Fred Allen - Portland Hoffa

Fred Allen with foil, sidekick and wife, Portland Hoffa - Golden Age of Radio Comedy -

Fred Allen – Christmas 1932 – Past Daily Holiday Gallimaufry

Fred Allen - Portland Hoffa
Fred Allen with foil, sidekick and wife, Portland Hoffa – Golden Age of Radio Comedy –

Linit Bath Club Revue With Fred Allen – December 25, 1932 – CBS – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Christmas with Fred Allen. If you know, heard of or are a true-blue fan, you can skip the rest of this article and head straight to the show.

Fred Allen, was an American comedian. His absurdist, topically pointed radio program The Fred Allen Show (1932–1949) made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the Golden Age of American radio.

His best-remembered gag was his long-running mock feud with friend and fellow comedian Jack Benny, but it was only part of his appeal; radio historian John Dunning (in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio) wrote that Allen was perhaps radio’s most admired comedian and most frequently censored. A master ad libber, Allen often tangled with his network’s executives (and often barbed them on the air over the battles) while developing routines whose style and substance influenced fellow comic talents, including Groucho Marx, Stan Freberg, Henry Morgan, and Johnny Carson; his avowed fans also included President Franklin D. Roosevelt, humorist James Thurber, and novelists William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Herman Wouk (who began his career writing for Allen).

Allen first hosted The Linit Bath Club Revue on CBS, moving the show to NBC and becoming The Salad Bowl Revue (in a nod to new sponsor Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, which was marketed by the parent company of Linit) later in the year. The show became The Sal Hepatica Revue (1933–34), The Hour of Smiles (1934–35), and finally Town Hall Tonight (1935–39). In 1939–40, however, sponsor Bristol-Myers, which advertised Ipana toothpaste as well as Sal Hepatica during the program, altered the title to The Fred Allen Show, over his objections. Allen’s perfectionism (odd to some, considering his deft ad-libs) caused him to leap from sponsor to sponsor until Town Hall Tonight allowed him to set his chosen small-town milieu and establish himself as a bona fide radio star.

Sound isn’t the best on this particular broadcast, but since the Fred Allen shows I have in my archive are either post-Christmas or sometime in November, ya gotta make do with what’s available.

But the intention is all there – as is the Christmas spirit.


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