The Diary of Fate was broadcast over KECA, an ABC affiliate in Los Angeles, which began broadcasting the show on September 6, 1947 and aired thirty-eight episodes through May 22, 1948. KECA originated Diary of Fate from its studios. Herb Lytton was the heavy handed host Fate, a somewhat sinister sounding character who delights in emphasizing how he manipulates events to force characters in the show to make life changing choices, usually the wrong ones thereby assuring their ultimate downfall. There are only thirty-eight known titles for Diary of Fate, with only twenty-four of those titles in current circulation. Many well known radio actors performed on the show including Hal Sawyer, Frank Albertson, Gloria Blondell, Jerry David Ellis, Lurene Tuttle, Lawrence Dobkin, Daws Butler, William Johnstone and Lou Krugman.
This episode, The Marvin Thomas Entry, originally aired June 8, 1948.
Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was one of radio’s longest running shows airing from October 12, 1937 to April 19, 1955, continuing well into the television era. It was produced by Frank and Anne Hummert. The sponsors included Whitehall Pharmacal (as in Anacin, Kolynos Toothpaste, BiSoDol antacid mints, Hill’s cold tablets and Heet liniment), Dentyne, Aerowax, RCA Victor and Chesterfield cigarettes. It aired on the NBC Blue network until 1947, when it switched to CBS. With 1690 nationwide broadcasts, Mr. Keen was the most resilient private detective in a namesake role. The nearest competitors were Nick Carter, Master Detective (726 broadcasts), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (657) and The Adventures of the Falcon (473). However, only 59 of those 1690 Mr. Keen programs are known to exist. The cliches, stereotypes and simplistic dialogue of the show provided much fodder for Bob and Ray’s memorable parody, Mr. Trace, Keener Than Most Persons, broadcast in numerous variations. It was also satirized by Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis in Mad’s fifth issue as “Kane Keen!”
The character of Mr. Keen was referenced by Alfred Hitchcock in one of his television shows. Mr. Keen is also mentioned in the stage version of Bye Bye Birdie by the character Mr. Harry MacAfee, who was played by Paul Lynde.
Nero Wolfe: The Deadly Sellout Originally Aired January 5, 1951
Mystery writer Rex Stout created fictional detective Nero Wolfe in 1934. Nero Wolfe is a big guy–5’11” tall and is frequently said to weigh “a seventh of a ton” (about 286 pounds). Due to his size, he tried to solve crime from home without visiting crime scenes. Wolfe relied on his assistant, Archie Goodwin, who did the leg work, interviewing witnesses and gathering clues for interpretation by Nero Wolfe at home. Wolfe had his definite eccentricities. Known for his particular tastes and love of gourmet food, Nero Wolfe is fed by Fritz Brenner, an exceptionally talented Swiss cook. Also an avid reader, Wolfe doesn’t have a television in his home, he doesn’t like to be called by his first name or to be touched all the while keeping a rigid schedule of eating and tending to his orchids and seems to go into a trance while he solved crime with his mind.
The Adventures of Nero Wolfe made his larger than life old time radio show debut on July 5th, 1943. The detective show proved to be a natural for classic radio. The plots and verbal word-play make this really an entertaining series. Throughout the show’s run, Santos Ortega, Luis van Rooten, Francis X Bushman and Sydney Greenstreet all filled the shows (and big suit) of Nero Wolfe. A large assortment of actors played the part of Archie Goodwin. The Adventures of Nero Wolfe show stayed on the airwaves in different versions for eight years (1943 – 1951)
Night Beat brings us Mentallo, The Mental Marvel from May 1, 1951
Night Beat aired on NBC from February 6, 1950 until September 25, 1952, sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and Wheaties. Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy (originally “Lucky”) Stone, a reporter who covered the night beat for the Chicago Star, encountering criminals and troubled souls. Listeners were invited to join Stone as he “searches through the city for the strange stories waiting for him in the darkness.” It is generally regarded as a “quality” show, and it stands up extremely well. Frank Lovejoy was a powerful and believable actor with a strong delivery, and his portrayal of Randy Stone as tough guy with humanity was perfect. The scripts were excellent, given that they had to cover much in a short time. There was a good supporting cast, orchestra and sound effects. “The Slasher,” broadcast on 10 November 1950, the last show of season one, has a very loosely Ripper-derived plot in which Stone searches for an artist.
Supporting actors included Joan Banks, Parley Baer, William Conrad, Jeff Corey, Lawrence Dobkin, Paul Frees, Jack Kruschen, Peter Leeds, Howard McNear (who was on EVERYTHING, it seems), Lurene Tuttle, Martha Wentworth and Ben Wright.
The format was recreated, with Lovejoy as Stone, on an episode of the television anthology series, Four Star Playhouse (“Search in the Night” airing on November 5th, 1953).
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.