Lux Radio Theatre
was a popular radio drama series that ran on American radio from 1934 to 1955. It premiered on the NBC Blue Network
, was picked up by CBS
in 1935, then went to NBC
the year before it went off the air. A companion television program, Lux Video Theatre
, ran from 1950 to 1959.Lux Radio Theatre
did not present original programming. The show started out by presenting radio adaptations of popular Broadway plays. Within a couple of years the show began adapting popular Hollywood films, condensing them into the one-hour running time of the radio program. These were often performed by members of the original film cast: for example, James Stewart
and Donna Reed both appeared in the March 10, 1947 broadcast of It's a Wonderful Life
It was sponsored by Lever Brothers and used as a marketing device for "Lux toilet soap" (which still exists
). Many of the Lux Radio Theatre
recordings from throughout the show's run still survive and are available for download or for listening over the internet.
- All-Star Cast: If they didn't get the original film actors, they usually got other A-listers. For the May 5, 1942 broadcast of Suspicion, the show replaced Cary Grant with William Powell and replaced Joan Fontaine with her sister, Olivia de Havilland. For that matter, highly successful film director Cecil B. DeMille was the host for many years. William Keighley, not quite as high-profile as DeMille but a well-known Hollywood director, also hosted the show for several years.
- Audio Adaptation: Sometimes of stage plays, but usually of Hollywood films.
- The Cameo: The June 8, 1936 production of The Thin Man featured a random interview with silent screen star Theda Bara, who just happened to be in the audience. It is the only surviving recording of Bara's voice.
- Long Runners: Debuted in 1934, stayed on the air for 21 years, until television killed it along with all other radio drama.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Irishwoman Maureen O'Hara was supposed to be playing an American businesswoman in Miracle on 34th Street, but when she reprised the part for Lux on Dec. 20, 1948, her voice starts to wobble into an English/Irish accent.
- Product Placement: For Lux toilet soap. The host would flog Lux soap and there would usually be live commercials for Lux soap during the act breaks.
- Running Gag: At the end of the show, the host would have a little chat with the cast, and at some point the host was guaranteed to ask the lead actress some kind of awkward, contrived question about her beauty routine, which the actress would answer by talking about how awesome Lux toilet soap was.
- Setting Update: Oddly, the June 23, 1941 broadcast of The Shop Around the Corner updates the setting from Hungary to America. Or at least it seems to; many of the character names are changed to American-sounding names. The female lead's name is changed from "Klara Novak" to "Karen Smith".
- Studio Audience: The show had one, which would applaud at the end and can sometimes be heard laughing and applauding during the program.
- If the sound of applause is any indication, the Lux adaptation of It Happened One Night (March 20, 1939) had a studio audience of exactly one person.