Ginger on the Air: Bachelor Mother

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Broadcast date: January 22, 1940
Starring: Ginger Rogers, Fredric March, Frank Albertson

This Lux Radio  Theater production was originally to star Joel McCrea, who Ginger had worked with on screen in 1933 for Chance at Heaven, and who she was working with on Primrose Path at the time of this broadcast. He was unable to perform due to being ill, and Fredric March stepped in as a replacement.

We are told that Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) has been laid off from her seasonal job at Merlin's Toy Company. In the film version, we see this play out at the store, but in the radio version we fast forward a bit to Polly walking down the street after being let go from her job. She witnesses a woman leaving a baby wrapped in a blanket on the doorstep of a foundling home. Polly confronts her and is distressed about the fact that a woman would dare give up her baby. An interesting quote that comes from Polly when the foundling home assumes that the child is hers that we don't hear in the film is, "I wish it was mine but it isn't." This response seems a bit out of character of Polly, who we soon learn will do everything in her power to be rid of the child, raising her voice at those at the foundling home who accuse her of lying about the baby's relation to her.

By the third act, Polly has grown extremely fond of the baby. We see much the same character development in the radio show as in the film.

There are a few minor differences in the radio production such as the dance club being called "Blue Heaven" instead of "The Pink Slipper." This scene is only mentioned, however, not played out on the radio. The fake Swedish bit is also not included in the radio program.

Hearing Ginger work alongside Fredric March is a real treat. It does lack the charm that David Niven brought to the film, but radio shows are always impressive, as they are live and forced to be condensed to the proper air time. Ginger reprises her role wonderfully, and Fredric March is a delight in his portrayal of David Merlin.

Ginger with David Niven in Bachelor Mother (1939)

What was Ginger up to at this point in her life?

The year 1940 was a big one in the saga of Ginger Rogers. 1940 would see Primrose Path and Kitty Foyle, which held Ginger's most critically acclaimed dramatic performances.  In January specifically, she was still receiving high praises for for Fifth Avenue Girl (1939) and the film version of Bachelor Mother (1939). She had just transformed her famous red-gold hair to a much darker brunette color for her role in Primrose Path, and photographers and fans were eager to catch a glimpse of her new locks. Ginger had also been separated from then husband Lew Ayres for four years, finally obtaining a divorce a couple months after this radio program aired.

You can listen to the play here on YouTube and here in Podcasts.

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