Wednesday, February 21, 2024

M3 Memories

It had been more than a dozen years since my last visit to the USA; I wasn't particularly eager to see the USA again. At first, when I heard my Uncle Steve was the keynote speaker at the Moblizing Medical Missions (M3) conference in Houston, I thought of it only in terms of what I should share with his supporters, in case any of them wanted to connect with him during his brief visit to the USA.

But when I learned M3 was being held by Lakewood Church, which my wife had attended online regularly during the pandemic, I told my uncle how enthused she was to hear of his role in the conference. He came back suggesting to his parnters at Hope for Angola that it would be a great idea if I attended to give away copies of the Benefit of Steel, the biography I wrote of my uncle.

It took some careful arranging, but my wife and I were able to join my uncle at M3. We took in the entire conference, gave away 160 signed copies of the Benefit of Steel and help connect a number of people to what my uncle is doing in Angola. Hopefully some of these people will eventually visit Angola for themselves and participate first-hand in the work we're doing there. For myself, I've agreed to work more closely with Hope for Angola in the future, in addition to the other roles I'm holding in Angolan mission work.

It was a brief visit and not exactly a vacation, but my wife was thrilled to see Lakewood Church and attend their Sunday service in person. We came away impressed by the helpfulness and generosity of the many people who helped solve logistical problems for us (transportation) or paid for our meals. It was a very special visit.

My Uncle Steve delivered this talk, which is available via YouTube:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Radio Recap: One Out of Seven

I've been examining the early years of Jack Webb's career lately and perhaps the most arresting piece of work he delved into in his first year on the radio (and that's saying something, in a year in which he starred in the Jack Webb Show and Pat Novak, for Hire) is One Out of Seven, a 15-minute program produced at ABC's San Francisco office from February 6 to March 20, 1946. Although the series' title referred to the news story "most worthy of retelling" from the previous week, appropriately One Out of Seven broadcast only 7 episodes total.

One Out of Seven was a news commentary/opinion program. It was directed and produced by Gil Doud, who was likewise just starting out in radio (he went on to write for the Voyage of the Scarlet Queen, the Adventures of Sam Spade, Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar). The program was produced on a low budget, like the other San Francisco ABC programs Webb was involved in; for One Out of Seven, Webb was the only voice actor in every episode.

But One Out of Seven was, as I stated, an arresting program. You're not liable to forget it once you've heard an episode. I was treated to the 1st episode (a portrait of Senator Theodore Bilbo) over 20 years ago and I've never forgotten it, particularly Webb's echoed phrase (dripping with sarcasm): "Theodore Bilbo is an honorable man, and we do not intend to prove otherwise." One Out of Seven is utterly unlike other radio dramas from the time that you've heard because it had opinions on social problems of the day -- and pulled no punches in sharing them. Chief among the program's focus were the racial issues in the USA, especially those of the southern states. Of the 4 surviving episodes, 3 are concerned in some way with racism. This was simply not a topic other radio programs of the time were willing/able to confront.

You might feel uncomfortable listening to One Out of Seven; because Webb was the only performer, he had to adopt a lot of dialects, so that includes performing as black men. He also utters the n-word slur in one episode. But if you think of Webb as a stodgy old vanguard of conservatism (which his 1960s Dragnet TV show certainly helped promulgate) you might be surprised to find that 1946 Jack Webb was apparently a very liberal man for his time. One Out of Seven wasn't an angry program but it was certainly razor-sharp in its analysis of the USA's shortcomings.

You can hear the 4 surviving episodes of One Out of Seven at the Internet Archive (the episode labeled "Free Men" is identical to the "Anti-Negro South" episode).

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Radio Recap: Stay Tuned for Terror

I keep thinking I know everything about old-time radio horror... then a new discovery puts me in my place.

When I first got on the internet in 1998 there were a number of old-time radio sites that stated with an air of authority that what they recorded as still existing represented all that still existed or ever would. And time and time again, that research has been usurped.

Stay Tuned for Terror was a syndicated old-time radio horror program that was distributed in 1945. Apparently it didn't do very well or circulate very far. The entire series was written by Robert Bloch and adapted (by him) from a variety of his short stories previously published in Weird Tales. The existence of the program has been known of for a long time but it was thought to be gone for good.

Yet a few years ago, two episodes of Stay Tuned for Terror popped up! The episodes are titled "The Bogey Man Will Get You" and "Lizzie Borden Took an Axe." Having listened to them, I found they held up quite well. Stay Tuned for Terror didn't have familiar performers but the actors in both dramas did quite well, in my opinion. It certainly helps that Bloch wrote great horror stories - although his are a bit more gruesome than even a typical Inner Sanctum Mysteries episode of the time (perhaps the grisly contents contributed to the short run).

Since two episodes have now appeared, perhaps more will come. In researching this series, I was surprised to learn that half of an episode of the Weird Tales' own 1932 radio series has turned up! It's the 2nd half of an episode "The Curse of Nagana." It sounds a lot like episodes of the Witch's Tale from that time, consisting primarily of people yelling dialogue at each other in an attempt to fabricate tension. It's not really any good, but it is an interesting historical fragment. The research suggests there may have only been 3 episodes recorded and that the series was never actually sold or broadcat. You can hear that fragment on the Internet Archive.

You can hear Stay Tuned for Terror at the Internet Archive! Their page includes a lot of additional information about the series!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Creator Credits: The Marvels (2023)

There's been a lot of discussions online as to why this film failed to earn a profit at the box office as it is the lowest-earning Marvel Cinematic Universe film yet. I saw many suggested it was because the film required viewers to be familiar with the Disney+ shows WandaVision and Ms. Marvel but heck, my wife hadn't seen either of those programs or Captain Marvel and she followed the plot just fine.

I suppose the viewpoint I'm most convinced by is that filmgoers are less interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe overall - that Avengers: Endgame has been widely viewed as a jumping-off point and now we're seeing which properties are the ones viewers are most interested in.

As ever, I appreciate any corrections to this list. My full list of creators whose works have been adapted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is right here.

Stan Lee: co-creator of the Avengers, a super hero team (Avengers #1, 1963); of the Skrulls, an extraterrestrial race with green skin, ridged chins and the power to shapeshift (Fantastic Four #2, 1962); of the Kree, an extraterrestrial race of conquerors widespread throughout the universe; of the Supreme Intelligence, the artificial intelligence which rules the Kree, manifests as a large green face (Fantastic Four #64, 1967); of the Accusers, Kree officials who wield the hammer-like Universal Weapon (Fantastic Four #65, 1967); of the hero Captain Marvel, initially a Kree warrior; of Mar-Vell, a pink Kree who defected to Earth; of Yon-Rogg, a pink Kree officer and enemy of Earth; of Kree uniforms with white and teal colors, pointed shoulder pads, half-mask and pointed helmet (Marvel Super-Heroes #12, 1967); of Nick Fury, a heroic soldier (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1, 1963); of Nick Fury wearing an eyepatch; of Nick Fury as an intelligence agent (Strange Tales #135, 1965); of Hawkeye, a costumed archer (Tales of Suspense #57, 1964); of the Cosmic Cube, a massively powerful artifact (Tales of Suspense #79, 1966); of the Beast, a mutant hero with ape-like agility and a large vocabulary; of Charles Xavier, the Beast's superior (X-Men #1, 1963); of the Scarlet Witch, a woman with hex powers (X-Men #4, 1964); of the Beast as a scientist (X-Men #8, 1964)

Jack Kirby: co-creator of the Avengers, a super hero team (Avengers #1, 1963); of the Skrulls, an extraterrestrial race with green skin, ridged chins and the power to shapeshift (Fantastic Four #2, 1962); of the Kree, an extraterrestrial race of conquerors widespread throughout the universe; of the Supreme Intelligence, the artificial intelligence which rules the Kree, manifests as a large green face (Fantastic Four #64, 1967); of the Accusers, Kree officials who wield the hammer-like Universal Weapon (Fantastic Four #65, 1967); of a hero named the Vision (Marvel Mystery Comics #13, 1940); of Nick Fury, a heroic soldier (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1, 1963); of Nick Fury wearing an eyepatch; of Nick Fury as an intelligence agent (Strange Tales #135, 1965); of the Cosmic Cube, a massively powerful artifact (Tales of Suspense #79, 1966); of the Beast, a mutant hero with ape-like agility and a large vocabulary; of Charles Xavier, the Beast's superior (X-Men #1, 1963); of the Scarlet Witch, a woman with hex powers (X-Men #4, 1964); of the Beast as a scientist (X-Men #8, 1964)

G. Willow Wilson: co-creator of Ms. Marvel, alias Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who lives in Jersey City; of Kamala wearing a costume in imitation of Carol Danvers consisting of a mask, blue smock with yellow 'M', red burkini and golden bangle; of Kamala using her powers to create a giant hand; of Yusuf and Muneeba Khan, Kamala's over-protective parents (All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1, 2014); of Kamala writing fan fiction about super heroes; of Kamala's adoration for the hero Captain Marvel; of Aamir Khan, Kamala's older brother, a devout Muslim (Ms. Marvel #1, 2014); of Kamala's bedroom decorated with posters of Captain Marvel (Ms. Marvel #2, 2014); of Kamala meeting her hero Captain Marvel (Ms. Marvel #16, 2015); of Muneeba knowing Kamala's double identity (Ms. Marvel #18, 2015); of Kamala's hero worship of Captain Marvel being tempered due to Carol's pragmatism (Ms. Marvel #11, 2016); of Kamala's powers tied to temporal energy (Ms. Marvel #34, 2018)

Adrian Alphona: co-creator of Ms. Marvel, alias Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who lives in Jersey City; of Kamala wearing a costume in imitation of Carol Danvers consisting of a mask, blue smock with yellow 'M', red burkini and golden bangle; of Kamala using her powers to create a giant hand; of Yusuf and Muneeba Khan, Kamala's over-protective parents (All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1, 2014); of Kamala writing fan fiction about super heroes; of Kamala's adoration for the hero Captain Marvel; of Aamir Khan, Kamala's older brother, a devout Muslim (Ms. Marvel #1, 2014); of Kamala's bedroom decorated with posters of Captain Marvel (Ms. Marvel #2, 2014); of Kamala meeting her hero Captain Marvel (Ms. Marvel #16, 2015); of Muneeba knowing Kamala's double identity (Ms. Marvel #18, 2015); of Kamala's hero worship of Captain Marvel being tempered due to Carol's pragmatism (Ms. Marvel #11, 2016)

Roy Thomas: co-creator of the Kree being depicted with blue skin (Captain Marvel #1, 1968); of the enmity between the Kree and Skrull races (Captain Marvel #2, 1968); of the Skrulls using an interrogation device to probe memories (Captain Marvel #3, 1968); of Captain Marvel's ability to generate photon blasts from the hands; of Captain Marvel switching places with another person due to extraterrestrial wristbands (Captain Marvel #17, 1969); of Carol Danvers receiving powers from the explosion of a Kree device due to Yon-Rogg (Captain Marvel #18, 1969); of Valkyrie, an Asgardian warrior woman (Incredible Hulk #142, 1971); of Carol Danvers, a blonde woman connected to Captain Marvel (Marvel Super-Heroes #13, 1968)

Gene Colan: co-creator of the Kree being depicted with blue skin (Captain Marvel #1, 1968); of the enmity between the Kree and Skrull races (Captain Marvel #2, 1968); of the Skrulls using an interrogation device to probe memories (Captain Marvel #3, 1968); of the hero Captain Marvel, initially a warrior for the Kree; of Mar-Vell, a pink Kree who defected to Earth; of Yon-Rogg, a pink Kree officer and enemy of Earth; of Kree uniforms with white and teal colors, pointed shoulder pads, half-mask and pointed helmet (Marvel Super-Heroes #12, 1967); of Carol Danvers, a blonde woman connected to Captain Marvel (Marvel Super-Heroes #13, 1968)

Kelly Sue DeConnick: creator of Captain Marvel's motto "Higher, Further, Faster, More." (Captain Marvel #1, 2014); co-creator of Carol Danvers' red and blue costume with yellow highlights and red gloves; of Carol's helmet which shapes her hair into a mohawk; of Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (Captain Marvel #1, 2012); of Carol Danvers' cat turning out to be an extraterrestrial Flerken whose mouth opens up into a host of tentacles which can swallow up enormous amounts of matter (Captain Marvel #2, 2014); of Carol's Flerken cat laying eggs that hatch into a multitude of Flerken offspring (Captain Marvel #7, 2014)

Chris Claremont: co-creator of Carol Danvers traumatized from losing her memories (Avengers Annual #10, 1981); of Carol Danvers as a US Air Force pilot (Ms. Marvel #9, 1977); of Nick Fury and Carol Danvers as allies since the early period of Fury's career (Uncanny X-Men #158, 1982); of Carol Danvers receiving massively powerful energy manipulation powers, surrounding herself with swirls of cosmic energy; of Carol Danvers having the power of a star; of the heroine Binary who has energy manipulation powers and wears and red and white costume (Uncanny X-Men #164, 1982)

Roger Stern: co-creator of Monica Rambeau, a black woman from Louisiana with the rank of captain who is exposed to energies which permit her to transform her body into any form of energy she imagines; of Monica able to fly while in her energy form; of Monica wearing a costume with black leggings and a white top with black starburst on chest and white streamers from her arms; of Monica connected to Captain Marvel (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, 1982); of Maria Rambeau, Monica's mother (Avengers #246, 1984)

Jamie McKelvie: co-creator of Ms. Marvel, alias Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who lives in Jersey City; of Kamala wearing a costume in imitation of Carol Danvers consisting of a mask, blue smock with yellow 'M', red burkini and golden bangle (All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1, 2014); of Carol Danvers' red and blue costume with yellow highlights and red gloves; of Carol's helmet which shapes her hair into a mohawk (Captain Marvel #1, 2012)

John Romita Jr.: co-creator of Monica Rambeau, a black woman from Louisiana with the rank of captain who is exposed to energies which permit her to transform her body into any form of energy she imagines; of Monica able to fly while in her energy form; of Monica wearing a costume with black leggings and a white top with black starburst on chest and white streamers from her arms; of Monica connected to Captain Marvel (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, 1982)

Dave Cockrum: co-creator of Nick Fury and Carol Danvers as allies since the early period of Fury's career (Uncanny X-Men #158, 1982); of Carol Danvers receiving massively powerful energy manipulation powers, surrounding herself with swirls of cosmic energy; of Carol Danvers having the power of a star; of the heroine Binary who has energy manipulation powers and wears and red and white costume (Uncanny X-Men #164, 1982)

Don Heck: co-creator of the Kree planet Hala (Captain Marvel #8, 1968); of Hala as the Kree homeworld; of Captain Marvel's red and blue costume with starburst design on the chest; of the Supreme Intelligence manipulating Captain Marvel; of Captain Marvel wearing wrist bands (Captain Marvel #16, 1969); of Hawkeye, a costumed archer (Tales of Suspense #57, 1964)

Jim Cheung: co-creator of Dro'ge, a Skrull (New Avengers #40, 2008); of Kate Bishop, a spoiled rich girl with a love for adventure (Young Avengers #1, 2005); of Kate Bishop being an adept archer and wielding Hawkeye's bow (Young Avengers #4, 2005); of Kate Bishop adopting the moniker of 'Hawkeye' for herself to honor him (Young Avengers #12, 2006)

Gil Kane: co-creator of of Captain Marvel's ability to generate photon blasts from the hands; of Captain Marvel switching places with another person due to extraterrestrial wristbands (Captain Marvel #17, 1969); of Carol Danvers receiving powers from the explosion of a Kree device due to Yon-Rogg (Captain Marvel #18, 1969)

Allan Heinberg: co-creator of Kate Bishop, a spoiled rich girl with a love for adventure (Young Avengers #1, 2005); of Kate Bishop being an adept archer and wielding Hawkeye's bow (Young Avengers #4, 2005); of Kate Bishop adopting the moniker of 'Hawkeye' for herself to honor him (Young Avengers #12, 2006)

Gerry Conway: co-creator of the Beast developing a furry body (Amazing Adventures #11, 1972); of the super hero Ms. Marvel, connected to Carol Danvers; of red Ms. Marvel costume with mask; of Carol Danvers' power of flight, wearing a blue and red costume with a starburst on the chest (Ms. Marvel #1, 1977)

Sana Amanat: co-creator of Ms. Marvel, alias Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who lives in Jersey City; of Kamala wearing a costume in imitation of Carol Danvers consisting of a mask, blue smock with yellow 'M', red burkini and golden bangle (All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1, 2014)

Stephen Wacker: co-creator of Ms. Marvel, alias Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who lives in Jersey City; of Kamala wearing a costume in imitation of Carol Danvers consisting of a mask, blue smock with yellow 'M', red burkini and golden bangle (All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1, 2014)

Archie Goodwin: co-creator of Hala as the Kree homeworld; of Captain Marvel's red and blue costume with starburst design on the chest; of the Supreme Intelligence manipulating Captain Marvel; of Captain Marvel wearing wrist bands (Captain Marvel #16, 1969)

Carla Conway: co-creator of the super hero Ms. Marvel, connected to Carol Danvers; of red Ms. Marvel costume with mask; of Carol Danvers' power of flight, wearing a blue and red costume with a starburst on the chest (Ms. Marvel #1, 1977)

John Romita: co-creator of the super hero Ms. Marvel, connected to Carol Danvers; of red Ms. Marvel costume with mask; of Carol Danvers' power of flight, wearing a blue and red costume with a starburst on the chest (Ms. Marvel #1, 1977)

John Buscema: co-creator of the super hero Ms. Marvel, connected to Carol Danvers; of red Ms. Marvel costume with mask; of Carol Danvers' power of flight, wearing a blue and red costume with a starburst on the chest (Ms. Marvel #1, 1977)

Brian Michael Bendis: co-creator of Dro'ge, a Skrull (New Avengers #40, 2008); of the Skrulls becoming refugees (Secret Invasion #1, 2008); of Nick Fury as an African-American man (Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #5, 2001)

David Lopez: co-creator of Carol Danvers' cat turning out to be an extraterrestrial Flerken whose mouth opens up into a host of tentacles which can swallow up enormous amounts of matter (Captain Marvel #2, 2014)

Ron Lim: co-creator of the eliminated people returning (Infinity Gauntlet #6, 1991); of Dar-Benn, a Kree leader who rose to power after the Supreme Intelligence's removal (Silver Surfer #53, 1991)

Mark Gruenwald: creator of Tarnax, a Skrull planet (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #10, 1983); co-creator of the Quantum Bands, extremely powerful energy bracelets that can open portals (Quasar #2, 1989)

Matt Fraction: co-creator of Lucky, a stray dog adopted by Hawkeye who loves pizza (Hawkeye #1, 2012); of Kate Bishop wearing a light purple bodysuit as Hawkeye (Hawkeye #3, 2012)

David Aja: co-creator of Lucky, a stray dog adopted by Hawkeye who loves pizza (Hawkeye #1, 2012); of Kate Bishop wearing a light purple bodysuit as Hawkeye (Hawkeye #3, 2012)

Nico Leon: co-creator of Kamala's powers tied to temporal energy (Ms. Marvel #34, 2018)

Takeshi Miyazawa: of Kamala's hero worship of Captain Marvel being tempered due to Carol's pragmatism (Ms. Marvel #11, 2016)

Joe Simon: co-creator of a hero named the Vision (Marvel Mystery Comics #13, 1940)

Arnold Drake: co-creator of the Kree planet Hala (Captain Marvel #8, 1968)

Marcio Takara: co-creator of Carol's Flerken cat laying eggs that hatch into a multitude of Flerken offspring (Captain Marvel #7, 2014)

Michael Golden: co-creator of Carol Danvers traumatized from losing her memories (Avengers Annual #10, 1981)

Tom Sutton: co-creator of the Beast developing a furry body (Amazing Adventures #11, 1972); of the Beast' fur being blue (Amazing Adventures #15, 1972)

Herb Trimpe: co-creator of Valkyrie, an Asgardian warrior woman (Incredible Hulk #142, 1971)

Al Milgrom: co-creator of Maria Rambeau, Monica's mother (Avengers #246, 1984)

Jim Starlin: co-creator of 50% of all life in the universe ceasing to exist (Infinity Gauntlet #1, 1991); of the eliminated people returning (Infinity Gauntlet #6, 1991)

George Perez: co-creator of 50% of all life in the universe ceasing to exist (Infinity Gauntlet #1, 1991)

Glenn Herdling: co-creator of Photon, an alias used by Monica Rambeau (Avengers Unplugged #5, 1996)

M. C. Wyman: co-creator of Photon, an alias connected to Monica Rambeau (Avengers Unplugged #5, 1996)

Dexter Soy: co-creator of Carol Danvers serving as Captain Marvel (Captain Marvel #1, 2012)

John Byrne: creator of the Skrulls as a band of refugees with no homeworld (Fantastic Four #262, 1984); co-creator of Carol Danvers as an Avenger (Avengers #181, 1979)

Keith Pollard: co-creator of Carol Danvers as a US Air Force pilot (Ms. Marvel #9, 1977)

Mark Millar: co-creator of Nick Fury depicted as Samuel L. Jackson (Ultimates #2, 2002)

Bryan Hitch: co-creator of Nick Fury depicted as Samuel L. Jackson (Ultimates #2, 2002)

Roberto de la Torre: co-creator of Carol Danvers' mysterious ginger cat (Ms. Marvel #4, 2006)

Brian Reed: co-creator of Carol Danvers' mysterious ginger cat (Ms. Marvel #4, 2006)

Leinil Francis Yu: co-creator of the Skrulls becoming refugees (Secret Invasion #1, 2008)

Mike Allred: co-creator of Nick Fury as an African-American man (Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #5, 2001)

David Michelinie: co-creator of Carol Danvers as an Avenger (Avengers #181, 1979)

Russ Heath: co-creator of extraterrestrial wrist weapons that generate energy (Marvel Boy #1, 1950)

Paul Ryan: co-creator of the Quantum Bands, extremely powerful energy bracelets that can open portals (Quasar #2, 1989)

Ron Marz: co-creator of Dar-Benn, a Kree leader who rose to power after the Supreme Intelligence's removal (Silver Surfer #53, 1991)

Steve Englehart: co-creator of the Beast' fur being blue (Amazing Adventures #15, 1972)

Tara Butters: co-creator of Captain Marvel assisting a space station above Earth (Captain Marvel #1, 2016)

Michele Fazekas: co-creator of Captain Marvel assisting a space station above Earth (Captain Marvel #1, 2016)

Kris Anka: co-creator of Captain Marvel assisting a space station above Earth (Captain Marvel #1, 2016)

Fabian Niceiza: co-creator of Pulsar, codename used by Monica Rambeau (New Thunderbolts #9, 2005)

Cliff Richards: co-creator of Pulsar, codename used by Monica Rambeau (New Thunderbolts #9, 2005)

Al Ewing: co-creator of Spectrum, codename used by Monica Rambeau (Mighty Avengers #1, 2013)

Greg Land: co-creator of Spectrum, codename used by Monica Rambeau (Mighty Avengers #1, 2013)

Joss Whedon: co-creator of Earth space station connected to Nick Fury (Astonishing X-Men #10, 2005)

John Cassaday: co-creator of Earth space station connected to Nick Fury (Astonishing X-Men #10, 2005)

Donny Cates: co-creator of the Kree succumbing to civil war (Death of the Inhumans #1, 2018)

Ariel Olivetti: co-creator of the Kree succumbing to civil war (Death of the Inhumans #1, 2018)

Bob Harras: co-creator of Hala suffering a cataclysmic event (Avengers #347, 1992)

Steve Epting: co-creator of Hala suffering a cataclysmic event (Avengers #347, 1992)

Friday, February 9, 2024

Radio Recap: Johnny Madero, Pier 23

Up 'til now I've written a couple of blog posts about Jack Webb's early radio career at ABC while he lived in San Francisco. His biggest hit from that tenure was Pat Novak, for Hire, part of Webb's long partnership with his writer friend (and former roommate) Richard L. Breen. Breen wrote comedy scripts for the Jack Webb Show, much of the quippy dialogue heard on Pat Novak, for Hire and later on he wrote for Webb on Dragnet and Pete Kelly's Blues.

But when Webb left San Francisco for Los Angeles, ABC kept producing Pat Novak, for Hire without he or Breen. So it was that Webb and Breen signed on with Mutual to produce a new show that was basically identical to Pat Novak, for Hire; that show was Johnny Madero, Pier 23. The two shows were set in San Francisco, featured Webb as a odd job guy who kept being involved in murders, sought council from a somewhat laconic ally, menaced by the local police inspector, and contained a terrific amount of quippy dialogue.

Apparently they were so much alike that after the 1st episode, ABC sued Mutual! It seems in the debut week, Johnny's ally was a drunk almost identical to Jocko Madigan from Pat Novak, for Hire. To placate ABC, the drunk was dropped and replaced with Father Leahy, portrayed by Gale Gordon. Despite being a man of the cloth, Father Leahy seemed to be basically identical to Jocko Madigan - prone to lengthy philosophical thoughts that would carry on, ignoring Johnny's protestations. But he didn't seem to be a drunk (although he did mention how much he enjoyed wine) so I suppose ABC were placated.

The hard-nosed police inspector of Johnny Madero was called Inspector Warchek and portrayed by William Conrad, who was definitely well-cast in that part. Webb and Conrad's angry wisecracks at each other form probably the best parts of the series.

Johnny Madero, Pier 23 only lasted 5 months, from April-September, 1947. Sadly, we only have 2 episodes currently known to exist. Happily, when the show ended, Webb and Breen patched things up with ABC and both returned to Pat Novak, for Hire. In fact, most of what we have now from that series is from Webb's 2nd tenure on the series.

You can hear the two surviving episodes of Johnny Madero, Pier 23 at the Internet Archive. It's a pity we have so little remaining; Mutual made a lot of detective programs but the writing and performances on this series were well above their average.

I'll probably write some more about Jack Webb's early career next week!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Radio Recap: Spotlight Playhouse

Since yesterday I wrote a little about Jack Webb's early radio career via his comedy program the Jack Webb Show, I'm going to examine a few more of his early shows.

Another program Jack Webb appeared in while in San Francisco is the ABC series Spotlight Playhouse. Unfortunately, despite its presence in Webb's history, radio historians don't seem to have paid much attention to this series yet. There are no radio logs for the program, so I know very little outside of what's present in the 2 surviving episodes.

Spotlight Playhouse was written and produced by Monte Masters. The two surviving episodes were written by him, so possibly the entire series was a showcase for his efforts. The casts were very small in this series, so like other early ABC programs it appears to have been cooked up on a shoestring budget. The opening rambles on and repeats itself somewhat:

The spotlight of life swings in all directions and no one knows upon whom it will settle. It may be you, or it may be you. All of us at one time or another have had something in our lives that would make drama and so you in our audience are the stars tonight in our Spotlight Playhouse, for these are stories presented each week at this hour which may concern any of you. Now: Spotlight Playhouse.

"From This Window" (March 14, 1946) concerned a young couple whose relationship is viewed from a window by a woman who narrates the events of their lives. Webb appears as the male lead of the couple.

"Genius from Hoboken" (March 21, 1946) concerned a New Jersey barber whose greatest desire is to build violins and how he struggles to achieve his dream. Webb appears in a couple of small parts, using a dialect in one of them.

You can find the surviving episodes at the Old Time Radio Researchers Library.

More on Jack Webb's early career tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Radio Recap: The Jack Webb Show

In 1946, Jack Webb was just starting out in radio but very quickly his voice was all over ABC. ABC was a new network then and were probably desperate for some original programming. Webb appeared in a number of shows that followed each other in quick succession, all produced in San Francisco. His first big series, One Out of Seven, I'll have to address in a future blog post. Today I'm going to talk about Jack Webb's comedy-music program, the Jack Webb Show.

The Jack Webb Show aired March-August, 1946 on ABC. We have only two episodes that are still known to exist. Webb started his private eye series Pat Novak, for Hire in 1946 but wouldn't reach the role he'd be best-known for - Joe Friday of Dragnet - until 1949. The Jack Webb of 1946 was young, hungry and... yes, funny!

To the baby boomer generation, Webb's stoic performance as Joe Friday became iconic. Even though he remained busy in other works outside of Dragnet (such as Pete Kelly's Blues), nothing he touched reached as far or lasted as long as Dragnet. Webb's stoic, deadpan delivery was so famous that, to cite one example from late in his career, when he appeared on the 1974 Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special in a comedy sketch alongside his Dragnet co-star Harry Morgan and Jack Benny, Webb remained entirely in-character as Joe Friday - whereas Harry Morgan was permitted to break character for the sake of a few laughs. In the sketch, Friday's seeming inability to possess a sense of humour was in itself a kind of joke.

But that was Webb in the last decade of his life. He hadn't built a reputation as a straight man in 1946. He hadn't built any reputation. Thus, like yesterday's post on the Orson Welles Radio Almanac we have a radio series whose star is not best-known as a comedic performer. The difference is that Welles had built his reputation in dramatic radio for 6-7 years prior to that program, while Webb was just starting out.

Comparing the two shows, Webb comes off extremely well. Believe it or not, the Jack Webb Show was a zany comedy program, similar to another show that followed it on ABC - the Henry Morgan Show. Webb had to disappear into a number of different parts for the comedy sketches and he was extremely capable at it. It's a fast-paced show and Webb's patter is so good, I guarantee you'll forget he's best-rembered as a dramatic peformer.

The two shows each have one lengthy comedy sketch; in the first, it's "The Razor in the Case of the Confused Keyhole" in which Webb satirizes radio private detective programs (he even calls out Dick Powell by name!). In the second, it's "Slim Slade, Western Bandleader" in which he plays a band leader whose band seems to play the exact same song every time they perform, despite the leader's insistence that he's crafted a variety of different tunes.

You can hear the 2 surviving episodes of the Jack Webb Show on the Internet Archive.