If I’m waiting on line in a supermarket and happen to catch a glimpse of an Archies comic book it instantly brings back memories of my childhood. Along with Elvis records (remember those?), TV Guide and Hollywood magazines whatever money I got my hands on was spent on The Archies. That’s why I wanted to pay tribute to the day when the Archies gang debuted on radio. Here’s the story in brief…
The character of Archie Andrews was introduced to the world just two weeks after Pearl Harbor by Pep Comics. Along with his friends at Riverdale High School, Archie was an instant hit as a comic character who – in many ways – became the ideal symbol of the American teenager of the 1940s. Archie’s best friend is the laid back and lazy Jughead Jones, he was forever in a lovesick stupor dividing his attentions between Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge – the former a blonde “girl next door” and the latter a beautiful, stuck-up rich girl. Like most I suppose, I always wanted Archie to end up with Betty, but couldn’t help but enjoy the games Veronica continually played with his affections.
The exploits of Archie Andrews, as was the case in the comics (and I haven’t read them in years despite still seeing them in supermarkets) revolved around his life as a student at Riverdale High, for which he had unending loyalty, and the problems of teenagers dealing with parents. The Archies’ world has always offered a heartwarming mix from everyday Americana and values that families recognized mixed with the teenage angst that made the characters and stories instant hits with teenagers. Because of the connection with audiences, the Pep Comic characters made their way to daily newspaper strips and then radio less than a year after they debuted.
The Archie Andrews radio show debuted on the NBC Blue Network on May 31, 1943, switched to Mutual in 1944, and then continued on NBC from 1945 until September 5, 1953. The program’s original announcer was Kenneth Banghart, later succeeded by Bob Shepard (who would become the voice of the New York Yankees) and Dick Dudley. Archie was first played by Charles Mullen, Jack Grimes and Burt Boyar, with Bob Hastings as the title character during the show’s run on NBC. Jughead was portrayed by Hal Stone and Cameron Andrews.
The following article is from “Tune In” Magazine, March 1944 during Jack Grimes’ stint as Archie:
Now relax, Archie, reee-lax!
Click on the title to listen to Archie Andrews on OTR:
You can listen to many more installments of Archie Andrews here, along with accessing more details about the show’s cast.