One Man's Family

From the files of Stephen M. Lawson

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One Man's Family made its debut on radio on Friday, April 29, 1932, from 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. PST, over NBC stations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Two or three weeks later the rest of the western NBC network was added. The program began broadcasting on the entire NBC network on May 17, 1933, and was the first serial to originate in San Francisco for the entire network. In order to bring the rest of the country up to date, the network broadcasts from May 17, 1933, until January 5, 1934, were devoted to presenting a somewhat condensed version of the Barbour family story from its beginning.

The format consisted of thirty-minute programs, broadcast once a week, through Sunday, June 4, 1950. Then the programs were fifteen minutes in length, five days a week, from June 5, 1950, through May 8, 1959, the last broadcast. In the book-chapter identification, the last broadcast was Chapter 20 of Book 134. There were 3256 episodes in all, not counting repeats for different time zones.

Measured by the calendar, One Man's Family was the longest-running serial drama in American radio. It told the week-to-week (and later day-to-day) story of the Barbour family, who lived in the Seacliff section of San Francisco.

-- The Big Broadcast 1920-1950, by Frank Buxton and Bill Owen (The Viking Press, Inc., New York 1972), page179


In November 1947, the Barbour household entered a chaotic few months with the arrival at Seacliff of Cousin Jediah X. Barbour. Much to the consternation of Henry Barbour, Jediah announced to Clifford that he would be staying two or three months! Described as both endearing and irritating, Cousin Jediah bears a remarkable similarity to Uncle Fletcher Rush of the Vic and Sade program - both characters superbly voiced by Clarence Hartzell.

The following chart is admittedly incomplete, and will be updated when more relationships are documented.



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