Lux Radio Theater

Lux Radio Theater

Infobox Radio Show
show_name = Lux Radio Theater

imagesize = 100px
caption = Newspaper advertisement for the premier show on the NBC Blue Network, starring Miriam Hopkins.
other_names =
format = Anthology drama
runtime = 1 hour
country = flagicon|United States United States
language = English
home_station = WJZ (10/14/34-06/30/35)
CBS WABC (07/29/35-05/25/36)
CBS (06/01/36-06/28/54)
NBC (09/14/54-06/07/55)
syndicates =
television = Lux Video Theatre (1950-1957)
presenter = John Anthony, Albert Hayes, Cecil B. DeMille, William Keighley, Irving Cummings
starring = Numerous Broadway and Hollywood stars
creator =
director = Antony Stanford, Frank Woodruff, Sanford Barnett, Fred MacKaye, Earl Ebi, Norman Macdonnell
writer = George Wells
Sanford Barnett
producer =
executive_producer =
narrated =
record_location = 1934–1936 New York City
1936–1955 Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
first_aired = October 14 1934
last_aired = June 7 1955
num_series = 21
num_episodes = 926
audio_format = Monaural sound
opentheme =
endtheme =
website =
podcast =

"Lux Radio Theater", one of the genuine classic radio anthology series (NBC Blue Network (1934-1935); CBS (1935-1954); NBC (1954-1955)) adapted first Broadway stage works, and then (especially) films to hour-long live radio presentations. It quickly became the most popular dramatic anthology series on radio, running more than twenty years.

Early history

The program always began with an announcer proclaiming, "Ladies and gentlemen, Lux presents Hollywood!" Cecil B. DeMille was the host of the series each Monday evening from June 1, 1936, until January 22, 1945. On one occasion, however, he was replaced by Leslie Howard.

"Lux Radio Theater" strove to feature as many of the original stars of the original stage and film productions as possible, usually paying them $5,000 an appearance to do the show. It was when sponsor Lever Brothers (who made Lux soap and detergent) moved the show from New York City to Hollywood in 1936 that it eased back from adapting stage shows and toward adaptations of films. The first "Lux" film adaptation was "The Legionnaire and the Lady", with Marlene Dietrich and Clark Gable, based on the film "Morocco". That was followed by a "Lux" adaptation of "The Thin Man", featuring the movie's stars, Myrna Loy and William Powell.

Many of the greatest---or, at least, the most legendary---names in stage and film appeared in the series, most in the roles they made famous on the screen, including Abbott and Costello, Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball, Ethel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, James Cagney, Claudette Colbert, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Joseph Cotten, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Dan Duryea, Frances Farmer, Errol Flynn, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Lillian Gish, Charlton Heston, Bob Hope, Vivien Leigh, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Muni, Vincent Price, Donna Reed, Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sothern, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Shirley Temple, Gene Tierney, Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, Jane Wyman, Orson Welles, Loretta Young, and Robert Young, among numerous others.

Among the men, Don Ameche -- eventually a radio star in "The Bickersons" -- appeared most often, with 18 "Lux" appearances, just ahead of Fred MacMurray's 17. Among the women, the honor went to Barbara Stanwyck with 15 "Lux" appearances, including her re-creation of her hit film "Sorry, Wrong Number" (itself borne of an earlier radio production, on CBS legend "Suspense"). Loretta Young's 14 appearances were the second most among the women.

Though the show focused on film and its performers, perhaps inevitably several classic radio regulars appeared in "Lux Radio Theater" productions. Jim and Marian Jordan, better known as Fibber McGee and Molly, appeared on the show twice and also built an episode of their own radio comedy series around one of those appearances. Their longtime costar, Arthur Q. Bryan (wisecracking Dr. Gamble) made a few "Lux" appearances as well. Bandleader Phil Harris---a longtime regular on Jack Benny's radio hit---and his singing actress wife, Alice Faye, who had become radio comedy stars with their own show beginning in 1948, appeared in a "Lux" presentation. Fred Allen, Jack Benny (with and without his wife, Mary Livingstone), George Burns and Gracie Allen were among the other radio stars who were invited to do "Lux" presentations as well.

At least once "Lux Radio Theater" presented an adaptation of the film version of a radio series hit: "The Life of Riley", featuring William Bendix as the Brooklyn-born, California-transplanted, stumbling but bighearted aircraft worker he already made famous in the long-running radio series (and eventual television hit) of the same name.

But also at least once "Lux Radio Theater" offered a presentation without any known performers---its 1942 adaptation of "This is the Army" included a cast strictly drawn from actual American soldiers.

"Mercury Theatre on the Air" -- which eventually made Orson Welles a force to be reckoned with, especially with the commotion his broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" (30 October 1938) provoked -- was initially a summer replacement series for "Lux Radio Theater".

DeMille's clash with Unions

It was a clash over closed shop union rulings favoured by the old American Federation of Radio Artists that ended DeMille's term as "Lux Radio Theater"'s host. AFRA assessed members a dollar each to help back a campaign to enact closed-shop rulings in California. DeMille, an AFRA member but a stern opponent of closed shops, refused to pay because he believed it would nullify his opposition vote. When AFRA ruled those not paying faced suspension from the union, and thus a ban from appearing on the air, DeMille was finished---because he also refused to let anyone else pay the dollar for him. "Lux Radio Theater" auditioned, on the air, several hosts over the next year, until they settled on William Keighley as the new permanent host, a post he held from late 1945 through mid-1955.

Final years and TV version

During its years on CBS in Hollywood, "Lux Radio Theater" was broadcast from the Lux Radio Playhouse located at 1615 North Vine Street in Hollywood, one block south of the famed intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The theater was later renamed The Huntington Hartford Theater, The Doolittle Theater, and is now the Ricardo Montalban Theater.

The "Lux Video Theatre" began as a live 30-minute Monday evening CBS series October 2, 1950, switching to Thursday nights during August, 1951. In September 1953, the show relocated from New York to Hollywood. In August, 1954, it jumped to NBC as an hour-long show on Thursday nights, telecast until September 12, 1957. James Mason was the host in the 1954-55 season.

ee also

*The Screen Guild Theater
*Screen Director's Playhouse
*Ford Theatre
*Theater Guild on the Air
*Academy Award Theater
*Author's Playhouse
*Cavalcade of America
*CBS Radio Workshop
*General Electric Theater
*The Campbell Playhouse
*Mercury Theatre on the Air


* [ Audio Classics Archive Radio Logs: "Lux Radio Theater"]

External links

* [ OTR Network Library: "Lux Radio Theater" (276 1936-55 episodes)]
* [ Lux Radio Theater - OTR - Old Time Radio (108 episodes)]
*InternetArchiveOTR|id=Lux01|title=Lux Radio Theater (1936-52)
* [ The Lux Radio Theatre Collection] in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library
* [ "Lux Radio Theater": "War Of The Worlds"]
* [;adv=yes;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=Number%3A143501;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10 Lux Radio Theater (Australian version) at the National Film and Sound Archive]

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