All of the major radio networks were having terrific success with the “Hard-boiled” detective genre in the late 1940s. The public never seemed to get enough of characters like Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, Johnny Dollar, Harry Lime or Michael Shane. Roommates Jack Webb and Richard Breen enjoyed a rather successful collaboration at ABC’s San Francisco affiliate, KGO. Together they had explored a number of genres, including political commentary (One Out of Seven) and comedy/variety (The Jack Webb Show), but by far their most successful effort was the hard boiled Pat Novak for Hire. When Breen had a falling out with station managers over creative issues, the pair decided to seek greener pastures in sunny Los Angeles.
One of their first L.A. efforts was Johnny Madero, Pier 23, which was given a green light by the Don Lee/Mutual Network and aired nationwide on Thursday nights, beginning on April 24, 1947. The program brought Webb national recognition, but there was a snag. To say that the Hard-boiled genre was formulaic is more than a little understated. In most, the hero is employed by someone who strikes a sympathetic chord, the hero begins investigating the problem and runs across a body, the featured cop wants to run the hero in for the murder, the hero takes a few punches and delivers a few of his own, and finally wraps up the mystery before the cops have a clue before walking into the sunset with a pithy and ironic bit of dialog.
Johnny Madero followed the formula as well as any other, but it was a little too similar to Pat Novak for Hire. Pat Novak was headquartered in a boat shop on Pier 19 on the San Francisco waterfront, but would work for almost anyone who would hire him. Johnny Madero would work for almost anyone willing to hire him, but his primary job was running a boat shop on the San Francisco waterfront at Pier 23. Pat Novak had frequent run-ins with San Francisco Inspector Hellman (played by the somewhat rotund Raymond Burr) who usually thought Novak was responsible for the murder to come across his desk. San , Madero was the most likely suspect in whatever murder he was working on. At some point in each episode, Pat Novak consulted with his mentor and conscience, Jocko Madigan, a booze addled former doctor. As originally presented, Johnny Madero had a mentor named Dipso who was world-wise older drunk.
ABC had a pretty good case for a plagiarism suit. Mutual got rid of Dipso, and replaced the character with waterfront priest, Father Leahy played by Gale Gordon. The program still proved popular enough that ABC made an effort to bring Webb back when the made the decision to take Pat Novak nationwide. However, CBS got to Webb first and signed him for Jeff Regan, Investigator. Click here to read more about Johnny Madero
- Radio Shows
Please enjoy these 2 old time radio episodes:
|06.19.1947||pete sutro case||
+ Johnny Madero, Pier 23. June 19, 1947. Johnny is a waterfront character who gets involved with s...
|06.26.1947||johnny madero, pier 23 (10) fatal auction||
+ Johnny Madero, Pier 23. June 26, 1947. The waterfront character with a nose for trouble. A saxo...