BW - EP132—008: Mutual Mystery Shows Of The 1940s—Halloween 1948 With The Shadow And Sherlock Holmes

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At 5PM Mutual’s most famous program, The Shadow signed on. The show was in its eleventh season on the air in 1948. Andre Baruch handled emcee duties while Grace Matthews played Margo Lane. Bret Morrison was Lamont Cranston. Halloween’s episode was called “Murder By A Corpse.” This season’s Shadow rating was 13.2. It was Mutual’s highest-rated show. As night descended on New York on October 31st, temperatures dropped into the upper 40s and an eerie fog rolled in. Police were ready for mischief as children went trick or treating. The Halloween tradition was still seen by many as an act of begging and vandalism. In response, members of the Madison Square Boys Club paraded through the Lower East Side carrying a banner that read "American Boys Don't Beg.” Politically, Progressive Henry Wallace was making a dent in Harry Truman’s campaign. On Election Day, Truman still carried the City, collecting 1.6 million votes to Dewey’s 1.1 million, but Henry Wallace received over four-hundred thousand votes. It’s this split that allowed Thomas Dewey to narrowly win New York state by sixty-thousand votes, giving the republicans forty-seven important electorates. At home, the Mutual Broadcasting System’s prime time programming featured news and music, but at 7PM literature’s most famous detective—Sherlock Holmes—took to the air from WOR. Sherlock Holmes peaked on radio between 1939 and 1946 with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce playing Holmes and Watson. They made over a dozen films and their rating climbed to 14.1 in 1942 on NBC. The next year, the entire cast moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. Petri wine sponsored the series. Famed radio character actor Harry Bartel became the announcer. They remained on Mutual for three seasons until Holmes left for ABC. Basil Rathbone stayed with Mutual to star in a new series called Scotland Yard. Nigel Bruce still played Watson while Tom Conway became Holmes. When the Semler Company discontinued sponsorship in the spring of 1947, ABC canceled the show. That summer Clipper Craft Clothing signed to pay the bills. The program moved back to Mutual with John Stanley as Holmes and Alfred Shirley as Watson. By Halloween 1948 it was airing Sundays at 7PM. As radio audiences changed, Holmes and Watson couldn’t keep up. That Spring Mutual canceled the series. ABC revived it for one final season before the last version of an American Sherlock Holmes series departed the air.

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