THE CAVALCADE OF AMERICA: THE LOST EPISODES
by Martin Grams, Jr.
Sixty years ago when DuPont chemists were toiling over their bunsen burners and squinting into the reports to bring into the world such strange and new materials as nylon and lucite, the public thought of DuPont as a gunpowder manufacturing gargantuan, making goods of destruction. Then some smart advertising agency executives sold the 26 men on DuPont's executive committee the idea of advertising on radio the constructive things DuPont was making for society. "Better things for better living through chemistry" was the motif behind the advertising plan and it was soon heard as DuPont's slogan on a weekly program called The Cavalcade of America.
Nearly 1,000 man-hours each week and eleven-and-a-half hours of rehearsal time were spent in the preparation of each half-hour production. Newspapers with a circulation of 17,500,000 carried advertisements of the program. Close to 715,000 pieces of mail were sent out weekly to stockholders, business leaders, educators, customers, and anyone else who might have an interest in the program. Variety reported in February of 1944 that the budget for Cavalcade moved from $5,000 to $7,000 per show (exactly one year before), to $11,500.
October 9, 1935 - The Cavalcade of America premiered over CBS Radio.
October 1, 1952 - The Cavalcade of America television series premiered over NBC-TV.
Initially dramatizing adaptations of the radio scripts, the television series eventually filmed
original television dramas.
March 31, 1953 - the final radio broadcast of The Cavalcade of America was heard.
June 4, 1957 - the final television episode of The DuPont Cavalcade Theater aired. (the final two
seasons were called The DuPont Cavalcade Theater, not The Cavalcade of America.)
For anyone keeping count, there was "officially" a total of 781 radio broadcasts and 197 television broadcasts. I use the word officially for good reason, which will be explained near the end of this essay. Concerning ourselves with the radio end, only 764 of the 781 historical presentations are known to exist. After months of research, with the cooperation of DuPont and a handful of private collectors, in early 1999 I completed the official list of the seventeen lost radio episodes. Does anyone out there have any of these?
Lost Episode # 1: "The Development of Band Music in America" Broadcast August 12, 1936. Subtitled "The Concert Band Comes Into Its Own." Script was first written on August 3, 1936 and revised on August 7 and 10, 1936. Written and directed by Kenneth Webb. Produced by Arthur Pryor. Music composed and conducted by Arthur Pryor and his Orchestra. Frank Singiser is the announcer. Songs featured (in the order they were performed on this episode) were "On Jersey Shore," Victor Herbert's "Badinage," a selection from Kreisler's operetta "Apple Blossoms," an overture from "Rienzi," and a sextet from "Lucia." This episode was part five of a six-part special summer series which described the origin and development of orchestral and band music in America.
Lost Episode # 2: "The Development of Band Music in America" Broadcast August 19, 1936. Subtitled "Introducing the Instruments." Script was first written on August 3, 1936 and revised on August 13 and 18, 1936. Written and directed by Kenneth Webb. Produced by Arthur Pryor. Music composed and conducted by Arthur Pryor and his Orchestra. Frank Singiser is the announcer. Songs featured (in the order they were performed on this episode) were Pryor's "The Heart of America," Bizet's "L'Arlisienne Suite," Victor Herbert's "Fortune Teller," Pryor's "The Lion Chase," a Sousa march, and the Grand Scene of "Andre Chenier." This episode was part six of a six-part special summer series which described the origin and development of orchestral and band music in America.
Lost Episode # 3: "Modern American Orchestral Music" Broadcast September 9, 1936. Script was first written on September 3, 1936 and revised on September 8, 1936. Written by Harold Sanford. Directed by Kenneth Webb. Produced by Arthur Pryor. Frank Singiser is the announcer. Music composed and conducted by Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra. The true events leading to the composition of the following songs, which were all featured in this broadcast. The 1915 song "Underneath the Stars," the 1920 "Dardanella," Victor Herbert's 1922 "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," Gershwin's 1924 "Rhapsody in Blue," and Herbert's "Kiss in the Dark."
Lost Episode #4: "The Story of Rubber" Broadcast November 18, 1936. Written by Lawrence Hammond. Frank Singiser is the announcer. Craig Stevens is the commercial spokesman. Produced by Arthur Pryor and directed by Kenneth Webb. Music composed and conducted by Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra. This episode documents Charles Goodyear, who in 1832, began experimenting with a crude form of rubber called India Rubber, in an attempt to find a way to make the substance useful for manufacturing.
Lost Episode #5: "The Cavalcade of Music" Broadcast August 11, 1937. Subtitled "Jerome Kern's Music," this was part six of a twelve-part summer series dramatizing the history of American musicians and their compositions. Script first written July 22, 1937 and revised on August 10, 1937. Francia White was the soprano. Writer is unknown but the last name is Wright. Frank Singiser is the announcer. Produced and directed by Kenneth Webb. Music composed and conducted by Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra. Some of the songs featured were "Old Man River," "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Good Morning Dearie," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and "Can I Forget You."
Lost Episode #6: "The Pathfinder" Broadcast January 26, 1938. Script first written on August 31, 1937 and revisions were made on January 3, 11 and 25, 1938. Written by John Driscoll. Frank Singiser is the announcer. Dwight Weist is the commercial spokesman. Produced by Arthur Pryor and directed by Kenneth Webb. Music composed and conducted by Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra. The opening overture was "My Little Gray Home in the West." The drama for this episode was about John C. Freemont, geologist, botanist and topographer, who combined the technical knowledge with his daring as a pioneer in the western wilderness.
Lost Episode #7: "Dear Brutus" Broadcast March 16, 1942. Stars Fredric March as Dearth, Karl Swenson as Matey, John McIntire as Mr. Coade, Jeanette Nolan as Mrs. Coade, Charita Bauer as Margaret and Betty Garde as Alice. Kenny Delmar is the narrator. Clayton Collyer is the announcer. Music composed and conducted by Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra. Producer and directed by Homer Fickett. Next to "Peter Pan," "Dear Brutus" is the most beloved of all the plays written by Sir James Matthew Barrie. The radio script was adapted for Cavalcade by Robert Tallman (who wrote for The Whistler and Suspense). For trivia buffs, Jeanette Nolan and John McIntire, real-life husband and wife, played a married couple, respectfully, in this episode.
Lost Episode #8: "The Silent Heart" Broadcast on March 30, 1942. Stars Ingrid Bergman as Jenny Lind, Karl Swenson as Joseph, Bill Johnstone as Otto, Betty Garde as Anna, Ed Jerome as Webster, Ted Jewett as the voice, John McIntire as P.T. and Edgar Vincent as the sailor. Kenny Delmar is the narrator. Based on unpublished research by Carl Carmer, written by Norman Rosten. The production credits are the same as above. This episode featured the Ken Christie singers. Elizabeth Mulliner sang Bergman's role of Jenny Lind, singing the 1813 song "Last Rose of Summer." Best remembered as the Swedish nightingale, this episode told the story of Jenny Lind and her debut at the Old Castle Garden on the Battery in New York.
Lost Episode #9: "This Side of Hades" Broadcast on April 27, 1942. Stars Loretta Young as Molly Pitcher, Ed Jerome as Irvine, Betty Garde as Beulah, Bill Johnstone as the sentry, Paul Stewart as Smith, Bill Pringle as the Captain, Ted Jewett as the Colonel, John McIntire as George Washington, and Jeanette Nolan as Mrs. Irvine. Based on research by Carl Carmer, written by Robert Tallman. Clayton Collyer is the announcer. Produced and directed by Homer Fickett. Donald Voorhees and his orchestra supplied the music. True story of Molly Pitcher, who ran back and forth from the front lines to a distant well with her pitcher of water, during the American Civil War. Then one day her husband fell exhausted by his cannon, and Molly came to the rescue.
Lost Episode #10: "Clara Barton" Broadcast on June 1, 1942. Stars Madeleine Carroll as Clara Barton, Bill Pringle as Senator Z., Everett Sloane as Jim, John McIntire as Wilson, Jeanette Nolan as Ann, Paul Stewart as Hay, Ed Jerome as Senator Y, Ted Jewett as the orderly. Kenny Delmar is the narrator. Production credits same as above. Clara Barton not only founded the American Red Cross, but also spent four years after the Civil War directing an extensive search for missing soldiers.
Lost Episode #11: "Man of Iron" Broadcast on July 13, 1942. Stars Dean Jagger as Lt. Worden, Bill Johnstone as Greene, Ian Martin as the attache, Paul Stewart as the helmsman, Arnold Moss as Fox, Arlene Francis as Olivia, Ed Herome as Abe Lincoln, Karl Swenson as Stanton. Written by Robert L. Richards and Robert Tallman. Clayton Collyer is the announcer. Homer Fickett produced and directed. Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra supplied the music. John Ericsson came forward to build, in the incredibly short period of one hundred days, a vessel that would destroy the new menace called the Merrimac. His "cheesebox on a raft" introduced a basic new principle of naval warfare to the world.
Lost Episode #12: "Theodore Roosevelt, Man of Action" Broadcast on August 17, 1942. Stars Edward Arnold as Roosevelt. Written by Robert L. Richards and Robert Tallman. Production credits are the same as above. This presents the life of Roosevelt, the man who charged up San Juan Hill, won Vice Presidency in the election of 1900, and became President a year later when McKinley died at the hand of an assassin. The original title of this script was "The Big Stick," referring to the old proverb, "walk softly and carry a big stick." By the time the final draft of this script came into being, the title was changed to the above. One small historical mistake occurred during this drama. McKinley was assassinated by three bullets (provided by sound man Al Scott). When listeners heard this, they began writing to DuPont, commenting that McKinley was assassinated by two bullets, not three. And the listeners were correct!
Lost Episode #13 "The Road to Victory" Broadcast December 7, 1942. Radio actors often played more than one role in the same drama, a common practice for creating the illusion of a crowd, or filling in for simple one-line remarks such as a conductor calling "All Aboard," or a passerby saying "hello." To note, this episode featured the largest cast of characters than any other Cavalcade broadcast. Seventy-three characters were featured, to be exact, and all of the roles were played by a little more than a dozen actors! Carl Sandburg is the narrator. Based on numerous works by Sandburg, and adapted for Cavalcade by Norman Rosten. Produced and directed by Homer Fickett. Clayton Collyer is the announcer. Music composed and conducted by Ardon Cornwell and conducted by Donald Voorhees. A vocal number is sung by the Delta Rhythm Boys. This episode was a one-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor, with Sandburg describing his meetings with Americans from all walks of life, and paused to celebrate the road builders and those traveling along that road.
Lost Episode #14: "Sing a War Song" Broadcast on May 29, 1944. Stars Kay Armen in a musical war-time presentation. Demms Taylor is the narrator. Written by Peter Lyon. Produced and directed by Jack Zoller. Roland Winters is the announcer. Ted Pearson is the commercial announcer. Music for this program was under the direction of Donald Voorhees and his Orchestra of twenty-eight men, Ray Block and a chorus of twenty-four voices and the Golden Gate Quartet. Donald Bryan directed the musical scores. Songs featured were "Elmer's Tune," "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," "Rosie the Riveter," "Don't Forget to Say No, Baby," "This is the Army, Mr. Jones," "One More Mile to Go," "One Little Wac," "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet," and "When the Yanks Go Marching In."
Lost Episode #15: "Pink Lace" Broadcast on February 28, 1949. Stars Janet Blair as Pauline Cushman and Staats Cotsworth as McNairy. Written by Virginia Radcliffe. Produced and directed by Jack Zoller. Bill Hamilton is the commercial spokesman. Ted Pearson is the announcer. Music composed and conducted by Ardon Cornwell and conducted by Donald Bryan. During the War between the States, actress Pauline Cushman openly declared herself for the South, thus enabling her to move around gathering information as a female spy. This episode actually has two titles. The official script title was "Pink Lace," but before-hand it was entitled "The Girl in the Pink Lace." At the beginning of the broadcast Ted Pearson announced the drama as "The Girl in the Pink Lace," even though the official script title says otherwise. Madeline Carroll was originally slated to play the role of Pauline Cushman, but for reasons unknown, she was unable to attend. Janet Blair became her replacement.
Lost Episode #16: "Letter From Europe" Broadcast on March 21, 1949. Stars Charles Boyer as Albert Gallatin, Barbara Weeks as Hannah, Ethel Owen as Mrs. Harwood, Scott Tennyson as Janney, House Jameson as Thomas Jefferson, Robert Dryden as voice one, Alan Hewitt as the chairman, Arnold Moss as John Adams, and Joseph bell as the Massachusetts man. Written by Russell Hughes. Production credits are the same as above. In 1798, when war with France seemed inevitable, a small group of men marshaled themselves against it. Among them was the European-born Albert Gallatin. He won his fight and later became Secretary of the Treasury under President Jefferson.
Lost Episode #17: "Never Marry a Ranger" Broadcast on May 9, 1950. Stars Martha Scott as Roberta McConnell, Donnie Harris as Scott, Nelson Case as Mr. McConnell, Joseph Bell as the boss, Robin Morgan as Cissie, George Petrie as the volunteer, Cameron Andrews as Old Pete, Joe Latham as Oley, Rica Martens as the woman, Clifford Tatum, Jr. as the baby cry, Carl Eastman as the radio voice. Written by Virginia Radcliffe, adapted from the book of the same title by Roberta McConnell, as originally published by Prentice-Hall in 1950. Produced by Roger Pryor and directed by Jack Zoller. Bill Hamilton is the commercial spokesman and Ted Pearson is the announcer. Music composed by Roger Pryor and conducted by Ronald Voorhees. Story of the Forest Ranger Station on Callina Crib in the Utah mountains, and how Roberta, the wife of a Forest Ranger, has to contend with her husband's job and the life that accompanied it. When a forest fire broke out one day, it was Roberta who saved the day, and then realized the importance of her husband's job.
THE FIVE UN-CIRCULATED EPISODES
The above represents the seventeen lost episodes of The Cavalcade of America. Of the 781 Cavalcade of America broadcasts, there are six exceptions. Please take note:
May 29, 1939 "Eluthere Irenee DuPont"
March 2, 1942 "Accent on Youth"
June 15, 1942 "The Lady and the Flag"
April 2, 1945 "My Wayward Patient"
Sept. 16, 1952 "Man of Great Importance"
The five episodes listed below so exist in recorded form, and I can vouch for their existence. These five episodes are not in the circulation of collectors' hands yet. They presently rest in the DuPont archives and with a little finger-crossing, these five might one day reach circulation so that other collectors and fans of OTR can listen to them and enjoy the dramas. Why are they not in circulation? Part of the mystery revolves around an odd story. Sometime during the 1970s, an OTR collector/dealer/fan discovered that DuPont actually recorded on transcription disc, each and every broadcast from the first to the last. That's right, all 781 episodes were recorded. A couple copies of the discs were made of each broadcast - one for DuPont's library/record and the second for the leading actor or actress who performed in that drama. When I did research for my Cavalcade book, I came across numerous photos of Hollywood stars such as Basil Rathbone and Dick Powell posing for a photographer, while holding their copy of the transcription disc.
Anyway, this researcher apparently struck a deal with a custodian/librarian at DuPont. It seems DuPont was allowing any patron who wished to listen to any of the broadcasts, free reign of the material at their archives. But being in the form of transcription discs posed a problem. So the collector offered to "borrow" all of the discs from DuPont, make a copy of the programs on audio cassettes and reels, and return the copies, along with the discs to the archives. What did DuPont get out of this arrangement? They now had a copy of these episodes in a format that easily allowed their visitors access to listening to the recordings. The collector was granted permission to make a copy for himself.
This is the story as I heard it from a librarian at the DuPont archives who had been there since the day the buildings were constructed (and she probably held the hammer on the first day of construction). The name of the OTR collector who worked out this arrangement is not known. She could not remember the name. Sadly, when the recordings were turned over to the archives, about 580 episodes were given to the library. Apparently the collector was not thorough in his or her work in transcribing the material to cassettes and reels. At present, DuPont does not have any of the transcription discs in storage. Whatever became of the discs remains a mystery. DuPont doesn't even have all 781 broadcasts - a result of the OTR collector who apparently didn't fulfill their part of the arrangement. But among the 580+ episodes DuPont does have are the five I listed above. That is why I can vouch for their existence, but at the present time, they are not in circulation. Last I heard a year ago, someone dealing with the mp3 format contacted them and as to what happened after that - I have not heard from the mp3 dealer that was working on making the five episodes available.
THE GOLDEN FLEECE
Finally, of the 781 radio episodes, only one will NEVER surface. Known as broadcast #408, "Jane Adams of Hull House" dated November 6, 1944. Originally slated to star Loretta Young in the lead, this episode never came to be. The time slot was sold (at the last minute) to the National Independent Committee for Roosevelt and Truman. The election speeches, the Republican/Democratic special, also pre-empted other radio programs that same evening.
Now I have to admit that a couple researchers have a very annoying habit of finding scripts that were intended to be broadcast (pre-empted because of such specials) and labeling them as "lost episodes." I can name half a dozen books in which the researchers were unable to gather all the titles and airdates and instead of listing a blank space with "title unknown," they just skipped the process and continued numbering.
For an example:
Episode #34 "The Terror of the Alien Invasion" Broadcast May 5, 1943.
Episode #35 "The World of Allen Cross" Broadcast May 12, 1943.
Episode #36 "A Terrible Food Situation" Broadcast June 2, 1943.
Episode #37 "The Life of Joseph Green" Broadcast June 9, 1943.
What they should have done is this:
Episode #34 "The Terror of the Alien Invasion" Broadcast May 5, 1943.
Episode #35 "The World of Allen Cross" Broadcast May 12, 1943.
Episode #36 ---------- title unknown ------------ Broadcast May 19, 1943.
Episode #37 ---------- title unknown ------------ Broadcast May 26, 1943.
Episode #38 "A Terrible Food Situation" Broadcast June 2, 1943.
Episode #39 "The Life of Joseph Green" Broadcast June 9, 1943.
Why should someone include the "title unknown"? Because this accuracy will tell the readers exactly how many episodes were broadcast, with no mistakes. Now if the broadcast of May 26, 1943, for example, didn't really air because of election results or a speech by the President of the U.S., obviously the pre-emption should be documented and the broadcast of June 2, 1943 becomes episode 37. But sadly, I can name half a dozen books where the researcher failed to double check references, and like the first example, just went and listed all they knew and continued the numbering sequence. This is very annoying. Authors who later make the corrections are often accused of altering the previous log. I myself receives a letter last month from someone telling me, "[so and so] did a broadcast log on that series ten years ago and your new log has material that conflicts with his. Why can't you just leave the past alone and stop revising other people's broadcast logs?" (That letter writer apparently overlooked the obvious fact that my log had twice as many titles and airdates as the previous one suggesting the revision was necessary.)
The reason I mention this is because DuPont actually numbered the Cavalcade broadcast of November 6, 1944. Why they did this since "Jane Adams of Hull House" was never dramatized I will probably never know, but they did number that broadcast was episode #408 and the November 13, 1944 broadcast as episode #409. Because of this reason, I broke the rule of numbering episodes in the correct sequence. And to date, this is the only time I have ever broken that rule. So even though "Jane Adams of Hull House" is included in my published episode guide, the broadcast of November 6, 1944 will NEVER surface. Consider it the Golden Fleece of OTR. It's documented as an episode, but the recording will never be found.
I figure if I didn't explain this, I would start receiving a lot of e-mails from people telling me that I overlooked the broadcast of November 6, 1944 as a "lost" episode, or receive queries as to the whereabouts of a recording.
So that's it. Of the 781 Cavalcade of America broadcasts, five are not in circulation yet, one was never really broadcast, and seventeen are considered "lost." If anyone out there happens to have any of these lost recordings, please drop me a line so I can update this essay. You can also inform Terry Salomonson and Jay Hickerson (email@example.com) so that the recording can be listed as "available."
NOTE OF INTEREST: ALLOW ME TO VERIFY YOUR EPISODE
Since the initial publication of this article (SPERDVAC's Radiogram of May 1999), I was contacted by a collector who deals with mp3 format and he claimed he was on the road attempting to collect every episode of the series, and supposedly found (only in mp3 format) a few of these "lost" episodes. He eventually contacted me and does apparently have a couple of these episodes in partial condition (first half only, second half only, etc.) He would not send me a copy, however, for verification because of fears of copyright laws. He did state that he gave a copies of his mp3 discs to a few libraries so apparently these newly-discovered "lost" episodes do exist but until someone can actually supply me recorded copies of any of the 17 episodes (or five non-circulating) to verify that they exist in recorded form, I will not budge or change this list. I will only verify by receiving a copy of a "lost" episode in recorded form as I have methods of verifying with my own ears.
Martin Grams, Jr. is the author of the highly-acclaimed publication, The History of the Cavalcade of America, the authorized guide to the history of the popular radio/television series. The 500 page book is available from all major bookstores, including Amazon.com and Borders.com. This book comes highly recommended. It features a more extensive episode guide than what is reprinted above.