The Golden Age of Radio

You have to be of a certain age to remember a time before there were television sets in every home in America and not the beloved radio. It is hard for my kids and grandkids to imagine a time when we sat around a floor model radio to listen to (not see) our nightly entertainment shows. Before it is much too late, let’s take a look at a few of the radio shows that provided us with nightly and weekly excitement.

1. Each week, our hero went to his closet to find something, always forgetting how over crammed it’s was with endless junk. When he opened the door, everything fell out with an endless roar of junk hitting the floor. What was this comedy classic?

2. Our hero and his trusty friend entered each week to the stirring music of Ferde Grofe’s “William Tell Overture.” What was this show?

3. He was the “All American Boy” and he attended Hudson High. Who was our college hero?

4. Jack Benny was a great radio star and was one of the rare ones who made a seamless transition to TV. Because of his unbelievable thrift, he drove a vehicle that was at least 50 years old that made a real racket on radio. What was the make of his car?

5. “Amos and Andy” was the most popular radio show of the early 1930s. Because of its popularity,, movie theaters would play it in theaters before the movie was played in an attempt to keep patrons from staying home. What mythical lodge were Amos and Andy members of?

6. “Christmas Story” has become one of the most popular movies shown every year at Yuletide. It captures the draw of old radio on families of that time. In the movie, the little boy desperately wants a BB gun for Christmas that is promoted by his radio hero. Who was that hero?

Play Ball… Where?

Baseball season is upon us, basketball is mid season and football has closed up for the time being. Our local teams have played over the years in various sites. Let us see if you can name them.

  1. The San Francisco 49ers started play in 1946. At what stadium did they play their games until 1970?
  1. Before moving to the Oakland Coliseum in 1967, the Raiders played three seasons in a temporary field built for them at the current Laney College site. What was the name of that stadium?
  1. When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, they played two seasons in a stadium previously occupied by a Pacific Coast League team. What was the name of that field?
  1. The Oakland A’s have always played at the Oakland Coliseum since 1968, no matter the various names attached to that stadium. From what city did the team move to Oakland?
  1. Before moving permanently to Oakland, the Warriors played in various venues throughout San Francisco. One location they shared with the Ice Capades. What was it?
  1. Another Warrior location was a site for livestock exhibitions. What was that venue?

Trivially Presidential

Most U. S. Presidents are portrayed eventually in movies or TV. I think our new one will insist on playing himself. Let’s review some of the prez’s, both fictional and real, portrayed on the large or small screen.

  1. He played a skirt chasing prez in Absolute Power and an ex-president in Welcome to Mooseport–both fictional of course, but who was the actor?
  1. A distinguished Oscar winner, he played the title role on TV’s Mr. President in the early 90s. Who was he?
  1. Oliver Stone likes making movies about recent presidents. Who played George W. Bush in his movie W?
  1. Who played Woodrow Wilson in the 1944 movie, Wilson?
  1. It appears that 24 is coming back to TV. Jack Bauer is busy playing the prez on another show. Who played the POTUS on the first two seasons of 24?
  1. West Wing was very successful TV series about life in the White House. Who played the President on that show?


60 Minutes

It only seems like “60 Minutes” has been on TV for 60 years. It is the longest running network television news show in history. Not the ratings juggernaut it used to be, but it still gets excellent ratings and remains timely. I would not miss it. Let’s see what you know about the show.

1. What year did it begin? It appeared originally as a bi-weekly show.

2. One of the original hosts left CBS in the 1980s because he was given the assignment of sharing the anchor desk with Barbara Walters. Who was he?

3. The other original host earlier served as a game show host on “The Big Surprise” and “Who’s the Boss.” Who was he?

4. A popular co-host joined the show in the 70s. He was a sober, thoughtful correspondent and worked until his death early this year. Who was he?

5. The first African American newscaster worked regularly on “60 Minutes” until his death 10 years ago. Who was he?

6. One of the delightful features of “60 Minutes” was the wry commentary the last five minutes of each show. The correspondent was never replaced upon his passing. A veteran of Stars and Stripes from WWII, who was he?

Holiday Trivia 2016

Among all the things we get used to at the holidays is the proliferation of Holiday Television shows. Some of these, if not all of them, were made 50 years or more ago. A new generation comes along to enjoy them, so I guess we should too. So, let’s…

  1. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special plays every year. What celebrated San Francisco Jazz artist is responsible for the music in all the Charlie Brown specials?
  1. He owned a Major League Baseball team and was one of the first singing cowboys, but he is probably most famous for singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Who is he?
  1. He played Patton in the movies, but he also played a memorable Scrooge in a very good TV version of “Christmas Carol.” Who is he?
  1. “Miracle on 34th Street” still delights families at Christmastime, although it was filmed 69 years ago. In the movie, Kris Kringle surprises the shoppers at Macy’s by telling them they can find a better deal at famous competitor’s store down the street. No longer in business, who was that competitor?
  1. It think everyone’s favorite movie at Yuletide is still “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I know my kids watched it repeatedly as kids and I watched it with my grownup daughter last year. What were the names of the cop and the cabdriver in that movie?
  1. In that movie, who played Mr. Potter, the town miser, who always tried to upset George Bailey’s plans to make Bedford Falls a more livable community?


Favorite Broadway Musicals

Sitting around with contemporaries over morning coffee leads to long discussions on matters in the distant past. This morning, for example, we discussed our favorite Broadway musicals. It is no surprise to anyone that we did not speak of “Hamilton” or “Book of Mormon.” No, we spoke of older chestnuts. Thankfully, modern audiences enjoy these shows too, since they are constantly restaged for modern audiences. Bet you, most of you will know these.

  1. My favorite is “My Fair Lady.” What song writing team wrote the music and lyrics for this timeless classic?
  1. My friend’s favorite is “Guys and Dolls.” I love it too. The words and music were crafted by a prolific tunesmith of movies, radio and stage. Who was he?
  1. “Gypsy” is another show that pops up every few years to feature veteran actresses who love playing Mama Rose. Who wrote the music and what young prodigy wrote the lyrics for this timeless score?
  1. Musicals of the 20s and 30s do not come around often, but “Anything Goes” is a delightful exception. Who was the composer of this great score?
  1. Rogers and Hammerstein are responsible for so many of the great musicals. The sources of the stories will vary greatly. “The King and I” is based on a movie of the late 40s. What was that movie?
  1. “The Music Man” was an original story that resulted in a great hit of the late 50s. The words and music were the brain work of a musician who had been better known as the backup band for a couple radio shows. Who was he?

Emmy Awards

The annual Emmy Awards were on this past week. In the old days, the major networks picked up all the prizes. Nowadays, Netflix , Amazon and other alternate providers pick up plenty of loot. Let’s look at the Emmy winning comedies over the past 50 years.


  1. In 1956, the top comedy was a family comedy much like a few others of the time. Which comedy picked up the Emmy that year?


  1. Ten years pass, but we are still watching domestic comedies. This gem had a little more going for it. What was the Emmy winning comedy of 1966?


  1. Norman Lear came along in 1971 and changed what television comedy looked like. He did not produce the top comedy of 1976, but the traditional comedy more or less grew up that year. What comedy took the prize in 1976?


  1. The winner in 1986 borrowed players from previous hit comedies. What comedy won the prize in 1986?


  1. The 1996 winner was actually a spinoff from a great series of a few years earlier. What was it?


  1. The winner for 2006 was a true original, but was based on a British comedy of the same name. Which comedy took the 2006 prize?

Tougher Trivia

I was asked to supply several sports questions for the annual Kings X Trivia Tournament, held on August 21 in Walnut Creek. Since I have exhausted myself with the work, I thought it convenient to share a few of them with Alive. Here goes…

1. On April 15, 1958, the first Major League Baseball game in West Coast history was played in San Francisco between the Giants and Dodgers. The Giants won 8-0. Who was the winning pitcher?

2. Another famous day in San Francisco sports history occurred August 28, 1965 when a Minnesota Viking picked up a 49er fumble and proceeded to run the wrong way. He spiked the ball in the end zone and the ball went out of bounds, resulting in a 2 point safety for SF. Who was that ill fated Viking?

3. You may not think of competitive eating as a sport, but let’s. This chap was the annual champ of the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest, until Joey Chestnut came along. He then got into a dispute with Nathan’s, so is no longer invited back. He still competes and goes by a single name. Who is he?

4. The late Nate Thurmond was one of the most popular players in Warrior’s history. Ironically, he was traded to Cleveland a Center for a Center , who played on the Warrior championship team of 1974-1975. Who was that center?

5. Serena Williams is closing in on the record number of Grand Slam titles of 24. Who holds the record of 24 Grand Slam Tennis titles?

6. He played for the undefeated, untied, uninvited University of San Francisco Football team of 1951. He went on to a Hall of Fame career as a Defensive End for the Baltimore Colts and participated in the so called Greatest Game ever Played against the NY Giants in 1957. Who was he?


In 2001, the American Film Institute named Humphrey Bogart as the greatest film star of the 20th Century, ahead of Cary Grant, John Wayne and James Stewart. Bogart was only a star for a few years; from 1940 to his death in 1956. Before that he was a supporting actor who specialized in getting shot by James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson. His roles were distinctive and his name in his best movies we all know (or do we?). Let’s see.

  1. His first break came in 1936’s “Petrified Forest.” He plays an escaped convict who holds the stars of the movie cap rives in a remote diner. What was his name?
  1. His big break came in 1940’s “High Sierra.” He plays an ex con known to the public as Mad Dog, who meets his demise on Mount Whitney. What was his name?
  1. In 1941, Bogie got one of his most famous roles in “The Maltese Falcon,” as a private eye in one of the classic films noir. What was his name?
  1. His most famous movie, “Casablanca,” followed in 1943. He played the owner of Rick’s American Cafe in that Moroccan town. What was Rick’s last name?
  1. In 1948, Bogie starred in my favorite movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Although Walter Huston steals the movie, Bogie does great job as the vagrant who goes mad with gold fever. What was his name, including middle initial?
  1. Bogie finally won an Oscar in 1951 playing a drunken boat captain opposite Katharine Hepburn in “The African Queen.” What was his name in this classic?

Rogers & Hammerstein

“There’s a bright golden haze in the meadow,” are the opening lyrics to the American treasure Oklahoma, the first musical by the legendary team, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Rodgers wrote the music, while Hammerstein supplied the lyrics and libretto to a steady stream of great musicals from the 1940s to the 1950s. Let’s reminisce about their masterworks produced together and separately.

  1. Prior to getting together with Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics to the great musical of 1928, Showboat. Who was the music composer of that great show?
  1. Prior to getting together with Hammerstein, Richards Rodgers partnered with a wonderful lyricist in several hit shows of the 1920s and 1930s, such as Pal Joey. Who was that lyricist?
  1. She later won an Oscar for Gentlemen’s Agreement, but she got her first big break playing Ado Annie in R & H’s first hit Oklahoma. Who was she?
  1. Their next big hit was Carousel. The love song between Billy and Julie was the personal favorite of R & H. What was it?
  1. For their next hit, South Pacific, they hired a star from the New York opera to play the male lead and sing “Some Enchanted Evening.” Who was he?
  1. For their next hit, King and I, they chose a star from England who made her career in British music halls and some early Broadway musicals. Who was she?
  1. The most successful movie based on a R & H musical was Sound of Music. Julie Andrews starred in the movie, but who played Maria on Broadway?