Radio

During Elizabeth’s time at MGM, it was common for the studio to arrange for the roster of their most popular stars to appear in plays and variety shows broadcasted on the radio, usually recorded in front of a live studio audience. Sometimes these appearances were reprisals of a role Elizabeth already played (such as National Velvet or Cynthia) or an entirely new role for Elizabeth, like Morning Glory, originally played onscreen by Katharine Hepburn.

It’s also important to note that these appearances were also a great way to supplement the star’s incomes. For instance, Elizabeth was paid around $3,000 per appearance, which was pretty incredible considering the studio was only paying her $300 a week following National Velvet. These appearances were great promotion for their upcoming film.

Please note that the following isn’t a comprehensive list of Elizabeth’s radio show appearances.

Command Performance

Broadcast: March 8, 1945
AFRS, 30 minutes
Guest starring: Frank Sinatra (M.C.), Frances Langford (herself), Elizabeth Taylor (herself), Margaret O’Brien (herself), Roddy McDowall (himself), and Peggy Ann Garner (herself).

Command Performance was a radio show that featured entertainers requested by the United States Armed Forces. This show was emceed by Frank Sinatra, and costarred Frances Langford. “Little Elizabeth Taylor” appeared on the show as herself, an autograph seeker wanting the autograph of her “very favourite singer”—Frances Langford. The appearance was cute and funny, with lots of jokes at the expense of “skinny” Frank.

Unknown title; March of Dimes campaign

Broadcast: January 1946
Elizabeth participated in the radio broadcast for the launch of the March of Dimes campaign at the White House with the First Lady of the United States, Bess Truman. The broadcast also included Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. Elizabeth apparently mispronounced the name ‘Roosevelt’ several times.

Lux Radio Theatre “National Velvet”

Broadcast: February 3, 1947
CBS, 60 minutes
Cast: Mickey Rooney (Mi Taylor), Elizabeth Taylor (Velvet Brown), Donald Crisp (Mr. Brown), Jane Scott (Mrs. Brown), Norman Field (Ede), Charles Seel (Joe), Truda Marson (Edwina/Woman), Lois Boniston (Malvolia), Johnny McGovern (Donald), Alec Harford (Greenford), Jack Edwards, Jr. (Tim), Herbert Rawlinson (Constable), George Neise (Doctor/Man), and Jerry Barnes (Dog).

Nearly three years after the premiere of National Velvet, Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, and Donald Crisp reprised their original roles from the film. The radio adaptation was narrated by Mickey Rooney, and is quite faithful to the MGM film, but is modified for the radio. One change was at the end of the radio play, instead of seeing Velvet and Mi saying goodbye on the road as we do in the film, we hear them say goodbye, with Mi promising to return one day.

At the end of the play the actors talk with the announcer for a few moments. They discuss Elizabeth getting the horse she rode in the film, and Donald Crisp points out that Elizabeth has a bestselling book, which of course was Nibbles and Me.

Louella Parsons

Broadcast: July 13, 1947
KECA, ABC Radio in Los Angeles

Elizabeth was interviewed by Louella Parsons on her radio show.

Lux Radio Theatre “Cynthia”

Broadcast: June 23, 1947
CBS, 60 minutes
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor (Cynthia Bishop), George Murphy (Larry Bishop), Mary Astor (Louise Bishop), Gil Stratton, Jr. (Rickey), Bill Johnstone (Professor), Leo Cleary (Fred). Lois Corbett (Carrie/Teacher), Josephine Graham (Stella), Norman Field (Dingle), Billy Roy (Willis), Noreen Gammill (Sadie/Nurse), Stanley Farrar (Man), and Charles Seel (Man).

Elizabeth, George Murphy, and Mary Astor reprised the roles they played in their upcoming film, Cynthia. Elizabeth plays the title role, that of a sickly girl who begins to blossom after being overprotected all her life by her well meaning parents. Elizabeth said she rushed off a film set to get to the broadcast, which was the last show of Lux’s twelfth season.

Hallmark Playhouse “Morning Glory”

Broadcast: April 7, 1949
CBS, 30 minutes
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor (Eva Lovelace), Gerald Mohr (Lewis Easton), and Jonny Barrett (Joseph).

Each week’s stories were chosen and introduced by novelist James Hilton. That particular week Hilton chose Zoe Akins’ Morning Glory, which had been brought to the screen in 1933 by Katharine Hepburn. Elizabeth plays Eva Lovelace, a bold, aspiring actress. Lovelace convinces an actor named Bob Hedges to coach her, and goes through a series of personal and professional ups and downs before landing the job of an understudy. When the actress she is understudying demands last minute contract changes, Eva goes on in her place and is a huge success. She vows to be a great star, and not just a morning glory.

During a break, Elizabeth reads a verse from her Hallmark Little Women Amy doll that was drawn on the set of the film and came with feather plumes, and a pre-printed autograph. Before leaving, Elizabeth thanks her co-stars, Gerald Mohr and Jonny Barrett.

Cavalcade of America “I, Mary Peabody”

Broadcast: March 21, 1950
NBC/Dupont Radio, 30 minutes
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor (Mary Peabody) and the Cavalcade Players.

I, Mary Peabody was based on the book, The Peabody Sisters of Salem by Louise Hall Tharp. Set in 1833, a shy girl named Mary Peabody (Elizabeth) runs a school along with her domineering sister, Elizabeth. After falling in love with a man named Horace Mann, Mary is forced to stand up to Elizabeth, who thought that Mary was only interested in a career as a teacher. Mann overhears their conversation, and explaining that he has shared mutual feelings for sometime, but thought she was too shy. Mann asks for Mary’s hand in marriage. At the end, the character of Mary explains that all three sisters went on to great accomplishment, with Mary and Horace founding a college.

Elizabeth was appearing in the film, Conspirator, at the time of the broadcast.

Hallmark Playhouse “West of the Hill”

CBS Broadcast: September 21, 1950