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Paul Rhymer was a prolific writer who will best be remembered for authoring one of Radio's finest comedy series, Vic and Sade.
Rhymer was born in Fulton, Illinois, in 1905. While still very young the family moved to 708½ West Monroe, Bloomington, Illinois, where the young man's experiences would leave a lasting impression. When his father passed away in the 1920s, the family moved to 414 Virginia in Normal. Rhymer's interest in and talent for writing was apparent very early as he won the Merwin Medal for Short Story Writing while at Bloomington High School, and had short stories published while attending Illinois Wesleyan University. But the road to a literary career was anything but straight and unwavering. Rhymer held (and left, or was fired from) a number of jobs after college. Then, in 1929, his luck would change. He found himself in NBC's continuity department where he was discovered by Clarence Menser who put him to work on a new series. Rhymer was inspired and his career took off, and Vic and Sade stayed on the air steadily until the mid-1940's.
Once voted the best radio serial in a poll of 600 radio editors, Vic and Sade also received praise from many well-known listeners, including James Thurber, Ogden Nash, John O'Hara, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, James Gould Cozzens, Cliff Arquette, Stan Freberg, Tony Randall, Ray Bradbury, Jean Shepherd and Norman Corwin. Nash and O'Hara both compared Rhymer to Mark Twain, while others have likened him to Charles Dickens. But Rhymer defies comparison since his work is unlike anything before or since.
Despite such high praise, as many as 2000 disc recordings of the Vic and Sade program were destroyed just before 1940 and some 1200 have been lost since that time. It is estimated that Rhymer wrote more than 3500 Vic and Sade scripts but only about 350 original recordings survive today.
On October 26, 1964, Rhymer was scheduled to appear on the Today Show. But, he had taken ill early on the morning of the telecast and was rushed to Passavant Hospital in Chicago. He telephoned Clarence Hartzell at the last moment and asked if he'd go in his place - Hartzell agreed. A television was brought to Rhymer's room so he could watch, the show went fine, and later that afternoon Rhymer died of a stroke. Almost twenty years after Vic and Sade had been taken off the air, fans, commentators, and critics alike mourned the passing of one of radio's funniest men and one of America's greatest authors.