Created by Carlton E. Morse, I Love a Mystery brought a new brand of action-adventure heroes into the homes of World War II era listeners. Debuting on January 16, 1939, on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) West Coast stations, the series united three unlikely heroes/friends. Although the show premiered prior to U.S. involvement in the war, the characters initially, meet each other while contracted as mercenaries hired to fight the Japanese in China.
After their mercenary stint, the trio reunites in San Francisco. There, they decide to form the A-1 Detective Agency. Jack Packard, the leader of the group is not only tough; he is also a borderline misogynist. Doc Long is the fighting Texan and Reggie is the strong, but timid Englishman. Together they embark on a series of adventures. These guys are not the conventional heroes of the day and their cases involve anything from mystery to the paranormal. In fact, these guys are more interested in making enough money to support their adventurist lifestyle than they are in solving serious crime cases.
The series was initially sponsored by Fleischmann’s Yeast airing every weekday at 3:15 p.m. By October 2, 1939, the series was moved to a 7:15 p.m. slot on the NBC national network. Its success continued and the serial expanded from its fifteen-minute format into a thirty-minute program on April 4, 1940. In 1943, the series moved to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) network, where it remained under the sponsorship of Procter & Gamble until its last episode in December 1944.
During the 1942 season, actor Walter Paterson committed suicide. Close friend and creator, Carlton E. Morse could not bear the thought of hiring another actor to resume the role of Reggie and the character was ultimately written out of the series. In order to make up for the loss of the timid Englishman, Morse expanded the role of the agency’s secretary, Jerry Booker.
One of the most famous and memorable episodes was “Temple of Vampires,” broadcast in 1940. In the genre of radio mystery theater, The content of the storyline created quite a stir among parents, who responded with a letter writing campaign. The series was also revived in a film trilogy beginning in 1945. Unfortunately, few original broadcasts survived over the years, leaving only a handful of recordings available for the enjoyment of today’s listeners.
Enjoy this episode, Battle of the Century part I of I Love a Mystery: