When Dashiell Hammett’s The Adventures of Sam Spade made its debut over CBS in August of 1946, personable Howard Duff, a comparative unknown in Hollywood circles, was assigned the title role. The selection of young Duff for the hard-hitting detective was perfect casting, his success was immediate, and Hollywood began predicting important things to come for this new personality. Almost immediately the radio program became popular earning a steady weekly following of radio listeners who tuned in each week to enjoy the mysteries (occasionally adapted from Hammett short stories). The enormous success of the Sam Spade radio program spawned a series of comic strips, magazine articles and radio cross-overs, not to mention numerous radio programs attempting to cash in on the Sam Spade craze by offering Sam Spade imitators. By 1948, the threat of communism and Hammett’s leanings were starting take its toll on the radio program. Bob Tallman and Gil Doud, the major script writers for the series, walked away from mental fatigue. The network wanted Hammett’s name removed from the program. Duff’s name appeared in the notorious “Red Channels” publication. Ultimately, the series was doomed. This book documents the entire history of the radio program, including all spin-offs, spoofs, Spade cross-overs, a complete episode guide for each and every radio broadcast with lengthy plot descriptions and trivia, an unused radio script is reprinted, and much more.





* In 2010, Jay Hickerson’s Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming reported on 65 of the 245 radio broadcasts exist in recorded form!

* In the mid-forties, a newspaper comic strip appeared in select newspapers as an adaptation of the radio program. The likeness of Lurene Tuttle and Howard Duff are evident in the artwork!

* When producer-director William Spier began a new mystery on the evening of September 24, 1950, Charlie Wild, Private Detective, Howard Duff appeared in the premiere episode in the character of Sam Spade.

* When Howard Duff’s name was listed among the opening credits of Brute Force (1947), he was listed as radio’s Sam Spade in the credits. Later, in an episode of the radio program, Sam Spade took time to watch a showing of Brute Force!


“I wish more of the early episodes existed in recorded form. After reading all 240 plus radio scripts, I can state that the early years were the best. Odd note courtesy of hind-sight: many radio producers began creating their own private detectives after the success of The Adventures of Sam Spade. None could compare. I mean, look at it this way. Spade hitched rides on the back of trolley cars. He slept with married women. When a man was shot dead outside his office, Spade not only checked the wallet and driver’s license to identify the dead man, he pocketed the money as well. No one else did that on radio. But when Tallman and Doud left the series after the first three years, the script writers who replaced them were already established with scripting other detective programs. The Sam Spade program ultimately became an imitation of the shows that were trying to imitate Sam Spade. The series ultimately declined because it was becoming an imitation of itself. There’s a case in point where the show ultimately collapsed because it was too successful.”
— Martin Grams, April 2010


ISBN: 978-0970331076
Suggested Retail Price: $19.95