Friday, August 09, 2013

Sisters of the Skillet

On CBS Ed East and Ralph Dumke were called the Quality Twins. But that was only in 1937 and 1938.  Before that they were players in the Charlie Davis Orchestra. But earlier they were also known as the Sisters of the Skillet, from a routine they did. They were vaudevillians who had toured the Keith- Orpheum circuit and made the jump to radio like many others. They're easily listed among other famous Hoosiers

They started out on WGN-AM in 1928 where their Sisters of the Skillet routine was popular. (some sources put their start as early as 1920) It was a parody of home maker programs. The schtick worked like this. Ed and Ralph would get an audience of real house wives (or at least cronies playing real housewives) then instead of actual useful advice they'd dispense absurd and nonsensical advice. It went over so well they got to guest on the Rudy Valee program.

In the Summers when regular fare often took a hiatus they were often tagged for a fill-in season. They appeared on both NBC Blue, CBS. They were sponsored sometimes by Knox gelatin, Lava soap, Crisco, Armour, and Kellogg cereals among others. They did shows in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening until they ended their run as a duo in 1938.

After the split Ed East found work as an announcer on the radio quiz show in 1938 on a quiz show called "Askit Basket." He followed that up hosing "Name It And It's Yours" on NBC. In 1939 he and his wife Polly started a variety morning program on WJZ, "Breakfast in Bedlam." It later called "Ladies Be Seated."  There are a couple known recordings of this program cataloged here. The program continued in various morning time slots until 1945.

Across town Ed's former partner Ralph played minor characters in a number of dramas, and eventually landed on Studio X at WEAF-AM. They were both in morning slots by 1941 turning the former partners into competitors. Ralph really moved from there into film. He appeared in 35 films as a supporting actor from 1948 to 1961. East also appeared in 3 films between 1949 and 1951.  By then Dumke was already appearing on TV programs like I Love Lucy.