“The world of Doc Savage and The Shadow was one of absolute values, where what was good was never in the slightest doubt and where what was evil inevitably suffered some fitting punishment.” – Alan Moore, writer
The Shadow first cast his presence over the airwaves on July 31st of 1930. It was on CBS’s The Detective Story Magazine Hour where a mysterious narrator introduced a dramatic story that appeared in the latest issue of Street and Smith’s Detective Story Magazine. Back then the Shadow was merely a story-telling device, a mysterious identity to bookend a detective story.
“I…am The Shadow! Conscience is a taskmaster no crook can escape. It is a jeering shadow even in the blackest lives. The Shadow knows… and you too shall know if you listen as Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine relates for you …”
Yada yada yada…
The intro was followed by a hard-boiled detective story, and each episode ended with the now-famous maniacal laughter. The stories were pedestrian but the narrator struck a chord with the audience. His mysterious voice and background music made a promise to the listener. That promise was of adventure, intrigue, and action. Sometimes that promise was a little hard to hold up, and the show was canceled after only 52 episodes.
That mysterious narrator, however, lived on to narrate the Blue Coal Radio Revue and Love Story Hour. The mysterious narrator eventually went on to have his own show, The Shadow, but he continued to serve as a narrator and book-ended the stories.
The first person to fill the Shadow’s wide-brimmed fedora was voice actor James La Curto, but he was almost immediately replaced by another voice actor, Frank Readick Jr. and much to the surprise of Street and Smith, the radio show’s producers and the magazine publishers, the character of the Shadow soon became more popular than the hard-boiled stories he narrated.
Murray, W., Gibson, W. B., Sampson, R., & Tinsley, T. (1980). The Duende History of The Shadow Magazine. Greenwood, MA: Odyssey.
Gibson, W. B., & Tollin, A. (1979). The Shadow Scrapbook. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
J. (n.d.). The Shadow in Pulps: History.http://www.shadowsanctum.net/pulp/pulp.html
929, Kent Allard decided that America had become a focal point for criminal. (n.d.). Who Knows What Evil Lurks? The Shadow Knows. http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/s/shadpulp.htm