One of the most popular radio shows in history debuted in August 1930 when “The Shadow” went on the air.
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” The opening lines of the “Detective Story” program captivated listeners and are instantly recognizable even today. Originally the narrator of the series of macabre tales, the eerie voice known as The Shadow became so popular to listeners that “Detective Story” was soon renamed “The Shadow,” and the narrator became the star of the old-time mystery radio series, which ran until 1954.
A figure never seen, only heard, the Shadow was an invincible crime fighter. He possessed many gifts which enabled him to overcome any enemy. Besides his tremendous strength, he could defy gravity, speak any language, unravel any code, and become invisible with his famous ability to “cloud men’s minds.”
Along with his team of operatives, the Shadow battled adversaries with chilling names like The Black Master, Kings of Crime, The Five Chameleons, and, of course, The Red Menace.
The Shadow’s exploits were also avidly followed by readers in The Shadow magazine, which began in 1931 following the huge success of the old-time mystery radio program.
The magazine was published by Street & Smith, who had also sponsored the old-time mystery radio program. Over the course of 18 years, Street & Smith published 325 issues of The Shadow, each one containing a novel about the sinister crime fighter. These stories were written by Maxwell Grant, a fictional name created by the publishing company. Although several different people wrote under the pseudonym, Walter B. Gibson wrote most of the stories, 282 in all.
Most of the novels published have been reprinted in paperback and The Shadow adventures remain popular today, with Shadow comic books, magazines, toys, games, cds and cassettes of old-time radio shows, and books bringing top dollar among collectors the world over.
he Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally on 1930s radio and then in a wide variety of media, that follow the exploits of fictional vigilante The Shadow. One of the most famous pulp heroes of the 20th century, The Shadow has been featured in comic books, comic strips, television, video games, and at least seven motion pictures. The radio drama is well-remembered for those episodes voiced by Orson Welles.
Introduced as a mysterious radio narrator by David Chrisman, William Sweets, and Harry Engman Charlot for Street and Smith Publications, The Shadow was fully developed and transformed into a pop culture icon by legendary pulp writer Walter Gibson.
The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street & Smith radio program Detective Story Hour. After gaining popularity among the show’s listeners, the narrator became the star of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931; a pulp series created and primarily written by the prolific Gibson.
As the years passed, the character evolved. On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama officially premiered with the story “The Deathhouse Rescue” and imbued the character with “the power to cloud men’s minds” — the ability to become completely invisible — a trait associated with the character for years after the show ended. Even after decades, the unmistakable introduction from The Shadow radio program, intoned by actor Frank Readick Jr., has earned a place in the American idiom: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh! The Shadow knows…” These words were accompanied by a haunting theme song, Le Rouet d’Omphale, composed by Saint-Saëns.
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