John Dunning Quotes
“Carol would not be a bad one to [settle down] with. She's pretty and bright, and maybe this is what love is. She's good company: her interests broaden almost every day. She reads three books to my one, and I read a lot. We talk far into the night. She still doesn't understand the first edition game: Hemingway, she says, reads just as well in a two-bit paperback as he does in a $500 first printing. I can still hear myself lecturing her the first time she said that. Only a fool would read a first edition. Simply having such a book makes life in general and Hemingway in particular go better when you do break out the reading copies. I listened to myself and thought, This woman must think I'm a government-inspected horse's ass. Then I showed her my Faulkners, one with a signature, and I saw her shiver with an almost sexual pleasure as she touched the paper where he signed. Faulkner was her most recent god[.]”
“Winchell was enormously entertaining to the common man, his harsh and staccato voice wrapped in a fearless facade. He saw himself as a “protector of little people,” wrote Dickson Hartwell in a 1948 Collier’s profile. “Nobody browbeats a waiter in his presence.” He took on Hitler, Congress, and the president, and he wasn’t afraid to lambaste by name prominent Americans he suspected of a pro-Axis attitude. At various times he heaped scorn upon Huey Long, Hamilton Fish, Charles A. Lindbergh, Martin Dies, and the Ku Klux Klan. He sometimes referred to Congress as “the House of Reprehensibles,” and he got in trouble with his sponsor and network (one of many such troubles) when he characterized as “damn fools” voters who had returned isolationists to office.”
“The show would be an anthology, though there would be a single Ranger hero. The slant would be modern: the cases would span the time from ca. 1928–48, well within the working life of a single Ranger. Pursuit would be by automobile, though the Ranger would have a horse trailer attached to his vehicle, so that at any moment he might pack off after a killer into the back country.”
“Arthur Anderson, one of the players and a steady voice on Let’s Pretend for years, recalled it decades later. Chamlee sang two songs per broadcast. He returned to the Met for the 1935–37 seasons. Anderson also remembered a commercial blooper by Ruffner: “Friends, do you wake up in the morning feeling dull, loggy, and lust-less?”
“His training was nil: he matriculated on the stages of vaudeville; his education ended in the sixth grade. Winchell was born April 7, 1897, in New York City, By 1910 he was working at the Imperial Theater, where he, Jack Weiner, and George Jessel formed a trio of singing ushers. Gus Edwards took them on as part of his “Newsboys’ Sextet,” an act he worked for two years. He continued in vaudeville until 1917, when he joined the Navy, and he returned to the stage when his hitch was up.”
“Orson Welles, Bill Johnstone, and Bret Morrison were the best-known voices of the Shadow. Welles was a 22–year-old unknown, a regular toiling in anonymity on The March of Time, when he won the role in audition. His salary, $185 a week, seemed a fortune for a half-hour weekly job that required no rehearsal. His agreement with Blue Coal allowed him to go on without as much as a prior peek at his script: thus, as he told film director Peter Bogdanovich, when he was thrown into a snake pit, he didn’t know how he’d get out till the show ended.”
“The early shows had the breath of Victorian melodrama: the music had a tingling quality, of time running out or fate closing in. The narration enhanced it: … the hushed voice and the prowling step … the stir of nerves at the ticking of the clock … the rescue that might be too late, or the murderer who might get away … we invite you to enjoy stories that keep you in … Suspense”
“Throughout his career, he was a champion of old songs: often he claimed that, in all his years on the air, he never introduced a new tune. He didn’t croon, he said: he just sang ‘em. His favorites were such as Dark-town Strutters’ Ball and Every Cloud Must Have a Silver Lining. Frankel died June 13, 1948, but shows he had already transcribed were continued.”
“In the ’40s he took up the drumbeat against the Red menace. “Nothing is more important to him today than warning against the peril of an attack by Russia,” wrote William Tusher in 1948. His admiration for Roosevelt did not extend to Harry Truman, and he became a staunch supporter of Red-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The sphere of his influence now included “Mr. and Mrs. North and South America,” and his bulletins were still punctuated by furious bursts of telegraph activity.”
“Stewart was a superb radio actor, overcoming the drift of some scripts into folksy platitude. His narration-in-whisper of one particular climax (The Silver Belt-Buckle) was a gripping moment of truth, and the series as a whole just lacked the fine edge to be found in radio’s two best westerns, Gunsmoke and Frontier Gentleman. In the theme, Basil Adlam provided a haunting melody, conjuring up the wandering plainsman. Despite Stewart’s great prestige, the show was largely sustained. Chesterfield was interested, but Stewart declined, not wanting a cigarette company to counter his largely wholesome screen image.”
“This Is Your FBI was inevitably compared to The FBI in Peace and War in the G-Man thriller parade. Radio Life concluded that both were worthy and there was little to distinguish one from the other. This Is was privy to official Bureau files, while Peace and War was mainly fiction. But Peace and War sounded authentic: its author, Frederick L. Collins, had received Bureau cooperation in his research, though the radio version of his subsequent book remained unsanctioned.”
“His sponsor was not amused at his “damn fools” broadcast of Jan. 31, 1943, and the agency took a harder line in preshow conferences thereafter. Winchell found his gushing praise of Roosevelt and his most caustic digs at congressmen being deleted. He cried foul and threatened to quit: the agency said it was simply protecting its client by not offending the 22 million people who voted Republican in Roosevelt’s tradition-breaking third term. And the network, though reluctant to admit it, fretted that Winchell’s open disdain for Congress might make lawmakers hostile to pending radio legislation.”
“It is difficult to overstate the impact that this program had on children of the 1940s. This writer vividly remembers an episode when the Shadow tracked down a murdering scarecrow. When the killer’s coat was ripped off, revealing nothing but straw, the implications were so terrifying that the young writer-to-be could not sleep in an unlighted room for weeks. Today it’s the highest of all high camp, scaring neither the aging collector nor his jaded children.”
- Date of birth: January 09, 1942
- Born: in Brooklyn, The United States.
- Description: John Dunning was born in 1942 in Brooklyn, NY. He was raised in Charleston, SC, is married, and has two adult children.
John always wanted to write, but was a poor student. He left high school in the tenth grade, partly because of an inability to concentrate and absorb lectures. Several years ago he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD), a malady that could not have been imagined in the glorious 1950s.
"This may explain my long affection for typewriters," he says. "Unlike a computer, a great old manual typewriter was an honest machine. You did your work, it did its work. There was no sneaky nonsense, no hidden screens that popped up and wouldn't go away, and at no time in my 35 years as a writer did I ever 'lose' anything because I hit a certain key, failed to hold my mouth right, or sneezed at the wrong moment."
John felt he should be a poster boy for ADD. Often the inability to concentrate demanded eight or ten hours of effort for two good hours of work. Sometimes it leads a writer away from his story, causing a month's worth of drifting, rambling around, groping. "In those times I really have to work to get my story, whatever it is, back on track."
John got a GED certificate from the state of South Carolina in the early 1960s. "Historically, it's an interesting document--not because it's mine but because it states that I am the equivalent of the average white high school grad in the state. Now if that's not an official admission that those old 'separate-but-equal' doctrines never worked, what is?
"I was a raging failure early in life. Quit high school, then got kicked out of the Army with a broken eardrum after only two weeks, went on to work in a Charleston glass shop for $1.05 an hour, and looked to be on a fast track to nowhere.
"In 1964 I made my break with Charleston, came to Denver with some friends, worked in a glass shop here for a time, then got on the racetrack and went with the horses for two years. I worked for horse trainers in Denver, Idaho and California, finally hitting the 'big time' at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA. This was a magic time in my life.
"In 1966 I got a job as a clerk in the library at The Denver Post, which was then the city's afternoon daily. Eventually I became copy boy on the newspaper, and from that I began writing stories. Finally I was given a trial run as a reporter and soon was put on the newspaper's three-man investigative team.
"This only goes to prove that the hardest thing about any job is getting it.
"I was a collector of old-time radio shows for 30 years. I grew up with this stuff. It was like collecting part of my own life. I parlayed that into a weekly radio show, which I hosted on Denver radio for more than 25 years.
"I worked in politics for a while: campaign press secretary to candidates for mayor of Denver, U.S. Senate, and House of Representatives. I taught writing and journalism at the University of Denver and at Metropolitan State College and In 1973 I worked on the Robert Altman film, Thieves Like Us. Altman's film was based on the 1937 novel by Edward Anderson, and he wanted it scored with old radio shows. My job--which lasted six weeks--was to find the right sounds to fit his story.
"In 1984, with my wife Helen, I opened the Old Algonquin Bookstore in East Denver. We closed the store in 1994, two years after Booked to Die was published, and have been online booksellers ever since."
John's latest challenge has been a large benign brain tumor, which was partially removed in 2006, causing the loss of one eye and a long recovery period. But he is now writing again and working at getting back Janeway's unique voice on the page.