Escape & The Aldrich Family

Escape: Three Skeleton Key

Three men tending a lighthouse on an island off the coast of French Guiana. An abandoned ship, overrun by thousands of ferocious rats, makes landfall inducing a life-and-death struggle against the hungry horde.

James Poe adapted the story for radio in a version that aired on Escape in 1949 and returned to the program by popular demand in 1950 and 1953. Each episode featured a different cast.

The Aldrich Family: Halloween Originally aired October 31, 1940.

A Prank goes wrong as Henry and his pal Toby plan to ring just one doorbell on Halloween. A deep well gets Toby, Henry and Homer in trouble with the law…several times.


George Burns and Gracie Allen Program and Richard Diamond, Private Detective

Richard DiamondGeorge Burns & Gracie Allen Program
Watching the Neighbor’s Daughter June 16, 1949
On this show, jumped-to conclusions and mistaken identities take George and Gracie on their prevalent zany course. With Bill goodwill, Rudy Vallee and Richard Crenna.

George Burns (Born Nathan Birnbaum) was the ninth of 12 children born to Louis and Dorothy Birnbaum in New York City. His father was a substitute cantor at the local synagogue but did not work very often. Nattie (as he was known to his family) started working in 1903 after his father’s death from influenza, shining shoes, running errands, and selling newspapers. When he landed a job as a syrup maker in a local candy shop at the age of seven, Nattie Birnbaum was discovered singing harmony with the Pee-Wee Quartet. George recalled, “We started out singing on ferryboats, in saloons, in brothels, and on street corners. We’d put our hats down for donations. Sometimes the customers threw something in the hats. Sometimes they took something out of the hats. Sometimes they took the hats.”

Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen, known as Gracie Allen, alleged that she was born in July of 1906. Her husband listed her birth year as 1902 but no one really knows the real date (or year for that matter) as many records were destroyed in the earthquake and great fire of April, 1906. A Search of Census records show that her birth year was more likely 1895 or 1896.
Burns and Allen weren’t afraid of pulling a stunt now and again. In 1940, Gracie announced she was running for President of the United States on the Surprise Party ticket. For this stunt, Burns and Allen did a cross-country whistlestop campaign tour on a private train, performing their live radio show in different cities. In one of her campaign speeches Gracie said, “I don’t know much about the Lend-Lease Bill, but if we owe it we should pay it.” Allen was also the subject of one of S.S. Van Dine’s famous Philo Vance mystery novels, The Gracie Allen Murder Case. Typically, she couldn’t resist posturing a classic Gracie Allen review: “S.S. Van Dine is silly to spend six months writing a novel when you can buy one for two dollars and ninety five cents.”

Richard Diamond, Private Detective:
Butcher Shop Protection 3/9/51
This series starred Dick Powell (no relation to William Powell) which aired from 1949 to 1953, first on NBC, then ABC and finally on CBS. The title character was a rather light-hearted but quick-witted detective who often ended the episodes singing to his girlfriend, Helen.
The series moved to television in 1957 and was produced by Powell’s company, Four Star Television, and ran for three years. On TV, David Janssen played a more hard-boiled private eye and his secretary renamed “Sam”, was only ever shown on camera from the waist down, most assuredly to display her beautiful legs (which belonged to Mary Tyler Moore).
Mr. Powell was married three times, his brides included Joan Blondell and June Allyson, with whom he had two children. Powell’s ranch-style house in Mandeville Canyon, Los Angeles, was used as the setting for the television show Hart to Hart.

Next Week: Your Truly, Johnny dollar


Show #2 The Shadow and Candy Matson

The Shadow and Candy MatsonThe Shadow: The Death Triangle was published in the October 15, 1933 issue of The Shadow Magazine. This is a tale of a land deed hidden away and the only man who knows its location has been murdered. The Shadow must find the paper and must reveal the three men responsible. The three men who form a death triangle. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that any Shadow pulp novel from the 1930’s is a good one, and this story is no exception. It’s a bang up tale of secrecy, intrigue and murder. There is a major logic hole in the plot, but since when does that matter? Overall, this is classic Shadow all the way. Original Air Date December 12, 1937. Starring a 22 yr old Orson Welles. Agnes Moorehead (Margo Lane) was later termed, “The 1st Lady of Suspense” because of her many appearances on the Radio show of the same name and starred in what may be my favorite radio broadcast of all time: Suspense: Sorry, Wrong Number on May 18, 1943.

Candy Matson: The Cable Car Case Original Air Date July 7, 1949
Candy was bright, tough, fearless and should have worn a sign cautioning “Dangerous Curves Ahead.” She used her pistol infrequently, but was not intimidated by bad guys, regardless of circumstances. Threats, assaults, and even bullets would usually produce a caustic, but clever, response from this blonde sleuth. She and Lt. Mallard (the two occasionally dated) were frequently working the same case, but she usually solved it first. Each job took Candy from her apartment on Telegraph Hill into some actual location in San Francisco. The writers, overseen by the show’s creator Monty Masters, worked plenty of real Bay Area locations into every plot. It was created by Mr. Masters  who originally wrote it as a starring vehicle for himself until his Mother in law convinced him to use a woman as the lead. He found his star in his wife, Natalie Parks. Candy Matson was the most popular show on the West Coast during its run but never had a consistent sponsor so NBC moved it around from time slot to time slot and the show never gained the national success it deserved. This was the 2nd show from the 1st season to be broadcast and is only one of 14 that are known to exist (one is the pilot). There is another recording available but it is actually a recreated broadcast.

Next Time: Bold Venture and Box 13