Silent Film Stars on Live Radio in 1935

It’s been a while since we’ve taken a look at the activities of silent screen actors switching media – from being seen but not heard on the screen to being heard but not seen in radio broadcasting. The fact is that just as a large number of silent film actors continued on very nicely in talkies, so too did quite a number master the medium of broadcasting and thus became truly the first multimedia or mass communication stars.

We have already posted radio performances by Theda Bara, William S. Hart, Lillian Gish, and a few others. These can be found by checking our index on the right. Recently, I came across an uncirculated recording of Rudy Vallee’s extremely popular variety show, The Fleischmann Yeast Hour, broadcast on the evening of July 11, 1935 from New York City. Among the guest were silent film-turned-talkie stars Clive Brook and Anna May Wong. The program was performed before a live audience and, as mentioned, was broadcast live.

Clive Brook performs a supernatural playlet called “The Jest Of Hahalaba.” It begins at the 01:06 mark.

Later in the broadcast, Anna May Wong takes the stage to perform songs in three languages. It  begins at the 10:12 mark.

As you can hear, both stars used the broadcast to promote the release of their upcoming films to the huge audience listening in. Smart move!

I left in the opening and closing to give a sense of this show. This is the program’s 299th episode and was heard by an estimated audience of 30 to 40 million people! While the population was much less than today, there were also relatively few channels for people to choose from. Enjoy!

 

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