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Happy Birthday, Robert Young!

During his lengthy career in show business, Robert George Young—born on this date in 1907—cultivated a characteristic that’s best described in one word: dependable.  He was a reliable leading man for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the 1930s and early ‘40s, accepting any role that came his way (even if a good many of the films he graced were B-pictures).  He would later dominate the small screen with two phenomenally successful television shows; the first a beloved family situation comedy we know as Father Knows Best, and the second an hour-long medical drama in which he played compassionate physician Marcus Welby, M.D. What may not be generally known among the actor’s fans is that he could call himself a veteran of old-time radio as well.

Born in Chicago, IL, Bob left the Windy City as a child when his parents relocated to Seattle, WA…and later to Los Angeles, CA.  The acting bug bit Young early, as he performed in numerous dramatic productions during his years of attendance at LA’s Abraham Lincoln High School. Upon graduation, the ambitious thespian studied at night at the Pasadena Playhouse while working various odd jobs during the day (such as bank clerk and loan collector).  As he acquired experience on stage, Young made his uncredited movie debut in 1928’s The Campus Vamp.  His first onscreen credit was in the Charlie Chan mystery The Black Camel (1931), and upon being summoned to a meeting with MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, Bob was signed to a contract at the studio known for “more stars than there are in Heaven.”

Robert Young soon learned as an MGM contract player that when the call came down for him to appear in a movie—any movie—he did so without hesitation.  Young revealed in an interview with Leonard Maltin that the studio’s modus operandi as far as a Young picture was concerned simply boiled down to “let’s get Bob.”  The actor appeared in a lot of programmers, but he worked hard and many of his early film appearances demonstrate the likability that would cement his cinematic reputation.  Among some of his lesser-known films (but interesting all the same) are The Guilty Generation (1931), The Kid from Spain (1932), Men Must Fight (1933), The House of Rothschild (1934), Whom the Gods Destroy (1934) and Secret Agent (1936—directed by Alfred Hitchcock).  Young would later observe facetiously that he often got the roles another well-known Robert (Montgomery, that is) turned down…but this allowed him to work alongside such leading ladies as Katharine Hepburn, Margaret Sullavan, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes and Luise Rainer.

Every now and then, Young received an opportunity to up his acting game in “A” productions: he landed plum roles in the likes of Three Comrades (1938), Northwest Passage (1940), The Mortal Storm (1940) and Western Union (1941).  One of Bob’s finest thespic showcases was in H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), in which he plays the title gentleman—an introverted, conservative man who’s coaxed out of his shell by a breathtakingly lovely Hedy Lamarr (it was also one of Lamarr’s best acting turns as well).  While he continued to be the model of a good company man, Bob’s employment with MGM was responsible for introducing him to a stint behind the radio microphone as the host of Good News of 1938.

Premiering on November 4, 1937 over NBC, and sponsored by Maxwell House, Good News essentially served as an hour-long promotion for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. (It was often joked that it was difficult to tell whether MGM was sponsoring Maxwell House or vice versa).  After hosting stints by James Stewart and Robert Taylor, Young got the emcee nod in the fall of 1938. He presided over the festivities for a season before relinquishing the broadcast torch to a rotating series of hosts (included Dick Powell).  Such leading celebrity lights as Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Lionel Barrymore were frequent guests…but the Good News series also became famous for featuring the comedy of Frank Morgan and Fanny Brice (as Baby Snooks).

In addition to cavorting with Frank and Fanny, Robert Young was a welcomed guest alongside such radio funsters as Burns & Allen and Fibber McGee & Molly—as well as Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.  Bob was a frequent presence on The Lux Radio Theatre, dramatizing not only his own starring films but those instances where they had to “get Bob,” and he guested on Suspense a number of times as well.  Young’s radio resume includes The Cavalcade of AmericaThe CBS Radio WorkshopCommand PerformanceFamily TheatreHallmark PlayhouseHollywood Star PlayhouseMail CallThe Radio Reader’s DigestThe Screen Guild TheatreThe Silver TheatreStudio One and Theatre of Romance.  In 1943, he starred as a globetrotting newspaperman in a brief Norman Corwin-created series, Passport for Adams.  And in the fall of 1944—when Frank Morgan and Fanny Brice went their separate ways in separate shows—Bob returned to Maxwell House as the emcee for what was often referred to as The Frank Morgan Show (which also featured Cass Daley and Eric Blore in the cast).

No one was more relieved than Bob Young when MGM finally released him from his contract in the early 1940s. Despite his admirable work ethic, the studio often treated him shabbily (L.B. Mayer thought he had “no sex appeal”), and habitually made him wait until the last minute to learn whether or not he’d be with the organization for another year.  Young then moved on to 20th Century-Fox, appearing in the likes of Claudia (1943), Claudia and David (1946) and Sitting Pretty (1948). He also did two movies at RKO, both of which are now considered masterpieces of film noir: They Won’t Believe Me and Crossfire (both 1947).  On radio, however, his old friend Maxwell House beckoned once again…this time with an offer to play patriarch Jim Anderson in a new NBC radio sitcom: Father Knows Best.

The radio version of Father underwent quite a metamorphosis during its time over the airwaves.  In the 1948 audition (which might have been called Father Knows Best?), Young’s character was a knucklehead in the Chester Riley mold. Creator Ed James toned down Jim’s dunderheadedness by the time the show officially went on the air on August 25, 1949, but he was still a far cry from the affable, understanding insurance salesman dad we remember from the small screen.  Still, the series was a successful one, lasting until April 25, 1954, and smoothly transitioned to TV in the fall of that same year.  It was on the small screen that Father reached its full maturity. The wholesome family sitcom won acting Emmys for Bob and co-star Jane Wyatt during its six-year-run (first a season on CBS, then three years at NBC, then back to CBS for its final two seasons).  It was still a Top Ten favorite in its last season: the show only made its final bow in front of the boob tube curtain because its star wanted to pursue other projects.

And pursue those projects he did: Robert Young followed Father Knows Best with an ambitious comedy-drama that he also created and produced, Window on Main Street.  It lasted only a season on CBS, but his third television attempt succeeded beyond his wildest expectations.  It began as a 1969 TV-movie entitled A Matter of Humanities, which was so well received that it became a weekly series in September of that same year. On Marcus Welby, M.D., Bob essayed the role of a kindly general practitioner dedicated to his patients. James Brolin co-starred as his partner in practice, and the program ran for seven seasons on ABC from 1969 to 1977. (In the 1970-71 season, it become the first ABC show to finish at #1.) For his efforts, Young would win another acting Emmy.  He revisited the role in two “reunion” TV movies in 1984 and 1988…with the last movie featuring his final acting role before his death at the age of 91 in 1998.

Radio Spirits features today’s birthday boy in his signature radio role on Father Knows Best with an 8-CD collection of sixteen sidesplitting broadcasts from 1953—it’s a bit different from the long-running TV version, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.  You’ll also convulse with laughter at the Andersons’ antics in an additional collection, Maple Street.  For dessert, enjoy Robert Young and fellow TV patriarch Danny “Make Room for Daddy” Thomas in an episode of TV’s The Christophers, available on our DVD Stars in Their Shorts.  Happy birthday to not only one of our favorite TV dads…but one of our prized television doctors, too!

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of…”

The man officially known as The Reverend Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. was chaplain of the Holy Cross Brothers of the Vincentian Institute in Albany, New York during World War II. Father Peyton established himself as a leader who promoted the importance of family strength during those tumultuous times.  One of his methods involved the ritual of praying the Family Rosary, and he pitched the idea of broadcasting the Rosary ritual.  This had been popular on a local Albany station in 1942, but the major networks politely turned him down, explaining that it wouldn’t be proper for them to endorse just one denomination.  Undaunted, Father Peyton proposed broadening the scope of his project to a weekly half-hour dramatic anthology…in which the only “commercial” would be an appeal for family prayer.  That show made its debut over Mutual on this date in 1947; when listeners to Family Theatre heard for the first time that “a world at prayer is a world at peace.”

Mutual donated the airtime for Family Theatre, but insisted on a few concessions.  The series had to be of top quality, had to be nonsectarian…and Peyton would have to shoulder the cost of the weekly program.  The network’s final request was that Family Theatre spotlight a major film star on each broadcast, but that would not prove to be a problem for the determined Peyton.  The priest had previously participated in a special Mother’s Day broadcast for Mutual in 1945, and was asked if he could get a big-time celebrity to appear – so he boldly approached Bing Crosby on the set of The Bells of St. Mary’s (in which Der Bingle plays a priest). The Old Groaner acquiesced to Peyton’s request and the broadcast proved quite successful, laying the groundwork for Family Theatre.

For the new series, Peyton met with actress Loretta Young…who gave him some pointers on how to approach her film colony brethren and sistren, and in doing so became Family Theatre’s unofficial “first lady.”  With James Stewart and Don Ameche, Young appeared on that inaugural broadcast in February, and would go on to grace more than thirty subsequent broadcasts.  A sample of the high-power celluloid wattage on Family Theatre includes notables such as Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Shirley Temple, Irene Dunne, Edward G. Robinson, and Maureen O’Sullivan. As OTR historian John Dunning noted in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio: “It can be safely said that no series offered more Hollywood personalities in the same span of time.”

Family Theatre was a well-produced series whose quality matched that of higher-profile anthologies aired at that time, such as Suspense and The Lux Radio Theatre.  The stories featured only the tiniest soupçon of religion, and many times classic tales like Moby Dick and Don Quixote were brought before the microphones.  The dogma was saved for commercial breaks, with Father Peyton offering up observations along the lines of his famous slogan (created by Al Scalpone): “The family that prays together stays together.”

At the same time that Family Theatre was being welcomed into listeners’ homes every week, the series made a successful transition to the small screen in 1951 (in an hour-long version also hosted by Peyton).  The boob tube incarnation left the airwaves in 1958, running a year longer than its radio cousin…though the aural version was broadcast in repeats by many Mutual stations as late as the 1960s.  Father Peyton kept personal transcriptions of the broadcasts and made them available to collectors even as he continued his work hosting “rosary rallies” throughout Latin America and elsewhere.  Peyton left this world for a better one in 1992 at the age of 93, but in 2017 (according to his website) Pope Francis declared him “Venerable.”  This was “a rare recognition by the universal Church that Father Peyton is a person of heroic virtue” and that he lived “a life worthy of veneration by all Christians.”

One of the many celebrity performers on Family Theatre was Jack Benny, and you can sample one of his appearances on that show (“The Golden Touch” from May 23, 1951) on Radio Spirits’ collection of vintage Benny broadcasts, Be Our Guest.  Yuletide-themed episodes of Theatre can be found on our Christmas sets The Voices of Christmas Past (“Crossroads of Christmas”) and Christmas Radio Classics (“Ruth”).  But the compendium that will give you more Family value for your dollar is Every Home, an 8-CD set of sixteen classic broadcasts spotlighting the work of stars like Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Donna Reed, and Ethel Barrymore.  The family that gathers ’round the radio together, enjoys Family Theatre together!

Happy Birthday, William Johnstone!

Old-time radio fans know that when Orson Welles made the decision to abandon his role as Lamont Cranston (aka The Shadow) and go on to better things (scaring the daylights out of listeners on Halloween, for example), actor William Llewellyn Johnstone was there to take his place as the “wealthy young man-about-town.” Johnstone, born in New York City on this date in 1908, was no doubt well-acquainted with wunderkind Welles, having worked with Orson when the two were employed on CBS’ The March of Time (where Bill impersonated Cordell Hull and King Edward VIII). The two actors would also share a microphone on Welles’ first Mercury radio presentation, Les Miserables, in 1937.

In fact, you can hear Johnstone on Welles’ first Shadow broadcast, “The Death House Rescue” (09/26/37)—Bill plays the innocent man headed for a date with the electric chair. The actor would work on The Shadow several more times before donning the slouch hat and cloak in the fall of 1938…and though Johnstone always performed in an exemplary style, more than a few people thought he sounded a bit too grandfatherly to play the considerably younger Lamont Cranston. (I’ve joked in the past that Bill was more of a “wealthy old man-about-town.”)

Bill Johnstone’s early radio career was dominated by a genre not uncommon to radio artists: soap operas. He emoted on a good many of them, including Five-Star JonesIrene Rich DramasJoyce Jordan, M.D.Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage PatchValiant Lady, and Wilderness Road. His exposure on The Shadow led him to become one of the busiest actors in the radio business, working on such anthologies as Arch Oboler’s PlaysThe Columbia WorkshopFamily TheatreFavorite StoryThe General Electric TheatreGreat PlaysHallmark PlayhouseThe Railroad HourRomanceScreen Director’s PlayhouseStars Over HollywoodThe Theatre Guild on the Air, and The Theatre of Romance. He was practically a regular on The Cavalcade of America and The Lux Radio Theatre, and later continued his association with Orson Welles with appearances on Campbell PlayhouseThe Mercury Summer Theatre, and This is My Best.

Bill appeared many times on “radio’s outstanding theatre of thrills,” Suspense, in the early days of that long-running anthology…and during its sponsorship by Auto-Lite, he would interact with announcer Harlow Wilcox in the role of “Hap the mechanic.” Escape and The Whistler also called upon his talents (Johnstone even briefly played the titular narrator on the latter program). To list every show on which Johnstone collected a paycheck would be a Herculean task, but some of the better-known programs include The Adventures of Frank RaceThe Adventures of the AbbottsThe Adventures of the SaintBroadway’s My BeatCrime ClassicsDangerous AssignmentDiary of FateDr. SixgunDragnet (a powerful performance in the Yuletide classic “.22 Rifle for Christmas”), Ellery QueenThe FBI in Peace and WarI Was a Communist for the FBILet George Do ItThe Man Called XThe Mysterious TravelerNick Carter, Master DetectiveNight BeatPursuitRichard Diamond, Private DetectiveThe Roy Rogers ShowThe Silent MenThe Six ShooterThe Story of Dr. Kildare, Tales of the Texas RangersThis is Your FBIT-ManVoyage of the Scarlet Queen, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

William Johnstone was the first actor to play Sanderson “Sandy” Taylor, sidekick of sleuthing San Francisco importer Gregory Hood on The Casebook of Gregory Hood (he was replaced by Howard McNear), and enjoyed stints as Lieutenant Ybarra on The Adventures of Philip Marlowe and as Inspector Cramer on The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe. The actor’s range was such that he was also adept at comedy, with roles on such sitcoms as Amos ‘n’ AndyThe Bill Goodwin ShowThe Halls of IvyMy Favorite HusbandOur Miss BrooksThe Penny Singleton Show, and The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. Early in his radio career, Johnstone played “Wilfred Mason,” the father of the teen heroine on Maudie’s Diary, a sitcom that predated the better-known A Date with Judy and Meet Corliss Archer. In the summer of 1946, he would reunite with his former Shadow leading lady Agnes Moorehead on her sitcom The Amazing Mrs. Danberry.

Outside of his turn as Lamont Cranston, Bill Johnstone’s best-known radio gig would inarguably be that of Lieutenant Ben Guthrie on the police procedural The Line-Up, an outstanding crime drama that aired on CBS Radio from 1950 to 1953 featuring Wally Maher and, later, Jack Moyles. The series would later make a successful transition to television (and produce a big screen version in 1958), but Johnstone was not asked to reprise his role when it was brought to boob tube audiences. Bill would never completely abandon radio; he was heard in a version of Pepper Young’s Family in 1966, and made a number of appearances on The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre in the 1970s.

While William Johnstone’s radio career was an industrious one, he didn’t appear in many feature films. But when he did step in front of the cameras, he displayed the same professionalism that was evident when he stood before a microphone. You might know him as John Jacob Astor in 20th Century-Fox’s 1953 Titanic release, and his movie resume also includes All My Sons (1948), The Magnificent Yankee (1950), My Favorite Spy (1951), Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) and Down Three Dark Streets (1954—a personal favorite). On the small screen, Bill reprised his turn from “.22 Rifle for Christmas” when it was done on the TV Dragnet, and he also guested on such series as Tom Corbett, Space CadetFour Star Playhouse and The Big Story. For many years, Johnstone was the law in the fictional city of Oakdale as Judge James T. Lowell on the daytime drama As the World Turns, a gig that ran from 1956 to 1979. William Johnstone would pass on in 1996 at the age of 88.

If you were to ask us (rhetorically, of course) “Might there be some Radio Spirits collections featuring today’s birthday boy?” we would chuckle in a sinister manner, mutter something along the lines of “the weed of crime bears bitter fruit,” and invite you to check out Bill Johnstone’s signature role as The Shadow on Bitter FruitDead Men TellEvil Lurks, Hearts of EvilKnight of DarknessRadio Treasures, and Strange Puzzles. Our set of broadcasts from The Line-Up (Witness) also features some of Bill’s outstanding radio work. In addition, there’s The Adventures of Philip MarloweAmos ‘n’ Andy (Volume Two), Crime Classics (The Hyland Files), Escape (Essentials), The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (Parties for Death), Night Beat (Human Interest), The Phil Harris & Alice Faye Show (Smoother and Sweeter), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (Dead MenHomicide Made Easy), The Six Shooter (Gray SteelSpecial Edition), Stop the Press! (with the Night Beat episode “Doctor’s Secret”), Suspense (At WorkTies That Bind), The Weird Circle (Toll the Bell), and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (The Many Voices of Johnny Dollar). Last—but certainly not least—listen to Mr. Johnstone “walk by night” as one of the many Whistlers in the Whistler: Voices compilation! Happy birthday to one of the true radio greats!

Happy Birthday, Dan Duryea!

“He was Dark City’s most enchanting villain,” writes author/Turner Classic Movies personality Eddie Muller in his essential reference Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, “the man audiences loved to hate.”  Muller is talking about actor Dan Duryea, once described by movie critic Paul Gaita as “the go-to for malevolent supporting roles in Westerns and crime pictures.”  Despite his onscreen nastiness, the man born on this date in 1907 was, off-screen, a model citizen and devout family man whose interests included gardening and boating…not to mention being a member of both the P.T.A and the Boy Scouts (as a Scout Master!).  Nevertheless, whenever there was deviltry to be done, Dan was more than up to the task in films, TV…and old-time radio.

White Plains, New York is where Dan called home—the son of Mabel and textile salesman Richard Duryea.  Dan’s interest in acting began during his teenage years at White Plains High School as a member of the drama club, and continued in college as he pursued a degree in English at Cornell University.  (His senior year found him taking over as president of Cornell’s Dramatic Society…from a classmate who also did quite well for himself later in motion pictures, Franchot Tone.)  Duryea’s parents weren’t at all keen on their son’s interest in an acting career and, to placate them, Dan got work in advertising.  The job soon affected Duryea’s health; after suffering a mild heart attack, Dan decided that an actor’s existence would be a little less stressful. He began to focus on achieving his dream.  (In later years, Duryea remarked to interviewers that all he needed to work up the required violence in one of his characters was to think back on his terrible experiences in the ad biz.)

Duryea worked in summer stock, and got his Broadway break playing the small role of a “G-Man” in the Sidney Kingsley play Dead End (1935-37).  He went on to additional roles in Many Mansions (1937) and Missouri Legend (1938) before landing a plum assignment as the loutish Leo Hubbard in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes in 1939.  His role in Foxes would be reprised in the 1941 feature film version (starring Bette Davis) when Samuel Goldwyn purchased the movie rights to Hellman’s play.  While it was believed to be Dan’s film debut, he had previously played a bit role in a 1934 Argentinian film, El Tango en Broadway (Duryea made this film while looking for work on Broadway).  Dan made such an impression in Foxes (and a wonderful contribution as “Duke Pastrami” in the 1941 Gary Cooper-Barbara Stanwyck comedy Ball of Fire) that when Paramount brought Hellman’s prequel, Another Part of the Forest, to big screens in 1948, Duryea was cast as the young version of his character’s father (played in Foxes by Carl Benton Reid).

Other film roles followed—The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Sahara (1943), Mrs. Skeffington (1944)—but Duryea eventually began to carve out a niche for himself as what Muller describes as “a delectable bastard” with “an odd, almost fetishistic onscreen forte—beating women.” A prime example of this is the treatment he gives femme fatale Joan Bennett in the 1944 noir classic The Woman in the Window…at one point giving her the back of his hand and then throwing her onto a bed.  Directed by Fritz Lang, Window is one of Dan’s best vehicles (he is pure dagnasty evil) and he repeated his menacing ways in the director’s Scarlet Street, released the following year.  (Duryea had also appeared in Lang’s Ministry of Fear [1944], in which he does a memorable bit as a Nazi spy masquerading as a tailor brandishing a pair of lethal shears.)  Dan continued to play heavies in such films as Criss Cross (1949—as gangster Slim Dundee, one of his best bad guy showcases) and Too Late for Tears (1949), but his talent was such that studios soon found work for him as a slightly tarnished good guy in the likes of Black Angel (1946) and The Underworld Story (1950).  Duryea was a serviceable leading man, but as Muller observes: “When Duryea played straight the strange music in his voice tended to go flat.  When his riff was sharp and cunning, he exuded what one admirer described as ‘animal magnetism’.”

1950’s Winchester ’73 gave Dan Duryea the opportunity to portray one of his most memorable villains—that of outlaw Waco Johnny Dean, one of several people who comes into possession of the titular rifle.  The star of that film was James Stewart, and Dan would later be teamed with Jimmy in 1953’s Thunder Bay (he’s on the right side of the law as Stewart’s sidekick) and Night Passage (1957), which restored him to his no-goodnik status.  Duryea excelled at playing Western heavies in such oaters as Silver Lode (1954) and Ride Clear of Diablo (1954), and while he would continue in features throughout the decade with movies like The Burglar (1957) and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957), Dan had started to explore new avenues for his talent on the small screen.  He starred in a 1952 syndicated series entitled China Smith, in which he played a soldier-of-fortune who operated out of Singapore, and he reprised that character in a reboot two years later called The New Adventures of China Smith.  Dan performed on such TV anthologies as The Ford Television Theatre and The Lux Video Theatre, and made a hilarious guest appearance on Jack Benny’s TV show in 1955 that spoofed his bad guy image.

Dan Duryea’s motion picture success gave him plenty of opportunities to emote in front of a radio microphone, guesting on such favorites as Family TheatreThe Lux Radio TheatreThe Sealtest Variety Theatre, and Suspense.  Duryea’s most notable contribution in the aural medium, however, was as the star of The Man from Homicide.  Homicide was a summer replacement series for Inner Sanctum Mysteries in 1951, so its run was brief — but it featured Duryea as dedicated detective Lt. Lou Dana (replacing fellow noir actor Charles McGraw, who only appeared in the show’s first episode) and OTR veteran Lawrence Dobkin as his sidekick, Sgt. Meyers.

Duryea continued to work in motion pictures throughout the 1960s, appearing in Westerns like Six Black Horses (1962) and The Bounty Killer (1965), and he worked with Jimmy Stewart one last time in 1966’s The Flight of the Phoenix (as a mild-mannered accountant—a bit closer to his real-life persona).  Dan did a good bit of television around this time as well, guesting on favorites like The Twilight Zone, Laramie, RawhideRoute 66Bonanza, and Burke’s Law.  Though his final feature film was 1968’s The Bamboo Saucer, Dan was working steady as a cast member of TV’s Peyton Place (portraying con man Eddie Jacks) when he passed away at the age of 61 (shortly after undergoing surgery to have a malignancy removed).

“I thought the meaner I presented myself,” Dan Duryea once relayed to gossip maven Hedda Hopper, “the tougher I was with women, slapping them around in well-produced films where evil and death seem to lurk in every nightmare alley and behind every venetian blind in every seedy apartment, I could find a market for my screen characters.”  Dan did just that, and Radio Spirits invites you to check out some of our birthday boy’s finest small screen work in a 1958 episode of Climax! (“Four Hours in White”) that’s available on the DVD Great Hollywood Actors on Television and “Badge Without Honor,” a 1960 installment of the boob tube classic Bonanza.  But you’ll really want to check out our The Man from Homicide collection, a 4-CD set containing rare broadcasts of Dan as a hard-boiled homicide cop (“I don’t like killers!”).  Happy birthday to Dan Duryea, the charming bad guy who makes watching classic movies a true delight!

Happy Birthday, J. Carrol Naish!

At the beginning of each weekly broadcast of the radio sitcom Life with Luigi, the program’s announcer would introduce Luigi star J. Carrol Naish as “that celebrated actor.”  Truer words were never spoken; Naish’s lengthy show business career found him employed on stage, in movies, and on radio and TV.  J. Carrol was a master of dialects, and portrayed a variety of characters of every ethnicity…except Irish…which he actually was. Born Joseph Patrick Carroll Naish in New York City on this date in 1896, his talent for foreign accents would earn him the nickname of “Hollywood’s one-man U.N.”

So how is it that J. Carrol Naish rarely portrayed an Irishman?  “When the part of an Irishman comes along, no one ever thinks of me,” the actor once explained.  But Naish was truly a son of the Auld Sod; his father Patrick had emigrated to the U.S. in 1890 from County Limerick and was the nephew of John Naish, Ireland’s Lord Chancellor.  For young J. Carrol, however, it was an actor’s life for him—he took his first steps under the footlights as a member of Gus Edwards’ renowned kiddie troupe in vaudeville.  Educated at St. Cecilia’s Academy, Naish quit school at the age of 16 to join the U.S. Navy…and after deserting that branch to join the Army, eventually saw action with the Signal Corps in World War I.  He later traveled the world with the Merchant Marine, which allowed him to work on acquiring dialects and obtain a knowledge of languages (he spoke six fluently).

According to legend, J. Carrol Naish started to make inroads on the stage in 1925 as a member of Molly Picon’s Yiddish Theatre—where his Jewish dialect was so convincing that a rabbi confronted him backstage and scolded him for not attending synagogue.  Naish got his first taste of stage success as a member of a national touring company for a 1926 production of The Shanghai Gesture, and would later appear in such Broadway plays as The Crooks’ Convention (1929) and A View from the Bridge/A Memory of Two Mondays (1955).  J. Carrol would obtain far more exposure on the silver screen, beginning with an uncredited role as a French soldier in 1926’s What Price Glory?  His prolific movie career began around the advent of talkies and would result in appearances in close to 200 films.

Naish’s forte in his early movie career was portraying gangsters…which he did in such features as Gun Smoke (1931), The Mouthpiece (1932), and The Beast of the City (1932).  The actor gave memorable performances in films like The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Captain Blood (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), and Beau Geste (1939), balancing out his work in “A” pictures with journeyman jobs in second features (Charlie Chan at the CircusThink Fast, Mr. Moto, etc.).  His portrayal of a captured Italian soldier in the Humphrey Bogart feature Sahara (1943) earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and J. Carrol garnered a second nom in the same category for playing the father of the titular character of A Medal for Benny (1945).  Horror movie mavens fondly remember Naish for his portrayal of the sympathetic hunchback Daniel in House of Frankenstein (1944); he also appeared in the first entry of Columbia’s film franchise based on radio’s The Whistler (and two of Universal’s “Inner Sanctum” programmers as well).

J. Carrol Naish’s heralded work in vehicles like The Southerner (1945), Humoresque (1946), and The Fugitive (1947) was supplemented with radio appearances on such shows as The Camel Screen Guild TheatreFamily TheatreG.I. JournalThe Kraft Music HallThe Lux Radio Theatre, and Suspense.  The show that would make Naish a household name, however, was Life with Luigi—a situation comedy that premiered over CBS on September 21, 1948.  J. Carrol played Luigi Basco, a newly-arrived Italian immigrant to these shores whose attempts to achieve the American Dream with his own antiques business were occasionally stymied by his sponsor—a scheming restaurateur named Pasquale, portrayed by actor Alan Reed.  Pasquale never missed an opportunity to remind his friend that Luigi owed much to Pasquale’s generosity in helping him get established in his new country…and all Pasquale wanted in return was for Luigi to walk down the matrimonial aisle with his hefty daughter Rosa (Jody Gilbert).  A solid hit for CBS for six seasons, Life with Luigi’s transition to TV hit a snag when its sponsors became concerned about the series’ broad Italian stereotypes.  The TV version of Luigi had a relatively short run.

While Luigi was convulsing radio audiences weekly, J. Carrol Naish continued to appear in silver screen favorites such as Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Rio Grande (1950—Naish actually plays an Irishman in this one, Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan), Clash By Night (1952), Sitting Bull (1954), Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1954), Violent Saturday (1955), and New York Confidential (1955). (J. Carrol Naish’s rich, resonant voice also allowed him to narrate such films as 1952’s The Story of Will Rogers and The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.)  His work on the TV Luigi and appearances on shows like General Electric Theatre and Lux Video Theatre spurred an interest in the small screen, and in 1957 Naish undertook a high-profile TV gig as the star of the syndicated The New Adventures of Charlie Chan.  More television work followed—a supporting role as Hawkeye on the ABC-TV sitcom Guestward Ho (1960-61), and guest appearances on favorites like Wanted: Dead or AliveThe Restless GunThe UntouchablesWagon Train, and Route 66.  Ill health forced the actor to retire in 1970—his final movie role was in Dracula vs. Frankenstein, released in 1971—and Naish passed away in 1973 at the age of 77.

One of J. Carrol Naish’s most unusual movie roles (and let’s not kid ourselves—it’s also a little controversial when seen through more enlightened eyes) was portraying the sinister Dr. Daka—the villain in the first serial based on the comic book character of Batman.  This 1943 chapter play is one of three featured in Superhero Origins, a DVD that also contains the follow-up to the first Batman cliffhanger, Batman and Robin (1949), and a classic serial based on The Shadow (1940).  But Radio Spirits hasn’t forgotten J. Carrol’s radio roots on his birthday—our Life with Luigi collection is also available, and we think you’ll enjoy these sixteen vintage broadcasts from the series…particularly hearing master dialecticians Naish and Alan Reed work their magic!  (There’s Luigi available on our Great Radio Comedy and Radio’s Christmas Celebrations sets, too.)  Happiest of birthdays to one of our favorite character actors!

Happy Birthday, William Bendix!

In movies, television—and especially on radio—actor William Bendix frequently played a typical blue-collar working stiff.  Take his most famous role, Chester A. Riley, of the successful radio/TV sitcom The Life of Riley; the titular hero was a Brooklyn, NY expatriate who moved with his family (wife, daughter, and son) to the milder climes of California where he worked as a riveter at an aircraft factory.  As a well-meaning schmoe who frequently found himself in hot water, despite his best intentions, Bendix perfected the Brooklyn accent (and attitude) to make Riley a true pop culture hero.  So it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that Bill—born on this date in 1906…actually hailed from Manhattan!

Biographers note that young William (named after his grandfather) was a descendant of famed composer Felix Mendelssohn-Barrholdy, and that his uncle Max was a composer-concertmaster with both the Chicago Symphony and the Metropolitan Orchestras.  A show business career appeared to be in the cards for Bill, and he made a rather inauspicious motion picture debut as a youngster in a Vitagraph short starring Lillian Walker (his father Oscar did odd jobs at the Vitagraph studios at the time).  Before returning to those endeavors, however, Bendix embarked on a series of colorful pursuits (after deciding not to finish high school), beginning with becoming a batboy for the New York Yankees in the 1920s.  The story goes that Bill obtained for Yankees player Babe Ruth a large order of hot dogs and soda before a game…and when this splendid repast rendered Ruth incapable of playing, Bendix got his pink slip from the organization.  (Later, Bill would portray the Bambino in a 1948 film, The Babe Ruth Story.)

William Bendix’s later occupations included stints as a singing waiter and grocery store manager—the latter career resulting from his marriage to Theresa Stefanotti in 1927 (his father-in-law called in a few favors).  His grocer days didn’t last long, however; the store went belly up during the Depression and Bill soon drifted into acting (he was a member of the Federal Theatre Project from 1935 to 1939), something he had previously done while warbling and waiting on tables.  Bendix also entertained in nightclubs and landed small roles in Broadway productions like Run Sheep Run and Miss Swan Expects, but his breakthrough role was that of Officer Krupp in the 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Time of Your Life.  His good notices in that smash would win him a contract with Hollywood producer Hal Roach, and he scored his first credited screen role in the Roach “streamliner” Brooklyn Orchid (1942).

In Orchid, Bendix played Timothy “Tim” McGuerin, a good-natured cab driver (Irish, begorrah)…and he reprised the role in two follow-ups, The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942—also known as Two Mugs from Brooklyn) and Taxi, Mister (1943).  After seeing The McGuerins from Brooklyn, writer Irving Brecher wanted Bill to play the patriarch in a radio sitcom that he had originally created for his friend Groucho Marx (it was titled The Flotsam Family).  Groucho’s version went nowhere, but Brecher felt that with Bendix as the lead, the series might get picked up…and it did, making its debut over the Blue Network on January 16, 1944 (sponsored by the American Meat Institute).  The Life of Riley, as it eventually came to be known, was a huge hit. When it moved to NBC in the fall of 1945, it remained a radio staple until 1951.  The popular show—which inspired a feature film in 1949—would eventually transition to the small screen that same year…but in its first incarnation, Bendix was not able to reprise his role due to a clause in his motion picture contract.  Jackie Gleason played Riley in the first series (1949-50), and the second time around (1953-58) Bendix was back in his element as the bumbling, fumbling Riley.

William Bendix’s success in Brooklyn Orchid soon made him much-in-demand around Tinsel Town, landing him high profile gigs in features like Woman of the Year (1942) and Wake Island (1942—where he scored his solo Academy Award nomination playing Private Aloysius K. “Smacksie” Randall).  He was versatile enough to portray menaces (like the brutal henchman in 1942’s The Glass Key) and comic stooges (he’s an ideal foil for Abbott & Costello in Who Done It? [1942]).  Bill’s memorable movie roles include Guadalcanal Diary (1943), Lifeboat (1944), A Bell for Adano (1945), The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Dark Corner (1946), The Web (1947), and The Time of Your Life (1948)—this time playing Nick, the saloon owner in this James Cagney-financed production.

Bendix was more than capable when it came to providing support in films featuring his fellow radio comedians.  He’s part of the all-star ensemble in Duffy’s Tavern (1945), and has a delightful bit as a hypochondriac gangster (named “Bill Bendix”) in Fred Allen’s It’s in the Bag! (1945).  He’s Bob Hope’s prospective brother-in-law in Where There’s Life (1947), and gets the opportunity to croon with Bing Crosby (and Sir Cedric Hardwicke) in the delightful Technicolor musical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949).  His comedic flair made Bill a delightful guest star on the radio shows of Victor Borge, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Al Jolson, Fibber McGee & Molly, and Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis.  Bendix’s other radio appearances include The Cavalcade of AmericaThe Columbia WorkshopCommand PerformanceFamily TheatreG.I. JournalThe Lady Esther/Camel Screen Guild Theatre, The Lux Radio TheatreThe Railroad HourSuspenseThe Theatre Guild on the Air, and Truth or Consequences.

While William Bendix continued to appear in films like The Big Steal (1949), Kill the Umpire (1950), and Detective Story (1951), the 1950s found him focusing more on his weekly duties on TV’s The Life of Riley and guesting on game shows like I’ve Got a Secret and What’s My Line?  After finishing that five-year Riley run, Bill would star on one additional series—a short-lived Western titled Overland Trail (co-starring Doug McClure)—and make appearances on favorites such as Wagon TrainThe Untouchables, and Burke’s Law.  His cinematic swan song was 1964’s Young Fury…he passed away that same year at the age of 58.

William Bendix is one of several guest stars on Smile a While, a fantastic collection of vintage broadcasts from The Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy Show (I wrote the liner notes!) featuring recently unearthed shows from 1943!  Bendix also appears on a memorable January 18, 1944 escapade of The George Burns-Gracie Allen Show that’s present and accounted for on Burns & Allen and Friends.  But to fully celebrate today’s birthday boy, check out Radio Spirits’ one-two punch of collections—Magnificent Mug and Blue Collar Blues—and potpourri sets like Great Radio Comedy to enjoy hilarious broadcasts of The Life of Riley.  William Bendix’s birthday…it’s definitely not a revoltin’ development!

“Welcome to the mysterious circle of the Inner Sanctum…”

Established in 1924 by Richard L. Simon (father of singer-songwriter Carly Simon) and M. Lincoln “Max” Schuster as a vehicle to sell crossword puzzle books, the company known as Simon & Schuster (still in existence today, by the way) quickly established itself as a leader in the publishing field with innovations in mass-marketing and distribution.  Additionally, they were the first to offer booksellers the option of returning unsold books for credit, and Simon & Schuster can also lay claim to creating the modern paperback when they instituted their “Pocket Books” line in 1939.  With the introduction of a series of novels in 1930 that the company dubbed “Inner Sanctum” (color-coded books in which the subject matter ranged from serious drama to detective/mystery stories), Simon & Schuster can accept responsibility for one of old-time radio’s classic horror anthologies…which made its radio debut on this date in 1941.

It was, in fact, a radio show that inspired the “Inner Sanctum” book series…that would return full circle to radio.  Simon & Schuster’s rival Street and Smith had agreed to sponsor CBS’ The Detective Story Hour in 1930 to boost sales of their publication Detective Story Magazine.  (That program would later metamorphose into The Shadow.)  The “Inner Sanctum” book series was introduced in that same year, but it received a rather lukewarm reception from the book-buying public.  Had it not been for the company’s decision to reissue the first novel in that series—Claude Haughton’s I Am Jonathan Scrivener—in 1935, the book franchise might never have given birth to its eventual radio counterpart.  But the “Inner Sanctum” series began to move product, and with the success of other radio horror programs, such as The Witch’s Tale and Lights Out, it would only be a matter of time before radio listeners began turning down their lights for additional goosebumps.

The task of bringing Inner Sanctum Mysteries before the microphones would fall to radio veteran Himan Brown.  The director-producer of any number of shows from soap operas (Marie, the Little French PrincessJoyce Jordan, M.D.) to juvenile action (Dick TracyFlash Gordon), by the 1940s Brown had become a one-man industry when it came to initiating radio programs, enjoying success with hits like Bulldog Drummond and The Adventures of the Thin Man.  Hi had approached Simon & Schuster with the proposition for a radio version of Sanctum, but rather than sponsoring the show by their lonesome they suggested he line up someone else to pay the bills.  Faster than you can say “Your host, Raymond” Brown had persuaded Carter’s Little Liver Pills to sign on the dotted line…and Inner Sanctum Mysteries made its debut over the Blue Network on January 7, 1941.

“Your host, Raymond” was actor Raymond Edward Johnson, who Himan Brown hired to introduce each week’s bloodcurdling tale of murder and mayhem.  Raymond would eventually morph into what some might recognize as an embryonic version of the modern-day television horror movie host, cracking atrocious puns in a jovial, tongue-in-cheek manner.  (“Well, it’s so nice of you to come here tonight…and…uh…help me sit up with a corpse…he’s such dull company…so cold and stiff…”)  Raymond would make his entrance after the program’s signature opening: three bars of organ music punctuated by a sting…and then the sound of a doorknob turning.  Listeners then heard a door swinging in slowly with an ominous creak…

The idea for the “creaking door” sprang from a sound effect that Himan Brown had previously used on a broadcast of Dick Tracy, though in later years Brown would reminisce that the inspiration had been the basement door in a studio where he had once worked. As he relayed it in Martin Grams, Jr.’s Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Behind the Creaking Door, “The door told me to use it. The door spoke to me. ‘Make me a star,’ it said.” Brown was true to his word; the rusty hinges of the door to the Inner Sanctum would become one of radio’s beloved sound effects, and one of only two sounds from Radio’s Golden Age to be copyrighted (the other being the NBC chimes).

The content of Inner Sanctum Mysteries fluctuated between classic horror tales (like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”) and original stories of terror with a dash of the supernatural for spice.  Modern-day listeners have occasionally described surviving recordings as “camp”; Sanctum never made any bones (see what I did there?) about subtlety, and many of its dramas would call it a wrap with endings not too far removed from an episode of Scooby Doo, Where are You? (“It’s Old Mr. Crabtree, the owner of the amusement park!”)  In its purest form, Inner Sanctum offered simple, old-fashioned entertainment—the sort of spinetingling spook tales one might tell around a campfire.  Sanctum also boasted a most impressive list of Hollywood celebrities that guest starred now and then, with performances from horror icons Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre supplemented by the likes of non-horror actors such as Mary Astor and Raymond Massey.  For the most part, the series chiefly drew upon a rich pool of New York radio talent with veterans like Berry Kroeger, Lesley Woods, Santos Ortega, and Everett Sloane.

When Inner Sanctum Mysteries moved to CBS in the fall of 1943, the sponsorship shifted to Colgate-Palmolive-Peet.  In January of 1945, the series took on its best-remembered sponsor in Lipton’s Tea, with host Raymond regularly matching wits with Lipton spokeswoman Mary Bennett.  (Mary would scold Raymond when he insisted on adding his macabre sense of humor to the commercials.)  Sanctum’s longest-running sponsor was the Emerson Drug Company (from 1946-50, and distinguished by another memorable ad for “bromoseltzerbromoseltzerbromoseltzer“), but by that time Raymond Edward Johnson’s hosting duties had shifted to actor-announcer Paul McGrath.  (Johnson had left the show in May of 1945 after receiving greetings from Uncle Sam.)  McGrath sounded similar to the departing Johnson, but decided to keep his identity a secret by referring to himself simply as “your host.”

In July of 1950, Inner Sanctum Mysteries returned to its old Blue neighborhood (now known as ABC) as a summer sustainer, and then persuaded Mars Candy to pick up the check in September, continuing in that capacity until June 18, 1951.  The radio show had one more brief summer run on CBS in 1952 (sponsored by the Pearson Pharmaceutical Company) before giving up the ghost (okay, I promise to stop now).  An attempt was made to bring Inner Sanctum to the small screen in the form of a syndicated TV series (produced in 1953 and telecast in 1954), but it failed to catch fire…much in the same manner as a short-lived Universal movie franchise (six films produced between 1943 and 1945).  Inner Sanctum remains a show that works best for those who truly enjoy “the theater of the mind.” (When I was in fifth grade, my English teacher had me spellbound with reminisces of listening to the show when she was a youngster.)

To celebrate the anniversary of Inner Sanctum Mysteries, Radio Spirits invites you to sample some of its eerie delights with three deliciously terrifying tales in our potpourri release of Great Radio Horror.  After you’ve finished with that appetizer, you’re ready for the main course in Shadows of Death—an eight-CD set with sixteen vintage broadcasts (and liner notes by yours truly).  It wouldn’t be a complete meal without dessert, of course, so we offer up our newest Sanctum collection, Pattern for Fear, with sixteen additional episodes of “the fear you can hear.”  As for me…well, it’s time to close that squeaking door…good niiii-iight…pleasant dreeeeeaaaaammmmmsssss…

Happy Birthday, Richard Kollmar!

From 1941 to 1949, Columbia Pictures entertained devoted moviegoers with a series of films based on a character created by author Jack Boyle in 1914.  The Boston Blackie franchise was comprised of fourteen B-movies that brilliantly mixed comedy and mystery.  They starred Academy Award nominee Chester Morris as Horatio “Boston Blackie” Black as a reformed safecracker/jewel thief who frequently found himself embroiled in crime investigations…and under suspicion from his nemesis on the police force, Inspector Farraday (played by Richard Lane).  Despite their “second feature” status, the films are still engaging to watch today, with outstanding entries like Meet Boston Blackie (1941) and Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941) able to hold their own against any “A” mystery produced at that time.

Morris and Lane reprised their movie roles for a 1944 NBC radio series that aired as a summer replacement for Amos ‘n’ Andy.  The actor who became best known for portraying Blackie on radio, however, was Dick Kollmar—born Richard Tompkins Kollmar in Brooklyn on this date in 1910.  Kollmar had an impressive family background: his great-great grandfather was Daniel D. Tompkins—the fourth Governor of New York and, later, sixth Vice-President of the United States (under James Monroe).  But young Richard also had a reputation for being a “hellion,” prompting his father to enroll him in a New Jersey school for “problem boys” (his family had moved to the Garden State when he was an infant).  Kollmar would later attend Tusculum College in Tennessee, where he developed an interest in acting (in addition to being editor of the student newspaper and a member of the glee club), which encouraged him to enroll in the Yale School of Drama after graduation.

Dick Kollmar never fulfilled his commitment to Yale, however, because he landed a job in radio. And when he moved back to New York City for further opportunities in the medium, he began getting stage work. Kollmar made his Broadway debut in 1938’s Knickerbocker Holiday.  He followed that up with Too Many Girls (1940), and later not only appeared in the 1941 musical revue Crazy with the Heat but wrote songs for that production as well.  Kollmar enjoyed a fruitful career as a director-producer of such shows as By Jupiter (1942-43), Early to Bed (1943-44), and Are You with It? (1945-46).  Dick continued his theatrical work in the 1950s with the likes of Plain and Fancy (1955-56) and The Body Beautiful (1958).

On radio, Kollmar was one of the busiest actors in daytime drama.  He portrayed John Perry, the titular hero of John’s Other Wife, and David Naughton on Claudia and David.  Dick also emoted on Life Can Be Beautiful (as Barry Markham), Pretty Kitty Kelly (Jackie Van Orpington/Dennis Pierce), and When a Girl Marries (Paul Stanley).  On Big Sister, Kollmar essayed the role of Michael West…and reprised the role when that character was spun-off onto another soap, Bright Horizon.  His radio resume also includes announcing duties on The Alan Young Show and The Adventures of Topper, not to mention Gang BustersGrand Central StationGreat PlaysThe Radio Reader’s Digest (he was the host from 1946-47), and Theatre of Romance.

Richard Kollmar is best remembered for two old-time radio gigs.  I’ve mentioned Boston Blackie, a show on which he performed from 1945-50. (It was syndicated by Ziv, but was also heard on Mutual outlets.) Maurice Tarplin co-starred on that program (as Farraday), along with Lesley Woods and Jan Miner (as Blackie’s gal Friday Mary Wesley).  But on April 15, 1945, Dick launched his longest-running radio venture with his wife Dorothy Kilgallen (a Broadway columnist for The New York Journal-American): Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick.  A precursor to the morning talk shows that permeate television nowadays, Breakfast originated in the Kollmars’ 16-room apartment on Park Avenue and 66th Street.  It featured “one of America’s most charming couples” (according to WOR publicity) engaging in a 45-minute conversation about their fabulous lives, friends and family. They were heard live Monday through Saturday, with a pre-recorded edition on Sunday (while they no doubt slept in).

Although it was only a local program, it’s been estimated that the audience for Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick reached 20 million listeners regularly…which is why sponsors no doubt knocked one another down for an opportunity to advertise on the show.  The Kollmars’ program was originally put together as a replacement for a similar show hosted by Ed and Pegeen Fitzgerald, who had jumped ship from WOR to WJZ after launching their show in 1942.  (The Fitzgeralds later had quite the heated rivalry with the Kollmars.)  With their children Richard, Jr. (Dickie) and Jill, loyal retainer Julius (the butler), and a chirpy canary named Robin, the Kollmars made mornings cheerier for loyal listeners until their final sign-off on March 21, 1963.  (That classic Fred Allen/Tallulah Bankhead parody of the radio couple who get up on the wrong side of the bed owes a lot to Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick, by the way.)

Richard Kollmar had only one movie credit: the 1948 B-picture thriller Close-Up.  He fared much better on the small screen, with guest roles on series like The Web and Armstrong Circle Theatre, and hosting gigs on the likes of Broadway Spotlight and Guess What?  He appeared multiple times as a panelist (three times as a “mystery guest”) on What’s My Line?, a show that featured Mrs. Kollmar (Dorothy) as a regular.  Dick never really got over the passing of Dorothy in 1965 (there is still speculation as to the details of her death, which some believe was connected to the JFK assassination). Although he remarried in 1967 (to fashion designer Anne Fogarty), he was said by close friends to be often despondent and depressed.  Kollmar went on to his greater reward in 1971 at the age of 60 after an overdose of barbiturates.

In honor of Richard Kollmar’s birthday, Radio Spirits invites you to check out our latest release of classic Boston Blackie broadcasts: Boston Blackie Delivers the Goods.  The title is not hyperbole, by the way; it’s an eight-CD set containing sixteen thrilling escapades of the famed sleuth from 1947.  “Enemy to those who make him an enemy! Friend to those who have no friends!”