Helen Traubel With Charles Laughton, Alexander Korda And The Revelers – 1936 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone
Another installment of the NBC/RCA Victor variety program The Magic Key. This time, celebrating the 10th anniversary of both the Red and Blue networks of NBC and marking the third appearance of Soprano Helen Traubel on the program.
Also appearing is actor Charles Laughton and celebrated film producer Alexander Korda, broadcasting live from London and performing scenes from the upcoming Korda production of Rembrandt starring Charles Laughton.
Mixed in-between all that is the Popular vocal group The Revelers and an essay from John B. Kennedy.
I was on the fence about just featuring the Traubel portion of the program, to highlight the historic Classical side of things, but the other parts of the program were equally interesting, especially since there is precious little featuring the voice of Alexander Korda, a highly influential figure in Hollywood during the 1930s and since the scenes from Rembrandt broadcast directly from London give it an extra historic importance to the proceedings – I figured the least I could do was leave it all intact.
But as I said before, this was a program that ostensibly showcased RCA-Victor records as well as some of the other products RCA was making available to the audience. There is an ad for a new release featuring Arturo Toscanini with the New York Philharmonic in a performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony – one which has been reissued ever since. And there is a promotion for an upcoming episode featuring the legendary pianist Paderewski making his second appearance on the program; the first being a live broadcast from Switzerland. This one would be broadcast from the fabled Studio 8H in New York – and that was happening in a week’s time.
All in all, one of the truly unique variety programs of the day where no expense was spared and every innovation and development along the lines of recording and broadcasting were on display to be marveled at. This was high-tech in 1936.
Have a listen.