The Shadow — “Gun Island”

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“What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

The Shadow (1937-54) aired “Gun Island” on October 23, 1938. Bill Johnstone (1908-1996) is now the voice of the Shadow, having taken over when Orson Welles–after being the original voice of the Shadow for its first year–left the show on September 18, 1938. Johnstone would enjoy a long and popular run as the Shadow (1938-43), and while the original Margot Lane as voiced by Agnes Moorehead would eventually follow Welles’ lead and depart the show to become a member of Welles’ Mercury Theater, at this point she was still the familiar voice of the Shadow’s companion and confidant Margot Lane.

“Gun Island” finds Lamont Cranston/the Shadow and Margot on a Caribbean cruise when their ship, attempting to aid another ship aflame and sinking, is instead taken captive by bloodthirsty, murderous pirates, and along with the captain and crew of their ship are taken to the secret island lair of the pirates. What they discover on this island beggars belief, and soon involves the Shadow, for the pirates are the least of their worries as a much larger threat–to the United States–soon becomes apparent, and must be stopped at all costs! In the meantime, the pirates are killing screaming hostages one by one and time is growing short. To find out the dark menace hiding within the bowels of this secret island not far from the coast of the southern United States, give a listen to “Gun Island.” And remember, this episode aired in October of 1938. For those wishing to learn more of the history of the Shadow on radio, and where it departs from the earlier magazine stories (the magazine debuted on April 1, 1931), we provide a thumbnail history here.

“The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.” –The Shadow

(The Shadow cover above left, October 15, 1938 – Photo above right, Bill Johnstone 1941)

Play Time: 29:41

{A week before Halloween of 1938 found the neighborhood ghouls and goblins haunting the local newsstand for a jolt of their favorite twisted reading material, and they weren’t disappointed. Astounding Science Fiction was as usual holding to its monthly schedule. Horror Stories was solid with its bi-monthly schedule, and new magazine Marvel Stories would further crowd the shelves with its second issue, with a cover date of November (though between its August 1938 debut and its demise in 1952–fourteen years–it would publish but a scant 15 issues, the last having a cover date of May 1952}.

[Left: Astounding, Oct. 1938 – Center: Horror Stories, Oct/Nov 1938 – Right: Marvel Science Stories, Nov. 1938]


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