennett.  

 

*You Can’t Pull The Wool Over My Eyes

*I Can’t Escape From You

*These Foolish Things

*Just One Word Of Consolation

*South Sea Island Magic

 

“....then the Bing Crosby/Rudy Vallee guest star battle rages on with all the fervour of a Spanish revolt.  Crooner Crosby offers, concert pianist Harold Bauer, Joan Bennett, film favourite and Dorothy Lamour, a singer who really deserves the adjective, ‘glamorous’.”

 (“San Francisco Chronicle” 20th August 1936) 

 

After this programme Bing took his customary break which included a vacation in Hawaii while Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers and The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra “held the fort”, during his absence.  Bing was away for seven programmes. During this time guests included, Jose Iturbi, Joel McCrea, Alice Faye, Olivia de Havilland, Jack Oakie, Glenda Farrell, Beverly Roberts, Billie Burke, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Ganz, Frederick Jagel and Madeleine Carroll.

 

Go to 1936-37 season

 

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