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The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective

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Sam Spade

Sam Spade, one of the most popular detectives in the Golden Age of radio, was a truly likeable character who could mix murder with mirth. Even the titles of shows in the five year-long series were intriguing (“The Hot 100 Grand Caper”) and sometimes amusing (“The Flopsy Mopsy Cottontail Caper” that put him at a masquerade party in a bunny costume to protect valuable jewelry). Every show opened with Sam’s voice dictating the beginning of a case report to his sweetly naïve secretary Effie, and then the action began.

Sam Spade’s name first appeared in a 1929 novel, The Maltese Falcon, by master mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. The rugged, street-wise detective reappeared in the 1941 film version with Humphrey Bogart, and in July, 1946, actor Howard Duff brought the hard-boiled sleuth with a sense of humor to life again, this time on radio. In 1950, Duff’s name appeared in the publication “Red Channels,” a designation one step removed from being blacklisted during the nation’s infamous witch-hunt years, when hundreds in the entertainment industry were accused of being Communists or Communist sympathizers. Hammett was among the blacklisted, and Duff was likely a victim of guilt by association. He was not invited to return to play Sam Spade, and actor Steve Dunne took over for what became the final season of the series.