The year 1935 was a very busy time for the Johnson Wax people of Racine Wisconsin. The previous year, while the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression, the company initiated an employee pension program. In 1935 Johnson heir H.F. Johnson embarked on the "Carnauba Expedition," a 15,550 mile fight in a twin engine amphibious biplane to the jungles of Brazil in search of new sources of carnauba, an important ingredient in their wax products. And the company began experimenting with Radio Sponsorship to advertise their products.
The best known result of this experiment is the long running, much beloved series Fibber McGee and Molly which would be a regular feature on NBC until 1959. Another lesser known but well done effort is the quarter hour program with actor Tom Powers called Life Studies.
Powers had dedicated his life to the Broadway stage, but took time to appear in 70 silent films between 1911 and 1917. From 1916 to 1944 he enjoyed great success as a playwright, actor and director. He returned to the silver screen at the invitation of Billy Wilder to appear in the noir classic, Double Indemnity. He would appear in over 80 films.
The Life Studies programs featured Powers as the sole player. After an intro by announcer Howard Claney (who would get several opportunities to plug Johnson wax products during the 1 minute, but never as artfully as Fibber McGee’s Harlow Wilcox) Powers would give a short introduction to the night’s story. Powers usually added some poetry to the introduction.
Powers published his stories in a pair of books, Life Studies and More Life Studies, in 1939 an 1945.
See also: The Player starring the one man show, Paul Frees.
(Please note these rare recordings are 75+ years old and are inferior sound quality.)