Monday, December 25, 2017

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.  Let me wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Silent Avenger

"The Silent Avenger" was first aired on March 13, 1938 and it was the 25th episode from season 1 of The Shadow radio show.  This story is thrilling, compelling and unique.

The story begins in a courtroom where Joe Brecker has just been found guilty of first degree murder and receives the death sentence.  Joe Brecker then gives his own judgment by passing sentence on Judge Wilson, the prosecuting attorney, and the jury saying that they will all die.  And, if his sentence isn't commuted to life in prison by the Governor, the Governor will die!  Joe also passes sentence on the man who caught him - The Shadow!

Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane are witnesses to Brecker's outburst in court.  As people leave the room, comments are made about what just happened and how worried people would be if The Shadow was on their trail.  Lamont opines, "Unfortunately the mystery surrounding The Shadow inspires fear and terror in the innocent as well as the guilty."

Joe Brecker is in prison, waiting to be moved to the death house, and is visited by his brother, Danny.  (Throughout the story we will learn Danny Brecker is a decorated veteran of World War I.)  Joe has given Danny a mission - Danny is to kill the people responsible for sending Joe to jail and to the death sentence.  Joe tells Danny that the same people that sentenced him to death are the ones responsible for Danny being drafted into the Army and being sent to fight in France during World War I.  They are responsible for Danny getting "shell shocked" so that he can't remember things.  Then Joe warns Danny about The Shadow.  He tells Danny that The Shadow will come after him and he will only hear his voice but will not see him.  Danny asks if The Shadow is dead, like his buddies that still talk to him.  Joe tells him that The Shadow is very much alive and when Danny hears The Shadow's voice he is to throw a hand grenade at the sound of The Shadow's voice and that will kill The Shadow!  Danny indicates that he will fully carry out this mission assigned to him from his brother.  After Danny leaves, Joe says about Danny, "That poor dope!"  In other words, Joe has taken advantage of his own brother to exact his vengeance.

After Danny left, Joe received a new visitor, a visitor he didn't expect and didn't want.  Joe is visited by The Shadow!  The Shadow knows Brecker is willing to carry out his murderous threat, and now he's trying to find out how Brecker will do it.  Using his telepathic powers, The Shadow reads Joe Brecker's mind and learns Brecker's plan.  But now The Shadow must find Danny Brecker in time to prevent the murders of innocent people.

The Shadow is searching desperately for Danny Brecker and members of the jury that put Joe Brecker in jail are beginning to be killed - killed by a highly trained sniper.  Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane discuss these tragic events as Cranston has exhausted himself searching for Danny.  Cranston tells Margo that he looked up Danny Brecker's war record and found him to be a decorated sniper in WW I, and he also learned Danny is suffering from "shell-shock."  Cranston tells Margo, "Society trained him (Danny) to kill men.  They told him they were enemies and he should kill them off.  And now, with a shell-shocked mind, he's remembering what society taught kill.  To the people who have been through this experience, life is cheap.  He is a product of our own folly:  teaching men to kill in time of war and yet expecting them to respect life in time of peace."

The Shadow determines they need to set a trap for Danny so he and Margo put that plan in motion.  Margo goes to the home of Danny and Joe Brecker's mother, posing as a reporter, on the day Joe is scheduled to die in the electric chair.  The Shadow is there as well, but he is unseen.  Just a few minutes before 5pm, when Joe is scheduled to die, Danny appears and talks with his mom.  Mrs. Brecker knows in her heart that Danny is the one that's been killing people.  5pm comes and there was no action by the Governor to save Joe Brecker and so the death penalty is carried out.  Danny mentions that he will be going to a tower in the city to take care of the Governor.  The Shadow confronts Danny, but Danny is prepared and throws a hand grenade at where he hears The Shadow's voice.  The Shadow is able to throw the grenade out a window before anyone can get hurt, but Danny escapes in the turmoil.

Cranston and Margo are pouring over a map of the city trying to find what tower Danny was speaking of.  They determine it can only be the Wardman Tower which is still under construction but would be a perfect sniper's nest for Danny to shoot the Governor who will be in a parade.

The Shadow finds Danny on the 30th floor of the Wardman Tower.  The Shadow speaks to Danny and is able to get him to put down the rifle.  But then Danny pulls the pin on the hand grenade he has and threatens to throw it into the crowd below.  The Shadow is able to use the powers of his mind to have Danny hold on to the grenade, but then Danny drops it and it explodes, killing Danny.

Police Commissioner Weston has finished talking about the case with another officer when The Shadow speaks to him.  Weston says The Shadow was too late to take care of Danny Brecker and asks if The Shadow now wants to take credit for solving the case?  The Shadow responds, "There is no credit, no glory in the death of Danny Brecker, Commissioner Weston.  He was a victim, a human weapon of destruction, fashioned by mankind that teaches men to kill their enemies in time of war yet expects them to forget their murderous art in time of peace.  Danny Brecker was an enemy of society - a killer - but only because you, and I, and countless thousands made him one.  No Commissioner, there is no glory in this for you, or The Shadow, or for any man."

I listened to this episode many times to prepare for this article.  Each time I listened, I found a different nuance to it that might be missed with just one listening.  For example, Lamont Cranston spends many secluded hours away from Margo Lane in his attempt to find Danny Brecker.  This case demanded a lot physically from The Shadow.  I also noticed how Joe Brecker took advantage of his war-traumatized brother to exact his vengeance.  To me, that is shameful and indicates the type of criminal Joe Brecker really was.

In this story, The Shadow used his mesmeric powers to read Joe Brecker's mind, similar to what he did in the episode, "Death House Rescue."  The Shadow also used his ability to cloud people's minds so as to be invisible to them.

As part of preparing for this article I also did some research into World War I as Danny Brecker is a veteran of the war.  There were 4.7 million Americans that fought in WW I.  204,000 were wounded in action and 116,516 were killed in action.  There are still around 3,000 soldiers that are missing in action/unaccounted for.  The war began in 1914 but the US didn't enter the war until 1917, and the war ended in November of 1918.  At the height of US involvement, around 10,000 US troops a day were being sent to France.

World War I introduced us to the first use of chemical warfare and the first use of snipers.  It also introduced us to a condition called "shell-shock" which we would later know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Here's some information I found on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website:  "In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first observance of Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. At that time, some symptoms of present-day PTSD were known as "shell shock" because they were seen as a reaction to the explosion of artillery shells. Symptoms included panic and sleep problems, among others. Shell shock was first thought to be the result of hidden damage to the brain caused by the impact of the big guns. Thinking changed when more soldiers who had not been near explosions had similar symptoms. "War neuroses" was also a name given to the condition during this time."  WWI veterans with "shell shock" were characterized as having a lack of courage, character flaws, etc. and were not treated as the heroes they were.

Six years prior to this radio episode airing, another event happened involving WW I veterans.  In 1932 approximately 17,000 veterans and their families marched on Washington, DC asking the government to pay out immediately the bonus money promised to veterans.  The demand was rejected and the veterans were forced out of Washington by the Army and the police.  You can read more about these veterans here.

Knowing some of these facts helped me put this radio program into an historical context.  It has become one of my favorite Shadow radio episodes and I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at the show and some of the history behind it.  I also want to thank Pete Blatchford for bringing this radio show to my attention!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Shadow in Print

Here's a timeline of The Shadow in printed form.

April 1, 1931 - Summer 1949  The Shadow Magazine (325 issues)

The Shadow #1

January 12, 1940 - June 24, 1949*  Shadow Comics (101 issues)

Shadow Comics #1

June 17, 1940 - June 13, 1942  The Shadow comic strip (syndicated through the Ledger Syndicate)

As you can see, The Shadow had an impressive print run from pulp magazines to comic strips from 1931 to 1949!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Shadow Strikes! (Part Two)

I had previously written about The Shadow Strikes! story as published by Belmont Books.  You can read that article here.  In this article I will dive into the character of The Shadow as presented in The Shadow Strikes!

Let me say at the very beginning that I consider the Belmont Books Shadow series to be a different iteration of The Shadow and not as a continuation of the stories from the pulp magazines.  I don't say that to diminish these stories because they are interesting and entertaining.  However, The Shadow in these stories is quite different than the ones from the pulps and the radio.  While there are many similarities, there are also major differences.

The Shadow in the Belmont Books is a man of mystery.  He wears the black cloak, the black slouch hat, and the girasol ring.  His footwear is described as "...Oriental slippers, designed for the needs of judo and karate..." (page 67).  These Oriental slippers allow The Shadow to make no sound as he walks.  The Shadow also carries a .45 automatic and keeps a ring of skeleton keys hidden in the folds of his cloak.  The Shadow's cloak, hat and ring are "folded into amazingly small size and hidden in their secret places within the clothes" of Lamont Cranston (page 12).

A major difference about this Shadow is that he has to wear the cloak, hat, and ring to become The Shadow.  For it is only when he wears these items that he has the full powers and abilities of The Shadow!  

From page 13 of The Shadow Strikes!

The Shadow is described as having great muscular control, physical strength, agility, balance and hearing.  He has knowledge of many languages (pages 30, 59).  He had studied in the Orient with several masters.  From the great Chen T'a Tze he learned the ability to cloud men's minds so as not to see him and to hypnotize them (but can only do so when wearing the cloak, hat and ring).  Master Chen T'a Tze had also taught him the art of shallow breathing, allowing him to slow down his breathing.  The Shadow has "remarkable recuperative powers" and knowledge of Oriental medicine that allows him to quickly recover from physical injury.  

Additionally, in the Orient, The Shadow learned "the secret of bearing pain to the point of actually not feeling any but the most intense and sudden pain.  It had been the most difficult of the mysteries of Chen T'a Tze for The Shadow to master" (page 82).  The Shadow is also able to put himself into a trance-like state of suspended animation that makes him appear as if he had died.   Not much information is provided about Chen T'a Tze other than he was a great Master who had trained Lamont Cranston in many ancient mysteries.

Some of the descriptions of The Shadow hearken back to the pulp magazine.  His face is not seen but his glowing, burning eyes can be.  The Shadow gives his sometimes mocking and sometimes triumphant laugh which chills the blood of the bad guys.  The Shadow is also a master of disguise, and in this story he disguises himself as explorer Kent Allard and Phineas Twambley (a disguised used in several of his pulp magazine adventures).  The Shadow uses a couple of his well known catch phrases:  "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit" (page 112) and "The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men" (page 127).

The Shadow's primary alter-ego is Lamont Cranston.  As Cranston, he is wealthy socialite business man, amateur criminologist, and close friend of NY Police Commissioner Weston.  In the book Cranston is described as having hawklike features, long fingers, and greying blond hair.  He has a private office in a Park Avenue building which also doubles as his secret base of operations.  Cranston also owns a town house with a private garage.  He is a wine connoisseur and has financed Kent Allard's expeditions.  This Lamont Cranston seems to be an amalgamation of the Cranston from the pulps and radio show!

Kent Allard is the other alter-ego used by The Shadow.  There is a real Kent Allard who is an explorer and adventurer, so The Shadow assumes his identity.  To become Kent Allard, The Shadow uses a sophisticated disguise (pages 102-103)!  He uses a special dye to darken his hair and combs his hair straight back with no part.  If he has time, he will grow a mustache or use a fake mustache if in a hurry.  He injects a small wax-like fluid into the skin of his nose to change it from the hawklike nose of Cranston and into the thicker nose of Allard.  He uses his great muscle control to change his facial expression to that of Allard's and to walk slightly hunched over as Allard does due to the years of carrying heavy packs on his expeditions.  Finally, when disguised as Allard, The Shadow walks with a limp as the real Allard does as a result of a tiger attack while exploring the High Himalayas.  This is a clever reversal from the pulp magazines!  In the pulps, The Shadow is really Kent Allard but uses Lamont Cranston's identity.

The Shadow of the Belmont Books series is an interesting character that retains some of the qualities found in the pulps and the radio show.  However, you can see there's a lot of differences as well.  In my opinion, this Shadow was in direct competition with the likes of James Bond and other spies that were popular in the movies and on TV when this series was published.    While I enjoyed reading this book I found myself missing the classic Shadow character from Walter B. Gibson's works.  I plan on reading the entire Belmont Shadow series and writing about them here on the blog.  I hope you found this article informative and entertaining!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Shadow Strikes! (Part One)

Front Cover

The Shadow Strikes was the second Shadow paperback published by Belmont Books.  It was published on October 1, 1964.  Although it has Maxwell Grant as the author, it was actually written by Dennis Lynds.

Back Cover
This Shadow adventure is a clear departure from all other published Shadow stories up to this time.  While Shadow fans will recognize many of the names and places from previous stories, they will also see that things have changed and this story was set in a contemporary setting (1960s).  

In this story, The Shadow investigates the death of a man named Anton Pavlic.  While the police claim Pavlic died as a result of accidental murder (he was hit by a car!), The Shadow knows there is something more sinister behind the simple facts.  His investigation leads to the unveiling of a blackmail scheme being run by an organization that, on the front, was set up to help refugees from communism.

The Shadow drives a Jaguar.  It is a small, custom-built car with a supercharged engine.  It is also equipped with a car telephone!

1964 Jaguar - could this be The Shadow's?

1964 Car Phone

I did a little research and was amazed to find that in 1964 there were over 1 million Americans using car telephones!  Above is an example of a 1964 car phone, but I'm sure The Shadow's was more high-tech than what you would buy over the counter!

As I mentioned, there are familiar faces and places in this Shadow story.  We have Lamont Cranston visiting the Cobalt Club.  Cranston is a good friend of Police Commissioner Weston, and in this story Cranston assists Detective Joe Cardona.  All of these characters and places are straight from The Shadow pulp and radio stories.

The Shadow also has a team of agents that assist him, just as he did in the pulps.  But again, there are some updates and changes.  Here are The Shadow's agents from The Shadow Strikes:

Stanley:  Stanley is The Shadow's chauffer and is an ex-police officer.  He carries an automatic, handcuffs and lock picks. (Stanley was Lamont Cranston's chauffer in the pulp magazines.)

Burbank:  Burbank is the hub of The Shadow's team as agents report to Burbank and Burbank reports to The Shadow.  

Shrevvy:  Shrevvy is described as a small, peppy taxi driver.  He assists The Shadow with transportation needs.

Clyde Burke:  Clyde is a reporter as well as friend and associate of The Shadow.

Margo Lane:  Margo is described as dark-haired and slim.  She is the private secretary of Lamont Cranston as well as a friend and operative of The Shadow.  Margo is from Denver, Colorado and was a theater major in college.  She goes under cover to assist The Shadow in this story. 

Unlike the pulp magazines, The Shadow's agents listed above all know his identity and are a part of his crime fighting organization.  I'll write more about The Shadow in an upcoming article!

This was an exciting and well-written story.  While it was a departure from the historic Shadow character, I liked it as a new iteration of The Shadow.  It wasn't quite the page-turning adventure I enjoy from Walter B. Gibson, but it was a fun and entertaining book to read.

In an upcoming article I will write extensively about The Shadow in this story and highlight his character, gadgets and abilities.  I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at The Shadow Strikes!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Shadow's Weapon: The Devil's Whisper

In his war against crime, The Shadow has a variety of weapons!  I previously looked at his .45 automatics, and in this article I want to take a brief look at one of his defensive weapons known as The Devil's Whisper.

From Nostalgia Ventures The Shadow #12

The first time The Shadow uses The Devil's Whisper is in the story, "The Red Menace" which was first published on November 1, 1931.  In this story, The Shadow uses it twice!  The Devil's Whisper is created by placing two chemicals on his fingers, one chemical on his thumb and another chemical on his third finger.  When The Shadow snaps his fingers, it results in a flash of flame and a sharp explosion sounding like the shot of a pistol.  It temporarily stuns The Shadow's opponent, allowing him to take quick action against them.  

Description of The Shadow's use of The Devil's Whisper

The Devil's Whisper was a well-known and dangerous magic trick at the time of The Shadow's story.  According to an article by Anthony Tollin in The Shadow #12 published by Nostalgia Ventures (October 2007), Walter B. Gibson tells readers that The Devil's Whisper was eventually pulled off shelves because a magician used too much of the compound when demonstrating it to a friend and ended up losing his hand, knocking both men unconscious, and making the office look like a bomb had exploded in it!

The Shadow let Maxwell Grant know that he had perfected the right amount of chemicals and their usage so that he can create the exact effect he wants!  

The Shadow to use The Devil's Whisper!

The Shadow uses The Devil's Whisper as a defensive weapon.  It was a well-known magic trick that The Shadow improved on and incorporated into his arsenal!  It's bright flash and loud bang temporarily stuns The Shadow's opponent and allows The Shadow to take quick action.  

Below is a brief video showing a modern version of The Devil's Whisper!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Clews or Clues?

If you read any of the old Shadow magazines or their reprints, you'll find the word 'clew' is used instead of the word 'clue.'  The first time I read 'clew' I simply thought the editors were hooked on phonics and that's how they spelled it consistently throughout the story.  But as I've read more of The Shadow's adventures, I noticed that 'clew' was always the word used for 'clue.'  

I had always intended on doing a little research into the difference between 'clew' and 'clue' but never got around to it.  Today, however, the Merriam Webster word of the day was 'clew!'  I thought that was awesome and just had to share it on the blog!

Here's what Merriam Webster has to say about 'clew':

  • noun:  something that guides through an intricate procedure or maze of difficulties : clue

They go on to provide a bit of a background for the word:  

  • The "ball of thread" meaning of clew (from Middle English clewe and ultimately from Old English cliewen) has been with us since before the 12th century. In Greek mythology, Ariadne gave a ball of thread to Theseus so that he could use it to find his way out of her father's labyrinth. 
  • This, and similar tales, gave rise to the use of clew for anything that could guide a person through a difficult place. 
  • This use led, in turn, to the meaning "a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem." 
  • Today, the variant spelling clue, which appeared in the 17th century, is the more common spelling for the "evidence" sense, but you'll find clew in some famous works of literature. 

I thought this was very interesting and wanted to share it here on the blog.  I didn't have a clue about the background of the word clew, and now I do!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Shadow's "Smoking Automatics!"

A description of The Shadow from one of the pulp magazines says, "He battles crime with thrills and chills, and smoking automatics."  In this article we'll take a look at the main weapon The Shadow uses in the pulps and in the 1994 move - his "smoking automatics!" 

Based on all the pictures I've seen of The Shadow's automatics, I have to conclude that they are a M1911 pistol.  The M1911 pistol was used by the U. S. military from 1911 until 1986.  It was a .45 caliber automatic pistol created by John Browning, produced by Colt, and approved for use with the military on March 20, 1911.  The military was in need of a high caliber, self-feeding, semi-automatic pistol and the Colt model passed the rigorous military tests and requirements with flying colors.  These automatics first saw action in World War I when over 68,000 of them were sent to our troops.  It makes sense that The Shadow (Kent Allard) would use this weapon, as he was a WWI veteran and probably used one quite frequently in his war-time activities!

July 1, 1934 Issue of The Shadow

Let me share my personal experience with the M1911 and automatics from my days in the military.  I had to qualify with the M1911 when I went through Basic Armor Training at Fort Knox, KY in the early '80s.  I remember the M1911 had a lot of kick to it but it was a great weapon to fire.  I also spent several years as an Air Force Security Forces member and carried a revolver (.38 caliber) until the Air Force transitioned us to the automatic M9 Beretta.  I have to say that I felt a lot more comfortable carrying an automatic than carrying a revolver!  Reloading a revolver takes more time and the double-action trigger could lead to inaccuracies when shooting.  With an automatic, reloading time is quicker and the single/double action trigger enabled more accurate shooting.  

If I was The Shadow facing a mob of mobsters and their blazing gats, I would much prefer automatic pistols.  They would give me an advantage in accuracy and reload speed, things The Shadow would want in his war on crime!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Temple Bells of Neban

On October 24, 1937 The Shadow radio program aired the story, "The Temple Bells of Neban."  It was the fifth episode in the first season of the radio show.  It is one of my favorite Shadow radio episodes!

The story begins with Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane on their way to the Club Khalif to enjoy an evening out.  On their way, they discuss the opium problem that has been impacting the city and that The Shadow needs to get involved. 

At the Club, they are entertained by an Indian dancer named Saadi Bel Adda (I've not been able to find the correct spelling for this character any where.)  She entertains the crowd with the Dance of the Cobra where she seems to mesmerize a live cobra on stage.  Saadi Bel Adda approaches Lamont and Margo's table, offering Margo a bracelet.  Lamont and Saadi talk briefly yet cryptically - have they met before?

After the show, The Shadow pays a visit to Saadi Bel Adda.  Saadi warns The Shadow that she can command The Temple Bells of Neban, a powerful spell that will reveal The Shadow and disable him from clouding the minds of men!

Lamont speaks with Margo about his encounter with Saadia Bel Adda, and Margo is worried.  Lamont recounts where he first learned the power to cloud men's minds.  He tells Margo, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility.  There was a small girl, his niece, that use to sit and listen...she was very clever..."  Yes - Saadi Bel Adda was the niece of the yogi priest that taught Lamont Cranston!

The radio show reaches it's climax when The Shadow confronts Saadi Bel Adda.  Saadi releases her cobra and begins to command The Temple Bells of Neban to destroy The Shadow's invisibilty.  But unbeknownst to Saaid, The Shadow had switched her de-fanged cobra for one with fangs.  The cobra bites Saadi Bel Adda before she can command the Temple Bells of Neban.

This is only a brief summary of the show and I encourage you to give it a listen!  I really enjoy this episode as it not only puts The Shadow up against a foe with equal powers, it also gives us insight into how Lamont Cranston learned the mesmeric trick to cloud men's minds!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Shadow's Secret Code Magazine Cover!

I found something that was pretty interesting!  On the cover of The Shadow magazine #65 (published on November 1, 1934) The Shadow discloses a secret code!

The secret code is on the left side of the cover in the white Chinese letters on the red banner.  How do we know it's a secret code?  Maxwell Grant, The Shadow's raconteur, was allowed to share it with the readers.  Here is the secret code as The Shadow revealed it to Mr. Grant:

It's little things like these that make me really enjoy reading The Shadow's adventures!  I wonder how many other codes and hidden gems I've overlooked as I've read the stories!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Shadow Magazine #195

One of my goals as a fan of The Shadow was to have at least one copy of an original Shadow pulp magazine.  A few months ago I fulfilled that goal when I was able to purchase a copy of The Shadow magazine #195 which published on April 1, 1940.  It featured the story, "The Spy Ring" written by Walter B. Gibson.  (And in keeping with all of The Shadow stories, according to the table of contents it was written "as told to Maxwell Grant.")

I wanted a copy for my collection so I could see for myself what Shadow fan's would see in the pages of an original magazine.  What would the ads look like?  What other articles would there be?  It was pretty exciting to thumb through the magazine, and I would like to share it with you on my blog.  Here are some photos and notes from The Shadow #195!

The cover is classic Shadow - slouch hat, cloak and .45 in hand!  It had a copy price of 10 cents and the date of April 1, 1940.  

The table of contents announces a complete Shadow novel of The Spy told to Maxwell Grant!  It also lists other 'thrilling stories and features.'

Here is the awesome splash page of the main story, and an example of the interior artwork.  These are awesome!  

"Highlights on The Shadow" gives readers a taste for the story in the magazine and some information on events coming in the next issue!

I found the information in "The Shadow Club" very interesting!  It provides readers with the list of license plates from the various states and US territories and gives the colors of the numerals and the backgrounds for each.  It tells us that this was a popular feature that readers requested and was published annually!  Another portion of this section also provided information on counterfeit money.  It also had a coupon you could cut out and mail in to become a member of The Shadow club!  (I wish there was still one today!)

The last section features secret codes for readers to solve.  As you know, The Shadow used secret ink, codes, and cryptograms when communicating with his agents.  This is a nice touch and fans must have loved it!

Here's the back cover full page ad.  Within the magazine were lots of other ads, some of which were for products still on the market today like Pepsi Cola, Butterfingers candy bars and Listerine mouth wash!

I hope you've enjoyed a brief look inside the pages of The Shadow magazine!  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Harry Vincent: The Shadow's Agent

Illustration of Harry Vincent from The Shadow pulp magazine.

Harry Vincent is the first agent of The Shadow mentioned in the first Shadow story, "The Living Shadow" (published April 1, 1931).  However, we learn that he is not the first agent enlisted by The Shadow.  This article will give a brief biography of Harry Vincent based on what I've learned about him in The Shadow stories I've read so far.

Harry Vincent is a young man from Michigan who apparently went to New York City to make it big.  He hasn't seen his family in years, and has fallen on hard times.  Almost all he owns is in hock, and has only $1.13 to his name.  Then, he receives a letter from his girlfriend back home telling him she got married to another man.  That was it - that was the last straw for Harry Vincent.  

Despondent to the point of despair, Harry now attempts suicide by jumping of a mist shrouded bridge.  But Harry's life is saved at the last minute by the strong hands of a mysterious figure cloaked in black.  This personage grabs Harry just as Harry's hands turn lose from the bridge railing and pull him to safety.  Harry was saved by The Shadow!

The Shadow ushers Harry into a car and both asks Harry questions and reveals he has knowledge of Harry's life already.  After some talk, The Shadow tells Harry, "Your life is no longer your own.  It belongs to me now."  Harry asks what The Shadow will do with his life, and The Shadow responds, "I shall improve it.  I shall make it useful.  But I shall risk it, too.  Perhaps I shall lose it, for I have lost lives, just as I have saved them.  This is my promise: life, with enjoyment, with danger, with excitement, and - with money.  Life, above all, with honor.  But if I give it, I demand obedience.  Absolute obedience.  You may accept my terms, or you may refuse.  I shall wait for you to choose."

Harry give brief thought to The Shadow's request, and accepts the terms.  The Shadow responds, "Remember the, obedience.  That must come always.  I do not ask for cleverness, for strength or skill, although I want them, and will expect them to the best of your ability."  Harry is then immediately sent on his first assignment!

As one of The Shadow's agents, Harry must learn and use The Shadow's system and methods of communication.  We learn that Harry knows about communications, wireless telegraphy, and Morse code.  These skills and others make him one of The Shadow's most trusted agents!

It was very powerful to see how The Shadow rescued Harry from suicide and offering him a life filled with excitement, danger and honor.  Harry has become my personal favorite agent of The Shadow.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Shadow's Agents

In his war on crime, The Shadow has enlisted the services of several men and women.  They are known as The Shadow's agents!  These agents are the eyes and ears of The Shadow, gathering intel whether it's from criminals and gangsters or from newspaper clippings.  They provide information and also perform key tasks on behalf of The Shadow.  

In upcoming articles I will try and give a brief biography of each one of The Shadow's agents.  For now, let me provide a list of their names.

  • Harry Vincent
  • Claude Fellows
  • Burbank
  • Cliff Marsland
  • Hawkeye
  • Clyde Burke
  • Rutledge Mann
  • Moe Shrevnitz
  • Jericho Druke
  • Margo Lane
  • Dr. Roy Tam

The list varies based on where you look!  In many of The Shadow pulp magazine reprints I have it appears that in many of the stories there was always a list and very brief summary of them.  

Throughout the printed history of The Shadow's pulps, the list grew as new agents were added.  For example, Harry Vincent became an agent in the very first Shadow story ("The Living Shadow") and Claude Fellows had already been an agent for some time when Harry meets him.  The agent Burbank made his first appearance in "The Eyes of The Shadow" which was the second Shadow story published.

Some of the agents made their way into the 1994 Shadow movie.  There you'll find Margo Lane, Moe Shrevnitz, Burbank, and Dr. Roy Tam.

Moe Shrevnitz in the pulp magazines

Peter Boyle plays Moe Shrevnitz in the 1994 The Shadow movie

Margo Lane was the only one of The Shadow's agents that came into the pulps by way of The Shadow radio show!  Margo's character was created for the radio show, and finally made her way into the pulp magazines.

These agents of The Shadow have some great back-stories on their own, and they play key roles in helping The Shadow fight crime and thwart criminals.  I'm looking forward to writing more about them in the near future!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Shadow: Biography According to the 1994 Movie

In the pulp magazines, Kent Allard is The Shadow and Lamont Cranston is The Shadow of the radio program.   In this article I will take a look at The Shadow's biography according to the 1994 Shadow movie which starred Alec Baldwin.

Much of what we know of The Shadow we learn in the first few minutes of the movie and in conversations with other characters throughout the film.  We find that a man named Lamont Cranston is living in Tibet and is known as the notorious drug lord Ying Ko and "The Butcher of Llasa."  He is a heartless man with no qualms about killing anyone.  We learn that Lamont Cranston had fought in World War I and after the war had gone missing for 7 years.    Those missing seven years were spent traveling the world and eventually settling in Tibet as an opium dealer.  

Lamont Cranston is kidnapped by a Tibetan holy man, a Tulku, who not only knows Cranston's real name, but knows the depth of the blackness in his heart.  The Tulku offers Lamont redemption for his evil ways, and ultimately Lamont accepts it.  The Tulku tells Cranston, "I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your spirit, your very face change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren't you?  You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own...I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil."

In the move, we are told on the screen, "The price of redemption for Cranston was to take up man's struggle against evil.  The Tulku taught him to cloud men's minds, to fog their vision through the force of concentration, leaving visible the only thing he can never hide..his Shadow.  Thus armed, Cranston returned to his homeland..."  Cranston returns to New York City where we further learn that he is a man of great wealth and social status.

The Shadow's abilities in the movie are similar to what he has in both the pulp magazines and the radio show.  He is a master of hand-to-hand combat, a marksman with weapons, and has great psychic abilities.  His psychic abilities allow him to cloud men's minds so as to be invisible, he can read minds, hypnotize people, and has the power of telekinesis.

Alec Baldwin as The Shadow

I noted a couple of things I saw in the movie that fans may have overlooked.  First, when Lamont Cranston sees the Tulku's monastary, it is in the shape of a cobra.  I think this ties in with the radio episode of "The Temple Bells of Neban" where it's disclosed that The Shadow learned his mystic powers from a yogi who was the keeper of the Temple of the Cobras.  Second, it seems like Cranston transforms into The Shadow and this is similar to how it is described in the Belmont books series of The Shadow.  There are a few other 'Easter eggs' in the movie for Shadow fans and I'll try to write about them at a later date.

According to the 1994 movie, The Shadow is Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man who is a WWI veteran and redeemed drug lord that uses his great powers and abilities to fight the forces of evil!

Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Shadow: Biography According to the Radio Program

I've written previously about the real identity of The Shadow based on the pulp magazines which you can read here.  In this article I want to look at The Shadow's biography based on the radio program.  The Shadow radio program aired from September of 1937 until December of 1954.  There were some key differences between The Shadow on radio and The Shadow in print.  On the radio, it was only The Shadow and Margo Lane who solved the mysteries and crimes.  In print, The Shadow was aided by his agents who were The Shadow's eyes and ears, providing him with key information and clues.  On radio, only Margo Lane knew the true identity of The Shadow.

Who is The Shadow on the radio program?  Let me answer that in the words from a few episodes of the radio program.  In the very first radio show we are simply told this, "...The Shadow, a man of mystery who strikes terror in the very souls of sharpsters, lawbreakers, and criminals." (Death House Rescue)  That tells us what The Shadow does, but doesn't tell us who he is!  But in the introduction to the radio episode 'The Curse of Siva' we get the answer to who The Shadow really is.  We are told, "The Shadow, a mysterious character who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man-about-town.  As The Shadow, Cranston is gifted with hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him.  Cranston's friend and companion, the lovely Margo Lane, is the only person to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs." 

So now we know that the radio program version of The Shadow is Lamont Cranston.  We also now know that he has hypnotic powers that aid him in his fight against crime.  But where did Lamont Cranston get such powers?  Lamont Cranston tells us himself in several episodes!  Here is what he discloses to Margo Lane.  "Would they approve my methods?  Would they believe in my science?  Why do you think I've devoted countless hours to investigating electric and chemical phenomenon?  Why do you think I went to India, to Egypt, to China? Why do you think I studied in London, Paris,  and Vienna except to learn the old mysteries that modern science has not yet rediscovered, the natural magic modern psychology is beginning to understand? Well, magic that wouldn't seem so natural.  I studied and learned for a purpose."  Lamont Cranston devoted much travel, time and effort into learning ways he can aid the forces of law and order!

Furthermore, in the radio show "The Temple Bells of Neban" we learn exactly where The Shadow learned his hypnotic powers.  Lamont Cranston tells us, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility."  It was in Delhi, India that Cranston learned and mastered the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds!  This fact was also alluded to in the episode "The Shadow Challenged!"

According to The Shadow radio program, The Shadow is Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man who has invested his life in learning the old mysteries and new sciences so that he can right wrongs, bring justice to criminals, and aid law enforcement.  As The Shadow, he strikes fear into the very souls of criminals and has become the underworld's number one target to eliminate!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Shadow Radio Program: "Death House Rescue!"

"Death House Rescue!" was the very first radio program episode for The Shadow.  It originally aired on September 26, 1937.  This is one of my favorite radio episodes of The Shadow and I've listened to it many times.

In the radio dramas, Lamont Cranston is The Shadow.  Cranston is a millionaire who fights crime as The Shadow.  Only his companion, Margo Lane, knows this.  Margo Lane is a new character and had never appeared in any of The Shadow pulp magazines.  (In The Shadow pulp magazines, The Shadow is Kent Allard who sometimes disguises himself as millionaire Lamont Cranston.)

In this story we hear about a down-on-his-luck husband, Paul Gordon.  Paul and his wife, Grace, have a sick child named Sally.  Paul is trying to find work as Sally needs medical help.  Paul ends up being duped by two hoodlums who offer to pay him for driving them around.  What Paul doesn't know is that they are going to frame him for a crime they are about to commit!

The two hoodlums, Red and Lefty, hold up a bank and kill a police officer in the process.  They jump into Paul Gordon's car and order him to drive away.  With the police in high pursuit, Red and Lefty are able to escape and leave incriminating evidence in Gordon's car.  Paul Gordon ends up being convicted and is now in the death house with his execution only hours away!

The Shadow knows Paul Gordon is innocent and is quickly on the case.  He sends Margo Lane to visit Grace Gordon to let her know The Shadow is on the case, and that he will not fail!  Margo also gives Grace $1,000 to help with her living expenses since Paul is now in jail.

Disguised as a prison guard, The Shadow visits Paul in prison and uses his powers of mental telepathy to find the clue that will prove Gordon's innocence.  He sees into Paul's mind as Paul replies the events of the crime in his head.  The Shadow sees the events as if he were watching a television broadcast of those events!  Using this power The Shadow finds the clue that will set Gordon free!  The Shadow promises Paul that he will not die in the electric chair now that he has this clue.

Now The Shadow must spring a trap for the two rats that framed Paul Gordon!  Using mental telepathy, he sends a message to Margo Lane and has her get in touch with Police Commissioner Weston.  He then calls Lefty on the phone at the local bar and reveals that there was indeed an incriminating clue left in Paul Gordon's car - Lefty has left his fingerprint on the car's review mirror!  Lefty and Red go to rub out the incriminating evidence and are met by the police.  One of the crooks is mortally wounded but confesses the truth about the crime before they die.

While all that was playing out, Paul Gordon has been moved to the room where is the electric chair.  The hour for his execution has come.  Paul is distraught as The Shadow had promised he would not die in the chair.  The Shadow did not fail as the call comes from the Governor to release Paul Gordon as he is an innocent man who was framed!

In this radio drama, The Shadow disguised himself as a prison guard.  He used his mental powers to cloud minds so as to make himself invisible.  He also used his powers of mental telepathy to read minds and send messages.