Sunday, December 26, 2010

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

It was on this day in 1954 that faithful listeners were asked that question for the very last time. It was the final broadcast of a radio program that started on a Thursday evening in July of 1930. That’s when they were introduced to “The Shadow.” The now-famous character’s voice was supplied by James La Curto in a program called The Detective Story Hour.  Street and Smith publishers sponsored the program (which lasted about a year), along with their magazine series The Shadow, A Detective Monthly.

In September 1931, the show was aired on The Blue Coal Radio Revue. This version starred Frank Readick, Jr. The show kept its original running time of one hour, and for a month or so, CBS listeners could hear it at the original 9:30 p.m. time slot on Thursdays as well as an additional broadcast on Sundays at 5:30 PM. But in October 1931, the 9:30 time slot was taken over by Love Story Drama, again sponsored by Street and Smith.

After a year on CBS, the series moved to NBC in October 1932. Blue Coal remained the sponsor and Frank Readick, Jr. stayed on as the star but the time slot was changed to Wednesdays. In October 1934, the program was aired at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Readick starred in most of the episodes, but La Curto appeared in a few episodes.

The program changed back to Sundays at 5:30 p.m. in September 1937, and Blue Coal remained the sponsor. But the program had a new voice for Lamont Cranston: the new radio and theatre personality Orson Welles. The 1937 programs also began to feature "The Shadow" as a character in the stories, rather than merely as a narrator. Orson Welles was "The Shadow" through 1938.

Bill Johnstone became the new voice in 1939, and the role switched to Bret Morrison in 1943. Near the end of 1944, John Archer took over and stayed in the role until September, 1945, when Brett Morrison returned and remained the voice of “The Shadow” from that point until the final broadcast on December 26,1954.

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