Did a Popular Radio Show Change the Name of the Show and the Lead Character Because of the Blacklist?
Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to radio and the people “behind the microphone,” so to speak, and whether they are true or false.
RADIO URBAN LEGEND: A popular radio series changed the name of the show (and title character) because the novelist who originated the character was blacklisted.
Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade had already found success in novels…
and film (with some help from Humphrey Bogart)…
before gaining radio success, as well, with the 1946 radio serial, The Adventures of Sam Spade, starring Howard Duff as Spade (Duff was largely an unknown in 1946 – within a couple of years he would be famous and married to Ida Lupino!).
The show was sponsored by Wildroot Cream-Oil.
Here is an old ad campaign for the show that appeared in comic books of the time…
Wildroot Cream Oil also used one of Al Capp’s characters in their ads, using the catchphrase, “Get Wildroot Cream-Oil, Charlie!”
This becomes important later.
The show debuted on ABC and then ran on CBS for a few years.
So it’s now 1950, and Hammett has been blacklisted by the government due to his constant protests for civil rights. The show had already removed his name on the credits.
Now, though, Howard Duff, as well, has been getting some inquiries from the House Un-American Activities Committtee.
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