Discussion started by Station Manager , on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 04:10
Nero Wolfe, the fictional detective genius created in 1934 by Rex Stout, has been portrayed in four radio drama series on five different networks.
The Adventures of Nero Wolfe (ABC)
1943–1944, 30 minutes
Three actors portrayed Nero Wolfe over the course of the series. J.B. Williams starred in its first incarnation, broadcast Wednesdays on the New England Network (April 7–June 30, 1943). Santos Ortega assumed the role when the suspense drama moved to ABC on Mondays (July 5–September 27, 1943) and Fridays (January 21–July 14, 1944). Luis Van Rooten succeeded Ortega in 1944, Nero Wolfe's last year on ABC.
"Santos Ortega played Wolfe," wrote John McAleer in Rex Stout: A Biography. "John Gibson was Archie. Gibson was breezy and Ortega wheezy — indeed, he opened the program with a wheeze, as his signature... Rex thought the actors were creditable but winced at the plots. He never listened to the broadcasts... Louis Vittes was the chief scriptwriter and wrote most of the scripts. None of Rex's story material was used. All characters beside Wolfe, Archie and Cramer were ABC's own. For the use of Wolfe and Archie, Rex received a weekly royalty.
"Differences between (ABC producer) Hi Brown and Edwin Fadiman, who represented Rex's radio, screen and television interests, as Nero Wolfe Attractions, Inc., prevented its later resumption on ABC," McAleer reported. "This fact Brown regretted. 'Nero Wolfe,' Brown says, 'is one of the strongest and most successful detective characters in all of fiction.'"
The Amazing Nero Wolfe (MBS)
1946, 30 minutes
"The series next surfaced early in 1946, on Sundays, on the Mutual Network," wrote Stout biographer John McAleer, "with Francis X. Bushman, one-time movie idol, as Wolfe, and Elliott Lewis as Archie. ... The scripts once again were network originals. The humor verged on slapstick." The concluding show in the series, "The Case of the Shakespeare Folio," aired December 15, 1946.
The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (NBC)
1950–1951, 30 minutes
Sydney Greenstreet starred as Nero Wolfe. "Rex thought Greenstreet a splendid choice for the role and Greenstreet did, in fact, fill every reasonable expectation," wrote Stout biographer John McAleer."The wryness of Wolfe, for which Archie's drollery is a whetsone, was not felt in the Ortega or Bushman interpretations. Greenstreet caught it." A succession of Archies included Gerald Mohr, Herb Ellis, Lawrence Dobkin, Harry Bartell, Lamont Johnson and Wally Maher. William Johnstone was heard semi-regularly as Inspector Cramer.