Ma Perkins was the story of Americas mother
of the air, a benevolent, self-sufficient widow who owned
and managed a lumber yard in the fictitious town of Rushville Center.
The show premiered in August 1933 on Cincinnati station WLW; by
December, it had moved to WMAQ/Chicago and joined the NBC network.
As played by Virginia Payne, Ma Perkins was kind and sometimes
trusting to a fault. She offered homespun philosophy to any and
all who needed it, including her children Evey and Fay, Eveys
husband Willy and Mas business partner, the down-to-earth
The brainchild of soap opera creators Frank and Anne Hummert, Ma
Perkins had its share of melodrama, cliffhangers and personality
conflicts, but it could also move at the slow, deliberate pace indicative
of life in a small town.
The show ran on NBC and CBSsometimes simultaneouslyuntil
1960. At times, it was broadcast in Canada, Hawaii and throughout
Europe. Payne, who was only 23 when Ma Perkins first went
on the air, played the title role for the shows entire run.
Virginia Payne died on February 10, 1977.
Ma Perkins and Virginia Payne were inducted into the Radio
Hall of Fame in 1988.
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