Gang Busters was an American dramatic radio program heralded as "the only national program that brings you authentic police case histories." It premiered as G-Men, sponsored by Chevrolet, on July 20, 1935.
After the title was changed to Gang Busters January 15, 1936, the show had a 21-year run through November 20, 1957. Beginning with a barrage of loud sound effects – a shrill police whistle, convicts marching in formation, police siren wailing, machine guns firing, and tires squealing – this intrusive introduction led to the popular catchphrase "came on like Gang Busters" – followed by a voice over a megaphone or loudspeaker announcing the title of that night's program: "Tonight, Gang Busters presents the Case of the —" and ending with more blasts from a police whistle.
The series dramatized FBI cases, which producer-director Phillips H. Lord arranged in close association with Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover insisted that only closed cases would be used. Joan Banks was a regular cast member.
The initial series was on NBC Radio from July 20 to October 12, 1935. It then aired on CBS from January 15, 1936 to June 15, 1940, sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive and Cue magazine. From October 11, 1940 to December 25, 1948, it was heard on the Blue Network, with various sponsors that included Sloan's Liniment, Waterman pens and Tide. Returning to CBS on January 8, 1949, it ran until June 25, 1955, sponsored by Grape-Nuts and Wrigley's chewing gum. The final series was on the Mutual Broadcasting System from October 5, 1955 to November 27, 1957. It was once narrated by Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., former head of the New Jersey State Police.
Comics, Film, and Television versions
NBC aired a 30 minute television series version from March 20, 1952 to Oct. 23, 1952, hosted by Chester Morris. The series did well in the Nielsen ratings, finishing at #14 in the 1951-1952 season and at #8 in 1952-1953. It went off the air because it alternated weekly with Dragnet, and when that series could produce enough episodes weekly, NBC had no more use for Gang Busters as a stop-gap show. Episodes of the show were later reedited into two feature films, Gang Busters (1955, with Myron Healey as Public Enemy No. 4) and Guns Don't Argue (1957, with Healey as John Dillinger). Episodes were also syndicated in 1948 by NBC Film Division, with the title changed to Captured. An ad for the program indicated that nine episodes of the syndicated version were new.