- For the animal, see Cinnamon bear.
The Cinnamon Bear is an old time radio program produced by Transco (Transcription Company of America), based in Hollywood, California. The series was specifically designed to be listened to six days a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It was first broadcast between Friday, November 26 and Saturday December 25, 1937. Some markets like Portland, Oregon jumped the gun, debuting the program on November 25, Thanksgiving Day. In the first season, Portland broadcast the program on two stations, KALE at 6:00pm and KXL at 7:00pm.
When syndication problems arose at Transco, the program was not officially broadcast in 1940, although some stations might have aired previous transcriptions. No program aired in Portland that year. In 1941, Transco programming was sold to Broadcasters Program Syndicate, and The Cinnamon Bear was on the air nationally once again. In the 1950s, syndication was taken over by Lou R. Winston, also based in Hollywood.
An original Lipman-Wolfe & Company newspaper ad from the Portland Oregon Journal, November 25, 1937 read:
- Introducing Paddy O'Cinnamon, Santa Claus's right-hand man! Meet him with Santa in Toyland at Lipman's... and don't miss his exciting adventures with Judy and Jimmy (two of the nicest playmates you could want!) over the air every night but Saturday! Early-to-bedders can listen at 6 and stay-up-laters at 7... and some nights you'll be so anxious to hear how they got the Silver Star back from the wicked Crazyquilt Dragon that you'll listen twice! And here's a secret... the Cinnamon Bear is just as excited about meeting you as he can be.
The story focused on Judy and Jimmy Barton who go to the enchanted world of Maybeland to recover their missing Silver Star that belongs on their Christmas tree. Helping on the search is the Cinnamon Bear, a stuffed bear with shoe-button eyes and a green scarf. They meet other memorable characters during their quest, including the Crazy Quilt Dragon (who repeatedly tries to take the star for himself) , the Wintergreen Witch, Fe Fo the Giant and Santa Claus
Episodes began at Thanksgiving and ended at Christmas, with one episode airing each night. The show was created by a group of merchants as an advertising promotion, and was recorded in only a few weeks. It was produced by Lindsay MacHarrie, who also provided the voice of Westley the Whale and several other characters.
Cast and crew
The voice of the Cinnamon Bear was Buddy Duncan, a little person
. Several other notable radio voices lent their talents, including Verna Felton
(as Jimmy and Judy's mother), Joseph Kearns
(as the Crazyquilt Dragon), Lou Merrill
(as Santa Claus), Howard McNear
(as Slim Pickings the Cowboy and Samuel the Seal), Elvia Allman
(as Penelope Pelican), Frank Nelson
(Captain Tintop), Rosa Barcelo (Queen Melissa) and Gale Gordon
(Weary Willie the Stork and Oliver Ostrich). Asian-American actress Barbara Jean Wong played Judy. It is not known for certain who provided the voice of Jimmy, but is believed by some to be Walter Tetley
. The story and all the songs were written in six weeks time by Glan Heisch, aided by his wife, Elisabeth A. Heisch (1908-2003). He was specifically directed to create something in the style of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The radio show proved to be so popular that it is said to be broadcast by a station somewhere in the world every year during the holidays, even today. Many malls had a Cinnamon Bear that children would tell what they wanted for gifts instead of a Santa, and he would show up in Christmas parades. The Cinnamon Bear
remained popular especially in the Northwest
, with Portland
often cited as a "Cinnamon Bear hotspot."
In 1951, for a Cinnamon Bear
television series, the characters were hand puppets, and the radio program provided the soundtrack.
Copyright protection apparently remains on the Cinnamon Bear, and thus the posting of the episodes on the internet may be an infringement of US copyright law. The copyright is now held by the eldest child of Glan and Elisabeth Heisch, Catherine Borchmann of Rockford, Illinois. Catherine inherited the property following the death of Elisabeth Heisch in 2003. There was a lengthy legal battle in the early 2000s in which the heirs of Glanville Heisch (who passed away in 1986) prevailed, and the copyright of the radio play was returned to the family.
Books and publications
In 1987, upon the 50th anniversary of The Cinnamon Bear, a fan of the show started an annual newsletter called " Bear Facts
" and put out by "The Cinnamon Bear Brigade," which ran for five years.
The Cinnamon Bear in the Adventure of the Silver Star (2007) by Rick Lewis and Veronica Marzilli was published during the 70th anniversary of The Cinnamon Bear. Jerrel McQueen and Timothy Holmes provided the illustrations.
, a proposed radio serial by Carlton E. Morse
, featured a teddy bear that spoke an Irish accent. As noted by Martin Grams, Jr.
, Morse's unused plot synopsis was obviously inspired by The Cinnamon Bear