Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 32 – Nick Carter, Master Detective

Lon ClarkFrom out of the pulps comes Nick Carter, Master Detective! This week “another case for that most famous of all man hunters – the detective whose ability at solving crime is unequal in the history of detective fiction – Nick Carter, Master Detective.”

The character of Nick Carter goes back to 19th century detective stories as one of the staples of early Street & Smith publishing. Nick Carter may be the most published character in American fiction. By the time radio got a hold of him, the character had evolved into a private investigator. Starring Lon Clark (right) for the whole series.

I’ll look a little at the history of this pulp character and the strange ride he took over the last 100 years! This week’s episode: “The Echo of Death. “

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 31 – Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons

Mr. KeeneThis week a look at one of the longest running detective series on radio. Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was in some ways not much more than a light drama produced by the soap drama factory of Frank and Anne Hummert. Yet, it had its share of crime and death. It was also extremely popular in its day and often remembered by many youngsters who listened to radio at the time.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 30 – Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

Edmund O'BrienThis week I am returning to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. It was a different series during the Edmond O’Brien (right) years – a radio noir! I’ll look at O’Brien’s role in the series.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 29 – Jeff Regan, Investigator

Jack Webb as Jeff ReganJeff Regan, Investigator saw its birth in July 1948 on CBS. The aural gimmick in the opening was that Regan worked for an international investigation firm run by Anthony J. Lyon. The series proclaimed him “The Lion’s Eye.” The owner, Anthony J. Lyon, played by Wilms Herbert with a voice sounding like a rather large man, would send his prime investigator into environments reminiscent of a film noir. Webb portrayed his character in a very hardboiled fashion who often found himself getting beat up or captured before he would ultimately bring the crimes to a conclusion.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 28 – Boston Blackie

Richard KolmerThe original characters were created by Jack Boyle, who first published a short story in “The American Magazine” in 1914 called “The Price of Principle.” Boyle went on to write several more Blackie stories that were collected into a book of short stories in 1919. The character as created by Boyle was a bit more hardened than the radio version.

Chester Morris whose fame grew from the B film versions that most people are familiar with, agreed to star as Blackie on radio. The radio version began as a summer replacement for Amos n Andy on NBC in June 1944. It too was sponsored by Rinso Soap. When the series ended in the fall it did not return.

However, in 1945, the Frederick Ziv company put up money for the series to be made. None of the original characters returned but instead Richard Kolmer, who some might know as the husband of columnist Dorothy Kilgallen stepped into the role.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 27 – Casebook of Gregory Hood

Gale Gordon as Gregory HoodPetri Wines, which at the time sponsored the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes over the Mutual Network, wanted a similar program to replace the show in the summer of 1946. The current writers of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, Denis Green and Anthony Boucher, were asked to come up with another detective drama which would fit into the framework created for their Holmes series.

Gregory Hood, starring Gale Gordon, was a globe-trotting importer of antiquities, which gave him the urbane characterization and also provided a hook into the crimes he solved. During his working with antiquities, he often was pulled into the criminal aspect of the item he worked with. He was also often assisted by his attorney, Sanderon “Sandy” Taylor – a rather odd combination of crime solvers.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 26 – The Falcon

Michael ArlenWhen fiction writer Michael Arlen began writing it was the time of the “Roaring Twenties” and “the Jazz Age.” In 1940, he wrote a short story for Town and Country Magazine called “Gay Falcon” about a freelance adventurer and troubleshooter whose fullname was Gay Stanhope Falcon.

The story was immediately purchased by RKO for a film starring George Sanders as the Falcon released in 1941 as “The Gay Falcon.” The biggest differences from the original story was the de-emphasis of the hard boiled detective and the name became Gay Lawrence. Why he was called “The Falcon” in the films never fully became clear except perhaps for his keen ability to find trouble and kill it.

radio saw a successful franchise as a possible dramatic vehicle for its medium. In 1943 “The Falcon” radio series premiered over NBC Blue starring Barry Kroeger as The Falcon under yet another name – Michael Waring. He later was replaced by James Meighan, Les Tremayne, George Petrie and finally Les Damon.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 25 – Defense Attorney

Mercedes McCambridgeThis week’s podcast will present a character from radio whose primary job was not an investigator, but rather an attorney who helped put criminals away. But radio audiences were already listening to Perry Mason. Yet even in that series, the element of investigation was paramount. This week I will present a woman, Martha Ellis Bryant, who was by vocation an attorney, but by reluctant circumstance, an investigator solving crimes.

The series as heard over ABC did not have its genesis there. It actually began on the NBC radio network under the title of “The Defense Rests.” The star of the both series was Mercedes McCambridge who had a very distinctive voice in radio.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 24 – True Detective Mysteries

True Detective MagazineBesides all the fictional private eye radio serials over the years, there were also dramatic series devoted to the real thing. Series such as Gang Busters and Dragnet focused on the lives of the cop. In 1929, there was a radio series that began over CBS that was based on one of the bigger pulp magazines of the day – True Detective Magazine.

The 1929 radio series was sponsored by the magazine and ran as a 30 minute once-a-week serial about real life crimes and the men who solved them. There followed several more runs of the series at different times either sponsored by True Detective Magazine or Listerine and O’Henry candy bar. The story I’ll be playing this week comes from a syndicated version of the radio drama transcribed by a company called TransAmerican for Radio Program Associates. These recordings though from the late thirties, are in excellent condition.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 23 – Philo Vance

Jackson Beck as Philo VanceBroke and without work, former art critic and journalist S.S. Van Dine burst onto the fictional detective scene with the publication “The Benson Murder Case” which featured wealthy connoisseur and man about town Philo Vance who was called in to solve the crime. The book, part one of a trilogy, was an instant hit.

Not to be left out radio soon began to cash in on the Philo Vance popularity. The first series on radio appeared around 1943 starring John Emery as Vance. In 1948, syndication king Frederic Ziv began producing a new series starting in July. This final series starred one of radio’s great voices – Jackson Beck.

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