Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Fred Flintstone: The Daily Worker?

I finished reading Chuck Schaden's Speaking of Radio last night, and I can heartily endorse this book as being worth the investment. The only minor quibble I have is that some of these interviews have turned up previously in Leonard Maltin's The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio's Golden Age, but again, just a small nitpick on my part; there is still plenty of interesting and new information revealed in these interviews that will delight both the OTR veteran and novice.

For an example, during an interview with Alan Reed, I learned that one of the actors on a show he worked on—Life With Luigi—was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, causing the sponsor of Luigi to cancel the show. (Luigi, for the uninitiated, was a situation comedy series about an Italian immigrant that achieved great popularity during the remaining years of Radio's Golden Age.) He then relates that while making a purchase at his butcher's the man asked him if the show had been cancelled because he and star J. Carrol Naish were Communists. (Naish was not the individual brought up before HUAC, by the way…it was actress Jody Gilbert, who told the HUAC people to take a hike.) Reed was one of the busiest actors in radio, appearing regularly on shows like Duffy's Tavern and My Friend Irma, and he estimated that he lost nearly a quarter-million dollars in radio and television gigs during that time period—sobering news in that so many innocent people's lives were decimated by the insidious blacklist. Reed would later achieve television immortality as the voice of Fred Flintstone in the mega-popular cartoon series (at least, until The Simpsons came along) The Flintstones.

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