"Enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend!"
That's Boston Blackie, safecracker turned crime fighter and a long-running favorite with fans of straight-ahead detective fiction in a wide range of media. Beginning inauspiciously in a 1919 short story by author Jack Boyle, Blackie progressed from the printed page into silent films, then into talkies, and finally, in the 1940s, into radio.
The first radio Blackie was Chester Morris, a handsome leading man who played the role in a long series of B movies made for Columbia Pictures during the 1940s. First heard in 1944 as a summer replacement series for "Amos 'n' Andy," Morris gave Blackie a certain wrong-side-of-the-tracks charm, giving the character a well-crafted introduction to the broadcast medium.
But the actor who would ultimately be radio's Blackie for the greatest length of time seemed, initially, to be a rather odd choice for the part: Broadway leading man and sometime soap opera actor Richard Kollmar, best known to radio fans along the Eastern seaboard as the urbane Dick of WOR's "Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick," a morning show which also featured his wife, newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen. In 1938, Kollmar had made his Broadway debut in "Knickerbocker Holiday," the Maxwell Anderson/Kurt Weill musical play, followed by an appearance in the Rodgers and Hart musical "Too Many Girls" along with fellow cast members Desi Arnaz, Eddie Bracken, and Van Johnson. Like many stage actors wishing to supplement their income between engagements, Kollmar regularly worked in radio. In 1944, he was contracted to star in a series of 220 syndicated episodes of "Boston Blackie," produced at station WOR in New York City and distributed by the Frederic W. Ziv Company of Cincinnati. The programs were not intended to be groundbreakers or trendsetters; instead, this solid, workmanlike product of the WOR writing and dramatic staff was designed to be equally successful in both major metropolitan markets and small-town settings.
Its professional gloss, coupled with lighthearted storytelling, kept "Boston Blackie" in distribution well into the 1950s, remaining for many years a reliable feature for small-town stations across the United States. The able and rather charming Kollmar is joined in these syndicated episodes by two other familiar WOR voices: Maurice Tarplin - the "Mysterious Traveler" himself - as Inspector Faraday, and Jan Minor, who would later best be known as Madge, the wisecracking manicurist for Palmolive Dishwashing Detergent, as girlfriend/inconvenience Mary Wesley.
There's no tormented noir drama here, no deep layers of introspection, just good old-fashioned crime solving fun. And you can enjoy the clean, crisp sound of these newly restored episodes in this second collection from Radio Archives - ten more hours of great sounding light-hearted detective action and adventure. Included are the first two shows from the 1944 summer series starring Chester Morris, as broadcast over NBC, and the remaining shows feature Dick Kollmar in the leading role.
#1 The Rockwell Diamond
Friday, June 23, 1944 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Rinso and Lifebuoy Soap
#2 Fifty Hunter Street
Friday, June 30, 1944 - 30:00 - NBC, sponsored by Rinso and Lifebuoy Soap
#43 The Brandon Jewel Robbery
Tuesday, February 5, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#44 The Congdon Ransom
Tuesday, February 12, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#53 The Baseball Player Murder
Tuesday, April 16, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#54 The Stolen Car Ring
Tuesday, April 23, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#55 The Frances Fielding Murder
Tuesday, April 30, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#56 The Winthrope Jewel Robberies
Tuesday, May 7, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#58 The Blaine Brothers Pawn Shop Murder
Tuesday, May 21, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#59 The Escaped Prisoner
Tuesday, May 28, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#60 Three Witnesses
Tuesday, June 4, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#61 The Disappearing Plane
Tuesday, June 11, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#62 The Hooded Gang Protection Racket
Tuesday, June 18, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#84 Bill and Harry and the $50,000 Necklace
Tuesday, November 19, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#85 The Lenny Powell Murder
Tuesday, November 26, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#86 Blackie Goes to Jail for Diamond Theft
Tuesday, December 3, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#87 Mary, Registered Nurse
Tuesday, December 10, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#88 Police Impersonator
Tuesday, December 17, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#89 The Derailed Gold Train
Tuesday, December 24, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication
#90 Carl Browning Cleaning Shop
Tuesday, December 31, 1946 - 30:00 - Ziv syndication