Sunday, January 25, 2009

Miriam Wolfe, The WOR Witch

(She was throwing herself into witch voices on WOR at the tender age of 12, and judging by the picture at left, she was good. We don't know of a link between Miriam Wolfe and Judson, but there's an interesting alignment of the planets here, since Judson, to whom Toronto and Brooklyn were both 'home towns,' also handled demonic cackles for Let's Pretend. Miriam died in 2000; here's her obit.)

Miriam Wolfe, Vocally Adroit Actress, 78
October 5, 2000

Miriam Wolfe, whose long acting career embraced radio, television and the theater, died on Sept. 29 at her home in Toronto. She was 78.

Ms. Wolfe played a wide variety of characters during her lifetime but was perhaps best known for her skill at conveying an assortment of wicked witches, evil queens and nasty stepmothers on programs like Nila Mack's ''Let's Pretend,'' a popular Saturday morning children's show on WCBS radio during the 1930's, 40's and early 50's. A demonic cackle Ms. Wolfe had mastered as a child sent chills over the airwaves, especially in Mutual Network's radio serial ''The Witch's Tale.''

Born in Brooklyn, Ms. Wolfe made her acting debut at 4, reciting poems on ''The Uncle Gee Bee Kiddie Hour'' on WBGS radio [sic], an early station in New York. In later years she played parts on ''Studio One'' and ''Ford Theater,'' working with the likes of Lucille Ball, Montgomery Clift and Ingrid Bergman. She also appeared on ''Mystery Hall,'' ''Casey, Crime Photographer'' and ''Suspense.'' In the 1950's, Ms. Wolfe joined ''The Rayburn & Finch Comedy Hour.'' She also acted on ''The Adventures of Popeye,'' playing Olive Oyl.

(At left: Miriam Wolfe, substantially later in her career, with Russ Thompson.)

In 1956 Ms. Wolfe moved to Canada, where she married John Forrest Mackay Ross and went to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as an actor, writer and director. While there, she adapted, directed and played all the roles in a radio version of Paul Bowles's ''You Are Not I.'' She also appeared on Canadian television in shows like ''Wayne and Shuster.'' On many occasions, she continued to be heard but not seen as the dubbed-in voices of characters in films and cartoons.

Her theater work included the Broadway production of ''Make Momma Happy'' and a production of Tennessee Williams's ''Rose Tattoo'' in Hollywood. And she was the author of ''Listening to Language: The Sounds of English.''

She is survived by a son, Michael Ross, of Occidental, Calif.

Why would they have The Uncle Gee Bee Kiddie Hour on “WBGS?”
It was, of course, WGBS, later WINS.
Biggest shocker : Wayne and Shuster had their own TV show. Now that's scary.