GIL AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO
After WWII, while Gil was appearing in supporting roles in film in the late 40’s he began working as a radio actor. Gil Stratton was a featured voice throughout the Golden Age of Old Time Radio. His distinctive voice and versatility were a natural and his list of appearances is exhaustive. He has one of the longest lists of credits on www.radiogold.com – which documents more than 70,000 broadcasts.
His credits read like a who’s who and virtual history of radio theater with appearances on Those Websters (1946), Young Movietown Radio Theater (1948), Escape (1948), Family Theater (1948), Lucille Ball’s first sitcom My Favorite Husband (1948-1951), Broadway is My Beat (1949), Much Ado About Doolittle (1950), The Adventures of the Saint (1950), All About Anne (1951), The Line-Up (1951), Dragnet (1952), Gunsmoke (1952), Jason and the Golden Fleece (1952), and Heartbeat Theater (1957).
Gil played opposite Shirley Temple in the radio version of the Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.
And his voice was often heard on The World’s Greatest Novels (1946), the Sweeney and March Show (1947), The Adventures of Philip Marlowe (1948), Young Love (1949), The Great Gildersleeve (1949-1950), The Whistler (1950, 1954), Schlitz Beer’s The Halls of Ivy (1950) on NBC, The Roy Rogers Show (1952), Guest Star (1952-1953), the Red Cross fund appeal Errand of Mercy (1952), The Phil Harris- Alice Faye Show (1953) and You Were There (1953-1955). He was featured along with William Powell in Love Crazy (1949) and with Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair (1951) on the popular NBC Screen Director’s Playhouse series (1949-1951).
And who can forget Gil’s regular contributions to classic shows like the Life of Riley (1947-1950), The Lux Radio Theater (1947-1955) including a 1950 version of The Wizard of Oz on Christmas with Judy Garland reprising her MGM role, This is Your FBI (1950-1952), Yours Truly Johnny Dollar (1950-1960), the classic mystery drama Suspense (1951-55) and the immortal Fibber McGee and Molly (1951-1953).
When the My Little Margie (1952-1955) starring Gale Storm made the reverse transition from TV to Radio, Gil may be best known for playing Gale’s boyfriend Freddie on the audio airwaves for four years.
Rare photo of Charles Farrell, Gil Stratton Jr. “Freddie”, and Gale Storm
1955 First Radio about Motorbikes
In 1955, Gil Stratton by that point had become a respected name in Radio. Dan Brown, former Cycle Magazine Editor and Former executive for Triumph Motorcycles thought that Motorbikes ought to have a show of its own. Considering Gil’s background in riding and his love of motorcycles, the rest was history…
Brown had a friend, Jack Shelton, whose father ran the Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona, and he knew a number of people in radio. Meetings were arranged and popular Los Angeles radio personality Gil Stratton liked the idea. Stratton taught Brown how to write radio scripts and in 1955 the Los Angeles CBS radio affiliate began broadcasting the 15-minute motorcycling show, “Southern California Motorcycle Sports” at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. It is believed to be the first radio show of its kind in the country.