The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.
Phil Harris is another one of those voices that you know, but whose name you likely don’t.
Some of you out there might know him as the bandleader for Jack Benny‘s radio show, where he would regularly trade ripostes with Jack.
Most of you, however, are going to know him for one particular character that he played.
That’s right, Phil Harris was the voice of Baloo the Bear in Walt Disney’s 1967 classic The Jungle Book.
What many people, even those who know about his role on The Jack Benny Program, is that Harris, along with his wife Alice Faye, also had his own radio show – aptly named The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show – which ran on NBC from 1948 to 1954. The show was a situation comedy in which the two stars played fictionalized versions of themselves living as a showbiz couple raising two daughters. Interestingly, though Harris and Faye did have a pair of daughters in real life, on the radio they were portrayed by actresses Jeanine Roos and Ann Whitfield.
For this show, Harris toned down the playboy aspects of his Benny character, instead portraying more of a family man type who was incredibly vain about his looks -especially his hair – and also thought himself much more intelligent than he actually was.
Until next time, as always, Happy Listening!