Scope and Content
Title: Screen Guild Players Recordings Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1942-1948
Collection number: PA Mss 28
Creator: Motion Picture Relief Fund
Extent: 97 disc recordings
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Abstract: Recordings of Screen Guild Players radio programs used as a fundraising effort for the Motion Picture Relief Fund, sponsored
by the Lady Esther Corporation and Camel Cigarettes. The collection contains recordings of 33 shows originally aired between
1940 and 1948; directed by William Lawrence and written/adapted primarily by William Hampton and Harry Kronman. Performers
included Nelson Eddy, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Agnes Moorehead, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, Eddie Cantor, Dinah Shore, Gary
Cooper, Frank Sinatra, Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Durante, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
[Identification of item], Screen Guild Players Recordings, PA Mss 28, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries,
University of California, Santa Barbara.
The Screen Guild Players radio program originated as a manner in which to raise money for the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
The Motion Picture Relief Fund was created on December 24, 1924 in response to increasing financial need in the Hollywood
community. While there had been an earlier attempt to provide relief in the form of the Motion Picture War Service Association
(created to help the families of those in the motion picture industry who had either enlisted or been drafted), it disbanded
at the end of World War I. However, in many cases the need for financial assistance remained. And, with the onset of the Depression,
many other individuals found themselves in financial straits. The Motion Picture Relief Fund was created to deal with these
issues. Unfortunately, from 1924 to 1938, the fund's expenditures consistently exceeded its income. As a result, the fund
During the first year of the newly organized fund, Jules Stein, founder of the Music Corporation of America, presented both
the new president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund and the president of the Screen Actor's Guild with an idea to raise money.
He proposed that a radio program be presented by the motion picture industry with proceeds contributed to the fund. Under
this proposal, actors and directors would donate their time, and writers and producers would allow the use of their material.
A special contract would be arranged so that the sponsor would pay the Motion Picture Relief Fund a predetermined weekly fee.
After legal issues were resolved, the Columbia Broadcasting System presented the first network radio broadcast of the Screen
Guild Show on Sunday, January 8, 1939, at 4:30 Pacific Time. At first, the program was formatted to meet the talents of the
performers appearing in each particular show. This provided a large variety of program styles, including revues, musicals,
and dramatizations. As time went on, it became obvious that actors were more willing to volunteer their services if they were
already familiar with the part. As a result, the number of cinema adaptations presented in the show began to increase. The
title of the show was changed to the Screen Guild Theatre, reflecting the increased use of dramatizations.
Gulf Oil Corporation sponsored the initial three years of the program. However, due to the uncertainty of the oil market with
the onset of World War II, Gulf Oil chose not to continue. The Lady Esther Corporation took over and changed the name of the
program to the Screen Guild Players, and during its sponsorship, the program consistently ranked in the top ten of the most
popular radio shows. Unfortunately, there was a depression in the cosmetic industry in 1947, which caused Lady Esther to discontinue
sponsorship. Camel Cigarettes, on a three-year contract, then purchased the show, but due to a time change, ratings began
to fall. The show moved to various broadcasting networks before it was repurchased by the Columbia Broadcasting System in
1950. By this time, many of the usual radio sponsors were moving to the new medium of television, and ratings of the Screen
Guild Players continued to fall. The final production of the show occurred on June 30, 1952.
In the thirteen years that the radio program ran, it earned $5,235,607 for the Motion Picture Relief Fund. A large portion
of this amount went into the building of the Country Home, a retirement home for people from the Hollywood community, located
in Woodland Hills.
Scope and Content
Recordings of 33 Screen Guild Players radio programs which aired between 1940 and 1948 and were used as a fundraising effort
for the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
The collection contains a total of 33 shows. One show from the 1940 season, six shows are from the 1942-43 season (sponsored
by the Lady Esther Corporation) directed by William Lawrence and written primarily by William Hampton. 22 shows from the 1943-47
seasons (sponsored by the Lady Esther Corporation) directed by William Lawrence and written primarily by Harry Kronman. Three
shows are from the the 1947-48 season and one show is from the 1948-49 season both directed by William Lawrence and written
primarily by Harry Kronman and sponsored by Camel Cigarettes. Performers included Nelson Eddy, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Agnes
Moorehead, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, Eddie Cantor, Dinah Shore, Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra, Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck,
Jimmy Durante, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.