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Sunday, January 16, 2011

"THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE" -- Marion Sayle Taylor

Marion Sayle Taylor

August 16, 1888 -- Feb. 1, 1942

Photo credit: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Welcome to my first bio.

I found a set of very old copies of pamphlets published by the mysterious "Voice of Experience" while going through my collection of books given to me by my Grandmother Ethel. They are obviously something well-treasured, and were carefully kept. I admired my Grandmother's life as a good example for my own.

She lived a very long, healthy life (94 years) and I always wondered what inspired her lifestyle. I think that perhaps she or her family listened to the radio show and then purchased the pamphlets, which emphasize healthy living. In reading them, I was struck by how much of the advice still applies today; fresh air, lots of sunshine, deep breathing, eating more vegetables, and raw foods, and avoiding sugars and fats.

The other thing that struck me was the anonymous nature of the pamphlets. The author was simply attributed to "The Voice of Experience." So I became curious, who was the author? Was it a group of advisors? Why not list their names? Who would collect and save for 50 years such pamphlets from someone who was anonymous?

Normally, that would be that, and I wouldn't go any further, but thanks to Google, I was able to satisfy my curiosity (somewhat) and found out the following information. Including a really good blog entry about one of his books:

After reading many of the pamphlets, I am quite impressed. I wish I could hear the original recordings of the radio show that had so many listeners (seven million.)

He reminds me of Benjamin Franklin, who was a publisher and founding father of our country.

Here's a bit about Benjamin:

When Benjamin was 15 his brother started The New England Courant the first "newspaper" in Boston.

Benjamin wanted to write for the paper too, but he knew that James would never let him. After all, Benjamin was just a lowly apprentice. So Ben began writing letters at night and signing them with the name of a fictional widow, Silence Dogood. Dogood was filled with advice and very critical of the world around her, particularly concerning the issue of how women were treated. Ben would sneak the letters under the print shop door at night so no one knew who was writing the pieces. They were a smash hit, and everyone wanted to know who was the real "Silence Dogood."

(I loved reading Poor Richard's Almanack, written/edited by Benjamin Franklin.)

"Almanacs of the era were printed annually, and contained things like weather reports, recipes, predictions and homilies. Franklin published his almanac under the guise of a man named Richard Saunders, a poor man who needed money to take care of his carping wife. What distinguished Franklin's almanac were his witty aphorisms and lively writing. Many of the famous phrases associated with Franklin, such as, "A penny saved is a penny earned" come from Poor Richard."

Franklin also was a very civic-minded person, starting the first subscription Library, the Philadelphia Fire Department, Environmental cleanup of his city, and fire insurance.


As the parent of children with disabilities, I am interested when I hear of people who have overcome a physical or other type of disability to achieve an independent, fulfilling life.

According to what I have read, Mr. Sayle survived the loss of his livelihood due to a car crash which crushed his hands. He was a musician (organist) who had gone to school to learn to become a surgeon before his injury. It is even more impressive to have done this during the 1930's when the economy was crashing, as it has done again recently, and during a time before there were any programs of assistance for people with injuries and disabilities to help them survive and to rehabilitate into the working world. His radio name of 'experience' reflects his real life experience in overcoming difficult challenges.

After reading the advice attributed to "The Voice of Experience", I really think that often each generation has to re-invent the wheel...there is so much of learning from experience that we could get from previous generations, but the books go out of print, and we separate ourselves from the previous generation by being too busy, living too independently and with the use of nursing homes instead of living in multi-generational settings where children, who have the time, can listen to their grandparents, who also have the time, and valuable information and experience can be passed on despite the busyness of the sandwich generation (like me) who have to keep all the balls in the air.

So here is a man who has had an influence on my life through my Grandmother, since she very obviously followed much of his health advice. She exercised daily well before it became "fashionable" to. Ate very healthy, kept a garden and grew her own vegetables and fruit trees. She seemed to also follow his example through her helping others anonymously (which I found out only after going through her saved letters from people who had thanked her for her generosity.)

Anyway, I don't know if his stuff is copywrited anymore. So can I reprint the articles here? I don't have a lawyer, so I will have to say, that my humble judgement indicates that since the pamphlets were considered anonymous, they can be quoted. If there are any living relatives that would benefit from them, I would certainly defer to their wishes and of course honor their rights to the information. Perhaps I should paraphrase them, but the writing is very good and I think part of what makes the reading so pleasurable.

Here is the biographical information for Marion Sayle Taylor I have gathered so far. If anyone has any more information about the man, the radio show and if there are reprints of the articles he wrote, or copies of his speeches, I would love to know.

Marion Sayle Taylor

died at 53, famous radio personality known as the "Voice of Experience," (1932-1939) 1 February 1942.

Marion Sayle Taylor, born August 16, 1888 (Louisville, Ky?) and died Feb. 1, 1942 in Hollywood, Ca. During his career he was, in the 1930s, radio's famous "Voice of Experience." Wrote books and had a magazine, earlier, in the 1920s, he produced hygiene pamphlets and was an educator on Coos Bay, Oregon.

Books by Marion Sayle Taylor:

“Stranger than Fiction” The Voice of Experience, New York, Dodd, Mead & Co. 1934.

Making Molehills of Mountains



Book Description: Dodd, Mead and Company, New York: 1934., 1934. Hardcover. pp. xv, 367. 12mo. Hardbound. Seventh printing. "The Voice of Experience," AKA Marion Sayle Taylor was a radio show host whose program "The Voice of Experience" ran from approximately 1926 to 1934. Long before Ann Landers, "The Voice" was out there providing common sense advice to his audience. "The Voice of Experience," was the radio name of Marion Sayle Taylor. His radio program "The Voice of Experience" ran from approximately 1926 to 1934, and was full of common sense advice and thoughts for the audience.

The Voice of Experience” [Marion Sayle Taylor] Bantam Books, April 5, 1941

Magazines by Marion Sayle Taylor:

“Voice of Experience Monthly”


TIME articles referring to Mr. (“Dr.”) Taylor:


Radio: V. O. E.

Monday, Jan. 02, 1939

"Every community has its doctor, lawyer, priest or local wise man to whom his neighbors take their troubles. But people who want their problems to go to headquarters write to the Voice of Experience. Last week the "Voice," Dr. Marion Sayle Taylor, got his six-millionth letter and began another year of broadcasting MBS stations under a renewed contract with Lydia Pinkham.

Although he has been the Voice of Experience for only ten years, Dr. Taylor was in the advice business long before he took and registered his air name. Both the voice and the experience he traces back 49 years to his cradle on the Old Taylor Plantation in Kentucky. The son of a Baptist preacher, his preparation for the pulpit started early.

But a minister's son sees organs as well as pulpits. In 1904, as the Boy Organist at the St. Louis World's Fair, young Sayle was a lace-collared child prodigy. Music paid his way through William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., carried him into a medical course at Pacific University. He preferred surgery to both preaching and music, but a traffic accident left his hands minus coordination of muscles and nerves.

With both surgery and music out of his reach, he got jobs in public-health departments, began his intensive collection of experience. In Seattle and San Francisco, he helped many prostitutes who wanted to go home and resume respectability. Samaritan Taylor had a friendly department-store owner write each girl's family that she had been employed in his store, was ill, needed rest. Families sent fares, brought their wayward daughters home, learned no distasteful truth.

In 1915 the Voice took to the Chautauqua circuit as a lecturer on human behavior, has been a steady broadcaster since 1926. His radio salary of $2,000 a week is augmented by lectures, sales of his books and pamphlets. That he is stumped by few human problems is evident from the titles of his 300 pamphlets. Some of them: Love and How to Express It, Acidosis (and how to overcome it), Promiscuous Kissing, The Care of the Skin, Disciplining Your Child, Insomnia, War of the Sexes, Feminine Shapeliness, Have You Been Jilted? Although the pamphlets cost 3¢ each, a listener whose troubles run a wide enough gamut to require 50 pamphlets can get them at a bargain price — $1.

An average of more than 6,000 people write to the Voice of Experience each day, ask for help and advice. They write to the station on which they hear him or to a Manhattan Post Office box address. The location of his home and his office he keeps secret. His passion for anonymity goes so deep that he claims that even members of his family heard the Voice on the air for years before they knew his identity. His business acquaintances call him the Voice. That is the way he signs most of the letters he writes, and his briefcase is initialed in gold, "V. O. E."

Small and stocky, the most arresting thing about him is his speech. He never uses a plain word when there is a fancy one handy. A knife he calls a dirk. Besides giving advice on the air and by mail, the Voice spends about $45,000 a year to provide operations for babies born with harelip or cleft palate, spectacles for myopic children, etc. He also sends boys & girls through college without revealing to them the source of their scholarships, helps unmarried mothers through childbirth."

Art: Radio Plugs

Monday, Mar. 18, 1935

"Twice last week national radio hookups were used to plug Manhattan art shows.

Five days before the opening of the National Academy of Design's noth annual exhibition President Jonas Lie gave an elaborately rehearsed interview over a coast-to-coast network, in which he announced the winners of the $4,400 worth of assorted prizes that the N. A. has assembled through the years. Nobody could see the pictures last week, but from the names and reputations of the winners all the U. S. art world knew that the long-awaited rejuvenation of the National Academy was under way. Except for elderly, conservative Frederick Judd Waugh of Provincetown, Mass, who won, as he has before, the $500 Edwin Palmer memorial prize for marine painting (TIME, Dec. 17), other prize-winners were artists who would have been considered rank radicals by academicians of 25 years ago. Among them were:

Leon Kroll, who took the $1,000 Altman prize for landscapes. His canvas entitled Cape Ann was an excellent picture of three young people in bathing trunks, sweaters, bathrobes, done with all the artist's flair for the human figure.

Jean MacLane, who won the $1,000 Altman prize for the best genre painting with her canvas Tennis Days. In it were to be seen two athletic-looking girls wearing bandannas and two tanned, crop-headed boys in tennis garb.

Childe Hassam, to whom went the Saltus Medal of Merit, only N. A. prize to be awarded regardless of nationality, age, sex, or subject matter, for that old post-impressionist's landscape Evening, Point Alien.

Maurice Sterne, art theorist and Brooklyn expatriate (TIME, Feb. 27, 1933) who won the $100 Thomas B. Clarke prize for the best U. S. figure composition painted in the U. S. or its territorial possessions, with his Plum Girl.

Jerry Farnsworth, able Cape Cod portraitist, whose Jan de Groot took the $150 Thomas R. Proctor Prize for the best portrait in the show.

Two days before the N. A. prize-winners were blindly announced over the air, a national radio audience was urgently invited to visit another Manhattan art show and inspect, at the Arthur U. Newton Galleries, a set of portraits by a small, kinetic, kinky-haired Pole named Stanislav Rembski. Most of those who accepted the invitation, however, went less to see a slick icy canvas of Dr. Frank Damrosch or a promising self-portrait of the artist than to have a good long look at a brand new picture of a smiling, self-confident, wispy-haired man of 45 in a blue serge suit. For the past two and a half years that man has solaced thousands of uncertain minds by broadcasting homely advice as THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. His sponsors over the Columbia network: Wasey Products (Musterole, Kreml Hair Tonic, and a brace of nostrums known as Zemo and Haley's CTC, for stomach acidity). Last week it was the Voice of Experience who turned his first discussion of Art into neat plug for the Rembski show in general and his own portrait in particular.

The Voice of Experience is actually the voice of "Doctor" Marion Sayle Taylor, son of a retired evangelist who was born on the Louisville plantation whence came Old Taylor Whiskey. After a false start toward the ministry, young Taylor went to Pacific University but decided not to get the medical degree he wanted. The title of "Doctor" was applied to him years later at the suggestion of William Jennings Bryan when he was already well known as an adviser to the lovelorn. Orator Bryan suggested that Taylor call himself "Doctor of Matrimony." Scrupulously ethical in his radio addresses, Taylor is careful never to give any medical advice— except to endorse the patent medicines which sponsor his programs.

Before adopting the career of mass confessor, Taylor was a proficient organist. He was guest organist at the St. Louis Fair of 1904. An automobile accident that crushed his hands in 32 places took him from the manual.

The name "Voice of Experience" Taylor adopted about seven years ago when he was already well known as a broadcaster on marriage problems. So successful was his booming voice, his "clean handling of sex problems that he now employs 29 private secretaries, all male, to answer his intimate correspondence. In addition to 5,000 broadcasts, Taylor has had time to write 120 pamphlets on such miscellaneous subjects as "Facts About Fruits" (A-19), "Why Be Unique? (B-11), "Insomnia" (C-8), "Why Take Your Own Life?" (C-10), "The Nudist Fad" (E-8), "Feminine Shapeliness" (F-14), "War of the Sexes" (D-5), "Square Pegs in Round Holes" (C-17), "Promiscuous Kissing" (B-10), "The In-Law Problem" (A-13), "Are You Afraid of Insanity?" (B-10). He also has a wife and a daughter, lives on Manhattan's Park Avenue, has a private gymnasium in his apartment to keep himself fit.

The practical private charity that Mr. Taylor does is enormous. From his own pocket he has paid for innumerable funerals, bought wooden legs and glass eyes, met rent bills. In 1934 alone The Voice paid for 413 blood transfusions and the hospital bills of 583 unwed mothers.

The language of Broadcaster Taylor's little homilies often becomes elaborately homespun, to suit the simple tastes of his following. Calling his public's attention to his new portrait last week, he declared:

"In the last ten years I guess I have sat for a dozen or more artists, to have a painting done of me—all but one of these by request of the artists themselves. If I were able to line up all of these paintings side by side, you would find that each one of them had a different expression. . . . That is the reason that a connoisseur of art can immediately say what great artist did such and such a painting, because he sees the artist's earmarks on the canvas. ... I want you to do something practical for me. A number of men, outstanding individuals in the world . . . are now on display at the Newton Galleries. There is no charge for admission, so you go down there and study these canvases. ... It will be a fine object lesson to you."

Purchase the New Yorker, November 2, 1935 Article page 24.


by Margaret Case Harriman November 2, 1935

Margaret Case Harriman, Profiles, “VOICE,” The New Yorker, November 2, 1935, p. 24

ABSTRACT: PROFILE of Marion Sayle Taylor, "The Voice of Experience." The Voice has four sponsors: "Haley's CTC (a citro carbonate which sets out to restore the system of alkaline balance and is in popular use as a remedy for hangovers). Musterole, Zemo, and Kreml Hair Tonic. All of those products are owned to a large extent by Louis R. Wasey and publicized through the advertising agency of Erwin, Wasey & Co.

Broadcast History:

Role: Advisor

Announcer: John Gambling

Dates: 1937 -
Network: NBC Red
Sponsor: Wasey Products Co. (Musterol-Kreml)

Dates: 1940 - 1941
Network: NBC
Sponsor: Albers Brothers Milling Co.

Articles from OTRR Magazine Collection:

OTRR maintains a collection of Old Time Radio Magazines which has been indexed by Terry Caswell. The following is a listing of articles from this index which refer to this person.

  • Radio Guide 360718, page 6

  • Radio Guide 360725, page 5

  • Radio Guide 360801, page 7

  • Radio Guide 360808, page 10

  • Radio Guide 360815, page 8

References from Printed Sources:

Other Books:

  • Buxton, Frank and Owen, Bill, Big Broadcast 1920-1950, The, Second Edition, Scarecrow Press, 1997

  • Delong, Thomas A., Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary Of 953 Performers 1920-1960, McFarland & Company, Inc., 1996

  • Poindexter, Ray, Golden Throats and Silver Tongues - The Radio Announcers, River Road Press, 1978

TIME Magazine:

From Harvard's "The Crimson"

"Airs Academic Sanctity"


Published: Thursday, April 16, 1936

"FROM experience, Dr. Dexter Merriam Keezer, president of Reed College (Portland, Ore.) has learned that heavy academic robes are stifling. Amherst A. B., Cornell M. A., Brookings Institute Ph. D., Dr. Keezer taught variously and brilliantly at Dartmouth, Cornell, and the Universities of California and North Carolina, but he was a fish that leapt occasionally from the dry bank into the stream to get into the swim of things again. He worked on the Denver Times and edited the Baltimore Sun, Reed College found him a year ago working on the NRA Consumers' Advisory Board.

At Reed there are no intercollegiate athletics, no fraternities, and student self-government is important. The intellectual freedom Reed attempts readily persuades some august citizens of Portland that Reed is a bed of radicalism. President Keezer is known to have worn bright red duck pants on the campus, but to the calmer observer the president seems merely to be airing out academic sanctity. He prods bookworms into skiing trips, but makes no effort to attract or hold playboys to Reed."

Loudspeaker Solace

FOUR years ago the Voice of Experience began, accents somewhat harsh, to dole out solace to believers in loudspeaker comfort. Today The Voice an audience of millions, and it is generally known that their adviser is Marion Sayle Taylor. Mr. Taylor, an LL.D., made so a year ago by William Jewell College (Liberty, Mo.) on a June day pproclaimed Liberty's mayor as “Voice of Experience Day.” For three years “The Voice” studied at William Jewell, he took his A.B. At Pacific University in 1911.

Anent "experience," Dr. Taylor looks back along 47 years on a poverty stricken youth, postgraduate work at Oregon Agricultural College and the University of Oregon, the accident which crushed his hands and ruined his hope of becoming a professional organist, a superintendency of schools in Oregon, and nation-wide wandering as a Chautauqua lecturer. Out of this he has the formula for successfully throwing oil on trouble human waters. Remembering his youth, he gives charity the sizable contributions he recieves from well-wishers."

Radio: Crossley Looks at 1940

Monday, Jan. 27, 1941

“… As the Voice of Experience, Marion Sayle Taylor has advised all kinds of people how to get out of marital trouble. Last week he was taking legal advice himself: his second wife demanded in Los Angeles Superior Court that her Mexican divorce be set aside, claimed that before he married Wife No. 3, Taylor had promised her remarriage, 15% of his $150,000 annual income.”

Comments from the web:

Marion Sayle Taylor, the Voice of Experience, was superintendent of schools in North Bend (on Coos Bay) Oregon 1923-26. A husband & wife research team there are beginning the exploration of his life for a biography. They have some corrective facts to the fictions that exist about his life. Actually born in Arkansas, not Kentucky, is one.

Don't know exactly how this system works to solicit assistance in the research - especially in the Ohio (Akron & Steubenville) & Michigan (Chicago) areas where he was circa 1927-1930.

You can acquire some Voice of Experience recordings from Jerry Haendiges of - he has four 1938 broadcasts, plus one 1941 Eddie Cantor show with M.S. Taylor as guest. For research purposes, coud 4U2C please provide the newspaper and exact 1934 date with his photo? thanks, Dick W.


  1. Hi, I enjoyed your interesting journey into the life of the "Voice of Experience." I have done a lot of research into the life of the artist who painted his portrait. I appreciate your interest in reviving the memory of past figures of our cultural history. So much was done in the past that is unknown, and that we could yet benefit so much by knowing about. If you go to, you will find my web pages devoted to the Museum of Brooklyn Art and Culture, where I have been trying to revive the work and lives of many interesting personages. Best wishes.

  2. An insightful article--thank you. I am doing research on a book and studying social conflict/information from the era and discovered a wonderful book, "Where Do People Take Their Troubles? by Lee Steiner. (1945) She discusses radio programs of that era including "VOE".