33 radio recordings of RKO's The Shadow, produced by Orson Welles between 1937 and 1938
It doesn't happen that often that a cultural icon plays a \"genre\" role, and in the 1930's it probably happened even less. But before a certain well-documented Martian Invasion rocketed him to fame and a contract with RKO, a 22 year-old Orson Welles funded his theatrical productions with radio work, including a year on the Mutual Network's now-legendary \"superhero\" radio program The Shadow.
The program, loosely adapted from the popular pulp magazine series, told the story of Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man-about-town who used his hypnotic powers to cloud men's minds so that they could not see him, fighting crime as an Invisible Avenger known only as The Shadow.
Welles played the dual role in 1937 and 1938, first for 26 episodes for the show's long-running sponsor Blue Coal, then for a summer series sponsored by Goodrich Safety Silver-Town Tires. For many years it was believed that the syndicated \"Goodrich\" series had run for 15 episodes... until a complete collection of recordings surfaced in the estate of a former Goodrich executive and it was realized that the summer season had been a full 26 episodes - and that 11 full episodes starring Welles had been discovered that had not been heard since they originally aired 70 years ago.