Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Leopard Strikes!

Here's a brief synopsis and notes on The Shadow radio episode, "The Leopard Strikes!" that originally aired on January 5, 1941.

The story opens with two policeman walking their beat around the city zoo.  One is a seasoned veteran, the other a rookie wanting some action.  They talk briefly and shortly after, the rookie cop is attacked and killed by what appears to be a wild animal.

Commissioner Weston requests Lamont Cranston's assistance in the case due to Cranston's knowledge of big game animals.  Before long, The Shadow is on the case and talks with the two men responsible for the care of the large cats.  Based on the wounds of the killed cop, it appears he was attacked by a leopard!  Mr. Harper and Mr. Oliver, the two zookeepers in charge of the big cats, are questioned but they say none of the cats had escaped.  Something doesn't seem right, so Lamont plans to visit the two men.

The Shadow pays a visit to Harper and Oliver but does not get any leads in the case.  However, he does note the obvious tension between the two zookeepers.  The Shadow warns them that he will be back if more attacks occur!

Unfortunately, more attacks do happen so Lamont and Margo begin to spend their nights walking the park in hopes of finding a clue or the killer.  There is another attack on a poor park bum and Lamont and Margo rush to the scene.  A policeman is there and he states he witnessed the attack and shot the leopard.  Margo makes a statement about smelling salts and that triggers Lamont's thinking!  The thing that was missing on all the leopard's victims, was the distinct smell of a leopard!  Based on Cranston's experience in Africa, when a leopard attacks a victim, it leaves a distinct smell on the body and that's what has been missing in each of these attacks.

As they enter the zoo where the leopards are kept, they find the leopard named Ribu has in fact been killed!  Commissioner Weston believes the cat had been shot by the policeman, but upon further inspection, the leopard had been killed by a knife.  The killer cat was still on the loose!  The Shadow springs into action and revisits the zookeepers.  Only Mr. Oliver is present and he begins to share some helpful information with The Shadow - information that is incriminating fellow zookeeper Harper!  Before Oliver can fully let the cat out of the bag (see what I did there?!), he is shot.  However, he has provided The Shadow with information that Harper is involved in a leopard cult and gives him information on the neighborhood where the cult meets.

The Shadow, Margo and Shrevvy take off and begin searching the area Oliver had told them about.  Margo happens to see a woman being taken into a building by two men and it appears suspicious.  The Shadow enters the building and finds the leopard cult is meeting!  While the leopard cult never intends to harm anyone, one member, zookeeper Harper, intends to kill the woman as a sacrifice and offering to the leopard.  The Shadow confronts Harper.  Harper is dressed as a leopard - complete with razor sharp claws and he strikes at The Shadow.  The Shadow shoots Harper and kills him, thus ending his murderous rampage.

Here are a few side notes about this episode.  This is one of the rare episodes where Lamont Cranston/The Shadow carries a gun and uses it to kill the villain.  Also, in the episode, Margo jokingly calls Lamont "Hawkshaw."  Hawkshaw is slang for detective and there was a popular comic strip entitled Hawkshaw the Detective that ran from 1913 to 1922, and again from 1931 to 1952.  The villain, Harper, was played by Frank Readick who was the voice of The Shadow introducing the stories on the Detective Story Hour!

The Leopard Strikes also made it into print in Shadow Comics #11 which published on April 25, 1941.

Lamont Cranston/The Shadow:  William Johnstone
Margo Lane:  Marjorie Anderson
Commissioner Weston:  Kenny Delmar
Shrevie:  Everett Sloane
Harper:  Frank Readick

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Shadow Radio Trivia #2

In the episode "The Phantom Voice" (February 6, 1938) a crooked lawyer and his henchman figure out a way to catch the "invisible" Shadow!  The Shadow has gone to the office of lawyer Anthony Vogel to try and solve a crime that Vogel is involved in.  Vogel is talking with his henchman, Travers, when The Shadow makes his presence known - although he has clouded Vogel's and Travers' minds so they cannot see him.

Vogel gets an idea!  Although The Shadow can't be seen physically, he is still physically in the room and they can get their hands on him.  Vogel and Travers stretch their arms out and walk slowly across the office and sure enough - Travers gets his hands on The Shadow and begins to wrestle with him!  (I won't spoil the episode to tell you what happens next, so give it a listen to find out!)

I thought this was a pretty ingenious idea on the part of the shyster lawyer Anthony Vogel.  It took advantage of the one flaw The Shadow has - he is still physically present although he can't be seen.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Shadow's Christmas Episodes

I found that there were quite a few Christmas episodes of The Shadow radio show.  I've only been able to listen to two of them (Cold Death and Joey's Christmas Story).  Here's a list of The Shadow's Christmas radio programs.

  • Cold Death (Season 1, episode 13 aired 12/19/37)
  • Give Us This Day (Season 2, episode 18 aired 12/25/38)
  • The Stockings Were Hung (Season 3, episode 14 aired 12/24/39)
  • Joey's Christmas Story (Season 4, episode 13 aired 12/22/40)
  • Merry Christmas by the Thousand (Season 8, episode 14 aired 12/24/1944)
  • Three Crimes on Christmas Eve (Season 9, episode 16 aired 12/23/45)
  • A Gift of Murder (Season 11, episode 15 aired 12/21/47)
  • Murder Marked Merry Christmas (Season 12, episode 16 aired 12/26/48)
  • The Christmas Ghost (Season 13, episode 15 aired 12/25/49)
  • Out by Christmas (Season 14, episode 15 aired 12/24/50)
  • The Case of the Santa Claus Killer (Season 16, episode 15 aired 12/21/52)

From what I can see, some of these episode recordings have been lost so they are no longer available to listen to.  I really enjoyed listening to Cold Death and Joey's Christmas Story - each one was different but awesome Christmas stories.  Cold Death was along the lines of Scrooge and A Christmas Carol while Joey's Christmas Story was a bit more light-hearted.

Hopefully you can find time to listen to one of these Shadow Christmas episodes this holiday season.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Voice Actors That Were The Shadow

The Shadow radio was on the air from September 26, 1937 until the final episode on December 26, 1954.  During that time, five men played the part of Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.  This brief article will give the names and dates for each of these men.  I plan on writing more about each of these actors in the future!

Orson Welles 
Orson Welles portrayed The Shadow in season 1 (1937 - 1938), for a total of 52 episodes.  

William Johnstone
William Johnstone took over the role for seasons 2 through 6 (1938 - 1943).  (Shadow Comics #23 included some information on Johnstone which you can read here.)

Bret Morrison
For season 7 (1943 - 1944) it was Bret Morrison in the role of Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.

John Archer
John Archer was The Shadow for one season.  He was in season 8 from 1944 to 1945.

Stephen Courtleigh
Stephen Courtleigh portrayed The Shadow for the first eight episodes* of season 9 (1945 - 1946).  His last episode as The Shadow would have been "I Must Never Sleep Again" which aired on October 28, 1945.

Bret Morrison
Bret Morrison took over from Stephen Courtleigh beginning with the ninth episode of season 9 ("Spotlight on the Duchess" which aired on November 4, 1945).  He stayed in the role until the end of The Shadow radio show in season 18 (1954).

*Information from Grams, Jr, Martin, 2011, The Shadow The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930 - 1954, pp 258-259, OTR Publishing

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Episodes - The Shadow Radio!

Happy Halloween!  Here is a list of spooktacular Shadow radio episodes to listen to on Halloween!

  • The Black Abbott
  • The Werewolf of Hamilton Mansion
  • Mansion of Madness
  • The Three Ghosts
  • Death on the Rails
  • The Creeper
  • The Nursery Rhyme Murders
  • The House That Death Built
  • The Society of The Living Dead
A special thank you to @octoberpodvhs and @rovingoliver on Twitter for your recommendations!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Recommended Radio Episodes #1

Here are 4 recommended episodes of The Shadow!  Each of these has a common theme - The Shadow's ability to cloud the minds of men.  I'm going to put them into pairs of two with a few brief notes.

I've paired these two episodes together because they both give us listeners insight into Lamont Cranston's powers to cloud men's minds.  They also let us know how and where he learned these powers!  Death House Rescue was the very first Shadow episode, so you'll want to pay attention to the very beginning of the show when Lamont and Margo are talking.  Then, in The Temple Bells of Neban, someone from Cranston's past shows up and they challenge to take away The Shadow's powers in a mind-power showdown!

  • The Shadow Challenged  (January 19, 1941)
  • Death Stalks The Shadow (October 9, 1938)

I've paired these two episodes together because in both of them, The Shadow's powers of invisibility almost bring his doom!  In The Shadow Challenged, someone is killing professors that are translating an ancient manuscript.  The murderer claims he is The Shadow!  This story also gives some insight into how Lamont Cranston gained his powers.  In Death Stalks The Shadow, a master mind criminal determines how to build a Shadow-proof trap that he uses to catch and kill The Shadow.  Will he succeed?  You'll have to listen to the episode and find out!

I've tried not to put too much information about the episodes here so that you can give them a listen and see how the stories all connect!  I hope you enjoy these recommendations.  I'll try to make this a regular (or semi-regular) feature here on the blog!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Margo Lane Trivia #2

While Margo Lane was part of the cast of The Shadow radio show from the very first episode (September 26, 1937), it would be four years until she appeared in the pages of The Shadow magazine.  Margo first appeared in the story, "The Thunder King" which was the June 15, 1941 issue.