The Story of Doctor Kildare
In the summer of 1949, MGM reunited Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore to record the radio series, The Story of Dr. Kildare, which used the concept and characters of the earlier Young Dr. Kildare story and did not include any of the young doctors who had replaced Kildare in the later films featuring Dr. Gillespie. By this time, Ayres had returned to public favor after serving in WWII as a medical corpsman. Episodes were scripted by James Moser, Jean Holloway, Les Crutchfield, E. Jack Newman, John Michael Hayes, Joel Murcott, and others. The supporting cast included Ted Osborne as hospital administrator Dr. Carew, Eleanor Audley as receptionist Molly Byrd, Jane Webb as nurse Mary Lamont, and Virginia Gregg as nurse Evangeline Parker, labeled “Nosy Parker” by Gillespie. In addition, many prominent West Coast radio actors made recurring appearances, including Raymond Burr, William Conrad, Stacy Harris, Lurene Tuttle, Barton Yarborough, and Jack Webb.
Each radio episode was developed as a stand-alone program rather than a serial. Episodes typically focused on Dr. Kildare dealing with a particular medical issue while jousting with eccentric patients and/or hospital administrators. The medical information presented was up to date for its time, and sometimes taken from real life; for example, an episode in which Dr. Kildare is forced to perform an emergency appendectomy on himself was based on a news story. At least 60 half-hour episodes were produced.
In addition to airing on the MGM-affiliated New York station WMGM, The Story of Dr. Kildare was originally syndicated to over 200 outlets in the U.S. and Canada, mostly Mutual Broadcasting System stations. The earliest known broadcast of the program took place on September 27, 1949, on Mutual station WGN in Chicago, prior to the WMGM premiere episode on October 12, 1949. In the early 1950s, MGM offered the show to stations as part of a multiple-program package for a price lower than purchasing each program individually. However, starting in 1952, stations began to lose interest in such packages, preferring to develop their own local programming to better compete with television. Consequently, despite the show’s popularity with audiences, no new episodes of The Story of Dr. Kildare were produced after 1951, although rebroadcasts of old episodes continued to air in syndication for several more years.
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