Jimmy Stewart’s appearance in the Theatre Guild on the Air’s presentation of Stephen Vincent Benet’s O’Halloran’s Luck on Sunday, March 1, 1953, showed a bit of unusual casting, to say the least. The 6-foot-3-inch Stewart played the role of a leprechaun! Starring with him were John Lund, Gloria DeHaven and Una O’Connor. A detailed account of the program appears in Jimmy Stewart on the Air and that will be augmented here with other information not in the book.
First, here are several newspaper and magazine ads and articles about the show:
As you can see, the show was being used to promote the 1953 Red Cross appeal drive. Because of this, the location of the broadcast was changed from Pittsburgh, PA, the home of U.S. Steel, the show’s sponsor, to Washington, DC.
For years, this show was believed to be lost, but through an incredible amount of luck, we located a very good copy. It began with our winning a Stewart item from a gentleman in Australia. We e-mailed him about our Stewart project and asked if he had any other items. He did…an AFRS transcription disc of O’Halloran’s Luck. He did not want to sell it, and we can’t blame him, but he was more than willing to make a CD of the program for us. So, presented here for what we believe is the first time on the internet, is O’Halloran’s Luck, presented in three acts.
We recently had the opportunity to visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, CT. Housed there is the Theatre Guild Archive, which includes many of the original scripts for the radio series, including O’Halloran’s Luck. Not only is the broadcast version of the script available, but also many revisions and rehearsal scripts, providing the opportunity to see how the play changed from beginning to end. So, we now can add some additional information to this blog.
First, we now know the names of all of the actors heard during the broadcast.
The first draft of the play shows that it was adapted for radio by Peter Berlinrut:
However, by the First Rehearsal version, Dennis Johnston’s name had been added.
To give you an idea of how the script changed through its many revisions, here are copies of the leprechaun’s first appearance from the first draft and then the first rehearsal scripts:
Here’s a look at Stewart’s final lines of the play beginning with the first draft and then the considerably shortened first rehearsal version.
We have recently added the program for this show to our collection. As mentioned in the newspaper ad above, the show served as the opening rally for the 1953 Red Cross Fund appeal. The first three pages of the booklet are dedicated to the Red Cross. The three main stars have all autographed the page with their photos and biographies.