About The Fat Man

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

The Fat Man became one of radio’s great icons with its opening:"There he goes, into that drugstore.

He’s stepping on the scales.

Weight: 239 pounds. Fortune: Danger.

Who is it? The Fat Man!"

The Fat Man was a New York bachelor & portly detective who tipped the scales at 237 pounds and was dubbed a cross between Nick Charles and Sam Spade, two of Hammett’s famous characters from The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcone.

The show was advertised as “Dashiell Hammett’s most exciting character”. But Hammett had little to do with the writing of any of the radio shows based on his characters. The Fat Man was developed by producer, E.J. Rosenberg who believed a realistic narrative could be derived from one of Hammett’s characters in The Maltese Falcone called ‘Gutman’ who appears in Chapter 11, funnily enough called

“The Fat Man”.

J. Scott Smart voiced the title role, who started out anonymous but rapidly acquired the name 'Brad Runyon'. Interestingly J. Scott. Smart who often appeared in bow tie and suspenders while portraying the 237-pound detective, weighed 270 pounds at the time.

The detective series was directed by Clark Andrews and Charles Powers and the main writer was Richard Ellington, with other scripts by Robert Sloane and Lawrence Klee. However due to concern about Dashiell Hammett’s Communist ties, the show had trouble holding a sponsor, particularly as radio headed into its declining years and it was cancelled into 1951.

Between 1954 & 1955 there was also an Australian version of The Fat Man. Aired September 9, 1954 it ran for a total of 52 episodes and the title character of The Fat Man was played by Lloyd Berrell. The Australian Fat Man weighed less than the American Fat Man.

In 1951 a movie called The Fat Man, directed by William Castle, was released with a flashback-within-a-flashback storyline. J. Scott Smart continued to play the role of detective Brad Runyon, who was investigating the murder of a Los Angeles. The movie also starred Rock Hudson, Jayne Meadows, Julie London, & Emmett Kelly.

In this instalment of The Radioplay Hour we will recreate an episode called “Murder is the Medium” in which The Fat Man investigates a shady rug dealer & his psychic wife. The Fat Man will be voiced by Magen Seymour Smith who will bring her own distinct voice to the portly PI.

Gold Coast Little Theatre: 21a Scarborough Street Southport

April 8th at 1:00pm (Please arrive by 12:40pm for 12:45pm pre show music)

Preece House: 52 Nerang Street, Nerang.

April 17th & 18th at 7:00pm (Please arrive by 6:40pm for 6:45pm pre show music)

For more information click here The Radioplay Hour

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