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The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour (also known as The Rudy Vallée Show, The Fleischmann Yeast Hour, and The Fleischmann Hour) was a pioneering musical variety radio program broadcast on NBC from 1929 to 1936, when it became The Royal Gelatin Hour, continuing until 1939. This program was sponsored by Fleischmann’s Yeast, a popular brand of yeast.
The person responsible for this major step ahead in broadcasting was NBC executive Bertha Brainard, who became head of programming for NBC in 1928. She began pushing for singer-bandleader Rudy Vallée to host a variety series by explaining that only a woman could understand the appeal of Vallée's voice.
First airing on October 29, 1929, the show quickly became a top-rated program, being one of the five most popular shows for every year between the 1929–30 and 1934–35 seasons (it was second only to Amos 'n' Andy during the 1930–31 season). Host Vallée appeared along with regulars Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson (1932), followed by Tom Howard and George Shelton (1935). Actor Will Aubrey (1892–1958) appeared as the Bard of the Byways, and another regular was character actor Henry Armetta (1888–1945).
On this program, the American listening audience heard many future stars for the first time, as it introduced such talents as Milton Berle, Burns and Allen, Alice Faye, the Mills Brothers, Joe Penner, Kate Smith and Red Skelton. Gloria Swanson and Vincent Price made their radio debuts on the show. Other guests included Ray Bolger, James Cagney, Fanny Brice, Ilka Chase, Helen Hayes, Leslie Howard, Bert Lahr, Ethel Merman, Margaret Sullavan, Fay Wray and A. A. Milne. Edgar Bergen became the first ventriloquist to successfully perform on national radio when he and Charlie McCarthy initially appeared on Rudy's show on December 17, 1936. Subsequent appearances led to their inclusion on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in May 1937. In 1937, at Vallée's insistence, Louis Armstrong hosted the show during Vallée's summer vacation. This made Armstrong the first African American to host a national network program.
In the 1936–39 run as The Royal Gelatin Hour, guests included Noël Coward, Bob Hope, Willie Howard, Gertrude Lawrence, Pat O'Brien, Carmen Miranda, Tyrone Power, Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou, Peter Lorre, Ed Wynn and Roland Young. The yeast and gelatin products were both made by Standard Brands, so the sponsorship remained the same.
- Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press, US. p. 75. ISBN 0-19-507678-8.
beat the band.
- Elder, Jane Lenz (2009). Alice Faye: A Life Beyond the Silver Screen. University of Mississippi Press. ISBN 978-1-604-73586-4.
- Gehring, Wes (2008). Red Skelton: The Mask Behind the Mask. Indiana Historical Society. ISBN 978-0-87195-275-2.