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Original T-Man header art

The T-Man Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> T-Man


Dennis O'Keefe starred in the B-film T-Men in 1947
Dennis O'Keefe starred in the B-film T-Men in 1947

When it came time to reissue T-Men in 1950 it was a perfect compliment to CBS' summer replacement for Line Up
When it came time to reissue T-Men in 1950 it was a well-timed complement to CBS' summer replacement for Line Up


O'Keefe's identification with the T-Men role made it easier for CBS' Summer 1950 listeners to imagine him in the T-Man role
O'Keefe's identification with the T-Men role made it easier for CBS' Summer 1950 listeners to imagine him in the T-Man role. Indeed, the above graphic could well have been a teaser for the premiere episode

Background

Post World War II crime dramas flourished through the mid-1950s. Most of them were comparatively inexpensive to produce and featured relatively few major name stars, relying primarily on the fine Radio actors on either coast for their leads.

With the advent of the growth of Television during post-War prosperity, America turned to the small screen for crime dramas as much or even more than over Radio. Many of the more popular crime dramas managed to straddle both media. The majority of the crime dramas that aired between 1945 and 1955 were a combination of summer replacements and short-lived attempts to match the success of programs such as Line Up and Dragnet.

The more popular and enduring crime dramas broke down into metropolitan crime dramas and dramatizations of federal crime dramas. The federal crime dramas of the era to acheive varying measures of success were:

1944 The FBI In Peace and War 
1944 The Man Called X
1945 This is Your FBI
1946 Tales of The Foreign Service
1947 Treasury Agent
1947 U S Postal Inspector
1949 Dangerous Assignment
1951 The Silent Men
1952
I Was A Communist for The F.B.I.

This was, after all the heyday of J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. But throughout the post-War era Treasury Agents and Foreign Agents also entered the popular crime canon in contemporary Radio.

CBS takes a run at federal crime-fighting with T-Man

CBS killed two birds with one stone with this splashy two page ad in Billboard from August 12 1950 touting CBS' penchant for creating 'Top Twenty' programs for its sponsors
CBS killed two birds with one stone with this splashy two page ad in Billboard from August 12 1950 touting CBS' penchant for creating 'Top Twenty' programs for its sponsors

CBS needed a viable placeholder for its Line Up crime drama during the Summer of 1950. Dennis O'Keefe had appeared in the 1947 B feature film, T-Men, and it was making the rounds in reissue to movie theatres in 1950 in an effort to capitalize on the resurgence of interest in federal crime and film noir pot-boilers of the era.

Dennis O'Keefe got the green light for an audition in April of 1950. In the audition, O'Keefe portrays Treasury Agent Dan O'Brien. The audtion was successful and CBS rolled out T-Man as a summer replacement for Line Up on July 1, 1950.

The audition had been produced and directed by Norm Macdonnell with music by Dick Aurandt, but the production series was produced and directed by William N. Robson, was written by Les Crutchfield, and employed the services of Del Castillo for the music score.

While the protagonist's name was changed from Dan O'Brien to Steve Larsen, the premise and concept of the series remained the same as in the audition. Steve Larsen is a Treasury Agent or 'T-Man' with a broad enough portfolio to include all manner of non-FBI federal crimes under his jurisdiction. The series opener has Agent Larsen ostensibly investigating a counterfeiting crime ranging across the U.S. It becomes clear though, in the course of the series, that Agent Larsen covers federal crimes ranging from those normally covered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to those usually covered by the Secret Service or Narcotics Enforcement.

A west coast production, the cast of supporting players is superb, including Ted De Corsia, William Conrad, Virginia Gregg, Wally Maher, Bill Johnstone, Paul Frees, Ben Wright and Harry Bartell among many others. Johnstone and Maher were the regular stars of Line Up. The overall production and direction are everything one would expect of William N. Robson.

Intended only as a summer series, the circulating exemplars are well-paced, cleverly crafted, well-engineered, and well-scored. Straddling comedy and federal crime are a difficult enough task. It becomes clear from the outset that, though a crime series, it definitely had a light enough approach to keep Summer audiences entertained. Dennis O'Keefe handles the lighter passages well enough to showcase his light comedy talents, while at the same time keeping the harder hitting transitions in the scripts believable.

Series Derivatives:

T-Men [Australian Syndication]
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Crime Dramas
Network(s): CBS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): 50-04-29 The Case of the Bleeding Gold
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 50-07-01 01 Show Business Is No Business
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 50-07-01 to 50-08-26; CBS; Nine, 30-minute programs; Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.
Syndication: CBS
Sponsors:
Director(s): Norman Macdonnell [Audition]; William N. Robson [Producer/Director]
Principal Actors: Dennis O'Keefe, William Conrad, Frances Chaney, Wally Maher, Paul Frees, Ted De Corsia, Ben Wright, Rick Vallin, Virginia Gregg, Bill Johnstone, Harry Bartell, John Hoyt
Recurring Character(s): Treasury Man Dan O'Brien [Audition, Dennis O'Keefe]; Treasury Man Steve Larsen [Dennis O'Keefe]
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Les Crutchfield
Music Direction: Richard Aurandt [Audition]; Del Castillo [Composer/Conductor]
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s):
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
10
Episodes in Circulation: 3
Total Episodes in Collection: 3
Provenances:

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


CBS' T-Man series has long been conflated with the Harry S. Goodman series for Australian syndication titled T-Men. Although we deal with the typical OTR temptation to create something--or revise history--from nothing, we don't condone it. There are glaringly obvious differences between the two series:

  • The CBS network run aired in the Summer of 1950.
  • The Australian-syndicated T-Men aired in 1956 by all accounts.
  • The CBS network run starred Dennis O'Keefe as Agent Dan O'Brien in the audition and Agent Steve Larsen in the production run.
  • The Australian-syndicated T-Men starred Gordon Glenwright as Agent Jack Ketch.
  • T-Man refers to the protagonist Treasury Agent, Steve Larsen.
  • T-Men [plural] refers to the body of federal agents who monitor tax evasion crimes, presumptively in Australia.
  • Neither series shares the same producer, director, stars, writers. announcers, or syndication source.

We don't mean to belabor these obvious differences--well perhaps we do--but yet the the two series continue to be conflated with each other year after year throughout the OTR side of the vintage Radio hobby. It's just more example of the typical nonsense one encounters in any collecting pastime concerned more with acquisition than quality and preservation.

To that end, we've added an admittedly sketchy log of what we know of the Australian syndicated run to dispel any lingering ambiguities for the OTR community at large.


What you see here, is what you get. Complete transparency. We have no 'credentials' whatsoever--in any way, shape, or form--in the 'otr community'--none. But here's how we did it--for better or worse. Here's how you can build on it yourselves--hopefully for the better. Here are the breadcrumbs--just follow the trail a bit further if you wish. No hobbled downloads. No misdirection. No posturing about our 'credentials.' No misrepresentations. No strings attached. We point you in the right direction and you're free to expand on it, extend it, use it however it best advances your efforts.

We ask one thing and one thing only--if you employ what we publish, attribute it, before we cite you on it.

We continue to provide honest research into these wonderful Golden Age Radio programs simply because we love to do it. If you feel that we've provided you with useful information or saved you some valuable time regarding this log--and you'd like to help us even further--you can help us keep going. Please consider a small donation here:

We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

All rights reserved by their respective sources. Article and log copyright 2009 The Digital Deli Online--all rights reserved. Any failure to attribute the results of this copywritten work will be rigorously pursued.

[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]







The T-Man Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
50-04-29
--
The Case of the Bleeding Gold
Y
[Audition]
50-07-01
1
Show Business Is No Business
Y
[Premiere; Summer replacement for Line Up]

50-07-01 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--T-Man (WBBM):
new series with Dennis O'Keefe as U.S. treasury agent.
50-07-08
2
Title Unknown
N
50-07-08 Wisconsin State Journal
WKOW 7:30 T-Man
50-07-15
3
Title Unknown
N
50-07-15 Wisconsin State Journal
WKOW 7:30 T-Man
50-07-22
4
Title Unknown
N
50-07-22 Wisconsin State Journal
WKOW 7:30 T-Man
50-07-29
5
The Case of The Big Mexican Dope
Y
50-07-29 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--T-Man (WKOW):
Dennis O'Keefe fights dope smugglers.
50-08-05
6
The Case of The Crooked 'R'
N
50-08-05 Wisconsin State Journal
WKOW 7:30 T-Man
50-08-12
7
Title Unknown
N
50-08-12 Wisconsin State Journal
WKOW 7:30 T-Man
50-08-19
8
Title Unknown
N
50-08-19 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--T-Man (WKOW):
agent guards wealthy maharajah on U.S. tour.
50-08-26
9
Title Unknown
N
[Final program; Replaced by the return of Line Up]

50-08-26 Wisconsin State Journal
WKOW 7:30 T-Man
50-09-02
--
--
50-09-02 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--
Line Up (WKOW): returns to the air at a new time with a story of a search for a woman.






Original T-Men header art





The T-Men Program Log [Australian - Harry S. Goodman syndication]

Date Trans. No. Title Avail. Notes
56-xx-xx
1
Title Unknown
N
[A Donovan Joyce production starring Gordon Glenwright as T-Man Jack Ketch. Harp McGuire announces]
56-xx-xx
2
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
3
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
4
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
5
The Case of the Loving Blonde
Y
56-xx-xx
6
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
7
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
8
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
9
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
10
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
11
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
12
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
13
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
14
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
15
The Case of the Jack That House Built
Y
56-xx-xx
16
The Case of the Subtle Approach
Y
56-xx-xx
17
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
18
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
19
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
20
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
21
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
22
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
23
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
24
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
25
Title Unknown
N
56-xx-xx
26
Title Unknown
N






The T-Man Radio Program Biographies




Dennis O'Keefe [Edward Vance 'Bud' Flanagan ]
(Dan O'Brien and Steve Larsen)
Stage, Screen, Radio, and Television Actor, Television Writer and Director
[Also credited under the following names: Al Everett Dennis, Bud Flanagan, Bud Flannagan, Jonathan Ricks, Jonathan Rix]
(1908-1968)

Birthplace: Fort Madison, Iowa, U.S.A.

Radiography:

1939 Good News Of 1939
1944 Lux Radio Theatre
1944 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1945 The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre
1945 Hollywood Mystery Time
1946 Encore Theatre
1947 Suspense
1948 Family Theatre
1949 Truth Or Consequences
1950 T-Man
1950 The Miracle Of America
1950 Guest Star
1951 Adventure Is Your Heritage
1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1952 Cavalcade Of America
The New National Guard Show

Dennis O'Keefe, ca. 1938
Dennis O'Keefe, ca. 1938


The rigors of being a perennial extra. Months of continual poker games with the likes of Virginia Bruce, who sits across from young 'Bud' Flanagan
The rigors of being a perennial extra. Months of continual poker games with the likes of Virginia Bruce, who sits across from young 'Bud' Flanagan, ca. 1937


Dennis O'Keefe publicity photo, ca. 1941
Dennis O'Keefe publicity photo, ca. 1941


Dennis O'Keefe, ca. 1948
Dennis O'Keefe, ca. 1948


Dennis O'Keefe incredulously inspects the damage to his neighbor across the street. His neighbor's house was one of those destroyed when Howard Hughes famously ran out of petrol over Brentwood in 1946.
Dennis O'Keefe incredulously inspects the damage to his neighbor across the street. His neighbor's house was one of those destroyed when Howard Hughes famously ran out of petrol over Brentwood in 1946.

Possibly one of Hollywood's most successful 'extras', the younger Dennis O'Keefe [or Al Everett Dennis, Bud Flanagan, Bud Flannagan, Jonathan Ricks, Jonathan Rix] appeared in no less than 150 feature films before his first fully credited appearance in Film. Durable to be sure, Edward Vance 'Bud' Flanagan was another Midwest product from Iowa.

O'Keefe acquired his earliest stage writing experience, while still a child, writing skits for his own family of traveling Irish Vaudevillians. O'Keefe began appearing in Film as an extra throughout the 1930s and appeared in numerous films under his real name, 'Bud' Flanagan.

A minor, but memorable role in 1937's Saratoga caught the attention of Clark Gable, who recommended O'Keefe to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. M-G-M signed Flanagan as a contract player in 1937, re-naming him Dennis O'Keefe. Appearing mostly in M-G-M's B-Movies, O'Keefe's first credited roles for the studio became more ambitious, beginning with The Bad Man of Brimstone (1938) and the lead in Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939).

Realizing the limitations of his contract, O'Keefe left MGM in1940, but found himself continuing to work in lower budget productions. As versatile as he was handsome, O'Keefe often found himself cast as archetypal film noir toughs in action and crime dramas like Lady Scarface (1941), The Leopard Man (1943), The Fighting Seabees (1944), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944), T-Men (1947), and the film noir classic, Raw Deal (1948).

By the same token he was equally at ease in light comedies such as Topper Returns (1940), Weekend for Three (1941), Broadway Limited (1941), Abroad with Two Yanks (1944), Brewster's Millions (1945), The Affairs of Susan (1945), Getting Gertie's Garter (1945), and The Lady Wants Mink (1953). In fact his most ardent fans seemed to enjoy just about any role he found himself in.

That pretty much sums up how his Radio audiences felt about him as well. Equally at ease in comedies, adventures, detective dramas and melodramas, O'Keefe's range made him a frequent guest star in Radio, and on occasion, the lead, such as his starring performance as Ted Lawton, Hollywood B-Movie Producer-Director and detective in 1945's Hollywood Mystery Time, co-starring fellow Iowan and frequent screen co-star, Constance Moore.

As O'Keefe continued to mature as an actor, he acquired dramatic leads in Doll Face (1946), Dishonored Lady (1947), Abandoned (1949), Woman on the Run (1950), The Company She Keeps (1950), One Big Affair (1952), and Drums of Tahiti (1954). Finally proving his versatility and range, O'Keefe began a third career in Television; acting, directing and writing, and eventually starring in his own early Television program, The Dennis O'Keefe Show (1959) as bachelor father, Hal Towne, an L.A. based, syndicated journalist who pens the syndicated "All Around Towne" column.

Having matured into a highly versatile, multi-talented artist, Dennis O'Keefe continued to act in Film on occasion, with his last two appearances All Hands On Deck (1961) and Naked Flame (1964). But as with many of the attractive male actors of his era, Dennis O'Keefe ultimately succumbed to lung cancer in 1968.

One of Hollywood's somewhat under appreciated talents, with the release of more and more of his film noir movies and light comedies, as well as wonderful examples of his Radio talent, Dennis O'Keefe seems poised to finally achieve the repect in Death that he seems to have just missed in Life.

We're some of his greatest fans, so it comes as no surprise to us that his talent is finally coming into its rightful light. That light will only burn brighter now as more and more new fans see, hear and read the body of work he left for us to enjoy.




William N. Robson
(Producer/Director)

(1906-1995)
Writer, Producer, Director of Radio and Television, College Lecturer

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA

Education:
B.A., Philosphy, Yale University

Curriculum Vitae:
Lecturer, New York University
Lecturer, UCLA
Consultant, U.S. Information Agency
Director, The Voice of America

Radiography:

1934 Calling All Cars
1936 Columbia Workshop
1936 Then and Now
1938 American School Of the Air
1939 Americans All-Immigrants
1939 What Price America
1940 Big Town
1942 The Twenty Second Letter
1943 The Man Behind the Gun
1943 One World
1944 Four For the Fifth
1945 Request Perforance
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1946 Hawk Larabee
1947 Escape
1947 Doorway To Life
1947 Hollywood Fights Back
1947 Shorty Bell, Cub Reporter
1948 Suspense
1948 The Whistler
1950 T-Man
1950 The Adventures Of Christopher London
1950 Beyond Tomorrow
1955 Girl From Paradise
1955 Romance
1956 Fort Laramie
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1958 Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone
1959 The Heart Of America
1960 Have Gun, Will Travel
1964 Theatre Five
William N. Robson, with sons, ca. 1959
William N. Robson, with sons, ca. 1959

William Robson, Director, ca. 1954
William Robson, Director, ca. 1954


Robson, seen here behind Frank Lovejoy, directing the Peabody Award winning series, Man Behind The Gun, for CBS, ca 1943
William N. Robson was yet another of the hundreds of prominent victims of the infamous "Red Channels" promoted blacklisting of professionals in the Performing Arts. His 'sins' in the cowardly, notorious and despicable "Red Channels" pamphlet that named him?:
  • Acting as one of the Sponsors of an Artists Front to Win the War meeting he helped organize at Carnegie Hall in 1942.
  • A December 1946 speech he gave on the encroachments being made against free speech.
  • Being a signator to a 1948 full page 'We Are for Wallace' ad in the New York Times.
  • A masthead listing him as an Associate for the Hollywood Quarterly, a scholarly journal of Film, Radio and Television history.

That's apparently all the extreme Right Wing needed during those shameful post-War years to destroy any great professional's career--through whispers and innuendo. Robson had been one of CBS's premiere Radio and Television talents, but their withering support of Robson, fueled by the spurious comments in Red Channels eventually pressured CBS into discharging Robson. The long-festering Right Wing backlash from F.D.R.'s famous Four Freedoms Speech had traversed full-circle. And so it evolved that anyone speaking out for the protection of those very freedoms was targeted for ostracization.

But despite the attempts to destroy his reputation, Robson's career in Radio and Television and in service to his country still stand as one of the finest records of acheivement of the Golden Age of Radio. Indeed, it was Edward R. Murrow himself, under the administration of John F. Kennedy that gained an appointment for Robson as a Director for The Voice of America. His security clearance for that highly sensitive position was expedited without a hitch.

William Robson had every expectation of having a storied career. He showed early promise at Yale, began his writing career with Paramount Pictures, then in 1936, entered Radio while still in his twenties. He was a staff writer and director for CBS for almost 20 years. So instrumental was his role in early CBS Radio dramas that his name was rountinely attached to the promotional efforts for the programs he wrote, directed or produced for CBS--and rightly so. By the mid-1940s Robson had already received two prestigious George Foster Peabody awards for CBS--for 1943's Man Behind the Gun and the documentary, Open Letter on Race Hatred.

Robson's Philosophy degree served him well throughout his career, and its influence on his Radio and Television productions is readily apparent throughout his body of work. Always sensitive to the eternal conflicts between morality and amorality, many of Robson's pet projects strove to shine a light onto the murkier aspects of American society. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons that the first half of his career attracted the prurient interests of the extreme Right Wing during the infamous HUAC era.

And indeed, despite all extreme Conservative attempts to squelch his 'voice' in the Media, he could not be restrained for long. Robson may well have argued himself, that the second half of his career was even more productive and influential on the World Stage than his years in American Radio and Television.

William N. Robson capped an outstanding career in Communications with a highly influential position producing Pro-Democracy documentaries as Chief Documentary Writer, Producer and Director for the Voice of America. Indeed, he won four more Peabody Awards for his work at The Voice of America. How fittingly ironic.

And though his work with The Voice of America may well have eclipsed his work during The Golden Age of Radio, his personal influence in shaping and giving a conscience to those Golden Years stands head and shoulders above his peers.

William Robson died of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Alexandria, Va in April of 1995, survived by his wife, Shirley, and three sons, Christopher, Anthony and Michael.




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