The Fat Man (radio)

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The Fat Man
Country of originUnited States
Home stationWJZ
StarringJ. Scott Smart
AnnouncerCharles Irving
Gene Kirby
Don Lowe
Created byDashiell Hammett
Written byRichard Ellington
Dashiell Hammett
Lawrence Klee
Daniel Shuffman
Robert Sloane
Harold Swanson
Directed byClark Andrews
Charles Powers
Robert Sloane
Produced byEd Rosenberg
Original releaseJanuary 21, 1946 (1946-01-21) –
September 26, 1951 (1951-09-26)
Opening theme"Fat Man Polka"
Sponsored byPepto-Bismol
Unguentine ointment
Camel cigarettes
Dentyne and Chiclets chewing gum

The Fat Man, a popular radio show during the 1940s and early 1950s, was a detective drama created by (or at least credited to) Dashiell Hammett, author of The Thin Man. It starred J. Scott Smart in the title role, as a detective who started out anonymous but rapidly acquired the name 'Brad Runyon'.[1]

Broadcast from the studios of WJZ in Newark, New Jersey, the series premiered on the ABC Radio Network on Monday, January 21, 1946, at 8:30 p.m.,[2] as part of a block of four new programs (I Deal in Crime, Forever Tops, and Jimmy Gleason's Diner) and ran until 1951. While the basic concept was credited to Hammett, The Fat Man was developed by producer, E.J. ("Mannie") Rosenberg. The program was directed by Clark Andrews, creator of Big Town, and Charles Powers. The main writer was Richard Ellington, with other scripts by Robert Sloane and Lawrence Klee.

Supporting cast[edit]

The veteran character actor Ed Begley co-starred as Sgt. O'Hara, and the supporting cast included Betty Garde, Paul Stewart, Linda Watkins, Mary Patton as Lila North and Vicki Vola, who was also the female lead in Mr. District Attorney. Amzie Strickland played Runyon's girlfriend Cathy Evans, and Nell Harrison was Runyon's mother during the early episodes. The cast also included Dan Ocko, Rolly Bester (wife of science fiction writer Alfred Bester) and Robert Dryden. An 11-piece orchestra was directed by Bernard Green, who also wrote the program's theme. The sound effects were by Ed Blaney, and the announcers were Charles Irving and sportscaster Gene Kirby (1909-1985).


The success of the radio series led to a movie, The Fat Man (1951), directed by William Castle with a flashback-within-a-flashback storyline. Smart retained his role as detective Brad Runyon, investigating the murder of a Los Angeles dentist with an assist from Bill Norton (Clinton Sundberg). One of the suspects is portrayed by famed Barnum & Bailey clown Emmett Kelly in his screen debut as an actor. Also in the cast are Rock Hudson, Julie London, Parley Baer (uncredited) and Jayne Meadows.

Australian version[edit]

There was also an Australian version of The Fat Man, which premiered on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on September 9, 1954 and ran through 1955 for a total of 52 episodes. It was later syndicated by the Artansa label, and 36 episodes remain in circulation today. The role of Brad Runyon was played in this version by Lloyd Berrell.[3][4] Most of the original American episodes have not survived.


  1. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. pp. 241–242. ISBN 0-19-507678-8. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  2. ^ Cox, Jim (2010). Radio Crime Fighters: More Than 300 Programs from the Golden Age. McFarland. p. 107. ISBN 9781476612270. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  3. ^ Entering the Mind's Eye entry for The Fat Man
  4. ^ The (US) Fat Man vs The (Australian) Fat Man

External links[edit]