The Man Called X

Before there was James Bond, I Spy, or Danger Man, there was the Man Called X. 

The Man Called X began during the latter part of World War II as the founding of the O.S.S. sparked public interest in espionage, spies, and secret missions. The series outlasted the war and starred Herbert Marshall as the Man Called X (aka Ken Thurston) travelling the world to troubleshoot threats to peace, the security of the U.S., and the world into the 1950s.

In his journeys, Thurston was joined by a criminal and conman Pegon Zellschmidt (Hans Conreid and then Leon Belasco) who would assist Thurston but also often would sell him out to the bad guys before eventually helping him in the end.

The series began as a summer replacement in 1944 over CBS and was picked up for 26 week run over the Blue Network (which later became ABC) in the fall of 1944. It was then brought back for summer runs over NBC in 1945 and 46, before landing back at CBS for a seventy-eight week run from 1947-48. After two years off the air, the series returned to NBC for its final two seasons where it aired along with the similar Dangerous Assignment. 

The concept was revived as a syndicated TV show starring Barry Sullivan in 1956.

About the Stars

Herbert Marshall (1890-1966): Herbert Marshall was born in London. He began his acting career on the London stage prior to World War I. His career was interrupted by the War. In 1917, Marshall suffered an injury and his leg was amputated. After the War, his career continued to gain steam, with him gaining work both in London and began a successful career in film and radio. He was known for being the narrator of “The Lodger,” the 1940 pilot for radio’s greatest anthology series Suspense. Marshall also hosted the 1950s TV series The Unexpected and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in film.

Leon Belasco (1902-88): The Ukrainian-born Belasco began his musical career with the Tokyo Symphony and then emigrated to the United States where he eventually led his own orchestra. Beginning in the late 1930s, Belasco began making small appearances in films including Holiday Inn and Casablanca. This began an acting career that was would span five decades including numerous TV appearances from I Love Lucy and The Phil Silvers Show to Little House on the Prairie and Archie Bunker’s Place. 

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