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Dayton Memories > Ruth Lyons
Ruth Lyons
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89 posts
Feb 13, 2010
11:40 AM
I just read a book I got at the library titled "Before Oprah,Ruth Lyons The Woman Who Created Talk TV" by Michael Banks. It is not only about Ruth Lyons but also the history of broadcasting, both radio and TV, in this area.
I have many memories of the Ruth Lyons show in the 50's and early 60's; I was on it once in the audience and like everyone else felt like I was a member of her family.
8 posts
Dec 12, 2010
6:26 PM
I was on her show a couple of times during my early childhood. I always watched her on tv and listened to her on the radio. I think her daughter Candy died on a cruise.
5 posts
May 31, 2011
6:01 PM
Hi, I wrote to Herman and Ruth I think the year was about 1983. I had driven one of our school teams over east of Piqua for a day of competion. My whole family had always watched the Ruth Lyon's show and when we were together Ruth and the show were always in our conversations. Even after I was married I would hurry home at noon to see part of her show while I ate lunch, and the day I heard she retired I actually cried as I drove home. On Thanksgiving the year I wrote, Herman called our house and he and Ruth wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. We also got Christmas Cards from them until Ruth passed away. Marian Spellman, the lead singer on the show came to Dayton to sing with the Shrine Chanters, of which my grandfather was a member, so she all went to hear her perform. I have read several times,Ruth's book REMEMBER WITH ME and I have two copies of it. This past spring I Read BEFORE OPRAH, RUTH LYONS, THE WOMAN WHO CREATED TALK TV BY MICHAEL BANKS.
227 posts
Jun 04, 2011
11:00 AM
I remember Ruth Lyons being so prim that when the Beatles burst on the scene she could not bear to say "Yeah, yeah, yeah" but had to say "Yea, yea,yea" when referring to their lyrics.

She also considered the lyricless tune "Alley Cat" to be vaguely risque', the way we might consider a double-entendre' on someone's name. So, from time to time Peter the bandleader would start playing it on the piano and Ruth would scold him, but it soon became a standing joke that everyone was in on and that Ruth accepted with grudging good humor.

I think it was Ruth Lyons who on one occasion walked onto the set and Peter's band struck up the opening to David Rose's "The Stripper". As I remember, Ruth got REALLY flustered, too flummoxed to scold him, I suppose; and I also suppose he got an earful the first time they went to network commercials!
129 posts
Jun 05, 2011
11:20 AM
AllenN71 wrote above about Peter - the bandleader: Peter (Grant) was in reality the WLW news director and sometimes Ruth Lyons sidekick. The band leaders were either Cliff Lash or (sometimes) Barney Rapp. Her permanent sidekick was Willie Thall, but, he became ill and had to scale back his involvement.

Peter Grant was an old-timey type bachelor and was the target of frequent mild ribbing by Ms Lyons. He bought a house, lived with his mother and filled the swimming pool with dirt and planted it with roses. He must have spent eighteen hours a day at the studios, because he was also the reader on "Moon River" which aired at midnight and was always broadcast live. Near the end of the run, after Peter Grant had retired, Bob Braun was the sidekick. The 50/50 Club was a real production headache, I'm sure, airing on television in Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and sometimes Atlanta plus on WLW Radio. The producer was (I think) Elsa Sewell, who really made it all happen.

This is from my memory, not the book, which I really have to put on my list.
Mikey, Gatlinburg, TN

Last Edited by on Jun 05, 2011 11:32 AM
67 posts
Jun 05, 2011
10:21 PM
Poor Old Peter (Grant). He was typical of studio announcers for the early days of radio and television. He was studio announcer for WLW radio, did TV with Ruth Lyons and others, worked as weatherman, on both the 6 oclock and 11 oclock news programs (with seperate reports for each of the WLW television stations each evening), etc.

In Dayton his closest equivalent would be Harry Butler and later Ted Ryan, who worked similar jobs at WHIO TV and Radio for many, many years. I believe both Mr. Butler and Mr. Ryan had their own radio shows, at one time or another, and each hosted at least one TV show also. Harry Butler had a gardening show, while Ted Ryan had a travel show.

Even though Ted has been retired for many years, you might occationally hear his voice on pre-recorded station announcments for things like "Emergency Broadcast" messages, and "Paid Commercial Program" disclaimers. (I wonder if he get's a commission on every time they still use his voice?)

Don Pardo, who now is associated as being the announcer for Saturday Night Live, was studio announcer for the local NBC affiliate in New York (WNBC) as well as an NBC network announcer. There were times he did game-show announcing, as well as station breaks on NBC TV and Radio, as well as similar work for the local affiliate. His voice first announced President Kennedys death on the NBC network. He started at NBC/WNBC in 1944 and worked full-time at NBC for 60 years until 2004, when he "officially" retired. He retired to Arizona but continues to announce most Saturday Night Live shows at the age of 93, but now records the announcements in advance, instead of working in the announcers booth at the studio.

With regards to Ruth, I understand that she found that having the shows on both TV and Radio did drive her crazy at times. Interviews, songs, etc. worked on both, but if someone came onto the set wearing something funny, or made an funny face, or if a dancer was booked as a guest and performed, Ruth would have to provide a commentary on what was going on. The occational "fashion show" segments were particularly trying. And of course this was all done without a written script.

Ruth was an accomplished musician and wrote many of the tunes used on the program, including the song "Let's wave to the folks who are watching" the music they always performed when the cameras would pan the audience and everyone would wave.

Ruth seemed to be a character that people either liked or didn't like. Her show even was carried nationally a few years in the late 1940's or early 1950's when the networks first got their cross-country circuits working.

Last Edited by on Jun 05, 2011 10:26 PM
maxed out
271 posts
Jun 06, 2011
1:45 PM
My mom would never miss this show as long as I can remember. Allen, the one song I think she wrote was "Let's Light the Christmas Tree".
I remember when I moved to south Florida 27 years ago I saw Bob Braun selling matresses in a TV commercial. I felt bad for him that he was doing that when he was so popular in Ohio.
I do remember that Pete Rose was one of her most popular guests. He was quite the showman on and off the field.
F16 1UB
20 posts
Jun 09, 2011
6:21 PM
Wow - I recall my mom talking about the crazy antics that Ruth would pull on her show and some of her nutty statements like the time she was having her bathroom remodeled and the commode was removed. She'd gotten up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and......I remember laughing like crazy. It may have been 1960.
luv my dayton
82 posts
Jul 14, 2012
12:16 PM
Probably one of my familys favorite shows. Who didn't grow up with Ruth and the gang? Us kids would go home for lunch, my Dad would show up and we'd all eat together in dining room and watch the 50 50 Club. Seems as though it was on from 11:30 until 1. Just reminded me that I had their Xmas CD and have no idea where its at. Will have to go through the house until its located. Now those are wonderful memories. Not sure if any of the original talent are still living. Anther show that was never missed was the Paul Dixon Show. Just good clean fun.
52 posts
Jul 14, 2012
4:06 PM
My mom LOVED Ruth Lyons and watched her show religiously (so of course, we 7 kids did as well) My mom was also was loyal to many of the advertisors (I especially remember Fels Naptha). What were some of the other ones??

I also remember back in the 50's fans would send in ballots for the baseball All-star game and Ruth really "got the vote out" for the Reds players. In the 1956 game, the Reds sent EIGHT players to the game with FIVE starting! Yeah, that was some ballot box stuffing, but the National League WON the game! WTG Ruth!

Ms Lyons actually weilded some "power of the press" as she could get letter writing campaigns going for and issue or a cause. Yeah, it was a very sad day when she retired. The loss of her daughter just took too much out of her. There were thousands and thousands who shared her grief when Candace passed away. And many thousands griefed when Ruth Lyons left the airwaves.
87 posts
Jul 16, 2012
12:02 PM
Ruth Lyons redeemed her Top Value stamps at the Top Value headquarters store at 3085 Woodman Drive in Kettering. I worked at the store from '72 to '77 and she came at least once a year for many years.
51 posts
Jul 16, 2012
5:27 PM
Wasn't there a famous blooper from one of her shows? Can't remember the details, just that since the program was shown live, there was nothing they could do about it. Seems to me it was someone on the set passing gas VERY loudly, but I could be wrong.

Another thing I remember from her show was a serious big time guest (Bob Hope, maybe?) who gave her a serious ration of grief because everyone on the set had to use an individial, hand-held microphone. Whoever it was lectured her like a school girl about how small-time it was to have to use hand-helds mikes. Ruth was seething, but she just sat there and took it.

I do remember when the little kid wet himself live on one of the local kids shows, I think it was "Uncle Al" or maybe "Romper Room."

Finally, back in the mid/late 70s, one of the Cincy stations had a hot young gal who hosted a daily interview program at noon. She was THE local talent at the time, think her name was Danelle. Anyway, one day she flipped out live on air and verbally attacked her guest, a local Italian-American of some note. It got ugly, and all her comments were directed at the the guy's Italian heritage. It must have gone on for at least a minute before they went to a dead screen, don't recall how they filled the rest of the time slot. It was a huge scandal, supposedly she was either drunk or high. She was fired that same night. Later I heard she'd been trying to get out of her contract because she had a better offer from a bigger market, but the station refused to let her leave. The word was she went on her little tirade to get fired so she could move on.
88 posts
Jul 17, 2012
11:49 AM
I don't think it was Bob Hope, Calhoun, at least not on the appearance they have on videotape. He couldn't have been more gracious with Ruth. I interviewed him when he was 90 in Dayton and he was super nice.
384 posts
Jul 17, 2012
12:25 PM
This is all I can think of when I see her name : "Let me entertain you, let me make you smile, I know a few tricks some old and some new tricks. I'm really versatile. So let me entertain you, and we'll have a real good time, yes sir !!" With a fresh flower bouquet on her microphone. Wonderful woman to sick children in hospitals. My brother was the recipient of many toys from the Christmas Fund during all of his stays in "Barney" (Now Dayton's Children's Hospital). Will we ever have that kindness and generosity again ?
~ Cindi
7 posts
Feb 07, 2013
1:06 AM
Don't forget Ruth's side kick Bob Braun
74 posts
Feb 07, 2013
4:44 PM
Calhoun, You were correct in thinking that Bob Hope was a guest on Ruth Lyons.. About 3 weeks ago we purchased a 2 DVD set about Ruth Lyons and her 50-50 club show, from the UDF STORE on harshman rd at brandt pike.. On this two dvd set, it has her whole history and the whole history of her show.. She was one tough lady, as i have learned.. This 2 dvd set is very inexpensive and very much worth getting.. Just the footage alone is worth the purchase, it's very well done. All proceeds from this 2 dvd set goes to her Ruth lyons christmas fund.. I hope that those who would want to purchase it can still find it.. The name of the 2 dvd set is ( RUTH LYONS, First Lady of Television )..On the back of the dvd cover it shows Ruth Lyons dancing with Bob Hope on her show. Plus many many other big name guest's. This 2 dvd set has great footage and is very educational It really is a must see... www.ruthlyonsdvd.com thats where you might go to look for information, anyone interested in dayton - cincinnatti history must get this 2 dvd set... It's a keeper.. Don

Last Edited by copson on Feb 07, 2013 4:54 PM
luv my dayton
227 posts
Feb 08, 2013
9:57 AM
Many of us were raised on Ruth Lyons. In elementary school we'd go home for lunch and eat around the dining room table while watching the 50 50 club. Years ago I received as a gift a cd with all the Christmas music that had been on her show and that she had written. This year I received a dvd of her show, interviews of some who were regulars on her show such as collen sharp, bonnie lou, bill thals and others.. It was a far cry from fancy but that woman was known throughout the country and stars who became big in later years had to wait for a spot on her show. She started many of their careers.She actually became part of your family.
maxed out
390 posts
Feb 08, 2013
3:50 PM
"Let me entertain you, Let me make you smile"
Cliff Lash and his band
maxed out
391 posts
Feb 08, 2013
4:01 PM
My mother watched her religiously... Bonnie Lou, Miriam Spellman, Ruby Wright... Everyone called her mother... It was a way of life when I was growing up.
25 posts
Feb 08, 2013
7:02 PM
I saw my hero (Roy Rogers) on that show years ago.
108 posts
Feb 11, 2013
7:06 AM
Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the Ruth Lyons' DVD? I missed out on getting one at Christmas and now none of the UDF Stores have it.
87 posts
Feb 14, 2013
7:12 AM
carlatm75, www.ruthlyonsondvd.com...That is the website that is on my dvd set..If you look on my previous post it is there also.. Good luck..
88 posts
Feb 14, 2013
4:50 PM
carlatm75, Did you go to trotwood-madison high
109 posts
Feb 15, 2013
11:43 AM
copson, yes I did. I was born and raised in Trotwood. I lived on Little Richmond Road my whole life and my parents owned Nelson Bros. Florist and Greenhouse on Little Richmond Road close to Wolf Creek Pike. I graduated in 1975. Were you from Trotwood also?
92 posts
Feb 15, 2013
1:40 PM
carlatm75.. GO RAMS !!..Class of 75 here also, but graduated early in 74.. What a fun school it was back then.. It's hard to believe that they actually had smoking area's for the student's, and even gave you a little extra time between classes to do so. My favorite place to huddle was near the library smoking area.. I Really didnt know a lot of the kid's at school, but I did know most of the teachers, and, I liked all my teachers.. I always said, ( It wasnt school I didnt like, it was the principle of the thing )..lol.. The Principle!, Oh my, Miss Combs, Remember her?.. I lived on Wolfcreek Pike across from the Pendley's. and worked partime at Pendley Construction ,( now known as Mr. Mustang ), while still going to school.. I used to take zero period at school so I could work for Carl and my father..I also worked a little for Carol Wysong at the pits,and the fishing lakes. and for Mr Brixey at Brixey's Carryout on Wolfcreek Pk. I just stocked the pop coolers and the beer coolers at Brixey's in the evening's.. oh man, let a kid that age stock the beer coolers, Wrong thing to do !!. Just kidding, really.. All I did back in those day's was work and go to school. Maybe a weekend party.. I did get to go flying a lot with Carl Pendley and his daughters Connie and Carla after I graduated.. I'm sure you knew Connie and Carla.. All of us most likely rode the same bus, as our bus picked up on Little Richmond Rd from Wolfcreek Pk.. My mother purchased many a flower from your family.. I love it when the world gets a little smaller, at least for awhile anyway !!... Feel free to email me if you wish..

Last Edited by copson on Feb 15, 2013 2:04 PM
Paula fishman
6 posts
Feb 09, 2014
7:46 AM
My grandmother had every LP put out by the Ruth Lyons gang. They are currently in my basement and would love to find a record player to play them on.
12 posts
Apr 15, 2014
8:16 PM
I remember her sitting on the couch talking and Bob Braun would sing songs.
6 posts
Apr 16, 2014
8:35 PM
copson: I, too, was raised on Little Richmond Road, up close to Gettysburg Ave. The Turpins (Turpin's Florist) were our neighbors. I heard that Nelsons were related to them. Do you know if Duane Turpin is still alive, and, do you know where he is? email me at: sundance65@live.com. I would really appreciate it.
2 posts
Jan 10, 2015
9:03 PM
I spent lots of time in the hospital and at least once I got a gift from her. I got a metal refrigerator and my roommate got the matching stove. I loved that gift and she and I played quite a bit with the set.

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