Mandrake the Magician (1954 TV Pilot)

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Woody Strode, Lisa Howard and Coe Norton

Country: Mini usa.gif USA / English


In 1954, a 30 minutes (26 minutes without commercials) unaired black and white tv pilot was filmed, shot partly at the NBC’s studios in New York and partly on location in Bermuda. The tv pilot is based on Lee Falk's comic strip "Mandrake the Magician".

History

In 1950 Filmcraft Productions (Hollywood) signed by ABC-TV to produce 52 half-hour TV films based on "Mandrake the Magician" comic strip. [1]Paul Schmutz Jr. did work on the Groucho Marx Show, Mandrake the Magician and The Flying Tigers, which was planned for winter release. [2]

In 1953 the ABC's film syndicate division was formed and they continued their work on Mandrake the Magician. [3]During a national sales conference in New York ABC Film Syndication it was told theat Mandrake the Magician wow was in production in Bermuda and slated for syndication to stations for October 1st broadcast. ABC had plans for an extensive advertising, promotion and merchandising campaign to coincide with the launching of the Mandrake series. [4]The firm's merchandising-promotion chief, Lee Francis, was preparing merchandising material to offer sponsors of the series. Among the items being was Mandrake comic books, which could be imprinted with the sponsor's name. Reportedly King Features had offered to help sponsors of the series tie in with newspapers carrying the Mandrake strip, in whereby the sponsor and station carrying the show would get a Watch Mandrake line over the comic strip in return for a Read Mandrake plug on the air. [5] Finaly the first episode og the Mandrake the Magician series was syndicated. [6]

Herald Television (jointly owned by ABC and John Cibbs) was to produce the show but the firm (Atlantic Production ?) Herald had hired to produce the show in Bermuda had some financial problems. [7]ABC-TV was to take on distribution and financing, [8] but about October 1955 a new procucing firm was named in the ads for the Mandrake the Magician show, Bermuda Productions. No further episodes after the pilot filming were however made as the project of a regular series was finally dropped.

Behind the scenes

Promotionnal ABC TV for Presto

Promo 1954 TV Pilot.png
Broadcasting Telecasting newsweekly (September 13,1954)

NBC Eyes Mandrake's Bermuda Shooting

  • Coe Norton was a professional stage magician
  • Shooting on "Mandrake" will begin in Bermuda under the guidance of John Allen (producer). (Billboard, July 10, 1954)
  • NBC has expressed interest in "Mandrake the Magician", the film series that John Gibbs has put back into production in Bermuda. Current plans call for Gibbs to shoot five episodes in the series for offering to buyers or distributors. (Billboard, December 03, 1955)

Plot for the Pilote episode

Mandrake (Coe Norton) has a gig at the Parakeet Club. His last illusion is the Vanishing Princess. Backstage when Narda (Lisa Howard) starts to crawl out of a box she’s kidnapped. When she’s missing Mandrake thinks she went back to the hotel. Then he gets a call from the kidnappers. He’s given an address and told to come alone.

Lothar (Woody Strode) goes most of the way with him. When he gets there he’s told by Mr.Brown that his group is looking for secret agent Edwards. He’s got some information they don’t want to get off Mordica Island. In the cellar is Edwards aide Wilson. Narda is also being held there.

Wilson won’t talk so Mandrake is told to hypnotize him into telling Edward’s location. He says a sub is coming to pick them up and he gives the location of the cave where they’ll be met. Mr.Brown doesn’t keep his word and tells Mandrake he and Narda are staying put.

Cast & Crew + Filming locations

Writing credits

  • Joseph (Joe) Bates Smith

Director

  • Will Jason

Producers

  • John Allen
  • Robert Mann
  • Ellwood Walters

Art Direction Richard Sylbert

Cast

  • Coe Norton as Mandrake
  • Woody Strode as Lothar
  • Lisa Howard as Princess Narda
  • Robert Ellenstein as Wilson
  • Carl Frank as Mr. Brown

Filming locations

  • Bermuda
    • Princess Hotel, Hamilton, Bermuda (nightclub)
    • Marley Beach, Bermuda
    • Sound stage organized in specially converted old flying boat hangars on Darrell’s Island, Bermuda.

References

  1. "Film Report." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 21 August 1950, p 74
  2. "Former Frostburger Gets Television Firm Promotion." Cumberland Evening Times (Maryland) 17 October 1950, p 11
  3. "The Men Who Make and Sell TV Film." Television Magazine (New Hampshire) July 1954 , p 39
  4. "ABC Film Goes Into Dallas." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 30 August 1954, p 58
  5. "Mandrake Promotion to Include Magic Bits." The Billboard 11 September 1954, p 6
  6. "New Syndicated Films." Television Magazine (New Hampshire) November 1954, p 63
  7. "ABC Film Booms, Readies Six New First -Runs for Fall." The Billboard 12 February 1955, p 13
  8. The Billboard 12 March 1955, p 15