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Bert Lahr Collection

Best known as "The Cowardly Lion" in The Wizard of Oz, Bert Lahr got his start at age 15 after running away from home to join a juvenile vaudeville troupe where he was known for his rubber-faced antics.

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19 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 12 hours, 32 min)
available in the following formats:

1 MP3 CD
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13 Audio CDs


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About this Old Time Radio Show

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2017 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Bert Lahr

Bert LahrPlaying "The Cowardly Lion" in The Wizard of Oz (1939) put Bert Lahr on the map for modern classic film buffs, but really did not boost his career as well as it should have. The picture was well-received by critics when it was released but did not do nearly as well as expected at the box office, grossing just $3,017,000. MGM's most expensive production to date, the film cost $2,777,000 to make. To make matters worse, Oz was trounced on Oscar night by the highly anticipated Gone With the Wind (1939).

The Wizard of Oz was re-released nationwide in 1949 and in 1955. In the fall of 1955, CBS TV began broadcasting a monthly anthology series, Ford Star Jubilee. The first broadcast was hosted by Oz star Judy Garland. The program was usually telecast live, featuring a grand stage production, but ratings were less than spectacular. In late autumn of 1956, the decision was made to pull the plug on the program, and the last broadcast was to take place on November 3. Rather than another live telecast, The Wizard of Oz was to be shown, hosted by 10-year-old Liza Minnelli (Judy Garland's daughter) and Cowardly Lion Bert Lahr. Lahr once quipped, "After The Wizard of Oz, I was typecast as a lion, and there aren't all that many parts for lions."

Bert Lahr

Bert Lahr was born to German immigrant parents in New York City, 1895. He ran away from home at 15 to join a juvenile vaudeville troupe, but soon made that transition to burlesque where his rubber-faced antics and broad delivery shone. Burlesque has been called vaudeville's evil twin. The acts on the today for introducing striptease, burlesque focused on pretty girls supported by rather racy comedians. The burlesque circuit employed a few other types of acts, like strong men and female impersonators, and some of the girls used juggling, singing, or juggling in their acts, but the difference remained, vaudeville for families and burlesque for men without their wives.

Lahr rose to top billing on the Columbia Burlesque Circuit, and in 1927 he debuted on Broadway in the revue Delmar's Revels. Mercedes Delpino became Mrs. Bert Lahr in 1929, and they hit the vaudeville circuit as "Lahr and Mercedes".  The pair might have followed other vaudeville couples onto radio but Mercedes suffered from mental illness and was committed to an asylum in 1930. Bert began seeing Mildred Schroeder but would not divorce Delpino because of her condition. Schroeder tired of waiting and married another man. By the time that marriage failed, Mercedes was no longer able to function in the marriage and Lahr was granted a divorce and married Mildred. Lahr had a son with Mercedes and a daughter and a son with Mildred.

Bert LahrHe appeared in 16 films before Oz with moderate success. His first feature film role was in the pre-Code musical comedy Flying High (1930), playing an aircraft mechanic who accidentally sets a flight endurance record because he does not know how to land the machine. The Cowardly Lion was the last of Dorothy's companions cast for The Wizard of Oz. Lahr was offered $2,500/week for five weeks work. He held out for a guarantee of six weeks, but shooting stretched into months, making a very profitable venture for Lahr. The Lion costume was made with actual lion fur, making it uncomfortably hot to wear. The heat and his daily two-hour ordeal in the makeup chair were not enough to keep Lahr from tossing in several ad libs which broke up the others in the cast, especially young Judy Garland.

On the radio, Lahr ran into the same problem he had in front of the movie camera, his comedy and mannerisms were simply too broad to be fully captured by the medium. Radio held another problem, the unflappable performer who could tame a house full of rowdies calling for "the girls" got so nervous in front of a radio studio microphone that he would twist the buttons off his shirt. He also got in trouble with radio directors for "mugging" to the studio audience, listeners at home would hear laughter but nothing funny was being said on the air. Still, he was so funny that he was a popular guest on the Fred Allen Show, Command Performance, Kraft Music Hall, and others.

Lahr's last performance was making the film, The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968). On November 21, 1967, Lahr was on the cold and damp set until nearly two in the morning. He entered the hospital for a reported back ailment but he had, in fact, contracted the pneumonia which would kill him. After he passed away in the early morning of December 4, it was discovered that he also had terminal cancer, a disease he feared but did not know he had.

News of Bert Lahr's death reached Judy Garland that night, just as she was about to take the stage in Las Vegas. That night, she dedicated the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to her Cowardly Lion.

Bert Lahr Gun

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2017 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:
  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    19 recordings on 1 MP3 CD for just $4.50
    total playtime 12 hours, 32 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      19 shows - total playtime 12 hours 32 minutes
      1. Bergen Mccarthy 431212 Bert Lahr And Lena Horne.mp3
      2. Big Show 501224 Jimmy Durante Robert Merrill.mp3
      3. Command Performance 420818 027 Cary Grant Virginia Obrien.mp3
      4. Fleischmanns Yeast 360625 349 Murder Cathedral Harry Irvine.mp3
      5. Forecast 410825 Tour Of Hollywood.mp3
      6. Fred Allen Show 391011 002 Satire On Surveys And Polls.mp3
      7. Fred Allen Show 460428 068 Racing Form Trial.mp3
      8. Fred Allen Show 490206 174 Planning Tv Show.mp3
      9. Fred Allen Show 490501 186 Jamaica Race Track.mp3
      10. Good News Of 1939 390629 73 Guests Stars From Wizard Of Oz.mp3
      11. Hollywood Open House 50 Bert Lahr Goes To Night School 6444.mp3
      12. Hollywoods Open House 480513 023 Five Minutes More.mp3
      13. Kraft Music Hall 410619 Youre Double Lovely.mp3
      14. Kraft Music Hall 410626 Smile Troubles Away Host Don Ameche.mp3
      15. Paul Whiteman Presents 430801 09 Bert Lahr Modernaires.mp3
      16. Philco Radio Time 481124 081 Bert Lahr And Dorothy Kirsten.mp3
      17. Radio Hall Of Fame 450304 066 Telltale Heart.mp3
      18. The Vitalis Program 390706 Featuring George Jessel.mp3
      19. Three Of Kind 440413 Opening Program.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    19 recordings on 1 MP3 Collection Download for just $4.50
    total playtime 12 hours, 32 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      19 shows - total playtime 12 hours 32 minutes
      1. Bergen Mccarthy 431212 Bert Lahr And Lena Horne.mp3
      2. Big Show 501224 Jimmy Durante Robert Merrill.mp3
      3. Command Performance 420818 027 Cary Grant Virginia Obrien.mp3
      4. Fleischmanns Yeast 360625 349 Murder Cathedral Harry Irvine.mp3
      5. Forecast 410825 Tour Of Hollywood.mp3
      6. Fred Allen Show 391011 002 Satire On Surveys And Polls.mp3
      7. Fred Allen Show 460428 068 Racing Form Trial.mp3
      8. Fred Allen Show 490206 174 Planning Tv Show.mp3
      9. Fred Allen Show 490501 186 Jamaica Race Track.mp3
      10. Good News Of 1939 390629 73 Guests Stars From Wizard Of Oz.mp3
      11. Hollywood Open House 50 Bert Lahr Goes To Night School 6444.mp3
      12. Hollywoods Open House 480513 023 Five Minutes More.mp3
      13. Kraft Music Hall 410619 Youre Double Lovely.mp3
      14. Kraft Music Hall 410626 Smile Troubles Away Host Don Ameche.mp3
      15. Paul Whiteman Presents 430801 09 Bert Lahr Modernaires.mp3
      16. Philco Radio Time 481124 081 Bert Lahr And Dorothy Kirsten.mp3
      17. Radio Hall Of Fame 450304 066 Telltale Heart.mp3
      18. The Vitalis Program 390706 Featuring George Jessel.mp3
      19. Three Of Kind 440413 Opening Program.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    19 recordings on 13 Audio CDs
    total playtime 11 hours, 4 min

    Bert Lahr Disc A001

    1. Hollywood Open House 50 Bert Lahr Goes To Night School 6444

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A002

    1. Fleischmanns Yeast 360625 349 Murder Cathedral Harry Irvine

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A003

    1. Good News Of 1939 390629 73 Guests Stars From Wizard Of Oz
    2. The Vitalis Program 390706 Featuring George Jessel

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A004

    1. Fred Allen Show 391011 002 Satire On Surveys And Polls

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A005

    1. Kraft Music Hall 410619 Youre Double Lovely

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A006

    1. Kraft Music Hall 410626 Smile Troubles Away Host Don Ameche

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A007

    1. Forecast 410825 Tour Of Hollywood
    2. Command Performance 420818 027 Cary Grant Virginia Obrien

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A008

    1. Paul Whiteman Presents 430801 09 Bert Lahr Modernaires
    2. Bergen Mccarthy 431212 Bert Lahr And Lena Horne

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A009

    1. Three Of Kind 440413 Opening Program

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A010

    1. Radio Hall Of Fame 450304 066 Telltale Heart

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A011

    1. Fred Allen Show 460428 068 Racing Form Trial
    2. Hollywoods Open House 480513 023 Five Minutes More

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A012

    1. Philco Radio Time 481124 081 Bert Lahr And Dorothy Kirsten
    2. Fred Allen Show 490206 174 Planning Tv Show

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Bert Lahr Disc A013

    1. Fred Allen Show 490501 186 Jamaica Race Track

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00

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