The Man Called X — “The Silver Scarab”

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The Man Called X (1944-45, 1946, 1947-48, 1950-52) aired “The Silver Scarab” on June 19, 1947, as the 12th episode of the 78 aired during the 1947-48 run. The only other episode of this program we have showcased was almost a year ago in February of 2019. Estimates are that there were 227 episodes from all years and that only 103 still exist, with 98 coming from the 1947-48 and 1950-52 runs. Well known and highly regarded British actor Herbert Marshall (1890-1966, photo at right) played Ken Thurston, known as the eponymous Man Called X. He was an intelligence agent for the British, much as Brian Donlevy played undercover intelligence operative Steve Mitchell for the Americans in Dangerous Assignment. Marshall would star in all but three or four episodes of what came to be known as his series, and that includes every episode from 1944 through 1952, during which time he could be seen in any number of Hollywood films, appearing in varying roles with stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Fredric March, Tony Curtis, Rex Harrison, and others too numerous to mention. Of genre interest he appeared as Inspector Charas in 1958’s classic SF film The Fly, which starred Vincent Price. Marshall lost his right leg in World War I, and wishing to do his part but unable to fight in WWII, at his own expense he traveled to numerous military hospitals in the United States and encouraged other amputees to remain positive and not think of themselves as handicapped. He would also appear often on the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) as host of the popular war-time program The Globe Theater. From his other war-time projects as well as several films in which he starred, the proceeds went to several war charities. Marshall had not only worked in film since 1927 as both character actor and leading man, but along with his role in The Man Called X would have roles in at least a half dozen other radio programs, and would work in television in his later years, including two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and a recurring role in 77 Sunset Strip (1958-64). For his achievements in all of these media Marshall received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

“The Silver Scarab” finds Ken Thurston in post-WWII Cairo where he must undertake a singularly drastic measure to insure his own immediate survival. Having done so he then quickly finds himself in the midst of murder, the hunt for a deadly international smuggler, and of course a beautiful girl. Who could ask for more from a half hour spy thriller?

Play Time: 26:05

{A hot June day in 1947 found the neighborhood gang at the corner newsstand after an afternoon of playing baseball, eager to take home exciting adventures from a few of their favorite SF magazines. Astounding SF (1930-present, now Analog) took our future scientists and spacemen to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond while posing important questions about humanity’s place in the universe. It was a monthly in 1947. Famous Fantastic Mysteries (1939-53) took its readers on classic SF and Fantasy voyages with reprinted stories from a time when there were no genre magazines as such. It was a bi-monthly in 1947. fantastic Adventures (1939-53) set unfettered imaginations on fire with its colorful excursions to other places and times that only the mind of Man could conceive. It managed 4 bi-monthly issues to begin the year and ended with 4 monthly issues to close out 1947.]

[Left: Astounding, June 1947 – Center: Famous Fantastic Mysteries, June 1947 – Right: fantastic Adventures, May 1947]


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