Maxwell House Show Boat

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Charles Winninger as Captain Henry, 1937.

Maxwell House Show Boat was the top radio show in the United States from 1933 to 1935.[1] The program was sponsored by Maxwell House coffee, and it aired on NBC Radio Thursday nights, 9 pm. The first show was broadcast in 1931.[2][3]

Maxwell House Show Boat was inspired by the success of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical Show Boat, which was based on the novel of the same name by Edna Ferber. It became an instant classic when it opened in 1927 on Broadway. The radio program starred Charles Winninger as Captain Henry, a role directly inspired by Winninger's stage performance as Cap'n Andy Hawks, owner of the showboat Cotton Blossom in the Kern-Hammerstein musical. (Otherwise, the Maxwell House program and the stage Show Boat had nothing to do with each other besides the fact that both had a Mississippi showboat as a setting for the action.) In 1932, the year before Maxwell House Show Boat premiered, Winninger reprised his role as Cap'n Andy in the first stage revival of Kern and Hammerstein's Show Boat, a role he would once again play in the 1936 film version of the musical.


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  1. ^ Pendergrast, Mark (1999). Uncommon grounds: the history of coffee and how it transformed our world. ISBN 0-465-05467-6. By the beginning of 1933 "Maxwell House Show Boat" was the top radio show in the country, a status it would maintain for the next two years. ...
  2. ^ "Maxwell House Coffee Ads for "Captain Henry's Show Boat"". Jazz Age 1920s. Retrieved 2008-12-21. During the run of "Captain Henry's Maxwell House Show Boat" on NBC Radio Thursday nights, 9pm.
  3. ^ "Tuning Thru The Great Depression". Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2008-12-21. Another approach to the variety format was taken by the Maxwell House Show Boat. Premiering in 1931, this Thursday night favorite drew from two major inspirations: the Ferber/Kern/Hammerstein stage production and the "Showboat" program heard in the late 20s over WLS, Chicago. For several seasons, it was the most popular program on the networks, and inspired an almost fanatical loyalty among its predominantly female fans.
  4. ^ "The Show Boat Is Off Again". Washington Post. August 16, 1936. Retrieved 2008-12-21. When Lanny Ross returns from Europe on August 20 to resume his role as master of ceremonies, the 1937 edition of the Maxwell House Show Boat will be launched with one of the largest regular casts on the air, sponsors announced today. A clean sweep of the decks is under way at the moment which will bring aboard a fresh array of talent, new voices, a new romance, new comedy, new music, new plot and new characters.