Sunday, July 31, 2011

Commercial Break - Las Vegas Desert Inn / 1962

Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn opened on the Las Vegas Strip on April 24, 1950, and nearly every notable entertainer from 1950 to 2000 performed in the Painted Ballroom or "crystal showroom" of the hotel. You could also play a round of golf at the famous Desert Inn Country Club located on the grounds of the hotel. In the 1970s and 1990s, the Desert Inn went through major renovations, and in 1997, the Palms Tower was built. The Desert Inn celebrated its 50th anniversary with celebrity glitz and glamour, but on April 27, 2000, three days later, the resort was sold to Steve Wynn. The Desert Inn ceased operation on August 28, 2000, and shortly thereafter, Wynn started planning to demolish the hotel to make room for the Wynn Resort, which now occupies the property. The Las Vegas Monorail passes by the Wynn Resort, and upon approaching the Wynn from the north (coming from the Hilton), you will go over a section of the Desert Inn's once-grand golf course.

Here, Bob Crane promotes the Desert Inn in this 1962 commercial.

Desert Inn Radio Spot / 1962
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
February 15, 1962


Friday, July 29, 2011

Fascinating Rhythm - Bob Crane Plays 'Get Smart'

Bob Crane Promotional 
Advertisement / Epic Records.
Billboard Magazine
, December 3, 1966.
Courtesy of Bill Dillane.
Bob Crane was mentioned regularly in Billboard Magazine, with an early notation on February 24, 1951, when the magazine announced he had recently moved from WLEA in Hornell, NY, to WBIS in Bristol, CT. From his promotions to program director to his migration to Hollywood to when another DJ filled in for him when he was on vacation or had a cold, Billboard Magazine covered the major (and minor) moves of Crane's radio career.

In December 1966, Epic Records purchased a 3/4-page ad in Billboard Magazine to promote the sale of Crane's new album, Bob Crane, His Drums, and Orchestra, Play the Funny Side of TV. It would be the only retail album Bob ever recorded, but sources say he had the time of his life making the album and working with professional musicians.

The theme from Get Smart, as performed by Bob Crane and included on this album, is presented here.

Theme from "Get Smart" / Bob Crane on Drums
"Bob Crane, His Drums, and Orchestra Play the Funny Side of TV"
Epic Records, 1966

Theme from Get Smart / Bob Crane on Drums by vote4bobcrane

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Commercial Break - TWA 1962

The airline industry has changed dramatically since the 1960s. Familiar and proud airlines that once dominated the U.S. skies, such as Eastern, TWA, and PanAm, are sadly no more. Here is a classic TWA commercial from the airline's golden days, as promoted by Bob Crane over KNX. 

Trans World Airlines Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Bob Crane TWA Commercial / 1962 by vote4bobcrane

Monday, July 25, 2011

World War II, the USS Bunker Hill, and Bob Crane

U.S. WWII Service Flag
Bob Crane attended school during the Great Depression years and throughout all of World War II. Not old enough to serve in the military but old enough to understand, he watched many of his older classmates and relatives march off to war, some never to return. During the war, "Sons in Service" flags hung in the windows of homes in Stamford, CT, as they did in homes across the United States. Blue stars within the flag indicated the son was active in the service; a gold star meant the son had died during active duty.

S 2 C Alfred John Crane.
Al Crane enlisted in the
Navy in August 1943 and
saw many major engagements
during World War II.
Stamford Advocate.

Such a service flag hung in the Cranes' home in Stamford during the 1940s. Bob's older brother, Al, had served in the Navy during World War II, and he was stationed in the Pacific Theater on the USS Bunker Hill. On the morning of May 11, 1945, two Kamikaze planes crashed into the ship, severely crippling her. Many who were serving on the Bunker Hill died or were badly wounded that day, and the Cranes did not know for several weeks if Al had survived. When the word finally came that he was alive, according to Bob's best friend from school, "It was like Christmas."

The war had ended by the time Bob graduated from high school in 1946. However, Bob had witnessed the devastating effects of war on the homefront. Al had been badly burned in the Kamikaze attack on the ship, and waiting to hear of his brother's fate had been agonizing. 

Bob Crane / KNX
TV Radio Mirror / Dec. 1963
"It's the Story of Bob Crane"

Throughout his life, Bob Crane showed great respect and admiration for those who served in uniform. He also had a great love for his country. In a Letter to the Editor in the Los Angeles Times, Bob's friend and Variety magazine Editor Harvey Geller mentions how Bob invested thousands of dollars in government bonds at 4% instead of bank CDs at 6% "because this country's been good to me."

Bob provided many hours of service to the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network. Some of his KNX shows were recorded and sent overseas for American servicemen and women as well, including his 8th Anniversary Show. In this clip, the announcer sounds a little bit confused as to where to send the recording...but we're pretty sure they got it straightened out!

Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
May 30, 1964

Bob Crane KNX USAFRN / 1964 by vote4bobcrane

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bob Crane...Who?

CBS Photo by Jerry Fitzgerald.

As KNX Morning Man from 1956 to 1965, Bob Crane interviewed thousands of celebrities and other Hollywood notables, and his radio show had become the place for them to be. A nod from Crane on his early morning KNX show would provide them with media coverage unlike any other, which often translated into increased public awareness of their latest album, song, film, television show, or stage production, and it usually equated success.

As such, a great many of Hollywood's elite were terrific fans of Bob Crane's show. For instance, Danny Kaye, who was a pilot, often tuned into Crane over KNX as he flew over Southern California in the early morning hours.

In this rare KNX ad, Bob Crane is seen with a poster presented to him by 20th Century Fox producer Jerry Wald. The poster is a take on the 1958 film, The Fiend Who Walked the West. Wald, who was a big fan of Bob's KNX radio show, adapted the poster ever so slightly in favor of...who?

Note: Jerry Wald was also the producer of Return to Peyton Place (1961), in which Bob Crane had a small role - one of Crane's first acting roles on film. Jerry Wald passed away on July 13, 1962, at age 50.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beat the Heat with Christmas in July

Because most of the U.S. and North America is sweltering through the worst heat wave in recent history, here's a little holiday music to cool you down. Don't worry. It may be hot now, but you'll be dashing through the snow shopping for holiday gifts before you know it!

In his usual manner, Bob Crane plays drums along with the record of "Here Comes Santa Claus" performed by the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio / "Here Comes Santa Claus" (with Bob Crane on Drums)
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
December 11, 1961

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Commercial Break - Barbasol 1957

Bob Crane did not become a radio sensation overnight. He worked at it, combining raw talent with fierce determination. Countless radio stations rejected Crane from 1946 to 1950, including WVPO ("The Voice of the Poconos") in Stroudsburg, PA,  who turned him down flat in May 1949, telling him he was "not the type for radio." But he kept at it, relentlessly sending out audio recordings of himself to stations up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

Of course, Bob did eventually break into radio at WLEA in Hornell, NY, in 1950. Nearly a year later, in Bristol, CT, WBIS offered Crane a job after hearing a wire recording he had sent them. When he showed up in person, WBIS was initially disappointed. They were expecting someone who sounded like Edward R. Murrow. It was soon discovered that the manager's recorder had played the tape slower than normal, distorting Bob's voice and making it sound deeper than it actually was. WBIS decided to keep Crane on, and they were so impressed with him that they quickly promoted him to program director and senior announcer.

This clip of a 1957 Barbasol commercial was received in the way it is presented here. It sounds slightly slower than normal when compared to other recordings, and it provides an interesting variance of Crane's usually frenetic tone and fast-paced routine - similar to what he may have sounded like to WBIS personnel in that distorted wire recording.

Barbasol Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 27, 1957

Bob Crane Barbasol Commercial 1957 by vote4bobcrane

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Celebrate Enarc Week: The History of a Career as Told by Bob Crane

Today being the final day of Enarc Week, we present you with a recording of Bob Crane discussing in his own words how he started in radio; accepted job offers from WLEA, WBIS, WICC, and KNX; and then broke into acting and landed the role on Hogan's Heroes. This interview was recorded on August 4, 1972.

Uploaded to YouTube by WCFL 1000 on May 30, 2011.
Description of video by WCFL 1000:
On 8-4-72, Bob Crane walked into the radio station where I was working. He asked to use the bathroom & Coke machine. I told him to help himself. He returned to the studio with a Coke & asked if he could be on my radio program for an interview, promoting a play in which he was appearing. I said, OK, & I would be taping it for re-broadcast at a future date. He agreed to that, & these are his comments. RE: The last comment about "Whose dog is this?"...a small white dog had apparently come in the door with Mr. Crane. We simply set the dog back outside when he left. Mr. Crane was driving a sports car with the top down, & that is all I recall. He gave me back the empty Coke bottle & left.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Celebrate Enarc Week: Commercial Break - Plymouth Sport Fury 1962

Bob Crane gets a little help from world-renowned race car driver and International Motorists Hall of Famer Andy Granatelli while pitching the new 1962 Plymouth Sport Fury. 

Plymouth Sport Fury Radio Spot (with Andy Granatelli)
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Bob Crane / Plymouth Commercial / 1962 by vote4bobcrane

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Celebrate Enarc Week: Happy Bastille Day!

Bob Crane / KNX-CBS Radio
circa 1960
The man of 1,000 voices is back! Here, Bob Crane plays a French designer visiting America and "soaking up American culture." This skit is an expansion of a commercial for Robert Hall Designers in Los Angeles, which closed its chain of stores in June 1977.

Listen closely as the Frenchman lists all the places in America where he visits...they are all French! 

Robert Hall Designers Radio Spot
     and Frenchman Skit
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Bob Crane / French Designer / 1962 by vote4bobcrane

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrate Enarc Week: Happy Birthday, Bob Crane!

Drum Battle: Bob Crane vs. Gene Krupa

Bob Crane was born on this day in Waterbury, CT, in 1928. He spent less than two years in Waterbury before his parents moved the family south to Stamford, CT, where Bob and his older brother, Al, grew up. Bob graduated from Stamford High School in 1946, and having become an avid musician and drummer, he had played in the school's orchestra and marching band throughout his years in school. During that time, he also helped form and would occasionally lead the Crane-Catino Jazz Band, composed of musicians from school, as well as perform with the Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra.

Countless musicians of the Big Band Era caught Bob Crane's attention during his youth, and at the top of his list were Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, two of the world's greatest drummers. Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich would often perform concerts together, during which time they would engage in "drum battles."

Bob idolized both Krupa and Rich, and as a kid growing up and playing drums in Stamford, he longed for the chance to play along side them. He carried his dreams and his drums with him into adulthood, into radio, and out to LA. "During my 10-year span of my early morning radio show in Hollywood," he said. "I kept a drum and cymbal at mikeside and constantly drummed accompaniment to the records I played. During 16 years in radio, I never gave up my drumming ambitions" (Crane, 1967).

At KNX in Los Angeles, Crane proved himself as a skilled celebrity interviewer. It was only a matter of time before Gene Krupa would be a guest on The Bob Crane Show, and Bob interviewed Krupa several times. During at least one of these interviews, Bob challenged Gene to a drum battle of his own.

In honor of what would have been Bob's 83rd birthday today, we present a special treat - a drum battle between Bob Crane and Gene Krupa.

Bob Crane vs. Gene Krupa Drum Battle
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
Circa 1960
Crane, B. (1967, July 21). "Bob Crane's true love is drumming." Associated Press.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrate Enarc Week: Commercial Break - Beneficial Finance Co.

Ask for money, the minute you want it... And in today's economy, we need a lot of it, right now! Here, Bob promotes Beneficial Finance Company, but his engineer Jack Chapman prefers First National.

Beneficial Finance Company Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Bob Crane Beneficial Bank Commercial 1962 by vote4bobcrane

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Celebrate Enarc Week: 7/10 thru 7/16

What in the world is Enarc Week, you ask? 

In 1953, WICC in Bridgeport, CT, embarked on a campaign to promote its various on-air personalities. Bob Crane dubbed his week "Enarc Week." While we don't know exactly which week during the summer of '53 was set aside for Bob, we believe it's rather apropos to give the official designation to Crane's birth week (he would have been 83 years young on Wednesday, July 13th). After all, that's what Bob himself dubbed it! Incidentally, and in case you didn't already guess, "Enarc" is "Crane" spelled backwards.

Billboard Magazine
August 22, 1953, p. 36
WICC knew a good thing when they saw it, realizing very early on that Bob Crane was a goldmine. To this day, the station and city of Bridgeport still regard Bob Crane as one of their finest and certainly most famous radio personalities. In the book, Only in Bridgeport: An Illustrated History of the Park City, Lennie Grimaldi writes, "Crane added a new dimension to radio, interjecting one-liners between record-spinning. Crane also played the drums and often talked his way into performing with bands at the Pleasure Beach Ballroom" (p. 64).

So in honor of Bob Crane's decades of radio antics; more than 1,000 voices; his dedication to the radio, music, and acting industries; and his upcoming birthday, break out the balloons and party favors, and do something completely off-the-wall and silly this week. And if you can't this week, any week will do!

Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
January 1, 1964

Grimaldi, L. (1993). Only in Bridgeport: An illustrated history of the Park City (2nd ed.). Bridgeport, CT: Harbor Publishing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

'Laffter Sweet and Profane'

In the early 1960s, KNX-CBS Radio distributed an album entitled, Laffter Sweet and Profane, on which they featured two of their radio personalities (Bob Crane and Pat Buttram). This album was distributed to potential KNX advertisers so they could get a taste of how their commercials would be broadcast by either Crane or Buttram.

As you read through the album's liner notes below, you'll get a complete overview of The Bob Crane Show and Crane's unique style of humor. Then take a few minutes and listen to Jonathan Winters give Bob taste of his own medicine with an ad-libbed segment between a movie producer (Winters) and an aspiring young actor (Crane).

Laffter Sweet and Profane
Liner Notes: Bob Crane
"This disc is important for a number of reasons, one of which is that men who make important decisions in advertising are not apt to be alertly up and about and listening to radio when Bob Crane shatters the tranquility of the dawn hours on KNX. Crane comes on at 6:00 a.m. and continues at a crackling pace until 9:55 a.m. Mon.-Fri. and on Saturdays from 8:10 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. - with timeout for the news. It is important that ad men know about Crane. The record constitutes an introduction.

KNX Promotional Letter
Bob Crane / circa 1962
"The honor of occupying the flip side goes to Crane because the listener is more apt to flip over Crane's antic ebullience than over the drier humor of the sager Buttram.

"Separating the boys now, we give you first, Bob Crane, a Bridgeport (Conn.) boy who was bid come to The Land of the Orange (and the Nut) by KNX radio back in 1957 [note - incorrectly listed - should be 1956].

"The Crane side of the platter opens in confusion with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, a first-string team, discussing Crane and attempting to explain him. They fall flat on their collective faces, of course, because Crane defies definition...and then the sweet boyish voice of Crane himself comes crashing and exploding up out of the ashes of the Nichols-May defeat, so listen and perhaps you can fathom the phenomenon that is Bob Crane.

"Crane is completely lacking in respect for all things with the possible exception of The Great Coogamooga, a mythical deity whose acquaintance you are about to make.

"The Crane side of the disc purports to be exerpts from our boy's 5th Anniversary Show on KNX, itself made up of material extricated from Crane's five years of non-stop non-conformist morning jubilation.

"During the five years, Crane has interviewed 300 guests, including Miss [Marilyn] Monroe, an ape, Pat Boone, a shine boy, and Mr. [George] Jessel. Without being acerb, or caustic, or anything other than playful, Crane nevertheless is said to be rough on guests, so they crowd to get on his show. This is not because they're given to Masochism but because when a singer has a new album, few things get it launched with the impact produced by a plug on The Crane Show. The same goes for breakfast cereals and tires.

"Occasionally, however, a guest will succeed in working Crane over, as you will hear, herewith, wherein Jonathan Winters triumphs. 

"Crane approaches something close to genius in integrating his commercials with show-stuff. While he sometimes fractures a sponsor's message, he reassembles the pieces and augments and embellishes said message in such a manner as to increase the plug's effectiveness. This is a matter of record. Crane sells. Crane pitches hard. Add to this that he has the area's fastest-expanding morning audience and you have a degree of value that should make time buyers drool."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Bob Crane KNX Interview / Jonathan Winters (circa 1961)
Laffter Sweet and Profane / 5th Anniversary Promotional Record
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio

Bob Crane / Jonathan Winters Interview Circa 1961 by vote4bobcrane

Friday, July 8, 2011

By Popular Demand...'West of the Wall'

Former KNX engineer Jack Chapman may protest, but here is "West of the Wall" by Toni Fisher, another of Bob Crane's Pick Hits from 1956-1964.

"West of the Wall" - Toni Fischer
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
January 1, 1964

Bob Crane - West of the Wall / 1964 by vote4bobcrane

Thursday, July 7, 2011

And a Happy Good Morning...

"Programming a DJ Show"
By Bob Crane
Hit Parader, April 1955

Greetings Hit Paraders:

"I'm Bob Crane of WICC, Bridgeport, Conn., and I'd like to tell you a little something on the way I program my d.j. show.

Bob Crane / circa 1951
WICC Publicity Still
Courtesy of WICC
"You take three turntables, two tape machines, sixty commercials, two networks, 2,000 gimmick voices, a cup of java, two donuts, mix well with a two-headed, three-armed d.j., and you're all set to pick the music.

"With the above obstacles in mind, plus the thought of arriving on time every morning at 6:06 to begin my 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. mess, I begin to tremble. Wiping beads of perspiration from my brow, brought on by some disc company sending me 45's by mistake, I drag myself to our library, stacked with 78's and 33's and sit down to wonder: Is it worth it?

"Hey, look who just dropped in? George Fairweather, the promoter, with his new sensational disc, (Oh darn, what was that tune?). It's selling like records in South Bend (that's a switch). What ever happened to those hotcakes I ordered with the coffee? Oh sure, I'm playing George's disc; it's on Dot, or was it Four Star? No, Columbia! Impossible; they don't send 78's. Well anyway, it was nice meeting Harry again, or was it Frank? I'll mumble his name when he leaves -- he'll never know. Darn it, where did I leave those tickets to 'Pajama Game' the last plugger left? Sure, I'll give the tune a ride, sir. There, that wasn't half as dull as I thought it would be.

"What? Time to go home? Ah heck, I was just getting warmed up. But I'll be back for tomorrow's a.m. chore, and we'll go some more."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Notes: Bob Crane was a gifted writer, having published many articles in various magazines and newspapers over the years. He also wrote the skits he used in his radio show; comedy segments for the album Bob Crane, His Drums, and Orchestra Play the Funny Side of TV; and scripts.

The musical The Pajama Game debuted on Broadway on May 13, 1954, with original cast members John Raitt; Janis Paige; Eddie Foy, Jr.; Carol Haney; Reta Shaw; Ralph Dunn; Stanley Pager; Peter Gennaro; and Shirley MacLaine. In 1957, it was made into a movie starring Doris Day, John Raitt,  Carol Haney, and Eddie Foy, Jr.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

'Mr. Crane, please listen to my record?'

Bob Crane at the KNX
offices, circa 1960.
Bob Crane was a very powerful man in radio, and as a result, in the record industry. In essence, if he liked your record, he would play it on his morning show, and in LA, that could make you the next big music star. Recording artists and/or their label representatives would meet with Bob on a daily basis to pitch their latest songs, hoping he liked them enough to give them air time. Crane would then listen to these new releases and consider whether or not they fit the format of his show (which did not include rock and roll). Some of what he heard he liked a lot; others...well...don't quit your day job, kid!

Bob Crane Meets with Recording Representative
Bob Crane Show / KMPC Los Angeles
April 13, 1973

Bob Crane and Record Rep / KMPC by vote4bobcrane

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Commercial Break - Fizrin 1964

Too much grillin' and chillin' over the weekend and need to calm an upset stomach? In the '50s and '60s, you could have reached for Fizrin, an instant seltzer, to help ease your tummy troubles.

Fizrin Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
January 1, 1964

Bob Crane Fizrin Commercial / 1964 by vote4bobcrane

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day Weekend Celebration - Part II

Need a little music for your outdoor BBQ? Here's a nod to the U.S. Calvary of the Old West with the theme from F-Troop, as performed by Bob Crane.

"Theme from F-Troop" (Bob Crane on Drums)
Bob Crane, His Drums, and Orchestra Play the Funny Side of TV
Epic Records / 1966

Theme From F-Troop by vote4bobcrane

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day Weekend Celebration

Happy Independence Day, America!

Bob Crane performs a variety act
for Operation Entertainment
To kick off the 4th of July Holiday Weekend, we thought we'd highlight Bob Crane's volunteer work with the U.S. Armed Forces. In addition to serving in the U.S. National Guard in Stamford, CT, from 1948-1950 (he achieved the rank of corporal), Bob also donated his time to Operation Entertainment (a variety television program that traveled around the world to provide entertainment to U.S. soldiers) and the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network, for whom he recorded a weekly radio show for broadcast to U.S. troops serving overseas. 

And what goes better with the 4th of July than some good baseball? In this clip, Bob Crane (a great fan of the LA Dodgers) interviews Cecil Barker, producer of The Red Skelton Hour, who shares an interesting piece of baseball trivia.