Dr. Christian

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Not to be confused with Christian Jessen.
Rosemary DeCamp as Judy Price and Jean Hersholt as Dr. Christian, 1953.

Dr. Christian is a long-running radio series with Jean Hersholt in the title role. It aired on CBS Radio from 1937 to 1954. In 1956, the series was adapted for television where it aired in syndication until 1957.

After Hersholt portrayed the character Dr. John Luke, based on Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, the obstetrician who delivered and cared for the Dionne Quintuplets, in the 20th Century Fox movie The Country Doctor (1936) and its two sequels. He wanted to do the same role on radio but could not get the rights. He decided to create his own doctor character for radio, and since he was a Hans Christian Andersen enthusiast, he borrowed that name for his character of philosophical Dr. Paul Christian.

Overview[edit]

Dr. Christian practiced in the Midwest town of River's End with the assistance of Nurse Judy Price (Rosemary DeCamp, Lurene Tuttle, Kathleen Fitz, Helen Claire). With the opening theme music of "Rainbow on the River," Dr. Christian was introduced on CBS November 7, 1937 on The Vaseline Program, aka Dr. Christian's Office and later Dr. Christian, sponsored by Chesebrough Manufacturing Company's Vaseline [Petroleum Jelly, Hair Tonic, Lip Ice, etc.].

The small-town physician's good humor, innate common sense and scientific training helped drive off a series of villainous types who tried to interfere with the peaceful lifestyle of River's End, as well as dealing with personal problems among his many patients and the majority of those who lived in town. The program was also unique in that, by the mid-1940s, listeners contributed the majority of the scripts (some were "professionally polished" before they were used), and an annual script-writing competition introduced in 1942 was the highlight of every season- top prize: the $2,000 "Dr. Christian Award" {with several $500 "runner-up" prizes}; among the later winners were Rod Serling and Earl Hamner, Jr.. Produced by Dorothy McCann, the radio series became a popular success, continuing on CBS until January 6, 1954.

Ad for Seattle station KIRO.

Hersholt was so strongly identified with the role that he received mail asking for medical advice. There were various spin-offs as Hersholt co-wrote a Dr. Christian novel and made a series of six family films as Christian for RKO from 1939 to 1941.

Films[edit]

Television[edit]

In 1956, the Dr. Christian character made the transition to television in a 39-episode syndicated Ziv Television series, scripted by Gene Roddenberry, with Macdonald Carey as his nephew Dr. Mark Christian. Jean Hersholt appeared for the last time as Dr. Christian in the first episode, officially turning his medical practice over to his nephew. Shortly after filming the episode, Hersholt died on June 2, 1956.

Among the series guest stars was Mason Alan Dinehart, who played Danny Martin in the 1957 episode entitled "Typhoid". Stacy Harris appeared in the same segment as Warren.[1]

See also[edit]

Listen to[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]