Brad Runyon

Created by Dashiell Hammett

"He's walking into that drugstore...he's stepping onto the scales...(SNICK! CLICK!) Weight: 237 pounds...Fortune: Danger! Whoooo is it? The...Fat Man!"

-- the intro to the radio show

That's BRAD RUNYON, played to perfection by the subterranean bass-voiced J. Scott Smart, who actually outweighed his character by over thirty pounds. Dashiel Hammett supposedly created Brad Runyon, the Fat Man, specifically for radio and even wrote a few scripts to help "set" the series. Certainly, the influence is obviously there -- Runyon, known as "The Fat Man," was a tough, at times world-weary private eye, very much cast in the mold of Hammett's Continental Op. He worked out of an office manned by the obligatory secretary, in this case Lila North.

Evidently, there was also an Australian version of this show, which was broadcast in the 1940's, which didn't star J. Scott Smart. The quest continues....

And in 1951, there was a film, simply entitled The Fat Man, starring Smart, along with Jayne Meadows, a very young Rock Hudson and circus clown Emmett Kelly, wherein the investigation of a dentist's murder leads Runyon to a circus showdown.

Hammett is, of course, best known for creating Sam Spade, the archetypical private detective in The Maltese Falcon, and Nick and Nora Charles, the husband and wife sleuths from the Thin Man movies.

It's not quite clear, though, just how much Hammett helped "develop" the series, or whether he simply lent his name to the proceedings, for a cut of the take. He confessed, in the Martha's Vineyard Gazette of September 6, 1949, that "My sole duty in regard to these programs (presumably he was also referring to The Thin Man and Sam Spade series) is to look in the mail for a check once a week. I don't even listen to them. If I did, I'd complain about how they were being handled, and then I'd fall into the trap of being asked to come down and help. I don't want to have anything to do with the radio. It's a dizzy world--makes the movies seem highly intellectual."


  • "Being a really old guy, I saw The Fat Man film when it first came out. I was already a big fan of the radio program, which also starred J. Scott Smart as Brad Runyon. I have to admit that the movie's no classic, but it's worth watching just for the curiosity value. William Castle, of course, went on to become more famous for his publicity stunts than for his directing, but he was good at crime movies. And besides J. Scott Smart, the movie stars Rock Hudson in one of his earliest roles, along with Emmett Kelly and Julie London (!)."

-- Bill Crider, from Rara-Avis

  • "To put the finishing touch to The Fat Man, a TV pilot was made in 1966 titled The Fat Man: The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli. The writers were Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts who were, I think, connected to both Mannix and Mission Impossible. Show was hour-long, black and white, with Robert Middleton in the lead. This "Fat Man" was a private detective named Lucius Crane, a harpsichord-playing gourmet with a thin fast talking young assistant. It seemed to combine the Fat Man radio show with elements of Nero Wolfe. Show was competently made and Middleton was able to be both tough and effete. No mention of Hammett, though."

-- Dick Lochte, from Rara-Avis


    (1946-50, ABC)
    Based on a character created by Dashiell Hammett
    Writers: Dashiell Hammett, Robert Sloane, Dan Shuffman, Frank Kane
    Directed by Clark Andrews, Charles Powers
    Starring J. Scott Smart as BRAD RUNYON
    Also starring Mary Patton as Lila North
    With Ed Begley as Sergeant O'Hara
    Also starring Dan Ocko, Rolly Bester, Robert Dryden

  • "The Nineteenth Pearl" (January 21, 1946)
  • "The Black Angel" (November 26, 1946)
  • "A Window for Murder" (October 3, 1947)
  • "Murder Wins the Draw" (April 1, 1949)
  • "Murder Plays Hide and Seek"
  • "Order for Murder" (1950)
  • "The Nightmare Murder" (January 17, 1951)

    (1940's, Australia)
    Based on a character created by Dashiell Hammett
    Writers: Unknown
    Directors: Unknown
    Starring Unknown as BRAD RUNYON

  • "Murder Plays the Horses"
  • "Murder Runs a Want Ad"


    (1951, Universal)
    77 minutes, black and white
    Based on a character created by Dashiell Hammett
    Screenplay by Harry Essex and Leonard Lee
    Story by Leonard Lee
    Directed by William Castle
    Cinematography by Irving Glassberg
    Original music by Bernard Green
    Produced by Aubrey Schenck
    Starring J. Scott Smart as BRAD RUNYON
    Also starring Julie London, Rock Hudson, Clinton Sundberg, Jayne Meadows, John Russell, Jerome Cowan, Emmett Kelly, Lucille Barkley, Robert Osterloh, Harry Lewis, Teddy Hart

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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