Boston Blackie – Friend to those who have no friend!

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Boston Blackie is a fictional character created by author Jack Boyle (born before 1880; died circa 1928). Originally a jewel thief and safecracker in Boyle’s novels, he became a detective in adaptations for films, radio and television—an “enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend.”

Jack Boyle’s stories first appeared in the early 20th Century. “The Price of Principle” was a short story in the July 1914 issue of The American Magazine. Boyle’s character also turned up in Cosmopolitan. In 1917, Redbook published the novelette “Boston Blackie’s Mary,” and the magazine brought the character back with “The Heart of the Lily” (February, 1921). Boyle’s stories were collected in the book Boston Blackie (1919), which was reprinted in 1979 by Gregg Press. Boyle died in 1928.

The Boston Blackie radio series  began June 23, 1944, on NBC as a summer replacement for Amos ‘n’ Andy.

Lesley Woods appeared as Blackie's girlfriend

Sponsored by Rinso, the series continued until September 15 of that year. Unlike the concurrent films, Blackie had a steady romantic interest in the radio show: Lesley Woods appeared as Blackie’s girlfriend Mary Wesley. Harlow Wilcox was the show’s announcer.

On April 11, 1945, Richard Kollmar portrayed Blackie in a radio series syndicated by Frederick Ziv to Mutual and other network outlets. Over 200 episodes of this series were produced between 1944 and October 25, 1950. Other sponsors included Lifebuoy Soap, Champagne Velvet beer and R&H beer. While investigating mysteries, Blackie invaribly encountered harebrained Police Inspector Farraday (Maurice Tarplin) and always solved the mystery to Farraday’s amazement.

Initially, friction surfaced in the relationship between Blackie and Farraday, but as the series continued, Farraday recognized Blackie’s talents and requested assistance. Blackie dated Mary Wesley (Jan Miner), and for the first half of the series, his best pal Shorty was always on hand. The humorless Farraday was on the receiving end of Blackie’s bad puns and word play.

You can listen to the adventures of Boston Blackie on the Crime, Suspense & Horror Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network.  Happy Listening 🙂

Maurice Tarplin played Farraday
Richard Kollmar played Blackie

 

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The Adventure of Sam Spade Detective

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Sam Spade is a fictional character who is the protagonist of Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon (1930) and the various films and adaptations based on it, as well as in three lesser known short stories by Hammett.

Dashiell Hammett - Creator of Sam Spade

The novel, first published as a serial in the pulp magazine Black Mask, is the only one that Spade appears in, yet the character is widely cited as the crystallizing figure in the development of the hard-boiled private detective genre – Raymond Chandler’s character Philip Marlowe, for instance, was strongly influenced by Hammett’s Spade.

Raymond Chandler's Marlowe was influenced by Spade

Spade was a departure from Hammett’s nameless and less than glamorous detective, The Continental Op. Sam Spade combined several features of previous detectives, most notably his cold detachment, keen eye for detail, and unflinching determination to achieve his own justice. He is the man who has seen the wretched, the corrupt, the tawdry side of life but still retains his “tarnished idealism”.

On the radio, Sam Spade was played by Bogart in a 1943 Screen Guild Theater production and a 1946 Academy Award Theater production. He was also played by Edward G. Robinson in a 1943 Lux Radio Theatre production.

The Adventures of Sam Spade

The Adventures of Sam Spade ran from 1946-1951 (on ABC, CBS, and NBC) and starred Howard Duff (and later Steve Dunne) as “Sam Spade” and Lurene Tuttle as Spade’s devoted secretary “Effie Perrine”, and took a considerably more tongue-in-cheek approach to the character.

Howard Duff played Sam Spade

The show ran for 13 episodes on ABC in 1946, for 157 episodes on CBS in 1946-1949, and finally for 51 episodes on NBC in 1949-1951. The series was largely overseen by producer/director William Spier. In 1947, scriptwriters Jason James and Bob Tallman received an Edgar Award for Best Radio Drama from the Mystery Writers of America.

Laureen Tuttle played Spade's devoted secretary, Effie Perrine

The series had a commercial that is well remembered.  Wildroot Cream Oil.  Wildroots catch phrase was, “A little dab’l do you.”  The melody “Cream Oil Charlie” was copyrighted on 01/27/46 for Tad Dameron & Woody Herman by the Charling Music Corp., New York. Each of the broadcasts were 30 minutes in length.

The Sponsor of Sam Spade - Wildroot (German Ad)

Dashiell Hammett’s name was removed from the series in the late 1940s because he was being investigated for involvement with the Communist Party. Later, when Howard Duff’s name appeared in the Red Channels book, he was not invited to play the role when the series made the switch to NBC in 1950.

Born on May 27, 1894, he was a veteran of World War II, serving as a Sergeant in Alaska.
He was a member of the Civil Rights Congress, a liberal political group which was targeted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as being a Communist front. He refused to name contributors to the organization and was sentenced to six months in jail for that refusal.

He later became a virtual recluse in the tiny village of Katonah, New York, partly due to chronic health problems.

Dashiell Hammett's Grave

He died there on January 10, 1961 and, as was his wish, he was buried in Section 12 of Arlington National Cemetery. At one point, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover attempted to block the burial but was overruled in that attempt.

You can hear episodes of The Adventures of Sam Spade on both the Crime & Suspense Channel and Heritage Gold.

Happy Listening 🙂

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