Monday, February 29, 2016

The Man Called X

The Man Called X is an espionage radio drama which aired on CBS and NBC from July 10, 1944 to May 20, 1952. Herbert Marshall had the lead role of agent Ken Thurston/"Mr. X" who took on dangerous cases in a variety of exotic locations. Gordon Jenkins Orchestra supplied the background music.

 Leon Belasco played Mr. X's comedic sidekick, Pegon Zellschmidt, who always turned up in remote parts of the world because he had a "cousin" there. Pegon would annoy and help Mr. X.

Wendell Niles was the announcer.

The series was created by Jay Richard Kennedy who later adapted The Man Called X as a 39 episode syndicated Television series (1956-57) starring Barry Sullivan as Thurston for Ziv Television.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Nick Carter, Master Detective

Nick Carter, Master Detective was a Mutual radio crime drama based on tales of the fictional private detective Nick Carter from Street & Smith's dime novels and pulp magazines. Nick Carter first came to radio as The Return of Nick Carter, a reference to the character's pulp origins, but the title was soon changed to Nick Carter, Master Detective. A veteran radio dramatist, Ferrin Fraser, wrote many of the scripts.

 With Lon Clark in the title role, the series commenced 11 April 1943, on Mutual, continuing in many different timeslots for well over a decade. Between October 1944 and April 1945, it was heard as a 30-minute program on Sunday afternoons at 3pm, sponsored by Acme Paints and Lin-X, with a 15-minute serial airing four or five times a week in 1944 from April to September. In April 1945, the Sunday series moved to 6pm, continuing in that timeslot until June 1946, and it was also heard in 1946 on Tuesday from March to August.

Sponsored by Cudahy Packing and Old Dutch Cleanser and later Acme Products (makers of such home-improvement chemicals as Kem-Tone paints and Lin-X floor-cleaning waxes, a near-rival to the more-popular Johnson's Wax products heard on numerous NBC Radio shows at the same time), the series finally settled in on Sundays at 6:30pm for broadcasts from August 18, 1946 to September 21, 1952. Libby Packing was the sponsor when the drama aired on Sundays at 6pm (1952-53). In the last two years of the long run (1953-55), the show was heard Sundays at 4:30pm.

Jock MacGregor was the producer-director of scripts by Alfred Bester, Milton J. Kramer, David
Kogan and others. Background music was supplied by organists Hank Sylvern, Lew White and George Wright. Walter B. Gibson, co-creator/writer of The Shadow pulp novels, was fired when he asked for a raise in 1946, and then became head writer for the Nick Carter radio series.
Oddly enough, he never liked to write scripts for the radio version of The Shadow, though both characters were published by Street & Smith.

Patsy Bowen, Nick's assistant, was portrayed by Helen Choate until mid-1946; then Charlotte Manson stepped into the role. Nick and Patsy's friend was reporter Scubby Wilson (John Kane). Sgt. Mathison (Ed Latimer) was Nick's contact at the police department. The supporting cast included Raymond Edward Johnson, Bill Johnstone and Bryna Raeburn. Michael Fitzmaurice was the program's announcer. The series ended on September 25, 1955.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Perry Mason

Perry Mason is a radio crime serial based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner. Broadcast weekdays on CBS Radio from 1943 to 1955, the series was adapted into The Edge of Night which ran on television for an additional 30 years.

 The 15-minute continuing series Perry Mason aired weekdays October 18, 1943 – December 30, 1955, on CBS Radio. Geared more towards action than courtroom drama, it mixed mystery and soap opera, with attorney Perry Mason sometimes even exchanging gunfire with criminals.

Erle Stanley Gardner's literary success with the Perry Mason novels convinced Warner Bros. to try its hand, unsuccessfully, with some motion pictures. However, the Perry Mason radio show stayed on the air for 12 years.

As The Edge of Night, it ran for another 30 years on television, but Gardner disliked the proposed daytime television version due to a lack of his own creative control. He ultimately withheld his endorsement of the daytime TV show, forcing the name change.

The actors portraying Mason switched frequently over the first three years of the show's run, starting with Bartlett Robinson, then followed by Santos Ortega and Donald Briggs. John Larkin took over the starring role March 31, 1947, and portrayed Perry Mason until the end of the series.

Radio's Perry Mason has more in common, in all but name, with the daytime serial The Edge of Night than the subsequent prime-time Perry Mason television show. As many radio serials moved to television, so was to be the destiny of Perry Mason. However, Gardner disagreed with the direction of the new show and pulled his support. The sponsor, Procter & Gamble hired the writers and staff of the Perry Mason radio series, the show was retooled, and it became The Edge of Night. The characters and setting were renamed. Gardner eventually aligned himself with the nighttime courtroom drama.

The Edge of Night was conceived as the daytime-TV version of Perry Mason. Mason's creator, Erle
Stanley Gardner, was to create and write the show, but a last-minute tiff between him and CBS caused Gardner to pull his support. CBS insisted that Mason be given a love interest to placate daytime soap opera audiences, but Gardner flatly refused to take Mason in that direction. Gardner would eventually patch up his differences with CBS and Perry Mason would debut in prime time in 1957.

Two actors who played Perry Mason on radio, Bartlett Robinson and John Larkin, appeared in episodes of the CBS-TV series, Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr.

Friday, February 26, 2016

My Friend Irma

My Friend Irma, created by writer-director-producer Cy Howard, is a top-rated, long-run radio situation comedy that spawned a media franchise. It was so popular in the late 1940s that its success escalated to films, television, a comic strip and a comic book. Marie Wilson portrayed the title character, Irma Peterson, on radio, in two films and the television series. The radio series was broadcast on the Columbia network from April 11, 1947 to August 23, 1954.

Dependable, level-headed Jane Stacy (Cathy Lewis—and Joan Banks during Stacy's illness in early 1949) began each weekly radio program by narrating a misadventure of her innocent, bewildered roommate, Irma, a scatterbrained stenographer from Minnesota. The two central characters were in their mid-twenties. Irma had her 25th birthday in one episode; she was born on May 5. After the two met in the first episode, they lived together in an apartment rented from their Irish landlady, Mrs. O'Reilly (Jane Morgan, Gloria Gordon).

Irma's boyfriend Al (John Brown) was a deadbeat, barely on the right side of the law, who had not held a job in years. Only someone like Irma could love Al, whose nickname for Irma was "Chicken". Al had many crazy get-rich-quick schemes, which never worked. Al planned to marry Irma at some future date so she could support him. Professor Kropotkin (Hans Conried), the Russian violinist at the Princess Burlesque theater, lived upstairs. He greeted Jane and Irma with remarks like, "My two little bunnies with one being an Easter bunny and the other being Bugs Bunny." The Professor insulted Mrs. O'Reilly, complained about his room, and reluctantly became O'Reilly's love interest in an effort to make her forget his back rent. In 1953, Conried dropped from the cast and was replaced by Kenny Delmar as his cousin, Maestro Wanderkin.

Irma worked for the lawyer, Mr. Clyde (Alan Reed). She had such an odd filing system that once when Clyde fired her, he had to hire her back again because he couldn't find anything. Useless at dictation, Irma mangled whatever Clyde dictated. Asked how long she had been with Clyde, Irma said, "When I first went to work with him he had curly black hair, then it got grey, and now it's snow white. I guess I've been with him about six months."

Irma became less bright and more scatterbrained as the program evolved. She also developed a tendency to whine or cry whenever something went wrong, which was at least once every show. Jane had a romantic inclination for her boss, millionaire Richard Rhinelander (Leif Erickson). Another actor in the show was Bea Benaderet.

The show was sponsored by Swan Soap, and Irma would usually make a silly remark about it so the name could be advertised. Frank Bingman was the announcer for Swan Soap. The program was also sponsored by ENNDS which got rid of breath and body odors and each tiny capsule was said to contain 100 mg of chlorophyll. Pepsodent was also a sponsor.

Because of the popularity of the show (early in the series, shows 41–43), a contest was run for the services of Irma/Marie Wilson to act as a secretary for the highest bidder for one day, with her willing to travel anywhere in America. The money was to go to the March of Dimes charity to fight polio. Three businessmen bid $1,000, but the winner was the Coca Cola Bottling Company of Fort Worth, Texas which bid $5,000.

The TV version, seen on CBS from January 1952 until June 1954, was the first series telecast from the CBS Television City facility in Hollywood.

The film My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson and Diana Lynn, but is mainly remembered today for introducing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to moviegoers, resulting in even more screen time for Martin and Lewis in the sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West (1950).

The My Friend Irma comic strip, illustrated by Jack Seidel, began September 11, 1950, receiving a promotional boost in the November 7, 1950, issue of Look. In 1951, Dan DeCarlo took over the strip with Stan Lee scripting.

Atlas Comics (Marvel) published the My Friend Irma comic book which ran from #3 to #48 (1950–55), and was most often written by Stan Lee with art by Dan DeCarlo. After Atlas stopped publishing My Friend Irma, DeCarlo and Lee created a similar feature for Atlas titled My Girl Pearl.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Casebook of Gregory Hood

The Casebook of Gregory Hood was a radio detective program in the United States. It existed in several versions - with different stars on different networks in different years. Hood was an importer in San Francisco who dealt in rare items. John Dunning summarized the show's premise as follows: "With his sidekick Sanderson ('Sandy') Taylor, Hood traveled the world seeking artifacts for his import house. Each item found by Hood had an intriguing history and was inevitably linked to some present-day mystery." The character of Hood was based on real-life importer Richard Gump, who lived in San Francisco. Gump also was a consultant for the program.

Hood was a character with a multi-faceted personality. One website devoted to old-time radio wrote about him as follows:

Gregory Hood was also an accomplished pianist and composer, a self-taught forensics expert, spoke several languages fluently, was an expert in ancient and modern armament, had a military intelligence background, was a wine expert with an extensive rare wine cellar, and was an acknowledged expert in oriental tapestry. He lived in a penthouse on San Francisco's Nob Hill and employed a Chinese valet, Fong.

On June 3, 1946, The Casebook of Gregory Hood began on the Mutual Broadcasting System, replacing The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the summer. Although intended to be just a summer replacement, it continued in the fall, sponsored by Petri Wine. Jeffrey Marks, in his biography of co-creator Anthony Boucher, explained, "The show had originally been planned as a summer replacement for The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1946, but continued for the next year when the radio network had difficulty in reaching an agreement with the Conan Doyle estate." The program had another full-season run on ABC in 1949-50 and also "resurfaced periodically in summer slots."

The show was written by Boucher and Denis Green, who also teamed to write the Holmes show. Marks provided this background:

Boucher and Green did such a good job for the Holmes show that they were asked about writing an original series for Mutual Radio. Radio shows relied on new episodes. Just as TV airs re-runs during the summer, radio shows gave their actors a summer hiatus of 13 weeks. Networks frequently ran original short-run programming during the summer. Boucher and Green came up with "The Casebook of Gregory Hood" a San Francisco-based antiquities expert who seemed to find current day crimes in the artifacts that he dealt with. The Casebook of Gregory Hood was nearly identical to The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in its opening: same sponsor, same announcement, same narrator frame for storytelling, and the same music. The narrator stopped by to visit Gregory either in his office or home, and the story was told by Hood. Hood's own Watson, Sandy Taylor, accompanied him. Taylor was Hood's lawyer and friend.

Gale Gordon played Gregory Hood in the initial version of the program. Others who had the leading role later were Elliott Lewis, Jackson Beck, Paul McGrath, Martin Gabel and George Petrie. Sidekick Sanderson Taylor was portrayed at various times by Art Gilmore, Carl Harbord, William Bakewell,  Howard McNear and Bill Johnstone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon is the hero of a space opera adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip.

The Flash Gordon comic strip has been translated into a wide variety of media, including motion pictures, television and animated series.

The Buck Rogers comic strip had been very commercially successful, spawning novelizations and children's toys. King Features Syndicate decided to create their own science fiction comic strip to compete with it. At first King Features tried to purchase the rights to the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs; however, the syndicate were unable to reach an agreement with Burroughs.

King Features then turned to Alex Raymond, one of their staff artists, to create the story. Raymond's first samples were dismissed for not containing enough action sequences. Raymond reworked the story and sent it back to the syndicate, who accepted it. Raymond was partnered with ghostwriter Don Moore (1904-1986), an experienced editor and writer. Raymond's first Flash Gordon story appeared in January 1934, alongside Jungle Jim.

The Flash Gordon strip was well received by newspaper readers, becoming one of the most popular
American comic strips of the 1930s. Like Buck Rogers, the success of Flash Gordon resulted in numerous licensed products being sold, including pop-up books, colouring books, and toy spaceships and rayguns.

Starting April 22, 1935, the strip was adapted into The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, a 26-episode weekly radio serial. The series followed the strip very closely, amounting to a week-by-week adaptation of the Sunday strip for most of its run.

Flash Gordon was played by Gale Gordon, later famous for his television roles in Our Miss Brooks, Dennis the Menace, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy (the latter two with Lucille Ball). The cast also included Maurice Franklin as Dr. Zarkov and Bruno Wick as Ming the Merciless.

The radio series broke with the strip continuity in the last two episodes, when Flash, Dale and Zarkov
returned to Earth. They make a crash landing in Africa, where they meet Jungle Jim, the star of another of Alex Raymond's comic strips.

The series ended on October 26, 1935 with Flash and Dale's marriage. The next week, The Adventures of Jungle Jim picked up in that Saturday timeslot.

Two days later, on October 28, The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon debuted as a
daily show, running five days a week. This series strayed further from Raymond's strip, involving Flash, Dale and Zarkov in an adventure in Atlantis. The series aired 74 episodes, ending on February 6, 1936.

For a more in depth look at the adventures of Flash Gordon and his cast of characters in all of their extensive media translations, visit the Flash Gordon Wiki page.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Strange Dr. Weird

The Strange Dr. Weird is a radio program broadcast on Mutual from 1944 to 1945.

Sponsored by Adam Hats, the drama is notable in part because it was a sister series to The Mysterious Traveler, both in theme and its narrator. Maurice Tarplin, who was also the creepy voice of The Mysterious Traveler. Many of the scripts were condensed 15-minute versions of scripts originally broadcast on The Mysterious Traveler.

To the accompaniment of an organ's spooky strains, Tarplin introduced each episode:

"Good evening. Come in, won't you? Why, what's the matter? You seem a bit nervous. Perhaps the cemetery outside this house has upset you. But there are things far worse than cemeteries. For instance..."

The closing line never changed:

"Perhaps you’ll drop in on me again soon. I’m always home. Just look for the house on the other side of the cemetery... the house of Dr Weird!"

The 29 episodes were produced and directed by Jock McGregor and written by Robert A. Arthur, who also scripted for The Mysterious Traveler.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences is an American game show originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards (1940–1957) and later on television by Edwards (1950–1954), Jack Bailey (1954–1955), Bob Barker (1956–1975), Bob Hilton (1977–1978) and Larry Anderson (1987–1988). The television show ran on CBS, NBC and also in syndication. The premise of the show was to mix the original
quiz element of game shows with wacky stunts.

 On the show, contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly (usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly, or a bad joke) before "Beulah the Buzzer" sounded (in the rare occasion that the contestant answered the question correctly before Beulah was heard, the question inevitably had two or even three parts). If the contestant could not complete the "Truth" portion, there would be "Consequences," usually a zany and embarrassing stunt. From the start, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong in order to perform the stunt. Said Edwards, "Most of the American people are darned good sports."

Ralph Edwards stated he got the idea for a new radio program after playing the parlor game Forfeits. The show premiered on NBC radio in March, 1940 and was an instant hit with listeners.

Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on broadcast television, airing as a one-time experiment on the first day of New York station WNBT's commercial program schedule on July 1, 1941. Truth or Consequences did not appear on TV again until 1950, when the medium had caught on commercially.

The program entered the lexicon of pop culture and has been referenced numerous times in other media.

In Action Comics #127 (December 1948), Superman was a contestant on Truth or Consequences.

The town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, was renamed Truth or Consequences after the game show in 1950, when Ralph Edwards announced that he would host the program from the first town so renamed. Edwards himself continued to make appearances at the town's annual fiesta every May until his death.

A 1950 Looney Tunes cartoon titled The Ducksters featured Daffy Duck as the host of a radio game show called Truth or AAAAAHHHH!, with Porky Pig as the contestant.

On George Carlin's 1967 debut album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, the character Congolia Breckinridge appears on a similar show called Truth or Penalties (although at one point Carlin says the original show's name). Because she has too little time to buzz in, when she is invited to pull back the curtain, an empty stage is revealed. The host then announces, "We were going to reunite you with your sister, whom you haven't seen in 27 years, but you blew the question, so we sent your sister back to Maine."

A 1977 SCTV sketch featured the show as a news item on The SCTV Evening News when the host, Bert Parks (Dave Thomas), angry and tired of hosting the show, loses it and throws a bottle of acid in the face of the contestant (Andrea Martin), then pulls out a gun and shoots the studio audience.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Roy Rogers Show

The Roy Rogers Show was a 30-minute Western radio program in the United States. It began in 1944, ended in 1955, and was carried on more than 500 stations.

 Like the television program of the same name, the show centered on Roy Rogers, one of the most popular singing-cowboy movie stars. Initially, the radio show differed in format from The Roy Rogers Show on TV, with the radio version being more oriented toward music. Toward its end, however, it moved more toward the adventure featured in the TV show. Radio historian John Dunning wrote:

"The early shows followed the pattern set by [Gene] Autry's Melody Ranch ... Rogers' show featured Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers in such fine Western favorites as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Cool Water," and "Don't Fence Me In." Much of the show was campfire banter and song, with Roy and songstress Pat Friday doing vocal solos, Perry Botkin leading the Goodyear orchestra and Verne Smith announcing. Dramatic skits were offered, but leaned to lighter material than what the show used in late years. Ultimately, it became primarily a Western thriller show."

The main actors in the program were familiar to fans of Rogers' movies. He was the star, with wife Dale Evans and sidekick Gabby Hayes. Initially, the Sons of the Pioneers were the featured musical group; in 1948, they were replaced by Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage. In the show's later years, Pat Brady replaced Hayes. Hayes was Rogers' "grizzled sidekick from the movies," whereas Brady "was a different sort of sidekick, younger and more useful, although still comical."

Other people heard in the program over the years included Forrest Lewis, The Whippoorwills, and Joseph Kearns. Rogers' horse, Trigger, and dog, Bullet, were also featured regularly in the program.

Episodes of The Roy Rogers television show are available on Hulu.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Candy Matson

Candy Matson was a radio program on NBC West Coast which aired from June 29, 1949, to May 20, 1951. It centered on Candy Matson, a female private investigator with a wry sense of humor and a penthouse on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. The program was notable for having a strong female character "without a trace of squeamishness" as well as a veiled gay character in Candy's best friend Rembrandt Watson, voiced by Jack Thomas. Candy's love interest was police detective Ray Mallard, voiced by Henry Leff. The announcer was Dudley Manlove. Actors frequently heard in minor roles were Helen Kleeb, John Grober, Mary Milford and Hal Burdick.

The series concluded with a twist ending when Ray finally proposed to Candy, who accepted, and with her getting married she retired from the detective business.

It was created by Monty Masters and starred his wife Natalie Parks as Candy Matson. When Monty Masters created the show, he planned to star in it himself, as a male private detective. His mother-in-law convinced him to change the lead to a female, which led to his wife's being the star.

In 1950, Candy Matson was recognized with the San Francisco Examiner's Favorite Program Award. The award was presented as part of the broadcast of the episode "Symphony of Death."

The aftermath of a 1950 episode illustrated the program's popularity. A newspaper story related: "It seems that during the closing moments of the last Monday's sequence, Candy is in an aircraft repeating the 'Twenty-third Psalm' as the plane cashes into a lake. At that point the show ends. And at that point the switchboard at Radio City started lighting up like a Christmas tree. More than 800 calls were received shortly after the program signed off. All of them wondering what happened to their heroine."

Only 14 of the 92 episodes survive, along with the April 1949 audition show, the September 1952 series revival audition show, and an episode written by Jack French for the BearManor book, It's That Time Again! Entitled "The Japanese Sandman," it was turned into as a radio theater by veteran radio theater producer Joe Bevilacqua, who also voiced all the roles including Candy herself, for the Blackstone Audio title The New Stories of Old-Time Radio Volume One.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Adventures of Superman

The Adventures of Superman was a long-running radio serial that originally aired from 1940 to 1951, adapted from the DC Comics character.

The serial came to radio as a syndicated show on New York City's WOR on February 12, 1940. On Mutual, it was broadcast from August 31, 1942, to February 4, 1949, as a 15-minute serial, running
three or, usually, five times a week. From February 7 to June 24, 1949 it ran as a thrice-weekly half-hour show. The series shifted to ABC Saturday evenings on October 29, 1949, and then returned to afternoons, twice-a-week on June 5, 1950, continuing on ABC until March 1, 1951. In all, 2068 original episodes of The Adventures of Superman were aired on American radio.

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the Man of Steel first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938. The following year, the newspaper comic strip began and four audition radio programs were prepared to sell Superman as a radio series. When Superman was first heard on radio less than two years after the comic book appearance, the character took on an added dimension with Bud Collyer in the title role. During World War II and the post-war years, the juvenile adventure radio serial, sponsored by Kellogg's Pep, was a huge success, with many listeners following the quest for "truth
and justice" in the daily radio broadcasts, the comic book stories and the newspaper comic strip. Airing in the late afternoon (variously at 5:15pm, 5:30pm and 5:45pm), the radio serial engaged its young after-school audience with its exciting and distinctive opening, which changed slightly as the series progressed. Most familiar today is the television opening, which copied the radio opening from 1945 onward (save for "and the American Way" line, which was an even later addition) but the most-oft-heard radio opening through the mid-1940s was:

"Presenting the transcription feature, Superman." (followed by Superman's "flying" audio effect)

"Up in the sky! Look! 
It's a bird! 
It's a plane! 
It's Superman!"

"Yes, it's Superman--strange visitor from the planet Krypton who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, race a speeding bullet to its target, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice."

By September 5, 1945, the opening, (repeated at the close), had morphed into:

"Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." 

Look! Up in the sky! 
It's a bird! 
It's a plane! 
It's Superman!"

That well known signature opening, one of the most famous in radio history, was delivered by Jackson Beck, the announcer-narrator for the program from 1943 to 1950. He also had recurring roles, voicing an occasional tough guy and also portraying Beany Martin, the Daily Planet's teenage copy boy. On Superman episodes featuring Batman, he played Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Decades later, Beck portrayed Perry White, Clark Kent's boss, in Filmation's The New Adventures of Superman animated series (1966–70) in addition to serving as the show's narrator.

Just as Superman's true identity remained a secret, the identity of radio actor Bud Collyer also remained a secret from 1940 until 1946, when the character of Superman was used in a promotional campaign for racial and religious tolerance and Collyer did a Time magazine interview about that campaign.

Since there were no reruns at that time, the series often used plot devices and plot twists to allow Collyer to have vacation time. Kryptonite allowed Superman to be incapacitated and incoherent with pain while the secondary characters took the focus instead. At other times, Batman (Stacy Harris) and Robin (Ronald Liss) appeared on the program in Superman's absence.

The scripts by B.P. Freeman and Jack Johnstone were directed by Robert and Jessica Maxwell,
George Lowther, Allen Ducovny and Mitchell Grayson. Sound effects were created by Jack Keane, Al Binnie, Keene Crockett and John Glennon.

Many aspects associated with Superman, such as kryptonite, originated on radio, as did certain characters, including Daily Planet editor Perry White, copy boy Jimmy Olsen and police inspector Bill Henderson. On March 2, 1945, Superman met Batman and Robin for the first time.

Paramount's animated Superman short films used voices by the radio actors, and Columbia's Superman movie serials (1948, 1950) were "adapted from the Superman radio program broadcast on the Mutual Network".

In Australia, Superman was portrayed on radio by Leonard Teale (1922–1994).

My initial introduction to old time radio programs was probably as a child back in 1974 when my parents collected and sent away Kellogg's cereal box-tops for four LP records featuring installments of the Superman radio series. Yes, I still have these albums, they are very dear to me. They are currently framed and mounted on the wall in my home office.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dark Fantasy

Dark Fantasy was an American Radio supernatural thriller anthology series. It had a short run of 31 episodes, debuting on November 14, 1941 and ending on June 19, 1942. Its writer was Scott Bishop, also The Mysterious Traveler. It originated from station WKY in Oklahoma City and was heard Friday nights on NBC stations. The stories found a nationwide audience almost immediately. Tom Paxton served as announcer. The shows covered horror, science fiction and murder mysteries. Although a short series, the shows are excellent with some stories way ahead of their time.

The following is a news promo promoting the show:

Every since Lights Out went out several years ago, fans of the fiendish have been clamoring for more good old goose-pimple horror drama on the air. Now they have it. One of the programs that currently freezes the airwaves with its chilling stories is Dark Fantasy comparatively new to the networks. In the late hours of Friday nights these shivery, shocking stories go out over NBC - right straight from Oklahoma City, which you might not have thought of as headquarters for haunts. Station WKY is the home of the Dark Fantasy plays, and the writer is Scott Bishop, who lives in the midst of mystery and the supernatural, represented by the innurnerable volumes of thriller fiction, fantasy lore and all kinds of horror literature that fill his home andhis office. Bishop has long contributed to network broadcasting and to magazines. He says, "Give the listener enough material to let his imagination go to work, and he'll supply his own goose-pimples." Dark Fantasy has been furnishing plenty of such material since last November. And judging from enthusiastic comment, the horror fans are responding with goose-pimples galore! Tune in every Friday on Station WKY Oklahoma City.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Blondie is a radio situation comedy adapted from the long-run Blondie comic strip by Chic Young. The radio program had a long run on several networks from 1939 to 1950.

After Penny Singleton was cast in the title role of the feature film Blondie (1938), co-starring with Arthur Lake as Dagwood (the first in a series of 28 produced by Columbia Pictures); she and Lake repeated their roles December 20, 1938, on The Pepsodent Show starring Bob Hope. The appearance with Hope led to their own show, beginning July 3, 1939, on CBS as a summer replacement for The Eddie Cantor Show. However, Cantor did not return in the fall, so the sponsor, R.J. Reynolds' Camel Cigarettes chose to keep Blondie on the air Mondays at 7:30pm. Camel remained the sponsor through the early WWII years until June 26, 1944.

In 1944, Blondie was on the NBC Blue Network, sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive's Super Suds, airing Fridays at 7pm from July 21 to September 1. The final three weeks of that run overlapped with Blondie's return to CBS on Sundays at 8pm from August 13, 1944, to September 26, 1948, still sponsored by Super Suds. Beginning in mid-1945, the 30-minute program was heard Mondays at 7:30pm. Super Suds continued as the sponsor when the show moved to NBC on Wednesdays at 8pm from October 6, 1948, to June 29, 1949.

When Penny Singleton left the radio series in the mid-1940s, Patricia Lake, the former Patricia Van Cleeve, replaced her as the voice of Blondie for the remaining five years of the show, opposite her real-life husband Arthur Lake. Ann Rutherford and Alice White were also heard as radio's Blondie. In 1954,  Lake also co-starred with her husband in an early television sitcom he created called Meet the Family.

Others in the cast: Leone Ledoux (Alexander and Cookie Bumstead), Tommy Cook (Alexander as of May 1943), Larry Sims (Alexander as of Summer 1946), Jeffrey Silver (Alexander by 1949), Marlene Aames (Cookie by 1946), Norma Jean Nilsson (Cookie in 1947), Joan Rae (Cookie after 1947), Hanley Stafford (J.C. Dithers), Elvia Allman (Mrs. Dithers), Frank Nelson and Harold Peary (Herb Woodley), Arthur Q. Bryan and Harry Lang (Mr. Fuddle), Dix Davis (Alvin Fuddle), Mary Jane Croft (Harriet), Veola Vonn and Lurene Tuttle (Dimples Wilson). Harry Lubin, Billy Artz and Lou Kosloff supplied the music.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Love a Mystery

I Love a Mystery was a radio drama series about three friends who ran a detective agency and traveled the world in search of adventure. Distinguished by the high octane scripting of Carlton E. Morse, the program was the polar opposite of Morse's other success, the long-running One Man's Family.

The central characters, Jack Packard, Doc Long and Reggie York, met as mercenary soldiers fighting the Japanese in China. Later, they met again in San Francisco, where they decided to form the A-1 Detective Agency. Their motto was "No job too tough, no adventure too baffling." The agency served as a plot device to involve the trio in a wide variety of stories. These straddled the genres of mystery, adventure and supernatural horror, and the plotlines often took them to exotic locales. Over the years, Jack was played by Michael Raffetto, Russell Thorson, Jay Novello, Jim Bannon and John McIntire. Doc was played by Barton Yarborough and Jim Boles. Reggie was portrayed by Walter Paterson and Tony Randall. The agency's secretary, Jerry Booker, was played by Gloria Blondell. After Paterson committed suicide in 1942, his friend Morse could not bear to recast the role and Reggie was written out of the series. In later shows, Jerry's role was increased, and she replaced Reggie.

Sponsored by Fleischmann's Yeast, I Love a Mystery first aired on the NBC West Coast network from January 16 to September 29, 1939, weekdays at 3:15pm Pacific time, and then moved to the full NBC network from October 2, 1939 to March 29, 1940, airing weeknights at 7:15pm. In 1940, it expanded to 30-minute episodes from April 4 to June 27 on NBC Thursdays at 8:30pm. Continuing on the Blue Network from September 30, 1940 to June 29, 1942, it was heard Mondays and Wednesdays at 8pm. Procter & Gamble (for Oxydol and Ivory Soap) replaced Fleishmann's Yeast as the sponsor in the series broadcast by CBS from March 22, 1943 to December 29, 1944 with 15-minute episodes heard weeknights at 7pm. A TV movie with David Hartmann was broadcast in the mid-1970s.
Despite the popularity of the program, few series have survived in a listenable state. The few that have survived in a complete form are "The Thing That Cries in the Night" and "Bury Your Dead, Arizona". Other surviving series are "The Million Dollar Curse", "The Temple of Vampires", "Battle of the Century" and "The Hermit of San Felipe Atabapo"; however, several episodes of these serials are missing, leaving plot holes.

Martin Grams' I Love a Mystery Companion
The Unofficial I Love a Mystery Homepage

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger was an NBC radio series, a foreign intrigue adventure adapted from the book Cloak and Dagger by Corey Ford.

 A syndicated transcription package produced by the Louis G. Cowan agency, Cloak and Dagger was broadcast from May 7 to October 22, 1950, with a cast that included Raymond Edward Johnson, Everett Sloane and Jackson Beck. Scriptwriter Wyllis Cooper directed the series with research support provided by Percy Hoskins, British journalist, crime reporter and author.

Stories on Cloak and Dagger "came right out of Washington files" of the Office of Strategic Services. A 1950 newspaper article commented, "The stories dramatized each week are true, and yet as fantastic as any fiction writer might be able to dream up."

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was a wartime intelligence agency, and a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS was formed to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the United States Armed Forces branches. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Birthday Jack Benny!

Born 122 years ago today, we honor and remember the legendary comedian, Jack Benny!

JACK BENNY (Feb 14, 1894 – Dec 26, 1974)

Jack Benny, born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor.

Widely recognized as one of the leading American entertainers of the 20th century, Benny played the role of the comic penny-pinching miser, insisting on remaining 39 years old on stage despite his actual age, and often (although an accomplished violinist) playing the violin - poorly!

Benny was known for his comic timing and ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature wave of the hand with an exasperated "Well!"

His radio & television programs, tremendously popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, were a foundational influence on the situation comedy genre. Dean Martin, on the celebrity roast for Johnny Carson in November 1973, introduced Benny as "the Satchel Paige of the world of comedy."

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny was so successful in selling Jell-O, in fact, that General Foods could not manufacture it fast enough when sugar shortages arose in the early years of World War II, and the company had to stop advertising the popular dessert mix. via

Happy Birthday Jack!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mystery Playhouse

Mystery Playhouse was an American radio drama hosted by Peter Lorre which aired on the American Forces Network from July 1944–June 1946.

The series aired during World War II specifically for the purposes of entertaining the troops serving during the war.

Mystery Playhouse was created by the American Forces Network in 1944 for the entertainment of the troops during World War II.

Every week, the series aired rebroadcast of episodes of many popular radio shows of the time. Some include rebroadcast of The Whistler, Mr. and Mrs. North, Inner Sanctum Mystery, and Nero Wolfe.

Peter Lorre's way of introducing each episode was noted as "...part plot summary, and part philosophical about the human condition".

These are two typical intros that a viewer could find when watching the series;

Host: "Two pairs of footsteps echoed down the alley. He stopped. Waited. Waited for Jack the Ripper to Strike! But this is not London in 1888. No, this is Chicago in 1945! Yet, Jack the Ripper is loose again to knife, to butcher his victims... without a trace!"

Host: "Hello... Creeps. This is Peter Lorre opening the doors to the Mystery Playhouse. If you recall, some 50 years ago, London was terrorized by a one man crime wave. A murderer, who was never captured and never seen. And tonight, we follow the investigations of Sir Guy Holless, who firmly believes that Jack the Ripper is still alive. That it is he that is the fiend, that once again slashes and kills! There is an element of the supernatural in this story, that will amaze you. For it seems that the spirit world has given the black heart of Jack the Ripper, the power of everlasting life!"