Martin Kane, Private Eye

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William Gargan

Martin Kane, Private Eye was an American radio series and television crime series sponsored by United States Tobacco Company. It aired as a radio series from 1949 to 1952 and was simultaneously also a TV series around the same time, until 1954.


Martin Kane, Private Eye began as a 1949–52 radio series starring William Gargan in the title role as New York City private detective Martin Kane. It aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System, broadcast Sundays at 4:30pm from 7 August 1949 to 24 June 1951.

When the crime drama moved to NBC Radio on 1 July 1951, Lloyd Nolan took over the title role until mid-1952. Lee Tracy portrayed Kane for the remainder of the radio series, ending 21 December 1952.

The radio episodes aired between 1949 and 1952 were not merely audio rebroadcasts of the television show, but original episodes produced for the radio medium. Only 29 radio broadcasts are known to exist.


Lloyd Nolan as Martin Kane.

Gargan, Nolan, Tracy, and Mark Stevens played the title role in Martin Kane, Private Eye on live television, airing on NBC Television Network from 1 September 1949 until 17 June 1954. The series, again sponsored by United States Tobacco Company, integrated commercials into the detective drama by having Martin Kane enter his favorite tobacco shop where he discussed pipe tobaccos and cigarettes with the tobacconist Happy McMann (Walter Kinsella), before leaving to continue the mystery narrative.

Walter Greaza portrayed Capt. Leonard. Captain Evans was played by Loring Smith, Capt. Burke by Frank M. Thomas, King Calder as Lt. Gray, Sgt. Ross by Nicholas Saunders, and Sgt. Strong by Michael Garrett. Frank Burns produced and directed shows scripted by Harry Kane and Lawrence Young. Charles Paul provided the music. At the start and finish of the show, Kane was shown in shadow, lighting his pipe. Six episodes of this show have been released in the Best of TV Detectives DVD box set.

Gargan returned to the role for 39 episodes of the syndicated series The New Adventures of Martin Kane, premiering September 14, 1957, filmed in Europe for United Artists.

Comic books[edit]

The radio-TV series had a 1950 tie-in comic book, Martin Kane, Private Eye, published by Fox and illustrated by Wally Wood, Joe Orlando and Martin Rosenthal.

Cultural references[edit]

In episode two of the "Topsy Turvy World" sequence ("Funny Business in the Books, or The Library Card") of The Bullwinkle Show (which aired on NBC), Rocky and Bullwinkle are being escorted out of the town library by a gun-wielding man in a black fedora. Rocky wonders aloud whether the unknown man is from another TV show, leading Bullwinkle to confront him. "Say, fella, the Martin Kane show was dropped this year, you know?"

The series was satirized in Mad 5 (June–July 1953) as "Kane Keen, Private Eye", illustrated by Jack Davis.

Mad's lampoon of Julius Caesar (Mad 17, illustrated by Wally Wood) references a detective called "Martin Walking-Kane".

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