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Strained and Tenderized for Television's family viewing, this edition of Boston Blackie is nonetheless a memorable entry in that Great Registry of Historic TV Series.
Create a successful character in the detective stories line, the pulp magazines or the comics strips or comic books and chances are you'll see it adapted into film or television programming. In some cases, it may happen several times; lasting a long time and possibly even out-living its creator, you. The communications/entertainment media are always looking for ideas to develop into Television, Films and in the old days, Radio.
Over the years, we have had how many different guys in the role of Lord John Greystoke, aka "Tarzan of the Apes." Can you guess? Remember, we're talking 'all' media, not just the movies.
Successful detective, western, adventure or "masked mystery men"characters invite a continuing series, and hence more stories of the adventures of so and so. And the success of characters need not be limited to the 'good guys. For years author Sax Rohmer's pen brought us the tales of the Evil Oriental Mastermind, Dr. Fu Manchu.
So what about this Boston Blackie guy? Who wrote him? Where he come from? The multi-media successful character was created by a former newspaper man, Jack Boyle while he was serving time in the State Pen for embezzlement. The character first got published in a short story in magazine in 1914. Many other stories followed as did the Producers from Hollywood; where, between 1918 and 1927, various studios accounted for 9 films featuring the adventures of "Horatio Black" (Blackie's real name). Various actors essayed the role of Blackie; even Lionel Barrymore did it once.
After a 14 year hiatus, Columbia Pictures initiated a string of 'B' Pictures featuring the adventures of Blackie and his pal/sidekick, 'the Runt. Always around and having Boston Blackie under suspicion, was his foil, Inspector Faraday. The team was Chester Morris as Blackie, George E. Stone as 'the Runt' and Richard Lane as Faraday. They did 14 Blackie films between 1941 and 1949. All of this interest led to 2 Radio series.
And that brings us down to the Television Age. Ziv Television Productions, the king of the syndicators, produced a TV series of BOSTON BLACKIE (1951-53). It starred athletic, likable 'B' Leading Man, Kent Taylor as Blackie; with Lois Collier as girlfriend Mary and Frank Orth as Inspector Faraday. They had a little dog, 'Whitey', I think. (He looked a little like 'Benji').
The half-hour episodes opened with some titles and some opening Ziv Productions-special music, while the Announcer, a dark haired fat guy, said those immortal words, "Boston Blackie; friend of those who have no friends, enemy of those who make him make him their enemy!" The announcer was dressed as a News Vender at his paper stand, and he finishes with: "Yeah, he's Boston Blackie and he's quite a guy!" At shows conclusion, we would be at that same street scene, only this time we'd see Blackie walking back the other way, perhaps symbolic of his being through with that case and being ready for the next case.
One thing that I personally recall is that just about every episode would climax with a foot chase of Blackie pursuing the bad guy. It seemed to always wind up the bad guy climbing up some tower or grain elevator or something, with Blackie in hot pursuit.
And that special Ziv Productions' incidental chase music was always used. And it seems as vivid in my head as it did in the early 1950's. And that's over a half-century, Schultz!
And Ziv Productions did something here with their Blackie TV show that they also did when they brought "THE CISCO KID" (1950-56) to 'The Tube'. Remember, the announcer would say at the openings of a Cisco show: " ..here's O. Henry's famous Robin Hood of the Old West The Cisco Kid!" You see, Cisco was a bandit, an outlaw on wanted posters and all! And Blackie in the stories is a reformed jewel thief, but always under suspicion.
So there is no mention of that in either series. Cisco always acts with the law and Blackie seems to be some kind of Detective. Instead of being at odds with Faraday, the 3 (Mary, Faraday and Mr. Horatio Black, seem to be an inseparable threesome! (Not that kind, Schultz!)
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