Good News of 1938

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Good News of 1938
Other namesGood News of 1939
Good News of 1940
Maxwell House Coffee Time
Hollywood Good News
Country of originUnited States
Hosted byJames Stewart
Robert Taylor
Robert Young
Dick Powell
Original releaseNovember 4, 1937 (1937-11-04) – July 25, 1940 (1940-07-25)
Sponsored byMaxwell House coffee

Good News of 1938 is an American old-time radio program. It was broadcast on NBC from November 4, 1937, until July 25, 1940. As the years changed, so did the title, becoming Good News of 1939 and Good News of 1940. In its last few months on the air, it was known as Maxwell House Coffee Time.[1] Some sources also refer to the program as Hollywood Good News.[2] The program was notable for marking "the first time that a national network joined hands with a major film studio to create a show for sale to a commercial sponsor."[3]


Much like Lux Radio Theatre, which preceded it on radio, Good News of 1938 featured adaptations of films accompanied by interviews with film personalities. Unlike its predecessor, however, Good News was tied to one film company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controlled both the financial and programming elements of the show.[2] Also unlike Lux, Good News presented adaptations of upcoming films rather than those that had already been seen in theaters.[4] The program's first episode featured scenes from The Firefly (1937), with Allan Jones and Jeanette MacDonald reprising their roles from the film.[5]

Besides adaptations of films, the show offered "Backstage at the Movies", a feature in which listeners heard MGM executives discussing plans for future films.[3] Good News was presented before a live audience in a 1,500-seat theater. Often more fans waited outside, hoping to get in.[6]

The sponsor, Maxwell House coffee, paid $25,000 per week, and MGM took care of the rest.[2]


James Stewart was the program's initial host. Robert Taylor succeeded him in the first half of 1938, and Robert Young followed him the fall of 1938. Beginning in the fall of 1939, a variety of MGM people filled in as hosts, and Dick Powell was the show's final host in 1940. Frank Morgan appeared regularly in a comedy role, as did Fanny Brice and Hanley Stafford in their roles of Baby Snooks and her father.[1] An MGM chorus directed by Max Terrs provided music along with soloists, including Betty Jaynes, Connee Boswell, and Judy Garland.[6]

Brice initially appeared on the show's fourth episode on November 25, 1937.[7] Herbert G. Goldman wrote in his book, Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl, "Baby Snooks put Good News on the hit list and started Fanny on the radio career she would continue for the rest of her short life."[8] After Good News ended, Morgan and Brice continued to perform on Maxwell House Coffee Time, a 30-minute program in which each had a 15-minute segment.[9]

Ted Pearson and Warren Hull were the program's announcers. Ed Gardner was the director, and Meredith Willson was the musical director.[1] Producers included Bill Bacher.[10]

Critical reaction[edit]

A writer for the Detroit Free Press found flaws in Good News of 1938. Edgar A Guest, Jr., writing in the newspaper's February 20, 1938, issue, commented that the program "could be much more entertaining if more care were taken with the production work."[11] He cited noise from the audience that was audible at inappropriate times and "at least half a dozen mistakes" in one episode when stars noticeably missed cues or mangled lines in the script.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 286–287. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3.
  2. ^ a b c Hilmes, Michele (1999). Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable. University of Illinois Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 9780252068461. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b Dunning, John (1976). Tune in Yesterday: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, 1925-1976. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. pp. 240–241. ISBN 0-13-932616-2.
  4. ^ Reinehr, Robert C.; Swartz, Jon D. (2010). The A to Z of Old Time Radio. Scarecrow Press. p. 112. ISBN 9781461672074. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  5. ^ Doran, Dorothy (November 4, 1937). "Star-Studded Broadcast Takes Over Show Boat Radio Hour Tonight". The Akron Beacon Journal. Ohio, Akron. p. 26. Retrieved February 9, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ a b Burroughs, Jack (March 27, 1938). "Celluloid to Ether". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 71. Retrieved February 10, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ Grossman, Barbara W. (1992). Funny Woman. Indiana University Press. p. 222. ISBN 0253207622. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  8. ^ Goldman, Herbert G. (1993). Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl. Oxford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780195085525. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  9. ^ Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence; McNeilly, Donald (2007). Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America. Psychology Press. p. 144. ISBN 9780415938532. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Behind the Mike" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 1, 1938. p. 39. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  11. ^ a b Guest, Edgar A. Jr. (February 20, 1938). "Hollywood Bungling Is an Argument for N.Y. Radio Shows". Detroit Free Press. Michigan, Detroit. p. 44. Retrieved February 11, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read

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