Your Shopping Cart | Your Account Information | Catalog Quick Order | Customer Service | Order Status | Contact Us


AboutBlogOur Radio Show SEARCH   KEYWORD

Happy Birthday, Gerald Mohr!


Veteran actor Gerald Mohr was born 99 years ago on this date.  Before his premature death in 1968, at the age of 54, Mohr left behind an amazing legacy of work in movies, TV…and old-time radio.  He had one of the most distinctive voices on radio—and, audiences today can still listen to him emote as private shamus Philip Marlowe: “Get this and get it straight: crime is a sucker’s road, and those who travel it wind up in the gutter, the prison, or the grave…”


mohr_publicityBorn in New York City to Henrietta (Neustadt) and Sigmond Mohr, Gerald attended preparatory school at NYC’s Dwight Preparatory, and upon graduation entered college at ColumbiaUniversity to pursue a medical degree.  Felled by a case of appendicitis, a fellow patient remarked on Mohr’s resonant baritone voice and suggested he go into broadcasting (the patient was in that line of work himself).  Gerald got himself a job as a junior radio reporter, and in the mid-1930s a meeting with wunderkind (and fellow radio actor) Orson Welles got Mohr an invite to join Orson’s Mercury Theatre.  On stage, the eager-to-learn Mohr began to build his reputation by appearing in Broadway productions of The Petrified Forest and Jean Christophe (in which he starred).


gerald_mohr_psaDespite his success on stage, it was radio where Mohr’s amazing voice revealed the range of his acting talent.  He could handle announcing chores, and demonstrated that rather adeptly in the 1930s serial The Shadow of Fu Manchu.  His dramatic turns could be heard on some of the medium’s top anthology shows, like Cavalcade of America, Hallmark Playhouse, The Lux Radio Theatre, and Screen Director’s Playhouse.  He also displayed a flair for “the funny”—in a story arc on Eddie Cantor’s program, he played a notorious thug named “Baby Face,” who held the star for ransom for several weeks.  The Judy Canova Show featured him as muscle-bound movie star (“Humphrey Cooper”), and in the early years of Our Miss Brooks, Gerald was falling-down funny as Jacques Monet, Madison High’s French instructor.  Other comedy series on which Mohr guested included The Adventures of Maisie, Burns & Allen, My Favorite Husband and The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.


mohr21Mohr’s best-known radio gig was as the titular detective on The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, a hard-boiled detective series produced by future Gunsmoke creator Norm MacDonnell.  The series ran on the CBS Radio Network from 1948 to 1951, and it remains a solid favorite of fans through surviving recordings.  Gerald also played the title investigator in The Adventures of Bill Lance, a series heard briefly over ABC in 1947-48—Lance had originally premiered in 1944 (with John McIntire) and was created by Whistler “father” J. Donald Wilson.  (Incidentally, from 1942 to 1955, Mohr could frequently be heard on The Whistler as well.)


Gerald was also one of five Archie Goodwins on The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, (NBC’s 1950-51 detective series with Sydney Greenstreet as the corpulent sleuth), and occasionally played “Sorrowful Jones” on the syndicated Damon Runyon Theater.  There’s no getting around it, Mohr spent a lot of time in studios – also lending his voice to such shows as The Adventures of Superman, Dr. Christian, Escape, Let George Do It, Mandrake the Magician, Night Beat, Rogue’s Gallery, Suspense and Tales of the Texas Rangers.


mohr22Mohr used his radio work to get his foot in the door where movies were concerned.  One of his earliest film roles was as the mysterious “Dr. Zodiac,” a phony mystic who was one of the red herrings in the movie Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939).  Walt Disney used him to narrate the “Baby Weems” segment in The Reluctant Dragon (1941—Gerald also had a bit part as a studio guard), and his voice can be heard (where else) over the radio as an emcee in Woman of the Year (1942).  Of course, every cliffhanger serial fan worth his salt knows Mohr’s voice as the diabolical Scorpion in Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941), considered by many to be the greatest chapter play of all time.  Gerald would get the opportunity to emote in front of the camera in another Republic serial production entitled Jungle Girl (1941)—in which he played the villainous (and appropriately named) “Slick” Latimer.


mohr12Gerald’s only handicap on the silver screen was that he looked a lot like star Humphrey Bogart—so when he did get roles in movies, they were usually those of the B-picture variety.  From 1946 to 1947, he played Louis Joseph Vance’s literary creation Michael Lanyard, a.k.a. The Lone Wolf, in three films at Columbia (he took over the part from Warren William)…and would later play that same character briefly in a 1948-49 radio version.  Other films featuring Mohr include Lady of Burlesque (1943), Gilda (1946), Two Guys from Texas (1948), Hunt the Man Down (1950), Sirocco (1951), Detective Story (1951), Invasion USA (1952), The Sniper (1952), The Ring (1952) and Money from Home (1953).


mohr3On the small screen, Gerald Mohr distinguished himself in a 1954-55 series entitled Foreign Intrigue (on which he played Christopher Storm, a Vienna hotelier) that was twice-nominated for an Emmy, and frequently appeared as a guest star on shows like Maverick (playing Doc Holiday twice) and Perry Mason.  As in radio, Mohr perfected that multi-faceted acting quality that could get him gigs on shows as varied as I Love Lucy to Lost in Space.  And he continued to give his pipes a workout: in several early episodes of The Lone Ranger, he served as the narrator, and later voiced superheroes like Reed Richards’ Mr. Fantastic of The Fantastic Four and the Green Lantern on The Superman/Aquaman Hour.


19881Mohr’s last big screen role was in the 1968 musical Funny Girl (as a con-man named Tom Branca); the actor was working in Sweden on a TV pilot entitled Private Entrance and had just completed filming when he succumbed to a heart attack.  It was truly a loss for radio, TV and movie fans—for Gerald had the kind of voice that makes an individual sit up and take notice…and know without having to stop and think just exactly who he is.  Mohr is well-represented here at Radio Spirits, with CD collections of The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (Parties for Death), Night Beat, The Whistler (Notes on Murder, Skeletons in the Closet, Impulse), Rogue’s Gallery, Mystery is My Hobby (Mystery is Mutual), Suspense (Around the World) and The Damon Runyon Theater (Win, Place or Show, Dolls and Guys on Broadway).  You can also sample the lighter side of Gerald on the Jack Benny collection Be Our Guest and the Phil Harris-Alice Faye set Explain the Beer.  (There’s even a pilot for a potential Johnny Dollar series featuring the birthday boy on The Many Voices of Johnny Dollar!)


  1. bob carrico says:

    Always my favorite Archie to Sidney Greenstreet’s Nero Wolf. Did they clash behind the mike? I’ve read Sidney was ‘difficult.’ Mohr’s Marlow is delicious. What a voice, man–tough, raw, snide, sexually-suggestive, compassionate, etc., etc. Did not know he was another Johnny Dollar. Dang, looks like I’ve got to buy another one. Fine article, Radio Spirits. Now how would Marlow say this? “But watch it, man, ’cause that’s what I’m doing.”

    • rich teasdale says:

      Bob: In reply to your post, I just have to say that your writing Mohr was ‘sexually-suggestive’ is an amazing, though acceptable gross understatement of the facts. Gerald was always far more than merely ‘suggestive’, with each step, head turn, and uttered tone. He IS one of our most over looked actors, of which there are far too many of, unfortunately. Sadly, we obsess with those “Classic Few” while letting the rest (like Gerald Mohr) slip away…
      I will be watching with you!

Leave a Reply