The Man Called X — “The Throne of Tay-Ninh”

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The Man Called X (1944-45, 1946, 1947-48, 1950-52) aired “The Throne of Tay-Ninh” on September 4, 1947, as the 22nd episode of the 78 aired during the 1947-48 run. 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 Throne of Tay-Ninh” takes us to Indochina where a plane full of anthropologists has gone down over the 1,000 mile oversea journey from Manila to Singapore on their way to study the fabled throne of Tay-Ninh, believed to be encrusted with $2,000,000 worth of precious gems, and our man Thurston has been dispatched to discover their whereabouts (if indeed they have not drowned in the plane crash over the ocean), for there are rumors that they may be alive and at the mercy of cutthroats also after the fortune in stones. But as one might expect, all is not quite as it seems and there’s the rub. So sit back and have a listen to the suave, debonair Herbert Marshall as the Man Called X in the adventure of  “The Throne of Tay-Ninh.”

Play Time: 25:20

       {The end of summer vacation had so discombobulated the neigborhood gang that although they’d already just bought that month’s magazines, they found themselves back at the corner newsstand searching for more. Action Stories (1921-1950) was a multi-genre pulp which said variety no doubt contributed to its longevity. While running all manner of stories set in different genres, the western tale seemed to be its bread and butter. It even had a western female “superhero” character named Senorita Scorpion with her own series of stories. She was decked out in a red full-body skin suit replete with black eye mask to complete her disguise. Action Stories was a quarterly in 1947. Famous Fantastic Mysteries (1939-1953) was devoted to reprinting classic genre fare within its pages, and there was a hungry market for it. The incomparable Virgil Finlay was the magazine’s primary artist and you can spot his signature in the lower right corner of this issue’s cover. The magazine was a bi-monthly in 1947. The Phantom Detective (1933-1953) combined the charm of a superhero pulp with the adventure and danger of a crime or detective pulp to attract its young audience, which it apparently did quite well, for it continued to publish for 20 years, surviving through the toughest years of the Great Depression and then World War II, which was enough to kill off any number of its competitors. It too was a bi-monthly in 1947.}

[Left: Action Stories, Fall ’47 – Center: Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Aug. ’47 – Right: The Phantom Detective, Sept. ’47]


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