John "Losh Man" Losh II is a writer and broadcaster, presenting 102.7 The Hog's weekly show 'Hollywood Classics'
The Screen Guild Theater - affiliated with the same site group as the Lux Radio Theatre and the Screen Director's Playhouse, is a 527 episode old-time radio series, running from 1939-1952. It comes in second in number of episodes behind the 926 episode Lux Radio Theater, but considerably ahead of the 122 episode Screen Director’s Playhouse. Like the other two programs, it featured radio versions of many well known motion pictures.
Its key sponsor was Lady Esther Cosmetik, founded by Syma Cohen and her sister Esther in 1913, and quickly became one of the leading labels in cosmetics. Lady Esther sponsored such shows as 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' with James Cagney, 'Casablanca' with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and 'The Philadelphia Story' with Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katherine Hepburn.
Other sponsors included Camel Cigarettes, who sponsored Red Skelton’s 'The Fuller Brush Man', 'My Favourite Brunette' with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, and 'The Bells Of St Mary’s' with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. The Gulf Oil Companies sponsored such titles as 'The Shop Around The Corner' with James Stewart, Margaret Sullivan and Frank Morgan, 'Babes in Arms' with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, and 'His Girl Friday' with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. ABC sponsored 'Twelve O’ Clock High' with Gregory Peck and Ward Bond, and 'Ninotchka' with Joan Fontaine and William Powell.
The period in which the Screen Guild Theater ran was not only considered to be during the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Golden Age of radio, but it covered the period before, during and after World War II. Consequently, during the war many stars such as James Stewart, Clark Gable and Henry Fonda were substituted from their original roles as they were serving in the military. Rather than being paid for their roles, actors and actresses usually donated their fees to the Motion Picture Relief Fund, which provided a place of residence and care for retired actors, The Motion Picture Country Home.
The shows were normally thirty minutes, but increased to one hour during its 13th and final season. The shows are all in the public domain and can be listened to, or downloaded for free from here.
My personal favorites among the Screen Guild Theater shows include:
The Bells Of St Mary’s / The Shop Around The Corner / Call Northside 777 / The Philadelphia Story / His Girl Friday / Babes In Arms / Penny Serenade / The Bishop’s Wife / Yankee Doodle Dandy / For Me & My Gal / Holiday Inn / The Voice Of Bugle Anne / Penny Serenade