Mandrake the Magician (Radio Show)

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"Mandrake the Magician" was a 15 minute serial radio show from late 1940 to early 1942. The sponsor, Taystee Bread Company, had a special membership in the Mandrake Magicians Club.

History

In 1935 Fred Smith was appointed to head a special radio division to handle all radio buisness for King Features Syndicate. Early 1936 KFS had plans for their comic strips in the radio field: "Popeye the Sailor", on the air under the sponsorship of Wheatena, placed by McKee & Albright, Philadelphia; "Flash Gordon", on the air under the sponsorship of Grove's Nose Drops; "Little Annie Rooney"; "Blondie"; "Just Kids"; "Inspector Wade"; "Barney Google"; "Pussy Cat Princess"; "Beatrice Fairfax"; "Bringing Up Father"; "Little Jimmy"; "Tilly the Toiler"; "Mandrake the Magician", assigned to Cleveland B. Chase & Co. to sell to a radio advertiser, the script being written by Joe Cross, a member of the Chase firm. The cast for the "Mandrake the Magician" show had been selected and the program was in rehearsal. The production firm reported that it had several agencies interested in the script which would be a quarter-hour program to be broadcast three to five times a week in serial form. Transcriptions was also to be made. [1]

In April, 1936, King Features Syndicate had distributed 14 of its newspaper comics strips features to five New York radio production forms to act as selling agents for radio adaptations. The firms had been given six-month contracts to handle the comic strips that was adaptable: William Morris Agency to handle "Inspector Wade", "Flash Gordon" "Ace Drummond" and "Blondie"; Fanchon and Marco to handle "Tillie the Toiler"; Joseph M. Barnett to handle "Bringing Up Father", "Home Sweet Home" and "The Little King"; Cleveland B. Chase to handle "Tim Tyler's Luck", "Little Annie Rooney" and "Mandrake the Magician". World Broadcasting Systems did a transcription for a complete 15-minute script for "Mandrake the Magician". There was negoations for "Polly and Her Pals", "Just Kids", Krazy Kat" and "Popeye". [2]

On November 15, 1940, Purity Bakeries Corp. (for Taystee Bread) tested a thrice-weekly quarter-hour radio version of "Mandrake the Magician" on three stationes: KWK, St. Louis; WOR, Newark (New York) and WLAC, Memphis. More markets was to be added later the same year, if the test series proved to be successful. The New York program producer, Henry Souvaine, made the arrangements with King Features Syndicate for the sale to Campbell-Ewald Co. of New York (the Purity Bakeries agency). [3]

On May 19, 1941, Purity Bakeries Service Corp. expanding the thrice-weekly program adding: KMBC, Kansas City and KGBK, Springfield (Mo). The program was to be extensively merchandised in the new marked with newspaper ads, truck posters, handbolls, lapel badges, windows streamers and a special "Mandrake the Magician" bread wrapper. [4]

On August 18, 1941, Purity Bakeries Corp. added four new stationes airing "Mandrake the Magician": KFDM, Beaumont; KLUF, Galvestone; KPAC, Port Arthur and KPRC, Huston. The other stationes were: WOR, WLAC, KWK, KMBC, KDRO, KGBX and KLRD. [5]

According to various sources the last radio episode was aired on February 6, 1942. [footnotes 1].

Mandrake did return as a 15 minute three days a week serial March 23, 1942, now aired over the New York City radio station WINS. The return, which may have been replays of the original serial, seems to have been ended June 2 (or 26), 1942.

Together with "Superman" "Mandrake" made his debut on Mutual radio network October 12, 1942, (probably) as replays of the original serial. [6]

On October 29, 1945, Mother's Cake & Cookie (agency Emil Reinhardt, Oakland] started a five weekly transcripted quarter-hour "Mandrake the Magician" on KGO, San Francisco. [7]

WCRS in Greenwood (South Carolina) aired the radio show in 1947.

Note

  1. November 11, 1940 to February 6, 1942 gives 65 weeks. 65 weeks with 3 episodes a week gives 195 episodes. It is also written that the show started with three episodes a week and ended with five episodes, which will make the number of episodes larger. But in 1945 World Broadcasting System, Inc. advertised intensively for the "Mandrake the Magician" radio show - with 156 episodes made. So, either ended the series before February 6, 1942. Or there was a few weeks break after the first test episodes in 1940

References

  1. "Newspaper Syndicates Offering Comic Strips and Other Features to Radio."Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) January 1, 1936, p 8 and 49
  2. "King Features Assigns 14 Comic Strips To Sales Firms for Radio Sponsorship." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 15 April 1936, p 62
  3. "Purity Bakeries." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 15 November 1940, p 40
  4. "Purity Bakeries Adding Series." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 19 May 1941, p 12
  5. "Purity Bakeries Adding: New Programs Is Tested." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 18 August 1941, p 56
  6. "Over the Air -News-Views-Gossip." Wisconsin Rapid Daily Tribune (Wisconsin) 12 October 1942, p 2
  7. "Sponsors." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.) 12 November 1945, p 74
Working notes

The official history that are written in some books, is something like this:

  • "From the 11 November 1940 to 02 June 1942 Mutual radio network, New York, aired a 15 minute serial with Mandrake the Magician. It started in New York over station WOR as a three days a week serial and then five days a week beginning in 1941."

Radio programs in New York newspapers in 1941 only advertise the Mandrake serial aired at Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a few exceptions due to the holidays.

Presenting Mandrake the Magician

The show opened with Mandrake invoking his chant, Invoco Legem Magicarum (I invoke the laws of magic) which moved the story forward. At least 195 episodes were recorded, but only few of them are known today. In the episodes Mandrake fight against evil doers such as; Capt. X, Barracuda, Hithpitch, The Red Baron, Mr. Z and The Green Mask. The plots seems taken from the war theme with bombs, spy rings, submarine attacks near New York City and so on. Some episodes promoted the observance of health rules among children.

Cast & Crew

Writing credits

  • Charles Spain Chuck Verral

Director

  • Carlo De Angelo

Producer

  • Henry Souvaine

Cast


Reprints

Vinyl

Mandrake the Magician Original Radio Broadcasts was released by George Garabedian Productions in 1973.

Internet

Radio Echoes has a wide selection of Old Time Radio shows that one can listen to, among them 29 episodes of Mandrake.