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Milton Cross

Show Count: 64
Series Count: 3
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Old Time Radio
Born: April 16, 1897, New York City, New York, USA
Died: January 3, 1975, New York City, New York, USA

Milton John Cross (April 16, 1897 – January 3, 1975) was an American radio announcer famous for his work on the NBC and ABC radio networks.

He was best known as the voice of the Metropolitan Opera, hosting its Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts for 43 years, from the time of their inception in 1931 until his death in 1975.

Biography

Born in New York City, Cross started his career just as network radio itself was in its earliest stages. He joined the New Jersey station WJZ in 1921, not just as an announcer but also as a singer, often enaging in recitals with the station's staff pianist, Keith McLeod. By 1927, WJZ had moved to Manhattan and had become the flagship station of the Blue Network of NBC's new national radio network. Cross' voice became familiar as he not only delivered announcements for the Blue Network but also hosted a number of popular programs. Cross was the announcer for the quiz program Information Please and the musical humor show The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, among others. In the 1940s Cross hosted a Saturday morning show featuring child performers, called Coast To Coast on a Bus.

Cross featured as narrator on several records, including:

  • Peter and the Wolf, 4 78-rpm discs, c. 1950s, Musicraft Records M 65 302–305
  • Milton Cross Explains, 2 discs each, Ottenheimer Publishers/Cabot Records 1958
    • The Instruments of the Orchestra CAB 4021
    • The Magic of Music CAB 4022

A native New Yorker, Cross died in New York City where he had lived all his life. He is interred at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

Metropolitan Opera broadcasts

Milton Cross at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1940s

It is as the host of the Metropolitan Opera's broadcasts that Cross will be most remembered. His distinctive voice conveyed the excitement of live performances "from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City" for generations of radio listeners. Initially, he broadcast from a seat in "Box 44" at the old Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 40th Street. In 1966, he introduced the radio audience to the Met's new home at Lincoln Center as he hosted a special broadcast of the opening night performance from a modern radio booth in the new house.

In 43 seasons he missed only two broadcasts, due to the death of his wife. Cross never retired but died in New York from a heart attack during the Met season of 1974/75. He was succeeded by Peter Allen, who had been his standby announcer.

Books

Cross edited several popular editions of opera synopses, published in conjunction with the Met broadcasts. He also co-authored (with David Ewen)Milton Cross' Encyclopedia of the Great Composers and their Music – a set of biographies of 78 composers, published in 1953 by Doubleday & Co.

Popular culture

Cross was parodied in Peter Schickele's album, P. D. Q. Bach: The Stoned Guest. Will Jordan played the role of Milton Host, the host for the opera quiz, with a voice strikingly similar to Cross'.

Source: Wikipedia

Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin StreetChamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street
Show Count: 5
Broadcast History: 11 February 1940 to 8 October 1944, 8 July 1950 to 30 September 1950 and 12 April 1952 to 2 August 1952
Cast: Gene Hamilton, Zero Mostel, Jack McCarthy
Director: Tom Bennett, Dee Engelbach
A strange sort of a show that was probably a little in front of it’s time. Radio shows in those days were usually quite straight forward in whatever sphere of entertainment they dealt in but The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street was what we today would call a “send-up”. It had a satirical way of putting over good music, whether it be opera, symphony or blues. The satire was of course in the lyrics, not in the music.
Information, PleaseInformation, Please
Show Count: 226
Broadcast History: 17 May 1938 to 25 June 1948
Cast: Clifton Fadiman, Oscar Levant, Bernard Jaffe, Dr Harry Overstreet, Marcus Duffield, John Kieran, Franklin P Adams
Director: Dan Golenpaul
Producer: Dan Golenpaul
Broadcast: May 16, 1937
Added: May 16 2019
Broadcast: September 25, 1938
Added: Sep 18 2018
Broadcast: June 14, 1936
Added: May 22 2018
Broadcast: December 15, 1935
Added: Dec 18 2018
Broadcast: July 5, 1936
Added: Jun 19 2018
Broadcast: February 7, 1937
Added: Feb 05 2019
Broadcast: May 2, 1937
Added: May 05 2019
Broadcast: November 15, 1936
Added: Nov 27 2018