Quick: Name a show that was hosted by Steve Allen and later by Johnny Carson.
If you said The Tonight Show, you’re right…unless someone wants to nitpick. Allen’s version was only called Tonight, not The Tonight Show. But you’d certainly be right if you named Earn Your Vacation. Allen hosted the radio version after a while was followed on the schedule by a half-hour Steve Allen Show done from the same studio after they cleared away whatever was needed to do the game show. On Earn Your Vacation, most of the contestants were school teachers and if they could answer enough questions, they won trips to exotic locales. The show survived into 1951 when it was retooled into Your Tropical Trip with Desi Arnaz. In 1954, it came back to TV as Earn Your Vacation again and it was hosted by the then-new-to-television Johnny Carson.
Mr. Carson must have had some fun with the name of his bandleader. Ludwig Elias Gluskin (1898-1989) headed up a number of popular dance bands throughout Europe in the twenties and thirties, migrated to the U.S. (where he was born) in the forties. This was reportedly because, being Jewish, he had trouble getting work on that continent during World War II. He hooked up with CBS here and became a constant presence on radio programs, including a long stint providing the music for The Burns and Allen Show. He followed Johnny to his next job…The Johnny Carson Show.
I Love Lucy went on the air October 15, 1951. Here’s what Desi Arnaz was doing just before that. He was the host of Your Tropical Trip, a short-lived CBS radio show that ran on Sundays. It went on the air on January 20, never found a sponsor and went off when Desi got busy playing Ricky Ricardo and producing the new TV series. Most accounts say it was busy work that CBS gave him to keep him and his orchestra in Hollywood and working while I Love Lucy was prepped, though none seem to know when he stopped doing it. Many songs which Arnaz later performed on the classic sitcom were first performed on the radio show and some companies later took radio transcriptions and released them as records.
Your Tropical Trip was a revamp of an earlier radio show called Earn Your Vacation. Later, it was turned back into Earn Your Vacation and put on TV where it was hosted by a new-to-TV kid named Johnny Carson.
For years, Eve Arden made a pretty good living playing sarcastic, wise-cracking second leads in movies. She even got an Oscar nomination in 1945 for her role in Mildred Pierce. But around that time, she decided it was time to broaden her appeal and try to get some lead roles and parts that were less abrasive. She managed both with the hit radio show Our Miss Brooks, which went on the air in 1948. It cast her as Connie Brooks, an English teacher at Madison High School who struggled with wayward students and red-tape bureaucracy. Connie was a bit nicer than most of the characters she’d played before, which is to say she only skewered people now and then.
Sharing the mike with her were veteran comic actor Gale Gordon (as the school principal, Osgood Conklin), Robert Rockwell (as Biology teacher Philip Boynton), Richard Crenna (as gawky student Walter Denton) and a wide array of good character actors as pupils and faculty. Wilbur Hatch, whose name is familiar to everyone from the I Love Lucy credits, conducted the orchestra.
Our Miss Brooks aired on Sunday nights. The first ticket above from 3/8/53 is for a live broadcast done from the CBS studio on Vine Street. The other two tickets are from 1954, by which time the show was being recorded Friday evenings at the CBS facility on Sunset for transmission the following Sunday evening. It lasted on the air until 1956, by which time it had already made a successful transition to television with pretty much the same cast.