Robert Taylor on the Radio (1)

Mme. Sans-Gene

Although Robert Taylor is known today primarily as a movie and television star, he also performed in hundreds of radio plays. Some of these were adaptations of his films, others of films that he didn’t star in.  Mr. Taylor acted with most of the top stars of his day, including  Jean Harlow.

Lux Radio Theater was on the air from 1934 to 1955.  It was one of few sixty minute broadcasts and was the most important dramatic show in radio.  The 931 episodes were all based on popular films with the biggest stars of Hollywood playing the parts and during its heyday the audience was estimated as high as forty million.  (Deanna Durbin Devotees)

Mme. Sans-Gene originally played on December 14, 1936 on the Lux Radio Theater.

Catherine Hubscher, the real Mme. Sans-Gene.

Catherine Hubscher, the real Mme. Sans-Gene.

The players were Jean Harlow, Robert Taylor, Claude Rains and C. Henry Gordon. The host was Cecil DeMille who interviewed Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, the pretender to the throne of the French Empire during the intermission. Ms. Harlow and Mr. Taylor starred in the film Personal Property, released in 1937.  The radio play was publicity for the movie.

Mme. Sans-Gene had been filmed in 1925 with Gloria Swanson.  Here is a short summary of the convoluted.plot.

Catherine Hubscher , known as Madame Sans-Gene (Madame Devil-May-Care), runs a Paris laundry. One of her customers is Lt. Napoleon Bonaparte, at this point too poor to pay his laundry bills. The French Revolution begins, and Sans-Gene leads her laundry workers forth. In the midst of the chaos, she meets the handsome sergeant Lefebvre.

Robert Taylor, Jean Harlow, Claude Rains and Cecil DeMille.

A few days later, Count de Neipperg, an Austrian officer in the service of Queen Marie Antoinette, hides in Sans-Gene’s laundry. Sans- Gene conceals him in her bedroom. Lefebvre arrives and  discovers Neipperg. His gallantry and loyalty to his Queen impresses the Sergeant, and he lets Neipperg go. Sans Gene tells Lefebvre she loves him, and they are married.

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Taylor and Harlow, 1936.

Lefebvre is successful in his career and is eventually made a duke by Napoleon, making the former laundress a duchess. One night, while she is at a gala with Napoleon, word comes that Neipperg is in the Empress’ bedroom. Napoleon orders Neipperg shot, sure the Austrian has been dallying with the Empress. Sans-Gene declares that she can prove the Empress innocent, if Napoleon will delay Neipperg’s execution. He consents.

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Harlow and Taylor, 1936.

Sans-Gene arranges Napoleon receives  a forged letter, presumably from the Empress to her father, the Emperor of Austria, begging him to recall Neipperg, and declaring her undying love for Napoleon.  Niepperg is freed and Sans-Gene and Lefebvre live happily ever after. (Adapted from The Holloway Pages). 

Madame Sens-Gene is included on the Warner Archive DVD of Personal Property.  You can also hear it by going to   http://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/drama/Lux-Radio-Theater/111-Madame-Sans-Gene-December-14-1936-show-1054.html

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About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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2 Responses to Robert Taylor on the Radio (1)

  1. SusanaG says:

    Bravo Judith! Excluding die-hard fans or those with very good memory who actually lived the times, very few people is aware of the golden age of radio theater these days. Let alone that Robert Taylor was an integral part of it. It’s hard to think today, when we are all surrounded by wonderful, tiny gadgets such as iPods, smart phones, mp3 players, streaming Internet radios and the like, that an old, huge, wood tabletop set was a popular appliance in every household. I remember the one my grandparents had. Can you imagine Robert Taylor’s voice flowing out of those speakers? Must have been quite a treat!
    Thank you for addressing a rather unknown part of RT’s career in your blog, and please, keep posting his many radio appearances that spanned over 15 years.

  2. giraffe44 says:

    I loved radio as a child, listening to the Lone Ranger and other programs that are better known for TV. I don’t remember listening to the dramatic shows so it’s nice to hear them now. I think I’ll do the horror program “House on Cypress Lane,” (check title) with Taylor and Stanwyck next.

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