Thursday, November 10, 2016

The effect of Barbara Schwarz and the Friends of Vic and Sade

"Vic and Sade" - This chart clearly shows that it was around 1950 that the show was on it's last legs.  Maybe more importantly, it seems to show how popular Barbara Schwarz and the Friends of Vic and Sade made the show.  (There is no data after 2008, so there is no way for us to check recent popularity).


  1. The mid-1970s was the peak of the nostalgia boom for a lot of "old time" media, including radio. The falling-off afterward is understandable, and it's remarkable that Barbara Schwarz was able to keep interest as high as she did after the "fad energy" faded. Even though her newsletters were sporadic, they were always packed with information, and benefited indirectly from the 'zine synergy of the pre-internet '80s. She made contacts with many of the show's personnel and was able to make the long off-limits Library of Congress episodes available to the Friends' membership (it was a very secretive membership benefit for several years). Unfortunately, attempts to make the show popular at large pan out, but we have Barbara to thank for keeping the show alive and making so many of us its ongoing publicists and popularizers.

  2. Something else Barbara Schwarz deserves much credit for is walking the fine line with Vic & Sade's chief gatekeeper, Mary Frances Rhymer. There were two complications here, one of which is alluded to between the lines in Idelson's Vic & Sade book: Paul Rhymer had been very bitter about his show being dumped by the networks; we can assume he told his wife to play tough if NBC tried to gain rights to the show after his demise. This second complication was relayed to us by Barbara in 1997: Mrs. Rhymer didn't understand the show's humor. So she was both perplexed by and distrustful of anybody wanting to exploit or publicize Paul Rhymer's legacy, the chief exception being Rhymer's other gatekeeper, Bill Idelson, who edited the scriptbooks and ghost-wrote the introductions for Mrs. Rhymer's signature.

    Mary Frances Rhymer refused to allow script to be reprinted for the fan club except in heavily excerpted form, and was the roadblock to the Library of Congress recordings, the limited release of which was negotiated through Paul Parke Rhymer, who was acquiescent but wanted no contact with fans.

  3. And one last remark: Barbara assembled an archive filled with valuable information for followers of the show and OTR in general. It will certainly counteract some of the unfortunate impressions Bill Idelson was giving toward the end of his life. I can understand where he was coming from: he doubtless treasured his memories of when the show was a tight, 3-person ensemble. He probably resented the attitude among some fans that Hatzell/Uncle Fletcher was "the whole show." And I'm sure that Hartzell's rejection and resentment of the Hollywood community--which Idelson became part of--caused a lot of rancor. And Idelson telling Leonard Maltin that Van Harvey was an advertising hack who knew nothing about acting is self-serving bunk in light of the articles about Art's acting career prior to radio.


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