With the musical refrain of "I'll Take Manhattan," and the sound of impatient car horns in the background, another episode of Broadway is My Beat begins. New York police detective Danny Clover informs us that "Broadway is my beat. From Times Square to Columbus Circle -- the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world."
Homicide detective Clover, played by Larry Thor, narrates the introduction to each program's plot. In "The Thomas Hart Case," broadcast April 14, 1951, his calm, yet intense voice begins another episode, his narration blending smoothly into the action of the story.
"The day without color is only six hours old and the restlessness begins to eat at Broadway. The waiting, the longing for the night time begins to grow like hunger, like thirst, because Broadway's night is a banquet, loaded with delicacies. The scarlet wine of neon. The forbidden fruit of a trumpet's scream. The lukewarm stew offered on a tin plate through an alley doorway. But, Broadway's day -- that's the drab time, kid, the empty time. The time of leaning against sun-warmed stalls and waiting. And you wait for the rest of Broadway, because it'll come -- something will come. And it does. You know that, because Broadway nudges you with an elbow, winks and says 'follow me, kid.' The day has turned bright and it's not far away where the day is bright -- on 39th Street just off 7th Avenue in the garment center. The crowd is already there ahead of you, toothpicking its last bite of lunch, digesting the spectacle of a man sprawled on the pavement. There was a scissors in his back."
And so, with poetic metaphor, Clover is challenged with another crime, another mystery, another case to solve.
The show originally was broadcast from New York, February 27 to May 29, 1949. Actor Anthony Ross was the original Clover. In July 1949, the series moved to Hollywood. The title of each show was the name of that week's victim. The first Los Angeles launched episode, "Jimmy Dorn," began a seven-week summer season that ran from July 7 through August 25 of that year. The first full season program, "Mei Ling," was heard November 5, 1949. The final broadcast, "Floyd Decker," was aired August 1, 1954. In all, there were 194 episodes.
Anthony Ross continued to play Clover through June 23, 1950. Then, on July 3, 1950, when the show moved from Fridays to Mondays, Larry Thor became Clover. Before starring in Broadway is My Beat, Thor was the announcer for two other crime/adventure series: Rocky Jordan (1945-47) and The Green Lama (June to August 1949). Other case regulars on Broadway is My Beat were Charles Calvert as Sgt. Gino Tataglia (no other known credits) and Jack Kruschen as Sgt. Muggavan. Kruschen also had worked on many other shows, including Pete Kelly's Blues, Escape and Gunsmoke.
A "Who's Who" list of Hollywood radio actors had periodic supporting roles on Broadway is My Beat. Some of the better-known cast members included Hy Averback, Harry Bartell, Herb Butterfield, Mary Jane Croft, Lawrence Dobkin, Herb Ellis, Sam Edwards, Sheldon Leonard, Barney Phillips, Irene Tedrow, Anne Whitfield and Ben Wright. Most of these character actors also had performed on one or more of the following shows: Gunsmoke, Escape, Crime Classics, On Stage, Nightbeat, Pete Kelly's Blues and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, to mention just a few.
Bill Anders did the announcing. He also had been the announcer on the short-lived (July to September 1951) Mr. Aladdin detective show starring Paul Frees, written by Dick Powell and directed by Elliot Lewis. The musical score for Broadway is My Beat was composed and conducted by Alexander Courage. He would later write the theme music for the original Star Trek television series.
Lewis, the show's producer and director, was a man of many talents. He had already established himself as a versatile radio actor, writer and producer. But Broadway is My Beat was his first directing effort. Lewis had an advantage as a director. He was born in Manhattan and had first-hand knowledge of the flavor, pulse and pace of the city. Some of his major acting credits include playing Frankie Remley on The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show (1946-48), Archie on The Adventures of Nero Wolfe (1943-44), Captain Bart Friday on Adventures by Morse (1944-45 -- shared with David Ellis and Russell Thorson), and Gregory Hood on The Cast Book of Gregory Hood (1948).
In addition, he directed the CBS Radio Workshop and was creator-producer-director of Crime Classics. In his later years, Lewis wrote a series of detective novels and served as a script consultant on the Remington Steele television show. For Broadway is My Beat, Lewis used three sound men to recreate the sometimes noise sounds of the city. Simply stated, in his words, "Even the people in New York are noisy."
Morton Fine and David Friedkin wrote the finely honed and creative scripts for Broadway is My Beat. They also collaborated on scripts for Bold Venture, Crime Classics, The Front Page, The Lineup, Phillip Morris Playhouse, On Stage and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, among others. In addition, they were two of the producer-directors of Escape.
To say that Broadway is My Beat had the services of some very talented and creative people would lean towards understatement.
The CBS network press kit provides some insight into the main character of the series. "As a kid, Danny Clover sold papers and shined shoes along the Great White Way, and later pounded the beat as a policeman. He knows everything along Broadway, from panhandler to operatic prima donna, but he's still sentimental about the street -- forever a wonderland of glamour to him."
Now, back to the Thomas Hart Case. Having successfully brought the criminal to justice, Clover ends the show with the following reflections:
"In the April night, Broadway echoes with sounds heard only in darkness. The whispers that speckle places where there's no sun. There's a touch on your coat. You turn. There's no one. Nothing. Only the trail of dust on your shoulder. It's Broadway. The gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world. Broadway. My beat!"
Charles Beckett in Return With Us Now, March 2004
Thanks. I was wondering why the actors changed after the first few episodes.
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