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March 25: “You Are There”

March 24, 2015

walter-cronkite-topHumorist, critic, radio host, and television writer Goodman Ace (Aiskowitz), best known as the creator of You Are There, died at 83 on this date in 1982. In his own hey-day, Ace was a well-known kibitzer and culture critic. He played opposite his malaprop-dropping wife, Jane Ace (Epstein) in the comedic radio show Easy Aces (1930–45); he reviewed books and television shows for Saturday Review; he wrote television comedy for Milton Berle, Perry Como, Danny Kaye, Robert Q. Lewis, and Bob Newhart. Ace was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1990, eight years after his death. His most enduring achievement, however, was You Are There, a radio show, 1947-50, and television show, 1953-1957, narrated by Walter Cronkite (pictured above), which brought the audience into staged recreations of historical events and served as a major tool of historical education for the American public. Stars of the show included Paul Newman as Marcus Brutus and as Nathan Hale; James Dean as Robert Ford, the outlaw who shot Jesse James; John Cassavetes as Plato in an episode about the death of Socrates; and Jeanette Nolan as Sarah Bernhardt. Goodman Ace did not get proper credit for the show, however, until well after its demise.

“I keep reading between the lies.” —Goodman Ace