Friday, May 30, 2014

The Black Rider Westerns

Cowboy fans are probably asking "what are The Black Rider Westerns?" You might know them under a different series... In August of 1949, Ron Ormond and his associate, Ira Webb, set up a new production unit to turn out action melodramas for Screen Guild Productions, Inc. The pair was presently producing a series of Lash LaRue Westerns for Screen Guild and Ormond was just getting his foot into the door of Lippert Pictures, an independent movie studio in California that was picking up activity into 1950. In early September, Ormond proposed a series of “Black Rider” Westerns for Screen Guild, unaccepting of the fact that the era of B-Westerns was diminishing for the new medium -- television. Executives at Screen Guild decided to focus their future efforts towards television, forcing Ormond to approach other waters… namely, Lippert.
Colorado Ranger (1950)
Colorado Ranger (1950)
In October, Lippert announced in a press release their next two entries for Hollywood contention; also the highest budgets to date: The Baron of Arizona and Radar Patrol. Carl Hittleman produced Baron and Barney Sarccky produced Radar. Lippert also planned to produce a series of one-reel Western kid comedies. The latter of which never met fuition but Ormond, approaching Lippert at this same time, may have been perfect timing.
After looking over the prospectus by Ron Ormond, Lippert approved of six “Black Rider” Westerns, which proposed that all six movies be filmed consecutively. Location sequences for all six movies were to be filmed at the same time, then the cast and crew would move to Nassour Studios to film the interior scenes for all six movies. James Ellison and Russell Hayden, both nearing 40 years of age, were hired to play the leads. The title of "Black Rider" would eventually be dropped before production went before the cameras.
Crooked River (1950)
Crooked River (1950)
If fans of the Hopalong Cassidy movies ever wondered what happened to Lucky in his later years, following his adventures at the Bar 20 Ranch, these movies pretty much answer that question. While the Hopalong Cassidy movies were never A-class pictures, the quality of Sherman’s productions gave that impression. In these films, however, Hayden was able to be more versatile with facial expressions and character developments – including multiple love-struck interests. With this series, Hayden simply strapped on a pair of six shooters and walked around as if he was saddle sore. And the further adventures of Lucky were dramatized.
Added to the cast for most of the films were Fuzzy Knight, Raymond Hatton and Betty May Adams (billed as Betty Adams), who would later change her name to Julie Adams.
Hostile Country (1950)
Hostile Country (1950)
Production was originally scheduled for October 17, later pushed to November 12 due to scheduling for some of the cast. Production for all six movies was completed on Friday, December 9, after 28 consecutive shooting days, with an estimated budget of $240,000 (which comes to $40,000 per movie). The crew remained the same for all six movies; the cast rotated about and changed slightly – sometimes wearing the same costumes in the same pictures. For those who appeared in all six movies (Tom Tyler, George Lewis, Dennis Moore, Bud Osborne, etc.) a budget-saving device was applied: many of the cast signed a four-week employment contract instead of accepting a per-picture deal. Thomas Carr directed all six pictures.
“I remember shooting all six pictures,” Julie Adams later recalled in an interview at the Winston-Salem Western Film Festival. “We shot all the ranch scenes back to back, then all the stagecoach scenes back to back, then all the horse riding scenes back to back… and the only problem I had was remembering what my name was since my character changed through the day. I think I only had four costumes.” As a result of the shooting schedule, Julie Adams can be seen wearing the same dress in Crooked River (1950) and Colorado Ranger (1950). Recycling footage for use in more than one movie, the opening sequence involving the killers chasing down a covered wagon in Crooked River also served as the opening scene of Fast on the Draw (1950). When crooks attempt to break out of a locked room in Colorado Ranger (1950), the walls move when the men apply force on the door. To say the budget was kept to a minimal is an understatement. Photos hanging on the walls never changed between pictures. Many of the scenes were shot in one take. (I would estimate about ten percent of the footage in Fast on the Draw (1950) was stock footage.) Fuzzy Knight plays everything from a sheriff, a judge and a mayor, but the name of his character was “Deacon” in five of the six movies. I. Stanford Jolley plays the role of a bartender in three of the movies.
Marshal of Heldorado (1950)
Marshal of Heldorado (1950)
The timeline established for each of the movies jumps around from the Southwest Territory in 1860 to Larabie 1887. (No, Larabie is the actual name of the town. This was not a mis-spelling.)
Hostile Country (1950), the first film in the series to be released theatrically on March 24, was heavily promoted. Weeks before the premiere, Ellison and Hayden did a cross-country promotional tour billed as “The Irish Cowboys” because they were billed in the opening credits as Jimmy “Shamrock” Ellison and Russell “Lucky” Hayden. The pair were officially stamped by Mayor A.J. Montgomery of Shamrock, Texas, on St. Patrick’s Day.
In early April 1950, Lippert Pictures released Everybody’s Dancin’, a Western musical extravaganza, starring Spade Cooley, who also served as an associate producer. Cooley’s first name was really Donnell but referred to as “Donald” throughout the picture. How Cooley allowed this considering he vested financial interest in the picture remains a mystery. The film also featured Ellison and Hayden in a brief scene in an effort to promote their series of six Westerns.
Produced on the cheap, the films were obviously a financial success. Producer Ormond had plans to produce another six Westerns starring Ellison and Hayden in the spring of 1950, but Hayden signed a contract to star in a television Westerns, The Marshal of Gunsight Pass, which aired “live” over KECA-TV in Los Angeles. When plans for this second series of Westerns failed because of the casting commitment, Ormond focused his efforts on a series of 13 film shorts under the tag of Ghost Towns of the West, and another series titled Tales of Famous Outlaws starring Lash La Rue. (These efforts never met fruition, even though he supposedly completed six of the latter.) Ormond also had intentions of using these film shorts as part of a syndicated TV series. 
Official DVD Release
Official DVD Release
Months after the last of the six movies was theatrically released in theaters, in December of 1950, Jimmy Ellison and Russell Hayden made a public appearance together at the annual Christmas show and party for the 2,000 members of the Variety’s Boys Club at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.
All six Westerns were released commercially by VCI Entertainment in 2009 as the “Big Iron Collection,” with a small handful of bonus features: the original theatrical trailers, a photo gallery and a video interview with director Thomas Carr. Until 2009, it was difficult for anyone to view these Westerns because they were rarely screened on television and 16mm masters were few and far between. If you watch them today, don't expect high calibre Westerns produced by Republic, Universal and Monogram. They are enjoyable and meant to be viewed days or weeks apart... unless you want to observe the recycled footage and repeated use of props and costumes. The front of the DVD case listed Jimmy “Shamrock” Ellison properly, unlike the opening credits of the movie which incorrectly billed him as Jimmie “Shamrock” Ellison.

Special thanks to David Tribble for his assistance with this article. Be sure to "like" his Facebook Page. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

A History of Pulpcon and Pulpfest

There are literally hundreds of comic conventions held every calendar year. You might find this difficult to believe, but there are only two pulp magazine conventions every year. That's right, only two. Some forty-odd years ago, there were no organized gatherings specifically geared toward pulp fiction and the magazines which many people collect. But that was the case when three St. Louis pulp enthusiasts—Ed Kessell, Earl Kussman, and Nils Hardin—teamed up and founded Pulpcon. This became the very first pulp magazine convention in the country. If comic books were primarily geared toward a juvenile audience (I'm not going to start that debate, I am referring to the early comics of the times and the fan base they were created for), then the pulps were geared toward an intellectual audience.
After consulting with longtime science-fiction fan, James “Rusty” Hevelin, Kessell took the lead and began to organize what was planned as a one-shot convention. Adopting the name Pulpcon and advertising the event in the leading pop culture fanzines of the day (see a reprint below), Kessell and his cohorts were able to attract about 100 pulp fans to the Colony Motor Hotel in Clayton, Missouri over a June weekend in 1972.
Pulpcon Advertisement
Pulpcon Advertisement
With science-fiction writers Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton and pulp magazine cover artist Graves Gladney in attendance, the first Pulpcon was a rousing success. As the convention was drawing to a close, people began to ask for an encore. And so was born the first convention meant to specifically honor pulp magazines.
In the years that followed, Rusty Hevelin became the guiding light of Pulpcon, organizing annual conventions in Dayton and other Ohio cities, along with a few gatherings in California, Missouri, and New Jersey. Generally held during the summer months, there would also be two off-season Pulpcons held in Arizona and North Carolina. All told, a total of thirty-nine Pulpcon gatherings took place. However, following several years of diminishing attendance, the last Pulpcon was held in Dayton, Ohio in August 2008.
The cause of the diminishing attendance is subject for debate, but considering pulp magazines were original written and published in an era that pre-dates the general comic book marketplace, the fan base is generally much older. But with pulps such as Tarzan, Doc Savage and The Shadow being reprinted in paperback format, and the younger audience not versed enough to know what they were reading were pulps from the twenties, thirties and forties, the exploration of vintage magazines printed on cheap, flimsy paper seemed unattractive to the lower-priced paperbacks. Regardless of the reason for the diminishing attendance, admission was half the cure and it was decided to pump new life into the convention.
Hoping to keep alive a summer gathering specifically geared toward pulp fiction, three longtime members of the Pulpcon organizing committee—Jack Cullers, Barry Traylor, and Mike Chomko—asked Ed Hulse, the publisher of the pop culture fanzine Blood ‘n’ Thunder and a convention organizer himself, to join them in founding a new convention. Planned as a successor to Pulpcon, the new convention took on the name PulpFest and sought to widen the focus of the annual confab. Although centered around pulp fiction and pulp magazines, PulpFest was founded on the premise that the pulps had a profound effect on American popular culture, reverberating through a wide variety of mediums—comic books, movies, paperbacks and genre fiction, television, men’s adventure magazines, radio drama, and even video and role-playing games. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest sought to honor pulp fiction by drawing attention to the many ways it had inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, and other creators over the decades.
pulp magazine historians Walker Martin and Ed Hulse
pulp magazine historians Walker Martin and Ed Hulse
Beginning with its first convention in 2009, PulpFest has annually drawn hundreds of fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials to Columbus, Ohio where it is currently based. PulpFest 2014 will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, beginning on Thursday, August 7th and running through Sunday, August 10th. Its focus will be the diamond jubilee of science fiction’s golden year of 1939 when the first science-fiction stories of Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. Van Vogt, as well as Isaac Asimov’s first story for Astounding Stories and Hubert Rogers’ first cover for that magazine were published. The year also witnessed the blossoming of magazine science fiction and fantasy when nearly a dozen “fantastics” were introduced or in their early production stages. The first World Science Fiction Convention was also held in New York City that year, home to the World’s Fair and its “World of Tomorrow” theme.
Advertisement for this tar's Pulpfest 2014.
Advertisement for this tar's Pulpfest 2014.
PulpFest 2014 will also be celebrating the eightieth anniversary of Popular Publications’ shudder pulp trio of Dime Mystery Magazine, Terror Tales, and Horror Stories. The ashcan edition of Spicy Mystery Stories was also released during the summer of 1934. Although the first weird-menace tales appeared in Dime Mystery in the fall of 1933, it was not until the debut of Terror Tales and later, Horror Stories and Spicy Mystery that the genre began to flourish. In just a few years, additional magazines–Star Detective, Thrilling Mystery, Eerie Mysteries, and others–would find space on America’s newsstands, hoping to scare the dickens out of their readers.
Among the vendors are literary experts, scholars, authors and publishers. New pulp fiction has become popular among the niche and vendors like Airship 27 ( continue to surprise us year after year with spectacular adventures on the printed page. Companies specializing in reprinting old pulp magazines for the market that cannot afford the high prices for originals have been responsible for re-exposing masked marvels and dynamic heroes to a new generation; this includes such greats as Captain Future and The Green Lama. Discussion among pulp enthusiasts and publishing houses alike center on a variety of subjects including the recent changes in the publishing world, digital eBooks versus the printed page, discoveries and sales on eBay and notable auction houses and other facets that would intrigue even the most casual book reader.
PulpFest is known for its great programming and the line-up that is planned for its 2014 convention is shaping up to be one of its best. As always, there will be a wide variety of panels and presentations, including a discussion of Famous Fantastic Mysteries featuring Blood ‘n’ Thunder editor Ed Hulse and author Nathan Madison; Meteor House publisher Mike Croteau’s review of Philip José Farmer’s early science fiction stories for the pulps and digests; art historian David Saunders’  presentation on John Newton Howitt, one of the leading cover artists for the weird-menace pulps; and preeminent pulp authority and author of The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage, Will Murray’s celebration of the diamond jubilee of The Avenger, the last of Street & Smith’s major pulp heroes to get his own magazine. There will also be readings by contemporary writers including Christopher Paul Carey, the author of Exiles of Kho, a prelude to Philip José Farmer’s Khokarsa series; Dick Enos, creator of the popular Rick Steele novels, set in the days following the Korean War; and others. Buck Rogers, the classic 1939 movie serial that starred Larry “Buster” Crabbe as the time-traveling hero introduced in Philip Nowlan’s 1928 pulp novella “Armageddon 2419 A.D.,” will also be shown.
You can find additional details about PulpFest 2014 by visiting where you register for the convention and book a room at the Hyatt Regency; learn about the Munsey Award, presented annually to a deserving individual who has given of himself or herself for the betterment of the pulp community; earn a chance to win a free membership to this year’s convention; and much more. You’ll also find PulpFest on Facebook at and on Twitter at on one of the links above, reserve a room, and make your plans to attend PulpFest 2014!
Ron Fortier and Rob Davis
Ron Fortier and Rob Davis

Friday, May 16, 2014


Fred Waring NBC photo
Picking up where I left off last year, here is the second half of the broadcast log for The Fred Waring Show for the calendar year of 1948. (Later I will offer the 1947 broadcasts)

Broadcast of April 23, 1948
The program includes a salute to “National Pharmacy Week.” This includes an original Jay Johnson rhyme titled “The Drug Store Rhyme.”
Broadcast of April 30, 1948
The program salutes the custom of observing May each year as “Moving Day.” An original comedy sketch about Moving Day is dramatized with Daisy Bernier, Don Craig and Lumpy Brannum in the cast. The program concludes with a tribute to the memories of three great show people who died this week: Tom Breneman, Milton Britton and Clarence Gaskill.

Broadcast May 7, 1948
The program salutes the May Music Festival being held throughout the land and mentions specifically the “Tri-Cities Choral Festival” in Binghamton, New York, with Don Craig there to direct 250 high school singers; and the six-day festival in Rochester with Howard Hanson directing. Special spot on this program is a tribute to the memory of Johannes Brahms on this, his birth date, and a spot in salute to all mothers in honor of the up-coming Mothers Day. Also a birthday salute to composer Peter Tchaikovsky.

Broadcast of May 14, 1948
The program salutes “Straw Hat Day.” The date is either the 14th or 15th of May, says Waring, is set aside to say goodbye to felts and woolens and get ready for the coming warm days by wearing straw hats and cottons. (The exact calendar date has been subject to debate for years.) This program featured a sketch about men’s hats and how the different styles, names and materials for straw hats became popular. The program also has a spot about the National Celebrities Golf Tournament at the Columbia Country Club in Washington, D.C. and told how this Tournament was staged to raise funds to fight juvenile delinquency. In connection with this program feature today, special guest is Charles "Chick" Evans, famous amateur golf champion. Another program salute today goes to “I Am an American Day” planned for Sunday observing.

Broadcast on May 21, 1948
The program pays an anniversary tribute to the memory of Richard Wagner, composer, born 135 years ago today.

Broadcast of May 28, 1948
Anniversary tribute to the memory of Thomas Moore, Irish poet who was born on May 28. This program featured a Roy Ringwald arrangement of “Erin Go Brah,” a blending of Moore’s poems into song-and-music, is presented by the Waring group. The feature spot is a salute to an organization known as “Veterans Hospital Programs.” The special guest is Pat Withrow, Jr., National Director of the “Veterans Hospital Programs” organization. Mr. Withrow tells how this organization is sponsored by Protestant Churches of America and how the organization specializes in putting on shows for veterans in hospitals and in presenting veterans' hospital rooms with radio sets. On this broadcast, VHP presented 30 radios to three different veteran hospitals, ten radios to each of the hospitals, by having Jane Wilson, soloist with the Waring group and also member of the Veterans Hospital Programs national committee, to draw names of three winning hospitals from a hat. 130 names were in the hat. Jane drew the winners as follows: Hines, Illinois Veterans Hospital; Veteran Hospital in Walla Walla, Washington; and Veterans Hospital, Gulfport, Mississippi. (General Electric radios are given to the hospitals). Following the drawing of the winners’ names, a special number is dedicated to all Americans, “Where in the World but America?”

Author's note: I find the above very interesting. About this time, Fred Waring had a second radio program, broadcast on Monday evening, sponsored by General Electric. For one sponsor to be mentioned on another program owned by another sponsor was unique. Perhaps General Electric allowed a return favor for the next broadcast?

Broadcast of June 4, 1948
The program today salutes Sahwnee-on-the-Delaware, from where this program series will be broadcast during the summer months, beginning next week. The legend of the Indian Princess Shawnee is included in this salute. Also, a special salute to all of the students who are among this season’s graduates from high school and colleges throughout the land. A special farewell tribute today to Mac Perrin, a six-year member of the Pennsylvanians as singer and musician, was delivered. This was Perrin’s final appearance on The Fred Waring Show. Perrin was entering his television career. As a farewell song, Perrin sang “The Thousand Island Song.” This was the final episode to originate from New York City.

Broadcast of June 11, 1948
Now broadcast from Shawnee on the Delaware, Pennsylvania, today and hereafter until further notice. Fred Waring and the cast are spending the summer in Shawnee where Waring conducted a Choral Clinic. This broadcast studio guests number 75 members of the Peggy Reed’s Pottstown, Pennsylvania, High School Chorus. Also featured is an anniversary salute to WEBC, Duluth, Minnesota, celebrating its 20th anniversary today. Also featured is a sketch titled “Million Dollar Baby,” in salute to the five-and-ten cent stores. Also featured is a birthday salute to the anniversary of King Kamehameha, the first King of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Farewell Song by Queen Liliuokalani, “Aloha Oe,” is presented in tribute to Hawaii.

Broadcast of June 18, 1948
An announcement is made that today is “Graduation Day” for the first class of the 1948 Workshop that Fred Waring and the cast were conducting in Shawnee this summer. Norman Leydens is the featured vocalist today and sings “Senorita.” Leydens co-wrote with Glenn Miller the song, "I Sustain the Wings," in 1943, which was used as the theme song for Glenn Miller's World War II radio series.A Father’s Day spot is included in the program with a sketch titled “How Fathers Get Presents” and is a humorous, human-interest sketch dedicated to the fathers of our country.

Broadcast of June 25, 1948
Hawley Ades, arranger for Fred Waring, is honored in this broadcast. This is Ades’ birthday and every member used on the program was a Hawley Ades arrangement.

Broadcast of July 2, 1948
Fred Waring is away on a business trip to Canada. Don Craig does the emcee chores subbing for Waring with Fred Culley is directing the orchestra. “Safe Driving Dream” is a feature sketch with Don Craig narrating. It is the story of what might happen if we do not watch our motoring, especially on a holiday week and like the one coming up. Another feature is titled “Lost Colony” and is the story of the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island – dedicated to the Fourth of July.

Broadcast of July 9, 1948
This program includes a special salute to the U.S. Marine Corps, celebrating their 173rd birthday this week. Guest is Brig. Gen. Carl S. Day, U.S. Marine Crops, who tells about the new Marine plane, the Phantom F-H-1. Brig. Gen. Day salutes the Marines everywhere, mentions also that this year marks the 150th birthday of the famous U.S. Marine Band, this anniversary to be celebrated tomorrow. He then presented Fred Waring and the cast with a “Certificate of Appreciation” for the cooperation this program has shown in promoting interest in the activities of the Marine Corps Reserve. The entire program is dedicated to the Marines including salutes to the ex-Marines on the Waring cast.

Broadcast of July 16, 1948
This program includes a birthday salute to little Billy Bivens, son of Bill and announcer on the show.

Broadcast of July 23, 1948
“Pied Piper Anniversary” today. 572 years ago, the famous Pied Piper of Hamlin Town is said to have lured the destructive rats to their death and then to have punished the people who would not keep their promise to him, he lured away their children. Also, this episode features an anniversary salute to Salt Lake City, Utah, which was 101 years old on July 24.

Broadcast of July, 30, 1948
Waring announces that members of the Amarillo High School Glee Club (Amarillo, Texas) visited the Shawnee Workshop yesterday. Members of an Oklahoma High School Glee Club (the “Keynotes” of Okamulgee, Oklahoma) are visiting today – and are listening to this broadcast.

Broadcast of August 6, 1948
“Fish Story” is the featured sketch with Waring indulging in a conversation with a Fish. Lumpy Brannum plays the role of “Finny Friend, the Fish.”

Broadcast of August 13, 1948
“Superstitions” is the featured sketch of the broadcast, in keeping with Friday the 13th.

Broadcast of August 20, 1948
“Workshop Graduation” is the theme since this Friday marked the closing of the Choral Workshop in Shawnee. Fred Waring does an original rhymed sketch titled “Workshop Summary.”

Broadcast of August 27, 1948
“Stars” make up the theme for this broadcast with songs about stars and of course, the orchestra played “Stardust.” This was the last time the series was broadcast from Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania.

Broadcast of September 3, 1948
Now broadcast from the Radio City studios in New York. The featured spot on this broadcast was an original sketch titled “Children Are Smart,” about the way we go about mis-spelling words so our children won’t understand us. And then, the children start to school and our spelling game ends abruptly.

Broadcast of September 10, 1948
“Working My Way Through College” is the featured sketch, dedicated to all of the young people going back to school and college.

Broadcast of September 17, 1948
Fred Waring is not on the program because he is preparing an Invitation Golf Tournament for the Annual Waite Memorial Tournament at Shawnee. In New York, Don Craig is emcee and Fred Culley directs the orchestra. This program features the “Freedom Train” song, the occasion is the birthday of the Freedom Train. Just a year ago last night, the Freedom Train was dedicated in Philadelphia. Today, the Freedom train is in Pittsburgh. This program gives figures on the large numbers of people who visited the Freedom Train during its first year. This program also includes a tie-in salute to the Emancipation Proclamation, the Bill of Rights, etc. Another big anniversary salute today goes to the U.S. Air Force. Tomorrow, September 18, will be the 41st anniversary of the Military Air Service and the First Anniversary of the Air Corps as an independent unit.

Broadcast of September 24, 1948
A salute to American Indian Days. (Author note: Apologies for the brief summaries. I can only list what information I have access to and i didn't have much to go on beyond this.)

Broadcast of October 1, 1948
Salute to Pennsylvania Week. “Shakey, the Pennsylvania Dutchman” spot stars Big Walter "Shakey" Horton of the chorus.

Broadcast of October 8, 1948
Fire Prevention Week. This broadcast featured a dramatic sketch on fire prevention. Guest included Doctor Fabian Sevitsky, director of the Indianapolis Symphony.

Broadcast of October 15, 1948
A poem, “Getting a Hair Cut,” is among the highlights of the broadcast.

Broadcast of October 22, 1948
A poem, “Scorpio,” is among the highlights of the broadcast.

Broadcast of October 29, 1948
Beginning with this episode, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians began a multi-state tour and broadcast their show from different towns as they went across the country. This broadcast originates from Cleveland, Ohio. The entire orchestra plays to an audience of 12,000 teachers in Ohio, from an auditorium in Cleveland. Also included is a spot about Halloween.

Broadcast of November 5, 1948
This broadcast originates from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There is a salute to the Centennial year of Wisconsin and the Homecoming Week for the University of Wisconsin. A salute to Sammy Gallop, composer, and Billy Moll, Clara Edwards and Carrie Jacobs Bond.

Broadcast of November 12, 1948
This broadcast originates from Omaha, Nebraska. The orchestra performs at the Orpheum Theater with an audience of 1,200 high school youngsters representing Glee Clubs of every school in town. Also included is a salute to Santa Fe for arrangement of their transportation during this tour.

Broadcast of November 19, 1948
This broadcast originates from Dallas, Texas. This episode features a salute to Texas. November 19 is the anniversary of the Pennsylvanians and Fred Waring. Exactly 20 years ago they opened in their first show, a Broadway musical called Hello Yourself!

Broadcast of November 26, 1948
This broadcast originates from Des Moines, Iowa. The Pennsylvanians told the story of the “Little Lost Chord,” which they told 11 years ago. Yesterday, Macy’s Department Store used the radio program as the star of the store’s animated Christmas window display. High School students of Iowa were in the audience.

Broadcast of December 3, 1948
This broadcast originates from the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. The program includes a special Abraham Lincoln feature as Waring explains that the Waring show cast members have spent the last two nights in the Urbana-Lincoln Hotel on the site of the old Reddick House where Lincoln lived when he was a struggling young lawyer, just 100 years ago. “Lincoln’s Poetry,” narrated by someone playing the part of Abraham Lincoln, is featured. The Glee Club then performs “Poem by Abraham Lincoln,” Lincoln’s poem set to music.

Broadcast of December 10, 1948
This broadcast originates from Rochester, New York. This program also includes a birthday salute to composers Harold Adamson, Sana Marco and Lew Brown. The featured spot is titled “Tour Summary” and consisted of narration by Fred Waring as he highlighted events of the tour they were just completing.

Broadcast of December 17, 1948
The program now originates from New York City where future broadcasts originated. This program included birthday greetings by Ray Noble, orchestra leader-song writer. The program started with Christmas music – today and through the holiday, a portion of the program would be devoted to Christmas music including some of the seldom-heard carols.

Broadcast of December 24, 1948
“Song of Christmas” is a highlight of the broadcast, a dramatic-musical presentation of arranger Roy Ringwald’s re-creation of the Christmas story in Biblical verse and in the songs of Christmas through the centuries. “Song of Christmas” is an annual presentation of the Fred Waring broadcasts. Narration is by Don Craig. Soloists included Jane Wilson, Stuart Churchill and Leonard Kranendonk.

Broadcast of December 31, 1948
“Happy Birthday” today to Mrs. C.H. Boyd, a listener in Memphis, Tennessee, who today was celebrating her 100th birthday. There was a New Year’s theme throughout this entire program as Waring mentions some of the highlights of 1948 and expresses greetings from the entire cast for a Happy New Year for all the listeners.

In Closing...
All of the December 1948 radio broadcasts exists in recorded form. I recommend you seek them out and add them to your Christmas listening for next year. They are very enjoyable.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Fred Waring NBC publicity photo
After a series of successful Victor Records, Fred Waring and the Waring’s Pennsylvanians branched into radio with daily and weekly musical radio broadcasts that ultimately made them very popular to a mainstream market that was purchasing radios for home entertainment. A long story made short, the clash of radio and recorded music caused copyright problems in the smaller market radio stations and Waring lobbied hard for broadcasting reforms so the authors of recorded music would receive fair compensation for their work. Smaller stations, unable to afford live performances, had begun to broadcast recorded music. No system of royalty payments existed at the time, and the Artists Protective Society, a group representing musicians and bandleaders, claimed this practice was cutting into performers' incomes. In 1929, the APS demanded that artists be compensated for use of their recordings. Waring was passionate about the issue and decided to take a stronger stance. Beginning in 1930, he refused to make any further recordings unless a system for royalty payments was instituted. Waring maintained this position for more than ten years before he again entered the studio in late 1941, signing with Decca. During most of the 1930s Waring's music was only available at live performances or through his radio show, sponsored by the P. Lorillard Tobacco Company, hocking Old Gold Cigarettes.

Waring's orchestra supposedly has the distinction of being the first to record a George Gershwin tune, the first to record a rumba, and the first dance band to record with a vocal chorus. Aside from Victor the group also released material on the Columbia label. Vocalists included Stuart Churchill and Waring's own brother, Tom.

Fred Waring continued his radio program with various sponsors including Ford Motos, E.W. Grove (Bromo-Quinine cold tablets), Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company (Chesterfield Cigarettes), American Meat, the Florida Citrus Growers, General Electric and Johnson Wax (as a summer replacement for the Fibber McGee and Molly program). More than 70 radio broadcasts exist in recorded form before 1947, including one with Kay Thompson and a few from 1935 with Priscilla Lane. Priscilla Lane attended the Eagin School of Dramatic Arts in New York before she began touring with her sisters in the Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians Dance Band. She was a popular singer with her sisters and, after 5 years, she signed a Hollywood contract with Warner Brothers in 1937. Her first film was Varsity Show (1937) where she portrayed a singer with the Fred Waring Band! (Her Hollywood career was short-lived but she had the opportunity to work with Cary Grant, Jack Benny, James Cagney and Alfred Hitchcock.)

In 1947, courtesy of the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency, the Minnesota Valley Canning Company was convinced in sponsoring Fred Waring’s radio program – but for only four broadcasts. Products promoted were canned vegetables: Niblets brand whole kernel corn with the Green Giant on the label and Green Giant brand peas. Afterwards, the series was broadcast over NBC as a sustainer until months later when the sponsor agreed to pick up the series for a lengthier time period. For almost three years (1947-1950), Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians entertained radio listeners on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians

For anyone who has never heard a recording, The Fred Waring Show was a program of popular music with some especially-featured arrangements of other types of music, such as Negro Spirituals and often a hymn. For many of the broadcasts, a central theme such as “love” was chosen and the program selections were built around that idea. During the program, anniversary salutes to well-known men and women and anniversary tributes to the memory of great men and women no longer living were featured. Dramatic spots or narration were often used in such salutes or in the development of a central theme. The music included the Waring Orchestra’s performance plus the Waring Orchestra (a chorus of voices, mixed chorus, with orchestral background); the Waring Glee Club, composing the entire choral group and featuring soloists; the feature vocal group known as “Honey and the Bees” with Daisy Bernier as “Honey” and three male vocalists as “the Bees”; solo instrumental performances by Joe Sodja on his electric guitar, Lumpy Brannum on the “bull fiddle” and others from time to time; the piano team composed of Virginia Morley and Livingston Gearhart; and others, such as the vocal combinations known as “the Twin Trios,” “the Gordonnaires” and “the Swingarettes.” Occasionally, Hugh (Lumpy) Brannum featured musical stories for children, using story-continuity and musical sound effects produced on his big bass fiddle.

Fred Waring was the emcee. Don Craig was the narrator for dramatic spots, with Jack Dolph, one of the writers for the show, also doing narrations. Bill Bivens was the announcer. Music performed by the Fred Waring Orchestra and the Glee Club.

Broadcasts were “live” each week. (They began transcribing the series beginning with the broadcast of May 13, 1949.)

The series premiered on March 14, 1947 and ran until July 8, 1950. The initial contract was for four weeks (March 14 to April 4, 1947), whereupon the sponsor later renewed for 26 weeks (July 18, 1947 to January 9, 1948). The sponsor, pleased with the results, renewed the contract for an additional 26 weeks, followed by an additional 52 weeks and another 52 weeks.

March 14 to April 4, 1947, Friday, 11 to 11:30 a.m., EST
July 18, 1947 to September 26, 1947, Friday, 11 to 11:30 a.m., EST
October 3, 1947 to July 8, 1949, Friday, 10 to 10:30 a.m., EST
July 16, 1949 to July 8, 1950, Saturday, 10 to 10:30 a.m., EST

The following is an episode guide for the calendar year of 1948. Before focusing on the broadcasts, it might be helpful to understand Waring’s activities behind the microphone.  In 1943, Waring acquired the Buckwood Inn in Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania, and renamed the resort the Shawnee Inn and Country Club, a golf resort. To promote the Inn, Waring centered his musical activities at the Inn itself. He created, rehearsed and broadcast his radio programs from the stage of Shawnee's Worthington Hall throughout the 1940s and a few of the episodes listed below are referenced to broadcast origination from Shawnee on Delaware. In 1947, Waring organized the Fred Waring Choral Workshop at his Pennsylvania headquarters in Shawnee-on-the Delaware, which was also the home of Shawnee Press, the music publisher which he founded. At these sessions, talented musicians learned to sing with precision, sensitivity and enthusiasm. When these vocalists returned home and shared what they had learned with fellow musicians, Waring’s approach to choral singing spread throughout the nation.

Fred Waring at the NBC mike.
Waring expanded into television with The Fred Waring Show, which ran on CBS-TV from June 20, 1948 to May 30, 1954 and received several awards for Best Musical Program.

The January 16, 1948 radio broadcast was in connection with Waring’s fondness for cartoons. Waring was a cartoon and comic strip collector, and beginning in 1948, two years after the National Cartoonists Society was formed, Waring invited members of that organization to spend a day at the Shawnee Inn. It became an annual event, held each June for the next 25 years, resulting in a huge collection of artwork created for Waring by the cartoonists, including many drawn on Shawnee Inn stationery.

Broadcast of January 2, 1948
Features a birthday salute to former Pennsylvanian Anne Shaw Price who now lives in Peru. Also features an anniversary tribute to the Gadsden Purchase, made 94 years ago when James Gadsden, then minister to Mexico, arranged the purchase of the territory of Mexico, now known as Arizona and New Mexico. One spot on the program was devoted to the Western States. Another spot was devoted to “Mandalay.”

Broadcast of January 9, 1948
Features a birthday salute to the Broadway musical comedy hit, Finian’s Rainbow. The musical celebrated it’s first birthday (a full year on Broadway) on January 10. Waring mentions that Finian’s Rainbow has been voted the 1947 show with the best actors, best dance choreography, and best music – in all has won 47 awards during its first year.

Broadcast of January 16, 1948
Special guest is Mel Graff, creator of the comic strip Secret Agent X-9. Graff was also an artist, a song-writer and a dramatist. His comic strip on January 15 featured a character take-off on Fred Waring and Mel Graff talks about his third “villain.” (For any Mel Graff scholars who wondered why the take-off on Fred Waring in his comic strip, the tie-in has now been explained.)

Broadcast on January 23, 1948
Fred Waring does a serious spot today titled “January 25,” reminding the listeners that just one month ago on another 25th, we were filled with the spirit of the Christmas holiday season. Waring asked that we might make this “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Man” a permanent thing. He proposed having a series of “little Christmases,” stopping at least on the anniversary of Christmas Day each month through the year to recall that there can be such a thing as love and peace and goodwill in the hearts of men. 
Broadcast of January 30, 1948
Featured a program spot titled “Return What You Borrow.” Also featured an original rhyme advocating a “Return What You Borrow” week.

Broadcast of February 6, 1948
Program has a take-off on the advertising jingle, especially the “One Minute Transcription Jingle.” Waring’s group does several original jingles that would “sell anything including the Brooklyn Bridge.” The last fifteen minutes of the program was devoted to this take-off.

Broadcast February 13, 1948
Program has sketches and salutes to Valentine’s Day, to Friday the Thirteenth and to the World Day of Prayer (a day set aside in 1887 to be observed on the first Friday of Lent each year). In regard to the World Day of Prayer tribute, Fred Waring tells how this day came to be designated by the United Council of Church Women and how, today, this day is observed in 68 different countries where prayers for peace and brotherhood are offered in 1,068 different languages and dialects. The Waring Glee Club sings “Holy, Holy, Holy” in keeping with the World Day of Prayer idea.

Broadcast of February 20, 1948
Program includes a spot in salute to the observance of Brotherhood Week. Waring says the coming week is scheduled to be observed as Brotherhood Week, or “Remember the Other Fellow Week,” or “Be Nice to Your Neighbor Week.” Waring said if we are “nice to our neighbors,” at home and abroad, we shall have true brotherhood. Glee Club sings “It’s so Nice to be Nice to Your Neighbor.” A comedy sketch titled “Helpful Neighbors” is presented to call attention to “Good Neighbor Week.”

Broadcast of February 27, 1948
Studio audience today is composed of members of the Lafayette College Glee Club and Swing Band (also the “Winston Girls” are in the audience). The show offered a variety program today with various kinds of selections. Today was the last time for Fred Waring until after he returns from vacation. His first voluntary vacation in 12 years!

Broadcast of March 5, 1948
Jack Berch, radio “singing and whistling star” is the guest emcee in the absence of the vacationing Fred Waring. Don Craig, a regular on the series, assists on the emcee job. Fred Culley directs the orchestra.

Broadcast of March 12, 1948
Mary Margaret McBride, woman columnist and commentator of the air, is the special guest for this broadcast, emcee in place of Fred Waring, who she refers to as “her favorite man,” who is still on vacation.

Broadcast of March 19, 1948
Tom Waring, one of the original “Pennsylvanians,” is emcee today. Stuart Churchill is featured as soloist, with Tom Waring’s announcing today as “Stuart Churchill Day” on the program. Program includes selections appropriate for Palm Sunday.

Broadcast of March 26, 1948
Nelson Olmsted, narrator and radio actor, is guest emcee and is also featured in the special Easter production titled “Song of Easter.” Nelson Olmsted reads the Scripture in “Song of Easter,” which includes an excerpt from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. The entire production of “Song of Easter” consists of Easter Scripture and music blended from 14 Negro Spirituals. The production is prepared by Roy Ringwald, arranger for the program. (Playing time from 10:11 to 10:28 a.m.) Soloists included: Gordon Goodman, Leonard Kranendonk, David Glissman and Johnny Petterson. Lara Hoggard conducts the orchestra.

Broadcast of April 2, 1948
Gordon Goodman, regular member of the “Pennsylvanians,” is emcee today. Program includes salute to Zuma Palmer, radio and drama editor, the “Hollywood Citizen News.” Goodman says Zuma Palmer was honored in Hollywood last night with a special banquet in honor of her more than 20 years of service on the “Citizen News,” her syndicated column focusing on Hollywood gossip, news and advance features.

Broadcast of April 9, 1948
Fred Waring returns today after a six-week vacation. The program has a spot about Mexico. Waring was on vacation in Mexico, hence the focus of the subject.

Broadcast on April 16, 1948
This broadcast originates from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (not New York City where all of the episodes documented above originate). This episode featured a dramatic sketch titled “Future for Freedom,” based on a scheduled (but cancelled) Time magazine article titled “International Forum of the Future of Freedom.” The questions planned for use on this forum are used publicly for the first time today when they are used in the dramatic sketch. The forum planned by Time magazine was to be held in New Orleans this week but was called off because the foreign statesmen invited to attend had to remain in their own countries because of recent foreign developments.

Part Two will be featured in a future blog post, the second half of the 1948 broadcast log.

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Lost" Episodes of The Mysterious Traveler

Mysterious Traveler comic book
Romantically, fans of old-time radio (and fans of old horror radio programs) rave about The Mysterious Traveler. Chilling tales of murder -- and on occasion -- science fiction and horror. One can easily compare the stories to those of E.C. Comics (Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, etc.) and while the series today ranks among the most popular of radio chillers (as opposed to the often overlooked and underrated Quiet, Please series), in reality it was not as popular at the time it was first broadcast. The best example I can come up with at the moment is the motion-picture, It's a Wonderful Life. Never reaching box office success at the time of release, it's become a classic today. In reality, The Mysterious Traveler was a sustaining filler for time slots on the Mutual Broadcasting System's irregular schedule. A sustaining program was simply as it suggests: the network forked up the production costs in the hopes that a sponsor would buy what network executives believed was a promising program. Ford was a temporary sponsor in 1950, but only for a few broadcasts. (Ford did the same for a large number of radio programs in the same manner in late 1950.)

The radio program spawned a short-lived series of comic books and four mystery magazines. These collectibles vary in price depending on the quality of the comics and magazines. The front and back cover, and the tightness of the spine, are inspected for grading quality so if the magazine is in superb condition but half the front cover is torn, the value is so cheap you can pay $5 bucks for it. The usual going price for a good condition copy of the magazine is $20 per issue. (And for $20, the seller better have it in a plastic sleeve.)

Mysterious Traveler mystery magazine
The series was created and scripted by Robert Arthur and David Kogan. I suspect (and am presently working on digging for proof) that they rarely co-wrote a script together. Instead, they wrote the scripts solo and shared joint authorship for every radio script broadcast. (In the same manner as Lennon and McCartney as The Beatles.) Many of the episodes were reused for The Sealed Book, The Strange Doctor Weird and a couple recycled for the later episodes of Suspense. Robert Arthur later adapted a number of his Mysterious Traveler scripts for short stories in magazines. During the late fifties and early sixties, Arthur ghost wrote the introductions for Alfred Hitchcock in the paperback and hardcover anthologies. You can always tell if Arthur was the editor because there was always one story among the selection penned by Arthur -- many of which were adaptations of Mysterious Traveler scripts.

Regardless of what is reported on a number of internet websites, The Mysterious Traveler did not inspire other mystery radio programs such as Dark Venture, Murder by Experts and The Teller of Tales. Anthology programs were a dime a dozen and rarely was one radio program the inspiration for another. In fact, producers insisted on their own variation-on-a-theme so they could avoid potential lawsuits. One website goes as far as to suggest that The Mysterious Traveler competed against Inner Sanctum Mystery and Lights Out! and that "the same big three networks were forced to continually shuffle their offerings back and forth on the radio dial to continue to fend off the upstart Mysterious Traveler." This is incorrect and merely an assumption. The same site claims: "While simply a road-bump to MBS, the blacklisting of one of radio's greatest writing teams effectively ended their radio writing careers with the cancellation of The Mysterious Traveler." This is not true. Executives at Mutual made a financial decision to cancel the program after it was determined that selling the series to potential sponsors was not feasible in an era where it was acknowledged that television was going to dominate the field.

Maurice Tarplin as The Mysterious Traveler
Transcription discs for "lost" episodes are expensive because they rarely turn up on eBay. Just a hair over 70 episodes are known to exist and while unscrupulous mp3 vendors have been altering episodes of The Sealed Book and retitling them to fool gullible consumers into believing they are buying over 100 episodes, discs do seem to turn up from time to time. I recently paid $225 for three transcription discs and they are presently being transferred to audio CDs. (The dates on the disc labels do not cohere with the radio scripts so whether they are "lost" recordings or simply ones that already exist has yet to be determined until the discs and CDs arrive and I can listen to them.) So in the meantime, here are a few plot summaries for five "lost" episodes for you to enjoy. I'll try to post additional plots in future posts.

Broadcast February 10, 1948
PLOT: This is the story of Anita Barnes, a pretty girl from a small Southern town, who came to New York with a burning ambition to achieve fame and success as a dancer. There, she meets Tony Dervish, a vaudeville tap dancer who is looking for a new partner for his act, The Dancing Dervishes. He sees talent in the little lady and encourages her to marry him, promising a signed contract in Hollywood in five years. Tony, however, prefers to practice, practice and practice till she has blisters on her toes. Two years later, Anita's love for Tony diminishes. Andy Thomas, a publicity manager with eyes for Anita, convinces the tap dancer to poison her husband's cup of coffee, causing him to fall off the roof of a high-story building during a publicity stunt. Tony doesn't die. Instead, he is stuck recovering in a clinic in Arizona. While Tony is recovering, Anita and Andy get a contract in Hollywood and enjoy their new life... until Tony surprises Anita (who still visits him once a month in the clinic to keep up the act of the suffering wife). Tony is starting to walk and in another year he might be able to start dancing again. Back in Hollywood, Anita receives a phone call from Doctor Richards. Tony somehow slipped away from the hospital. His whereabouts are unknown. Anita knows, however, as she phones Andy to let him know that Tony has arrived at her apartment. "Tony's coming to get me!" she shouts over the receiver. Andy races to the apartment house and forces the superintendent to unlock her front door. His car broke down and it's been an hour since she phoned him. The superintendent said neighbors were complaining because of all the dancing and "driving the people down below crazy." Inside, Andy finds Anita dead. She danced herself to death. "Dancing like that kill anybody," says the super. "Faster, faster, faster! The heart can't stand it!" Before Andy leaves the room, the phone rings. Doctor Richards breaks the bad news. They found Tony, dead at the wheel of an automobile. "He ran off the road with the car he stole," the doctor explains. "He died an hour ago..."

Episode #146  "SEVEN YEARS TO WAIT"Broadcast March 23, 1948
PLOT: In 1940, in a small New England city, George Adams and his wife, Louise, find themselves in financial dire. George wants to pay off the old family mortgage but wealthy brother Jeff, who came to visit his brother for a few hours, will not contribute. There was a reason why Uncle Philip left the family fortune in Jeff's name. Angry, George, with the assistance of Louise, plots the murder of Jeff and buries his body in the cellar. Only after the crime is committed does George discover that his brother was heir to $250,000. Now George and Louise have to wait seven years for Jeff to be classified as "dead" and George can inherit the money. Seven long years passed in which George and Louise Adams lived in their dreams of the future. Their daily life was a constant struggle to meet the mortgage and tax payments. Then one day a real estate man pays a visit and offers $40,000 for the property. His client wants to build a ten story office building. George and Louise cannot sell because of the secret hidden in the cellar. Angry, the real estate agent promises to have the city council raise the taxes to force the couple to sell. George and Louise decide to rent out part of the house to Larry Martin, who quickly discovers the couple's crime and blackmails them with a proposition. Larry wants to pretend he is Jeff Adams and claim the estate. George will not agree so Larry contacts the police. George and Louise confess to the crime but Larry continues his charade and pretends to be Jeff, complete with an engraved wrist watch and other forms of identification. The police dig up the grave only to find a framed photo of Larry. The authorities, suspecting George and Louise need to spend time at an institution, take the couple in... leaving Larry, who apparently dug up the body of Jeff and disposed of him elsewhere, alone to receive the inheritance.

Broadcast December 23, 1947
PLOT: The Mysterious Traveler opens the broadcast with a reminder of the holiday season when hearts are light and stories should be gay to match the mood of the occasion. "So tonight we'll have no screams, no groans, no moans, no pistol shots." Mr. Timothy Trimble of Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, wakes on Christmas morning to discover a live Santa Claus, eighteen inches tall, sitting on top of his bureau. Benny, as the small figures explains, is invisible to the human eye except for Mr. Trimble. Benny is a Christmas Spirit who has come to bestow on Mr. Trimble the Christmas Spirits Goodness Award for 1947. As a reward, everything that could ever happen to Mr. Trimble is going to happen for the next 24 hours. As Mr. Trimble walks about town buying last-minute Christmas presents, he is shocked to discover how generous everyone is and all of the gifts are on the house. A waitress at the diner tips him five dollars! A police officer fails to give Mr. Trimble a speeding ticket. Mr. Trimble receives a brand new Superior Eight, replacing his 1928 model. Mr. Trimble is the winner of the Super-Duper Jackpot of 1947, receiving a ton of prizes including a $25,000 home on Long Island, a ranch in New Mexico, a 38-foot cabin cruiser, a jet propelled airplane, a $2,000 mink coat, a silver-plated cement mixer, his own private Pullman car, a 12 carat ring and anything else a man of his standing should receive. Only at the end of the day, back in his warm home, does Mr. Timothy Thomas Trimble discover the surprise waiting for him. Benny has just discovered he made a mistake. He was to bestow the award to Timothy T. Trimble (Timothy Timothy Trimble) and because of the mix-up is forced to turn back the clock to 10 a.m.... where Mr. Trimble wakes on Christmas morning... wondering if it was all a dream.

Episode #163  "THE CHASE"
Broadcast July 20, 1948
PLOT: Mike Thomas, in the middle of a four-year term for extortion, makes arrangements for his wife, Flo, to pick up Danny Nelson, just finishing a five-year sentence for a hold up. Danny was diagnosed by the prison doctors that he suffers from a severe case of claustrophobia. While incarcerated, Mike learns that Albert Raymond, a former cashier at the Fifth National, is also leaving prison. $48,000 was never recovered and both Mike and Danny suspect Albert hid the proceeds of his crime, planning to recover the stolen loot after he is releases. Working with Flo, Danny keeps tabs on the whereabouts of Albert and discovers where the money was hidden. Following Albert to Boston on board a luxury liner, the two criminals steal the suitcase of cash and make a swift getaway in a small boat for Havana. After crashing into the rocks, the boat capsizes in the water, trapping both Danny and Flo in an air-tight cabin, submerged below the water's surface. With no possible avenue of escape, Danny and Flo try to figure out a way to survive until help comes. Realizing there may not be enough oxygen for two, Danny strangles Flo. Panicking from claustrophobia, Danny decides to smash the porthole and allow all the water to flow in -- then planning to escape by making a swim for it. His plan fails because of the physics and a rescue party above watches as a great big air bubble races to the surface... along with hundred dollar bills floating on the surface like seaweed.

The above radio script was revised and re-titled as "Dead Man's Story" for the May 15, 1960 broadcast of Suspense, with Kevin McCarthy playing the lead.

Episode #155  "DEATH IS MY CO-PILOT"
Broadcast May 25, 1948
PLOT: Two Americans, Steve Gordon and Joe Weinburg, joined a group of courageous pilots who have gone to their deaths over the treacherous Himalayas. Indo-China Airlines pays extremely well for pilots who can maneuver above the mountain peaks. During their flight, the men run out of fuel and are forced to make an emergency landing on the mountain side. When Steve and Joe discover the wreckage of a former cargo plane, owned by Barney King, they also find Barney King alive and well, keeping warm in a cave. Steve and Joe think Barney is joking when they are told that they are all dead. Someone named Mr. Benedict comes to the cave and guides them to their next destination. Barney and his co-pilot have resolved themselves to their fate but Steve and Joe will not allow themselves to be taken by Mr. Benedict -- at least, not yet. Transferring gas from Barney's plane, Steve means to fly away. Joe, however, chooses to stay and remain. The next day, Steve finds himself facing Hank Farrell and Sam Morris of the airlines, recovering at the field hospital in Chungking. His tale is too bizarre for Hank and Sam to believe... until Steve starts shouting that Mr. Benedict is at the bedside. No one can see the invisible man as Steve shouts, "Don't let him take me!" Moments later, Steve dies. Hank and Sam believe the dead man was off his rocker due to trauma... until Sam finds Barney King's lucky ring in the pocket of Steve's flying jacket.