Chaney, the radio actress who played the part of Burma on
Pirates” is interviewed by Dick and Ed. The show, based on
Caniff comic strip included the characters Terry Lee, Pat Ryan, Flip
Corkin, Hotshot Charlie, Connie the coolie, Burma, (Ms. Chaney) Elita,
and the Dragon Lady. There were a total of 52 shows of about 14 minutes
each that were heard three times a week. Ms.
Chaney found herself
unemployed after years appearing on popular radio series such as
"Topper," "Gangbusters" and "Mr. District Attorney." At one point, she
spent her mornings playing an ingenue in "House in the Country" and her
afternoons in "Terry and the Pirates."
She had parlayed her radio work into a few screen parts before the blacklist started costing her jobs, but she was able to win parts in off-Broadway and Broadway plays, including understudying for Maureen Stapleton, Kim Stanley and Claudette Colbert. By the time the blacklist's power faded, Ms. Chaney was entrenched as a stage actress. She worried that she was being typecast as a Jewish mother, a part she played in "Golda" on Broadway with Anne Bancroft, in James Lapine's Off Broadway "Table Settings," and in three separate productions of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing." Later she appeared in movies and television, including "Law and Order" and "The Edge of Night."
Frances Chaney was the wife of Ring Lardner who was also blacklisted in the McCarthy era. She was previously married to his brother. She eventually died after a battle with Alzheimer's disease in New York City in 2004.