This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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CRUISE WITH THE CINNAMON BEAR
Holiday Adventures on the Sea
(From Radio Recall, December 2011)
Okay, here’s a question that should be very tough to answer (unless you’ve read the caption above.) What is the only radio show from 1937 that is currently the theme of a ship’s holiday cruise, some 74 years later?
Of course, it’s The Cinnamon Bear and he and his friends are onboard “The Portland Spirit” when it steams out for river cruises this December, as it has done for several years.
Every OTR fan is aware of this classic tale, transcribed by the west-coast based TRANSCO in 1937 as a 15 minute series to be broadcast in 26 daily episodes between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The popularity of this holiday story for kids has been aired every year since its original recording sessions.
It’s a grand Yuletide adventure for little Judy and brother, JImmy, as they search Toyland for the missing silver star, stolen by the Crazy Quilt Dragon. Barbara Jean Wong played Judy, but despite over a half century of research, the identity of Jimmy is still not positively known .
Granville Heisch wrote both the script and the lyrics to the songs. Director Lindsay Mac Harrie was fortunate to snag the services of some of the best vocal talent in the Los Angeles area. Among the popular voices heard as various characters in The Cinnamon Bear, are Joseph Kearns, Hanley Stafford, Howard McNear, Martha Wentworth, Gale Gordon, Elliot Lewis, and many more.
While hundreds of radio stations broadcast this syndicated show during the 40’s and 50’s, it has been heard on the air on relatively few stations in the past 30 years. However, virtually all OTR dealers keep it in stock and most fans have a copy of the complete set.
The show has probably remained most popular on the west coast so it was no surprise when a cruise ship out of Portland, OR began its “Cinnamon Bear Cruise.” Each December the cruise is scheduled weekend the first three weeks and than daily for the week before Christmas.
Talented actors, portraying the main characters in the show (Queen Melissa, Captain Taffy, Presto the Magician, and of course, Paddy O’Cinnamon) are onboard to interact with the kids in games and story-telling. For those not in the Pacific northwest, the ship’s gift shop, which sells many Cinnamon Bear souvenirs, can easily be accessed on the web site of the cruise line. And to find out what fun you are missing, check out the video of an actual cruise which is also posted on their web site: www.portlandspirit.com