Rocky Jordan — “Dr. Markoff’s Discovery”

Rocky Jordan (1948-1950) aired “Dr. Markoff’s Discovery” on August 27, 1950 as the 95th of its 97 episodes. This is the 11th Rocky Jordan episode we have showcased since 2011, only the second since July of 2019, and the first since April of this year (2020).

Borrowed from a previous introduction for the benefit of new listeners unfamiliar with the Rocky Jordan program, here are the basics of the show’s background. Rocky Jordan ran from October 21, 1948 through September 5, 1950 and starred Jack Moyles as Rocky Jordan. There were several iterations of the show, the first of which aired in 1945 under the title A Man Named Jordan. Only two episodes of this early precursor are known to still exist. This version was set in Istanbul, Turkey but was otherwise the same as its successor. An attempt to revive the series with famed Hollywood actor George Raft aired for one season from 1950-51. A couple of half-hearted attempts were made at further revivals in 1955 and ’57, but none of these fifteen-minute episodes survives.

Rocky Jordan was modeled on the classic, much revered movie Casablanca, which premiered in New York on November 26, 1942 and then in general release on January 23, 1943. Casablanca starred Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, the American exile who ran Rick’s Cafe Americain in Casablanca, Morocco, an unallied country during world War II located in northwest Africa and bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Rocky Jordan is set in Cairo, Egypt, in northeast Africa, said country also bordering the Mediterranean. Rocky calls St. Louis home (but was chased abroad by his enemies), whereas Rick hailed from New York; both are intimated to have shady pasts. The counterpart to Rick’s Cafe Americain is Rocky Jordan’s Cafe Tambourine, not far from the “mosque Sultan Hassan,” (photo top right) where Rocky finds himself routinely involved with “crime, mystery, and beautiful women.” Much like Rick’s Cafe Americain which is set during WW II, Jordan’s Cafe Tambourine, while set a few short years following the war, is a magnet for all ethnicities and types, from the respectable to the rogue.

As you might imagine, Rocky seems always to find himself at the center of trouble. Egyptian-Muslim police Captain Sam Sabaaya (married with four children) plays it straight and by the book but helps Rocky when he can, while Sabaaya’s Sergeant Greco dislikes Jordan and attempts to pin every mishap and crime on the part-time detective and foreigner.

The writers always strove for authenticity in Rocky’s adventures, researching names of streets and places for accuracy, and the show’s producers even hired an Egyptian writer/consultant in later episodes for further accuracy of detail in regard to the locales and various cultures, Cairo being a centuries-long crossroads and melting pot of the Middle East.

As many of the show’s episodes do, “Dr. Markoff’s Discovery” opens with a scene at Rocky’s Café Tambourine. This time it is a beautiful woman from Rocky’s past who rushes in, pushes a large manila envelope into his hands, and with desperation in her voice asks to use the telephone in the back room. She disappears, thus setting in motion a series of events that once again find Rocky in the middle of trouble, not with Sam Sabaaya this time, but with a Colonel in the Istanbul police. Rocky soon discovers that the large manila envelope to which he was entrusted holds seemingly unremarkable x-rays of what appears to his untrained eye to be a man’s stomach. But what makes them so valuable that an official from the Istanbul police has traveled all the way to Cairo to uncover their secret, why are they worth murdering for, how did they come into possession of the woman who has now disappeared, and how can Rocky possibly get to the bottom of the mystery without being killed himself? Only by listening to “Dr. Markoff’s Discovery” until the very end with its rousing conclusion will the answers be revealed!

Play Time: 29:48

{Having purchased all of their SF and Fantasy pulps for the month, the neighborhood gang hardly needed an excuse to visit the corner newsstand to pick up a small stack of their second favorite pulp genre magazines. Famous Detective Stories (1950-56) was but one of 8 different title changes of this detective magazine that ran, overall, from 1938-1957. In 1950, its first year with this new title, it managed 5 issues. F.B.I. Detective Stories (1949-51) ran for a modest 14 issues before the publishers figured out that major interest in the FBI had waned from previous decades when it was more popular in film and book. It was a bi-monthly throughout its short life. 15 Mystery Stories (1950), like Famous Detective Stories, began under a different title, and by the time its name had changed twice became its current (and final) title for only 5 issues in 1950 before closing shop once and for all. All told, and under 3 different titles, it ran from 1932-1950.]

[Left: Famous Detective, Aug. 1950 – Center: F.B.I. Detective, Aug. 1950 – Right: 15 Mystery, Aug. 1950]


To view the entire list of Old Time Radio episodes go here.