Sunday, September 18, 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.

Friday, September 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

Thursday, September 1, 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.