Terry and the Pirates

Realistic wartime adventures.

Terry and the Pirates

Terry and the Pirates (1938-1948) was an OTR action-adventure series running, with breaks, for a decade. Each episode featured a realistic adventure and pitted Terry Lee and his friends against Oriental and Nazi German adversaries. Terry and the Pirates is significant because during World War II it proved the ability of radio to engage listeners with distant events as told through serialized audio narrative, it was one of the first radio series to involve juveniles in the campaign against fascism, and it illustrated depictions and interactions with Asian persons which today we find offensive.

Episodes

Totals

Total Episodes: 169
Surviving Episodes: 168
Inventory of episodes

Exemplary Episodes

The first and last three known surviving episodes.

Terry, Connie, and Pat
Episode 031, 17 November 1941
The earliest known surviving episode. Terry Lee, Pat Ryan, April Kane, Burma, Dude Hennick, and Connie-the-Coolie are locked in upstairs rooms of a brick building in Wu Tong, China, hideout of the Dragon Lady. They went to this mountain village to recover a radio transmitter stolen from them in Singapore but were captured. April has a "Terryscope," a type of periscope devised by Terry.

Big Stoop To the Rescue
Episode 032, 18 November 1941
The second earliest known surviving episode. Big Stoop, the Chinese servant, releases Terry and Pat. The others remain locked up. Pat knocks out Lawyer Spur and Mr. Keel when they try to break into the building looking for the radio transmitter, which is missing. Big Stoop gives Mr. Keel a severe shaking as Pat tries to convince Keel to tell where the radio transmitter is hidden.

Radio Device Missing
Episode 033, 19 November 1941
The third earliest known episode. Terry and his friends are in the Dragon Lady's hideout in the Chinese mountains. While using the "Terryscope" to see around corners, Mr. Keel is taken prisoner.

Mechanical Eye
Episode ??, 17 February 1947
Terry, Charlie, and Big Stoop drive to Tong Lake, 300 miles inland from Hong Kong, in search of an airplane said to be equipped with a stolen invention known as the mechanical eye. They find lodging in a strange lake-side hotel that smells of photographic developing chemicals. After tying up Trigger Goo's dog Boldo, Terry continues to look for the eye, which takes pictures of underground gold deposits.

Deadly Current
Episode ??, 14 October 1947
The Dragon Lady arrives in the besieged village of Shon Ling and orders Ang to bring Hakim The Great Cobra pirate to her. She plans to have Hakim capture Pat and Terry. Pat, Terry, Connie, and Charlie attempt to reach the village on horses so they can help the villagers and rescue an American boy, Mark James. Crossing a dangerous river, Charlie falls in and is swept downstream toward a large waterfall. He is rescued by his friends. They find Hakim's hideout. Meanwhile, the Dragon Queen finds Hot Shot's knapsack, lost when he fell in the river, and deduces he, Pat, and Terry are near. She plans to capture them.

The Tungsten Mine
Episode ??, 24 October 1947
The last known surviving episode. Terry is in the pirate camp, trying to decide whether he can rescue Mark James before he gives the Dragon Lady the location of the secret tungsten mine. Pat has not returned from the village with help. What should Terry do? The Dragon Lady attempts to torture James, but he manages to overpower a pirate. The Dragon Lady orders the pirates back to the village where she promises to torture Mr. Odan, guardian of Mark James, in order to force James to tell the secret location of the mine. James leads the pirates toward the hills in order to protect the Odan's life. Terry, hidden in reeds at river's edge, is discovered by the pirates.

Background

Terrr-eeee . . . and the Pirates!
Quaker Puffed Wheat Sparkies present Terry and the Pirates!

The Terry and the Pirates radio series was adapted (often wildly) from the popular comic strip of the same name started in October 1934 by Milton Carniff. The first episode was broadcast 1 November 1937 on National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Fifteen minute episodes were broadcast three times a week. The series was discontinued because America's isolationist stance did not promote interest in foreign locales. The series returned and was popular just before America's entry into World War II. Interest continued throughout the war. With no enemies to fight after the end of the war, the series lost appeal. The last episode aired 30 June 1948.

Over its decade-long run, episodes of this serial adventure series portrayed the perils faced by Terry Lee and his friends, Pat Ryan, Flip Corkin, Connie-the-Coolie, Hotshot Charlie, April Kane, Burma, and female flyer Eleta. From Shanghai to Calcutta, they faced off against Oriental and Nazi adversaries, like the Dragon Lady and Baron Von Krell.

The recurring cast included . . .
Terry Lee (Jackie Kelk, Cliff Carpenter, Owen Jordan, and Bill Fein)
Pat Ryan (Bud Collyer, who also voiced Superman, Warner Anderson, Bob Griffin, and Larry Alexander)
Flip Corkin (Ted de Corsia)
Eleta (Gerta Rozan)
Burma (Frances Chaney)
Hotshot Charlie (Cameron Andrews)
Connie-the-coolie (Cliff Norton, John Gibson, Peter Donald)
Dragon Lady (Agnes Moorehead, Adelaide Klein, Marion Sweet, Mina Reaume)

The Terry and the Pirates radio series ran for a decade following this timeline . . .
1 November 1937 - 1 June 1938
3 times weekly, National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
Fifteen minute episodes

26 November 1938 - 22 March 1939
3 times weekly, National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
Fifteen minute episodes

16 October 1941 - 29 May 1942
5 times weekly on WGN Chicago, Illinois
Fifteen minute episodes

1 February 1943 - 30 June 1948
5 times weekly, National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
Fifteen minute episodes

Resources

Episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library
Terry and the Pirates radio logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs
Plot summaries and credits at Radio Gold Index website