In the 1940s and early 1950s, even if you were an established movie star, the odds are you tried your hand at radio, too.
Jimmy Stewart was The Six Shooter.
Vincent Price was The Saint (among others).
Don Ameche starred in The Bickersons (among others).
Bogart and Bacall were in Bold Venture.
And Frank Sinatra was Rocky Fortune.
Sometimes these shows were truly excellent as in The Six Shooter and The Bickersons, and other times . . . well, Frank Sinatra went on to redeem himself in From Here To Eternity.
One of the better radio efforts was a syndicated show starring Alan Ladd as mystery writer Dan Holliday. In order to find his muse, Holliday placed an add in his old newspaper offering his services:
"Adventure wanted, will go anywhere, do anything -- write Box 13, Star-Times."
Okay, so it’s a bit of a stretch as a plot device. But it beat having a murder show up once-a-week up on the doorsteps of Mr. & Mrs. North (see Finding A New Murder Every Week).
Each episode of BOX 13 opened with a new response to the ad, and Holliday was off on a new adventure. All 52 episodes of the 1948-49 radio series are available on the Internet Archive.
Alan Ladd was no stranger to radio by the time he starred in Box 13.
During the late 1930s, before he broke into movies, he played bit parts on radio shows in Los Angeles, and worked as a grip on the Warner Brothers lot.
His early film work was mostly bit parts, often uncredited. His diminutive size (reportedly 5’6”) and choirboy looks made casting directors look the other way when it came to hiring actors.
In 1942, he got his big break in “This Gun for Hire”. Although he is 4th billed, he steals the film with his portrayal of the paid killer, Raven.
After nearly 10 years of knocking around Hollywood, Ladd was an overnight star.
He would be paired with `This Gun’ co-star Veronica Lake a number of times in the coming years, including The Glass Key, The Blue Dahlia, and Saigon.
His biggest hit would come in the early 50s, in the iconic western Shane. But many of his movies of the 1940s and 1950s were lesser efforts.
If not always B movies – most were at least A-.
A few stand out, like The McConnell Story, Whispering Smith, and Captain Carey, U.S.A. but there were far too many like Desert Legion and The Black Knight.
By the end of the 1950s, alcohol and a downward spiral in his movie career had taken its toll. Ladd was no longer box office material, although he continued to find some work.
His last film was The Carpetbaggers.
In November of 1962, Ladd was found in a pool of his own blood with a self-inflicted bullet wound to his chest. He survived, but died in January of 1964 of a drug overdose at the age of 51.
A sad end to what had been such a promising career. But the beauty of radio and film is that we can remember these actors and actresses as they were.