The Shadow         On Radio

 

The first series of 'The Shadow' Shows from 1930 to 1935, featured The Shadow as the Narrator of the story like 'The Whistler,' 'The Sealed Book' etc are not available. There were 85 broadcast in those years.

                Frank Readick played the part of the Shadow/Narrator
                in these shows from July 31, 1932 to September 22, 1932.

                Robert Hardy Andrews played the part of the Shadow/Narrator
                in these shows from July 31, 1932 to September 22, 1932.

                Frank Readick returned to play the part of the Shadow/Narrator
                in these shows from October 12, 1932 to March 27, 1935.

The show in this format went off the air in 1935 due to a creative dispute between its author and Blue Coal its sponsor. The author of 'The Shadow' Pulp fiction novelsm, Walter Gibson writing under the pseudonym Maxwell Grant wanted to have the Shadow become an actual part of the story itself while the sponsor Blue Coal prefered the earlier format

After a period of about two years The Shadow Returned to Radio in the format in which it became best known. In these shows The Shadow became an integral part of the Story rather than just the Narrator.

There are 759 shows in this series of which 228 shows are available. From 1937 to March of 1938 Orson Welles starred In the Blue Coal Series of shows as Lamont Cranston/aka The Shadow with Agnes Morehead playing the lovely Margo Lane.

There was also a summer series of shows presented by Goodrich Tires with Welles in the Starring with Margot Stephenson (whose was the inspiration for the charactor named Margo Lane) as Margo.

On September 25, 1938 Bill Johnstone took over the role as The Shadow (Orson Welles had left the role to concentrate on his Mercury Theater of the Air) with Agnes Moorhead once again as Margo.

In the 1940-41 season Marjorie Anderson replaced Agnes Moorhead as Margo and continued in that role till she was forced to give up the role because she was suffering from Throat Cancer in December of 1944-45 season.

In 1943 Brett Morrison, the Best Known Shadow took over the role for one season opposite Marjorie Anderson.

Morrison left the role of Cranston/The Shadow in the fall of 1944 because of a contract dispute and was replaced by Steve Courtleigh and later by John Archer. Marion Sharkley, Laura Mae Carpenter and Judith Allen played the role of Margo Lane during this time.

Morrison resuned the role of Lamont Cranston/The Shadow in the fall of 1945 and remained in that role until the show left the air in 1954. The role of Margo Lane was played by Leslie Woods, who also played Mary Wesley in Boston Blackie, until the fall of 1946 when she was replaced by Grace Matthews. Miss Matthews continued in that role until the Fall of 1949 when she was replaced by Gertrude Warner who had the role until December 26, 1954 when the show finally went off the air.

Blue Coal sponsored the Show in the east until the Bottom fell out of the anthracite coal market in the early 50s. Then the show was sponsored by numerous sponsors in the eastern part of the United States.

There were also separate sponsors for the Middle West , South and Far West where the show appeared on the Don Lee Portion of the Mutual Network.

Some more interesting facts on The Shadow.

Orson Welles was the only actor who portrayed the Shadow who did not do the opening and closing for the show because Welles could not master the Shadow's Laugh. The opening and closing for these shows were usually done by Frank Readick who portrayed the Shadow in the early 1930s and who later appeared in several of the shows featuring Bill Johnstone in the title role.

Also as the show progressed the Shadow lost much of his ability.to control the actions of others. With the Welles portrayal of the Shadow the Shadow was able to use mental telepathy to read one's mind and get the villain to do what the Shadow wanted him to do. This is especially evident in the episodes "The Circle of Death", "Power of the Mind," "The Silent Avenger," and "The Creeper" ( By the Way there are two shows entitled "The Creeper: the first version is known as the Tunnel Version starring Orson Welles broadcast on August 7, 1938 and 'The Creeper' knows as the Forest Version starring Bill Johnstone broadcast on November 3, 1940) to name a few examples. As the Show progressed through the years under Bill Johnstone, John Archer, and Brett Morrison the Shadow possessed only the power to "Cloud Men's Minds."

One of the changes to The Shadow was in the early shows the person of Margo Lane was an able assistant to Cranston/The Shadow. In the later shows the Shadow spent much of his time getting "the Lovely Margo Lane" out of seemingly impossible danger week after week.

There were two endings for the Shadow.


The more Familiar one:
                The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit -
                Crime Does Not Pay
                The Shadow Knows ha ha ha ha ha ha

And the lesser known:
                 As you Sow Evil, so shall You Reap Evil
                Crime Does Not Pay
                The Shadow knows ha ha ha ha ha

The Second ending was used only in the Welles series of Shows and then rather infrequently

The Shadow was so popular that there was a series of Shadow Broadcasts in Australia with Lloyd Lamble as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow and Lyndal Barbour as the Lovely Margo Lane Produced by Grace Gibson productions. Note that the Australian Version does not feature the Signature music of The Shadow: "Omphale's Spinning Wheel" in the opening and closing of the shows. Furthermore in the closing of the Australian shows 'The Shadow' does not speak either "The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit," or "As You Sow Evil So Shall You Reap Evil," but speaks only the line "Crime Does Not Pay, The Shadow knows" followed by The Shadow's sinister laugh.

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Copyright © December 11, 2003 by Allen Freitag