Monday, December 21, 2015

Radio Greats: Dog Star (Suspense)

Suspense is certainly the powerhouse of the Golden Age of Radio, lasting from 1942 to 1962, so popular that it was able to last against the rising power of TV better than almost any other program -- and the day it (with Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) went off the air, September 30, 1962, is often called the last day of the Golden Age. With such a long and popular run, it was inevitable that it would have a number of Christmas episodes.

Such is "Dog Star", from December 22, 1957. It's a charming story in which a little girl's wish for a dog lands her in the middle of the Space Race between the USA and the USSR. Since it is Suspense, you cannot expect it to be all fun and games. There is death, for instance. And one should consider the context, too. On October 4 of that very same year, the USSR had launched Sputnik 1, stunning the rest of the world, and upsetting the USA's complacency about being the technologically superior nation. On November 3, 1957, Sputnik 2 was launched, carrying Laika, the first dog in space. The possibility of the Soviets continuing their successful streak was itself a matter of more anxiety and fear -- and suspense -- than one might imagine.

The episode stars Evelyn Rudie, notable for being one of the most successful child actors of all time. She's seven years old here, but already a professional, having been nominated for an Emmy the year before. She would later go on to be an extremely successful playwright, stage actress, and costume designer.

You can listen to "Dog Star" at the Internet Archive (it's episode 695) or here, courtesy of Southbridge Old Time Radio:

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