Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


 The Shadow ran for 18 seasons on the Mutual Radio Network, for a total of 677 shows.  The Shadow began as the mysterious narrator on July 31, 1930, on the radio show Detective Story Hour, an anthology program designed to promote Street and Smith Publishing's Detective Story Magazine.  The name The Shadow was first proposed by scriptwriter Harry Engman Charlot as the producers tried to come up with a description for their narrator.  When newstand customers began asking for the "Shadow" magazine, Street and Smith realized they were on to a good thing and hired writer Walter B. Gibson to create and develop The Shadow as a distinct literary character.  Gibson's Shadow premiered in the first issue of The Shadow Magazine, with the story "The Living Shadow," dated April 1, 1931.

The Shadow was a crimefighter who had the power to cloud men's minds.  He had many identities, the most-used identity over time was that of wealthy Lamont Cranston.  On the radio program, as opposed to the magazine stories, his power to cloud men's minds rendered him invisible to his enemies.  The Shadow Magazine ran for 325 issues, each with a novel, by-lined with house name "Maxwell Grant," about the mysterious vigilante, ending with the Summer 1949 issue.  The majority of the original Shadow stories (282 of them!) were written by Gibson.  Beginning in 1963, Belmont Books published nine original paperback adventures of The Shadow, the first written by Gibson, the remainder by Dennis Lynds.  In 2015, writer Will Murray brought The Shadow back in two authorized mashups with Street and Smith's other major pulp hero, Doc Savage; these were published under the house name "Kenneth Robeson."  In 2021, James Patterson and Brian Sitts published the first of a proposed series of Shadow novels that brought the crime fighter from 1937 to 2087 -- the book, IMHO, was an unmitigated disaster.

(The Shadow was also featured in films, a comic strip, comic books [including crossovers], a vdieo game, a pinball machine, and two failed attempts at a television series.)

Back to the radio show.

The Shadow's other identities, as well as his elaborate network of operatives, were dropped in favor of Cranston, who, besides being seemingly invisible, now has the power to read minds.  The Shadow of the airwaves is more compassionate and less ruthless than his pulp counterpart.  Created for the radio show was the character of Margo Lane, the Shadow's companion and love interest.  She is the only person who knows that The Shadow is Cranston.

22-year-old Orson Welles voiced The Shadow until 1938, when the role was taken over by Bill Johnson.  Johnson left after five seasons and the role was filled by Bret Morrison (in separate turns totalling ten years), John Archer, and Stephen Courtleigh.  Margo Lane was played by Agnes Morehead, and others.  (After four years on the radio the character of Margo Lane transitioned to the pulp magazine, drawing a slew of hate male from loyal readers.)

In "The Destroyer," The Shadow faces a madman bent on destruction in order to be remembered in history.  John Archer plays The Shadow/Cranston, and Judith Allen is Margot Lane.  Future science fiction legend Alfred Bester wrote the script.

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows!"  Follow the link and you, too, will know.


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