"He's a man's man, but the ladies, too, go for Charlie Wild, Private Eye. Follow him into adventure."
-- TV promo
CHARLIE WILD was a P.I. with a rather unique creation. He was basically called in -- QUICKLY! -- as a sub for Dashiell Hammett's SAM SPADE.
After years of success, first in the pages of Black Mask, then in the novel The Maltese Falcon, and finally in the classic film version by John Huston, Mrs. Spade's son Sam found himself a home on the airwaves from 1946 through 1950, in the popular The Adventures of Sam Spade radio drama starring Howard Duff.
Then came the Red Scare of the 1950', and both Hammett and Duff were named in "Red Channels."
Spade's sponsor, Wildroot Cream Oil, panicked, and yanked the show off the air, rushing to come up with a replacement.
Thus The Adventures of Sam Spade became Charlie Wild, Private Detective, premiering ion September 24 1950 on NBC. The character took his name from the lyrics of Wildroot's advertising jingle, "Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie."
The show premiered on September 24th, 1950 on the NBC network, exactly one week afteri the last episode of Sam Spade had aired, taking over its timeslot.
Wild was the typical PI, and like his pulp ancestors, chased beautiful dames, hated chiselers, and got involved in a slugfest every episode. He was first played by George Petrie and later by Kevin O'Morrison, before being taken over in the show's last few months by John McQuade. Strangely enough, Wild's secretary was also Effie Perrine, who had been Spade's secretary. The identity of who played her radio role is unknown. It's difficult to assess the quality of the short-lived show because no audio copies have survived.
The show lasted long enough, however, to spawn a live TV version, The Affairs of Charlie Wild, with Morrison in the title lead, and Cloris Leachman as Effie. Charlie was now a New York private eye, who still managed to get in a fist fight or a shootout in almost every episode, while still finding time time to squeeze in periodic commercials for the sponsor. The show ran from December 1950 to June 1952, and skipped merrily from network to network (CBS to ABC to Dumont) in its short run.
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