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Burlesque in Old Time Radio

Burlesques are saucey variety shows that often include a playful strip tease and bawdy, but topical jokes.

28 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 17 hours, 26 min)
available in the following formats:

1 MP3 CD
or
20 Audio CDs


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Play a sample episode from June 15, 1936:

"Lux Radio: Burlesque"



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About this Old Time Radio Show

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

BurlesqueBefore the rise of movies and Radio, the primary show business venues providing entertainment in American cities were the legitimate theater, vaudeville, and burlesque. Legitimate theater's traditions largely carried over into movies and to a lesser extent in radio and eventually television drama, and of course, live theater with Broadway as its capital. Vaudeville takes its name from the French term for "voice of the village" was a family-friendly form of entertainment which combined elements of minstrel shows, classical, popular, and folk music, legitimate theater, and even circus acts which moved from town to town allowing theater owners to attract audiences with the variety of their acts. This tradition of variety helped vaudeville veterans to become the backbone of Radio's Golden Age. The vaudevillians knew that they could not present the same act from week to week on the radio, and the most successful found elements which kept their audience tuning in while finding enough new material to remain fresh week after week.

Burlesque would eventually descend to become the entertainment for the rough and tumble working class, but its roots are decidedly more highbrow. Victorian burlesque was a form of variety show which gained its humor through parody and satirizing classical theater, music, and the upper classes in general. Since these early burlesques made fun of literary topics as well as those in political power, the audience needed to have a certain level of education to get the jokes. Gaining a wider audience led not so much to a "dumbing-down" of the material as widening its appeal by becoming bawdier.

This meant that the jokes became more ribald than topical, and thus burlesque Burlesquewas not a show where children and families were welcomed. Burlesque houses were also willing to display attractive young women whom the audience would enjoy seeing or their own sake. Many of these girls performed as singers or dancers, but their main attraction was their alluring costumes or lack thereof. "Hoochie-Koochie" dancers became popular in North America after "Little Egypt" performed her belly dance inspired moves at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

It is thought that the strip-tease has its origins in another middle-eastern dance, namely the story of Salome and the Seven Veils from the Bible. Strip-tease's "bump and grind" tradition may have begun at Minsky's Burlesque in New York City. In 1917, dancer Mae Dix finished her number to less than enthusiastic applause, and as she walked off the stage began to remove her costume before she was hidden behind the curtain. The crowd who hardly noticed her before began clamoring for more, and Billy Minsky instructed Mae to repeat the accident the next night. As she began taking more and more of her costume off, the police "raided" Minsky's to enforce decency codes.

Burlesque operators had to walk a fine line. Although the strip-tease acts were mild by modern standards, they were deemed scandalous by the various decency boards and morality committees in the various cities. Some burlesque houses had their own acts, but many performers were part of one of the burlesque wheels. A "wheel" was analogous to a vaudeville circuit, and the biggest were the Columbia along the Eastern seaboard, the Mutual, and the Empire covering the Western US. As a wheel took a performer into new towns, they had to conform to the local decency code or face jail time. However, if the acts were too chaste the theater would lose its audience.

Although vaudeville began to fade with the rise in popularity of radio, burlesque managed to hang on until almost the middle of the twentieth century. Although the scandalous performances of the strip-tease dancers stand out in popular memory, it was really the comedians who were the big draw in burlesque, and many eventually made it into radio, TV, and the nightclub circuit. Milton Berle, Morey Amsterdam, Red Buttons, Jimmy Durante, Bert Lahr, Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, and Bob Hope all got their start in Burlesque. However, by the end of the Great Depression, a movement was afoot to shut down burlesque in the name of public decency. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was able to shut down most of the burlesque houses in New York by the early 1940s.

Most of the episodes in this collection are from the 1950s, by which time burlesque was mostly gone but not forgotten. The centerpiece of most of the scripts are the lives and adventures of the dancers and the dashing heroes who rescue their fortunes and their virtues. Even if the writers could have found a way to get a strip-tease past the network censors, it is difficult to imagine it being popular on the radio.

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.



    28 recordings on 1 MP3 CD for just $5.00
    total playtime 17 hours, 26 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      28 shows - total playtime 17 hours 26 minutes
      1. 30 Minutes In Hollywood 380102 13 Wont We Have Fun.mp3
      2. Adventures Of Philip Marlowe 490416 Heat Wave.mp3
      3. Barrie Craig 520109 Murder Island.mp3
      4. Bing Crosby Philco 481124 Bert Lahr And Dorothy Kirsten.mp3
      5. Chase 520622 Bald Artie Bender.mp3
      6. Damon Runyon 490911 Melancholy Dane.mp3
      7. Damon Runyon 491211 Neat Strip.mp3
      8. Jack Benny 430509 481 Jack Jams With Louis Armstrong.mp3
      9. Jean Shepherd Show 650424.mp3
      10. Lux Radio Theater 360615 085 Burlesque.mp3
      11. Lux Radio Theater 400226 252 Swing High, Swing Low.mp3
      12. Lux Radio Theater 490425 655 When My Baby Smiles For Me.mp3
      13. Mel Blanc Show 460910 02 Efficiency Expert.mp3
      14. Mr District Attorney 430203 Backstage Murder.mp3
      15. Radio Hall Of Fame 440130 09 Pt.1,3 Ed Gardner,lloyd Nolan.mp3
      16. Rogers Of Gazette 19531125 20 Princis Reopens.mp3
      17. Romance 560326 Strip Teaser & Space Warp.mp3
      18. Rudy Vallee 380714 Ina Claire, Rags Ragland.mp3
      19. Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour 380609 Irving Caesar.mp3
      20. Screen Directors Playhouse 500505 067 When My Baby Smiles.mp3
      21. Strange Wills 460824 12 Emeralds Come High.mp3
      22. Texaco Star Th 381012 Adophe Menjou John Barrymore.mp3
      23. Texaco Star Th 410101 13 Amateur Of Month.mp3
      24. Theater Guild On Air 461124 051 Burlesque.mp3
      25. You Bet Your Life 500419 Secret Word Name.mp3
      26. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 530130 Kay Bellamy Matter.mp3
      27. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 580824 Noxious Needle Matter.mp3
      28. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 591115 Bayou Body Matter.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    28 recordings on 1 MP3 Collection Download for just $5.00
    total playtime 17 hours, 26 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      28 shows - total playtime 17 hours 26 minutes
      1. 30 Minutes In Hollywood 380102 13 Wont We Have Fun.mp3
      2. Adventures Of Philip Marlowe 490416 Heat Wave.mp3
      3. Barrie Craig 520109 Murder Island.mp3
      4. Bing Crosby Philco 481124 Bert Lahr And Dorothy Kirsten.mp3
      5. Chase 520622 Bald Artie Bender.mp3
      6. Damon Runyon 490911 Melancholy Dane.mp3
      7. Damon Runyon 491211 Neat Strip.mp3
      8. Jack Benny 430509 481 Jack Jams With Louis Armstrong.mp3
      9. Jean Shepherd Show 650424.mp3
      10. Lux Radio Theater 360615 085 Burlesque.mp3
      11. Lux Radio Theater 400226 252 Swing High, Swing Low.mp3
      12. Lux Radio Theater 490425 655 When My Baby Smiles For Me.mp3
      13. Mel Blanc Show 460910 02 Efficiency Expert.mp3
      14. Mr District Attorney 430203 Backstage Murder.mp3
      15. Radio Hall Of Fame 440130 09 Pt.1,3 Ed Gardner,lloyd Nolan.mp3
      16. Rogers Of Gazette 19531125 20 Princis Reopens.mp3
      17. Romance 560326 Strip Teaser & Space Warp.mp3
      18. Rudy Vallee 380714 Ina Claire, Rags Ragland.mp3
      19. Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour 380609 Irving Caesar.mp3
      20. Screen Directors Playhouse 500505 067 When My Baby Smiles.mp3
      21. Strange Wills 460824 12 Emeralds Come High.mp3
      22. Texaco Star Th 381012 Adophe Menjou John Barrymore.mp3
      23. Texaco Star Th 410101 13 Amateur Of Month.mp3
      24. Theater Guild On Air 461124 051 Burlesque.mp3
      25. You Bet Your Life 500419 Secret Word Name.mp3
      26. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 530130 Kay Bellamy Matter.mp3
      27. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 580824 Noxious Needle Matter.mp3
      28. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 591115 Bayou Body Matter.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



    28 recordings on 20 Audio CDs
    total playtime 17 hours, 26 min

    Burlesque Disc A001

    1. Rogers Of Gazette 19531125 20 Princis Reopens

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A002

    1. Lux Radio Theater 360615 085 Burlesque

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A003

    1. 30 Minutes In Hollywood 380102 13 Wont We Have Fun

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A004

    1. Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour 380609 Irving Caesar

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A005

    1. Rudy Vallee 380714 Ina Claire, Rags Ragland

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A006

    1. Texaco Star Th 381012 Adophe Menjou John Barrymore

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A007

    1. Lux Radio Theater 400226 252 Swing High, Swing Low

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A008

    1. Texaco Star Th 410101 13 Amateur Of Month

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A009

    1. Mr District Attorney 430203 Backstage Murder
    2. Jack Benny 430509 481 Jack Jams With Louis Armstrong

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A010

    1. Radio Hall Of Fame 440130 09 Pt.1,3 Ed Gardner,lloyd Nolan
    2. Strange Wills 460824 12 Emeralds Come High

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A011

    1. Mel Blanc Show 460910 02 Efficiency Expert

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A012

    1. Theater Guild On Air 461124 051 Burlesque

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A013

    1. Bing Crosby Philco 481124 Bert Lahr And Dorothy Kirsten
    2. Adventures Of Philip Marlowe 490416 Heat Wave

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A014

    1. Lux Radio Theater 490425 655 When My Baby Smiles For Me

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A015

    1. Damon Runyon 490911 Melancholy Dane
    2. Damon Runyon 491211 Neat Strip

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A016

    1. You Bet Your Life 500419 Secret Word Name
    2. Screen Directors Playhouse 500505 067 When My Baby Smiles

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A017

    1. Barrie Craig 520109 Murder Island
    2. Chase 520622 Bald Artie Bender

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A018

    1. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 530130 Kay Bellamy Matter
    2. Romance 560326 Strip Teaser & Space Warp

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A019

    1. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 580824 Noxious Needle Matter
    2. Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 591115 Bayou Body Matter

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Burlesque Disc A020

    1. Jean Shepherd Show 650424

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00

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