Ted Malone, who filled the airwaves reading poetry and offering homespun philosophy in the early 1930s on his “Between the Bookends” series, died Oct. 20, it was learned this week.
Malone was 81 when he died in Stratford, Conn., of liver cancer.
He was heard over four decades on many local and national radio stations, but it was “Bookends,” which went on the air in the late 1920s, that made his name famous.
Malone, actually, was not his name.
He was born Frank Alden Russell and grew up in Missouri, where he studied at William Jewell College in Liberty. There he won first prize in a speaking contest.
The manager of Kansas City radio station KMBC offered him a job as an announcer and ukulele player. One day in the late 1920s a hillbilly act failed to show up and young Russell was told to go before the microphone and read poetry to kill time.
He was so embarrassed that he asked that his real name not be used, and another announcer introduced him as “Ted Malone.” But his reading of William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” produced a flood of favorable mail. In 1935 CBS picked up the show nationally and it ran across the country from two to five times a week for the next 30 years.