Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 135 – Women as Detectives

Detective fiction is full of examples of the woman-as-detective theme throughout its history. While the majority of the fictional detectives were men, there are flattering examples in which female sleuths regularly sought out clues and ultimately solved crimes.

In radio, on the other hand, female detectives were usually somewhat vacuous or treated with little respect. Radio did have its share of female sleuths, though many were either regional broadcasts or never really succeeded.

A look at one specific example of a woman in a detective role unintentionally as based on a Cornell Woolrich (right) story, “The Book That Squealed.”

Music under is Andre Previn/Joe Pass/Ray Brown: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 134 – Suspense

Warren WilliamThis week’s story looks at the fictional character created by Louis Joseph Vance – The Lone Wolf. In 1914, Vance wrote his first Lone Wolf mystery novel. His leading character was known as Michael Lanyard, but this apparently wasn’t his original name. In the first novel, published in 1914, a young boy is brought to stay with a family who give him the name Marcel Troyon.

In 1943, William Spier brought the first version of Michael Lanyard to radio over the mystery series Suspense in the radio play: Murder Goes For a Swim. The story was written specifically for the radio series though based loosely on the character more as he appeared in the many Lone Wolf films from the beginning of the 1940’s.

Music under is Grover’s Tune by Excellent Adventure.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar Premiers

On February 18th, 1949 – fifty years ago – one of the best loved radio detective series premiered over NBC starring Charles Russell as Johnny Dollar.  Russell only lasted a year and the series took a different tone with the next Dollar actor – Edmund O’Brien. That was a much darker tone with the sullen O’Brien seeming to find himself involved with murder more often. After O’Brien left to a growing film career, another future film actor, John Lund, stepped into the role.

It was Lund’s successor who really expanded the popularity when radio actor Bob Bailey became Johnny Dollar fresh from his role as George Valentine in Let George Do It.  Bailey stayed with the series until the early sixties when the series left Hollywood and moved back to New York.

You can hear more about the Johnny Dollar series in a podcast I did in Episode #68.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 133 – Night Beat

Frank LovejoyNight Beat was one of those radio series that came over the networks in the early fifties just as the medium was beginning to toll its death knell for dramatic network drama. Yet the quality of many of the shows from this period were some of the best produced by radio. This journalist as detective serial starring Frank Lovejoy, whose somewhat gravely, reedy voice was perfect as Randy Stone, ran for several years and evoked noirish themes as he traveled the big city of Chicago in search of stories of the lost souls who survived living in the dark. Well written, well acted, the series still retains its attractiveness as reporter Stone found himself embroiled in the lives of these lost souls and often crossed beyond the role of reporter into that of detective as he helped resolve the events which he encountered.

Music under is “Midnight in Chicago” by jjo.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 132 – Confession

Radio Detective Story HourConfession which premiered over the NBC radio network on July 5th, 1953 on Sunday evenings began with the announcer intoning “The Confession you are about to hear is an actual recording…” The whole concept was to create what appeared to be a real criminal reading their own confession. The confessions were true stories of crime and punishment made by the person about whom the week’s episode was focused. Everything was revealed in a reverse order from the normal story beginning with the confession and moving back in time to the crime.

It was certainly an intriguing idea…

Music under is “What Am I Here For?” performed by Andre Previn, Joe Pass & Ray Brown.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 131 – Philip Marlowe

Van HeflinA somewhat lengthy examination of the hard-boiled detective in radio and other media. I look at Carroll John Daly’s Race Williams, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op/Sam Spade, and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in the evolution of what a hard-boiled detective is.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 130 – The Big Guy

Henry CalvinThis week a rather obscure radio detective series from the very early fifties called The Big Guy. The series starred Henry Calvin (right) who is best known as Sgt. Garcia from television’s Zorro. While the opening of the episode makes the show sound light, the subject matter is very radio detective and for the most part enjoyable.

Music under is called “Grace” by the Shapiro Project.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 129 – Riabouchinska

Ray Bradbury“Riabouchinska” is an unusual tale from the pen of Ray Bradbury. Not a name normally associated with the detective genre. However, this tale published in 1953 in The Saint Detective Magazine was first heard in 1947 on the radio program Suspense when the script was created from the original Bradbury story outline. The author had not even actually written the story yet! That would come six years later. Even though Ray Bradbury is one of America’s best fantasy and science fiction writers, this tale with its theme of the ventriloquist haunted by his own dummy’s personality involved murder and a detective who wanted to get to the bottom of the reasons behind the killing. From radio then to print and finally to television, first on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and later re-written by the author himself for his Ray Bradbury Theatre, the theme is one later played out in the Hollywood film Magic starring Anthony Hopkins in an early role.

You can view the Hitchcock version at

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 128 – Dime A Dance

Cornell WoolrichAnother visit with Cornell Woolrich, considered the father of noir fiction. I’ll look at one of his short novellas, Dime A Dance, published in 1938 and its adaptation on radio’s Suspense on January 13, 1944 starring Lucille Ball. The adaptation works for the most part and has the twists and turns of a good noirish suspense story.

Music under is Sonny Rollin’s rendition of “Poor Butterfly.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 127 – The White Rose Murders

Cornell WoolrichThis week, I begin looking at the noirish radio dramas based on the stories of Cornell Woolrich. First off is The White Rose Murders from the radio series Suspense. It is based on a story by Woolrich called The Death Rose and is one of the best examples of a taut noir radio drama.

Music under is first: Blind Spot by 3rd Man followed by Soothe Me by Shea Breaux Wells.

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