The Harmony Rangers
Raphnel Fleming McGuire was better known to Philadelphians as Mac. Born in 1919 in Bartonville (now part of Peoria), Illinois, Mac McGuire first appeared on radio at the age of nine as a soprano. Singing ran in the family. His mother, Elsie was an opera singer in Peoria.
He worked at several mid-western radio stations while in high school including WMBD Radio (World’s Most Beautiful Drive). Later went to WHEB, Portsmouth, NH and in 1939 landed a job with two-year-old WSNJ Radio, Bridgeton, NJ.
Two years later, Mac McGuire moved to WLAV in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he wrote and produced several programs for the Mutual radio network.
In 1943, McGuire came to Philadelphia as a disc jockey for WCAU radio. Then he moved to the Big Apple, New York City for awhile. In 1946, he came back to Philly where he landed an air shift for WIP Radio. During the summer of 1948, he was on WIP doing morning drive from 7 am to 10 am daily.
An article in "Band Leaders Magazine, dated January 1946 said: "Mac McGuire gives out with his cheery good mornings, weather reports, records and commercials from 7:05 am to 7:45 am and from 8:15 am to 8:55 am, six days a week over WCAU, CBS affiliate."
A Mason and a Lions Club member, McGuire, who weighed 225 pounds and stood six-foot-three, toured with the Harmony Rangers (Capitol Records recording artists), singing cowboy ballads and playing the guitar. Quite often, the opening and unknown act for the show was “Bill Haley and the Saddlemen (later called the Comets).
McGuire claimed that his group was named after the local Delaware County fighting volunteers from the 1850's. However, he is more likely that Mac remembered a local Illinois group that had that name for a short period of time in the thirties.
Mac McGuire and the Harmony Rangers was a Country & Western group that performed on WIP Radio. For quite awhile, the show was carried over the Mutual Radio Network. They were WIP & Mutual's answer to WFIL & ABC Radio's Sleepy Hollow Ranch Gang. During the summer of 1951, the Harmony Rangers and Mac were on the network six times each week.
On Monday, December 24, 1951 we found the Harmony Rangers on WIP Radio from 3:30 to 4 pm. One of their biggest songs was called, “Sundown Lullaby.”
From 1948 to 1950, McGuire had a television show on WPTZ, Channel 3, owned by Philco at that time.
Mac started with KYW Radio for nine years. Shortly after the station became WRCV in 1956, he moved to morning drive on WPEN Radio where he remained until the end. In May of 1956, we know that Mac had a half-hour weekly TV show (Saturdays at 6:30 pm) on WRCV-TV, Channel 3, called "Mac McGuire Presents Showroom." It was described as Hollywood and TV Stars! New talent discoveries! Recording stars! Comedy! Sports! Games!
Mac McGuire died on Saturday, February 2, 1963 at Hahnemann Hospital from a stroke suffered the night before at his Pitman, NJ home.
He owned and managed The Town House, a Gloucester City Supper Club and was married twice. The first marriage produced daughter Patricia born in 1942. The second union to wife, Leona, delivered three children into the world, Dennis, Robert and Dawn.
In the late forties and early fifties, Mac McGuire was one of the highest paid radio personalities in our city. However, by 1963, his son Dennis reports, Mac was in the process of going bankrupt. Dennis went on to say that Mac McGuire had borrowed against his life insurance policy and then failed to keep up his premiums. He died penniless. Dennis McGuire added: In the spring of 1963, many prominent Philadelphia broadcasters aware of this situation, generously organized a benefit show creating a college tuition fund for my siblings and myself.
Mac McGuire passed away at the age of 43.
On Friday evening, November 18, 2011, Mac McGuire was inducted posthumously into the Broadcast Pioneers' Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Dennis McGuire, Mac's son
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