Radio stars (Sept 1933)

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RADIO STARS 0 7///I Phil Baker left home for a fifty- cent piece ABOUT twenty years ^ ago,a hungry, pen- niless New York boy bummed his way for two hundred and fifty miles in order to earn a fifty - cent piece in a cheap Boston theatre. \'ears later, that bov became the first $5,000- a-week headliner and master of ceremonies in the great theatres of the country. He is Phil Baker, the Armour Jester, who is starring in one of the big radio shows from XBC's Chicago studios l\^opU- call him a comedian. IK doesn't like the word at all. He's even made his sponsors let him play at least one classical accordion solo on each broadcast. That's his answer to the comedian accusation. Perhaps you'd better decide about him for yourself. You'll get him at 9 p. m. (EI)ST) each Friday on NBC's blue network. The story of Phil Baker's stage career, from that amateur night in Boston on, covers well over twenty years. First he was secretary to Carl Laemmle in the old IMP Film Company when Mary Pickford was the chief star. .Ml the while, he yearned to be an actor, spending hours in the theatre. One hot night the girl at the piano in Phil's favorite movie house became ill. Without an invita- tion, Phil slip|)ed into the pit and began to play. "1 knew oniv three times," he adtnits, "but I could make the proi)er hullabalof) for the Indians going to war. and there was always 'Hearts and Flowers' for love scenes." Later, he teamed with Ben Bernie, the "Old Maestro." That wa^ before each became a star in his own right Then the World War .saw Phil in the Navy. It must have done him good because he now says, "1 never had the nerve to s])eak a line on the stage until I put on that uniform. And now—well—even Beetle can't keep me quiet." Beetle, if you don't know, is the ghostly stooge that haunts his program. Just a few years ago Phil appeared in the musical pro- duction, "Americana." Peggy Cartwright, former movie actress, was in the cast. Soon there was talk that the two were going to be married. Always, Phil and Peggy denied everything. When Phil's radio job opened last February and he had to go to Chicago, he took Peggv along. Thev had Ijeen married for months. For years Phil has been a Broadway star. He's played with Fatinie Brice, for Ziegfeld and has traveled all over the country with his shows. Thou.sands of Americans have seen him and laughed at him. Though he re.sents it. thev —and we—still call him a comedian.