The Night Beat Radio Program
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Edmond O'Brien was the first candidate to lead Night Beat as Harry Mitchell of the Chicago Examiner
NBC wisely went with Frank Lovejoy first as 'Lucky' Stone of the Chicago Examiner then as Randy Stone of the Chicago Star
KOH Night Beat spot ad from March 13 1950
KVOA Night Beat spot ad from October 20 1950
Background: The third time's the charm
According to NBC's timpani-accompanied lead-in to the promotional recording of their proposed Night Beat program, "the mystery program is a good Radio buy. . . low in cost, high in appeal." They further quote Variety: "The Crime sagas enjoy a per-point rating pay-off calculated to make the sponsors do hand-springs." Florid prose, to be sure, but 'calculatedly' persuasive. Indeed, with Radio entering an era of heated competition with Television, NBC's pitch was quite transparently 'calculated' to persuade sponsors to spend a little more money on Radio, while still exploring the wild-wild-west of early Television competition.
This was, afterall, the era of the toughest sell ever for Radio. Indeed, Frank Lovejoy, the star they ultimately selected to lead their new project already had one foot in early Television himself--as did, Edmond O'Brien. Timpani drums hadn't accompanied the earlier William Rousseau-directed, Larry Marcus--scripted version of the proposed Night Beat audition. It had been recorded some eight months earlier with Edmond O'Brien as the lead. That intro itself had been the more traditional--and familiar--organ and piano crescendos of Rex Koury. The earlier audition was also a bit grittier and a bit edgier, more in the 'radio noir' tradition William Rousseau was more experienced and familiar with.
Radio noir had turned a corner in Radio. The National Association of Broadcasters' self-imposed curfews of the mid to late 1940s had left a chilling effect on newly proposed crime and mystery projects. Even though the previously self-mandated curfews had begun to relax by 1949, network executives--and sponsors--were less inclined to mount a new crime drama that might automatically end up relegated to an after-9:30 p.m. origination slot. As it ultimately developed, O'Brien and Rousseau's interpretation of Night Beat apparently came off as a bit too edgy for 1950 NBC executives and potential sponsors. NBC prudently ordered a second audition with Frank Lovejoy in the lead and directed by Bill Karn. Larry Marcus' script was retained for the second audition.
Though the scripts were essentially identical, Lovejoy's characterization was markedly more humane and sympathetic. Indeed, the vast majority of Frank Lovejoy's performances in Radio--and Film--disclosed a very human element, irrespective of the characters he portrayed. Whether he was ordering men to certain death, or making the harder decisions of Life, his characters came off as compassionate, no matter how hard-edged they'd been written into the script. That was the element he brought to 'Lucky' Stone and that was the element that sold his interpretation of Lucky Stone as a crusader. That's not to say that such a characterization was beyond Edmond O'Brien's immense talent--or compassion, as he amply demonstrated in both D.O.A. and 1984. But O'Brien's characterization had also been intentionally harder and edgier at Bill Rousseau's direction.
I think it's safe to say that anyone comparing the two auditioned characterizations would draw the same conclusion. Lovejoy's reporter was more in the vein of the passionate, crusading reporter one might more easily imagine trying--however in vain--to set things aright in the murky, late-night/early morning Chicago that was his crime beat.
As things turned out, Edmond O'Brien landed the lead in Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar throughout the early 1950s, so it turned out a win-win for all concerned in the end.
'Lucky' Stone, or as his name was ultimately changed for the production series, Randy Stone, penned an overnight column for the 'early-bird' edition of the imaginary 'Chicago Star' under the byline "Night Beat", hence the name of the series. For the production run, Larry--and Mary--Marcus, stayed on as editors, while Russell Hughes penned the season opener, Zero. Warren Lewis directed the production series with music by Frank Worth, the composer of the signature timpani-punctuated, yet soft and brassy score that became forever associated with the series.
Night Beat gets the green light
This is one of several crime dramas of the era in which the lead actor genuinely grew into the role and made the character he or she portrayed their own. Fans of the series--present company among them--found Lovejoy's characterization of a crime reporter to be one of Golden Age Radio's most engaging portrayals. Apparently the listeners--and critics--of the era felt the same. Indeed, Radio's most curmudgeonly critic, John Crosby himself, seemed to take to Lovejoy's portrayal of Randy Stone as well.
Case in point, Crosby's syndicated critique of June 22, 1950 in the Oakland Tribune:
Everything Happens on 'Night Beat'
By JOHN CROSBY
The late O.O. McIntyre spread abroad the idea that anything can happen in the big city at any moment. Every time you turned a corner you were likely to stumble over a corpse, the body still warm. I very much doubt that McIntyre ever stumbled over any himself, but he maintained this fiction with such persistence that it was planted firmly in a great many heads, especially small-town heads.
I know it was planted deeply in my Aunt Sarah's skull. Every time I get to my home town, Aunt Sarah bids me firmly to sit down and tell all. And by all, she means how many bodies, who were they and did I catch the killers single-handed or did I require assistance from the police. I couldn't possibly tell Aunt Sarah that I hadn't solved a single killing in 15 years in New York. She would consider this a shameful blot on the family escutcheon. I've been forced to fabricate my own tale or heroism in which I shine forth modestly as sort of a plain-clothes Hopalong Cassidy.
Lately, though, I've been storing up material from a regular little treasure trove of a program called "Night Beat," which you'll find on KNBC 9:30 p.m. P.D.T. Mondays. "Night Beat," according to its own definition, is "the adventures of a columnist in search of material." The columnist is Randy Stone, played by Frank Lovejoy, if that sort of information interests you, columnist for "The Chicago Star." He prowls around Chicago from dusk to dawn, seeking hand-to-hand combat, like the knights of old. Bless me, if he doesn't find it, too.
Once he was on his way to get a shave and encountered a homicidal maniac trying to kill his psychiatrist, an idea that has probably occurred to a lot of people. Stone intervened and was presently knocked cold as a haddock. Stone, I found, always loses these hand-to-hand combats. That's the new fashion in heroes. The old-style hero was an expert at meting it out; the newfangled ones have to be able to absorb enormous amounts of punishment.
In this particular episode, besides that opening knockout which was just a preliminary to the big bout, he was pushed out a second-story window, landing on his head on a sidewalk, and also found himself at the wrong end of a gun--the other end being in the possession of that homicidal maniac.
BATS OUT COLUMN
Despite these misadventures, we find him back at the office in front of his typewriter. "Well," he remarks, "dawn is just around the corner and the lights are going out one by one." And he settles down to write his column, welts and all. Being a man who can be deterred from writing a column by so much as a bruised finger, I'm awed by Randy Stones conscientiousness. But I keep wondering how he got a column out of that homicidal maniac who didn't seem to me to be worth much more than a paragraph. Frankly, I think Stone would get better material hanging around the Wrigley Bar, drinking with the rest of the mob. Or he could have done a piece about dawn turning the corner. I've never seen dawn turn a corner and I'd like to read about it.
But no, he has to go pushing his nose into other people's business. "You can't keep a finger on the city's pulse without getting some of its blood and sweat on your hand," is one of Stone's favorite remarks. Generally it's his own blond. Once he went down to Chinatown to stop a Tong war all by himself. Not just a local Tong war, either. This Tong war took in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. In so doing, he got taken for a ride and beaten to a blister with a rubber hose. Got his column out, though.
AIMED AT SMALL FRY
This little dilly is aimed at the small fry. (I didn't think they were up that late.) The kids, naturally, digest bloodshed more equally than the rest of us.
"Night Beat" is written in Hollywood, which is a long way spacially and spiritually from Chicago, which is no excuse. I'm grateful to it for one thing, though, I certainly got some fine tales for Aunt Sarah. Wait till she hears how I stopped that Tong war. I only hope she doesn't listen to the darn thing.
Copyright, 1950, for The Tribune
Caustic and cynical as always, anyone who's read any of Crosby's other Radio critiques in our articles would have to characterize this one as a 'puff-piece,' by any standard of comparison. And indeed that speaks volumes about the popular appeal of this program, though we'd take the most strenuous objection to his tongue-in-cheek characterization of Night Beat as ''aimed at the small-fry.'' That was a bit over the top even for him.
Production and promotion--or lack thereof
Night Beat wasn't a juvenile crime adventure by any measure. Quite the contrary, most of the scripts from the series dealt with both contemporary and timeless themes revolving mostly around terms like isolation, despair, and the customary seven deadly sins, interspersed with occasional satires and humorous story arcs thrown in for variety. But irrespective of the plot, it was Frank Lovejoy's inherent basic humanity that shown through each episode. One would imagine that Night Beat's writing staff had to have been picking up on Lovejoy's interpretations of their scripts after a while. As much as we respect Lovejoy's talent, he clearly wasn't performing these characterizations in a vacuum. But it was that subtle sensitivity underscoring each of his performances that captured the interest of most of the series' enduring fans.
Sadly, Night Beat was produced by NBC, who, much as they had with several other of their highly promising--and successful--crime and detective dramas of the era, seemed hellbent on sabotaging their most promising productions through a bewildering series of rescheduling fiascos, total absence of promotion of any kind, and just plain abandonment. Indeed, though NBC produced many highly popular crime, mystery and detective dramas during the late 1940s and early 1950s, their individual successes were in spite of NBC, rather than due to NBC. One can only surmise that NBC was so consumed with looking over its shoulder throughout this period--or so smitten with their new child, Television--that they were simply asleep at the Radio switch for as much as eight years after the Justice Department-mandated break-up of their numerous, parallel networks. Either that, or some middle manager was embezzling the corporate promotion and P.R. budget.
Whatever the convoluted rationale behind their 'strategy' truly was, Night Beat and other fine NBC vehicles of that era soldiered on, simply on the strength of their grassroots demand, appeal, and basic underlying quality, but certainly not for any concerted promotional or even basic coordination efforts from the network. The upshot of NBC's apparent planned obsolescence, from an historical standpoint in any case, is that sixty years later it's become virtually impossible to log and document this fine series no matter how extensive is one's access to newspaper morgues and trade magazines.
Thankfully, in spite of NBC's apparent indifference to its transcribed series almost from the moment it was released, and certainly after it's inexplicable, abrupt, and unexplained departure for six months, the series--sixty years later--is almost universally prized by most vintage Radio collectors. This has ensured that a reasonably representative number of the series have entered wider circulation. Indeed, the electrical transcription technology of the era produced many of the better--and more durable--electrical transcriptions and tapes that have survived the era. It didn't hurt that most collectors and archives in possession of the remaining Night Beat transcriptions of the era valued the series enough to ensure the care, cleaning and preservation of their discs and tapes.
We resolved to take one more stab at documenting the series if for no other reason than to give the series its due. Given the approximate total run of only 104 programs, one is immediately struck by the roster of extraordinary West Coast talent that contributed to the success of the series over its two+ years. The acting credits read like one of the most comprehensive West Coast casting books of late 1940s. One is hard pressed to find a single notable West Coast voice or acting talent that wasn't represented during the run of this fine series. Given that we can almost certainly surmise that this wasn't simply a matter of NBC's largesse, we might well conclude that the overwhelming majority of these fine actors were simply attracted to the vehicle and it's lead actor and his reputation, as much as to Night Beat's basic underlying quality.
The writing staff over the run certainly did their part, represented as it was with some of the West Coast's finest and most successful writers and adapters. With writers of the quality of Russell Hughes, Irwin Ashkenazie, Marty Wilkenson, Merwyn Gerard, Selig Lester, Lou Rusoff, E. Jack Neuman, John Bagni and Gwen Bagni, David Ellis, Kathleen Hite, Larry Roman, Joel Hunt, John Robinson, and Russell Bender, among several others, the series was ensured continued high quality for as long as the series was supported by the network and its sponsors. Russell Hughes, Kathleen Hite, and E. Jack Neuman, in particular brought a marvelous sense of detail, humanity and wry humor to every script they contributed to. Kathleen Hite, noted for her extraordinary background research into her projects, brought the many denizens of mid-century Chicago to life, even though the series was produced entirely in Hollywood. Russell Hughes' more senstitive and down to earth story arcs were a perfect match to Frank Lovejoy's characterization of Randy Stone. And of course E. Jack Neuman's own facility for creating compelling plots served to ensure the satisfaction of the most avid mystery and detective drama fans of the era.
The production was supervised by Don Diamond and Bill Karn, both highly respected Radio men in their own right. And of course as we noted above, Frank Worth's catchy underscore seemed perfectly tailored to Night Beat from its first national airing.
Night Beat's many subtle 'signatures'
Night Beat had many unique and characteristic signatures to its programs. Continuity, for the most part, remained one of the most characteristic elements of the series over its two year run. This, in spite of some rather glaring continuity missteps at the outset of the production.
We refer in particular to NBC's apparent vacillation over something as simple as the name of their Night Beat protagonist. During the initial development of the project, the lead was to be 'Harry Mitchell,' a crime reporter for the fictitious 'Chicago Examiner.' That morphed into 'Lucky' Stone, a reporter for the Chicago Examiner under Frank Lovejoy's lead. A further refinement--by the time the premiere program, Zero, aired--confused even the premiere's announcer, Frank Martin, who announces Lovejoy as portraying 'Rudy Stone', even though Lovejoy has already announced himself two lines earlier as Randy Stone. Indeed, the initial newspaper articles announcing the premiere referred to the protagonist as 'Lucky' Stone, the named used in the second audition for the series.
But once the 'naming issue' had resolved itself, Night Beat began to acquire a very unique character that very much framed the entire production from that point forward. The timpani-punctuated lead-in became it's most identifiable signature element from the premiere, forward. The genius in which it was structured clearly caught the attention of the listener--by design. But immediately following the timpani drums, a brassy crescendo peaks, then somewhat playfully recedes to the point of introduction by Lovejoy's velvety-smooth initial teaser for the script to follow. That peak, followed by the softer transition to Lovejoy's signature lead-in persuades the listener that though the program to follow will undoubtedly take a gravely portentious turn or two--or three--Frank Lovejoy's reassuring, confident, soothing delivery will somehow make everything work out well by the script's dénouement.
Another point of signature, apparently ignored or overlooked by thousands of Radio archivists over the years is the simple name of the production. It's Night Beat--two words. And as if to go out of their way to dispel any possible ambiguation of the title, Frank Martin and every announcer that followed him, punctuate the two words in the most obvious and telegraphed manner. Indeed, as much as the timpani drums punctuate the first few bars of every introduction, the equally--and deliberately--punctuated "NIGHT BEAT" follows the last beat of the timpani. It couldn't be more clear if someone was beating one over the head with that timpani mallet.
Another signature element of each program is the formulaic manner in which Frank Lovejoy--as Randy Stone--introduces each episode. He begins each teaser of the episode with the observation that "Stories start in many ways . . . ," then proceeds to outline how the present story 'started.' It was a catchy, familiar--and persuasive--hook to draw the listener into the script and as the series continued over the years, became its second, most signature element.
A further signature element was Frank Lovejoy's delivery of the grittier terms and lines scripted for him. Phrases like 'muscatel wino' and 'painted little dames with their brassy laughter' don't necessarily roll off the tongue for most people--actors included. But that remnant of the classic radio noir was an essential element of the verisimilitude that made midnight-to-dawn come alive for Night Beat's listeners. It rang authentic. And yet, with Frank Lovejoy's delivery of such lines and phrases, the seamier elements of the overnight undertakings of any large, metropolitan city seem somehow both understandable and forgiveable.
Randy Stone's clearly a clever, intelligent journalist. Had he wished to, he could certainly have gotten off the 'night beat' of the crime desk anytime he wished. But he's as compelled by both the injustice and hopelessness of most of what he witnesses every night as are the listeners who he brings into that world. He's also human and compassionate enough to look a bit deeper into the more obvious manifestations of the often crime-plagued, and often invariably abandoned buildings--and residents--of any large population center's inner city. . . . the inner city that City Father's usually like to ignore--or forget.
And though few of those denizens of the underbelly of Chicago count themselves among his readership, it's their stories--and theirs alone--that continue to capture both Randy Stone's imagination and that of readers that follow his daily byline. Indeed, as Randy Stone all too often observes himself, though there's little that can be done to make the problems of the inner city go away permanently, the simple act of humanizing them makes at least some of those problems easier to address--if not resolve completely in time.
That's Randy Stone's signature uphill battle over the course of 100+ compelling programs. In the course of listening to most of the run, one is both reminded of the timelessness of the problems of any large metropolis and it's inner cities, as much as the inherent nobility inside any human being struggling to make his or her way, in spite of--or because of--their circumstances. One is also gently reminded that simply distancing oneself from the causes of inner city crime, corruption and despair only serve to exacerbate those problems.
Television toyed with a possible Night Beat series in the same vein as the Radio feature. Four-Star came the closest to creating a pilot for the series. It never came to fruition as a Detective drama, but a program named Nightbeat did air in 1956 over television as a hard-hitting interview series with Mike Wallace grilling the likes of Arch Oboler and Billie Holiday, among many others.
Frank Lovejoy's genius in this series was his innate ability to at least appear genuinely sympathetic or compassionate regarding these larger issues. We'd like to think that was simply Frank Lovejoy's inherent underlying good nature informing his characterization of Randy Stone. If that wasn't the case, then Frank Lovejoy was an even more gifted actor than we've given him credit. If it was the case, then Frank Lovejoy was, indeed, the perfect choice for this fascinating, entertaining, laugh till you cry, cry till you laugh gem from The Golden Age of Radio. Thought provoking, yet utterly entertaining Radio as only The Golden Age of Radio seemed able to produce.
We loved it. We think you will, too.
|AFRTS END-259 'Night Beat'; Australian Syndication 'Night Beat'; South African Syndication 'Night Beat'
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Crime Dramas
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||49-05-19 Aud The Ted Carter Murder Case [Edmond O'Brien]
50-01-13 Aud The Ted Carter Murder Case [Frank Lovejoy]
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||50-02-06 01 Zero
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||50-02-06 to 52-09-25; NBC;
||NBC Transcriptions; AFRTS; Grace Gibson Syndication
||Wheaties; Pabst Brewing Company
||William P. Rousseau [Director--Edmond O'Brien Aud]
Warren Lewis [Producer/Director/Editor]
Bill Karn [Producer]
Don Diamond [ Producer/Host]
||Edmond O'Brien, Betty Moran, Jack Kruschen, Anne Stone, Herb Butterfield, Gail Bonney, Jack Edwards, Lawrence Dobkin [Audition]
Frank Lovejoy, Peter Leeds, Jeanne Bates, Joan Banks, Stacy Harris, Wilms Herbert, Junius Matthews, Jane Morgan, Leo Cleary, Lurene Tuttle, William Conrad, William Lally, Paul Dubov, Ken Christy, Georgia Ellis, Carol Richards, William Tracy, Ben Wright, Betty Lou Gerson, Jeff Corey, Lou Krugman, Joyce McCluskey, Vic Perrin, Jerry Hausner, Rena Craig, Charles Seel, Ruth Perrot, David Ellis, Margaret Brayton, Will Wright, Brian Donlevy, Jane Morgan, Martha Wentworth, Colleen Collins, Barbara Jean Wong, Tom Holland, Jack Webb, Harry Bartell, Louis Jean Hite, Lee Miller, Virginia Gregg, Frank Gerstle, Sarah Selby, Paul McVey, Sam Edwards, William Johnstone, Parley Baer, Stanley Farrar, Jeffrey Silver, Jeanette Nolan, Barbara Fuller, Gerald MOhr, Francis Chaney, Sara Berner, Theodore Von Eltz, Norman Field, Sheldon Leonard, Jeffrey Silver, Joel McCrea, Rick Fellon, Peter Votrian, Tudor Owen, Wally Maher, George Offerman Jr., Fritz Feld, Herb Ellis, Jay Novello, Katherine Card, Anne Whitfield, Veronica Pataky, Betty Moran, Charlotte Lawrence, Inge Jollos, Irene Tedrow, Barbara Fuller, Eileen Prince, Rose Hobart, Eddie Fields, Hal Gerard, John Stevenson, Peggy Webber, Stan Waxman, Nestor Paiva, Agnes Underwood, Ted de Corsia, Barbara Dupar, Herbert Rawlinson, Jane Webb, Bill Justine, Jonathan Holt, Jack Lloyd, June Foray, Will Geer, Sidney Miller, Ray Hartman, Harold Gordon, Jack Carroll, Edwin Max, Myra Marsh, Homer Welsh, Joyce McCluskey, Paul Frees, Hy Averback, Tony Barrett, Richard Benedict, Shepard Menken, Hal March, Don Diamond, Ed Begley, Richard Crenna, Anne Diamond, Harry Lang, Vivi Janis, Marvin Miller, Raymond Burr, Jan Arvan, Sandra Gould, Victor Rodman, GeGe Pearson
||Randy Stone, Reporter for the Chicago Star--Early Bird Edition [Frank Lovejoy]
||Hank Mitchell, Reporter for the 'Examiner' [Edmond O'Brien-Aud];
'Lucky' Stone Reporter for the 'Examiner' [Frank Lovejoy-Aud];
Randy Stone, Reporter for the Chicago Star--Early Bird Edition [Frank Lovejoy]
||Norman Jacob, Sanford Wolf
||Larry Marcus, Russell Hughes, Joel Hunter, Irwin Ashkenazie, Marty Wilkenson, Merwyn Gerard, Selig Lester, Lou Rusoff, Richard Allen Simmons, E. Jack Neuman, John Michael Hayes, John Bagni, Gwen Bagni, David Ellis, Kathleen Hite, Larry Roman, Joe Gilbert, Arthur Ross, Joel Hunt, John Robinson, Russell Bender
Larry and Mary Marcus [Editors]
Arthur Ross [Adapter]
||Rex Koury [Music--Edmond O'Brien Aud]
Frank Worth; Robert Armbruster [Music/Conductor]
||William Lally, Lamont Johnson, Jimmy Wallington
Frank Martin [Wheaties Spokesman], Ed Prentiss, Luke Arpling [Commercial Spokesmen]
||Estimated Scripts or
||Episodes in Circulation:
||Total Episodes in Collection:
Here's one of the reasons Night Beat found few sponsors over its two years. NBC's idea of counter-progamming was to have Night Beat go head to head with Ozzie and Harriet. Someone help us understand what Ozzie and Harriet fans would switch channels to hear a crime drama.
Billboard article from April 1950 citing NBC's 'gimmick' of using Night Beat to promote their other programming.
|RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
A tip of the hat to anyone who's even attempted to log Night Beat--OTRR included. NBC, in its infinite widsom, continually moved Night Beat all over its schedule--in some cases from week to week. Logging Night Beat is unquestionably a humbling exercise. We're reminded of David Goldin's disclaimer in the preface to his own remarkable radioGOLDINdex database of transcriptions:
"This reference work must begin with two admissions, either of which usually dooms a database’s usefulness
1. It is out of date.
2. It is inaccurate."
Truer words were never spoken in reference to Night Beat, in particular. That being said, there are a few observations, explanations and provenances of note that we encountered during our most recent effort to log Night Beat:
Less than ten episodes into the run, NBC began reprising four of the first scripts outside Night Beat's scheduled lineup:
- The Night Is A Weapon [Brian Donlevy, promoting Dangerous Assignment]
- World Of His Own [Glenn Ford, promoting Chrisopher London]
- Girl In The Park [Dick Powell, promoting Richard Diamond, Private Detective]
- Am I My Brothers' Keeper? [Jack Webb, promoting Dragnet]
These 'For Your Approval' promotions were brilliant, in their way. NBC got a chance to jump Night Beat into another timeslot to increase its exposure and temporarily promote it, as well as embedding promotions of Dangerous Assignment, Christopher London, Richard Diamond Private Detective, and Dragnet. The bigger payoff for vintage Radio collectors 60 years hence is the opportunity to hear four of their favorite Radio, Television and Film personalities personally plugging their own Radio features on the network.
As many of you may have already noticed with the commercial otr community especially, any vintage Radio episode that's ever been reprised in any way, be it by AFRS or AFRTS denaturing, via rebroadcast, or from retrospective airings as much as forty years in the future, are fair game to the commercial otr community to cobble together a contiguous, unprovenanced run of a given program. Unfortunately for every genuine vintage Radio collector of the past 40 years of the commercial old time radio aberration, the commercial otr community employs this strategy with utter disregard to historical accuracy or integrity. There were at least 20 AFRS and AFRTS recordings denatured from the Night Beat canon--in all likelihood far more than that. There have been several retrospectives of Night Beat aired over the years. Added to that, NBC moved Night Beat around the schedule so many times that it was occasionally airing twice a week in some markets, or overlapping markets and affiliates.
Compounding the confusion is the fact that virtually none of the titles from the Night Beat canon were announced. The resulting titles are almost entirely anecdotal.
In addition, NBC generated a Special Broadcast, Night Beat Salute to The Working Press, on March 4, 1951. The special broadcast wasn't really part of either the previous season or the following season. We assigned it one of the contiguous Episode numbers.
For a Radio franchise that NBC literally beat to death for two years promoting and cross-promoting all manner of other NBC programming, NBC didn't accord Night Beat a great deal of respect. Indeed, Night Beat's status as primarily a sustainer, owed itself to NBC's incessant jiggery-pokery with it's scheduling.
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We ask one thing and one thing only--if you employ what we publish, attribute it, before we cite you on it.
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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.
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[Date, title, and episode column annotations in red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]
The Night Beat Radio Program Biographies
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, U.S.A.
1937 Tribute To WHAS
1937 The Adventures Of Jungle Jim
1938 No Help Wanted
1938 Columbia Workshop
1938 American School of the Air
1939 Dime-A-Month Club
1030 Mr. District Attorney
1939 Arch Oboler's Plays
1939 Your Family and Mine
1939 The Shadow
1940 Betty and Bob
1940 The Gay Nineties Revue
1940 The Blue Beetle
1940 Easy Aces
1941 America's Famous Fathers
1941 The Treasury Hour
1941 Vic and Sade
1942 This Is War
1942 Gang Busters
1942 The War Production Board's Report On the War Production Drive
1942 Keep 'Em Rolling
1942 This Is Our Enemy
1942 Radio Reader's Digest
1942 Tom Dixon Meets the Enemy
1942 An American In England
1942 Twelve Crowded Months
1943 Todd Grant Gets the Story
1943 The Victory Hour
1943 Lights Out
1943 Treasury Star Parade
1943 The Man Behind the Gun
1943 The March Of Time
1943 Mr and Mrs North
1943 The Elgin Company's Second Annual Tribute To the Armed Forces
1944 Modern Romances
1944 Radio Hall Of Fame
1944 Columbia Presents Corwin
1944 Joyce Jordan, M.D.
1944 Four For the Fifth
1944 Cavalcade Of America
1944 It's Maritime
1944 The Sportsmen's Club
1944 Words At War
1945 Treasury Salute
1945 Weird Circle
1945 This Is Your FBI
1945 Boston Blackie
1945 Theatre Of Romance
1945 Theater Guild On the Air
1946 Adventures Of the Red Feather Man
1946 Victory Clothing Collection
1946 Request Performance
1946 Continental Celebrity Club
1946 Favorite Story
1946 The Whistler
1946 Sound Off
1947 Freedom Train
1947 Hercule Poirot
1947 The Right To Live
1947 Murder and Mr Malone
1947 Before Their Time
1947 Doorway To Life
1947 Destiny Trails
1948 Damon Runyon Theatre
1948 Ellery Queen
1948 Five Minute Mysteries
1948 Shorty Bell, Cub Reporter
1948 Hallmark Playhouse
1948 The Amazing Mr Malone
1948 Hopalong Cassidy
1948 The Adventures Of Sam Spade
1948 The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
1948 Prudential Family Hour Of Stars
1948 Anacin Hollywood Star Theater
1949 The New Adventures Of Michael Shayne
1949 The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show
1949 Pat Novak For Hire
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 Lux Radio Theatre
1949 Today's Children
1949 Here Comes McBride
1949 The Haunting Hour
1949 Box Thirteen
1949 The Adventures Of Frank Race
1949 Family Theater
1949 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1949 Four Star Playhouse
1950 Night Beat
1950 Beyond This World
1950 Closed Circuit: Parade Of Stars Weekly Preview
1950 Beyond Tomorrow
1950 U.N. Story
1950 The Big Show
1951 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1952 Easter Seals Parade
1952 One Man's Family
1952 Stars In the Air
1952 Hollywood Playhouse Of Romance
1953 Bakers' Theatre Of Stars
1954 The Christopher Program
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
The Haunting Hour
Frank Lovejoy circa 1950
Lovejoy's first wife was something of a trend-setter in her own right. She was the first to sing--and dance to--the Charleston, she was the first to introduce the Casablanca standard ' As Time Goes By ', and she participated in the first ever, cross-country network hook-up of Radio in 1926. The couple divorced after seven months.
Lovejoy married the lovely Radio, Film and Television actress Joan Banks in 1940. Married some 20 years they were together at the time of Lovejoy's death in 1962
Lovejoy's work with Nathan van Cleve and William N. Robson on Man Behind The Gun garnered a Peabody Award for the program in 1943.
Lovejoy as Lt. Tom Brennan in House of Wax (1953)
Frank Lovejoy with wife Joan Banks their two children and, one presumes, a clown hired for a special occasion circa 1958.
|A native New Yorker--from The Bronx, Frank Lovejoy entered the work force in New York City months before the Stock Market crash of 1929--his job at the time, a Wall Street runner. Needless to say, he'd found other work by 1930. That work--and that career--was shaping up to be The Stage.
Lovejoy began the apprenticeship and journeyman process of making the rounds of stock companies, little theatre, community theatre and off-Broadway production and performance work ranging from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.
From the October 3, 1962 edition of the Bridgeport Telegram:
ACTOR, 50, DIES
NEW YORK, Oct.3 (AP)--Actor Frank Lovejoy, known to millions for his work in stage, screen, radio and television productions, was found dead in bed today. He was 50. His wife, Joan, was unable to arouse him this morning and summoned a physician. The doctor said Lovejoy apparently had died eight to 10 hours before from a coronary thrombosis. Mrs. Lovejoy said her husband had watched the baseball pennant playoff between the Dodgers and Giants until early last night, then went to bed saying he felt tired. The actor's latest work was in the Broadway hit "The Best Man," which closed recently. His last performance was in a production of the same play Sunday night in Paramus, N.J. No showing had been scheduled last night. Producer Robert Ludlum said Lovejoy was in good spirits Sunday night, and was looking forward to a vacation in Bermuda after this week. Because of his death, tonight's performance was cancelled. During a busy theatrical career, Lovejoy had prominent or starring roles in more than two dozen movies.
They included "Home of the Brave," his first, released in 1949; "I Was a Communist for the FBI," "Beachhead," and "Strategic Air Command." On Broadway, he had made his debut in "Judgment Day" in 1934. Among other shows in which he appeared were "Pursuit of Happiness" and "Woman Bites Dog."
Scored First In Radio
Lovejoy won his first success in radio, where he started as an announcer. Through the years he was heard in such dramatic productions as "Gangbusters," "This Is Your FBI," "Mr. District Attorney," "Philo Vance" and "The Kate Smith Hour," all on the National Broadcasting company network. The Columbia Broadcasting System featured him in such shows as "Grand Central Station," "Columbia Workshop" and "This Day Is Ours." Lovejoy was a native of New York City who grew up in Woodridge, J.J., and attended high in Rutherford, N.J. Later his family moved to Clifton, N.J. At 15 he got a job in New York as a Wall Street runner, but the 1929 stock market crash ended that employment. He turned his attention to acting and got his first experience in little theater groups. Lovejoy was married to actress Joan Banks in 1940. They have two children, Judith, 17, and Stephen, 14.
Though probably more widely known for his Film and Television work, Frank Lovejoy spent the greater majority of his performing life in Radio. Over a span of twenty years, Frank Lovejoy appeared in an estimated 3,000 Radio productions during his career. As comfortable in the lead as in supporting roles, Frank Lovejoy possessed one of Radio's most identifiable voices.
The qualities of that voice bear some reflection. Frank Lovejoy showed his versatility over Radio early on. But one of the most fascinating--and enduring--qualities of his performances was his voice. A very unique voice, part raspy, part gravelly, part foreboding when called upon, but invariably sympathetic. Irrespective of the role, Frank Lovejoy's very unique voice instrument was absolutely unmistakeable.
Indeed, Lovejoy's voice was so unmistakeable in Radio that writers were often tasked with devising roles for Lovejoy that were increasingly unsympathetic over the years, simply to provide Lovejoy more variety to his characterizations and more depth to his performances. Ironically, his public wasn't having any of it. No matter the characterization, Lovejoy's growing body of fans found Lovejoy's characterizations sympathetic no matter what role they found him in.
Frank Lovejoy enjoyed equally successful careers in Radio, Television and Film, but given the extraordinary demand for his talent in Radio and Television, it's a tribute to his versatility--and endurance--that he even managed to appear in twenty-four successful feature films during his abbreviated career.
In Radio, cast as one of Radio's earliest superheros, The Blue Beetle, or in a succession of radio noir roles, or in numerous, conflicted supernatural thriller roles, or in the hundreds of his straight dramatic characterizations over twenty years in Radio, Frank Lovejoy soon became a Radio icon. His voice remains one of the ten, most identifiable voices from The Golden Age of Radio.
His Television career very much mirrored his Radio career. With lead roles in several Golden Age of Television programs of the era, Lovejoy also regularly appeared in a succession of Television's most prestigious, playhouse-type drama anthologies of the era. Indeed, there's little question that Lovejoy's Television stardom would have continued on well past the 1960s had he not succumbed to a premature heart-attack in 1962.
For his most ardent fans, The Blue Beetle (1940) and Night Beat (1950) undoubtedly remain his two most remembered roles. For his Television fans, his two series, Man Against Crime (1956) and Meet McGraw (1957) probably remain his most familiar roles. For Lovejoy's Film fans--or perhaps, simply, overall fans--Lovejoy's gift for highly sympathetic, yet brilliantly understated radio noir, film noir and television noir roles remain his greatest media triumphs.
Frank Lovejoy, in spite of some of his more blustery roles, remained one of the entertainment world's most likable personalities. We doubt seriously that that's what Lovejoy intended--in spite of himself. But that sincerity and forthright, transparent delivery endeared him to at least four generations of Radio listeners and Television and Film audiences.
Nor do we expect the number of his fans to stop growing anytime soon.
|Joan Banks Lovejoy
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actress
Birthplace: Petersburg, West Virginia, U.S.A.
1940 Columbia Workshop
1943 Inner Sanctum
1944 Theatre Of Romance
1944 Guy Lombardo and His Musical Autographs
1947 Doorway To Life
1947 The Whistler
1947 Shorty Bell, Cub Reporter
1948 Mary Foster, the Editor's Daughter
1948 The First Nighter Program
1948 Ellery Queen
1948 Lux Radio Theatre
1948 Hallmark Playhouse
1948 My Friend Irma
1949 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 This Is Your FBI
1949 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1949 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1949 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 The Adventures Of Christopher London
1950 Night Beat
1950 The Adventures Of Maisie
1950 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1950 Presenting Charles Boyer
1950 Tales Of the Texas Rangers
1950 Hallmark Playhouse
1950 The Man From Homicide
1950 NBC University Theatre
1950 The Man Called X
1950 The Adventures Of the Saint
1951 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1952 The Silent Men
1953 Bakers' Theater Of Stars
1954 Meet Mr McNutley
1955 Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator
1957 CBS Radio Workshop
1958 Wispering Streets
1965 Theater Five
1974 CBS Radio Mystery Theatre
Joan Banks circa 1947
Joan Banks with hubby Frank Lovejoy their two children and, one presumes, a clown hired for a special occasion.
Joan Banks as Karen Alder in The Case of the Negligent Nymph from Perry Mason circa 1957
Joan Banks as Valerie Brewster in The Case of the Fancy Figures from Perry Mason circa 1958
Joan Banks as Mrs. Manley in The Case of the Mythical Monkeys from Perry Mason circa 1960
Joan Banks as Rhonda Houseman in The Case of the Left-Handed Liar from Perry Mason circa 1961
Joan Lovejoy as Nellie Conway in The Case of the Woeful Mourner from Perry Mason circa 1964
|Born and raised in West Virginia, Joan Banks got her feet wet in broadcast radio early on in her working career. Beginning as early as 1937 with series' as popular as Gang Busters, Joan Banks soon began appearing in all manner of successful Radio programming. Indeed, it was during appearances in Gang Busters that Joan Banks met, and soon after, married busy Radio actor Frank Lovejoy. The two remained married for the remainder of Lovejoy's life.
Joan Banks and Frank Lovejoy appeared often together in Radio, from their early Gang Busters roles to the famous Columbia Workshop, to the highly popular Inner Sanctum and Whister supernatural drama anthologies, the couple remained in demand throughout the Golden Age of Radio.
Equally adept at leading and supporting roles, Joan Banks found herself starring or co-starring in several long-running roles throughout the 1940s. Often cast as the female sidekick, confidante, or love interest, Joan Banks also starred in the successful Mary Foster, the Editor's Daughter (1948).
The remainder of her Radio appearances throughout the mid-1940s and 1950s found her appearing in virtually every popular suspense, detective, crime or mytery genre drama of the waning years of The Golden Age of Radio--an estimated 2,000 appearances in all over a 20-year career.
Joan Banks also found a great deal of work in both early Television and then throughout the Golden Age of Television, appearing in some eighty to one-hundred Television programs of the era. She appeared regularly in Four Star Playhouse (1953), Private Secretary (1954), the various Alfred Hitchcock series', National Velvet (1961), Hazel (1961) and Perry Mason (1957-1964).
After Frank Lovejoy's death in 1962, Joan Banks changed her performing name to Joan Lovejoy for the remainder of her acting career. One of both Radio and Television's most versatile actresses, her range could encompass pouty ingenues to society matrons to scheming secretaries to highly sympathetic enablers--and everything in-between.
Though offered several Film roles, she reportedly turned them down in favor of spending regular time with her family as well as encouraging husband Frank Lovejoy's Film aspirations. But throughout her highly successful Radio, Television and Stage careers Joan Banks proved to be one of the Entertainment world's most prolific and ubiquitous performers.
Joan Lovejoy began to wind down her own Radio and Television careers shortly after the death of Frank Lovejoy, her husband of some twenty-three years. She remained active in Stage productions, coaching drama and enjoying her tight-knit family.
When ABC attempted a Radio drama anthology series in 1965, Theatre Five, Joan Lovejoy soon found herself back in demand over Radio. By the time CBS began airing their own Golden Age Radio mystery drama retrospective, CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, in 1974, Joan Lovejoy again found herself performing in quality Radio drama, appearing some forty times over CBS RMT alone.
By the time Joan Lovejoy reached her seventies, she retired from active Radio and Television, continuing her involvement in Community theater productions and finally enjoying some time of her own. Joan Lovejoy ultimately passed away at the age of 80, in 1998.
Joan Banks remains a favorite artist of thousands of Golden Age of Radio fans throughout the world, for her versatility, her rock-solid voicing, her vivaciousnes, and her successful partnership and marriage to the equally beloved Frank Lovejoy.
With much more of her Television work resurfacing yearly, and with a great deal of her Radio work long in circulation, Joan Banks' fans and admirers keep growing year after year--a well-deserved memorial to one of The Golden Era's most versatile actors.
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