Little Orphan Annie
Little Orphan Annie is a daily American comic strip created by Harold Gray and syndicated by the Tribune Media Services. The strip took its name from the 1885 poem "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley, made its debut on August 5, 1924, in the New York Daily News; the plot follows the wide-ranging adventures of Annie, her dog Sandy and her benefactor Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks. Secondary characters include the Asp and Mr. Am; the strip attracted adult readers with political commentary that targeted organized labor, the New Deal and communism. Following Gray's death in 1968, several artists drew the strip and, for a time, "classic" strips were reruns. Little Orphan Annie inspired a radio show in 1930, film adaptations by RKO in 1932 and Paramount in 1938 and a Broadway musical Annie in 1977; the strip's popularity declined over the years. The characters now appear as supporting ones in Dick Tracy. Little Orphan Annie displays literary kinship with the picaresque novel in its endless string of episodic and unrelated adventures in the life of a character who wanders like an innocent vagabond through a corrupt world.
In Annie's first year, the picaresque pattern that characterizes her story is set, with the major players – Annie, Sandy and "Daddy" Warbucks – introduced within the strip's first several weeks. The story opens in a dreary and Dickensian orphanage where Annie is abused by the cold and sarcastic matron Miss Asthma, replaced by the mean Miss Treat. One day, the wealthy but mean-spirited Mrs. Warbucks takes Annie into her home "on trial", she makes it clear that she does not like Annie and tries to send her back to "the Home", but one of her society friends catches her in the act, to her disgust, she changes her mind. Her husband Oliver, who returned from a business trip develops a paternal affection for Annie and instructs her to address him as "Daddy"; the Warbucks had a dog named One-Lung, who liked Annie. Their household staff takes to Annie and they like her. However, the staff despises the daughter of a nouveau riche plumber's assistant. Cold-hearted Mrs. Warbucks sends Annie back to "the Home" numerous times, the staff hates her for that.
"Daddy" keeps thinking of her as his daughter. Mrs. Warbucks argues with Oliver over how much he "mortifies her when company comes" and his affection for Annie. A status-conscious woman, she feels that Oliver and Annie are ruining her socially. However, Oliver is able to put her in her place when she criticizes Annie; the strip developed a series of formulas that ran over its course to facilitate a wide range of stories. The earlier strips relied on a formula by which Daddy Warbucks is called away on business and through a variety of contrivances, Annie is cast out of the Warbucks mansion by her enemy, the nasty Mrs. Warbucks. Annie wanders the countryside and has adventures meeting and helping new people in their daily struggles. Early stories dealt with political corruption, criminal gangs and corrupt institutions, which Annie would confront. Annie would encounter troubles with the villain, who would be vanquished by the returning Daddy Warbucks. Annie and Daddy would be reunited, at which point, after several weeks, the formula would play out again.
In the series, each strip represented a single day in the life of the characters. This device was dropped by the end of the'20s. By the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the formula was tweaked: Daddy Warbucks lost his fortune due to a corrupt rival and died from despair at the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Annie remained an orphan, for several years had adventures that involved more internationally based enemies; the contemporary events taking place in Europe were reflected in the strips during the 1940s and World War II. Daddy Warbucks was reunited with Annie, as his death was changed to coma, from which he woke in 1945. By this time, the series enlarged its world with the addition of characters such as Asp and Punjab and servants to Annie and Daddy Warbucks. In world-trotting adventures, the characters traveled around the world, with Annie having adventures on her own or with her adopted family. Annie is a Eleven-year-old orphan, her distinguishing physical characteristics are a mop of red, curly hair, a red dress and vacant circles for eyes.
Her catchphrases are "Gee whiskers" and "Leapin' lizards!" Annie attributes her lasting youthfulness to her birthday on February 29 in a leap year, ages only one year in appearance for every four years that pass. Annie is a plucky, generous and optimistic youngster who can hold her own against bullies, has a strong and intuitive sense of right and wrong. Sandy enters the story in a January 1925 strip as a puppy of no particular breed which Annie rescues from a gang of abusive boys; the girl is working as a drudge in Mrs. Bottle's grocery store at the time and manages to keep the puppy concealed, she gives him to Paddy Lynch, a gentle man who owns a "steak joint" and can give Sandy a good home. Sandy is a mature dog when he reappears in a May 1925 strip to rescue Annie from gypsy kidnappers. Annie and Sandy remain together thereafter. Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks first appears in a September 1924 strip and reveals a month he was a small machine shop owner who acquired his enormous wealth producing munitions during World War I.
He is a large, powerfully-built bald man, the idealized capitalist, who typically
The Shadow is the name of a collection of serialized dramas in 1930s pulp novels, in a wide variety of Shadow media. One of the most famous adventure heroes of 20th century North America, the Shadow has been featured on the radio, in a long-running pulp magazine series, in American comic books, comic strips, serials, video games, at least five feature films; the radio drama included episodes voiced by Orson Welles. A mysterious radio show narrator, The Shadow was developed into a distinctive literary character in 1931 to become a pop culture icon, by writer Walter B. Gibson; the character has been cited as a major influence on the subsequent evolution of comic book superheroes Batman. The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the radio program Detective Story Hour, developed to boost sales of Street and Smith's monthly pulp Detective Story Magazine; when listeners of the program began asking at newsstands for copies of "That Shadow detective magazine", Street & Smith decided to create a magazine based on The Shadow and hired Gibson to create a character concept to fit the name and voice and write a story featuring him.
The first issue of The Shadow Magazine went on sale on a pulp series. On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama, a new radio series based on the character as created by Gibson for the pulp magazine, premiered with the story "The Death House Rescue", in which The Shadow was characterized as having "the power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him"; as in the magazine stories, The Shadow was not given the literal ability to become invisible. The introduction from The Shadow radio program "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!", spoken by actor Frank Readick, has earned a place in the American idiom. These words were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a musical theme, Camille Saint-Saëns' Le Rouet d'Omphale. At the end of each episode, The Shadow reminded listeners that, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit! Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!" In order to boost the sales of their Detective Story Magazine and Smith Publications hired David Chrisman of the Ruthrauff & Ryan advertising agency and writer-director William Sweets to adapt the magazine's stories into a radio series.
Chrisman and Sweets felt the upcoming series should be narrated by a mysterious storyteller with a sinister voice, began searching for a suitable name. One of their scriptwriters, Harry Engman Charlot, suggested various possibilities, such as "The Inspector" or "The Sleuth". Charlot proposed the ideal name for the phantom announcer: "The Shadow". Thus, beginning on July 31, 1930, "The Shadow" was the name given to the mysterious narrator of the Detective Story Hour; the narrator was voiced by James LaCurto, replaced after four months by prolific character actor Frank Readick Jr. The episodes were drawn from the Detective Story Magazine issued by Street and Smith, "the nation's oldest and largest publisher of pulp magazines". Although the latter company had hoped the radio broadcasts would boost the declining sales of Detective Story Magazine, the result was quite different. Listeners found the sinister announcer much more compelling than the unrelated stories, they soon began asking newsdealers for copies of "that Shadow detective magazine" though it did not exist.
Recognizing the demand and responding promptly, circulation manager Henry William Ralston of Street & Smith commissioned Walter B. Gibson to begin writing stories about "The Shadow". Using the pen name of Maxwell Grant and claiming the stories were "from The Shadow's private annals as told to" him, Gibson wrote 282 out of 325 tales over the next 20 years: a novel-length story twice a month; the first story produced was "The Living Shadow", published April 1, 1931. Gibson's characterization of The Shadow laid the foundations for the archetype of the superhero, including stylized imagery and title, supervillains, a secret identity. Clad in black, The Shadow operated after dark as a vigilante in the name of justice, terrifying criminals into vulnerability. Gibson himself claimed the literary inspirations upon which he had drawn were Bram Stoker's Dracula and Edward Bulwer-Lytton's "The House and the Brain". Another possible inspiration for The Shadow is the French character Judex. French comics historian Xavier Fournier notes other similarities with another silent serial, The Shielding Shadow, whose protagonist had a power of invisibility, considers The Shadow to be a mix between the two characters.
In the 1940s, some Shadow comic strips were translated in France as adventures of Judex. Because of the great effort involved in writing two full-length novels every month, several guest writers were hired to write occasional installments in order to lighten Gibson's workload; these guest writers included Lester Dent, who wrote the Doc Savage stories, Theodore Tinsley. In the late 1940s, mystery novelist Bruce Elliott would temporarily replace Gibson as the primary author of the pulp series. Richard Wormser, a reader for Street & Smith, wrote two Shadow stories; the Shadow Magazine ceased publication with the Summer 1949 issue, but Walter B. Gibson wrote three new "official" stories between 1963 and 1980; the first began a new series of nine updated Shadow novels from Belmont Books, starting with Return of The Shadow under his own na
Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy
Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy was a radio adventure series which maintained its popularity from 1933 to 1951. The program originated at WBBM in Chicago on July 31, 1933, was carried on CBS NBC and ABC. Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy was a creation of General Mills, a pioneer in the development of unique and compelling advertising under the stewardship of Vice-president of Advertising, Samuel Chester Gale. Gale served as President of the Ad Council. Intending to promote breakfast cereal Wheaties, Gale developed the character of Jack Armstrong as a fictitious "everyboy" whom listeners would emulate: If Jack ate Wheaties, boys across the nation would, too. Early popularity led to commissioning of a radio serial broadcast. Only the adventures were a product of Gale's imagination. There was a real Jack Armstrong, a member of Sam Gale's college fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa at the University of Minnesota. Gale met Jack while serving as a young advisor to the fraternity, being impressed by both the red-blooded name and the "wholesome nature" of the young man, he incorporated it as the name of his new invented spokesman.
The adventures which captivated listeners each week were fictitious, led to good-natured ribbing throughout Armstrong's life. Another creation of Sam Gale's fertile mind was the iconic Betty Crocker; the radio serial maintained its popularity from 1933 to 1951. The storylines centered on the globe-trotting adventures of Armstrong, a popular athlete at Hudson High School, his friends Billy Fairfield and Billy's sister Betty, their Uncle Jim, James Fairfield, an industrialist. Uncle Jim Fairfield would have to visit an exotic part of the world in connection with his business, he would take Jack Armstrong and the Fairfield siblings along with him. Many of the adventures provided listeners with the equivalent of a travelogue, providing facts about the lands they were visiting; the show was created by writer Robert Hardy Andrews. Sponsored throughout its long run by Wheaties, the program was renamed Armstrong of the SBI when Jack graduated from high school and became a government agent in the final season, when it shifted from a 15-minute serial to a half-hour complete story format.
Throughout its broadcast span, the program offered radio premiums that related to the adventures in which Jack and his friends were involved. In the Jack Armstrong movie serial of 1947, ace science whiz Armstrong must free his friend from an island fortress after he is kidnapped by a villain who wants his help in building a death ray. In 1936, publishers Cupples & Leon released the two volume Jack Armstrong series by Stanley J. Wallace, consisting of Jack Armstrong's Mystery Eye and Jack Armstrong's Mystery Crystal; that same year the Parents Institute began publishing their Jack Armstrong comic book which had a 13-issue run. Leslie N. Daniels, Jr. wrote Jack Armstrong and the Ivory Treasure. Daniels' tale was based on a 1937 Talbot Mundy radio script which Mundy had first written as his novel The Ivory Trail. Bob Schoenke drew a newspaper comic strip based on the radio series between 1947 and 1949. A short Jack Armstrong animated TV pilot was developed by Hanna-Barbera for a proposed television series.
However, when negotiations for rights to the characters collapsed, the planned series was reworked into what became the animated adventure Jonny Quest. Some of the Jack Armstrong footage survived in the closing credits for Jonny Quest. Timothy Bottoms portrayed Jack Armstrong in American Hero. Jack Armstrong entered the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989. Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy at the National Radio Hall of Fame Mondo Media: Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy Great Moments in Kiddie Marketing Generic Radio Workshop Script Library: Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy script
Sky King was an American radio and television series. Its lead character was aircraft pilot Schuyler "Sky" King; the series may have been based on a true-life personality of the 1930s, Jack Cones, known as the "Flying Constable" of Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County, although this notion is unverified. The series had strong Western elements. King captured criminals and spies and found lost hikers, though he did so with the use of his airplane, the Songbird. Two twin-engine Cessna airplanes were used by King during the course of the TV series; the first was a Cessna T-50 and in episodes a Cessna 310B was used till the series' end. The 310's make and model type number was prominently displayed during the closing titles. King and his niece Penny lived on the Flying Crown Ranch, near the fictitious town of Grover, Arizona. Penny and Clipper were pilots, although they were inexperienced and looked to their uncle for guidance. Penny was an accomplished air racer, rated as a multiengine pilot, whom Sky trusted to fly the Songbird.
The radio show began in 1946 and was based on a story by Roy Winsor, the brainchild of Robert Morris Burtt and Wilfred Gibbs Moore, who created Captain Midnight. Several actors played the part of Sky, including John Reed King. "Radio premiums" were offered to listeners. For example, the Sky King Secret Signalscope was used on November 2, 1947, in the "Mountain Detour" episode. Listeners were advised to get their own for only 15 cents and the inner seal from a jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter, produced by the sponsor, Derby Foods; the Signalscope included a glow-in-the-dark signaling device, magnifying glass, Sky King's private code. With the Signalscope, one could see around corners and trees; the premiums were innovative, such as the Sky King Spy-Detecto Writer, which had a "decoder", magnifying glass, measuring scale, printing mechanism in a single package over two inches long. Other notable premiums were the Magni-Glo Writing Ring, which had a luminous element, a secret compartment, a magnifier, a ballpoint pen, all in the crown piece of a "fits any finger" ring.
The radio show continued until 1954, broadcasting with the first portion of the television version. The television version starred Kirby Grant as Gloria Winters as Penny. Other regular characters included Sky's nephew Clipper, played by Ron Hagerthy, Mitch the sheriff, portrayed by Ewing Mitchell. Mitch, a competent and intelligent law enforcement officer, depended on his friend Sky's flying skills to solve the harder cases. Other recurring characters included Jim Bell, the ranch foreman, played in four episodes by Chubby Johnson, as well as Sheriff Hollister portrayed by Monte Blue in five episodes, Bob Carey, portrayed in ten episodes by Norman Ollestad. Many of the storylines would parallel those used in such dramatic pot-boilers as Adventures of Superman with the supporting cast finding themselves in near-death situations and the hero rescuing them with seconds to spare. Penny would often fall into the hands of spies, bank robbers, other ne'er-do-wells. Sky never killed the villains, as with most television cowboy heroes of the time, though one episode had him shooting a machine gun into his own stolen plane.
Sky King was a show for children, although it sometimes broadcast in prime time. The show became an icon in the aviation community. Many pilots, including American astronauts, named him as an influence. Plot lines were simplistic, but Grant was able to bring a casual, natural treatment of technical details, leading to a level of believability not found in other TV series involving aviation or life in the American West. Villains and other characters were depicted as intelligent and believable, rather than as two-dimensional; the writing was above the standard for contemporary half-hour programs, although sometimes critics suggested that the acting was not. Episodes of the television show were notable for the dramatic opening with an air-to-air shot of the sleek, second Songbird banking away from the camera and its engines roaring, while the announcer proclaimed, "Out of the clear blue of the Western sky comes Sky King!" The short credit roll which followed was dramatic, with the Songbird swooping at the camera across El Mirage Lake, California pulling up into a steep climb as it departed.
The end title featured a musical theme, with the credits superimposed over an air-to-air shot of the Songbird, cruising at altitude for several moments banking away to the left. The show featured low-level flying with the Songbird, highlighting the desert flashing by in the background. Kirby Grant as Schuyler "Sky" King Gloria Winters as Penny King Ewing Mitchell as Sheriff Mitch Hargrove Ron Hagerthy as Clipper King The television show was first broadcast on Sunday afternoons on NBC-TV between September 16, 1951, October 26, 1952; these episodes were rebroadcast on ABC's Saturday morning lineup the following year from November 8, 1952 through September 21, 1953 when it made its prime-time debut on ABC's Monday night lineup. It was telecast twice-a-week in September 1954, before ABC cancelled it. New episodes were produced when the show went into syndication in 1955; the last new episode, "Mickey's Birthday", was telecast March 8, 1959. "Mickey" was a kinsman of Sky King portrayed in three 1959 episodes by child actor Gary Hunley.
Thereafter, Sky King surfaced on the CBS Saturday schedule in reruns until September, 1966. CBS began airing reruns of the show on early Saturday afterno
Buck Rogers is a fictional space opera character created by Philip Francis Nowlan in the novella Armageddon 2419 A. D. subsequently appearing in multiple media. In Armageddon 2419 A. D. published in the August 1928 issue of the pulp magazine, Amazing Stories, the character's given name was "Anthony". A sequel, The Airlords of Han, was published in the March 1929 issue. Philip Nowlan and the syndicate John F. Dille Company known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, were contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip. After Nowlan and Dille enlisted editorial cartoonist Dick Calkins as the illustrator, Nowlan adapted the first episode from Armageddon 2419, A. D. and changed the hero's name from "Anthony" to "Buck". The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929. Adaptations included radio in 1932, a film serial, a television series, other formats; the Buck Rogers strip was popular enough to inspire other newspaper syndicates to launch their own science fiction strips. The most famous of these imitators was Flash Gordon.
The adventures of Buck Rogers in comic strips, movies and television became an important part of American popular culture. It was on January 22, 1930 that Buck Rogers first ventured into space aboard a rocket ship in his fifth newspaper comic story Tiger Men From Mars; this popular phenomenon paralleled the development of space technology in the 20th century and introduced Americans to outer space as a familiar environment for swashbuckling adventure. Buck Rogers has been credited with bringing into popular media the concept of space exploration, following in the footsteps of literary pioneers such as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs; the character first appeared as Anthony Rogers, the central character of Nowlan's Armageddon 2419 A. D. Born in 1898, Rogers is a veteran of the Great War and by 1927 is working for the American Radioactive Gas Corporation investigating reports of unusual phenomena in abandoned coal mines near Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. On December 15, there is a cave-in.
Exposed to radioactive gas, Rogers falls into "a state of suspended animation, free from the ravages of catabolic processes, without any apparent effect on physical or mental faculties". Rogers remains in suspended animation for 492 years. Rogers awakens in 2419. Thinking that he has been asleep for just several hours, he wanders for a few days in unfamiliar forests, he notices someone clad in strange clothes, under attack. He defends Wilma Deering, killing one of the attackers and scaring off the rest. On "air patrol", Deering was attacked by an enemy gang, the Bad Bloods, presumed to have allied themselves with the Hans. Wilma takes Rogers to her camp, he is invited to leave and visit other gangs. They hope that Rogers' experience and knowledge he gained fighting in the First World War may be useful in their struggle with the Hans, who rule North America from 15 great cities they established across the continent, they ignored the Americans who were left to fend for themselves in the forests and mountains as their advanced technology prevented the need for slave labor.
In the sequel, The Airlords of Han, six months have passed and the hunter is now the hunted. Rogers is now a gang leader and his forces, as well as the other American gangs, have surrounded the cities and are attacking constantly; the airlords are determined to use their fleet of airships to break the siege. In 1933, Nowlan and Calkins co-wrote Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a novella that retold the origin of Buck Rogers and summarized some of his adventures. A reprint of this work was included with the first edition of the novel Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future by Martin Caidin. In the 1960s, Nowlan's two novellas were combined by editor Donald A. Wollheim into one paperback novel, Armageddon 2419 A. D; the original 40-cent edition featured a cover by Ed Emshwiller. Nowlan is credited with the idea of serializing Buck Rogers, based on his novel Armageddon 2419 and its Amazing Stories sequels. Nowlan approached John F. Dille, president of the National Newspaper Service syndicate, who saw the opportunity to serialize the stories as a newspaper comic strip.
The character was given the nickname "Buck," and some have suggested that Dille coined that name based on the 1920s cowboy actor Buck Jones. On January 7, 1929, the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A. D. comic strip debuted. Buck Rogers was syndicated to 47 newspapers. On March 30, 1930, a Sunday strip joined the Buck Rogers daily strip. Writer Nowlan told the inventor R. Buckminster Fuller in 1930 that "he used concepts for his cartoons". Dick Calkins, an advertising artist, drew the earliest daily strips, Russell Keaton drew the earliest Sunday strips. Like many popular comic strips of the day, Buck Rogers was reprinted in Big Little Books. At its peak in 1934, Buck Rogers appeared in 287 U. S. newspapers, was translated into 18 languages, appeared in an additional 160 international papers. Keaton wanted to switch to drawing another strip written by Calkins, Skyroads, so the syndicate adv
A cipher disk is an enciphering and deciphering tool developed in 1470 by the Italian architect and author Leon Battista Alberti. He constructed a device, consisting of two concentric circular plates mounted one on top of the other; the larger plate is called the "stationary" and the smaller one the "moveable" since the smaller one could move on top of the "stationary". The first incarnation of the disk had plates made of copper and featured the alphabet, in order, inscribed on the outer edge of each disk in cells split evenly along the circumference of the circle; this enabled the two alphabets to move relative to each other creating an easy to use key. Rather than using an impractical and complicated table indicating the encryption method, one could use the much simpler cipher disk; this made both encryption and decryption faster and less prone to error. The cipher disk can be used in one of two ways; the code can be a consistent monoalphabetic substitution for the entire cipher or the disks can be moved periodically throughout the cipher making it polyalphabetic.
For a monoalphabetic use, the sender and the person receiving the messages would agree on a cipher key setting. The entire message is encoded according to this key. In addition to simple substitution ciphers, the cipher disk opened the way for convenient polyalphabetic ciphers. An easy way to do this is for the sender and the recipient to agree that a certain number of characters into the message, the scales would be shifted one character to the right, repeating the procedure every tenth letter; this would make it more difficult to crack. Cipher disks had many small variations on the basic design. Instead of numbers they would use combinations of numbers on the outer disk with each combination corresponding to a letter. To make the encryption hard to crack, the advanced cipher disk would only use combinations of two numbers. Instead of 1 and 2 though, 1 and 8 were used since these numerals look the same upside down as they do right side up; this can be seen on the Union disk above. Cipher disks would add additional symbols for used combinations of letters like "ing", "tion", "ed".
Symbols were frequently added to indicate "and" at the end of a word. When encoding a message using a cipher disk, a character is always used to mean “end of word.” The frequency of said character is abnormally high and thus detected. If this character, however, is omitted the words run together and it takes much longer for the recipient to read the message. To remedy this, some cipher disks now have multiple characters that stand for "end of word." A cipher disk may have multiple characters that could be used for the letter "e" so that instead of having a character with a frequency of 13%, there would be two characters that stood for "e" - each with a frequency of 6% or so. Users could use a keyword so that all the characters including the letter e would change throughout the ciphertext. Since the 1930s, cipher disks have been used for novelties. Many of the cipher disks that were radio premiums were called "secret decoder rings." Alberti cipher disk known as formula An interactive browser-based cipher disk.
How to construct a cipher disk
Captain Midnight is a U. S. adventure franchise first broadcast as a radio serial from 1938 to 1949. The character's popularity throughout the 1940s and into the mid-1950s extended to serial films, a television show, a syndicated newspaper strip, a comic book title. Sponsored by the Skelly Oil Company, the Captain Midnight radio program was the creation of radio scripters Wilfred G. Moore and Robert M. Burtt, who had scored a success for Skelly with their boy pilot adventure serial The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen. Developed at the Blackett and Hummert advertising agency in Chicago, Captain Midnight began as a syndicated show in 1938, airing through the spring of 1940 on a few Midwest stations, including Chicago's WGN. In 1940, Ovaltine, a product of The Wander Company, took over sponsorship. With Pierre Andre as announcer, the series was heard nationally on the Mutual Radio Network where it remained until 1942, it moved to the Merchandise Mart and the NBC Blue Network in September 1942. When the U.
S. Government broke up the NBC Red and Blue Networks, Ovaltine moved the series back to Mutual, beginning September 1945, where it remained until December 1949; the title character Captain Jim "Red" Albright, was a World War I U. S. Army pilot, his Captain Midnight code name was given by a general who sent him on a high-risk mission from which he returned at the stroke of 12. When the show began in 1938, Albright was a private aviator who helped people, but his situation changed in 1940; when the show was taken over by Ovaltine, the origin story explained how Albright was recruited to head the Secret Squadron, an aviation-oriented paramilitary organization fighting sabotage and espionage during the period prior to the United States' entry into World War II. The Secret Squadron acted both outside the United States; when the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, which curiously was foreshadowed in the program, the show shifted the Secret Squadron's duties to fight the more unconventional aspects of the war.
Besides the stock villain, Ivan Shark, the war years introduced Axis villains Baron von Karp, Admiral Himakito and von Schrecker. The Secret Squadron wartime activities were outside the continental United States, with adventures in Europe, South America, the Pacific, continental Asia. War-related subject matter included the theft of an experimental Flying Wing aircraft, radar coupled antiaircraft guns, jet aircraft and other weapons. After the war, some of the newer villains used war surplus equipment to carry out their activities. Secret Squadron activities shifted to contending with criminals as well as spies; the action continued to operate internationally, with adventures in South America and Africa as well as within the United States. The show was popular, with an audience in the millions. Just under half the listeners were adult, it was a favorite of World War II United States Army Air Force crews when they were stationed in the U. S. Radio premiums offered by the series included decoders.
These Code-O-Graphs were used by listeners to decipher encrypted messages previewing the next day's episode broadcast once a week. Other premiums included rings and World War II items; the scripts depicted women who were treated as equals, not just characters waiting to be rescued. Both Joyce Ryan of the Secret Squadron and Fury Shark, daughter of villain Ivan Shark, pulled their own weight in the adventures. Joyce went on commando raids and became involved in aerial dogfights during World War II. Captain Midnight – World War I aviator who leads the Secret Squadron, though he spends much time in the field contending with crime and sabotage, he is an skilled aviator with an ability to fly any aircraft superlatively. The Captain is accompanied by a team consisting of three Secret Squadron members. Chuck Ramsay – Captain Midnight's ward, a young man in his late teens or early twenties, a Secret Squadron agent. Prior to the formation of the Secret Squadron, he shared adventures with his guardian. A member of Captain Midnight's usual team, he was played by Jules Getlin, Dolph Nelson, Billy Rose, Jack Bivans and Johnny Coons.
Ichabod "Ikky" Mudd – The Secret Squadron's Chief Mechanic. Mudd knew Captain Midnight before the Secret Squadron's formation, joined the Squadron shortly after it was formed. A member of Captain Midnight's usual team played by Hugh Studebaker, Sherman Marks and Art Hern, he was responsible for the development of the Code-O-Graph and developed some weapons before and during World War II. Joyce Ryan – A young woman in her late teens or early twenties, a Secret Squadron agent, she was discovered as an amnesiac by Captain Midnight and Chuck Ramsay during a 1941 skirmish with the forces of Ivan Shark. She became a Secret Squadron member after several adventures with Captain Midnight, Chuck Ramsay, Ichabod Mudd, replacing an earlier female companion named Patsy Donovan. Prior to World War II, she elected to remain in the Secret Squadron. A member of Captain Midnight's usual team, she was played by Angeline Orr. Agent Kelly, SS-11 – Lyle William Kelly, a Secret Squadron agent who accompanied Captain Midnight's usual team on their adventures.
Kelly was Captain Midnight's usual liaison to his superior, Major Barry Steele