Hall of Fantasy -- "The Man in Black"

Saturday, 15 April 2017 15:00 Dave Truesdale

Hall of Fantasy aired "The Man in Black" several times, its first broadcast coming on December 11, 1950. The show had its origins in Salt Lake City, UT where it ran from 1946-47. After a hiatus in 1948 it was picked up and went national through the Mutual Network in Chicago and station WGN from 1949-52 as more of a pure supernatural thriller show, switching from its original murder/mystery format in its earlier incarnation. The network would run rebroadcasts from 1953-54. This particular show proved one of the more popular and was rebroadcast twice through 1954, the year of the show's eventual (rebroadcast) demise. Of the estimated 200 shows, collectors have found (to this date) only 47 to have survived.

The story opens with two friends walking in a park when they are approached by a frantic woman searching for a man in black, a name she keeps repeating. Murdered shortly after, the two men embark on a quest to find this enigmatic man in black, a search that takes them on a dark and frightening journey. The final scene proves to be a satisfying payoff, and well executed. Like all of the original scripts, it was written by the show's talented creator and producer Richard Thorne (1925-2007, photo top right). With only 47 episodes available, it is unfortunate that many of the original broadcasts are now "lost." The following episode is the first of two rebroadcasts of "The Man in Black" which aired in 1953 and again in 1954. This rebroadcast is from July 6, 1953.

Of interest, and for a perspective to real world events, exactly three weeks from the broadcast of this episode the Korean War would come to an end, with an armistice signed on July 27, 1953. And on the homefront and a few months later, the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers would do battle in the World Series. The Series took place from September 30-October 5, with the Yankees taking home the championship trophy 4 games to 2.

Play Time: 24:00

{After playing baseball all day at the vacant lot turned local ball field on a hot July day in 1953, our neighborhood sluggers still had enough energy to end up at the corner drugstore for a cold cherry fountain coke before scanning the magazine racks. Always popular was Astounding (1930-present, now Analog, the longest-running, still publishing magazine in SF history), which again saw its monthly schedule unbroken. fantastic was the new kid on the block, its debut issue hitting the stands in 1952. From 1958 through mid-1965 it was a monthly, closing its doors after a healthy run in 1980. In 1953 it was a bi-monthly. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) made its first appearance with the Fall 1949 issue. By 1953 it was a full-fledged monthly magazine and still runs strong to this day, though it went to a bi-monthly schedule in 2009. It has the distinction of being the second longest-running, still publishing magazine in SF history, behind only Astounding/Analog, which, by the way, went from its monthly schedule (with two double issues every year--Jan/Feb & Jul/Aug--to make ten actual issues) to 6 double-sized issues a year and a true bi-monthly schedule in January of 2017.}

[Left: Astounding SF, July 1953 - Center: Fantastic, July/August 1953 - Right: F&SF. July 1953]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.