Jack Armstrong

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

Overview

Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy (1933-1951) was an OTR juvenile adventure series following the globe-trotting Jack Armstrong, popular athlete at Hudson High School, Hudson, Minnesota, his cousins Billy and Betty Fairfield, and his Uncle Jim, James Fairfield, an industrialist.

Significance

One of the longest running juvenile radio adventure series. Narrative arcs for individual adventures ran from ten to thirty episodes. Many episodes were essentially travelogues, providing facts about the lands visited, especially during World War II when radio listeners were trying to imagine the people and places in the Pacific War Theater. Offered radio premiums related to the adventures involving Jack and his friends.

Background

Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy was created by Robert Hardy Andrews, a former journalist. The characters were cleanly drawn. Jack was a no nonsense school athlete, Billy given to juvenile excitement, and Betty a token female. Uncle Jim Fairfield was the adult authority figure who frequently visited exotic parts of the world in connection with his business, and took Jack, Billy, and Betty with him.

The episodes, on the other hand, were very slow, following from one mini-crises to another, with the narrative arcs of individual "adventures" running from ten to thirty episodes. Villains were recycled from one adventure to another. In order, these adventures were
Luminous Dragon Eye Ring Adventure, 30 September-29 November 1940
Country of the Head Hunters, 2-20 December 1940
Adventure of the Sunken Reef, 23 December 1940-3 January 1941
Zambo Anga Adventure, 6 January-6 February 1941
Professor Loring Missing, 5-8 March 1941

Jack was the hero of Hudson High School. Billy and Betty were exemplary students. But they were never in school. Instead they traveled from one exotic local to another, racking up adventures and seemingly rarely opening their school books.

During World War II, each episode was approved by Dr. Martin L. Reymert, a child psychologist and director of a childhood research laboratory in Mooseheart, Illinois. He strictly forbade murder and torture.

Fifteen-minute daily episodes were first broadcast by WBBM radio, Chicago, Illinois, over the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 31 July 1933-1936. The series continued on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) 2 September-31 December 1940, the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS) 1941-1942, and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) 1942-1950. The fifteen-minute daily format ended 29 August 1947 and the series became a thirty-minute show broadcast twice a week. The series changed to Jack Armstrong of the SBI fall 1950. As an adult working for the Scientific Bureau of Investigation, Jack, Billy, and Betty were not so successful, and the series ended 28 June 1951.

Plot

James Fairfield, a wealthy industrialist, visits an exotic part of the world in connection with his business. He take Armstrong, Billy, and Betty with him. They must keep up with their school studies while traveling, but mostly they engage in adventures, often pitted against colorful villains.

Cast

Jack Armstrong (Jim Ameche until 1938, then Charles Flynn)
Billy Fairfield (John Gannon until 1946, then Dick York)
Betty Fairfield (Scheindel Kalish and Sarajane Wells)
Uncle Jim Fairfield (Jim Goss)
Announcer (David Owen, and Franklin MacCormick)
Writer (Robert Hardy Andrews)
Director, producer (James Jewel)

Resources

Jack Armstrong radio logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
Episodes (all ten) of Sunken Reef Adventure at Internet Archive website
Episodes (all thirty) of Luminous Dragon Eye Ring Adventure at Internet Archive website
Episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library website
Plot summaries and credits at Radio Gold Index website

Episodes

Totals

Total episodes: 91
Surviving episodes: 91

Timeline

31 July 1933-1936: Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)
2 September-31 December 1940: National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
1941-1942: Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS)
1942-1951: American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
In August 1947, the series went to 30-minute episodes broadcast twice a week. The series changed to Jack Armstrong of the SBI fall 1950. Last episode 28 June 1951.

Inventory

Information and description for each episode of the series. Learn more.
Episodes (all thirty) of Luminous Dragon Eye Ring Adventure at Internet Archive website.

Exemplary Episodes

The first three episodes of the Luminous Dragon Eye Ring Adventure, broadcast 30 September-29 November 1940.

  • Episode 1

    Stranger Captured
    Episode 01, 30 September 1940

  • Episode 2

    Trailing the Stranger
    Episode 02, 1 October 1940

  • Episode 3

    The White Sultan
    Episode 03, 2 October 1940