Richard Diamond, Private Detective proved to be the perfect radio vehicle for actor-singer Dick Powell, combining his tough-guy image, showcased in the 1944 film "Murder, My Sweet" and the 1945-46 radio series "Rogue's Gallery," with his tremendous talent for a song, as all those 1930s Warner Brothers/Fox musicals will bear out. The detective series, created by an aspiring screenwriter named Blake Edwards, featured a hard-boiled detective who rarely took himself too seriously; Edwards, the future director of the "Pink Panther" film series, conceived the Diamond character as an ex-cop who had decided to hang out his own shingle in the investigation business.
Richard Diamond bore a not-unintentional resemblance to another wisecracking detective of the airwaves, namely Sam Spade. Both shamuses - Powell as Diamond, Howard Duff as Spade - demonstrated a breezy insouciance that added a much-needed touch of levity to the type of detective show that was often in danger of sinking under the weight of its own clichés. The lighthearted tone of Richard Diamond was even evident in the program's weekly opening, which featured Powell whistling a jaunty "Leave it to Love." It was not uncommon, after cracking each weekly case, for "the singing detective" to sit down at the piano in the penthouse apartment of Helen Asher, his wealthy, red-headed love interest played by Virginia Gregg and also Frances Robinson, and serenade her with a number from the Hit Parade. In-jokes were rampant on the show; Richard would often make reference to other detectives (notably Sam Spade) and he had a particularly pronounced fondness for actress June Allyson — in real life, Mrs. Dick Powell.
Just as Spade had a love-hate relationship with Lieutenant Dundy, Diamond shared a similar bond with his contact on the force, homicide detective Lieutenant Walt Levinson (played at various times by Ed Begley, Ted de Corsia, Alan Reed, and Arthur Q. Bryan). The sarcastic badinage between the detective and his easily agitated cop pal provided many a memorable moment on the series. Diamond reserved his suffer-no-fools disdain for Sergeant Otis Ludlum, a cop who had such a force field of stupidity surrounding him that you just know he had to have a relative at City Hall looking after his job. Otis was played by actor Wilms Herbert, who also doubled on the show as Francis, Helen's faithful retainer; Francis had an uncanny, mood-killing knack of barging in at the most inopportune times, like when Diamond and Helen were getting ready to turn down the lights and pour the wine....
Richard Diamond, Private Detective debuted over NBC Radio on April 24, 1949 as a sustaining series, but picked up a sponsor in Rexall Drugs in June 1950. Camel Cigarettes picked up the tab as of January of 1951, just before the show moved to ABC, but by June the show was back with Rexall again, which continued its sponsorship until the program left the airwaves on June 27, 1952. The series would return briefly during the summer of 1953 for CBS, recycling earlier scripts from the 1950-51 season.
"The Cinnamon Bear" is, arguably, the best holiday series ever developed for radio. Containing all of the elements of a classic children's fantasy, combined with radio's unique ability to create vivid mental images in the minds of its listeners, it continues to delight both young and old. And now, for the first time, you can hear and enjoy "The Complete Cinnamon Bear" -- including all twenty-six original and unedited shows, the original 1937 promotional recording, and all of the songs from the series as transferred from an original set of 78 RPM recordings. Each of the programs has been digitally transferred directly from a set of original 16" broadcast transcriptions and painstakingly restored for outstanding audio fidelity - truly the best-sounding version of the series that has ever been released. It's yet another triumph for Paddy and his band of travelers as, after well over seventy years, they once again carry on their magical search for the silver star.
November 5, 1950 saw the debut of what many observers at that time considered radio's "last gasp": "The Big Show" - "ninety minutes with the most scintillating personalities in the entertainment world." The National Broadcasting Company mounted the expensive, star-studded extravaganza in an effort to reclaim its former dominance on Sunday nights, decimated by both television's rising popularity and the success of rival CBS in peeling off much of NBC's former talent (Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, "Amos & Andy", etc.) in the Tiffany network's legendary "talent raids."
With a price tag of nearly $100,000 (that's $885,000 in 2008 dollars) per broadcast, "The Big Show" presented a weekly mixture of comedy, drama and music from such guest stars as Jimmy Durante, Ethel Merman, Danny Thomas, Groucho Marx, Fanny Brice, Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, Judy Garland and Fred Allen - the latter graduating to semi-regular/contributing writer status. In fact, each program found the guests introducing themselves by name; the introductions completed with a husky voice intoning "...and my name, dahlings, is Tallulah Bankhead." Bankhead, a celebrated stage veteran renowned for her work in plays like "The Little Foxes" and "The Skin of Our Teeth," served as the show's mistress of ceremonies - proving to be both an apt foil for the program's guests and a self-deprecating good sport for an endless series of "rivalry-with-Bette-Davis" jokes. In explaining her motivation for agreeing to host a weekly radio series, she told Newsweek Magazine "I have to live in the style, dahling, to which I'm really accustomed."
"The Big Show" has long been considered one of radio's biggest financial failures but, listening to the program through 21st Century ears, the show will surprise many a radio fan; the program's writing remains top-notch, the performers are at the peak of their craft, and the music remains sprightly and entertaining as ever. What makes "The Big Show" mind-boggling is that it seems inconceivable that a program of its scope could be put across today. Of course, many thought it impossible back then, but host Tallulah Bankhead reassured listeners that "all it takes is courage, vision...and a king-sized bundle of dough." And with that, Radio Archives invites you to listen to a courageous, visionary - and yes, expensive - program from radio's Golden Age; the first five shows of the series that, thanks to expert transfers and complete audio restoration, make a battered-and-bruised contender sound like a genuine champ
Published by Sanctum Books