The Crime Fighters of American Broadcasting
Gang Busters: The Crime Fighters of American Broadcasting 2004, Martin Grams, Jr
NBC is an acronym of the trade name National Broadcasting Company, Inc., and as their primaryservice trademark, is reprinted with permission.
CBS is an acronym of the trade name Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., and as their primaryservice trademark, is reprinted with permission.
ABC is an acronym of the trade name American Broadcasting Company, Inc., and as their primaryservice trademark, is reprinted with permission.
Disclaimer:Although Phillips H. Lord and his staff fictionalized the names of true-life criminals for many of hisGang Busters
broadcasts, this book reveals more of the factual crimes than fictional. Informationdocumented within the pages of this book is not meant to infringe on the privacy of anyone. All ofthe information contained within this book is (and has been) public knowledge for decades. Sourcesinclude special collections and archives available to the public at various libraries across the countryincluding The Library of Congress, The Library of American Broadcasting of the University ofMaryland, and periodicals including The New York Times
, Time Magazine
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, digital,photocopying or recording, except for the inclusion of brief inclusions in a review, without permissionin writing from either the author or the publisher.
Design and Layout by Valerie Thompson. Cover Illustration by Paul Curtis.
Printed by the Kirby Lithographic Company, Arlington, Virginia.
Manufactured in the United States of America.
When Phillips H. Lord created Gang Busters
in January of 1936, crime was sorampant that it was almost tolerated. Obedience to the laws and respect forlaw-enforcement agencies was at a low ebb. Criminals and their methods werehighly publicized in glamorous episodes.
Lord, as an amateur criminologist of note and a man who had delved into
criminal behavior by inclination, was appalled. He had just finished his G-Men
series which dramatized FBI cases and he knew how the criminals lived, whatthey were like and how they operated. Civic-minded citizens, law enforcementofficers and police organizations were approached. They were enthusiastic intheir approval and unstinted in their cooperation. They turned over their filesand Lord made radio history with his exposes.
At first Lord appeared on the program and interviewed the guest police
officials. Later, as his other radio programs demanded more attention, heturned the hosting chores over to West Point graduate Colonel H. NormanSchwarzkopf, who for twenty years was nationally prominent in police circles.
When the Colonel was recalled to active duty, Lewis J. Valentine, formerCommissioner of Police of the City of New York, took over.
Before any case was presented to the radio audience, it was triple-checked.
A Gang Busters
representative gathered the material from law enforcementbureaus scattered all over the country. The Chief from each bureau had toapprove every fact in the report before it was used. Then the script departmentstarted to work, with instructions to “make it dramatic, but be sure it’s accurate.”
Every Gang Busters
broadcast featured nationwide clues, which consisted
of last-minute reports of wanted persons, received from the police and FBI.
One hundred requests weekly was the average number of police bulletinsreceived by Gang Busters
. They were boiled down to one or two clues, selectedfor importance, color and ease in remembering the descriptions. Gang Busters
files show that among those criminals apprehended by such nationwide clueswere Lawrence Devol, Hoffman and Penning, Edward (Wilhelm) Bentz,Howard Hayes and Charles Jones, Claude Beaver, and Percy Geary. In additionto those named, by May of 1942, more than 277 other criminals had beenapprehended by Gang Busters
Known as the “Number One Idea Man” in radio, Phillips H. Lord – who
was once presented on the floor of Congress as the “source of more enjoymentthan any person living today in the United States” – conceived the program at
BIOGRAPHY OF PHILLIPS H. LORD
Phillips H. Lord was born in Hartford, Vermont, on July 13, 1902, the son ofReverend Albert J. and Mrs. Maude Phillips Lord. About a year later, the Lordfamily moved to Meriden, Connecticut, where the Reverend Lord accepted thepastorate of the First Congregational Church where he served for over thirty-five years.
Lord spent his boyhood winters in Meriden and his summers in Maine.
After finishing high school in Meriden, he attended Phillips Andover Academywhere he was the captain of the tennis team. Then he transferred to BowdoinCollege. Forced to earn part of his tuition and living expenses, and rather thantake the usual kind of part-time job, he decided to analyze the situation andfind some service or merchandise for which there was a need at the college. In1923, the Faculty of Bowdoin College at Brunswick, Maine, had a meeting. Itturned out to be one of the most unusual meetings and it evidently proceededalong the following general lines.
“Gentlemen, the college bookstore downtown reports that
they’re not selling any books this year. What’s happened?”
“He’s the son of a Minister. He’s got the book market cor-
“The bookstore has been in business twenty years. How could
this Lord have the book market cornered?”
“Well, he found out what books would be used this year – he
set up a little store here on the campus – undersells theBrunswick bookstore by five percent and has gotten all oftheir business.”
“Um – let’s see – ordinarily, in a new year a three-thousand
“He makes twenty-five percent on all he sells.”
(Whistles – if college presidents do) “Seven hundred and fifty
dollars profit. Not bad – but what about this new taxi companyI’ve been hearing rumors about?”
“The whole of it. He has five automobiles he rents. I hear he
“Twenty-five dollars a car for the weekend. They’re always
“I see – they pay for themselves in two weeks and a half – and
then – well. He’s making more money than I am.”
“He has a shoe business, too, you know.”
“Well – see he doesn’t lock up the advertising for the athletic
events – football score cards – baseball, etc.”
“I’m sorry, sir – he had those all locked up two years ago.”
“Now – just a minute. Who is running this college? Lord or me?”
“I think he’s willing to let you think you are, sir.”
“Is – is – is this human dynamo in any more business deals?”
“Oh, yes sir. He has a monopoly on all banners to be sold to
4 Gang Busters
“I’d like to meet this Lord – would you ask his Lordship to
“I don’t think we can find him for a few days, sir.”
“Well he bought a shipment of fur coats from Russia.”
“Yes sir. You know raccoon coats sell for about two hundred
and fifty dollars – but Lord got those so he could double hismoney and sell them for forty dollars each.”
“Remarkable – remarkable. But what has that got to do with
“Well the coats were fine – in the very cold weather but that
rain storm we had day before yesterday . . . well, sir, the coatsall shedtheir hair until they don’t have one spear left onthem. And do they smell. I would say sir, that they stink.”
And so Lord graduated from Bowdoin College. But right up to this big
event he had no idea what he was going to do after graduation. Having grad-uated with honors, he was appointed at the age of 22, principal of thePlainville, Connecticut High School. Apparently Lord called long distance bytelephone, caught the school board in session and whether they meant yes –or meant no and said yes – nobody is quite clear to this day. But the result wasLord became the youngest high school principal in the country.
Lord tackled his teaching job with the same ingenuity he had already
displayed. The following year his salary was increased to $3,000 and he wasmade principal of the high school and
the grammar school. A new high schoolwas built. Football teams and dance clubs were organized – but he still feltthat teaching did not offer the kind of opportunity he sought.
* The script dialogue originates from Lord’s personal papers. It is presumed that he typed this himself.
The events were true: Lord sold silk stockings having struck a deal with a hosiery mill, and raccooncoats to any student who could afford them.
Next, he started up a mail order business selling silk hosiery and later,
pearls from the Orient. Not satisfied with his new-found fortune, Lord startedselling vacuum cleaners by mail. By the end of the second year, all his endeavorswere going strong but he couldn’t help feeling that the place for financial success was New York. He wrote a number of inquiring letters and at the endof the second year turned down a most substantial job offer as principal in alarger city, turned his mail order business over to others, and traveled to NewYork. There he took a job at twenty-five dollars a week in a candy factory.
The candy company was no cup of tea. Having received a cold reception
from the employees on the first day, Lord quickly resigned after two weeksemployment. Three days later he walked into one of New York’s largest publishing houses and without knowing a soul – walked into the President’soffice. Two hours later, he was the Sales and Advertising Manager. QuicklyLord scrutinized this opportunity. It certainly was a great company, with nicefolks, but he couldn’t see his future there. He resigned, walked up FifthAvenue, saw the office of the Spur
magazine and walked in. He asked to seethe President and an hour later was circulation manager of that prominentmagazine. (Lord’s vigorous ideas proved too much for that publication and hewas summarily fired.)
Shortly after the magazine disaster, Lord’s radio career began. He started
writing radio scripts in the evening. With radio a growing and expandingmedium, the broadcasting studios had not yet created a format for which aradio script was to be written. Radio scripts for early-1930s radio programsfeaturing very few cast members looked more like single-page text whichother script writers – whose talent for writing came from the stage – wrotetheir radio scripts in the format of stage plays. Lord admitted that he knewnothing about writing a radio script, but with his talent for walking into anoffice and convincing a member of management to hire him on the spot, hefelt he was the professional for the job.
6 Gang Busters
SETH PARKER IS ON THE AIR
Being the son of a Reverend with a congregation taught Lord many lessons ofChristian values. Upon learning that a large percentage of radio listeners wereChristians who enjoyed programs of spiritual commitment, Lord came upwith an idea. Renting a small room about the size of a small bathroom, at theSalmon Tower Building in New York, Lord commissioned his new residence asboth home and office. He purchased a chair for one dollar, a desk for three dollars and an old battered typewriter. He even bought an Army cot so hecould sleep in his office and save time. He bought some cans of Sterno® withwhich to cook, and a case of canned soup.
Using his own grandfather as the role model for a character named “Seth
Parker,” Lord created a series of scripts based on Sunday evening dinner tableconversations, incorporating old-fashioned hymns in between the conversa-tions. This group of rustic New Englanders featured restrained mannerismsdoing their best “to conjure up days of long ago, when applejack and bundlingwere in vogue.” After a number of trials and errors, Lord finally hit on the ideaof sending them out to the stations throughout the country – not just themajor New York studios. The scripts were called Seth Parker’s Singing School
and finally after patiently trying to sell them for one year, WLW in Cincinnatiwrote and offered to buy the scripts for twenty-five dollars each. Now, that wasreally something. It felt good. It sounded good. One month later, WTIC inHartford bought the very same scripts for twenty-five dollars each – thenDetroit – then San Francisco, and in six months there were twenty stations allpaying Lord for the same script – or $500.00 a week.*
Following the Seth Parker
program were numerous short-run radio pro-
grams created, produced, directed (and occasionally written) by Phillips H.
Lord. From June 23, 1930 to May 9, 1931, the Goodrich Tire and RubberCompany sponsored Uncle Abe and David
, a radio serial broadcast four timesa week featuring the continuing home-spun adventures of Abe Stetson (playedby Phillips H. Lord) and David Simpson, two old “down east” codgers whooperated their own general store in Skowhegan, Maine. The supporting castincluded Parker Fennelly as Uncle Abe (Lord left the acting task to Fennelly afterthe first few weeks), Arthur Allen as David and Effie Palmer in the female roles.
Weeks after Uncle Abe and David
went off the air, Lord immediately started
a new radio serial. The Stebbins Boys
(broadcast June 22, 1931 to October 21,
* WTIC’s premiere broadcast of Sunday Evening at Seth Parker’s
was on March 3, 1929.
at six each morning – and wrote on his script while he ate. He had sevenshows a week to write – rehearse, direct and act in. He had another six repeatperformances lasting until one o’clock in the morning. For five years hewouldn’t leave his room to go to a movie or have dinner with a friend. Norwould he allow anyone to call on him. It was a strange super-human effort.
But when they took a nationwide poll of all radio programs on the air in 1928,Lord held two of the first three places.
CRIME HITS THE STREETS
America was obsessed with sensational crime during the early 1930s. Theflamboyant bootlegging empire of Al Capone was larger than life. The mediaturned criminals like “Baby-Face” Nelson and “Machine Gun” Kelly intoromantic figures and popular Robin Hood characters. When some of thesecriminals robbed banks, they also destroyed the mortgage and loan records,thereby rationalizing their crimes by helping out the “little guys” who facedthe loss of everything they had during the Depression. J. Edgar Hoover wasnot amused by the glorification of these murderers and thieves. He saw it as a“challenge to law and order and civilization itself.”
Born a white Protestant of a middle-class neighborhood, Hoover was a
member of the latest generation of civil servants in his family. He was closestto his mother, Annie, who was the disciplinarian and moral guide of the family until her death in 1938. In the midst of general hysteria concerningCommunist infiltration of America after the First World War, anarchistsbombed the home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in 1919. TheAttorney General used the attack to initiate a widespread clamp down on radicalism. Hoover, with his straight-laced morality, was the natural choice tohead the campaign.
Later known as the “Palmer raids,” the widespread attack on radicals was
largely Hoover’s operation. On January 2, 1920, he organized raids to be carried out in three different cities. With no search or arrest warrants in possession, the enforcers paid no regard to who were and were not guilty ofinsurrectionary activity. In the end, mass arrests were made and 556 peoplewere deported from the United States. While the methods of the Palmer raidswere to eventually come into question (causing Palmer to resign in disgrace),Hoover’s reputation remained clean. This was the first of what would becomemany public events to hail Hoover a hero to law-abiding Americans.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover head of the Bureau
of Investigation, a position Hoover long coveted. It was in this position thathe finally received the power he craved. Upon acceptance, Hoover demandedit be completely divorced from politics and responsible only to the AttorneyGeneral. Hoover’s conditions were met and he set out on a rejuvenation campaign, which would build the Bureau into one of the most powerful government agencies in Twentieth-Century America.
Hoover assembled an elite group of men, white and college-educated, who
would represent the Bureau as professional and trained agents. He demanded
10 Gang Busters
demanded the receipts. Thorpe put up a fight and in the fierce struggle, Sydowwas shot in the foot. However, he at last managed to shoot Thorpe. Sydowdrove his car to a spot near Deerwood, where weak from loss of blood, heskidded into a ditch. Five youths on their way to or from college, saw thewreck and packed the seemingly unconscious Sydow into their car. There heheld them up and forced them from the car. When a flat tire stopped him, heheld up another motorist and took his car. He dropped out of sight inMinneapolis, after treating his wounded foot with supplies and dope he hadpurchased in a drug store. (He had been a hospital orderly in prison andlearned how to treat gun wounds.)
Although there was no real evidence against Sydow, he was suspected after
police checked with the college youths and the motorist whose car he hadstolen. The information came to Gang Busters
and was broadcast over the air.
All citizens were warned to watch for a stolen deluxe Ford coupe. A Detroitcitizen remembered seeing such a car in a nearby garage and jotted down thelicense number. Then he ran to the garage and verified it. He notified policewho planted men to watch the garage. No one ever came for the car, but thepolice did manage to get a fingerprint from the rear view mirror which Sydowhad repositioned once after removing his gloves. He was positively identifiedand a nation-wide alarm went out for him.
For eight months Sydow eluded the dragnet and committed numerous
thefts. A Minneapolis labor leader, Patrick J. Corcoran of the A.F. of L. wasmurdered and Sydow was suspected of the crime. On February 16, 1938,George Dow of 100 West 52nd Street, St. Paul, Minn., was held up at gunpointby a man who burglarized his home. Patrolmen Henry Nordby and EarlBrunskill went to Dow’s house and were able to trace the criminal’s footprintsthrough the snow for two miles. At the end of the trail they caught him andfound a gun and the loot he had taken from Dow. When he was fingerprintedit was learned that he was Bruno Sydow.
When the backtracking of the various links of evidence was completed, it
showed that the Gang Busters
clue was responsible for capturing the murderer.
Sydow’s fingerprints on the car discovered in the Detroit garage, which haddefinitely been stolen by the murderer, proved that he was the one the policesought for killing Thorpe. Sydow cracked under the overwhelming evidenceand confessed, in the presence of Thorpe’s son. No record could be found ofhis conviction or sentence.
On March 23, 1938, Gang Busters
presented “The Case of Golden Barrett
and George Squires.” The story dramatized the crimes of Golden Barrett, aliasNeil Golden Thompson, who on the evening of December 28, 1929, noticed agrocery store ready to close for the night. Parking his car, he wrapped his scarfabout his face and held up the proprietor, Wayne Wrightsman, his son Wayne,Jr., 13-years-old, the butcher and a customer. While Barrett was searchingWrightsman’s pockets, Wrightsman struggled with him and Barrett shot the
grocer in the groin. Wrightsman did get the gun away from him though andas Barrett ran out the door he fired at him. The hammer fell on a dud. Thenyoung Wayne picked up a single-shot .22 rifle and shot Barrett in the rightshoulder. He managed to escape in spite of the wound and got to his grand-mother’s rooming house, where he was temporarily living, in Kansas City,Missouri. He told his aunt he had been injured while hunting, and she sent fora doctor. The doctor dressed the wound and said it was not serious. On herway home, his aunt passed the grocery store and put two and two together.
Early the next morning she called Captain Beatty at Police Headquarters andtold him the story.
Barrett was picked up, identified by the witnesses in the store and
sentenced to concurrent terms of from 10-21 years. While awaiting trial in theOlathe County jail, he escaped with three other men by beating the jailer overthe head with a food tray and fleeing. He was captured the next day.
Meanwhile, Wrightsman had lost a leg at the thigh. He opposed Barrett’s twoapplications for parole in 1936, with the support of Barrett’s aunt who wasnow afraid of him. Barrett made friends in jail with a con named GeorgeSquires. In 1937 they both made successful applications for parole. Theyplanned a series of holdups and moved back to Kansas City, Missouri. In Julythey held a series of holdups of pedestrians, stores and stole cars. Then on July24th, Barrett and Squires went to the Armourdale District in Kansas City todispose of some dope taken in a drug store raid and then decided to steal a carand get out of town because it was getting hot.
At 8:56 p.m. that same evening, Officers John Coyle and Norbie Jones had
gone to a private residence to settle a domestic quarrel. After they had quieteddown the fighting couple, they returned to their squad car. While the officerswere inside, Barrett and Squires had attempted to steal the car but could notstart it. In their frantic attempts they tripped the transmitter of the two-wayradio so that the entire dialogue which followed could be heard at police head-quarters. Squires said to Jones who was ahead of Coyle, “Get in the car, copper. We’re takin’ you for a ride!” Jones retorted, “Oh yeah, that’s what youthink!” For the next twenty seconds the dispatcher at headquarters heard ten or twelve shots. He recognized Jones’ voice and sent three squad cars tothe address on Osage where the two cops had gone originally. Squires andJones fired simultaneously, then Barrett fired at Jones. Squires got out andgrappled with Jones who was seriously wounded. Just then Coyle came upand shot Squires through the head as he was about to shoot Jones again. In themeantime, Barrett emptied his gun into Coyle and fled, severely wounded bya bullet from Jones’ gun.
When Captain Beatty reached the scene he was approached by a citizen
who told him that a man was lying in an alley about a block away. The captain immediately recognized Barrett. He died the following morning.
Squires had been killed instantly. Officer Jones recovered.
74 Gang Busters
On April 27, 1938, Variety
magazine printed a review about Gang Busters
“Crime program has been aired unbrokenly for over a year but for the past
few months has had Colonel Norman Schwartzkopf of the New Jersey State Policeas commentator in place of Phillips Lord. Broadcast, which exploits activities of police in solving outstanding crimes in the annals of various law enforcementsystems, has plenty to attract amateur sleuth and other listeners usually magnetizedby criminal events, but still is open to improvement.
“Selections for airing are all on the cops’ side of the fence, as they have been
since the program debuted. They’re okay, but instead of confining itself to explainingsteps taken by police to apprehend culprits, it might occasionally be a good idea toshorten this or lengthen time to include reasons why criminals involved got thatway. In itself the program was a nice job of radio writing, every step taken in caseaired being clearly outlined. It was open to criticism on one or two technicalitiesbut they were minor. Story opened with two young men facing each other in a base-ball game, one pitching and the other winning the tight game for his side with ahomer – and winds up under the circumstances – with the batter, as a cop, beingresponsible for the erstwhile pitcher’s arrest for murder. It was taken from therecords of the Cleveland Police with Chief Madowitz of that force aiding in theretelling.”
On June 8 and June 15, 1938, “The Case of Killer McGoig” was dramatized
on Gang Busters
. This two-part thriller dramatized the exploits of Gus McGoig,who in early 1934, after a petty crime career, ended up in the county jail atNewport, Tennessee where he met Clarence Bunch, a bank robber. On May 15,1934, McGoig and Bunch escaped with a .38 which had been smuggled toBunch. He shot the jailer in the arm and locked him in their cell. The fugitiveslay hidden in the mountains for days while a posse scoured the countryside.
Then, around July 1st, they embarked upon a series of petty holdups andhijackings, gradually adding more men to the gang, of which Bunch was thehead man. They continued on their wild rampage of crime around WhitePlains, and in Clairborne, Jefferson, Grainger and Hemblen Counties, andeven going over into North Carolina. They had numerous brushes with thelaw, but McGoig was finally trailed to a cabin hideout in mountainous CaneyValley and captured by a posse.
On August 25, 1934, McGoig was sentenced at Tazewell to five years in the
state penitentiary at Nashville. There, McGoig whittled a wooden pistol, andused Deputy Warden Ed Conners as a human shield to get out the gate inConners’ car. On December 6, 1935, McGoig and cellmate Pete Dean, forcedold acquaintance Frank Hopson, 22, to accompany them against his will. Theydrove to New Tazewell, Tennessee and held up the bank. Citizens fired at thembut they roared safely out of town. They passed a bus, and then noticed that acar driven by pursuing Sheriff L.B. Hutchinson and Deputy Austin “Red”Matthews also passed the bus. They screeched to a stop at the end of Clinch
had established good will by liberal thank you notes, requests for reactions, offers to broadcast clues to persons wanted, etc. Such letterswent out promptly to every officer or real name used in a particular script. Ifa listener reported interest in a clue, Gang Busters
acted more promptly on thisthan any other phase of activity, feeling an hour may make the difference in acapture. If a listener anywhere had information on a FBI wanted person, Lord’soffice called the New York office. If the information concerned a local or stateclue, they wired the police officer concerned.
The average collect rehearsal time for Gang Busters
was from six to sevenhours for each program – depending on the intricacies of the script. The castingdirector had a file of 1,500 actors, and used 600 character voices in a series.
Unless a script ran for two weeks, no actor appeared on consecutive shows.
The leading “mug” as well as principal “cop” were given as much data aboutthe parts they were to play as possible. A fundamental rule was that the audience must hate the “mug” and love the cop.
As an example of the weekly routine that went into the rehearsals of each
broadcast, let’s take a peek at the April 14, 1951 broadcast. Thesupervisor of the show arrived at Studio One, CBS by 4:15 at the latest onSaturday afternoon, as this was the time the agency took over the studio forrehearsal of commercials. As soon as these are rehearsed, a complete dressrehearsal is put on until 5:00. Cuts are made and improvements suggested inthe script or direction until finished. Then those in the studio listened to aplay-back of the advance show – the show for the following week. After thisplay-back which is attended by agency, Gang Busters
director, Gang Busters
writer and CBS Engineer together with supervisor, suggestions for improvementof the script and board suggestions regarding direction are made. Conferenceis then adjourned until 8:15 when final touches are made for the air show at9:00. Once the supervisor had confidence in those conducting the air show, itwas probably unnecessary that he be present at air-time unless he knew inadvance that an account executive might have been there with a client.
Usually the Young & Rubicam contract man knew of the visit of anyone of a particular nature and he would notify Lord and his crew in advance duringthe week.
114 Gang Busters
THE CASE OF THE COLGATE TAKEOVER
Relations with the sponsor, the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company was aboutto take a downward turn for the worse. “In May of 1938, I was approached bythe Stack-Gobel Advertising Agency who asked me when my contract for theseries with Colgate expired,” explained Phillips Lord. “I told them that I justhad a one-year contract which expired the end of 1939. Stack-Gobel told methat they had a client, an aspirin account which was crazy over Gang Busters
and who would give me $6,200 a week for at least a 39-week contract and theybelieved they could get them to sign for a firm year. This (compared to whatColgate was paying) was a terrific offer. I told them that legally I had the rightto make a commitment right then and there, but I would not do it until I tookthe whole situation up with Colgate and talked it all through. Therefore, Isigned nothing, nor committed myself to them in any way.”
“During the next 24 hours, I called up Benton & Bowles for a conference
luncheon,” Lord continued. “It was set for several days later. Meanwhile asquib appeared in Radio Daily
that such and such a company was getting GangBusters
. I was called up by someone at Benton & Bowles who was very upset.
I explained that I had been interviewed by an agency concerning it, but hadnot committed myself in any way and that was why I had already asked for aluncheon. At the luncheon there was Mr. Bates (of Benton & Bowles) and mypartner, John Ives, and I believe Mr. Revere, but I am not sure. I explained thewhole story. I told which agency it was who had called, just what they had saidand what account they had it in mind for. I reviewed the past experiences wehad together concerning the program. I told Mr. Bates the sum I had beenoffered. I told him that although this proposition was being made as a firmoffer, I was holding it up and was giving Colgate first refusal.”
“I explained that I wasn’t even going to ask Colgate to meet that proposal,
or come anywhere near it, but did want Colgate, if it intended to continue, toshow its appreciation in some substantial increase, and when the time came toreceive it, then have them decide to make counter offers,” Lord continued.
“Mr. Bates told me that he had known for some time I should have receivedmore money – and he had meant to bring it up to Colgate – but he had beenso busy it was just one of those things he hadn’t gotten around to. The luncheonbroke up very friendly – and I expected a call back with some sort of an offer. If Colgate had offered $4,300, I would have remained with Colgate andsacrificed the difference between that and the aspirin offer. In fact, I made thisoffer of $4,300 in a letter to Benton & Bowles on May 23, 1938.”
“Instead I was called over and told very bitterly and arbitrarily that I had
no rights, whatsoever, that the show didn’t belong to me, that they could goright along without me, that Benton & Bowles had thought up the whole idea,it wasn’t mine at all, the title belonged to them, they had thought of the cluesand everything about the program. I didn’t reply, I walked out before I saidanything I would regret.”
Lord was served with legal papers which claimed Colgate owned every-
thing about the show. Colgate created it, developed it, and Lord was simplyhired to put their show on for them. Colgate even went so far as to register aUnited States Patent Office registration (number 369228) for a periodicaltitled “Gang Busters
,” just so they could claim the trademark “Gang Busters
“Before Gang Busters
went on the air, and every week it was on the air, the
Publicity Department of Benton & Bowles, working right with the RadioDepartment, released notices to the papers about my being the creator andoriginator of Gang Busters
,” Lord protested. “We were not allowed to releaseanything about Gang Busters
during that period, and in fact it was writtenright into the contract. These releases were made by Benton & Bowles’ radiodepartment. We have over three thousand clippings on file of releases madeby Benton & Bowles calling Gang Busters
my show, and many of these state Iwas the originator – or creator. This certainly would not have been done for aperiod of three years if it were not so. There was never a word said about itsnot being my series until it was used as a defense when the agency thought itwas losing a low-priced series.”
When Phillips H. Lord appeared at Benton & Bowles request on other radio
programs, Lord was introduced as the creator of the Gang Busters
series. Lordwas a guest on Hank Simmon’s Showboat
to introduce the Gang Busters
seriescoming on the air, and Lord explained over the air how he happened to createthe program. Lord was also introduced on Lowell Thomas’ radio program in1936 answering questions concerning how he created Gang Busters
andBenton & Bowles made the arrangement for him to appear on the program.
On the opening program of We, the People
(October 4, 1936), Lord was introduced as the creator of Seth Parker
, and Gang Busters
In the Who’s Who
publication, Lord was listed as the creator of Seth Parker
Uncle Abe and David, The Stebbins Boys, Cruise of the Seth Parker, G-Men, GangBusters
and We, the People
“I considered the accusation contained in the legal papers served upon
me the most unjust, unfounded attempt I had ever encountered in the radiobusiness,” Lord defended. Both sides started to go to court immediately. Legalrepresentatives for Colgate claimed the statements about Lord creating GangBusters
was pure “publicity hype.” Lord backed his claim by offering to callkey witnesses including representatives from NBC during the time he wastossing the idea around to create an outgrowth of G-Men
for the radio undera different format. Both corporations, not wanting a big mess splashed all over
116 Gang Busters
“THE CASE OF LOUIS LEPKE BUCHALTER” (PART TWO)
STORY: Buchalter didn’t look the part with his suits and the general
appearance of a mildly affluent businessman. But his fine wool suitscouldn’t warm his eyes, said to be like blocks of ice. In August of1939, he was arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison for narcotics offences. When hit man Abe Reles agreed to provide evidence against Buchalter, he was tried for the murder of JosephRosen, a candy store clerk. Found guilty of the slaying, Buchalter was executed four years later at Sing Sing Prison on March 4, 1944.
STORY: For three wild and tragic weeks, brothers Clarence and Orelle
Easton pursued a life of crime involving kidnapping and robbery.
They kidnapped Mr. H.R. Hine, manager of a Cumberland,Wisconsin department store and his girl. They held them prisonersfor four hours before forcing them out of the car. Police caught theEaston brothers off guard and exchanged gunfire. The boys escaped.
Sheriff Mark Campbell found a shotgun butt near the shooting. Atfirst, he didn’t realize that it was evidence that would eventually connect them to a reign of terror that spread over the Wisconsincountryside during their spree. Meanwhile, the Eastons kidnappedtwo deputies and drove off in their own car because it was less conspicuous than a squad car. Relentlessly, the police dragnet involving Illinois State patrolmen closed in on the pair. They wereeventually overpowered.
STORY: Jack Howard shot 11 people and killed seven in the process of
committing 94 known hold-ups, two incidents of assault and battery,and miscellaneous purse snatchings. On December 4, 1934, Howard
got food and blankets. When an attendant of the Lake Spauldingreservoir spotted the men, the police took pursuit, apprehending thebandits.
EPISODE #291 (Broadcast December 11, 1942)
STORY: On December 24, 1927, Marshall Ratliff was fitted with a Santa Claus
suit. In Cisco, Texas, Santa walked into a bank, eyed a cashier andquietly announced a hold up. His cohorts, Hill, Davis, and Helms,quickly spread across the room with guns showing. Customers frozein their tracks, but a mother and a young daughter slipped out thefront door and ran to the office of Police Chief Bedford. WhenBedford entered the bank, he found the robbers on their way outusing customers and bank officers as human shields. The next day, aposse armed with guns and bloodhounds took chase. Ratliff waswounded and Helms and Hill managed to get away. At the countyjail, a crowd gathered and overpowered the law officers, hangingRatliff in the streets.
EPISODE #292 (Broadcast December 18, 1942)
STORY: Earl Erwin and Mervin Brown met in the Missouri State Penitentiary.
As two models of good behavior, they were made trustees to performservices outside prison walls. One evening they failed to return,financing their trip by a series of hold ups until they reached Omaha.
There, while robbing a drug store, they perfected a successful technique. Erwin went in and held the place up while Brown stayedoutside as lookout. When police arrived, Brown posing as a casuallounger, would shout out to police which way the robber went, misdirecting police to the wrong direction. A short time after, hewould saunter off and meet Erwin at a prearranged place.
EPISODE #293 (Broadcast December 25, 1942)
STORY: The identification of people – especially criminals – has always been
a problem with the police. Identification of a person means knowingpositively who a given person is. In medico-legal practice it may be
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