Minerva Pious

Show Count: 57
Series Count: 4
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Old Time Radio
Born: March 5, 1903, Odessa, Kherson Governorate, Russian Empire [now Ukraine]
Died: March 16, 1979, New York City, New York, USA

Minerva Pious (March 5, 1903 – March 16, 1979) was an American radio, television and film actress. She was best known as themalaprop-prone Pansy Nussbaum in Fred Allen's famous "Allen's Alley" current-events skits.

Born in Odessa, Czarist Russia, she spent the majority of her life and career in New York City. She worked extensively as a radio comedian, obtaining her first regular job as part of Allen's Mighty Allen Art Players in the 1930s when Allen hosted the hour-long Town Hall Tonight.

Allen's Alley

Playing a number of dialect roles in Allen's clever news spoofs and various other satires, Pious developed them into the Russian-Jewish housewife Mrs. Nussbaum by 1942, the year in which Allen's news spoofs finally developed into the "Allen's Alley" routines.

Pious became a fixture in the routines until Allen's show ended in 1949. Invariably, she greeted Allen's knock on her door with her Yiddish "Nuuuuuu," then answered Allen's cheery "Mrs. Nussbaum!" with lines like:

"You are expectink maybe Veinstein Chuychill?"
"You are expecting maybe Cecil B. Schlemeil?"
"You are expecting maybe Tulalulalula Bankhead?"
"You are expecting maybe Dinah Schnorra?"

Pious's portions of the "Alley" segments usually involved one or another joke at the expense of Mrs. Nussbaum's never-heard husband, Pierre. In one episode, Pierre had a bad cold, and one of the remedies involved vegetables of all types. According to Mrs. Nussbaum, the vegetables included "Carrots, stringle-a-beans and rutta-bagels." Her distinctive accented voice and Jane Ace-like knack for malaprops made her a series trademark.

Other radio

Pious was often invited to play Nussbaum on other radio programs, such as The Jack Benny Program (inviting him to her new restaurant: "We feature soft lights and hard salami") and Duffy's Tavern. She was cast in the radio plays of Norman Corwin (especially playing a Brooklynese crime solver in Murder in Studio One) and on the Columbia Workshop. In addition to comedy routines on Kate Smith's series, she was heard on shows hosted by Ed Wynn and Bob Hope, along with roles on The Goldbergs and the soap opera Life Can Be Beautiful. "Minnie could do a million things," remembered Fred Allen Show writer Bob Weiskopf to author Jordan R. Young in The Laugh Crafters, a book gathering interviews with vintage radio comedy writers. "Nice lady. She had a physical affliction—she had a bad hip, a severe limp. She was very concerned about television; she never worked very much. But radio was fine."


The hip condition didn't stop Pious from making several television appearances anyway, on shows such as The Colgate Comedy Hour and The Chevrolet Television Theatre. She appeared briefly in the television soap The Edge of Night in 1956, playing a landlady.


Her few film credits included playing Mrs. Nussbaum on camera in Allen's It's in the Bag! and a featured voice role in Pinocchio in Outer Space. She had small roles in the films Joe MacBeth(1955) and Love in the Afternoon (1957).


Minerva recorded with Bud Freeman a skit based on Noël Coward's Private Lives called "Private Jives" for the Commodore Records label in 1938. Also on the record were Joe Bushkin (piano and trumpet) and announcer Everett Sloane. The record, according to Commodore, sold only 150 copies, all to friends of the artistes!

Source: Wikipedia

Columbia Presents CorwinColumbia Presents Corwin
Show Count: 15
Broadcast History: 4 May 1941 to 9 November 1941, 7 March 1944 to 15 August 1944 and 3 July 1945 to 21 August 1945
Cast: Everett Sloane, Ted de Corsia, John Brown, Frank Gallop, Peter Donald, Kenny Delmar, Karl Swenson, Paul Stewart, Adelaide Klein , Hester Sondergaard, Luis Van Rooten, Frank Lovejoy, House Jameson, Jack Smart, Beatrice Kay, John Gibson, Arthur Vinton, Larry Robinson, Bartlett Robinson, Martin Wolfson, Joel O'Brien, Perry Lafferty, Kermit Murdock, Joseph Julian, Minerva Pious, Katherine Locke, Carl Frank, Joan Alexander, Arnold Moss, Ralph Bell, Orson Welles, Fredric March, Charles Laughton
A series of stories ranging from serious to whimsical. The most famous is On a Note of Triumph, a celebration of the Allied victory in Europe, first broadcast on VE Day, May 8, 1945.
Columbia WorkshopColumbia Workshop
Show Count: 173
Broadcast History: 18 July 1936 to 8 November 1942, 7 March 1944 to 15 August 1944, 2 February 1946 to 25 January 1947 and 27 January 1956 to 22 September 1957
Cast: Orson Welles, Karl Swenson, Neil O'Malley, Fred Stewart, Minerva Pious, Burgess Meredith, Carl Frank, Joan Alexander, Arnold Moss
Director: Marx B Loeb, Irving Reis, William N Robson, Brewster Morgan, Earle McGill, Norman Corwin, Betzy Tuthill, James Fassett, Albert Ward, Carl Beier, Richard Sanville, Perry Lafferty, Guy della Cioppa, George Zachary, Martin Gosch, Howard Barnes
This was drama with a difference. Columbia Workshop was not everybody’s cup of tea and in terms of audience popularity it was always noted that it was never a strong contender for the title “Radios Top Rated Drama Series” and yet it was always considered to be the drama program that led the way in radio standards.
Fred Allen Show, TheFred Allen Show, The
Show Count: 89
Broadcast History: 23 October 1932 to 16 April 1933, 4 August 1933 to 1 December 1933, 3 January 1934 to 26 June 1940, 2 October 1940 to 25 June 1944, 7 October 1945 to 28 December 1947, and 4 january 1948 to 26 June 1949
Cast: Fred Allen, Portland Hoffa, Helen Morgan, Sheila berrtt, Roy Atwell, Charlie Carlisle, Jack Smart, Minerva Pious, Lionel Stander, Eileen Douglas, Town Hall Quartet, Merry Macs, Alan Reed, John Brown, Charlie Cantor, Peter Donald, Parker Fennelly, Kenny Delmar
Producer: Roger White, Sylvester Weaver, Vick Knight, Howard Reilly
Broadcast: January 8, 1947
Added: Nov 03 2014
Broadcast: November 13, 1940
Added: Oct 12 2023