Radio Range Riders by Boyd Magers

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“The Cisco Kid”
by Boyd Magers

O’Henry’s beloved good-badman The Cisco Kid rode the radio range off and on from 1942 to 1956. Jackson Beck (1912-2004) (right) portrayed Cisco and Louis Sorin (1893-1961) was Pancho for over 300 half hour episodes when “The Cisco Kid” first aired over WOR (NY)-Mutual beginning October 2, 1942 and lasting through February 14, 1945. Jackson Beck once said, “When I did ‘The Cisco Kid’ I signed a contract—one show a week, $50, and I thought I was in fat city. My God, fifty bucks for a half hour, you came in and did two, three hours of rehearsal and you got fifty bucks. Wow, that was a lot.” (GREAT AMERICAN BROADCAST by Leonard Maltin.) The half hour broadcasts were originally heard on Fridays at 8:30pm until January ‘44 when Cisco and Pancho moved to Saturday at 8:30pm til October ‘44, then Wednesday at 9:30pm.

Off the air for about a year, “The Cisco Kid” rode again on the Mutual—Don Lee network in 1946 with Jack Mather (1907-1966) as Cisco and Harry Lang (1894-1953) as Pancho (left). This version alternated with “Red Ryder” Monday /Wednesday /Friday.

In the Fall of ‘47 Ziv took over the property (they also owned the TV rights). Mather and Lang retained their radio roles with Mather channeling Duncan Renaldo’s movie/TV Cisco quite well. This best remembered half hour version ran for over 800 transcribed syndicated episodes on the Mutual Don Lee network from the Fall of ‘47 to 1956. Other actors often heard on the show include Barton Yarborough, Herb Butterfield, Tony Barrett, Herbert Rawlinson, Peggy Webber, Wally Maher, Lou Krugman, Willis Bouchey, Jay Novello, Herb Vigran, Frank Lovejoy, Howard McNear, Sam Edwards, John Dehner, Joanna Moore, Barney Phillips and Marvin Miller. Sponsored by Butter-Nut/Weber’s Bread, the finale featured the duo joking around (just as their counterparts did on TV) as they exclaimed, “Oh, Pan-cho!”. “Oh, Ceesco!”

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