In the parallel universe of the HPLHS, the one in which Lovecraft was rich and famous and beloved during his own lifetime, Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is a real thing. Join us here for a little trip into that alternate reality, and learn a bit about the hosts, the sponsors, and a bit of the backstory of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre itself. Be sure to scroll down the page for a number of PDFs you can download to make your own packs of Fleurs de Lys, your own bottles of Bub-L-Pep, and more!
Classic radio shows and pulp magazines have long been intertwined. The Shadow, for example, was originally created as a generically spooky host for Street & Smith's Detective Story Hour radio show, which was itself produced to boost sales of Detective Story magazine. People enjoyed the host character so much that he was later made into the star of the show, got his own magazine, and became an icon of pop culture. The magazine spawned the radio show, which spawned another magazine, which spawned another radio show, movies, comic books, and more.
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is similarly based on a magazine, Dark Adventure Mystery Stories. Coveted by collectors, Dark Adventure Mystery Stories magazine is one of the rarest of the classic pulps. Published in Chicago from 1924 until about 1936, the magazine was edited by Warden Hale, a rival of Farnsworth Wright. Dark Adventure had a smaller circulation than Wright's more famous Weird Tales, but cultivated a similar readership. Authors such as Mason Farley and Charlie Tower, sometimes writing under pseudonyms, appeared in its pages, alongside John Styne, Rose Mackenberg (confidante of Harry Houdini), and Jack Carlton. Its offices were destroyed by fire some time in 1936, and Warden Hale dropped out of sight. No one is sure what became of him. He had been gassed in WWI and his health was never robust.
Like the great lost tabloid newspaper the New York Evening Graphic, there is no known complete, intact issue of Dark Adventure. Several covers have survived, however, along with some interior pages. The HPLHS is proud to have the most complete collection of these extremely rare pulps in existence. If any more turn up, we'll be sure to post images....
A former Shakespearean stage actor, Langfield turned to radio when a tragic sword-fighting accident during a performance of Hamlet deprived him of the use of his left arm. He made his radio debut on the Forhan's Toothpaste Hour of Smiles before becoming the host of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre.
A former boxer, Blackwell began his radio career as a sports play-by-play announcer at WEAF in New York. Advertisers were quick to notice his rich voice and soon he was tapped to read commercial copy on the air. Known for his convivial lifestyle, Blackwell can often be seen in the nightclubs and dance halls of NYC.
After a lengthy stage career playing villains in England, Mr. Dickens found a new and more congenial home in radio, where he could broaden his range. His one-man performance of "Nicholas Nickleby" will be Broadway's hottest ticket next season.
With his crisp diction and reputation for refined taste, Mr. Cobb has enjoyed a long and illustrious broadcasting career hosting cultural programs such as "Creighton Cobb's World of Classical Music" and "Let's Talk About Art."
Mr. Mayhew has had a few adventures of his own, traveling the world and broadcasting from innumerable exotic locales. He was the first American to broadcast from atop the Great Wall of China.
"Several years ago, when I first began to smoke Fleurs de Lys, I noticed that my voice remained unirritated even after a lengthy radio broadcast. I passed this information on to my stars and now we are all agreed. Fleurs de Lys make for a delightful smoke and most assuredly protect the voice, eliminating any coughing, which often interrupts a perfect performance."
Chester Langfield, Radio Host