Broadway is My Beat

Times Square New York 1949


Broadway Is My Beat
, was a dark, gritty radio drama that began airing 62 years ago today on CBS, debuting 27 February 1949. The series revolved around Times Square homicide detective Danny Clover.

NEW YORK ERA

anthony rossWhen the program debuted, it was produced in New York City. Clover was portrayed by actor Anthony Ross, a New York native and veteran of film and stage. His greatest exposure came playing the role of the Gentleman Caller in the 1944 original run of Tennessee WilliamsThe Glass Menagerie.

The series’ theme song was an instrumental rendition of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart‘s “Manhattan” and it was scored by Robert Stringer, a Nebraska-born composer who primarily wrote stock music for B-films, nearly always uncredited.

It featured scripts by Wisconsin-born (and later blacklisted) Peter Lyon, production by Lester Gottlieb, direction (and later production) by direction by Casey, Crime Photographer‘s John Dietz. Bern Bennet was the original announcer.

HOLLYWOOD ERA

Beginning on 7 July 1949, with the thirteenth episode, the series was broadcast from CBS’s HollywoodLarry Thor of Broadway is My Beat production facilities. Elliot Lewis, later known as “Mr. Radio” for his long string of successes, took over direction, his first effort in that role. The Manhattan native was a stickler for realism and was quoted as saying, “You should hear the city constantly… even the people in New York are noisy.”

New scripts were written by Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin, the same writing team behind another great (and underrated) program, Crime Classics. Though the restrictions of a thirty minute format necessitated a certain degree formula in the plots, the narration was pure, hardboiled poetry. The episodes invariably ended with the solution of a murder mystery and a denouement occurring in the pre-dawn hours with Clover reflecting poetically and cynically about his beat.

Wilbur Hatch and Alexander Courage (names known to Trekkies) provided the music, Joe Walters served as the new announcer and David Light, Ralph Cummings and Ross Murray provided the rich tapestry of sound effects.

Ross’s replacement was Larry Thor, a Canadian actor with a great voice who’d previously served as announcer on CBS’s The Green Lama and The Adventures of Rocky Jordan. He remained in the role until the series’ end on August 1, 1954, 212 episodes later. After the end of Broadway is My Beat he had a long career on television, frequently playing cops. He died March 16, 1976 (aged 59) in Santa Monica.


Left To Right – Wally Maher (Sgt. Matt Grebb) and Bill Johnstone (Lt. Ben Guthrie) of The Line-Up; Edmond O’Brien of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; Charles Calvert (Sgt. Tartaglia) and Larry Thor (Danny Clover) of Broadway Is My Beat; and Ben Wright (Inspector Black) and Raymond Lawrence (Sgt. Moffett) of Pursuit.

Each episode began with detective Clover introducing himself and describing his beat thusly, “from Times Square to Columbus Circle — the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world.” Supporting characters included Sgt. Gino Tartaglia (played by Charles Calvert) and Sgt. Muggavan (Jack Kruschen). Frequently featured actors Anthony Barrett, Barney Phillips, Betty Lou Gerson, Edgar Barrier, Harry Bartell, Herb Ellis, Hy Averback, Irene Tedrow, Lamont Johnson, Lawrence Dobkin, Martha Wentworth, Mary Jane Croft and Sheldon Leonard.

Broadway is My Beat is available on CDs, digital audio files and on OTR internet radio stations including AM 1710 and Audio Noir.

*****

Since I wrote this, Kristjan Thor, Larry Thor’s granddaughter has written me. She informed me that Thor also released an album of children’s music called Galloping on my dinosaur and other fun songs for children. Click on the title to check out a page of mp3s and wav files ripped from vinyl.

*****

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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