The Tarzan-like character Kioga, concerning the adventures of a young man, orphaned-and-marooned on a semi-tropical island north of the Artic Circle,was the creation of William Lester Chester. In a contract dated December 18th, 1934, the McCall Publishing Company bought "Hawk of the Wilderness," for a seven-part serialization in their "Blue Book" magazine in 1935 between April and October. The story was then published in a 33-chapter, 308 page hard-cover book by Harper and Brothers in 1936. Chester then begin turning out "Kioga" novellas on an annual basis for "Blue Book", beginning with "Kioga of the Wilderness" in seven issues between April and October of 1936. The next sequel ran between March and August of 1937 in six disassociated short stories under an umbrella title of "One Against a Wilderness." Chester returned to the magazine-serial format in 1938 (March through August) under the title of "Kioga of the Unknown Land." Following the four "Kioga" stories, Chester abandoned his writing career with the advent of World War II.
On June 24, 1936 Chester's agent notified Republic Pictures Corporation that Chester had agreed to sell the original story for $1000, provided the Harper book was displayed on-screen for publicity purposes.The dust-cover of the book is shown on the second page of the credits behind a credit line that reads: "Based Upon the Book of the Same Name by William L. Chester." The final agreement, was signed by Chester and Republic's President, Nat Levine. The contract licensed production by Republic of one photoplay, either a serial or a feature, in addition to granting feature-version rights if made into a serial, and television rights.
The project then went into limbo for ten months before Republic turned it over it a succession of script writers. Reggie Callow drafted a treatment between May 18 and June 1, 1937, which was followed by work by Sol Shor between October 18 and November 27,1937. Rex Taylor, Barry Shipman, and Norman Hall, the only writers credited on the film, for Original Screen Play, wrapped it up between May 31 and September 14, 1938.
"Hawk of the Wilderness" was the only serial of Republic's first 34 that did not utilize first-chapter optical credits for the actors. It was also the last Republic serial to carry all of the cast credits on each chapter until the practice was reinstated seven years and 23 serials later with "Federal Operator 99." And, instead of the usual two-cards for cast credits, the studio stacked the names of eleven players and one dog (Tuffie)on a single card, with no opticals or role names shown. The no-role names applied only to the film credits, which explains why those who don't have access to the original press book or the company call-sheets, keep incorrectly changing the roles (as heard in the film and seen on the paper records)to whatever they "think" they heard. The only time role names appear on this film is on the re-cap cards at the beginning of the last eleven episodes and, then, only for a few of the main players. Which is why characters such as Patrick J. Kelly's "William Williams, also known as Bill-Bill" keeps getting incorrectly "corrected" to just "Bill-Bill." The Consolidated people who prepared the cast-card misspelled the name of the dog, Tuffie, as Tuffy, and this did not please the dog's owner, trainer and handler, Ger Overdalh. But that was offset by the "dog's" $250-a-week salary, which was more than the majority of the cast was paid. Tuffie's female counterpart, Tippie, doubled for the credited star.
Bruce Bennett (Herman Brix)died on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007, age 100.
Data on here, which will eventually find its way to Trivia by some contributor, came from biographical material on William L. Chester; "Valley of the Cliffhangers" by the late-and-great Jack Mathis; and this author's research and collection of Republic material.
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