Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear perform “When Celebrities Collide”

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear perform "When Celebrities Collide" at the Oak Park Arms retirement community.Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, an all volunteer radio reenactment group, will present “When Celebrities Collide” at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at the Oak Park Arms retirement community, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.

Many popular personalities from film and radio will be portrayed on the stage at the Arms. The star-studded cast will include the greats such as Betty Hutton and Danny Kaye, host of “The Danny Kaye Show.” Groucho Marx, Tallulah Bankhead, Baby Snooks and Daddy, Ezio Pinza, Jan Powell and Hanley Stafford will also be portrayed with a parody of “You Bet Your Life” on “The Big Show.”

The American variety show, hosted by Danny Kaye, aired from 1963 to 1967 with an emphasis on comedy. Kaye sang and danced his way through skits and monologues often assisted by semi-regular guests, singers, dancers and an orchestra.

“You Bet Your Life” is an American quiz show that aired in 1947 on both radio and T.V. Groucho Marx was the host of the original (and best-known) version of the show, which was renamed “The Groucho Show” in 1960 and aired that way for another year. In fact, the play of the game became secondary to the exchanges between Groucho and his contestants.

“The Big Show,” an American comedy-variety-musical T.V. series, was produced and broadcast in 1980. It strived to revitalize what was becoming a dwindling T.V. genre of variety shows, including the recently cancelled “Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show.” Using a huge stage set complete with a live audience, ice rink and swimming pool, the 90-minute time slots were filled to capacity. Although the show started out with high ratings, poor reviews resulted in its cancellation just months later.

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear will combine the best of the best into one unforgettable show – live – at the Arms.

The performers

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is composed of Chicagoland actors who share a common interest – to perform old time radio programs for the community. Each actor and technician donates talent and time for free.

Group founders, Ben Dooley and Pam Turlow, husband and wife, established a connection with The Oak Park Arms in September of 2002, when Turlow’s father became a resident. They’ve been volunteering/performing at The Arms ever since.

Dooley and Turlow’s group performs only once every two months due to the considerable challenges involved in creating a show. They browse through thousands of old time radio episodes, select a favorite, listen and type out the script. Many shows are not available in print and have to be painstakingly transcribed. Then they gather sound effect, rehearse and mount the show.

Sound effects were an important part of live radio shows, and the group performs them live. They have a real door for slamming, buzzers, a sound board and shoes for footsteps, and doorbells.

The shows are very popular with residents and people from the community. Some even bring their children and grandchildren to show them what entertainment was like before television.

“Since the entire cast donates its time and energy, we can only do shows six times a year,” Dooley said, “but we strive to make sure that it’s well worth the wait.”

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The radio show is free and open to the public. For more information, call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040.


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