12-26-2013, 11:49 AM
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On this date in 1954, the radio drama The Shadow was last broadcast. I never heard this program when it was broadcast live but have heard recordings of it. I remember my dad talking about listening to it faithfully.

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

In early 1930, Street & Smith Publications hired David Chrisman and Bill Sweets to adapt Detective Story Magazine to a radio format. Chrisman and Sweets felt the program should be introduced by a mysterious storyteller, and a young scriptwriter, Harry Charlot, suggested the name of "The Shadow." Thus "The Shadow" premiered over CBS airwaves on July 31, 1930 as the host of the Detective Story Hour, narrating "tales of mystery and suspense from the pages of the premier detective fiction magazine." The narrator was first voiced by James LaCurto but became a national sensation when radio veteran Frank Readick, Jr. assumed the role and gave it "a hauntingly sibilant quality that thrilled radio listeners."

Following a brief tenure as narrator of Street & Smith's Detective Story Hour, "The Shadow" character was used to host segments of The Blue Coal Radio Revue, playing on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. This marked the beginning of a long association between the radio persona and sponsor Blue Coal.

While functioning as a narrator of The Blue Coal Radio Revue, the character was recycled by Street & Smith in October 1931, to oddly serve as the storyteller of Love Story Hour.

In October 1932, the radio persona temporarily moved to NBC. Frank Readick again played the role of the sinister-voiced host on Mondays and Wednesdays, both at 6:30 p.m., with LaCurto taking occasional turns as the title character.

Readick returned as The Shadow to host a final CBS mystery anthology that fall. The series disappeared from CBS airwaves on March 27, 1935, due to Street & Smith's insistence that the radio storyteller be completely replaced by the master crime-fighter described in Walter B. Gibson's ongoing pulps.

Street & Smith entered into a new broadcasting agreement with Blue Coal in 1937, and that summer Gibson teamed with scriptwriter Edward Hale Bierstadt to develop the new series. The Shadow returned to network airwaves on September 26, 1937, over the new Mutual Broadcasting System. Thus began the "official" radio drama that many Shadow fans know and love, with 22-year-old Orson Welles starring as Lamont Cranston, a "wealthy young man about town." Once The Shadow joined Mutual as a half-hour series on Sunday evenings, the program did not leave the air until December 26, 1954.

Welles did not speak the signature line, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" Instead, Readick did, using a water glass next to his mouth for the echo effect. The famous catch phrase was accompanied by the strains of an excerpt from Opus 31 of the Camille Saint-Saëns classical composition, Le Rouet d'Omphale.

After Welles departed the show in 1938, Bill Johnstone was chosen to replace him and voiced the character for five seasons. Following Johnstone's later departure, The Shadow was portrayed by such actors as Bret Morrison (the longest tenure, with 10 years in two separate runs), John Archer, and Steve Courtleigh.

214 12,698
 12-26-2013, 12:59 PM
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Another great tidbit, John! Thanks for sharing! Smile

89 21,190
 12-26-2013, 01:07 PM
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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John, I do remember the last of the radio broadcasts. We used to have a radio in the kitchen and when my dad, mom, sister, and I would sit down to have dinner, Dad always enjoyed listening to it. I can still remember that famous line of "Who Knows... "

Thank you for bringing back to me a particularly fond memory.

2 11,211
 12-26-2013, 02:05 PM
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When I was a child there was a radio station that rebroadcast Tha Shadow. Of course I knew exactly what the characters looked like since they were in my minds eye. That was the magic of radio.

So while I don't remember 1954, I vividly remember The Shadow, more so because the stories took place in the locales where I lived.

32 6,491
 12-28-2013, 02:43 PM
  • Rufus
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I love these old radio dramas, especially when I'm lying in bed late at night. I find they let my imagination wander and allow me to visualise what's going on and all the characters; much more satisfying than watching it on the telly.

8 1,014
 01-12-2014, 06:45 PM
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Sometimes I almsot envy my Grandfathers generation. Other than that it was a simpler time. You sat down and listened to the radio with your pop. Later in the 50s you had shows like "The Lone Ranger". Man I wish I could have lived back then. At times I think I was born in the wrong decade.

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