“Cecil and Sally”
and Helen Troy
“Cecil and Sally” were the air names of Johnny Patrick and Helen Troy, who developed the musical comedy routine while working together at KYA in 1928. The serial program debuted on the West Coast connection of the short-lived ABC network, and moved to KPO and NBC after the former network went bankrupt in 1929. Patrick wrote the scripts and sang; Troy sang and played the piano and organ. Her character, “Sally,” endeared herself to West Coast listeners with her girlish lisp, referring to her partner as “Theethil.”
The program ran on NBC until 1933, and was among the earliest radio shows to be nationally syndicated via electronic transcription � large, long-playing phonograph discs � by MacGregor & Ingram, a pioneering recording company.
Johnny Patrick (born John Patrick Goggan in 1905) wrote more than a thousand scripts for “Cecil and Sally” during its run. A successful playwright and Hollywood screenwriter following his early years in radio, he adapted Vern J. Sneider’s novel “The Teahouse of the August Moon” for the stage in 1953, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award. In 1956, he wrote the screenplay for the motion picture version of “Teahouse,” which starred Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford.
Mr. Patrick also wrote the screenplays for “Three Coins in the Fountain” (1954), “Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing” (1955), “High Society” (1956), “Les Girls” (1957), “Some Came Running” (1958), “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960) and “The Shoes of the Fisherman” (1968). In later life, he retired to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He died in 1995 at the age of 90.
San Francisco-born Helen Troy appeared in several radio programs after “Cecil and Sally,” including the 1937 series “Texaco Town” on the CBS Radio network, in which she played the comical “Saymore Saymore.” The fast-talking comedienne had a brief career in motion pictures, making her film debut in George M. Cohan’s “Song and Dance Man” (playing a character named “Sally,” no less) and playing alongside such stars as Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry” (1937) and Spencer Tracy in “Big City” (1937). She died at the age of 38 in 1942.
John Patrick and Helen Troy were elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006 as part of the first class to be inducted.
LISTEN TO CECIL & SALLY ON THE AIR!
When Cecil’s car, “Ben Hur,” conks out late at night on the way home from a costume party, the pair must find � or “borrow” � some gasoline. The problem: Cecil is dressed as a girl, and Sally is dressed as an angel. And Cecil’s wallet is in his other coat…
Cecil has rented a boat for the day to take Sally fishing, but things take a soggy turn when Sally falls into the lake and Cecil has to dive in to rescue her.
SOURCES: Original “Cecil and Sally” recordings courtesy of Wayne Eberhart of Whatever Wreck-ards, Seattle, Wash., with editing by John Abens. Original text for this exhibit by John Schneider. “Cecil and Sally” print ad from Bay Area Radio Museum Collection.