Friday, August 29, 2014

The Green Hornet: The "Lost" 1937 Radio Broadcasts

In an effort to extend his profits, and the broadcast range of The Green Hornet, George W. Trendle paid for each radio broadcast to be transcribed when it was broadcast "live." He then syndicated the series to radio stations across the country and those stations would pay a rental fee for each disc and that station could sell sponsorship time. 

The system was not without flaws. When someone in the recording department was putting a Hornet seal over the program numbers, on the discs, stations had to listen to the programs in order to find out which episode number it was according to the spec sheets. This was specifically an issue with KTAR in Phoenix, which decided not to bother with verifying the sequential numbers and chose to broadcast the episodes out of sequence.
On the evening of Thursday, August 25, 1944, a number of radio listeners expressed curiosity when WMAQ in Chicago started in at 10:30 with a fascinating, but unscheduled, episode of The Green Hornet, ran it for nine minutes, then switched into Everything for the Boys, normally heard at that time. An announcer explained briefly that it had all been a mistake. The boys at WMAQ recorded both programs earlier in the evening as network features, at which time they were recorded as transcriptions for broadcast at a later time. Apparently an employee typed out labels for both transcriptions, then put the Hornet label on the Everything for the Boys record, and vice versa. The Green Hornet boiled merrily till 10:39 until it was verified that the traffic department hadn’t scheduled a last minute change. Then the announcer broke in while the engineer put on the right record, measuring off approximately nine minutes from the beginning so Everything for the Boys would end at the proper time.
John Todd, Senior Reid on The Green Hornet
KFMB in San Diego, California, part of the Worchester Broadcasting Corporation, paid Trendle $28 for each episode played over their network. On March 5, 12, 19 and 26, 1945, episodes 688 through 691 were played in sequence. For the broadcast of April 2, however, an error occurred. Half of each episode was featured on one side of two separate discs. When the first half of an episode concluded on one disc, the second half picked up almost instantly from the other disc. The opposite side of those two discs featured the two halves of the next episode. Due to an error in labeling before the transcriptions were received by KFMB, the network broadcast the first part of episode No. 692 titled “Load of Cigarettes,” and the second part of No. 693 titled “The Bigger They Are.” The mistake was not caught until the recording was being played over the air, and the network began receiving phone calls from listeners asking for an explanation. KFMB could not charge its sponsor for the broadcast because of the error, and the network applied for a credit with King-Trendle to compensate for the mistake. (On April 9, the network continued with the next sequential episode, No. 694.) KFMB’s request for a credit was approved by Trendle, but not until eight months later because he insisted the source of the error had to be verified first.
This might explain why Trendle requested a title be added to each radio adventure, rather than an episode and disc number. The August 2, 1938 broadcast was the first episode of The Green Hornet to be titled. As such all episodes prior to August of 1938 did not have a script title. Fran Striker, the author, simply numbered each script with an episode number. What follows, for your amusement, are ten episodes with plot summaries for radio broadcasts not known to exist in recorded form. No matter how many episodes of The Green Hornet you might have in your collection, the episodes documented above were never transcribed and therefore, never will surface no matter how hard you look. While hundreds of radio broadcasts exist and are not yet available in collector hands, these episodes are certified "lost" and are offered for your own amusement. 

Episode #162 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast of Thursday, August 26, 1937
Copyright Registration D-2-#51703, script received at Registration Office Sept. 2, 1937.
Plot: The Atlantic Building Corp. is constructing a skyscraper when work suddenly halts. The tight-fisted owner of the adjoining property, Herman Fogarty, demands $1 million for a strip of his land six inches wide. Since the building’s construction is six inches off, Fogarty’s attempt to prevent completion succeeds. Britt Reid learns an injunction stopping work at this stage allows the corporation to profit on the unfinished job. The Green Hornet convinces Fogarty that he’s working with Davidson of ABC, causing a falling out between the two men and putting 3,000 men back to work.
Broadcast Tuesday, August 31, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#51848, script received at Registration Office Sept. 10, 1937.
Plot: Frank Williamson operates a string of bookie parlors out of town. Having studied the affairs of the Hornet, Williamson contacts his friend, Chief Riggin, to explain his plan for catching The Green Hornet, believing someone in the police department is a leak. Knowing The Hornet wants evidence that could convict bookie Trig Gerber, word spreads as bait for the masked man. The Green Hornet takes the bait and discovers his only means of escape, a skylight, is locked shut. Mike Axford sneaks inside to help catch The Hornet, unlocks the skylight, and unwillingly aids his escape. Axford is gassed, and Britt Reid stashes his costume and gun, then fakes being a victim of The Hornet gas to eliminate suspicion.
Broadcast Thursday, September 2, 1937
Copyright Registration D-2-#51849, script received at Registration Office Sept. 10, 1937.
Plot: Britt Reid learns that Doctor Mordant, who heads the health column in The Daily Sentinel, administers drugs to at least a half-dozen addicts, claiming they are treatments for the patients’ nervous troubles. They are now addicted, and their position and money protect them. When Axford discovers Mordant’s nurse was murdered by Trig Gerber’s men, and are being shielded by Frank Williamson, The Green Hornet visits Mordant late one evening to convince him that Williamson plans to use the doctor as a fall guy. Stealing the doctor’s gun, the Hornet plants it where Axford will find it, and when Williamson learns about the murder weapon, he plans to eliminate the doctor. Trig shoots Mordant, but not before the doctor squeals on Williamson, and Williamson puts the finger on Trig.
Episode #165 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 7, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52005, script received at Registration Office Sept. 17, 1937. 
Plot: Gordon Hawthorne claims he has six bona fide letters that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the identity of The Green Hornet. He also claims the letters concern Millicent Bancroft, who is a foreign agent, collecting information by posing as an attractive society woman. Hawthorne offers to sell the letters to Britt Reid for $5,000, but Reid claims he would have to see the letters before choosing to buy and publish them. The Green Hornet cleverly steals the letters to unearth a blackmail plot and exposes Millicent Bancroft while foiling Hawthorne’s scheme.
Episode #166 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 9, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52006, script received at Registration Office Sept. 17, 1937.
Plot: A special investigator from the State Attorney’s Office tips off Britt Reid with his suspicions that a number of restaurants and nightclubs have a racket in wines, putting new wine in bottles labeled for older vintages. He suspects that Rinaldo, who owns all the shady eateries, is juggling the state’s wine accounts, and paying off corrupt clerks. When Fawcett is found dead the next day of an apparent plunge in an auto accident, Reid suspects foul play. The Green Hornet visits Rinaldo’s office and steals papers incriminating the guilty parties involved. Rinaldo, upon discovering the theft, attempts to torture Cooley, a clerk of the state liquor and wine commission, with a hunk of iron and a blow torch, but The Green Hornet arrives to save Cooley’s life and expose the crooks.
Episode #167 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 14, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52076, script received at Registration Office Sept. 22, 1937.
Plot: Darion and Boroff make arrangements for the safe delivery of the Idol Eyes, a pair of matched rubies said to have been from the crown of a ruler in the Far East. Axford tells Reid that Boroff resembles a crook named Duke Gosinski, known as one of the slickest jewel thieves who ever lived. When the jewels are stolen, Mrs. Sanderson, the owner, becomes the prime suspect. But the jewels stolen were paste copies and The Green Hornet visits Boroff to claim he stole the real rubies, negotiating a sale, revealing Boroff is the indeed the famed jewel thief and is attempting to cash in on the insurance policy. Boroff, however, is fooled by The Green Hornet when their deal goes sour and he finds himself framed for the crime.
Episode #168 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 16, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52077, script received at Registration Office Sept. 22, 1937.
Plot: An epidemic of burglaries has occurred in a dozen wealthy homes. The police attempt to railroad an innocent maid into a confession. The guilty party is Amos Carter, who is accepting memberships for a club he is organizing for house servants who wish to accept a percentage of the robberies. Kato sets himself as bait for Carter and his assistant, Steve, who decide that wealthy apartments should be the next target. When Reid’s apartment is burglarized, Kato becomes the prime suspect — until evidence suggests The Green Hornet was involved. Steve and Amos suspect the masked man is attempting to muscle in on their operation, unaware they are giving away details of their operation to the police.
Episode #169 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 21, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52288, script received at Registration Office Oct. 4, 1937.
Plot: The Merker bill proposes a one percent tax on gasoline, but it was never meant to be passed. It was proposed just so an association of gasoline dealers would come through with a little financial backing to fight the measure. When Roscoe Burton, the new state senator, is offered a bribe, he rejects the payoff and visits The Daily Sentinel with his story. Britt Reid agrees that such bills have been introduced in the past, with no intention of passing, but without proof, nothing can ever be done. When the disillusioned Burton leaves The Daily Sentinel, he is struck by a car and killed. When another state senator, Morgan, gets involved with the same bill, The Green Hornet sets out to meet the lawmaker personally and reveal Jonothan Corbett, another senator, was behind the bill and the murder.
Episode #170 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 23, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52289, script received at Registration Office Oct. 4, 1937.
Plot: Jack Hastings, a college friend of Britt Reid, is in town to help his play, “The Gold Jersey,” become a success on the stage. But the director, Ranny Roberts, and the producer, Mike Jacoby, are purposely attempting to flop the show — they have sold the rights to the play to half-a-dozen other men. If the show is a hit, they have to pay 80 percent of the profits to each of the six investors. The Green Hornet sets out late one night to convince producer Jacoby to leave town in a hurry. The Hornet does the same for Roberts, leaving Hastings to handle the reins. The play is a financial and critical success, and Jacoby and Roberts are forced to remain in hiding when the backers come knocking.
Episode #171 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Tuesday, September 28, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52339, script received at Registration Office Oct. 7, 1937.
Plot: Carlos Wilson, a big-time gangster, accused of murdering Jake the Killer, walks when he provides a steadfast alibi. Hymie Martin, who took a candid picture at the time of the killing, managed to get the murder weapon with Wilson’s fingerprints and strikes a deal with the police to turn over the evidence. Meanwhile, Jim Stevenson, a 15-year-old in jail for a minor offense, is bailed out by Wilson, who offers him a job. He plans to set-up Jim for a burglary rap, with evidence planted on the boy to also accuse him of the murder. The Green Hornet arrives on the scene, gasses the burglars, gets Jim out of there before the police arrive, and secures the evidence so Wilson will go to jail for the homicide. Britt Reid, having read the news in his own paper, offers young Stevenson a job working for The Daily Sentinel.
Episode #172 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, September 30, 1937 
Copyright Registration D-2-#52340, script received at Registration Office Sept. 30, 1937.
Plot: Barney Adams operates an organization like a church or club and convinces people to back a fund-raiser, for which he resorts to everything, up to and including blackmail, to sell advertising space. He makes a fortune every year, and since he is not breaking any laws, he cannot be stopped. Britt Reid uses his newspaper to discourage Barney’s advertising methods, but when he learns how Mr. Usher and Mr. Porter and their congregation have been misrepresented, Reid dons the guise of The Green Hornet to smash the racket. By stealing the money Barney was going to use for printing programs, he ensures the crooked advertising man is unable to fulfill his part of the business arrangement, giving police what they need to put him behind bars and providing just cause for the church to file suit against him.

Shameless Plug: The "lost" episodes featured in this blog post are reprinted from my book, The Green Hornet: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television. Originally released in paperback format, a hardcover version has recently been made available exclusively from

One small reminder I stated a couple times since I started this blog. There are a number of people who have made it a habit of copying material from my blog, including photos, and then claiming they did their own research. One even went so far as to say I stole from them! If this happens again, I will take the entire blog down. I am merely posting this information for the amusement and entertainment of those folks in the hobby who appreciate such treasures being brought to light.

© 2013, Martin Grams, Jr. All rights reserved.

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