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Vic and Sade

Vic and Sade was an American radio program created and written by Paul Rhymer. It was regularly broadcast on radio from 1932 to 1944, then intermittently until 1946, and was briefly adapted to television in 1949 and again in 1957.

During its 14-year run on radio, Vic and Sade became one of the most popular series of its kind, earning critical and popular success: according to Time, Vic and Sade had 7,000,000 devoted listeners in 1943. For the majority of its span on the air, Vic and Sade was heard in 15-minute episodes without a continuing storyline. The central characters, known as "radio's home folks," were accountant Victor Rodney Gook (Art Van Harvey), his wife Sade (Bernadine Flynn) and their adopted son Rush (Bill Idelson). The three lived on Virginia Avenue in "the small house halfway up in the next block." The program was presented with a low-key ease and naturalness, and Rhymer's humorous dialogue was delivered with a subtleness that made even the most outrageous events seem commonplace and normal.

Broadcast history

June 29, 1932 to September 29, 1944 (15 minutes daily)
August 21, 1945 to December 7, 1945 (15 minutes daily)
June 27, 1946 to October 26, 1946 (30 minutes weekly)
1949, July (three ½-hour episodes for television, Monday nights)
1957, Spring (seven 15-minute episodes for TV, Thursday nights)

Vic and Sade was first heard over NBC's Blue network in 1932 and originated in Chicago. At the height of its popularity, it was broadcast over all three major networks and as many as six times a day.

Overview

Vic and Sade was written by the prodigious Paul Rhymer for the entire length of its long run. The principal characters were a married couple living in "the small house halfway up in the next block." After the first weeks in production an extra character, an adopted son, was added to the show, and it was in this format, with only three characters, that the program thrived for the next eight years and won many awards for the writer, actors and sponsor.

In 1940, the actor who played Vic, Art Van Harvey, became ill, and Sade's Uncle Fletcher (Clarence Hartzell) was added to the cast to fill the place of the missing male lead. When Van Harvey recovered his health, Uncle Fletcher was kept on as a fourth character.

During World War II, the actor who played Rush, Bill Idelson, was called into military service, and he left the show. The spring months of 1943 were a tumultuous period, but eventually a second son figure, Russell Miller (David Whitehouse), was brought in, and the program continued as it always had. Idelson later returned as Rush.

Paul Rhymer frequently gave each of the principals a day off, by confining his scripts to only two of the main characters. Vic and Sade would discuss a domestic problem while Rush was in school; Sade and Rush would review the day's events while Vic was still at the office; Vic and Rush would tackle some project while Sade was out shopping. Several episodes deliberately make no forward progress whatever, as the cast introduces the episode's premise but gets bogged down in endless details, not resolving the story at all!

Vic and Sade was technically a "soap opera," in time slots slanted toward an audience of housewives, and sponsored by food items and cleaning products. Rhymer evidently felt some pressure from the sponsor's advertising agencies to include more romance and human interaction into his scripts, like the other daytime dramas on the air. Rhymer complied in his own dry way, by adding ridiculous touches (his romantic lead, Dwight Twentysixler, always speaks with his "mouth full of shingle nails"!) and oddball characters (Orville Wheeney, the slow-witted gas-meter man; Jimmy Custard, the crochety town official who never quite makes clear what he does; Mr. Sprawl, the frail old man who dotes on "peanuts with chocolate smeared on the outsides").

Vic and Sade went off the air September 29, 1944 but was brought back several times. In 1945, the cast was augmented to include many characters who were previously only talked about. In 1946 it was a summer replacement series, now in a half-hour format and played in front of a live studio audience. Later that year it became a sustaining (unsponsored) feature on the Mutual network.

In 1949 three television episodes were made (with only Bernadine Flynn remaining from the original cast), using an elaborate set that included the whole house as well as the front and back yards. In 1957 Vic and Sade ran for seven weeks as a television series but returned to the original three-character format, with Art Van Harvey back as Vic.

The show's strength and appeal stem from its author's unique outlook on the world, his peculiar sense of humor, and his ability to create a universe of people, places and fascinating situations out of exiguous material.

Characters

Part of the magic of Vic and Sade is that all of the action, all of the people and all of the places in the town were created strictly through the dialogue. Listeners heard just the voices of the three, later four, principal speaking characters, embellished with very few sound effects.

Speaking characters

Vic
Victor Rodney Gook was the chief accountant of the Consolidated Kitchenware Company Plant Number Fourteen. He was the Exalted Big Dipper of the Drowsy Venus Chapter of the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way, a fraternal order which was founded by R.J. Konk. Vic's passion was parades, alarm clocks and doorbells. He was often asked to submit articles to the Kitchenware Dealers Quarterly and the lodge magazine. Rush's/Russell's nickname for Vic was "Guv." Sade
Sade was a housewife who took pride in her housekeeping. Her interest outside the home was primarily focused on the Thimble Club sewing circle where she and the thimble ladies would get together to sew and gossip. She was very pragmatic about things and had little sense of humor. Her world extended to a very small radius and she cared little for anything outside her tightly drawn circle. Vic's usual nickname for Sade was "Dr. Sleech" and Rush/Russell just called her "Mom." Rush/Russell
Rush's/Russell's favorite activities were playing baseball (and football) in Tatman's vacant lot, watching the fat men play handball down at the YMCA, taking in the Bijou moving picture show, and reading about the adventures of Third Lieutenant Clinton Stanley. Rush and Russell had the same friends, but they differed in character: Rush was the schemer who was always looking for ways to make a quick buck and had an angle on everything; doing homework, and especially algebra, was not high on his priority list. Russell enjoyed and did well in school despite the fact he was more the dreamer, the naive young romantic; he was always willing to lend a hand no matter how impractical his outlook was; it follows then that chores around the house were not something he excelled at. Sade's usual nickname for Rush/Russell was "Willie," and Vic might make a nickname out of another boy's name (e.g. "Roscoe"), a girl's name (e.g. "Margaret"), or a compound noun (e.g. "Brain-Fog" or "Stove-Poker"). Uncle Fletcher
Uncle Fletcher was a talker who had an outrageous story and advice about everything. If there were one activity, outside of telling stories, that he can be noted for, it would be riding on Gumpox's garbage wagon, and he even got a special pass to allow him to do so. He especially enjoyed discussing the interesting facts and statistics about such things as his watch fob collection, key collection, photos and snapshots, and his landlady's washrag collection. And he liked popping popcorn. Uncle Fletcher liked to always bring up the fellow who walked to his own funeral: "He made his plans, walked to the mortuary. There he later died."

Non-speaking characters

The following characters were not portrayed by actors until very late in the show's run (and rarely even after that) but were frequently discussed by Vic, Sade, Rush and Uncle Fletcher. Bess and Walter
Sade's sister and her husband. Walter ran a barbershop in Carberry, and Bess would send letters and postcards that always began "Dear sister and all, Thought I would write and see how you are feeling." Bess and Walter had a daughter named Eunice (nicknamed Yooncie) who was learning to play the piano, the pieces invariable found her stomping on the loud pedal with both feet and dragging her fingernail down the white or black keys. Fred and Ruthie Stembottom
... enjoyed playing Five Hundred with Vic and Sade. Ruthie would go with Sade to the washrag sales at Yamilton's Department Store. Fred would often attempt to extort hard manual labor out of Vic (pour concrete floors, tear down partitions, change tires on the car) on the pretext of inviting him over to play cards. Sade's other friends
include, among others: Mis' Brighton, Mis' Trogel, and Mis' Appelrot. Vic's work associates
Mr. Ruebush (his boss), Miss Hammersweet (his secretary), Gus Fuss (from Plant Number 17 in Dubuque), Mr. Buller (in Chicago) and Lolita DiRienzi (in the boxing department -- Sade was quite jealous!). Vic's lodge acquaintances
Hunky J. Sponger, and the members of the All-star marching team: Y.Y. Flirch, J.J.J.J. Stunbolt, Harry Fie, I. Edson Box, Homer U. McDancy, H.K. Fleeber, Robert and Slobert Hink, and O.X. Bellyman. Rush's friends
Smelly Clark, Blue-tooth Johnson, Rooster Davis, Leland Richards, Vernon Peggles, Milton Welch, LeRoy Snow, Heinie Call, Willis Roreback and Russell Duncan (not to be confused with Russell Miller). Nicer Scott was his deadly enemy. Mildred Tisdel, Eunice Raypole and Anabel Hemstreet were the girls in the neighborhood. Russell's friends
Russell had most of the same friends as Rush with the addition of Oyster Crecker. His enemy was Heinie Call, although their relationship never reached the same feverish pitch as Rush and Nicer. Neighbors
Mis' Harris, Mr. and Mis' Donahue, Charlie Razorscum, and Ike Kneesuffer (who played indoor horseshoes in his basement). There was also Mis' Call, Mis' Fisher and Grandpa Snyder. Townfolk
Hank Gutstop (also in the Lodge), Stacey Yop, Alf Musherton, Pelter Unbleat, and B.B. Baugh. Mr. Gumpox was the garbage man. The Brick-mush man once got his head caught in a revolving door (at Yamilton's). Rishigan Fishigan from Sishigan Michigan was introduced to the show as part of Mr. Buller's Christmas shopping list, but soon became a regular friend of both Vic and Uncle Fletcher.

Places

The town in which Vic and Sade live is unnamed (although at least one episode had the humorous credit "Sade's gowns by Yamilton's Department Store -- Crooper, Illinois") but is actually a vaguely fictionalized Bloomington, Illinois.

In town

The Bright Kentucky Hotel (which was shabby), the Butler House Hotel (which was expensive), the Ten Cent Store, the Greek's Confectionery, Croucher's Grocery Store, Yamilton's Department Store (the place with washrag sales), the Little Tiny Petite Pheasant Feather Tea Shoppy (which had only three tables), the Royal Throne Twenty-five-cent Barbershop, the People's Bank Building, the Unity Building (where Lodge meetings were held), the courthouse, the Bijou Moving Picture Theater (usually featuring films staring Gloria Golden and Four-Fisted Frank Fuddleman), Tatman's vacant lot (where Rush/Russell played baseball; at one time it was called Seymour's vacant lot), Kleeberger's Haberdashery (who Vic perpetually owed two dollars), and Miller Park (which featured a zoo and a lake).

Out of town

Sweet Esther, Wisconsin (where they had a parade every day); Grovelman, South Carolina (described as the geographical center of the United States); East Brain, Oregon; Yella Jump, North Dakota; Sick River Junction, Missouri (where the Missouri State Home for the Tall was located); Fiendish. Indiana; and Dismal Seepage. Ohio. The real locations mentioned include many small towns close to Bloomington -- Stanford, Minier, Hopedale, Delavan, Hudson, Kappa, El Paso -- especially those along Route 66 between Bloomington and Chicago -- Towanda, Lexington, Chenoa, Pontiac, and Dwight.

Influence

Once voted the best radio serial in a poll of 600 radio editors, Vic and Sade also received praise from many well-known listeners, including Ray Bradbury, Norman Corwin, Stan Freberg, Edgar A. Guest, Ogden Nash, John O'Hara, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jean Shepherd, James Thurber, Tom Lehrer, and Henrik Willem Van Loon. According to Bernadine Flynn, the show received a letter from a judge who always called a recess each afternoon so that he could listen to Vic and Sade. Nash and O'Hara both compared Rhymer to Mark Twain, while others made a comparison with Charles Dickens, but Rhymer defies comparison since his work is unlike anything before or since.

Extant episodes

Despite such high praise, 2000 disc recordings of the show were destroyed just before 1940 and some 1200 have been lost since that time. Today only about 330 original recordings have survived. (See #Audio downloads). It is estimated that Rhymer wrote more than 3500 scripts for the show. Some of his scripts were collected in books (See #Bibliography).

Resources

Wisconsin Historical Society

Paul Rhymer's papers, including many Vic and Sade scripts and recordings, are held at the Wisconsin Historical Society

Cast and credits

  • 1932
    • VIC GOOK Art Van Harvey
    • SADE GOOK Bernadine Flynn
    • RUSH GOOK Billy Idelson
  • 1938 (Special appearance)
    • MR. GUMPOX Cliff Soubier
  • 1940
    • UNCLE FLETCHER Clarence Hartzell
  • 1943
    • RUSSELL MILLER David Whitehouse (the last regular)
  • 1943
    • DOTTIE BRAINFEEBLE Ruth Perrott
    • BLUE-TOOTH JOHNSON Dick Toerne
    • CHUCK BRAINFEEBLE
    • LELAND RICHARDS
  • 1945
    • MR. SPRAWL Johnny Coons
    • ORVILLE WHEENEY Johnny Coons
    • SMELLY CLARK Johnny Coons
    • MIS' HARRIS
    • JIMMY CUSTARD
    • DWIGHT TWENTYSIXLER
    • SWEETCORN MCBLOCK
    • L.J. GERTNER, ET AL.
  • 1946
    • MR. SPRAWL Johnny Coons
    • ORVILLE WHEENEY Johnny Coons
    • HARRY DEAN Johnny Coons
    • MIS' HARRIS
    • MIS' KELLER
    • MIS' KESLER
    • POLICE CHIEF CULLERSON, ET AL.
  • 1949 (for television)
    • SADE GOOK Bernadine Flynn
    • VIC GOOK Frank Dane
    • RUSH GOOK Dick Conan
    • IKE KNEESUFFER Cliff Soubier
  • 1957 (for television)
    • VIC GOOK Art Van Harvey
    • SADE GOOK Bernadine Flynn
    • RUSH GOOK Eddie Gillilan
  • ANNOUNCERS
    • Bob Brown
    • Ed Herlihy
    • Ed Roberts
    • Jack Fuller, etc.
  • CREATOR-WRITER
    • Paul Rhymer
  • DIRECTORS
    • Clarence Menser
    • Roy Winsor, etc.
  • THEME
    • Chanson Bohémienne

Audio downloads

References

Bibliography

Books containing complete Vic and Sade scripts.

Firestone, Ross. The Big Radio Comedy Program. New York: Contemporary Books, 1978. (Contains: "Mr. Dempsey and Mr. Tunney Meet in a Cigar Store")
Rhymer, Paul, ed. by Mary Frances Rhymer, foreword by Ray Bradbury. The Small House Halfway Up in the Next Block: Paul Rhymer's Vic and Sade. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1972. (30 scripts)
Rhymer, Paul. Vic and Sade: The Best Radio Plays of Paul Rhymer, foreword by Jean Shepherd. New York: Seabury Press, 1976. (30 scripts)
Whipple, James. How to Write for Radio. New York: Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1938. (Contains "Sade Thinks Baseball is Just a Game")
Wylie, Max ed. Best Broadcasts of 1940-41. New York: Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1942. (Contains "Mis' Keller's Birthday") Periodicals
Thurber, James. "Onward and upward with the arts * soapland", The New Yorker. Five-part series appearing in May 15, 1948 (p. 34-44), May 29, 1948 (p. 30-41), June 12, 1948 (p. 46-53), July 3, 1948 (p. 37-44) and July 24, 1948 (p. 55-60).
"Vic and Sade," Time, vol. 42, Dec. 27, 1943. (p. 42).
Williamson, Albert R. "Vic and Sade's Creator" The Magazine of Sigma Chi. Volume 55, Number 3, July 1936. (p. 109-111).

Discography

LP records
Paul Rhymer's Classic Vic & Sade Original Radio Broadcasts. Producer, George Garabedian. Writer, Paul Rhymer. LP. Annaheim: Mark56 Records, 1976.
Son of Jest Like Old Times: More Genuine Original Recordings of Radio's Most Famous Funny Men. LP. New York: The Radiola Company, c1971.
"Vic and Sade: Exactly as heard on Mutual on October 26, 1946." The Spike Jones Show. LP. Sandy Cove, Conn: Radio Yesteryear - The Radiola Company, 1972.
Vic and Sade: One Full Hour with Radio's Homefolks. Writer, Paul Rhymer. LP. New York: Golden Age Records, 1978.

Further reading

  • Idelson, Bill (2007). The Story of Vic & Sade. Albany: BearManor Media ISBN 1-59393-061-5

External links

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