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The Kraft Music Hall

In October, 1947, Al Jolson assumed the starring role on the Kraft Music Hall, a radio program he had introduced in the early 1930s. From October 2, 1947, through May 26, 1949, Al Jolson, along with pianist Oscar Levant, welcomed a variety of guests from the stage, screen, and radio to seventy-one broadcasts of the program. The usual format of the program included an introductory song by Jolson, a piano piece by Levant, a routine between the two principles, the guest star, and a closing number by Jolson. Depending on the guest star, this pattern could be altered, modified, or trashed completely. Although the original format included a female vocalist, Milenna Miller, added because the network and sponsors were afraid that Jolson could not carry the show himself, she was quietly dropped after the second show. In the review of the premier broadcast, Variety picked up on this piece of miscasting, and suggested the change in their review.

Summary of Broadcasts
The Kraft Music Hall
broadcast on NBC - Thursdays - 9:00 pm ET
First Season
10/02/47-Edgar Bergen & Charle McCarthy 
10/09/47-Lauritz Melchoir    
10/16/47-Bing Crosby [1]
10/23/47-Groucho Marx [1]
10/30/47-William Bendix      
11/06/47-Humphrey Bogart     
11/13/47-Victor Moore [1]
11/20/47-Charles Boyer [1]
11/27/47-Dorothy Lamour      
12/04/47-Red Skelton         
12/11/47-Yehudi Munuhin & Arnold Stang
12/18/47-Jimmy Durante [1]
12/25/47-Boris Karloff       
01/01/48-Madeline Carroll    
01/08/48-William Powell      
01/15/48-Bing Crosby [2]
01/22/48-Lucille Ball
01/29/48-Walter O'Keefe
02/05/48-Ed "Archie" Gardner   
02/12/48-Charles Laughton    
02/19/48-Charles Boyer [2]
02/26/48-David Niven
03/04/48-Cary Grant          
03/11/48-Edward Everett Horton       
03/18/48-Edward G. Robinson [1]
03/25/48-Clifton Webb
04/01/48-Jimmy Durante [2]
04/08/48-Vera Vague      
04/15/48-Charles Boyer [3]
04/22/48-Dorothy Kirsten [1]
04/29/48-Victor Moore [2]
05/06/48-Groucho Marx [2]
05/13/48-Dorothy Kirsten [2]
05/20/48-Henry Morgan    
05/27/48-Dorothy Kirsten [3]
06/03/48-Ezio Pinza [1]
06/10/48-Dorothy Kirsten [4]
Second Season
09/30/48-Judy Garland
10/07/48-Edward G. Robinson [2]
10/14/48-Ezio Pinza [2]
10/21/48-No Guest - All Jolie     
10/28/48-Dorothy Kirsten [5]
11/04/48-Burns & Allen   
11/11/48-George Jessel [1]
11/18/48-Groucho Marx [3]
11/25/48-Victor Mature
12/02/48-Peggy Lee [1]
12/09/48-Dennis Day [1]
12/16/48-Dinah Shore
12/23/48-Kraft Choral Club
12/30/48-Doris Day [2]
01/06/49-Larry Parks
01/13/49-Groucho Marx [4]
01/20/49-Victor Moore [3]
01/27/49-Arthur Treacher
02/03/49-Dennis Day [2]
02/10/49-Peggy Lee [2]
02/17/49-Joan Davis
02/24/49-Andrews Sisters
03/03/49-Dorothy Kirsten [6]
03/10/49-Jimmy Durante [3]
03/17/49-Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
03/24/49-George Jessel [2]
03/31/49-(program pre-empted)
04/07/49-Groucho Marx [5]
04/14/49-Margret Whiting
04/21/49-Jimmy Durante [4]
04/28/49-Doris Day [3]
05/05/49-Dennis Day [3]
05/12/49-Victor Moore [4]
05/19/49-Dorothy Kirsten [7]
05/26/49-Groucho Marx [6]
Guests who appeared on the Kraft Music Hall multiple times have the appearance number by their names as [1]

Variety's review of the Kraft Music Hall from October 8, 1947
Jolson: Kraft On High

Kraft Music Hall last Thursday night bounced back into major league programming -- a status it hasn't enjoyed since Bing Crosby went Philco's way -- when Al Jolson, capping an amazing comeback career, took over as permanent man. And the good tidings are that it's a wham of a show, one that will give the Top 15 Hooperated boys a run for their money. If there's any doubt about Jolie entrenching himself as a vital cog in modern-day show business, last week's premier broadcast was the clincher.

From the "April Showers" curtainraiser to the closing nostalgic refrain cued to cecollections of Luchow's 14th Street (N.Y.) restaurant as the "Stork Club of the '90s" Jolson breezed through the KMH stanza completely at ease, sparking the whole routine with a pacing and timing that can match the best of them.

The J. Walter Thompson agency production boys have brought out all the top-shelf accouterments, even to the extent of endowing the Kraft show with a solid scripting assist, and if the getaway show clicked with just the correct tempo, writers Manny Manhein and Charles Isaacs rate billing with the rest of them.

There's been no stinting on the talent layout, with Oscar Levant also a permanent fixture, along with Milenna Miller as the femme vocalist, and a guest star policy that had Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen on hand for the teeoff in a three-way Levant-Jolie-McCarthy barb-throwing parley. That's talent in spades, a surfeiting of name values that under ordinary circumstances could easily bog down the comedy flow and the overall effect. Yet thanks to the Manheim-Isaacs script contrib, the neat handiling of the production controls by Ezra McIntosh and Jolson's major-domo operation, each dovetail nicely into the whole.

The component parts of the show were rationed to a T, with proper balancing of the two-way Jolson-Levant banter, with the latter seguing into his pianistic pyrotechnics; Jolson's properly spaced and not-too-overdone vocalizing of "Toot, Toot, Tootsie," "All My Love" and the nostalgic "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" windup; the "Sonny Boy" comedy dueting with McCarthy that was the show's laugh standout, with even sufficient time to spare to give Lou Bring some orchestral spotlighting.

Only Miss Miller apprears excess ballast for the 30-minute ride, adding nothing to the format. With such a layout, a femme vocalist would appear to be unnecessary. If there's time to spare, let Jolson go around for a No. 4 whirl on the singing chores. It's his show.

Ken Carpenter does his usually glib job on the commercials. They were about as unobtrusive as any could be.


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This listing and material Copyright © 2001 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
Updated 15 Dec 01