Monday, January 7, 2008

Here's Henry Morgan

Right off the bat, in discussing humorist Henry Morgan
in this day and age, let's NOT CONFUSE HIM with
Harry 'Colonel Potter' Morgan from MASH and Dragnet.

Two entirely different creatures.

Beginning in 1952, Henry Morgan was a featured guest panelist on TV's 'I've Got A Secret' and several other game shows through the 1960's and into the '70's.

Like many other regular panelists, becoming known as a game show fixture may have eventually overshadowed his previous professional life.
For Morgan, that was as a radio comedian with a dry wit comparable to that of Fred Allen.
If his style also bore similarities to that of author
Robert Benchley, it seems appropriate that the three of them enjoyed something of a mutual admiration society.

Enjoy the audio I've posted here, but please also explore these links to learn more about Henry Morgan.

- Henry Morgan at Wikipedia - - also has links to archives of several complete 'Here's Morgan' radio shows from the early '40's.

- 'Henry Morgan: Fuck the Sponsor', a definitive article on Morgan at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

The Riverside LP below ⬇ (also issued on Riverside's Judson imprint) found Morgan reprising various monologues he'd performed, many of them dating back to his heyday in radio.

I'll guess that it was recorded around 1957, give or take. (Please correct me if you know better)
I've found one discography that infers that its release was in 1964, but that just seems unlikely to me...

From the 10" LP 'Here's Morgan' (Riverside Records, 195?),
Listen to:

Little Red Riding Rouge
Googie Morgan on Baseball
The Truth About Cowboys
The Invention of Time
Hey, Bud

Morgan's own liner notes to the above tracks...

A word about the artist: Mr. Morgan is an Artist.
A few words about these examples of his Art:

1. Little Riding Hood Rouge
The story as told to the Artist (see above) by an Alsatian carver of netsuke on a rainy day in Juin (June).
The dialect employed is that of the Fragonard section of Paris, a district inhabited by fleas, who, it is interesting to note, maintain a market there.

2. Googie Morgan on Baseball
This is anti-British, in a way, but it's not normal to like absolutely everybody.
There are individual Englishmen who are very likeable, but they stay home and let the British enjoy them.
Not one word of the foregoing is true, but I like a bit of controversy now and then.

3. Advertising
There are many more things to be said than there was space for on this record and I hope in future to be able to devote an entire half hour to the subject of advertising. An immense popular demand will do the trick.
Address your letters to "Advertising Council of America, Mason and Dixon Street, City."
If you don't like this material your dealer will be insane to refund your money.

4. The Truth About Cowboys
These remarks were made in the belief that no cowboy has a machine which will play LPs.
If any cowhoy should happen to hear this stuff, I plead with him to remember that he and I are Americans and must stand together against a hostile world.
Anybody will teIl you what a great kidder I am, too.

5. The Invention of Time
Originally this was a sketch with four or five actors in radio.
I've made it into a monologue because, among other things, we needed something in this space.
Also, it might bring back memories to some old die-hards who remember radio before the war. Any war.

6. Hey, Bud
Like many of the characters on this disc, this one is from an old radio monologue.
He was invented during the days of gasoline coupons.
This sneak could get you nylons, meat - - anything that was in short supply.
I remember he got sugar by distilling Coca-Cola.

During the 1940's Morgan was often tagged as
'the bad boy' of radio.
His brand of satirical humor was popular with audiences as he worked his way up to a half-hour network show.

His reputation for on-air disrespect to his sponsors was notorious. The playful irreverence displayed during his commercial announcements could just as easily escalate to transparent disdain.

Though it never seemed to hurt the sales of the product he was hawking, (or his ratings) it got him in trouble regularly, and several sponsors tired of his services.

During WWII, Morgan's show came to an end when he joined the military in 1943.
The excerpts archived below are from one of the shows he had following his post-war return to radio.

Hearing a few of these barbs, I'm struck by how that brand of 'biting the hand that feeds you' still sounds pretty risky.
I think a contemporary media personality would still have trouble getting away with it today.
It's too smart, and it's assumes that the audience is that smart as well.

Listen to the following commercial announcements from the Henry Morgan ABC-Radio Eversharp-Schick Program, featuring Henry Morgan, announcer Charlie Irving, and Bernie Green's Orchestra (1946-47):

Saves You Time #1
Razor Comparison Test
A Startling Announcement
I'll Say One Thing For The Razor...
Greetings From Eversharp-Schick
Leading Atheletes
Shavathon #1
New Years Resolution
Without An Audience, Yet
Push-Pull, Click-Click
Commercial Announcement For Kids
Singing Commercial
Shavathon #2
Saves You Time #2
A Startling Testimonial
Bored Sophistication
Banner Year
Trumpet Goof
The Greatest Invention
Saves You Time #3

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 21 Eversharp-Schick Commercial tracks in one 24.4 Mb zipfile.


glyphjockey said...

I loved him on December Bride.....................kidding!

Craig D said...

I am breaking radio silence to praise your Henry Morgan blog post.

My Dad was always chuckling about his EVERSHARP commercials and my wife & I became fans by watching "Hank" on the GSN repeats of "I've Got A Secret!"

If only I could get my hands on some really clean-sounding airchecks...

Happy new year and, as always, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for this - I found it just as I was mp3ing Henry Morgan's "Saint and the Sinner" album to share with people...Henry Morgan was far ahead of his time!

ally. said...

i'd never heard of him but am very keen on a bit of a giggle in a morning to set the day off right and these did the trick fabulously.

Laszlo said...

Good Sounds, Thank You.

Patte said...

He starred in an episode of "CBS Radio Workshop", in 1957:

In the 1979 radio drama revival, "Sears Radio Workshop", he wrote and starred in 3 episodes that continued where his old show had left off. For these episodes, a studio audience of OTR enthusiasts was brought in. In response to the sponsor's concerns about liabity for all those extra people in there, the series' executive producer, Elliott Lewis, who was no stranger to dealing with execs' irrational fears, said the audience members were researchers, who were well aware of the hazards in a studio environment.

You can listen to the three episodes, which aired in April and May 1979, here:

Freshly-stirred links