The legendary feats of this 20th century Robin Hood are tales of high adventure and stark mystery.
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In his ceaseless struggle against the forces of evil and corruption, The Batman has enlisted the aid of no one! Thrilling stuff, and very true to the way Batman was depicted in the comics of the era.
Producers moved away from attempts to bring Batman to the air in his own series, but saw an opportunity to pair him up with one of his fellow heroes. In the early s, Superman and Batman shared comic book covers, but they did not appear in the same stories. Years before they would ever share an adventure in a comic panel or newspaper strip, the heroes would meet and team up on radio. Over the years on The Adventures of Superman , Batman and Robin would appear, sometimes to join Superman in adventures and other times to give the busy Collyer a chance for a vacation.
For most of the appearances on Superman , Batman was played by actor Matt Crowley, a veteran of juvenile adventure shows. Robin was played by actor Ronald Liss. A second attempt was made to bring Batman to radio in , with Ronald Liss again donning the mask and cape of the Boy Wonder. The plot, which involved an old estate with a possibly haunted room, would be more suitable for Sherlock Holmes and Dr.
Watson ironically, Alfred Shirley, himself fresh off a radio run as Watson , appeared in a supporting role! Unfortunately or fortunately? Just four years after the end of the Golden Age of Radio, Batman would explode in popularity thanks to television. He may have missed his shot at radio stardom, but the pop culture phenomenon that was the Adam West TV series catapulted him into stardom that has never really gone away, and even managed to eclipse the hero who graciously shared the microphone with him in the s.
Thanks to the expert direction, the sharp writing, and an impressive lead performance, Broadway is My Beat broke the mold of a police drama and holds up today as one of the best shows from the era. Admittedly, it got off to an inauspicious start. The series premiered as a competently made police drama with a capable lead performance from Anthony Ross as Danny Clover. It attracted little attention from the public and the series left the air after four months. Originating from New York for the first go-round, CBS moved production across the country to Los Angeles and engaged a new production team to retool the series.
The reins were turned over to Elliot Lewis, who was about to break out as one of the great radio talents of the era. He wanted to make the city of New York as much a character on the show as the cops and the criminals. Fortunately, the right man got the job. Larry Thor was a CBS announcer he could be heard introducing Rocky Jordan and other programs who started acting along with his announcing chores.
He brought a dignity and determination to the work of a policeman, and he delivered the lyrical dialogue of the scripts effortlessly. The things that set Broadway is My Beat apart from the crowd also made it hard to sell to a sponsor. Plucky cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and blustery newspaper editor Perry White were both original creations for the radio series.
The show was a ratings success practically from the start when it premiered on February 12, The series aired in syndication until March 9, Six months later, it returned over the entire Mutual Network in a five-day-a-week series. Directed by George Lowther and later Allen Ducovny, Superman exploded during the World War II era, as Kryptonite was thrown into the mix in and Superman and his friends fought Nazis as often as they fought domestic villains. On the air, Superman fought racial intolerance and bigotry, and today the series is as fondly remembered for its social consciousness as much as for its thrilling adventures.
And while he won the job by creating two distinct voices for Superman and his secret identity of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he initially turned down the role. Later, in the years following the Golden Age of Radio, Collyer would find fame as a game show host on television, anchoring shows like Quick as a Flash and To Tell the Truth. Collyer was backed up by a great cast in the Superman family. Joan Alexander set the template for Lois Lane - smart, spunky, and willing to jump into the fray as no damsel in distress.
Today,the radio adventures of Superman still pack a ton of excitement into every fifteen or thirty minute episode. What made the show work?
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The format of the show is a great hook - Dollar narrates the story as he itemizes his expense account for his employers. As the case progresses, another expense is rattled off. But in his first several years on the air, Johnny Dollar was a good - but not great - radio detective. There was little about the show to distinguish it from the sea of detective shows cluttering the airwaves. Dick Powell was actually the first to play Johnny Dollar in a audition program. The show actually left the airwaves in , and Johnny Dollar might have ended up as a radio footnote had it not been for a revamped series that returned to the air in Under the direction of Jack Johnstone, Johnny Dollar was reinvented as a five-night-a-week 15 minute serial.
Johnstone was a veteran radio writer and director who previously brought Buck Rogers and Superman to radio.
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Just before he took the helm of Johnny Dollar, he served as producer and director for the outstanding NBC western series The Six Shooter , which brought Jimmy Stewart to weekly radio as its star. Johnstone served as producer and director of the new series, and he frequently provided scripts. With 75 minutes instead of 30 for stories every week, Johnstone and his fellow writers could deliver complex plots with plenty of twists and turns and nuanced characters with more depth than the usual supporting players in a weekly detective show.
But talent behind the scenes is only part of the story. And it was an actor who was no stranger to solving crimes on the airwaves. He sank his teeth into the king-size scripts, and his performance fleshed out the character in a way that the previous actors had never quite managed to nail down. His Johnny Dollar would more often than not get too involved in his cases, and he might fall too hard for a female suspect. He loved to fish, and his clients might exploit that to persuade him to take a dangerous job in a far-off locale where he could be promised a good catch.
He was unpredictable, funny, and dangerous. In the early years, Johnny Dollar was just a radio detective. The series continued in the serial format until when it returned to 30 minutes once a week. The show continued for another two seasons; Jack Johnstone continued to provide scripts but was replaced as director. Bob Readick and Mandel Kramer starred as Dollar until he turned in his last expense account on the final night of network radio on September 30, Bailey starred as Johnny Dollar from until , including a tremendous run of five-part nightly stories from to Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy, an intrepid newspaperman working at the Chicago Star.
Every night, Randy explored the darkened streets of the Windy City in search of stories for his column.
Randy Stone was looking for the good and the bad of human nature - anything that would make for a good yarn to follow his byline. Along the way, he usually found trouble among the desperate and the dangerous residents of the city at night. In each episode of the show, columnist Randy Stone went to work when the sun went down and set off through the city streets in search of stories about people that had fallen through the cracks. But he walked the streets of Chicago after dark and as a sucker for a hard luck story, he frequently found himself in conflict with the mob, gamblers and thieves, con men, and killers.
He could be taken in by a sob story or come around to discover a perceived villain had been wronged as badly as the victim. It was the kind of persistence that was finely honed from walking the streets and wearing out who knows how many pairs of shoes. Night Beat got a second bite at the apple almost a year later.
Where Mitchell was tough, Stone was compassionate. And delivering that winning performance for over episodes was Frank Lovejoy. He was the first actor to play the Blue Beetle on radio, and he was frequently heard as a supporting player on Sam Spade , Box 13 , and Adventures of Superman ; he also took more than a few starring turns on Suspense. It helped that he was given wonderful words to say and characters to say them to with scripts by Larry Marcus, Russell Hughes main writer for Box 13 , and others.
Though not strictly a detective program, Night Beat often featured stories of crime and killers, of cops and robbers. Night Beat was a bright spot in the Golden Age of Radio as it gradually gave way to the rise of television. When the sun goes down in the Windy City, Randy Stone goes to work. What he finds in the darkness will give him material for his column As a reporter for the London Times, he writes his colorful and unusual stories. But as a man with a gun, he lives and becomes a part of the violent years in the new territories.
Western heroes were in no short supply during the Golden Age of Radio.
Down These Mean Streets (Old Time Radio Detectives) – Mean Streets Podcasts
There were lawmen like Matt Dillon, keeping the peace and fighting to bring law and order to the frontier. There were hired guns like Paladin and roaming cowboys like Britt Ponsett who made every effort not to draw his gun. And of course, there was the granddaddy of all western heroes - the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains known as The Lone Ranger.
This standout drama made premiered on CBS on February 2, For a single radio season just over 40 episodes Frontier Gentleman followed Kendall on his journeys through the new territories of the United States. Moving from town to town, Kendall traded notes with fellow reporters, rode along with the cavalry, rubbed elbows with rogues, and shared his experiences - good and bad - with his readers back home. He fell for a beautiful Confederate spy, and he served as impromptu defense counsel and surgeon. The show was created, written, and directed by Antony Ellis - a native of England who worked extensively in American radio as an actor and behind the scenes talent.
And the titular gentleman was played by John Dehner, a Disney animator who became a voice and later TV and film actor. An unlikely choice to play a Brit, Dehner was born in Staten Island, but he brought a mature, refined quality and an underplayed accent to Kendall. The show was fantastic, ranking near the top of the list of great radio westerns.
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Brian Donlevy stars as the international man of mystery in two tales of radio espionage and adventure. In a special bonus episode, we tip our hat to the late Herb Ellis. Based on a novel by James M. Cain, with screenplay co-written by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder behind the camera, Double Indemnity is a film noir classic - one of the best ever produced and it doesn't lose any of its power when adapted for radio.
Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck recreate their screen roles as an insurance salesman and an unhappy wife who plot to make the most of her husband's new accidental death policy. When the bells all ring and the horns all blow, you can ring in with a bonus episode of Down These Mean Streets! To celebrate what would have been his th birthday, we'll hear Jeff Chandler in two old time radio mysteries as "that reckless red-headed Irishman" - two-fisted private eye Michael Shayne.