The usual success story begins with a background of abject poverty, of frustration and struggle. While scanning over some biographical material, we came upon two members of the microphone fraternity, Vivienne Segal and David Ross, who have reached a point close enough to the top to be considered successful. These two artists do not tell a harrowing tale of struggle when they review the early days of their careers.
David Ross, dean of the CBS announcers, artist in his own right with his Poet’s Gold program, and winner of the Diction Award in 1932 given by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was born and educated in New York.
After graduation from high school, David took a classical course at City College, specialized in scientific agriculture at Rutgers and studied journalism at New York University. In 1925 Ross accompanied a friend to a New York local station to see his first radio program. A heavy thunder storm came up and the entertainers for the next fifteen minute “spot” failed to appear. The director was in a frenzy. When some one told him that Ross was an excellent reader of poetry and dramatic sketches, he immediately drafted the visitor, who made his radio debut without rehearsals or preparation.
The director was so impressed with David’s voice and ability that two weeks later he called Ross and offered him a job as staff announcer at the station. He accepted the offer and remained there for more than two years. When the Columbia Broadcasting System was organized in 1927 David Ross became a staff announcer. He now is the oldest CBS announcer from the standpoint of continuous service.
Besides announcing almost every conceivable type of program, Ross is best known for his pioneer work in popularizing poetry readings on the air. In addition to his readings of poetry on other presentations, he conducts the popular Poet’s Gold program, which he started more than three years ago.
Vivienne Segal, as prima donna of a Broadway operetta at the age of 15, knew the feel of the spotlight’s beam throughout her brilliant career on the stage and screen. Now she has made her entrance in radio as featured soprano of “Accordiana” with Abe Lyman’s Orchestra, over the Columbia Broadcasting System network every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. When she was eight years old she became president of her school dramatic club. Even then she dreamed of becoming a famous actress and her mother, who had cherished the same ambition as a child, encouraged her.
At the age of 12, she was proficient as a pianist and was appearing in the ballet of the Philadelphia Operatic Society. That same year she played Puck in “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” For this performance she received her first newspaper criticism, which stated that “The role fit her better than her tights.” A year later she sang in splendid soprano voice, in numerous amateur productions. One of the highlights of this period of her training came when she was taken out of the ballet of the Operatic Society to sing the title role in “Carmen.” She was hailed as a prodigy, and her parents permitted her to take an intensive course in voice culture. Then came her first big contract-her chance to star, at the age of 15, in the Shubert production of “Blue Paradise.” With only four days of rehearsal for her part, she made her debut with the opening of the show in the Casino Theatre in New York City.
In quick succession she met with success in numerous musical productions, including “Oh, Lady, Lady,” “Little Whopper,” “Yankee Princess.” “My Lady’s Glove,” “Adrienne,” “Florida Girl,” several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, “Castles in the Air,” “The Desert Song,” “Three Musketeers,” “Chocolate Soldier,” “Clinging Vine,” “Merry Widow,” “A Wise Child,” and Music in the Aid.” Also in demand for movies, she found time to appear in such outstanding pictures as “Song of the West,” “Golden Dawn,” “Bride of the Regiment,” “Viennese Nights” and “The Cat and the Fiddle.”
PRESIDENT SPEAKS FROM GETTYSBURG ON MEMORIAL DAY
The combined Columbia and NBC networks, as well as WEVD and WNEW in New York, will carry President Roosevelt’s Memorial Day address to be delivered on the historic field of Gettysburg, on Wednesday, May 30. The time of this program is set for 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. In addition to this hook-up, short wave facilities will send the President’s words around the world. Earlier the same afternoon, at 1:30 p.m., the National Broadcasting Company will present the reactions of four people who listened to the memorable Gettysburg address by Lincoln, in a dramatized version.
THOMAS AND HOAN SPEAK FROM NATIONAL CONVENTION
Norman Thomas, famous Socialist leader, and Mayor Daniel W. Hoan, of Milwaukee, will be heard by the armchair listeners direct from the Socialist Party’s National Convention, at Detroit, Thursday, May 31st, from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. These talks will be carried by the WABC network and WEVD in New York. Norman Thomas will discuss: “The Starvation Path to Prosperity,” and will present a Socialist plan of “Controlled Abundance.” Mayer Hoan, who has headed the administration in Milwaukee for eighteen years, recently won the city’s fight for Federal aid in a gigantic housing project, the first such municipal plan to win the approval of Washington. His topic will be announced later.
EXCELLENT SEPIA SHOW ON THE AIR
“Harlem’s Serenade,” will undergo a complete change starting with the program of Tuesday, May 29, over the WABC network at 10:45 p.m. With the exception of Fats Waller, who will continue in his role of soloist and master of ceremonies, the names of the other performers are completely new to this show. Luis Russell’s “Old Man River Orchestra,” will take the spotlight, and the versatile Beale Street Boys, together with the soloing of Tiny Bradshaw, will be the vocal contributions. To the many who like hot rhythm, this half of the program is one of the best of its kind.
SOVIET ENVOY TO INTRODUCE ‘RED POPPY’ BALLET
When the Russian ballet sensation, “The Red Poppy,” is first presented in this country over the WJZ network the program will be introduced by the Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Alexander Troyanovsky. This new work will be played by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Frank Black. Owing to the length of this ballet, the two acts will be presented in separate broadcasts, the first will be on the air Tuesday, June 5th at 10:00 p.m., and the second, at which time the Ambassador will speak, will be heard June 12th at the same hour.
Performances of the Hippodrome National Opera Company are being broadcast over the facilities of WEVD on Tuesdays at 10:30, Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 p.m… Edward A. Filene, Boston merchant, will discuss the New Deal in a broadcast over the WABC network tonight at 10:45.
…Helen Menken, noted actress, will make her fifth appearance in the “Big Show” over the WABC network tonight at 9:30 p.m… An all-Chopin program will be played by Josef Lhevinne as guest soloist with the NBC Symphony Orchestra over the WJZ network Thursday, May 31st, at 10:30 p.m.
…Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the Jewish National Fund, will speak in behalf of Palestine Flower Day over the WABC network on Sunday, June 3rd, at 5:00 p.m.