Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lighthouses on Old Time Radio - Phantom Of The Lighthouse from The Shadow (1947)

Lighthouse keepers have one primary job - to save lives through keeping ships from smashing into the shore.  There are few professions that are as noble and virtuous.  So when a lighthouse keeper starts killing people, there is a real problem.  Oh, and did I mention that the keeper was already dead for over 150 years....!  Who can solve this mystery and keep the ghost keeper from striking again?

For my 14th entry in my lighthouses on old time radio series - I am drawing upon a great series that is one of the most iconic voices from Old Time Radio.  Few programs have as much recognition as the Mutual Network's The Shadow and their famous opening:

"Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men....the Shadow knows!"

Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses (Cape Ann, Massachusetts)

Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses (Cape Ann, Massachusetts)
August 2010

The Shadow tells the story of Lamont Cranston, a 'man about town' who learned the powers of clouding men's minds while in Asia.  Lamont turns into The Shadow when he needs to solve a crime and correct wrongs done by others in the name of greed and evil.  The only one who knows that Lamont is also The Shadow is his companion, Margo Lane.  The Shadow was the creation of writer Walter B. Gibson in 1931 and was serialized in magazines and pulp novels in the 1930s.  It was adapted to radio early in the Golden Age of Radio and counted among those who voiced the lead character were Orson Welles, Bill Johnstone,  Bret Morrison, John Archer, and Steve Courtleigh.  It seems that the characters and plot lines from both pulp and radio helped change both formats as The Shadow remained a prominent element of popular culture into the 1950s.

On September 7, 1947, the Mutual Network broadcast "The Phantom Of The Lighthouse." An elderly lighthouse keeper, his wife and his assistant are sitting in a dimly lit room in a lighthouse as the episode opens.  The keeper's wife is reading from the the diary of Josiah Blake, the 'master of this lighthouse' along the coast of Maine.  Blake had died 150 earlier and threatened anyone who would take the job as keeper of that light.  When the keeper's assistant falls off the tower to his death, the keeper's wife declares that it is the ghost of Josiah Blake that did the deed!  Not only did he declare himself the 'master of the lighthouse,' but he was also a pirate who killed many in his day.  A ghost killing those who work at a lighthouse?  Sounds like a job for Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane to take.  And when the ghost claims another life (the old keeper), it seems to be a mystery that only the Shadow can solve.  There are secrets that need protecting and a fortune to find.  The episode stars Bret Morrison as Lamont and Grace Matthews as Margo.  The show also stars radio great Santos Ortega in the supporting cast.  The show is sponsored by Blue Coal - the best anthracite for your home heating needs.  I hope you enjoy!

Phantom Of The Lighthouse (The Shadow - September 7, 1947)

The Shadow (Old Time Radio Links)

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