IF YOU HAVE A COLLECTION of any kind, you need a Library of one-sort-or-another to use for information, education, trivia, research, and just plain all-around good reading !
Therefore, from time-to-time, I'll give you a look at some of my personal favorites...and if you want to check 'em out for yourself, you'll have a few guidelines to follow from the information I'll give you about each one.
Many thanks, and enjoy the read !
NOTE: Every Library needs to have an efficient Staff to help keep things organized and running properly, and here you see the "Best Of The Best" ! From the left: Sheri, Gail, and, Don...I couldn't do it without 'em !
OUR FEATURED BOOK...
THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO "INNER SANCTUM MYSTERIES": BEHIND THE CREAKING DOOR, By Martin Grams, Jr. OTR Publishing, Pub. (2002)
THEY BECAME MUST-LISTEN-TO Radio Shows ! They became daily/weekly visitors to the radio in your home ! They were "The Shadow", "Suspense", "The Mysterious Traveler", "The Haunting Hour", "Nick Carter, Master Detective", "The Witch's Tale", "The Adventures of Sam Spade", "Lights Out", "Richard Diamond, Private Detective", "The Fatman", "Mr. & Mra. North"...and the many, many others that flooded the airwaves in the 30's, 40's, and, into the late-50's. BUT, there was one that always stood-out from the pack, and still sends shivers down your back...it was "INNER SANCTUM MYSTERIES" !
ORIGINALLY, "Inner Sanctum Mystery" began as a publication of Simon & Schuster but Himan Brown, an enterprising producer & director had the idea of using the name and turning it into a radio show...just as Street & Smith had done with "The Shadow". Brown's idea was to use "name" movie stars who had a "mystery/horror" image already known by the public, to be featured in the "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" radio programs.
So, he immediately signed-up Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and, Lon Chaney, Jr...others would follow, but that was a great start ! He needed a "host" for the show and actor/announcer Raymond Edward Johnson turned-out to be a perfect choice and began with the show from its first night January 7th, 1941. He would be followed by a Broadway actor (who later would do much work not only on Radio, but in films & TV), Paul McGrath, who would be the host from May 29th,1945, till the Series left radio, October 5th, 1952. BUT the real "star of the show" wasn't a person at all ! It was Himan Brown's creation of "The Creaking Door"...and how & why it was discovered and used is presented in its entirety in the book.
THIS BOOK IS in-reality a superbly-researched volume by its author, MARTIN GRAMS, JR., and is the "standard" by which all-things "Inner Sanctum Mystery"-wise will be judged for years to come. His research, like the research I have done for "The Breakfast Serial" since 1973, started w-a-y before the Internet was created. There was no "Google"; "Wikipedia", "Linkedin", "Instagram", "Twitter", or anything else of that nature. You had to use libraries, old Radio/TV Magazines, any books - of which there were few - you could find, and see if you could contact other OTR fans/collectors for Info they might have, and check-out some of the OTR fanzines/bulletin sheets that may have surfaced.
Grams covers every imaginable part of "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" you could ever want to know about: Its History, the Guests, Bios on Raymond Edward Johnson & Paul McGrath, Fan Mail, the TV Series, the Stories & their Writers, the Universal Pictures "Inner Sanctum" Movie Series starring Lon Chaney, Jr. (by William Gregory Mank), the Australian & South American Versions of the radio show, complete Episode Guides for the Radio Series & the TV Series...and the list goes on-and-on !
ONE OF THE THINGS I especially was interested in was the cross-use of many of the scripts from "Inner Sanctum" by other radio shows. I know because some that I've used on "The Breakfast Serial" either from "Suspense", or, "The Mysterious Traveler", for example, were also done on "Inner Sanctum"...under another name. Example: The version of the Christmas Classic I present every year, one our audience has always listed as one of their favorites, "The Yuletide Miracle", is from the "Suspense" Radio Series, and it was done in 1961 featuring Larry Haines & Santos Ortega.
ACTUALLY, this story was written by Joe Roebert, and was first heard on "Inner Sanctum" for Christmas in 1949 featuring Frank Sinatra, and again in 1950 starring Larry Haines, using the title "The Enchanted Ghost". As I went through the lists, this happened a number of times with various stories...and its interesting to note how well these cross-used scripts were written to begin with, as it's a tribute to both their writers, and Himan Brown's skill in hiring them.
TO SUM IT UP, this is one of the best, and, most-unique books on, not only the "Inner Sanctum Mystery" Series, but one that also relives those long-ago, much loved "Golden Age Radio" Days. Yes, when horror, mystery, blood-curdling screams, and massive-amounts of unseen-but-always-heard "body counts" shot through the speakers of your Philco, Jr. radio nightly on all of the Radio Networks, you knew danger was lurking behind every "creaking door", on every dimly-lit street corner, and maybe even in your own basement ! It was everywhere !
That's when "The Theatre Of The Mind" took over and gave you a personal, mental vision of all that mayhem, and, horror that then seeped into the deepest recesses of your brain and was so realistic that no Hollywood Special Effects Department or modern day CGI Created Images, could ever match !
THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO "INNER SANCTUM MYSTERIES": BEHIND THE CREAKING DOOR, By Martin Grams, Jr. OTR Publishing, Pub. is a 280 Page volume that you certainly need to complete your personal Library collection & archives in its Golden Age Radio Section. Even though this was published in 2002, you can easily obtain your copy by going to either Amazon https://www.amazon.com/ , or, on ebay at https://www.ebay.com/
"THE BIG BROADCAST: 1920-1950", By Frank Buxton, and, Bill Owen. The Viking Press, Pub. (1972)
THIS BOOK HAS ALWAYS BEEN IMPORTANT TO ME. When I first started producing "The Breakfast Serial" in 1973, finding background information about the shows, the networks, the actors, the year's that the shows first went "on" and "off" the air, who the sponsors' were, and, all other important information to use, was a "learning curve" that I still had to master. So, along with Jim Harmon's "The Great Radio Heroes" (see my Review below), "The Big Broadcast 1920-1950" was a reference book I relied on in the early year's...along with many early Radio-TV magazines in my collection, and, my own memories of what I had heard growing-up during the last days of G.A.R.
FRANK BUXTON & BILL OWEN were both seasoned-pros in Radio, and, TV. So, their working together, and mutual love of Golden Age Radio, eventually spawned two truly fantastic, early volumes on "Radio's Golden Age"...in fact, this book is a new, revised, and, greatly expanded edtion of their original 1966 book that contained that aforementioned title, and, at that time was the only major, complete reference work on the subject.
This hardcover, 300 page volume lists all of the shows & programs in alphabetical order, and, one of the great parts of the book is its Center Section containing 32 pages of rare, early photos of the stars. There are 150 pictures in that section...many which had never been seen before...and it is a visual treat to finally see & place the actors/stars with the characters/shows they were in !
IN ADDITION, let me say that the Introduction by dry-witted humourist Henry Morgan, with his views and comments on his own career in G.A.R., as well as some of his contemporaries, is just priceless ! Along with that, his info on how the actors/actresses were hired by the networks & sponsors, should be required-reading for anyone interested in the history of Golden Age Radio. It is just spot-on perfect, especially if you actually know who Henry Morgan is, and how his career eventually led him to Television.
Another facet of this particular book is its special coverage of various important areas of OTR that weren't, at that time, covered by any books at all. These are special "Narative Sections" on Announcers, Big Band Remotes, Comedy & Comedians, Commercials, Networks, Sound Effects Men, and many, many other important areas that will give you an insight into the "Behind-The-Scenes" stories & info that really made G.A.R. the cornerstone of our historical & cultural heritage...a part of which still resonates everytime you turn on your radio, your Computer, your iPhone, your iPod, your iWatch, your Tablet, use a CD or MP3, or, any other media-centered device you use today.
IF I WERE TO FIND one fault with this impressive volume, it would be that not all of the massive lists of shows covered have the date of their first, and/or, last airing listed. In retrospect, I realize that this book, and its earlier-version, was created almost 6 Decades ago and that much info on that point has surfaced since then. So don't view this as a "negative". Instead, re-read the above paragraphs and know that this well-researched book that was a "labor of love" for Frank Buxton & Bill Owen, does belong in your collection.
You can stil find your copy of "The Big Broadcast: 1920-1950" on either EBAY, or, Amazon, and it will be an addition to your Library that you will return to time-after-time for both information, and, relaxation...a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, or, late-night: excellent reading material about Radio's Golden Age, AND, the people that made it "golden"!
"THE SHADOW SCRAPBOOK", By Walter B. Gibson. Preface by Chris Steinbrunner. Contributing Editor Anthony Tollin. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Pub. (1979)
"WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN ? THE SHADOW KNOWS !"
WALTER GIBSON SAID IT BEST IN HIS INTRODUCTION TO "The Shadow Scrapbook": "The emergence of The Shadow as a full-fledged Master of Mystery represented a phase in the cyclic evolution of mass fiction. Viewed in retrospect, the trend it set would seem inevitable, but at the time no one expected it."
This is an amazing book for two reasons: 1. Almost everyone reading these words has heard of The Shadow...whether or not they've read the pulps/novels/books, heard the Golden Age Radio Shows, read the comic books, or, seen the films, the name, "The Shadow", has become a part of Americana, folklore, and spawned a cult-following since it was first uttered back in 1930; 2. Walter Gibson, beginning in 1931, was the one who molded & shaped the character of The Shadow to give it that iconic recognition...and this book that he helmed is a testament to the Legend he created.
I got one of the first copies of The Shadow Scrapbook shortly after its 1979 publication while I was producing "The Breakfast Serial". Its 162 softcover pages simply blew me away with its information, rare photos, full lists of all Shadow pulps/novels/books, a complete chronology of all the Shadow radio broadcasts, beautiful reproductions of Shadow covers, original copies of radio broadcast scripts, complete movie history, complete comic book/comic strip histories...and, much rare memorabilia which, at that time, you'd never seen before.
GIBSON'S CHAPTER'S ON WRITING the pulp novels, AND, at the same time working on other projects, shows his focused, regimented, and, utterly dizzying schedule ! I thought my self-imposed, workaholic nature was bad...Gibson's was heroic !! You have to read it to believe it...I just did all-over again and it still overwhelms me. His massive output of over 325 Shadow novels between 1931 & 1949 ...plus the other work that he was doing...would, today, surely put him in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Again, remember this book was published in 1979 and all of the facts, figures, information, contained in this superb volume, was compiled by the man "who was there from the start" (Gibson), and aided perfectly by Contributing Editor & Golden Age Radio Expert, Shadow Buff, Anthony Tollin.
GIBSON'S MEMORIES of stories, meetings, his co-horts, his editors, his creating all of the characters' that would aid The Shadow, his past career as a magician working with Houdini, Thurston, Harry Blackstone, Sr., and, Dunninger, his travels, and anything else he writes about in this book, are truly introspective, totally informative, and, completely entertaining. If you've never heard of Walter B. Gibson before, you won't forget him and his contributions to our various forms of media & culture through all of his hard work. (The autographed photo of Gibson, shown here, is from my personal collection.)
Of course, The Shadow radio shows are among my favorites from Golden Age Radio. Orson Welles & Bill Johnstone were my favorites of those who portrayed the character, but Brett Morrison was the longest-running Shadow taking over the role from the Fall of 1943 until the very last Episode on December 26, 1954.
AND, yes, if you were to ask, I do have some "Shadow Memorabilia" in my collection. A couple of great Pulps, some Big Little Books, a rare Matchbook, a Blotter, a Premium Autographed Photo, and other assorted items. BUT, my prized piece from the radio show, is from its sponsor at the time Blue Coal: A rare, 1941 Shadow Blue Coal "Glow-In-The-Dark" Ring, which has an image of The Shadow molded onto each side, and, a representation of a piece of Blue Coal on the top...and it still glows-in-the-dark perfectly ! (A copy of it is shown here.)
MORE THAN ANYTHING, after reading this Review of "The Shadow Scrapbook", I hope the next time you hear the name The Shadow, or read it somewhere in print, you will remember the man who almost single-handedly created it: Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985). (You can probably find a copy on www.amazon.com !)
"THE GREAT RADIO HEROES", By Jim Harmon. Ace Books, Pub. (1967); Revised Edition, McFarland, Pub. (2001)
I BOUGHT JIM HARMON'S ORIGINAL VOLUME of "The Great Radio Heroes" in 1968 when I was a young air personality at a KLID Radio who had grown-up in those "thrilling days of yesteryear" listening to "Captain Midnight", "Tom Mix", "Sky King"...and the rest of those great radio heroes.
For many years, that book was my "bible" for research, information, etc., and, with the 2001 Revised Edition, the late-Jim Harmon brought it back to life all over again !
Rare photos, updated info, later revisions of earller material, all make for not only a "good read" but a true time-travel trip to an earlier, more innocent, period of radio broadcasting...and Golden Age Radio History.
If you DON'T have the 1967 Edition, and you love G.A.R.H., buy the 2001 Revised Edition...you won't be disappointed.
If you DO have the 1967 Edition, buy the 2001 Revised Edition...you need it to complete the set, and learn much more valuable information ! You'll probably find one, or both, on www.ebay.com OR www.amazon.com JK
NOTE: For more info on "The Great Radio Heroes" book, original version, make sure you read "The History Of 'The Breakfast Serial' " by simply Clicking-On-This-Link !
"THE GREAT AMERICAN BROADCAST: A CELEBRATION OF RADIO'S GOLDEN AGE", By Leonard Maltin. Dutton, Pub. (1997)
AS A FILM & MOVIE CRITIC, LEONARD MALTIN, has been almost a "household name" for over three decades. His books have sold millions of copies. I have one right by my side everynite when I watch TV, Movies, or, Videos, to check for information and/or shows I may want to view.
He's also been seen on Entertainment Tonight, the Tonight Show, and many, many other shows throughout his career. He's a Hollywood Insider that's gained access to information, interviews, and, documents that others would have loved to have themselves.
BUT, what many don't know is that Leonard Maltin is also a big fan of "Golden Age Radio", and he' proven it with this homage to that rare, and wonderful, time in our Nation's History when Radio was "King".
In this wonderful 324 Page volume, Maltin explains how his love for G.A.R. began, why it took him 11 years to write the book, how he got the rare, intimate interviews he did with those associated with G.A.R., and, how its impact still reverberates in our lives everyday.
TO BE HONEST, this is the book I've always wanted to write myself ! Maltin was privy to meeting & interviewing some of the G.A.R. stars, actors, directors, that I've admired, studied about, and, researched since I began "The Breakfast Serial" in 1973: William Conrad, Jackson Beck, Howard Duff, Raymond Edward Johnson, Frank Nelson, Fred Foy, Elliott Lewis, Parley Baer, Janet Waldo Lee, Harry Bartell, Arch Oboler, Dick Tufeld, Ken Roberts, Jeanette Nolan, John McIntire, Hy Averback, Andre Baruch, Jack Johnstone...and the list goes on.
Since the book was written, and since it took so long to write it, many of those interviewed had passed away by the time it went to press...and most, if not all, have passed-on by now. Leonard Maltin was a very lucky man to have recorded them when he did...and someday I'd like to interview him about the interviewees' he interviewed !
WHAT'S COVERED IN "The Great American Broadcast" ? Just about anything, and anyone, you'd want to know about "Golden Age Radio": Radio Stations, Writing For Radio, Directors, Sound Effects Specialists, Acting For Radio, Announcers, Sponsors, Music For Radio, Audiences, Comedy, Drama, Live Broadcasts, The Hollywood Connection, A Radio Actor's Life...and that's just a partial list.
The saddest part is the last Chapter entitled "The End Of An Era" which encapsulates the fading-out of Network Radio that had once played a major part in the life of every man, woman, and, child in America.
But, in reality, the reason this book was written, as well as the reason that in 1973 I created "THE BREAKFAST SERIAL" - and, eventually, this WebSite for that show - is to remind all that read the book, and listen to "The Breakfast Serial", of the cultural & historic importance of "Golden Age Radio"...and to let each & everyone relive "those thrilling days of yesteryear" !
If you truly love "Golden Age Radio" this book, filled with 130 rare b&w photos, belongs in your Library ! And, you can find Leonard Maltin's "The Great American Broadcast" for sale at www.amazon.com JK
"TUNE IN YESTERDAY, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of OLD-TIME RADIO, 1925-1976", By John Dunning. Prentice-Hall, Pub. (1976)
JOHN DUNNING did an excellent & thorough job on the information he gathered when he put this book together ! I've used it, many, many times during my research for show's, actor's, and, time-frame's, in scripting some of my Episodes on "The Breakfast Serial".
I purchased my copy when it first arrived in 1976, and it's been one of the most important reference tools in my Library ever since. The photos, cast lists, and, documentation were all as good as you could get it at the time this volume was written. And, for hard-core, or even casual, OTR buffs it was - and still is - like a "Golden Age Radio" Bible of sorts.
Think about it this way: How many times have you wondered when "Inner Sanctum" first aired, and what Network it was on? Or, what did Brace Beemer, who played "The Lone Ranger", look like. Or, what was the difference between "Dimension X" and "X Minus One" ? Well, once and for all, if you had this book you could find out the answers to those, and about a million other questions you might have !
I could not recommend it more highly...and, no, you probably won't find "Tune In Yesterday" at your friendly neighborhood bookstore, but you will probably find it at www.amazon.com Enjoy ! JK
"ON THE AIR: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF OLD-TIME RADIO", By John Dunning. Oxford University Press, Pub. (1998)
With JOHN DUNNING'S "Tune In Yesterday" (See Above Review) out of print for many years, he decided to update, and recatagorize his material, and again, came up with a winner.
Like "Tune In Yesterday", "ON THE AIR" is done alphabetically and many new shows were added...PLUS, if there was new information on the ones he previously covered it's also included here. It's a bigger book, with lots more pages...the only thing I would have liked to have are a couple of photo sections like the previous volume had, so that you could see more of the actor's and cast members...that would have made it perfect.
Again, I've had my copy since it was first published, it too is a valuable research & reference tool in my large Library...and it's another that you should consider for yours ! And, if you do "consider it", you can likely find it too on www.amazon.com JK
ONE OF THE Greatest Books Ever Written on "A Look Into The Future"-Style Magazines & Books from the 1930's ! Tim Onosko's "Wasn't The Future Wonderful ?" (E.P. Dutton, Pub. 1979)
IF YOU LOVE SCIENCE FICTION, AND, DREAM OF THINGS THAT MAY COME IN THE FUTURE...YOU NEED THIS BOOK !
I'VE OWNED THIS BOOK SINCE IT WAS NEW ! It is a favourite in my library, and I go through it every few months as a "refresher course" in how things could have turned out...and in some instances should have !
TIM ONOSKO'S work is just super and the full-color reproductions of the covers of Modern Mechanix, Mechanix Illustrated, Popuar Mechanics, et al, are truly mind-blowing. I actually have some of the ORIGINAL issues in my archives that were given to me after the death of a close family friend who had subscriptions to these mags since the 30's.
Flying cars, revolving garages, newspapers able to be read by looking at a screen on your wall (Hmmmm. Did you do that today by looking at YOUR new millenium Flat Screen HD TV ?), bringing a dead dog back to life, super boats, highways where you can hook-up the family car to a railroad-track style connection and travel from New York to Los Angeles without ever touching the steering wheel...they're all in this "Look Into The Future" !
I would urge you to buy this book while you still can. If you love sci-fi trends, technology that "just might happen someday", and, looking at some of the rarest & most beautiful Futurama-Style artwork on magazine covers that could be at home in almost any Museum...then you need this volume in your library !
Find this book, buy it, view the phenominal color plates & magazine covers from the 1930's that are reproduced in it, read it from cover-to-cover, learn about all of the unique experiments and products from that "Golden Age Of Science Fiction" & "Science On The March", and you will thank me time-and-time again for telling you about it !
Again, you'll probably find it on Amazon, or, eBay. It is Art Deco Sci-Fi at it's VERY Best !! JK