The weed of crime bears bitter fruit...

At one time, it looked as if The Shadow would become one of this centuries most famous fictional characters, along with icons such as Superman and Batman, but most people today would not be aware of the character.

The Shadow started out as a narrative character on Detective Hour for American radio in 1930 - a year later Street & Smith (who sponsored the radio show) put the character into his own pulp magazine which lasted an impressive 18 years.

Eventually, in 1936, the character was given his own show on American radio, where he was played by a young Orson Welles. The series proved extremely popular and lasted on the radio until 1954, five years after his pulp magazine series had ended. During the run of the radio show the character of The Shadow (and his alter ego, Lamont Cranston) was played by Bill Johnstone and Brett Morrison after Orson Welles left in 1937. Although the radio show lasted for around 18 years, only around 200 episodes of the radio series are known to be in existence. Particularly shows from the later years (1950s) are very rare.

The Shadow was originally the alter ego of Lamont Cranston, wealthy playboy who at some stage in his life journeyed to the Orient where he learnt the power to cloud men's minds in that he had persuasive hypnotic powers. On the radio this took the form of being able to appear invisible (which was handy for a radio show). This power was not used to any great extent in the pulp novels, where he relied more on his guns and his mastery of disguise... Later on in the pulp novels it was revealed that in fact he was NOT Lamont Cranston, but in fact aviator Kent Allard whose plane crashed in the Orient, and that he took the disguise of Lamont Cranston... Even later on it was suggested that in fact the body of Kent Allard was found in the wreck of his plane in the Orient and that The Shadow was neither Lamont Cranston or Kent Allard!

In 1937 the character appeared in two movies which starred Rod LaRocque in the title role, THE SHADOW STRIKES and INTERNATIONAL CRIME. However, in both of these movies Lamont Cranston worked for a newspaper who had a column (and a radio show) in which he is called The Shadow, but he does not appear as the character!

During the 1930s and 1940s the character's popularity was at its peak, with several film and film serials appearing, as well as a comic book series. Probably the best portrayal of the character on film during that time was by Victor Jory in the 15 part serial THE SHADOW.

After the character had disappeared from the airwaves in 1954, The Shadow appeared in a 1958 film, INVISIBLE AVENGER (also known as BOURBON STREET SHADOWS), but by this time the public had seemed to begin to forget about him...

That is, until the 1960s, when a series of books (both featuring new material and reprints of his pulp magazines) began to appear and the character also began to reappear in the comic books. However, by the mid 1970s the character was in limbo again.

In 1994, Universal Studios attempted a revival of the character with the release of a big budget film (Alec Baldwin playing the lead). Unfortunately the film bombed at the box office and to date there have been no further major revivals of the character (who still appears from time to time in comic books).

Links

Everything

The Shadow Fan. - a lot of information about the many versions of the character.

The Shadow Vaults - a remarkable site which has information about all the incarnations of the character.

Radio Series

The Shadow Radio Series. - an excellent site presenting an episode of the radio show every week in RealAudio format.

The Shadow Zone - a site covering the history of The Shadow radio series along with some shows available to listen to on.

Old Time Radio - a general site looking at American old time radio - they have a page looking at The Shadow.

Pulps

The Shadow Magazine - many of the original pulp stories here are available here to download and read.

The Shadow Art - contains scans of many of the pulp covers (which make good wallpaper for your desktop) as well as scans from some of the comic books and other books.

ShadowPDF - you can view many Shadow pulps from this site. Requires the Adobe Acrobat reader.

Hero Pulps - This site looks at many of the popular pulp characters of the first half of this century, including Doc Savage, The Spider and The Shadow.

The .Pulp Net - This site looks at the pulp phenomenon which lasted in America from the 1880s to the 1950s.

Pulp Cafe - Lots of links on this site.

I also have a page listing a brief history of Doc Savage.

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This The Shadow site owned by Wes.
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Items available to purchase

All of the following items are available to order from Amazon, where radio shows are listed, they are in CD format unless listed otherwise. Movies are listed as dvd format unless listed otherwise.

Pulps
The Living Shadow - the very first Shadow pulp!
The Living Shadow is also available as a downloadable book (Microsoft Reader required)
Eyes of The Shadow - the second Shadow pulp is available as a downloadable book (Adobe Acrobat reader required)

Walter Gibson
Walter B Gibson and The Shadow is a scholarly look at the writer and his work on the character.
The Shadow Scrapbook is a great book which looks at the pulps, radio show and the other version of the character in media.

Radio Shows
Shadow: Greatest Radio Adventures - 20 hours of shows!
The Shadow: The Lost Shows - a nice boxed set of shows which were previously thought lost.
The Shadow: 3 hour collectors edition - six classic shows.

Graphic Novel
The Shadow: In the Coils of Leviathan - the most recent comic book version of the character from Dark Horse.

Movies
Shadow Strikes/International Crime - a double bill of these two 1937 movies.
Invisible Avenger - the 1958 movie.
The Shadow - the 1994 movie, also available in DTS.