Michael's Midnight Matinee
Summary: The Best in Old Time Radio from WOMR/WFMR. Featuring Comedy, Mystery, Horror, Variety and mostly fun. It's Theater For Your Mind. Great stories, great actors, great shows! It's fin for the whole family!
The Lone Ranger: The Silver Spur, originally broadcast 6/08/1938 While details differ, the basic story of the origin of the Lone Ranger is the same in most versions of the franchise. Six Texas Rangers are ambushed by a band of outlaws led by Barthalamo "Butch" Cavendish. Later, a Native American named Tonto stumbles on the scene and recognizes the lone survivor, as the man who had saved his life some time in the past. He nurses Reid back to health. The two men dig six graves for Reid's comrades, among them Reid's brother, Captain Daniel Steven Reid who is the Captain of the Texas Rangers. John Reid fashions a black mask using material from his brother's vest to conceal his identity, so that Cavendish will think there were no survivors. Even after the Cavendish gang is brought to justice, Reid continues to fight evil under the guise of the Lone Ranger. Although the Lone Ranger's last name is given as Reid, his first name is not definitely specified. According to the story told in the radio series, the group of six ambushed Rangers was headed by Reid's brother, Captain Dan Reid. Some later radio reference books, beginning with Radio's Golden Age in the 1960s, claimed that the Lone Ranger's first name was John; however, both the radio and television programs avoided mentioning his first name. Fran Striker's obituary and a Gold Key Comics retelling of the origin both stated that "Dan" was the Lone Ranger's first name, not his brother's. It appears that the first use of the name "John Reid" was in a scene in the 1981 big-screen film The Legend of the Lone Ranger in which the surviving Reid digs an extra grave for himself. This gave the use of the first name John a degree of official standing, although the name "Luke Hartman" was used in the 2003 TV-movie/unsold series pilot. The name of Captain Reid's son, the Lone Ranger's nephew, a later character who became a sort of juvenile sidekick to the Masked Man, is also Dan Reid. (When Trendle and Striker later created The Green Hornet, they made this Dan Reid the father of Britt Reid, alias the Green Hornet, thereby making the Lone Ranger the Green Hornet's great-uncle. Hopalong Cassidy: Letter From Beyond the Grave from 1951 or '52. "Hoppy" is a fictional cowboy hero created in 1904 by the author Clarence E. Mulford, who wrote a series of popular short stories and twenty-eight novels based on the character. In his early writings, Mulford portrayed the character as rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. Beginning in 1935, the character ‒ as played by movie actor William Boyd in films adapted from Mulford's books ‒ was transformed into a clean-cut, on-screen hero. A total of sixty-six immensely popular films were released, only a few of which relied on Mulford's original story lines. Mulford would later revise and republish his earlier works to be more consistent with the character's new, polished, on-screen persona. Cassidy was played by William Boyd, James Ellison, Russell Hayden, George Reeves and Rand Brooks. George "Gabby" Hayes originally played Cassidy's grizzled sidekick, Windy Halliday. After Hayes left the series due to a salary dispute with producer Harry Sherman, he was replaced by the comedian Britt Wood as Speedy McGinnis and finally by the veteran movie comedian Andy Clyde as California Carlson. Clyde, the most durable of the sidekicks, remained with the series until it ended. A few actors of future prominence appeared in Cassidy films, most notably Robert Mitchum, who appeared in seven of the films at the beginning of his career. George Reeves, mentioned earlier became well known for his television portrayal of Superman in the 1950s.
Suspense The A.B.C. Murders The Suspense episode "The A.B.C. Murders" was adapted from the 1936 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie, but the radio version bears little resemblance to the original story. In the book, the mystery is solved by private detective extraordinaire Hercule Poirot, but Suspense's version leaves him out entirely. Instead, the story is condensed and uses only the basic plot from Christie's book. As the episode opens, two librarians sit behind the counter and discuss the odd little patron who has just dropped off a book. Suddenly, they realize the man has left his briefcase behind. One of them, Franklin Clarke, catches up to the owner, and returns the case to him. The briefcase has the initials A.B.C. and the owner identifies himself as Alexander Bonaparte Cust. The two chat for a while and find out they have some things in common. Later, Mr. Cust prepares to start his new job as a traveling salesman. His first stop is Andover, but what he doesn't know is that the police are in Andover warning the public about a homicidal maniac planning to strike in Andover. The same thing happens in the next town Mr. Cust visits, Bexhill. He quickly becomes confused. Does he have something to do with the murders? With his terrible headaches, Mr. Cust sometimes doesn't remember what he does... Originally aired May 18, 1943. The Mysterious Traveler Behind The Locked Door Written and directed by Robert Arthur and David Kogan, the radio series was sponsored by Adams Hats. It began on the Mutual Broadcasting System, December 5, 1943, continuing in many different timeslots until September 16, 1952. The lonely sound of a distant locomotive heralded the arrival of the malevolent narrator, portrayed by Maurice Tarplin. Tonight's episode, Behind the Locked Door, was a popular, much-requested episode which takes place in total darkness and was repeated several times during the years. Two archaeologists discover a century-old wagon train that had been sealed in a cave following a landslide. When their Native American guide is mysteriously and brutally attacked, the two, now lost in the darkness, conclude that the descendants of the wagon train are still living in the cave. Or are they? Only 75 of the original 370 Mysterious Traveler episodes still exist. The popularity of the series spawned other supernatural shows, such as The Sealed Book. With scripts by a Mysterious Traveler writer and Tarplin as host-narrator, The Strange Dr. Weird was a nearly identical program which we will air in future MMM shows.
This show has a LOT going on. Tonight, we present eight "shows" in our one hour time allotment. Here they are, more or less in order: Alka Seltzer Time - Originally aired 10/23/53 Believe it Or Not! Vic and Sade: Christmas Present - Originally aired 11/26/43 Five Minute Mysteries: The Jules buck Murder NBC News Commentary: The End of World War II Grand Slam, originally aired 8/23/49 Ellery Queen's Minute Mystery: The Curious Gangland Killings and finally, Incredible, but TRUE.
The Saint: A Real Gone Guy 6/2/50 The Saint was first brought to life on the radio in 1940 by Terence (aka Terrance) De Marney on Radio Athlone. It was then a five-year wait before NBC picked up the option which featured Edgar Barrier as Simon Templar, alias The Saint. In 1945, Brian Aherne took over the role when the show switched over to CBS. Then in 1947, probably the most famous Radio Saint of all-time, Vincent Price, added his golden voice to the role. Vincent Price was once quoted as saying the most difficult thing about the show was coming up with new and unique ways to get conked on the head. After a large number of episodes, Price finally left and his replacement Barry Sullivan only lasted a few episodes before the show was cancelled. It was resurrected due to public demand, with Vincent Price returning to save the day. In 1951, Tom Conway (George Sanders' brother), of The Falcon and Sherlock Holmes fame, played The Saint for the last few episodes, with Lawrence Dobkin stepping in for a single episode when Conway was unavailable. Between 1953 and 1957, Tom Meehan starred as The Saint on Springbok Radio in South Africa with fresh Engligh-language adaptations of the original Charteris stories. These stories were so popular that many films (starring Tom Conway's aforementioned brother, George Sanders), a successful television series starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar and one ghastly film with Val Kilmer in the title role were made. The 1997 film was deservedly panned by critics as well as by myself. The Saint returned to radio with new episodes in 1995, with Paul Rhys portraying Templar in three scripts taken directly from the original Charteris stories. I was a communist for the FBI: The American Kremlin 6/11/52 Throughout most of the 1940's, Matt Cvetic worked as a volunteer undercover agent for the FBI, infiltrating the Communist Party in Pittsburgh. In 1949, his testimony helped to convict several top Party members of conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government. Cvetic sold his account to The Saturday Evening Post and it was serialized under the title I Posed as a Communist for the FBI. It later became a best-selling book. In 1951, Warner Brothers released a film based on these accounts entitled I Was A Communist For The FBI, starring with Frank Lovejoy as Cvetic. In 1952, in the midst of the Red scare of the 1950's, the Frederick W. Ziv Company produced the syndicated radio series with the same title as the movie. It was produced without assistance from the FBI, which refused to cooperate. I Was a Communist for the FBI consisted of 78 episodes syndicated by the Frederick W. Ziv Company to more than 600 stations, including KNX in Los Angeles, California, with original episodes running from April 23, 1952 to October 14, 1953. Each episode ended with Dana Andrew's well-remembered words, "I was a Communist for the FBI. I walk alone".
Fibber McGee and Molly was an American comedy series which maintained its popularity over decades. It premiered on NBC in 1935 and continued until its demise in 1959. Jim and Marian Jordan, real-life husband and wife, met when they were their teens, married in 1918 and stayed together until Marian's death in 1961. For station WMAQ in Chicago, beginning in April 1931, the Jordans and their writer Donald Quinn created Smackout, a 15-minute daily program which centered on a general store and its proprietor, Luke Grey (Jim), a storekeeper with a penchant for tall tales and a perpetual dearth of whatever his customers wanted: He always seemed "smack out of it." Marian Jordan portrayed both a lady named Marian and a little girl named Teeny, as well as playing musical accompaniment on piano. During the show's run, Marian Jordan voiced a total of 69 different characters in it. Smackout was picked up by NBC in April 1933 and broadcast nationally until August 1935. The Fibber McGee & Molly show made good use of running gags, probably the most well remembered being McGee's junk-filled closet, the contents of which always crashed down on anyone that happened to open the door. This show, Big Money for Old Books, centers around Fibber's Horatio Alger collection and originally aired 2/17/1948. Boston Blackie: Polly Morrison's Gun Collection After several months of shows, I thought it was time to "come home" and present home town-guy Boston Blackie on the Matinee. Boston Blackie is old, much older than even the radio and film series which many of us have seen and heard. The original tales of Blackie were written by Jack Boyle in the early 20th Century. "The Price of Principle" was a short story in the July 1914 issue of The American Magazine. Boyle's character also turned up in Cosmopolitan. In 1917, Redbook published the novelette "Boston Blackie’s Mary," and the magazine brought the character back with "The Heart of the Lily" (February, 1921). Boyle's stories were collected in the book Boston Blackie (1919), which was reprinted in 1979 by Gregg Press. There were even early film adaptations of the stories done in the silent era. Columbia Films revived the Boston Blackie film series in 1941 with a 58 minute story starring Chester Morris, who plays Blackie in our show tonight. The radio series began in 1944 as a summer replacement for Amos & Andy on NBC. It was revived on Mutual (starring Richard Kollmar) in April of 1945 and ran until 1949. But even then, Blackie was not finished as the show was developed into a television series in 1951 which ran for 58 episodes. As late as 2009, Boston Blackie is still thrilling audiences, this time in Graphic novel format. Boston Blackie: Bloody Shame (Moonstone Noir) by Stefan Petrucha (Author), Kirk Van Wormer (Illustrator), Chris Burnham (Illustrator) is available today at many bookstores and online. This episode originally aired on July 28th, 1944.
The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes aired from October 2, 1939 to July 7, 1947. Most episodes were written by the team of Dennis Green and Anthony Boucher. Originally, the show starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. John H. Watson and were on the air weekly on Mondays from 8:30 to 9:00pm. After 220 episodes. Basil Rathbone was eager to separate himself from the show to avoid being typecast as Sherlock Holmes and even though the show's sponsor Petri Wine offered him generous pay to continue, he decided to move on. Once he did, the sponsor did as well. Tom Conway took the starring role though Nigel Bruce got top billing. The new sponsor was Kreml Hair Tonic for Men, and the new series lasted 39 episodes. Tom Conway was replaced mid-season by John Stanley. The show was later sponsored by Clipper Craft menswear. This episode, Murder By Moonlight, originally aired on October 29, 1945. Dragnet: The Big Little Mother, Originally aired October 6, 1953 Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. This case requires Sgt Joe Friday and his partner Smith to catch a woman who has been using forged checks to buy children’s clothes for the past six years. Dragnet was created and produced by Jack Webb, who starred as the terse Sergeant Joe Friday. Webb had starred in a few mostly short-lived radio programs, but Dragnet would make him one of the major media personalities of his era. Dragnet had its origins in Webb's small role as a police forensic scientist in the 1948 film He Walked by Night, itself inspired by the violent 1946 crime spree of Erwin Walker, a disturbed World War II veteran and former Glendale police department employee. The film was depicted in semidocumentary style, and Marty Wynn (an actual LAPD sergeant from the Robbery Division) was a technical advisor on the film. Inspired by Wynn's accounts of actual cases and criminal investigative procedure, Webb convinced Wynn that day-to-day activities of police officers could be realistically depicted in a broadcast series, without the forced sense of melodrama in the numerous private-detective serials then common in radio programming. Webb frequently visited police headquarters, drove on night patrols with Sgt. Wynn and his partner Officer Vance Brasher, and attended Police Academy courses to learn authentic jargon and other details that could be featured in a radio program. When he proposed Dragnet to NBC officials, they were not especially impressed; radio was aswarm with private investigators and crime dramas, such as Webb's earlier Pat Novak for Hire. That program didn’t last long, but Webb had received high marks for his role as the titular private investigator, and NBC agreed to a limited run for Dragnet. The first several months of broadcasts were bumpy, as Webb and company worked out the program's format and eventually became comfortable with their characters. Friday's first partner was Sergeant Ben Romero, portrayed by Barton Yarborough, a longtime radio actor. Raymond Burr was on board to play Chief of Detectives Ed Backstrand. When Dragnet hit its stride, it became one of radio's top-rated shows. Webb insisted on realism in every aspect of the show. The dialogue was clipped, understated and sparse, influenced by the hardboiled school of crime fiction. Scripts were fast moving but didn’t seem rushed. Every aspect of police work was chronicled, step by step: From patrols and paperwork, to crime scene investigation, lab work and questioning witnesses or suspects. The detectives’ personal lives were mentioned but rarely took center stage. "Underplaying is still acting", Webb told Time. "We try to make it as real as a guy pouring a cup of coffee.” Los Angeles police chiefs C.B. Horrall, William A. Worton, and (later) William H. Parker were credited as consultants, and many police officers were fans.
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, "the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed expense account — America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" aired on CBS Radio from January 1949 to September 1962. There were 811 episodes in the 12-year run, and more than 720 still exist today. I think I have all of them. As originally conceived, Johnny Dollar was a smart, tough, wisecracking detective who tossed silver-dollars as tips to waiters and bellhops. Dick Powell (who we heard recently as Richard Diamond), starred in the first audition show, recorded in 1948 but he withdrew before the show started production. The show, for which Powell auditioned, was originally titled "Yours Truly, Lloyd London," although the name of the show and its lead character were apparently changed before first episode recording in December of 1948. At first, there was little to distinguish Johnny Dollar from other detective series at the time (Richard Diamond, Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade). While always a friend of the police, Johnny wasn't necessarily a stickler for the strictest interpretation of the law. He was willing to let some things slide to satisfy his own sense of justice, as long as the interests of his employer were also protected. The first run ended in 1954. CBS Radio revived Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar in October 1955 with a new leading man, a new director, and a new format. The program changed from a 30-minute, one-episode-per-week affair to a 15-minute, five-nights-a-week serial (Monday through Friday, 8-8:15pm EST) produced and directed by radio veteran Jack Johnstone. The new Johnny Dollar was Bob Bailey (Our Johnny Dollar on this particular show), who had just come off another network detective series, Let George Do It. With a new lead and 75 minutes of air time each week, it became possible to develop each storyline with more detail and with more characters. The serial scripts were usually written by Jack Johnstone, "John Dawson" (a pseudonym for E. Jack Neuman), Les Crutchfield, or Robert Ryf. Blake Edwards also contributed several scripts and the show was always produced and directed by Johnstone. The show featured an excellent stock company of supporting actors, including Virginia Gregg, Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, Lawrence Dobkin, Parley Baer, Howard McNear, John Dehner, Alan Reed, and Forrest Lewis. Movie character actors appeared occasionally. In late 1956 CBS Radio retooled the show, which reverted to a weekly half-hour drama, airing on late Sunday afternoons. Bob Bailey continued in the leading role until 1960 (and wrote one episode, "The Carmen Kringle Matter"). Tonight's show, The Shepherd Matter, was originally one of the five-night serials but has been edited to fit into the time allowed. I must stress that nothing has been removed except the show introductions and the preview of the next day's show from each of the daily programs. The show itself is basically intact. It was originally broadcast from the 16th through the 20th of April, 1956.