In the years before television, Hollywood stars added to their substantial movie incomes by appearing on radio programs.
It’s interesting to read in a 1935 Radio Mirror magazine what salaries various performers could command .
”Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone divided $5000 for a single air appearance.”
“Jeanette MacDonald went on the Atwater Kent program one night and banked $4000 the next day. Not so long ago, Miss MacDonald was content with $600 per broadcast.”
(Atwater Kent was a radio manufacturer).
” Clark Gable got $3500 for a solo performance. Katharine Hepburn and John Barrymore each nicked sponsors for $6500”
”Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland oblige for $2500 for the team. You can hire Irene Dunne, Adolphe Menjou and Leslie Howard at the same amount.”
”But you ain’t heard nothin’ yet – Greta Garbo has been offered $25000 for a 15-minute broadcast of a scene from one of her photo plays…”
”Lesser lights like Lupe Velez, Bebe Daniels, Colleen Moore, Cary Grant, Bruce Cabot, Ricardo Cortez and Douglas Montgomery may be lured to the microphone upon receipt of $1000”.
”Then there is still a larger group whose broadcast salaries run from a few hundred to just short of $1000 a showing – Ginger Rogers, Reginald Denny, June Knight, Ralph Bellamy, Paul Lukas, Gene Raymond, Heather Angel and a host of others.”
”Is it any wonder that the Hollywood stars still believe in Santa Claus?!”
($1000 in 1935 is worth about $20,000 today.)
I don’t know how accurate it is, but I read that the average American weekly income in 1935 was $40.