Myrt and Marge (radio series)

Last updated
Myrt and Marge
Myrt and Marge Vinton Hayworth Donna Damerel 1935.JPG
Donna Damerel (Marge Minter) with actor Vinton Hayworth (Jack Arnold), 1935
GenreDaily serial
Running time15 minutes
Country of originUSA
Syndicates CBS Radio
Don Lee Network [1]
Starring Myrtle Vail
Donna Damerel (1932-1941; her death)
Helen Mack (1941-42; 1946)
Created byMyrtle Vail
Written byMyrtle Vail
Recording studio Chicago
Original releaseNovember 2, 1931 (night)
January 4, 1937 (daytime) – 1946 [2]
Sponsored by Wrigley, Colgate-Palmolive

Myrt and Marge was an American radio serial broadcast November 2, 1931 – March 27, 1942, on CBS Radio and the Mutual Broadcasting System. [3] It was created and written by its main star, actress Myrtle Vail.

CBS Radio was a radio broadcasting company and radio network operator owned by CBS Corporation, and consolidated radio station groups owned by CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting/Group W since the 1920s and Infinity Broadcasting since the 1970s. The broadcasting company was sold to Entercom on November 17, 2017.

Mutual Broadcasting System Former American radio broadcasting network

The Mutual Broadcasting System was an American commercial radio network in operation from 1934 to 1999. In the golden age of U.S. radio drama, Mutual was best known as the original network home of The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and as the long-time radio residence of The Shadow. For many years, it was a national broadcaster for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and Notre Dame football. From the mid-1930s and until the retirement of the network in 1999, Mutual ran a highly respected news service accompanied by a variety of popular commentary shows. During the late 1970s, Mutual pioneered the nationwide late night call-in radio show and introduced the country to Larry King.

Myrtle Vail American vaudevillian, radio and film actress

Myrtle Vail, sometimes credited as Myrtle Damerel, was an American vaudevillian, and radio and film actress and writer. She was a radio fixture from 1932 to 1946 thanks to the popular soap opera Myrt and Marge, playing the elder half of the title as well as having created and written the show.


Characters and story

Myrtle Vail thought of the idea while living in the Chicago area, after having spent several years as a vaudeville performer (often with her husband, George Damerel), basing it almost entirely on her own vaudeville experiences. She took the idea to the Wrigley chewing gum makers, who had yet to sponsor a radio show, naming her lead characters Myrtle Spear and Marge Minter (playing on the company's best-known gum), while casting herself as Myrtle and her real-life daughter Donna Damerel as Marge, with Myrt being the elder, experienced chorus girl taking young, inexperienced, and innocent Marge under her wing. (In the pilot, Marge was said to be Myrt's daughter.) Wrigley liked the idea and Myrt & Marge debuted in late 1931.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States.

Vaudeville genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.

Originally a prime-time entry, the show proved so popular with women that it was moved to daytime programming. The cast was described in a 1931 trade publication article as being "one of the largest casts in radio. Thirty actors and musicians take part in most of the presentations, and no member of the cast plays a double role." [4]

The soap tracked the doings and undoings of the two close friends with some of the usual soap opera twists (kidnappings, organized crime, murder) and injected a degree of comedy into a genre not usually known at the time for wit. In later years the show was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, who promoted its Super Suds laundry detergent among other products on the show.

Colgate-Palmolive American multinational consumer products company

Colgate-Palmolive Company is an American worldwide consumer products company focused on the production, distribution and provision of household, health care, and personal care products. Under its "Hill's Pet Nutrition" brand, it is also a manufacturer of veterinary products. The company's corporate offices are on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

Tragedy struck Myrt & Marge first in 1933, when Vail was injured seriously in an automobile accident. This forced her to turn the show's writing over to a colleague named Charles Thomas, who wrote a storyline in which Myrt was kidnapped by gangsters, allowing Vail to recuperate completely. An even greater tragedy occurred when Donna Damerel died on February 15, 1941, aged 28, while giving birth to her third son. She had done a Myrt & Marge performance hours before going into labor. [5]

Vail was quoted (by Movie-Radio Guide) as saying she believed her daughter had wanted it that way and that the show should not die. She wrote Damerel's character out of the script for the interim, with the character of Marge hiding in the hills until a murder could be resolved, and set about casting a new Marge. The role finally went to film actress Helen Mack, but after just a few months with Mack playing the role, Myrt & Marge ended in 1942.[ citation needed ]

Helen Mack American actress

Helen Mack was an American actress. Mack started her career as a child actress in silent films, moving on to Broadway plays, and touring one of the vaudeville circuits. Her greater success as an actress was as a leading lady in the 1930s. Eventually Mack transitioned into performing on radio, and then into writing, directing, and producing some of the best known radio shows during the Golden Age of Radio. Later in life, Mack billed herself as a professional writer, writing for Broadway, stage, and television. Her career spanned the infancy of the motion picture industry, the beginnings of Broadway, the final days of Vaudeville, the transition to "talking pictures", the Golden Age of Radio, and the rise of television.

Vail attempted to revive the show in 1946, in a syndicated version starring Vail and Mack, which sometimes included updated re-writes of the original scripts, according to radio historian John Dunning. However, the new show was a short-lived ratings failure, and the one-time favorite disappeared quietly in 1947. Approximately 110 episodes of Myrt & Marge survive, most from the 1946-47 syndication revival. Three — including the show's pilot episode — from its 1930s heyday are known to survive as well. [5] [6]


A film released by Universal Studios in 1933, starring Vail and her daughter, Donna Demerel, turned the show into a feature film vehicle for the Three Stooges, as well as their former front man Ted Healy. In the film, Myrt Spear's touring vaudeville revue is full of talent and bound for Broadway, but low on funds. Conniving and lecherous producer Mr. Jackson (played by actor Thomas E. Jackson) helps the show so he can romance the young star, Marge Minter. Myrt, and Marge's boyfriend Eddie Hanley (Eddie Foy Jr.), step in to save the revue and Marge. Ted Healy, Moe, Larry and Curly are stagehands with hopes to join the show, and deal with the antics of backstage crasher Bonnie Bonnell.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Eddie Cantor American actor, singer, dancer and comedian

Eddie Cantor was an American "illustrated song" performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor, and songwriter. Familiar to Broadway, radio, movie, and early television audiences, this "Apostle of Pep" was regarded almost as a family member by millions because his top-rated radio shows revealed intimate stories and amusing anecdotes about his wife Ida and five daughters. Some of his hits include "Makin' Whoopee", "Ida", "If You Knew Susie", "Ma! He's Makin' Eyes at Me", "Baby", "Margie", and "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm ?" He also wrote a few songs, including "Merrily We Roll Along", the Merrie Melodies Warner Bros. cartoon theme.

Ted Healy American vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor

Ted Healy was an American vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor. Though he is chiefly remembered as the creator of the Three Stooges and the style of slapstick comedy that they later made famous, he had a successful stage and film career of his own, and was cited as a formative influence by several later comedy stars. His sister Marcia Healy costarred with the Three Stooges in The Sitter Downers.

Shemp Howard American comedian and actor

Samuel Horwitz, known professionally as Shemp Howard, was an American comedian and actor. He was called "Shemp" because "Sam" came out that way in his mother's thick Litvak accent. He is best known as the third stooge in the Three Stooges, a role he played when the act began in the early 1920s, while it was still associated with Ted Healy and known as "Ted Healy and his Stooges"; and again from 1946 until his death in 1955. Between his times with the Stooges, he had a successful solo career as a film comedian.

Joan Davis Actress, vaudevillian

Joan Davis was an American comedic actress whose career spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television. Remembered best for the 1950s television comedy I Married Joan, Davis had a successful earlier career as a B-movie actress and a leading star of 1940s radio comedy.

Marge Redmond Actress, singer

Marjorie "Marge" Redmond is an American actress and singer.

William Gaxton American actor

William Gaxton was a star of vaudeville, film, and theatre. Gaxton was president of The Lambs Club from 1936 to 1939, 1952 to 1953, and 1957 to 1961. He and Victor Moore became a popular theatre team in the 1930s and 1940s; they also appeared in several films and shorts together. Although a fine vocalist, Gaxton's strength was his comic timing, and he often requested songs of his be removed from shows in favor of giving him more time for comedic scenes. An example of this was the removal of "Easy to Love" from Cole Porter's Anything Goes. The song reappeared in the show 53 years later, sung by Howard McGillin in the 1987 Broadway revival.

Ken Murray (entertainer) Entertainer, producer, author

Ken Murray was an American comedian, actor, radio and television personality and author.

Charlotte Greenwood American dancer and actor

Frances Charlotte Greenwood was an American actress and dancer. Born in Philadelphia, Greenwood started in vaudeville, and starred on Broadway, movies and radio. Standing around six feet tall, she was best known for her long legs and high kicks. She earned the unique praise of being, in her words, the "...only woman in the world who could kick a giraffe in the eye."

Cass Daley Actress, singer, comedienne

Cass Daley was an American radio, television and film actress, singer, and comedian. The daughter of an Irish streetcar conductor, Daley started to perform at night clubs and on the radio as a band vocalist in the 1940s.

Bonnie Bonnell American entertianer

Bonnie Bonnell was an actress who played "straight woman" in seven early short comedies, most of which featured the Three Stooges when they worked with Ted Healy between 1933 and 1934.

Bobby Clark (comedy actor) American actor

Robert Edwin Clark, known as Bobby Clark, was a minstrel, vaudevillian, performer on stage, film, television and the circus. Known for his painted-on eyeglasses, he was part of a comedy team with Paul McCullough for 36 years.

Mary Healy (entertainer) American actress

Mary Healy was an American actress, singer, and variety entertainer. She performed often with her husband, Peter Lind Hayes, for over 50 years, in a succession of films, television and radio shows and on the stage. Healy appeared in four Broadway shows between 1942 and 1958, and her film appearances include Second Fiddle, Star Dust and Theodore Geisel's musical fantasy, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. In 2006 she was inducted into the Nevada Entertainment/Artist Hall of Fame at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

<i>Myrt and Marge</i> (film) 1933 film by Al Boasberg

Myrt and Marge is a 1933 American Pre-Code Universal Studios feature film, starring Myrtle Vail and Donna Damerel. The film is noteworthy today because it co-stars Ted Healy and his Stooges, shortly before the trio split from him and became the Three Stooges. The team included Bonnie Bonnell, who was a short-lived female Stooge.

<i>Lonely Wives</i> 1931 film by Russell V. Mack

Lonely Wives is a 1931 American comedy film directed by Russell Mack and produced by E.B. Derr for Pathé Exchange, and was distributed by RKO Pictures after the merger of the two studios; it starred Edward Everett Horton, Esther Ralston, Laura La Plante, and Patsy Ruth Miller. The screenplay was written by Walter DeLeon, based upon a successful German vaudeville act entitled Tanzanwaltz, penned by Pordes Milo, Walter Schütt, and Dr. Eric Urban. The German production had been translated for the American stage by DeLeon and Mark Swan and, under the same title as the film.

<i>Beau Ideal</i> 1931 film by Herbert Brenon

Beau Ideal is a 1931 American pre-Code adventure film directed by Herbert Brenon and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film was based on the adventure novel Beau Ideal by P. C. Wren, the third novel in a series of five novels based around the same characters. Brenon had directed the first in the series, Beau Geste, which was a very successful silent film in 1926. The screenplay was adapted from Wren's novel by Paul Schofield, who had also written the screenplay for the 1926 Beau Geste, with contributions from Elizabeth Meehan and Marie Halvey.

Matt Crowley was an American film, television and radio actor.

Nellie McAleney Revell

Nellie McAleney Revell was an American journalist, novelist, publicist, vaudeville performer, screenwriter, and radio broadcaster.

Island Venture is an American old-time radio adventure drama. It was broadcast on CBS from November 8, 1945, until June 20, 1946.


  1. "Wrigley vs. Amos 'n' Andy" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 1, 1931. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  2.; accessed December 14, 2014.
  3. Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 474–475. ISBN   978-0-19-507678-3 . Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  4. "Myrt and Marge Cast" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 1, 1931. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  5. 1 2 Myrt and Marge,; accessed December 14, 2014.
  6. Myrtle Vail on IMDb