Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Brief History of The Shadow

The Shadow character got his start in the 1930s and his adventures were in print and on the radio.  There were also several movies and movie serials made of The Shadow as well.  In more modern times The Shadow has been in comics and in the movies.  My blog will focus on The Shadow from the 1930s and 1940s, but I will occasionally write about more modern version of him.

On July 31, 1930 a mysterious narrator known only as The Shadow hosted the radio show "Detective Story Hour."  The radio show was based on stories in Street and Smith's pulp magazine entitled Detective Story Magazine.  Radio listeners loved The Shadow, so in response, Street and Smith created a new pulp magazine starring The Shadow.

Walter B. Gibson was tasked with creating the Shadow character and writing the first story.  Gibson did so using the pen name of Maxwell Grant.  On April 1, 1931 the very first Shadow pulp magazine was published featuring the story, "The Living Shadow!"  Gibson would write 282 of the 325 Shadow tales in the pulps!   In the pulps, The Shadow was Kent Allard, a World War 1 flying ace and spy. Allard became The Shadow to fight crime. In Allard's own words, "Crime was becoming rampant in America and elsewhere. Underworlds were organized, with their own hidden battle lines. .Only a lone foe could pierce that cordon; once inside, he would have to move by stealth, and strike with power and suddenness. I chose that mission."  Allard often disguised himself as millionaire Lamont Cranston.  The final pulp magazine published in the summer of 1949 with the story "The Whispering Eyes."

The Shadow became a radio show on September 26, 1937 and featured Orson Wells as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow. A new character, Margo Lane, was introduced to fans. She was Lamont Cranston's companion and the only person who knew the real identity of The Shadow.  The radio version of The Shadow had the ability to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him.  The last episode of The Shadow radio program was "Murder By The Sea" and aired on December 26, 1954.

While there's a lot more to write about the origin of The Shadow, I wanted to keep this introductory article brief.  I'll expand on it more as time goes by.  I'm looking forward to writing more about The Shadow!