Saturday, December 20, 2003

R.I.P, Les Tremayne

Barbara J. Watkins reported on The Old-Time Radio Digest that we lost radio actor Les Tremayne yesterday, who passed away at the age of 90.

Tremayne was one of old-time radio's busiest actors--perhaps best remembered for playing the male lead on The First Nighter Program from 1936-43. But his versatility was amazing: he did crime dramas (The Falcon, The Thin Man), soap operas (The Romance of Helen Trent, Wendy Warren and the News), dramatic anthologies (Author's Playhouse, Grand Hotel)--he even played straight man to The Great One himself, Jackie Gleason, on a 1944 summer program called Double Feature! He was also one of the many old pros who participated in the all-too-brief attempt to revive old-time radio in the 1970s, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

Tremayne also did some outstanding film work, including roles in The Racket (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), Forbidden Planet (as the film's narrator) (1956), and a great bit as the auctioneer in one of my favorite movies, North By Northwest (1959). It's funny, though--before I got into OTR, as a kid, I was most familiar with Tremayne as "Mentor" on the CBS Saturday morning kids' show Shazam! (1974-77).

Recently, Tremayne wrote the foreword for Chuck Schaden's wonderful book Speaking of Radio, in addition to being one of the interviewees. RIP, Mr. Tremayne. You'll always be a "Mentor" to me.

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