The early to mid-decade period of the 1940s were marked mainly by, of course, World War II. The involvement of nations in the war was reflected in the radio programs of the day. People could get all the news bulletins, interesting updates, and general information related to the war with the help of these programs.
As war related news grew in the number of reports and frequency, the radio industry began to undergo a change. The growing popularity of radio paved the way for a number of dramatic programs to go on the air. When listeners began to grow tired of listening to war talk and reports, they would turn to other programs for an escape.
Quiz shows, soap operas, drama etc. were beginning to be broadcast for long hours and grew in popularity. Similar to television shows of today, radio started gaining importance in people’s life. From drama, adventure, romance, comedy to musical concerts, sports broadcast, weather forecast, news and commentary, radios became a fabric of everyday life and a great source of entertainment.
One of the most popular shows during this era of radio was the Lux Radio Theater, which made its rightful place in the hearts of its audience. Wholesome entertainment as families would gather around and listen to some of Hollywood’s greatest legends performing one hour versions of their motion pictures, on radio.
These versions were accompanied by full orchestras and were performed live on stage from Hollywood while on CBS, before a studio audience. It was a great challenge as these actors were not used to performing without any retakes. However, those who did make an appearance on the show were paid in the range of $5,000.
Some that appeared were Abbott and Costello, Jean Arthur, Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball, Ethel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, James Cagney, Claudette Colbert, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Joseph Cotten, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Dan Duryea, Frances Farmer, Errol Flynn, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Greer Garson, Janet Gaynor, Cary Grant, Lillian Gish, Charlton Heston, Bob Hope, Vivien Leigh, Ida Lupino, Fredric March, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Muni, Vincent Price, Donna Reed, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sothern, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Shirley Temple, Gene Tierney, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, John Wayne, Jane Wyman, Orson Welles, Loretta Young and Robert Young.
This classic anthology series was broadcast on a weekly basis, and families would anxiously wait for the next installment of these hour-long programs. It’s no surprise that the dramatic anthology series ran for more than 20 years. Even during the 1950s, the series continued to be shown on television and was famously known as The Lux Video Theater.
The Lux Radio Theater, if you can find the time to give a listen.. you won’t be disappointed!