This week, I’m stirring things up a little here at OTR Wednesday. While I love highlighting radio adaptations of classic films from decades past, I thought it might be fun to also highlight some of my favorite radio programs too. So, while shows like Lux Radio Theatre and Screen Guild Theatre will continue to pop up from time to time, other weeks will see a wide range of OTR shows featured as well. Everything from comedies to westerns to horror to crime drama are all fair game. Some of these programs will appear here while other non-horror related shows can be found on our sister site, the Kansas City Cinephile.
First up this week, my favorite radio show of all time…The Shadow. The Shadow was originally created to be the host of Detective Story Hour before becoming an actual character in Street & Smithpulp magazines in 1931 as written by Walter B. Gibson. While The Shadow soon earned his own magazine in 1931, he continued as only a host on radio until March 1935. As The Shadow magazine continued to be popular, Street & Smith desired to bring the character to life on the radio.
Finally, courtesy of a new partnership between Street & Smith and Blue Coal, The Shadow radio program had its real debut in the fall of 1937. While the radio character differed in several ways from the literary version, this Shadow was no longer just a host but a real crime fighter. On radio, The Shadow was in reality Lamont Cranston, a wealthy man about town. In the first year, a young Orson Welles portrayed The Shadow with Agnes Moorehead as his companion, the lovely Margot Lane.
Between 1937 and 1954, a total of 677 episodes were produced with five different actors in the lead role. Besides the originals stories and radio program, The Shadow had a successful newspaper strip run and comic books, not to mention six feature films, a chapter serial, six film shorts and a television pilot. The most recent film was in 1994 with Alec Baldwin as The Shadow in a story that was more inspired by the original stories than any previous effort.
Let’s journey back to that very first episode of The Shadow from September 26, 1937. Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead head up the cast for an adventure entitled The Death House Rescue.
Don’t forget to check out the new Personal Old Time Radio Favorites playlist and all of my other playlists on my YouTube channel for more great old time radio! And remember…
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
The Shadow knows!