The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

13Nov/122

EP0797: Call the Police: The Porter Case

Joseph Julian

New Police Commissioner Bill Grant investigates the murder of a blackmailer where a husband and his wife confess.

Original Air Date: June 3, 1947

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12Nov/120

EP0796: Frank Race: The Adventure of the Fat Man’s Loot

Tom Collins
Frank Race searches for a Nazi collaborator who stole millions.

Original Air Date: June 25, 1949

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11Nov/120

Radio’s Most Essential People: #51-#49

Previous: 54-52, 57-55, 60-58, 65-61, 70-6671-75, 76-80, 81-85, 86-90, 91-95, 96-100

51) Jeanette Nolan

Jeanette Nolan was a remarkable character actress over radio. Her friend True Boardman said Nolan was a remarkable actress who could play any female role from the Queen, to a widow, to a seductress. Her first major role was on Tarzan in the 1930s Nolan was best known for her old lady roles. Ironically enough, Nolan was in her 20s and 30s while playing most of these dowager roles. She helped to hold some of radio's great shows together. Producer Norm Macdonnell used her as part of a stock company that appeared often on Gunsmoke, Fort Laramie,and the Adventures of Philip Marlowe. She also made frequent appearances on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Suspense, and the Cavalcade of America.

Howard Duff50) Howard Duff

Prior to 1946, Duff's most memorable radio work may have been as an announcer for the Armed Forces Radio Service. To millions of American soldiers, he was Sergeant X, who hosted the AFRS Mystery Playhouse featuring some of the most notable detectives on radio. Little did Duff know he'd become one of the most famous radio detectives after the war. Duff remains radio's definitive Sam Spade. During his four years on the program, the show was a radio hit and his sardonic, wise-cracking portrayal of Spade  remains one of radio's most iconic performances. His status as Spade led to an appearance on the Burns and Allen show in which he played himself, but Gracie believed him to be Sam Spade, and hilarity ensued. In addition, a program featuring a fan of the program was launched and entitled Sara's Private Capers. A combination of high cost, unjustified accusations of Communist activity against Duff, and justified accusations of Communist activists against Dashiell Hammett led to the end of Duff's run.  Duff struggled to find radio work after this. He was given a pilot for another detective show called The McCoy that went nowhere. Still, Duff's role as Spade endures as does his othe radio work.

49) Eve Arden-Eve Arden was not the first choice to play  the title role in Our Miss Brooks. The first attempt at the series featured Shirley Booth in the title role.  Luckily the role went to Arden, whose main claim to fame over radio had been a season spent co-starring on the Danny Kaye Show, though Arden had enjoyed a successful film career. However in Connie Brooks, a wise-cracking, occasionally clumsy, but very competent and beloved English teacher, Brooks found a defining character.  When Our Miss Brooks hit the air in 1948, it was the beginning of a radio megahit. To be certain, Arden wasn't the only contributor. It's hard to imagine the show succeeding without Gale Gordon as Osgood Conklin and other parts including  Dick Crenna as Walter Denton and Jane Morgan as Mrs. Davis. However, Arden was the key. She made Miss Brooks likable. She was assertive without being pushy. She was wise-cracking without being mean. Arden had plenty of help but she was the key to the whole enterprise.

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10Nov/120

You Ought to be on DVD: Mark VII Limited

Previous: Unreleased TV Detectives, The Ziv Properties, Vintage Detective Movie Serials, I Heard it on Radio, Nero Wolfe, and Mark VII Limited Productions.

I'm a little hesitant to write this piece. Most of the other programs and movies I've listed we know are in existence, if for no other reason than the existence of black and grey market versions.

However, most of Webb's productions we'll discuss here, it's really an open question as to whether many of them are in existence. There have been many rumors about the disposition of Webb's intellectual property: of mismanagement of the studio or by Webb's widow. So how much of this is in existence remains an open question.

However, Much of the wonderful Mark VII productions made by Webb are not readily available. The biggest example of this in the 1950s run of Dragnet. From one source or another, around 63 episodes of Dragnet are available on DVDs or online out of 277 episodes. And these shows are pretty much available without much rhyme or reason and of varying quality. Dragnet deserves an official release and really that's the only way that many of the episodes will be seen. While most of TV Dragnet is in the public Domain, most of Season 4, all of Seasons 5 and 6, and a few episodes from Season 8 are under copyright.

Webb's productions include a wide variety of interesting topics. There was the TV series Pete Kelly's Blues based on the radio series and movie of the same name that ran in 1959 and starred William Reynolds. There were also a wide variety of series that like Dragnet took a look at how people did amazing jobs. Some of these included Mobile One (Electronic News Gathering), The D.A.'s Man (an Investigator work for the District Attorney), the D.A., O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, and Sierra (park rangers), Project UFO (Project Blue Book). In addition, there were more anthology programs such as Escape which featured people stuck in life threatening situations, In addition, there were a couple other cop shows called Sam (featuring a canine partner) and Chase.

What we have of Jack Webb's work shows him to be very talented at bringing the real world to us and much of these portrayals still resonate nearly three decades after his death, so future generations should be able to enjoy them on DVD if they are available.

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9Nov/120

EP0795: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Road Test Matter

John Lund

Johnny investigates a series of sabotaged test on a new car design.

Original Air Date: March 2, 1954

 

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8Nov/120

EP0794:Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Hangman and the Book

Sherlock Holmes investigates the death of a cheating wife.

Original Air Date: February 21, 1949

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7Nov/120

EP0793: Let George Do It: The Darkest Shadow

Bob Bailey

A lawyer becomes concerned when a 20 year-old woman wants to make out a will. George finds she's going insane and wants to find out why.

Original Air Date: March 10, 1952

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6Nov/120

EP0792: The Fat Man: Order for Murder

J Scott Smart

Brad becomes concerned that a war veteran may murder a retired Major with many enemies.

Original Air Date: May 23, 1951
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5Nov/120

EP0791: Frank Race: The Adventure of the Talking Bullet

Tom Collins
A man Frank Race sent to death row is out and gunning for those who sent him up.

Original Air Date: June 18, 1949

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4Nov/120

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #54-#52

Previous: 57-55, 60-58, 65-61, 70-6671-75, 76-80, 81-85, 86-90, 91-95, 96-100

54) Hans Conreid

Hans Conreid was one of radio's most beloved and versatile comic character actors. He was a psychiatrist next door neighbor to George Burns and Allen. On Life with Luigi, he played the role of Schultz, a lovable Austrian immigrant who ran a delicatessen and was the class clown in Luigi's night school class. He played variations of this Austrian character on a wide variety of shows. However, Conreid's versatility served not only comedy shows but dramas. His radiography is filled not only with appearances on My Favorite Husband, My Friend Irma, the Adventures of Maisie, and the Great Gildersleeve, but also on Suspense, Richard Diamond, Sam Spade, and Cavalcade of America. He was also the first Pagan Zeldchmidt on the Man Called X in 1944. While he may be best remembered as the voice of Captain Hook in Peter Pan, he left an indelible mark on radio.

53) Herbert Marshall

Herbert MarshallHerbert Marshall was best remembered  as The Man Called X. This iconic role was perhaps the best known of Pre-Bond spies. So much so that when the Man Called X was evoked when the Flintstones made a 1966 Musical Comedy spy caper and called it, The Man Called Flintstone. The show began in 1944 and journeyed from CBS to the Blue Network to NBC back to CBS and then back  NBC, with Ken Thurston (Marshall) as the debonair and daring international man of mystery who battled America's foes with the help (and often the hindrance) of international con man Pagan Veldschmidt. He was also on a variety of other programs from hosting the Globe Theater for American GIs to guest starring on The Bob Hope  Show and Burns and Allen. His most famous appearance outside of The Man Called X was appearing in an episode of Forecast which would become the first radio airing of the long-running anthology.Suspense.

52) Phil Harris

Phil Harris made a name for himself as the long time leader of Jack Benny's orchestra for sixteen years. He parlayed this role into his own radio vehicle when he and his wife Alice Faye began to host the Fitch Bandwagon program in 1946. The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show became a prime time radio hit combing the couples' music and comedy, running on NBC for eight years. For most of that time, Harris continued to work for Benny. When Benny moved to CBS airing right before Harris' show, he'd appear on the first half of the Benny show, make the one block trip to NBC and do the Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show.

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