Flash Gordon

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Overview | Significance | Background | Plot | Cast | Resources | Episodes

Overview

The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon (April-October 1935) was a weekly OTR space adventure drama following the adventures of Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale University graduate, and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov on the planet Mongo.

Significance

Inspired another radio series, The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, a 1936-1940 television series starring Clarence Linden "Buster" Crabbe, a 1970s television series, and a 1980 film.
The best remembered and appreciated of its several competitors
The "spacephone," first introduced in the 1 July 1934 Flash Gordon comic strip, was incorporated by William "Mike" Moser into his 1952-1955 series, Space Patrol, along with rocket ships, ray guns, and other incredible technologies

Background

The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, the radio series, was adapted from the Flash Gordon comic strip created by Alexander (Alex) Gillespie Raymond (1909-1956). First published 7 January 1934, the weekly Flash Gordon comic strip was inspired by and designed to compete with the Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century comic strip, first newspaper appearance 7 January 1929. Buck Rodgers brought the idea of space exploration into popular media, following Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, but Flash Gordon continues to enjoy superior recognition and longevity.

Each Sunday, Flash Gordon appeared in The Comic Weekly, a thirty-two page, four color, tabloid-sized supplement to Hearst Sunday papers. The OTR show The Comic Weekly Man featured Lon Clark reading from The Comic Weekly, voicing most all the character parts.

Starting 27 April 1935, the Flash Gordon comic strip was adapted into a twenty six-episode weekly radio serial, beginning with the weekly strips published more than a year earlier. Each episode, fifteen minutes in length, incorporated events from the weekly strips. The radio series ended 26 October 1935. All twenty six original episodes survive.

Two days later, on 28 October, The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon debuted as a four-day-a-week, fifteen-minute radio show. This series ended 6 February 1936, after seventy four episodes. Only four episodes survive. The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon frequently strayed from Raymond's comic strip. For example Flash, Dale, and Dr. Zarkov shared an adventure in Atlantis, the mythical sunken city.

Plot

The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon begins with the arrival of a strange planet in the solar system, on a collision course with Earth. Dr. Hans Zarkov, Flash Gordon, and Dale Arden, travel in Dr. Zarkov's rocket ship to the strange planet, called Mongo, and ruled by Ming The Merciless, Emperor of Mongo and Supreme Ruler of the Universe. The trio have many adventures on Mongo, meeting, fighting, and making friends with the rulers and creatures of several kingdoms. At the end of the series, Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov return to Earth, crash land in Malaysia, meet Jungle Jim, gentleman adventurer, the star of another Alex Raymond comic strip. The series ends with Flash and Dale's wedding in the jungle.

Cast

Flash Gordon (Gale Gordon; noted for roles as Dr. Petrie in Fu Manchu, Mayor LaTrivia in Fibber McGee and Molly, Rumson Bullard in The Great Gildersleeve, Mr. Atterbury in My Favorite Husband, and Principal Conklin in Our Miss Brookslater; later famous for his television roles in Our Miss Brooks, Dennis the Menace, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy, the latter two with Lucille Ball)
Dale Arden (unknown)
Dr. Hans Zarkov (Maurice Franklin)
Emperor Ming, The Merciless (Bruno Wick)
Teddy Bergman
Everett Sloane
Charlie Cantor
Ray Collins

Resources

Flash Gordon episode logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
Episodes at Internet Archive website
Episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library

Episodes

Totals

Total episodes: 26
Surviving episodes: 26

Timeline

27 April 1935-26 October 1935
Broadcast on Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS)

Inventory

Information and description for each episode of the series. Learn more.

Exemplary Episodes

The first two and the last episodes of The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon series.

  • Episode 1

    On the Planet Mongo
    Episode 01, 27 April 1935
    Based on comic strips from 7, 14, 21, and 28 January 1934; 4, 11, 18, and 25 February 1934; and 4, 11, and 18 March 1934
    A new planet enters the solar system and is on a collision course with Earth. With the planet of doom come fiery meteors. One strikes an airplane carrying Flash Gordon and Dale Arden. They parachute safely to ground, landing near the laboratory of Dr. Hans Zerkov, famous scientist. Crazed from his non-stop efforts to save Earth, Dr. Zarkov forces Flash and Dale into his rocket ship. They travel through space to the planet Mongo where they crash and are captured by Emperor Ming, the evil ruler. Ming sends Flash to the arena where he fights and defeats four red Monkey Men. Ming is not pleased and orders Flash killed, but his daughter, Princess Aura, helps Flash escape. Aura imprisons Flash in her private rocket car and tells him to love her or die. Like daughter, like father, Ming tells Dale that she will marry him. The Lion Men attack Ming's city in their Space Gyros. Flash escapes during the attack and meets Prince Thun, of the Lion Men. Flash and Thun join forces to battle Ming. Using a "Thought Projector" in Thun's Space Gyro, they see Dale held captive, and a secret way into Ming's castle, "The Tunnel of Terror," guarded by deadly beasts. Fighting past these monsters, Flash and Thun arrive in Ming's throne room where they interrupt Ming's wedding to Dale. Flash and Thun rescue Dale, but while attempting to escape, fall into an underground river. Dale is captured by Sharkmen. Script available here.

  • Episode 2

    An Alliance Forms
    Episode 02, 4 May 1935
    Based on comic strips from 18 and 25 March 1934; 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 April 1934; 6, 13, 20, and 27 May 1934; and 3 and 10 June 1934
    Flash and Dale are captured by green Sharkmen living under the sea, on the planet Mongo. Princess Aura frees Flash, who tries to free Dale, not knowing that she has already been rescured by Prince Thun. Thun's father, King Jugrid, ruler of the Lionmen captures Flash and Princess Aura, who throws herself over a cliff and is caught by a "constrictor plant." Flash attempts to free her, but is also caught by the plant. They are rescued and captured by Prince Barin, a rebel who opposes Emperor Ming. Barin also holds Dr. Zarkov prisoner. Barin forces Flash and Dr. Zarkov to fight each other with daggers poisoned with dragon's blood. Flash foils Barin's plan and is reunited with Dr. Zarkov. Flash, Dr. Zarkov, and Barin join forces to overthrow Ming. They use a electric "burrowing mole" to tunnel into Ming's palace. Princess Aura persuades her guard, Ronkol, to help her escape so she can warn her father, Emporer Ming The Merciless, of the attack. When Flash, Dr. Zarkov, and Barin burrow through the floor of Ming's palace central hall, they are captured by Ming's armored men. Ming's High Priest, Zogi, reminds Ming that his captures have the right to undergo "the torture pit" where Flash and Barrin stand on a platform and using long whips, try to knock each other into the pit. Flash knocks Barin into the pit, and immediatley jumps in after him. When he tries to climb out of the pit, with Barin, he finds a transparent metal lid blocks their escape. Then the "tigrons" arrive, fierce tigers with unicorn horns. Flash defeats them. Prince Thun, who has escaped from Ming's soliders, pushes back the metal lid allowing Flash and Barin to escape. Ming and Dale are to be married by Zogi. But, once again, Flash and Thun interrupt the marriage. Captured, once again, Flash, Thun, and Barin are sentenced to the prison city of the cruel Hawkmen. Dale "will be taught to act like an Empress." Script available here

  • Episode 26

    Flash and Dale Married in the Jungle
    Episode 26, 26 October 1935
    This episode introduced as "The Adventures of Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim"
    In Reverend Chalmers' camp, Flash and Dale speak of their desire to marry. Chalmers agrees and the happy couple plans their jungle wedding the next morning. Natives insist on marrying Flash and Dale first, in their traditional ceremony. Then the wedding ceremony with which Flash and Dale are more familiar. Flash and Dale are married and return to the United States. Watching everyone head downriver in their boat, Jungle Jim says, "Well, I wonder what going to happen to us next, Kolu."