"The Golden Age of Radio"
(As originally broadcast on WTIC, Hartford, CT)

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Program 10 - January, 1971 - Goodman Ace

Goodman and Jane Ace

Goodman Ace was a radio actor and writer. Teamed with his wife Jane to play in the comedy radio program "Easy Aces" from 1931 to 1945. His character was be the straightman and her character was "Mistress Misspeack". He also wrote material for the likes of Milton Berle and Perry Como.

Goodman Ace was born Asa Goodman in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1899. He was the son of a haberdasher; consequently, his first job was as a hat salesman. He soon switched to newspapering and became a columnist on the Kansas City Journal Post. Jane Sherwood (born Jane Epstein) saw the light of day in the same city one year later.

The two were married in Kansas City on November 16, 1924. By 1928 we know that Goodman Ace was earning his living as a movie and drama critic for the Journal-Post. According to John Dunning in his excellent book Tune In Yesterday, 1928 marked Ace's foray into local radio broadcasting. Over KMBC (the local CBS affiliate) he begain reading the Sunday comics at ten dollars per show. He soon added another feature "The Movie Man" during which he read his reviews of films for another $10. Dunning's story of what happened next reads like one of their later improbable episodes. The principals in a 15-minute show which was to follow Ace's "The Movie Man" never showed up, and he was recruited to ad-lib for the fifteen minute time period. Luckily wife Jane was standing by and joined in the impromptu discussion of their bridge game the night before and a local unsolved murder. Listener reaction was favorable, and a radio institution was born -- first on KMBC. In two years time the local program had attracted network attention, and in October 1931 "Easy Aces" began a 13-week trial period on the CBS network at 10:15 AM out of Chicago. Audience response to a write-in appeal was so overwhelming (100,000 letters) that the program remained a network feature for 15 years -- not, however, always at the same time or the same network.

In 1935 the show moved to NBC's blue network at 7:30 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays sponsored by Anacin. In 1942 the Aces went back to CBS at the same time slot on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on November 24, 1943, "Easy Aces" became a one-half-hour-per-week broadcast at 7:30 PM where it remained until January 10, 1945. The broadcasts were informal, the principals sitting around an old card table with a built-in, concealed microphone. NBC built the table to Ace's specifications early in the run." The show returned to the airwaves briefly in February, 1948, in the half-hour format under the title "mr. ace and Jane.: Apparently Goodman Ace learned to use unorthodox capitalization practices from the modern poet e .e. cummings! He had also learned how to re-package his earlier scripts in a more sophisticated format using himself as the host and commentator with live audience reaction.

The "plots" for the earlier "Easy Aces" episodes ranged from single incidents of an evening in their bungalow (Jane -- writing a letter to her mother -- can't understand why there is more than one spelling for the word "right/write/rite") to extended incidents requiring two weeks or more to play out the chain of events. Jane and Goodman Ace are the pivotal characters throughout the series. Why the watchdogs of "political correctness" or certain feminist groups haven't tried to ban the distribution of "Easy Aces" shows is-- as Jane would say -- "behind me!" Jane Ace is everything feminist extremists abhor. On the surface she is the "ditsy" housewife who ventures forth into a "man's world" with hilarious (if not disasterous) results. Her speech patterns were a Midwestern prototype for the much later Edith Bunker with a whining, infantile voice which wasn't for all tastes.

Goodman Ace was the long-suffering, hard-working real estate sales executive (later an advertizing executive) who groaned "Isn't that awful!" when Jane tossed off her fractured epigrams or revealed her hairbrained schemes.

There are regulars on the show. Marge Hale (Mary Hunter) was a school-girl chum of Jane's who lives with the Aces. Marge laughs a lot, never initiates any activity except to refuse stubbornly to be a part of Jane's schemes, and generally holds herself above and apart from the festivities. You either accept her classical function as commentator who lets you know when to laugh. Characters move into and out of the plot lines as needed. One of the other outrageous temporary residents was the maid Laura (Helene Dumas). Ford Bond served as the program's announcer and "scene setter" for many years, later replaced by Ken Roberts

Program 10 - January, 1971 - Goodman Ace

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