HESE PAST FEW WEEKS, I’ve been wrestling with the age-old question, “How does one fit 20 boxes of books, three bookshelves, an audio/video suite, a large air exchanger, a men’s mountain bike, and a medieval arsenal into an office measuring 8 ft by 8 ft?” The teeter piles threatening to engulf me (and possibly impale me) any moment require my next posts to possess a certain urgency….
This next week, I’m doing something a little different on this blog. While my dead-tree Sherlockian library pales by most (just two of the aforementioned bookshelves), I do have quite a hefty audio library, mostly digital nowadays. I have to re-catalogue my collection fairly soon, but my recordings –including radio plays, audio books, interviews, and the like– number well over a thousand. For the next few days, I’m going to provide downloads of some of the more rare and unusual files, along with short introductions and source notes, whenever possible.
First, a note about copyrights. Most collectors of Old Time Radio shows (known simply as OTR) follow a general rule of thumb: shows publicly aired before 1978 are generally considered to be in the public domain, especially in the United States, as there was no copyright protection issued for such broadcasts under the then-extant copyright laws of 1909. The Berne Convention, which took effect January 1, 1978, officially accorded these rights to radio broadcasts, and retroactively accorded certain limited rights to recordings made within the five years previous, but only if official application was made, which was very rare. (It was not possible to make works in the public domain copyrighted ex-post-facto.) Now, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on television, so I’m walking this well-worn path, which is allegedly in accord with the staff of the U.S. Library of Congress. (For more information about OTR copyrights, please see the information on the RadioLovers.com copyright page.) Many other recordings (that weren’t publicly broadcast) have fallen into the public domain because there was never an application for copyright, the copyright has expired, or the copyright was never renewed. If you or your organisation have any copyright claim to the materials I present here, please contact me and I’ll rectify the situation and give due notice.
Today, we have a true rarity, and what’s more, a blazing example of terrible OTR. It took me a few years to find the two episodes I know to exist, and once I finally found them, I chalked the effort up to completionist obsession. Wrote the radio expert Jack French, in an essay on Lady Crimefighters:
During World War II no more women sleuths arrived on the scene but 1946 was a banner year when three new ones debuted on network radio. One was as much comedienne as crime solver, Meet Miss Sherlock. This was a CBS summer sustainer that recounted the adventures of Jane Sherlock, a scatterbrained amateur detective, and her boyfriend, Peter Blossom, a civil attorney who occasionally fainted.
There were two separate versions of this show; the first ran from July 3, 1946 to September 26, 1946 while the second one ran from Sept 28, 1947 to Oct 26, 1947. Both series were produced and directed by David Vaile, with scripts by E. Jack Neuman and Don Thompson. The announcer was Murray Wagner and the live orchestra was headed by Milton Charles. Sondra Gair had the title lead in the 1946 version, Captain Dingle of the NYPD was a youthful Bill Conrad and Joe Petruzzi played Peter Blossom.
When the series resumed in the fall of 1947, Betty Moran did the first epiosde but her voice was not “dithery” enough so Monty Margetts was brought in and she played the lead until it went off the air two months later. Barney Phillips was the voice of Captain Dingle. This series was more comedy than adventure, although crimes were eventually solved. Only two episodes have survived; both feature Gair in the 1946 version.
The scripts are insipid, the acting mundane, the jokes lousy, and the political incorrectness worthy of a good burning in effigy. Still, I did promise you some unusual recordings. I promise that tomorrow’s entry will be less likely to affront your sensibilities. (It shouldn’t be that difficult.)
Download: Meet Miss Sherlock - Case of the Deadman’s Chest (MP3, 6.9 MB), originally aired July 7th, 1946