Although Robert Taylor is known today primarily as a movie and television star, he also performed in hundreds of radio plays. Some of these were adaptations of his films, others of films that he didn’t star in. Mr. Taylor acted with most of the top stars of his day, including Jean Harlow.
Lux Radio Theater was on the air from 1934 to 1955. It was one of few sixty minute broadcasts and was the most important dramatic show in radio. The 931 episodes were all based on popular films with the biggest stars of Hollywood playing the parts and during its heyday the audience was estimated as high as forty million. (Deanna Durbin Devotees)
Mme. Sans-Gene originally played on December 14, 1936 on the Lux Radio Theater.
The players were Jean Harlow, Robert Taylor, Claude Rains and C. Henry Gordon. The host was Cecil DeMille who interviewed Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, the pretender to the throne of the French Empire during the intermission. Ms. Harlow and Mr. Taylor starred in the film Personal Property, released in 1937. The radio play was publicity for the movie.
Mme. Sans-Gene had been filmed in 1925 with Gloria Swanson. Here is a short summary of the convoluted.plot.
Catherine Hubscher , known as Madame Sans-Gene (Madame Devil-May-Care), runs a Paris laundry. One of her customers is Lt. Napoleon Bonaparte, at this point too poor to pay his laundry bills. The French Revolution begins, and Sans-Gene leads her laundry workers forth. In the midst of the chaos, she meets the handsome sergeant Lefebvre.
A few days later, Count de Neipperg, an Austrian officer in the service of Queen Marie Antoinette, hides in Sans-Gene’s laundry. Sans- Gene conceals him in her bedroom. Lefebvre arrives and discovers Neipperg. His gallantry and loyalty to his Queen impresses the Sergeant, and he lets Neipperg go. Sans Gene tells Lefebvre she loves him, and they are married.
Lefebvre is successful in his career and is eventually made a duke by Napoleon, making the former laundress a duchess. One night, while she is at a gala with Napoleon, word comes that Neipperg is in the Empress’ bedroom. Napoleon orders Neipperg shot, sure the Austrian has been dallying with the Empress. Sans-Gene declares that she can prove the Empress innocent, if Napoleon will delay Neipperg’s execution. He consents.
Sans-Gene arranges Napoleon receives a forged letter, presumably from the Empress to her father, the Emperor of Austria, begging him to recall Neipperg, and declaring her undying love for Napoleon. Niepperg is freed and Sans-Gene and Lefebvre live happily ever after. (Adapted from The Holloway Pages).
Madame Sens-Gene is included on the Warner Archive DVD of Personal Property. You can also hear it by going to http://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/drama/Lux-Radio-Theater/111-Madame-Sans-Gene-December-14-1936-show-1054.html