Just Plain Bill
Drawing of Ruth Russell by actor-singer Norman Sweetser (1894-1980)
|Other names||Bill the Barber|
|Genre||Daytime dramatic serial|
|Running time||15 minutes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Created by||Frank and Anne Hummert|
|Written by||Robert Hardy Andrews
|Directed by||Martha Atwell|
|Original release||September 19, 1932 – September 30, 1955|
|Opening theme||"Darling Nellie Gray"|
|Ending theme||"Polly Wolly Doodle"|
|Sponsored by||Kolyonos Toothpaste
Just Plain Bill was a long-running 15-minute American daytime radio drama program heard on CBS Radio and NBC Radio. The series was sponsored by Anacin for 18 of the program's 23-year run. Other sponsors over the years were Kolynos toothpaste, Clapp’s baby food, and BiSoDol. It was “the real-life story of people just like people we all know.”
Originally called Bill the Barber, the program began on CBS September 19, 1932. It told the story of Bill Davidson (Arthur Hughes), a barber in the town of Hartville, and his daughter Nancy (Ruth Russell). Bill often became involved in helping his friends and neighbors when he wasn't cutting hair. Also in the cast: Dick Janaver (1911-1999).
The show was created by Frank and Anne Hummert, who produced many radio daytime drama series, including Amanda of Honeymoon Hill, Backstage Wife, Front Page Farrell, John’s Other Wife, Little Orphan Annie, Ma Perkins, Mr. Chameleon, Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, Our Gal Sunday and Young Widder Brown.
Music was by Hal Brown (1865–1942), who played harmonica and whistled the Just Plain Bill opening theme, "Darling Nellie Gray". The closing theme was "Polly Wolly Doodle." Don Pardo was the program's announcer towards the end of the series, which came to an end on September 30, 1955.
The April 24, 1949 episode of The Jack Benny Program has Jack shopping for a new car, passing up such dealers as Madman Muntz and Psychiatric Sam in favor of "Just Plain Bill". This episode was remade on February 24, 1952. Bill was played by Jim Backus in the original, and Joseph Kearns in the remake.
The January 14, 1950 episode of The Bob Hope radio show has Hope, with guest star Bing Crosby, performing a soap opera parody called "Just Plain Bing."
In the M*A*S*H episode "Major Fred C. Dobbs", Hawkeye tape-records an encounter between Frank Burns and Hot Lips in the latter's tent, then plays it back for Frank in the guise of "my favorite armed forces soap opera, Just Plain MacArthur".
The comedy team Bob and Ray parodied the show in their sketch "Just Fancy Dan."