Archives On The Air 125: Ma Perkins—Virginia Payne Papers

Mar 4, 2019

Ma Perkins was radio's first and longest running soap opera. It aired from 1933 to 1960. The show followed an elderly woman who owned a lumber yard. 

Ma Perkins was voiced by Virginia Payne. She started playing the elderly Ma Perkins when she was 23 years old. 

Here is a transcription from the 1949 audio:

-Shucks well it ain't fair

-Now ma…

-Well, it ain't, heavens to Betsy it ain't fair at all. Joseph is a good boy, he's never harmed anybody and he never will. Why should folks take a notion to gossip about him? Even mayor Ross has to come to see us.

At the show's peak, Payne made $50,000 a year. That was more than any other performer on a daytime program.

You can see Virginia Payne's costume wigs and spectacles at UW's American Heritage Center.