began his network acting career in the
late 1940s, appearing in such shows as “The Aldrich
Family”, and “Aunt
Jenny – Real
Life Stories”, among others.
The Aldrich Family was a popular radio teenage situation comedy from 1939 through 1953. In 1941, the program carried a 33.4 Crossley rating which placed it solidly in the top ten alongside Jack Benny and Bob Hope. First heard as a summer replacement for Jack Benny, it began on Sunday, July 2, 1939 on NBC, where it ran until October 1, 1939. Based on Clifford Goldsmith's Broadway play "What a Life," this teenage situation comedy ranks among the very best and the opening "Coming Mother" line became one of radio's most famous catchphrases.
The program was given its own time slot, Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m., where it was sponsored by Jell-O. The series ran in that slot from October 10, 1939 until May 28, 1940; it then aired on Thursdays, from July 4, 1940 until July 20, 1944.
Ezra Stone was the first actor to portray Henry Aldrich, the inept teenager around whom the show was built (and who influenced later creations such as Archie Andrews).
On Monday, January 18, 1937, AUNT JENNY'S REAL LIFE STORIES debuted on Columbia Network's daytime schedule for Spry Shortening. As the listeners would find out, this serial program wasn't your typical radio soap opera--- and it wasn't your typical relationship between program and sponsor, either!
Several daytime shows during radio's golden age have had some long running relationships between program and sponsor. Almost by instinct, the listeners associated Oxydol with MA PERKINS, Bab-O with DAVID HARUM, and of course, Spry with AUNT JENNY. The relationship between program and sponsor was very impressive, but the relationship between Spry and AUNT JENNY was not only impressive, but also unique in how they helped each other out.
AUNT JENNY'S REAL LIFE STORIES featured the people who lived in the town of Littleton. These people had their share of happiness, sadness, romance, and the other good emotional stuff radio soap operas were famous for. The stories were usually completed in 5 episodes, and a new one would begin the following Monday with different characters. You may notice that I didn't mention Aunt Jenny's name among the people who were involved in the story. There was a good reason--- she wasn't in the story. On the program, Aunt Jenny served as hostess and narrator. Here is where the unique relationship between program and sponsor would take place.
When the story for the broadcast was completed, Aunt Jenny and program announcer Dan Seymour would briefly talk about the latest events in the story, then turn their attention to the recipe of the day. Of course, the recipes would vary from main dish to dessert, but they would all have one common denominator--- the services of Spry Shortening. Aunt Jenny wasn't bashful in the least for mentioning Spry when it came to using shortening. She stated that no other shortening or baking fat would come close in bringing out the flavor of the ingredients as Spry could. Since Spry was mentioned and talked about frequently between Aunt Jenny and Seymour, the recipe of the day also served as Spry's closing commercial.
The final episode of AUNT JENNY'S REAL LIFE STORIES aired on Friday, September 28, 1956. With sponsors pulling out from radio at an alarming rate, Spry stayed all the way with the program (Franco-American products would co-sponsor the program with Spry during its final 3 months on the air). The radio listeners lost a good friend when Aunt Jenny said her final good-bye to the listeners. For nearly 2 decades, Aunt Jenny helped any cook from "butterfingers" to "expert" become better cooks with her numerous and easy-to-follow recipes. Of course, they would be better cooks if they used Spry Shortening.