Chandu the Magician

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Chandu the Magician, one of the longest running juvenile adventure serials on radio, was heard on several different networks and aired in two distinctly different series, one in the 1930s and a revival 12 years later in the 1940s and 1950s. They can be heard now on the internet in MP3 format.

History

Launched October 10, 1932 on KHJ in Los Angeles, the series was soon heard through the West Coast when broadcast on the Don Lee Network, expanding in the mid-1930s to the Midwest on Mutual. The series was sponsored by White King Soap in the West and by Beech Nut Gum in the East.

Gayne Whitman had the lead role of American-born Frank Chandler, who had learned occult secrets from a yogi in India. Known as Chandu, he possessed several supernatural skills, including astral projection, teleportation and the ability to create illusions. Chandu's goal was to "go forth with his youth and strength to conquer the evil that threatens mankind." His sister, Dorothy Regent, was portrayed by Margaret MacDonald. Cyril Armbrister directed the scripts by Vera Oldham which took Chandu to far-flung locales, both mythical and real. Romantic interludes for Chandu were introduced with Egyptian Princess Nadji. Music was first furnished by Felix Mills and then Raymond Paige.

In 1935, the production moved to WGN Chicago with a new cast, including Howard Hoffman in the title role and Cornelia Osgood as Dorothy. Her children, Bob and Betty, were played by Olan Soule and Audrey McGrath. This series came to an end in 1936.

Twelve years later, the series was revived on Mutual June 28, 1948 as a 15-minute weekday program, starring Tom Collins as Chandu and Luis van Rooten as the villainous Roxor plotting world domination. With Howard Culver as the announcer and music by organist Korla Pandit, this series continued until January 28, 1949. The serial format was dropped February 2, 1949 in favor of 30-minute episodes, each with a self-contained storyline, and this series continued until April 28, 1949.

On October 15, 1949, Chandu the Magician moved to ABC where it was heard Saturdays at 7:30pm until June and then on Wednesdays at 9:30pm. The last broadcast was September 6, 1950.

Adaptations

In 1932 Chandu the Magician was produced as a film, with Edmund Lowe as Chandu and Bela Lugosi as Roxor. In The Return of Chandu (1934) Lugosi portrayed Chandu.

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References

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