Month: September 2012

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #85-#81

Previous Posts: 86-9091-9596-100

85) Himan Brown

Himan Brown was a legendary radio producer/director who left his creative fingerprints on such programs as Flash Gordon, Inner Sanctum, the Thin Man, and Barrie Craig: Confidential Investigator. During the 1970s, he participated in the radio revival efforts that brought the General Mills Adventure Theater and CBS Mystery Theater to the air. Brown was a passionate believer in radio declaring in a 2003 interview quoted by the New York Times in his obituary, “I don’t need 200 orchestra players doing the ‘Ride of the Valkyries.’ I don’t need car chases. I don’t need mayhem. All I need to do is creak the door open, and visually your head begins to go. The magic word is imagination.” And Brown made magic happen.

William Gargan84) William Gargan

Before he became an actor, William Gargan had been a detective. This served him well in the movies where he was frequently cast as a detective. This carried to radio where Gargan was tasked several times with detective roles. First was of the detective game show, Murder Will Out. Then as Ross Dolan in I Deal in Crime. He played the title role in Martin Kane for both radio and television, and then landed the role of Barrie Craig. When Gargan took the role of Craig, detective shows were coming and going, most never lasting more than a season with the ascendancy of television. Gargan stayed on the air for four years as radio began its decline. In addition to his detective roles, Gargan became a regular in the early 1940s on Maxwell House’s Good News program and served as an announcer on the Bing Crosby program.

83) Damon Runyan

Runyan’s writing was more than the basis for a syndicated radio series called the Damon Runyan Theater or the basis for several movies that were adapted to the radio, or the author of unrelated short stories that became a basis for radio, Damon Runyan painted a picture of New York and its underworld that was striking yet slightly whimsical. It influenced countless writers dealing with the same subject. There are dozens of radio plays that even if Runyan’s name wasn’t on the script, his work influenced it.

82) Mandel Kramer

Perhaps best known as the last Johnny Dollar, Kramer was far more. He was a radio actor’s actor. His earliest recorded role was a 1940 appearance on Columbia Workshop. He became a regular cast member on Counterspy. He appeared in guest roles on programs like Gangbusters, Cavalcade of America, 21st Precinct, Rocky Fortune, X Minus One, and Suspense. It was only in the mid-1950s that he got some starring roles. He became the last Pat Abbott on the Adventures of the Abbotts and then parlayed that in to a starring role in the strikingly similar, It’s a Crime, Mr. Collins.  It was 1961 when became the last Johnny Dollar while at the start of his 20 year career on Edge of Night as Bill Marceau ( a role that would net him an Emmy nomination.) Kramer also took part in radio revival attempts as a regular on CBS Mystery Theater.

Lucille Ball81) Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was not as important to nor as successful in radio as she was in early Television. However, given the staying power of I Love Lucy, that’s not surprising. Her radio days showed her cutting her teeth. She had a solid run on My Favorite Husband for three years opposite Richard Denning and many of these scripts were reused on I Love Lucy. She also played off some of radio’s best funnymen such as Abbott and Costello and Bob Hope. Also, radio allowed her to show far more of her dramatic acting ability than she would express in later years. Of particular interest are her exciting appearances on the classic radio classic anthology, Suspense.

If you enjoyed this post, you can have new posts about Detective stories and the golden age of radio and television delivered automatically to your Kindle.

Video Theater 032:And Then There Were None

Ten people arrive at an island and are picked off one by one by a murderer exacting a perverse form of justice and the murderer is one of them.

Released: October 31, 1945


You Ought to Be on DVD: I Heard It On Radio

Previous in this series: Vintage Detective Movie Serials

This post is going to be dedicated to four movies I’d love to see on DVD but were not part of a mystery series. All of them ultimately are inspired by what I’ve heard on radio. One features one my favorite radio stars. The other four were adapted for the Lux Radio Theatre, the Screen Guild Theatre, or the Screen Director’s Playhouse, leaving me curious to see the films on which the radio plays were based.

Mr. and Mrs. North (1942): This film starred William Post as Gerald North and Gracie Allen (yes that Gracie Allen) as Pam North. I’m a fan of both Gracie Allen and the North’s so this is a natural film for me to want to see released on DVD. Currently rated 6.6 on IMDB by those who have been lucky enough to see it.
The Mask of Dimitros (1944)-I have more to go on than an inkling that I like the stars, though with Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet, that alone should demand a DVD release. However, the movie was adapted to radio as a Screen Guild Theater episode. The half hour adaptation only wets my appetite to see the full film. From what we can hear on the radio, it’s a suspenseful story. It also gives Lorre a rare chance to play a role that’s neither a heavy or Mr. Moto. Rated 7.2 on IMDB.

Chicago Deadline (1949)- Alan Ladd stars as a reporter who finds a beautiful young woman (Donna Reed) dead of untreated TB. Ladd seeks to find out how she came to that end and begins an investigation with the help of her little black book. I heard this was on the Screen Director’s Playhouse, and it was very engaging story with a reminder of the importance of every life. Rated 6.6 on IMDB.

To The Ends of the Earth (1948)- Dick Powell stars as Commissioner Michael Barrows who witnessed the murder of 100 Chinese slaves to cover up a drug trafficking operation. Barrows set out to get justice and break the narcotics racket. This was fascinating story that had to struggle against the Hayes code as it dealt with narcotics in any way. However, the overall thrust of the radio episode was that narcotics were the tools not just of money hungry criminals, but of extremists who wanted to fund their causes while underming America’s moral and mental strength. IMDB Rating: 7.2

If you enjoyed this post, you can have new posts about Detective stories and the golden age of radio and television delivered automatically to your Kindle.

EP0755: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Milk and Honey Matter

John Lund
Johnny goes to Lebanon to investigate the sinking of a boat.

Original Air Date: December 15, 1953

Save more and combine hotel and airline fare at

Become one of our friends on Facebook…

Take the listener survey at

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe to this podcast on Zune, click here to subscribe to this feed using any other feed reader

EP0754: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Sherlock Holmes helps a young woman who fears strange goings on at her home and the odd behavior of her stepfather.

Original Air Date: December 19,1948

Take our listener survey:

Become one of our friends on Facebook…

Call 208-991-4783 to leave a voicemail.

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe to this podcast on Zune, click here to subscribe to this feed using any other feed reader.