Created by Herb Meadow and Sam Rolfe, Have Gun, Will Travel was first aired on CBS-TV September 14, 1957 and starred Richard Boone as Paladin, a cultured, educated, and sophisticated man with an eye for the ladies, a taste for gourmet food, wine, and cigars, and enough skill, nerve, and well-oiled artillery to make him a top-notch gunfighter. Headquartered at the fashionable Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, Paladin had earlier attended West Point and was also a former Army officer, but now chose to finance his luxurious lifestyle by being a combination go-between, negotiator, and hired gun - a white knight, as it were - for those who needed such assistance. Unlike the more scruffy gunsels of the wild west, Paladin relied on his brains as much as his nerve -- and made his reputation by use of a distinctive business card that featured the symbol of a white chess knight and read, simply, "Have Gun, Will Travel. Wire Paladin, San Francisco." When one hired Paladin to do a job, he did it...for a sizeable fee, of course. Questions of morality did come into play - Paladin was, after all, intending to be more of a protector of the helpless than a murdering hit man - so, throughout the series, most who eventually came to face to face with the barrel of his custom-made six shooter had already done quite a lot to deserve their fate. (He also had the good sense to conceal a derringer under his belt, as well as a few expensive cigars in his boot. Classy guy.)
On radio, Paladin was played by John Dehner, a talented character actor who had made his name in featured roles on similar radio series such asGunsmoke and Frontier Gentleman. (Dehner, whose portrayal of Paladin was a bit more arch, suave, and sleek than his TV counterpart, had in fact earlier turned down the leading role of Sheriff Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke for fear of being typecast in western roles.) Dehner was understandably concerned about becoming nothing more than a pale copy of Richard Boone, and so insisted on making the role uniquely his own; radio historian John Dunning describes Dehner's portrayal as "a streamlined version, perhaps slighter of build...but just as deadly." The same smooth and slightly menacing voice that had made him such an effective villain on such series as Escape and The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, made him an equally effective Paladin -- someone you might enjoy an intellectual discussion with over a glass of decent sherry, but also someone you wouldn't want to disagree with too aggressively for too long.
There were, of course, many similarities between the TV and radio series, particularly since many (though not all) of the radio scripts were based on earlier television episodes. Both programs used the same musical themes and bridges and relied much more upon dialogue and atmosphere than rip-roaring action to attract audiences. (Paladin, who was well versed in the classics, was frequently given to quoting Shakespeare and recalling obscure bits of history when considering the best way to deal with his various assignments.) On radio, Have Gun, Will Travel also benefited from the presence of Gunsmoke and Fort Laramie producer/director Norman Macdonnell as well as writers Marian Clark and Les Crutchfield, sound effects men Tom Hanley and Ray Kemper, and a host of talented performers such as Sam Edwards, Jack Moyles, Larry Dobkin, and Harry Bartell. The stories were rich with detail, realistic, and typical of the more adult types of western that had evolved in the 1950s; less shoot 'em up, more introspection.
Have Gun, Will Travel was one of the last continuing radio dramas to leave the airwaves, ending a two-year CBS run on November 27, 1960. (The TV series lasted a bit longer - six years in total - and closed up shop on September 21, 1963.) While it lasted, however, Have Gun, Will Travel demonstrated that, even with television capturing the largest audiences and the most advertising dollars, radio could still effectively hold its own when given the opportunity to present quality programming. Heard today, even those who have never experienced quality radio drama firsthand can enjoy the programs simply as effective and engrossing pieces of well-produced audio entertainment.
By 1951, the Jordan's were among the top comedy teams in radio and "Fibber McGee and Molly" had been a Tuesday night tradition for over a decade."Fibber McGee & Molly" premiered on April 16, 1935 and, as Jim later observed, he and Marian were fortunate to have signed a twenty-six week contract: "If we had been on for thirteen weeks I'm sure we would have been off by the end of thirteen weeks." Though the show's ratings were anemic at the start - it didn't help that the couple were competing against the popular "Lux Radio Theatre" on CBS - they slowly developed a following. A move to a more favorable time slot on Tuesday nights a few years later proved even more beneficial and, by the 1940s, Jim and Marian were "must-listen radio" -- the stars of one of four comedy shows that were in constant competition for radio's top spot.
The Devil's Auction eBook
by Robert Weinberg
This exciting novel has been beautifully reformatted for easy reading as an eBook. This entire line of eBooks are of the highest quality and feature great horror/fantasy novels long out of print.
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In most stories that involve the "real" Lamont Cranston, he usually appears only briefly in a scene or two. But in this story, the millionaire world traveler appears in the entire story. He assists The Shadow and becomes a de-facto-agent for the master of the night. In this unique story, the two team up and combine forces to fight The Hydra. Normally, the real Cranston is out of the country on one of his many trips to foreign lands. But in this story, he's back to stay. As he puts it, "Globe-trotting is an obsolete sport nowadays, with world conditions as they are." He is referring to World War II which was hotly ablaze by then.Lamont Cranston - the real one - is our proxy hero throughout the entire story. And his continuing presence makes for some intriguing situations. The real Cranston goes to the club to have dinner with Commissioner Weston, not having seen him for quite a while. But from the Commissioner's standpoint, he's dined with Cranston only recently. He dined with the disguised Shadow, but of course he doesn't know that. And the real Cranston finds that he is expected to show interest in the police cases discussed by Weston, even to the point of making comments and suggestions. This is something that The Shadow often has done, when in his Cranston disguise. But the real Cranston feels a bit out of his element in this situation.
When the two Cranstons drive home to New Jersey in the limousine, chauffeured by Stanley, only one can openly get out and go into the house. The other . . .
Skull Island! Two giants in one story… Doc Savage and the Mighty King Kong. Dare I say a third giant? Yes! Michael McConnohie. Mr. McConnohie is wonderfully talented at bringing the Man of Bronze to life. I’ve enjoyed every story he has read and I’m hoping for even more to come. Excellent work!
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Frankly, since my association with Radio Archives, my whole audio world has opened up to the pleasures of the wonderful Classic Radio treasures you offer the public. Sometimes, when I return from work, at night, I sit in the garage, thoroughly engrossed in an adventure, not being able to turn off my radio, without finishing whatever episode is on! It is well worth the money spent!
Love your shows. How is the next CD of Jungle Jim coming?