Monday, May 25, 2009

Warning: A Graphic Post






(1951 Civil Defense Comic Book)


The other day, when doing research for my other blog on civil defense education materials from the 1950’s  (a fascinating subject, one which I will probably cover here at some point) I came across an archive of 1950’s and 1960’s comic books, along with a special reader to view them on your computer.


Now . . . I remember giving up my comic collection quite vividly – at the age of 11 – because I had moved on to more `adult’ reading material (OK, I admit it . . .  I’d discovered Harold Robbins). 


I literally threw away hundreds of – what would be today – collectable comic books.  Being relatively sophisticated for my age, I did keep all of my MAD Magazines.


Anyway, I digress . . .


I discovered in the Internet Archive comic books that I’d, quite frankly, forgotten about.   Many of them based on popular TV shows of the day . . . mostly westerns.


It suddenly brought back a rush of nostalgia. 


Here were comic books based on Wagon Train, Lawman, Colt .45, Rin Tin Tin, Zorro!, Laramie . . . . and many more. 


The following images are screen captured (and reduced in size) from the CDisplay Image Display Program - version by David Ayton.


Comic Books are usually archived in a .cbr or . cbz format, and require a special viewer.   For windows, I can recommend the CDisplay program available at:


The Mac OS X image viewer Xee also supports both Comic Book Archive formats, and there are other 3rd party programs such as FFView, Jomic, and ComicBookLover.





This comic book was released 50 years ago, in the summer of 1959.    Gene Barry, assumes his famous pose on the cover, as the dandified Bat Masterson.







Richard Boone as Paladin, this time from 1958.




Other genres are available as well, with well over 300 comic books scanned and stored in the Internet Archive, with more being added every month.  






Two searches on the Internet Archive will bring up most of the comic books they have.  One on the .cbz format, and one on .cbr format.


There are other Internet sites with FREELY available comic books, including  The Comic Books Archive, which has over 800 (mostly Dell) comics available.


Comic books are something I never considered when I started this blog, but they are a legitimate bit of Americana, a nostalgic reminder of the 1950’s, and (thankfully) many are in the public domain.


The artwork, stories, and characters are far superior to the glossy super hero comic books that would follow in the 1960’s. 


Perhaps going back and revisiting your childhood isn’t tops on your list (but I’ll be a lot of you do), but these comics would be a terrific way to introduce your children or your grand-children to some of the culture we enjoyed so much in our youth.


For more than 40 years, I considered myself too old, and too sophisticated to read a comic book.


I'm glad I’m past that.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Themes Like Old Times








Somewhere around 1971 or 1972 I came across an LP of old radio themes and show openings called `Themes Like Old Times’.  


At the time I knew a little about OTR (Old Time Radio), and had heard my parents talk about its heyday often, but really wasn’t a big fan.   But I enjoyed listening to the LP.


Over the years, I lost that album.  But recently, in doing an Internet search, I found that someone from South Africa (an OTR enthusiast) had posted both sides of the album on their website in MP3 format.


For those who remember old time radio, these 90 audio snippets are bound to bring back a lot of memories.  For others, who perhaps are thinking about trying some shows out, they give at least a little glimpse into the formats.


I’ve put the list of themes at the end of this blog.  












Side 1

  1. Prologue
  2. The Mysterious Traveller
  3. The Jimmy Durante Show
  4. The Falcon
  5. X Minus One
  6. The House Of Mystery
  7. Fibber McGee And Molly
  8. Valiant Lady
  9. Amos 'N' Andy
  10. Suspense
  11. Town Hall Tonight
  12. Easy Aces
  13. Philco Radio Time
  14. The Tom Mix Ralston Straightshooters
  15. Life Can Be Beautiful
  16. Lux Radio Theatre
  17. Boston Blackie
  18. The Answer Man
  19. Uncle Dan
  20. The Guiding Light
  21. Can You Top This?
  22. Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
  23. Vic And Sade
  24. Mark Trail
  25. Major Bowes
  26. Original Amateur Hour
  27. Here's Morgan
  28. The Aldrich Family
  29. True Detective Mysteries
  30. Stella Dallas
  31. Myrt And Marge
  32. The Charlie McCarthy Show
  33. Grand Central Station
  34. The Whistler
  35. Against The Storm
  36. The Eddie Cantor Show
  37. Chandu The Magigian
  38. Lights Out
  39. Melody Ranch
  40. The Shadow
  41. Backstage Wife
  42. Mr. District Attorney
  43. The Story Of Dr. Kildare
  44. Nick Carter, Master Detective

Side 2

  1. Hop Harrigan
  2. It Pays To Be Ignorant
  3. Pepper Young's Family
  4. I Love A Mystery
  5. The Marlin Hurt And Beulah Show
  6. The Pepsodent Show
  7. The Bill Stern Sports Newsreel
  8. The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show
  9. Gangbusters
  10. Philip Morris Playhouse
  11. Lorenzo Jones
  12. Superman
  13. The Lone Ranger
  14. Captain Midnight
  15. National Barn Dance
  16. Gunsmoke
  17. The Witch's Tale
  18. Double Or Nothing
  19. The Green Hornet
  20. Benny Goodman's Swing School
  21. A Helping Hand
  22. Richard Diamond, Private Eye
  23. Ma Perkins
  24. Michael Shayne
  25. The Joe Penner Show
  26. The Ed Wynn Show
  27. Bulldog Drummond
  28. Your Hit Parade
  29. Red Ryder
  30. Big Sister
  31. Maxwell House Coffee Tiem
  32. The Taystee Breadwinner
  33. Right To Happiness
  34. The Lucky Strike Program
  35. Terry And The Pirates
  36. Let Yourself Go
  37. Jack Armstrong
  38. The Coke Club
  39. Young Dr. Malone
  40. Duffy's Tavern
  41. The FBE In Peace And War
  42. The Lum 'N' Abner Show
  43. Lets Pretend
  44. The Hardy Family
  45. The Firstnighter Program
  46. What Was The Name Of The Shave Cream He Used To Sell?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Juke Box Saturday Night




For most people, `Big Band Music’ conjures up the image of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, or perhaps Artie Shaw, in some driving toe tapping number that was simply made to be danced to.


What was called `swing’ music.  


But Big Band encompasses so much more than just that. 


In fact, there are a  number of different types of big band music.  Some perhaps not as well remembered today, but at the time, still very popular.


1935 was a line of demarcation between the old style of big band music – which was played `sweet’, usually with a string section, and very little wandering from the melody line – to the `hot’ swing bands – that would dominate later


Paul Whiteman and his orchestra was probably the best known of the sweet bands, although Ben Bernie, Rudy Vallee, Ben Pollack, Shep Fields, and Fred Waring were immensely popular as well.


In the 1920s, Whiteman was dubbed by the media as The King of Jazz, although his version of jazz consisted of formal arrangements, not the sort of improvisation that most associate with the genre.


Whiteman brought respectability to jazz, and sold more records than any other band leader of the 1920s.


There were also jazzier jazz bands, many that played New Orleans or Kansas City style, and they too were popular during the 1920s and 1930s. 


Swing music as we know it today was looked upon as a curiosity before about 1935, and a number of famous band leaders of the late 1930’s and 1940s failed in their first  attempts to put together successful bands.


Benny Goodman playing Carnegie Hall in 1937 changed the landscape for the Swing Bands of the day, and for more than the next decade, Swing music dominated the music scene.


The Internet Archive has a number of excellent compilations of Swing & Big Band Music available to listen to or to download.


One of the best is a 4 1/2 hour radio broadcast on KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio from March of 2007.  




Audio Files

25 MB

23 MB

25 MB

25 MB

25 MB

You can also download in 96Kpbs MP3, or Ogg Vorbis format by visiting the webpage.



Just a small sampling of some of the music from this collection includes:


Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Lets Get Away From It All Sentimental

Kay Starr With The Charlie Barnett Orchestra Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen

Andrews Sisters Pennsylvania Polka Hits Of 42

Duke Ellington Harlem Suite

Doris Day Sentimental Journey Early Days 44-49/Asv

Ester Williams, Ricardo Mantalban, Red Skelton & Betty Garrett Baby Its Cold Outside Hollywood’s Best The 40s/Asv

When The Lights Go On Again Vaughn Monroe

Sing Sing Sing Pt 1

Andrews Sisters Rum And Coca Cola Hits Of 44/Living Era

Mario Lanza Be My Love

Casda Loma Orchestra Big Band Blast/Memoir

Bing Crosby Swinin On A Star

Mills Brothers Paper Doll Billboard

Jumpin At The Woodside  Count Basie Big Band

Edith Piaf La Vie En Rose (English 1950) 

Nat King Cole Guadalajara N/C/C/ Cole Espanol And More/Capitol

Ink Spots Java Jive 1940 Ink Spots Greatest Hits/Decca

Sarah Vaughn Black Coffee 1949 The Divine One/Living Era

Duke Ellington Jazz Cocktail Thye Young Duke 1927-40/Pavilion

Harry Belafonte Jamaica Farewell 1955 The Essential H.B./Rca Legacy

Fats Waller The Minor Drag 1929 Fats And His Buddies/Bluebird

Ella Fitzgerald The Lady Is A Tramp The Songbooks/Verve

Sammy Davis Jr That Old Black Magic 1955 The S.D.Jr.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adventures Above and Beneath The Sea








Over the past few weeks, when I’ve been able to grab a short break from blogging about pandemic influenza (see Avian Flu Diary)  I’ve been spending time with an old friend.


Lloyd Bridges.


Without any notion of establishing a theme, in the past month I’ve watched two of his old (pre-Sea Hunt) movies -  The Limping Man and  Rocketship XM (Starring Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery, Jr., and Hugh O'Brien), along with at least a dozen episodes from his classic underwater TV show.


click to play movie

(click for The Limping Man)




click to play movie

(click for Rocketship XM)



Bridges, who a whole new generation knows as a comedic actor in movie parodies like Airplane!, Hot Shots!, and Jane Austen's Mafia! and from appearances on Seinfeld, became a successful actor playing straight dramatic roles.


His earliest movie roles came in the mid-1930’s, uncredited in movies like Freshman Love (1936) and Dancing Feet (1936).  He would sign with Columbia in 1941, and make small appearances in 15 films that year.


He worked steadily, albeit mostly in `B’ movies, throughout the 1940’s.  During the early 1950’s, his career was nearly derailed by allegations that he was a communist sympathizer, but an FBI clearance helped push those concerns to the side.


Bridges worked in early TV, and in the movies, but did not become a star until he was tapped by Producer Ivan Tors to star in his underwater adventure  SEA HUNT.


The concept for the show was turned down by all 3 networks (yes, there were only 3 back then).   So Tors went the syndication route, and SEA HUNT become the most successfully syndicated show up until that time.


As Mike Nelson, ex-navy frogman and freelance skin diver, Bridges depended heavily on stunt divers in the beginning (with Courtney Brown appearing has his `double’) in most of the underwater sequences during the early episodes.


Bridges, however, became an expert diver and over the 4 year run of the show, ended up doing many of the later diving scenes.


The shows are compact stories, with little time (or need) for character development.   Nelson either stumbles upon, or is brought in to solve, some underwater crisis – which he does in just over 26 minutes.


His Navy frogman training gives him the ability to disarm WWII mines with just his diving knife, or to take on speargun armed divers (who inexplicably always seem to aim at his steel tanks).


Ok, this was the 1950’s.   Life, and TV, was simpler then.  That’s why we love it.


The theme music, which is well remembered, was written by David Rose (Red Skelton’s Musical Director) under the pseudonym of Ray Llewellyn.


So far, there are 5 episodes available on Youtube


Check back, though, and they will probably add more over time.








1001 Sixty Feet Below 

1002 Flooded Mine

1003 Rapture of the Deep

1004 Mark of the Octopus

1005 The Sea Sled