Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Air Romance

Former PBS news anchor Robert MacNeil, recalling his early days on radio, in Wordstruck: A Memoir (NY: Viking, 1989), p. 153—

In one [an adult radio drama in 1950] I had to play a series of love scenes with a pretty actress called Miriam Newman, who was enough older, say twenty-nine to my nineteen, to make me feel a very raw youth. The sound of kissing was achieved by kissing one's own hand. We stood, man and woman, facing each other, a few inches apart, with a large microphone between us, each holding the script to one side of the mike, in order to get our mouths very close for the intimate, breathy parts. Miriam was extremely realistic, sighing and kissing the soft part of her right hand above the thumb until it was smeared with lipstick and, I thought, as a mere thumb, getting far too much attention.