Monday, July 31, 2006

Death Valley Days Radio Show (1930-1944)

Ruth Cornwall Woodman, a Vassar graduate and mother of two children, was hired by the Borax Company and its advertising agents, McCann-Erickson, to write the “audition” script for Death Valley Days. What started as a one-time assignment became a career -- she was asked to stay on to write all of the radio plays.

From the show’s inception, Borax wanted the stories to be authentic tales of the West, founded in the facts of actual, true stories. To gather these stories, Mrs. Woodman would spend part of each year traveling by car, foot and horseback to the remote regions of Death Valley and other western sites and ghost towns under the care and guidance of the Supt. of the Borax-owned Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, Wash Cahill, and veteran Borax employee, Harry Gower.

Despite her impeccable Easterner manners and dress, Mrs. Woodman could hold her own with the “desert rats,” and other colorful characters who were rapidly disappearing from the scene. Through these efforts, “Death Valley Days™” became not just a medium of entertainment, but one of education -- recording and preserving many of these personal stories about the adventures and settlement of the West.

In 1952, twenty two years, 720 shows, two name changes, and 5+ "Old Rangers" after its debut, “Death Valley Days,” had conquered the medium of radio and the Borax Company was ready to move “Death Valley Days™” to “new” untried creative territory -- the medium of television.

Listen to vintage radio broadcasts of "Death Valley Days" over the web at!

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