Friday, October 27, 2023


One of my favorite radio horror programs is The Witch's Tale, broadcast from 1931 to 1938. Only a large handful of episodes exist in recorded form, but thankfully all of the radio scripts exist -- and with the cast written on the front cover on most of the radio scripts. Preservation is sorely needed for this program, which featured both adaptations of classic horror literature (Frankenstein as an example) and original concepts that involved a decapitated hand, werewolves, monsters, ghosts and more.

Created and written by Alonzo Deen Cole, the title role was played by a young girl named Miriam Wolfe (pictured below). The radio listeners at the time probably thought an old woman played the role of Nancy, the old witch of Salem. The radio program even spawned a pulp magazine! About once every other year I get on a curiosity kick and do a little archival digging for news blurbs, magazine articles, and other bits of information to add to the growing pile of research. I thought it would be cool to post a few archival photos of the cast and crew during rehearsals, and a vintage radio advertisement for another program involving Alonzo Deen Cole. Since there is no book yet being assembled from this material, I felt it prudent to share a few photos (chosen at random) rather than keep them stored in digital format on an external drive. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Adventures of Sam Spade Newspaper Strip

Did you know that radio's Sam Spade made the transition to comic strip? You bet! Newspapers across the country featured this clever advertisement for the radio sponsor, Wildroot, on an infrequent basis, with an artist take on Howard Duff and Lurene Tuttle as Sam and Effie. As of last week, I believe I have a scan of every strip and if you lick on the images, they should enlarge on your computer screen. Here are the first 14 strips which ran through September of 1950.

January 12, 1947

March 9, 1947

May 25, 1947

July 20, 1947

September 6, 1947

November 9, 1947

January 7, 1948

February 8, 1948

April 11, 1948

June 6, 1948

August 8, 1948

October 10, 1948

February 6, 1949

April 3, 1949

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

PETE KELLY'S BLUES: The 1951 Radio Program

Although the series ran for 13 weeks over NBC, in the summer of 1951, never has there been a short-lived radio program to generate a cult following over the years than Pete Kelly's Blues. A unique detective series that prominently featured jazz music, before the era of television's Johnny Staccato and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 

In these weekly crime capers, Jack Webb played the title role as he functioned around kidnappers, murderers, organized crime and corruption. But it was the music that dominated the series and worked beautifully as the jazzy scores (both vocal and non-vocal) were interlaced into the stories. 

The radio program was created by Richard L. Green, the same man who created Pat Novak for Hire (another short-lived Jack Webb radio program), who was also an Oscar-winning screenplay writer for such films as Dragnet (1954), Titanic (1953) and Niagara (1953). 

Jack Webb, obviously, is known to millions as the creator and star of Dragnet, a program attracted a spotlight on the young man, who was quickly hailed by critics as a genius. Television studios asked him to tweak their existing programs in the hopes of improving the quality of the scripts. Warner Brothers offered him a three-picture contract.But fans of old-time radio -- and historians -- will quickly testify that few of Webb's projects became major hits. It was not until the 1970s that Adam-12 and Emergency became big hits and even then... Webb never created those programs. He was just the producer. So you can understand why historians today claim Pete Kelly's Blues as Webb's other great hit. 

Despite the fact the series lasted a mere 13 episodes, the program would later be adapted into a big screen movie (with Jack Webb, Janet Leigh and Edmond O'Brien in the leads), spawn two LP records, and a short-lived television series in 1959 with William Reynolds playing the lead. 

Of the thirteen radio broadcasts, only seven are known to exist in recorded form. The remaining six are still considered "lost" and, sadly, will probably remain so. The next best thing, of course, are the radio scripts... which is the subject of this blog post.

A few years ago all thirteen radio scripts were found in an archive and every page was scanned into PDF format. I then dug into the archives to find the music cue sheets, then the cast lists, and then inter-office memos and on top of all that... further digging in newspaper archives. Now a new book has been assembled with a history of the program, including a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and other goodies. But the highlight will be a reprint of those 13 radio scripts. 

The enclosed link provided for your convenience and reprints of newspaper blurbs are also provided for your entertainment.



Thursday, October 5, 2023

DICK TRACY: A Collection of Rare Photos

For fans of DICK TRACY, the following are some obscure and rarely-seen photos. Enjoy the fun!