Charlie Wild

“He’s a man’s man, but the ladies, too, go for Charlie Wild, Private Eye. Follow him into adventure.”
— TV promo

John McQuade as Charlie Wild, in the television series.

CHARLIE WILD was a P.I. with a rather unique back story to his creation. He was basically called in — QUICKLY! — as a sub for Dashiell Hammett’s SAM SPADE.

After years of success, first in the pages of Black Mask, then in the novel The Maltese Falcon, and finally in the classic film version by John Huston, Mrs. Spade’s son Sam found himself a home on the airwaves from 1946 through 1950, in the super popular The Adventures of Sam Spade radio drama starring Howard Duff.

Then came the Red Scare of the 1950s, and both Hammett and Duff were named in “Red Channels.” Okay, by then Hammett actually was a Communist. But Duff? Sheesh, all he did was show some support for a few labour unions…

Spade’s sponsor, Wildroot Cream Oil, panicked, and yanked the show off the air, rushing to come up with a replacement. Thus The Adventures of Sam Spade became Charlie Wild, Private Detective, premiering in September 24 1950 on NBC. The character took his name from the lyrics of Wildroot’s advertising jingle, “Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie.”

Charlie Wild, Private Eye premiered on September 24th, 1950 on the NBC network, exactly one week after the last episode of Sam Spade had aired, taking over its timeslot. Duff himself made a guest appearance as Spade, in the guise of a “vocal telegram,” wishing Wild well. After 13 episodes, the show jumped to CBS, beginning in January 1951, and as Charlie Wild, Private Detective ran for another 26 shows.

Wild was the typical PI, and like his pulp ancestors, chased beautiful dames, hated chiselers, and got involved in a slugfest every episode. He was first played by George Petrie and later by Kevin O’Morrison, before being taken over in the show’s last few months by John McQuade. Strangely enough, Wild’s secretary was also Effie Perrine, who had been Spade’s secretary — even though Wild lived and worked in New York City.

It’s difficult to assess the quality of the short-lived show because no audio copies have survived, although it did last long enough to spawn a live TV version, The Affairs of Charlie Wild, with Morrison in the title lead and Cloris Leachman as his loyal secretary Myra. It lasted for two years, although halfway through its first season, Morrison was replaced by John McQuade (pictured) in the title role. But it wasn’t just its lead that changed — the show ran from December 1950 to June 1952, and bounced merrily from network to network (CBS to ABC to Dumont) in its short lifespan

But radio or television, Charlie still managed to get in a fist fight or a shootout in almost every episode, while still finding time time to squeeze in periodic commercials for the sponsor. During its CBS run, many of its episodes had originally appeared as episodes of the CBS radio show, which was running concurrently.


    (1950, NBC)
    13 episodes
    Premiere: September 24, 1950
    Last episode: December 17, 1950
    Writer: Peter Barry
    Director: Carlo De Angelo
    Produced by Lawrence White
    Sponsor: Wildroot Creme Oil
    Starring George Petrie as CHARLIE WILD
    Also starring Peter Hobbs
    (1951, CBS)
    26 episodes
    Premiere: January 7, 1951
    Last episode: July 1, 1951
    Writer: Peter Barry
    Director: Paul Nickell
    Produced by Lawrence White and Walter Tibbals
    Sponsor: Wildroot Creme Oil
    Starring Kevin Morrison as CHARLIE WILD
    (later replaced by Kevin O’Morrison and John McQuade)
    Also starring Peter Hobbs


    aka “The Affairs of Charlie Wild”
    aka “Charlie Wild, Private Eye”

    (1950-52, CBS, ABS, Dumont)
    56 30-minute episodes, produced live
    Writer: Peter Barry
    Director: Richard Valenta
    Producers: Carlo De Angelo, Herbert Brodkin
    Sponsors: Wildroot, Chablis, Mogen David Wine
    Starring Kevin O’Morrison as CHARLIE WILD
    (later replaced by John McQuade)
    and Cloris Leachman as Effie

    • Season One (CBS)
    • With Kevin Morrison
    • “The Case of the Coming of Leary” (December 22, 1950)
    • “The Case of the Chinese Horse” (January 5, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Final Straw” (January 19, 1951)
    • “The Case of the First Love” (February 2, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Deadly Maneuver” (February 16, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Twisted Threat” (March 2, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Barleymore Massacre” (March 16, 1951)
    • With John McQuade
    • “The Case of the Black Blitonin” (March 30, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Airtight Frame-U” (April 4, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Second Bullet” (April 11, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Beautiful Brunettes” (April 18, 1951)
    • “The Case of Mother Goose” (April 25, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Punch-Drunk Errand Boy” (May 2, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Lady in the Oasis” (May 9, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Complacent Killers” (May 16, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Tough-Talking Widow” (May 23, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Crying Boy” (May 30, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Duelist’s Honor” (June 6, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Mystical Mr. A” (June 13, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Deep Purple Heart” (June 20, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Robber’s Keys” (June 27, 1951)
    • Season Two (ABC)
    • “The Case of the Sad-Eyed Clam” (September 11, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Galloping Mink” (September 18, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Unpaid Rent” (September 25, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Hot Mink” (October 2, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Second Face” (October 9, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Boxing Trouble” (October 16, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Lady in Red” (October 23, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Family Affair” (October 30, 1951)
    • “The Case of the the Hat Without a Head” (November 6, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Heavy Date” (November 13, 1951)
    • “Blues in the Morning” (November 20, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Talking Dog” (November 27, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Wild Boys” (December 4, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Clouded Title” (December 11, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Sorry Witness” (January 1, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Double Coincidence” (January 29, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Tragic Mask” (February 5, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Turkish Bath” (February 12, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Dreamy Denouncement” (February 26, 1952)
    • Season Three (Dumont)
    • “The Case of the Robber’s Nest” (March 13, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Double Trouble” (March 20, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Barber’s Daughter” (March 27, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Prodigal Son” (April 3, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Photogenic Ghost” (April 10, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Long Lost love” (April 17, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Coward’s Choice” (April 24, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Deadly Double” (May 1, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Teacher’s Trouble” (May 8, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Tarnished Badge” (May 15, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Candy Store Kid” (May 22, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Brooklyn Bridge” (May 29, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Cutthroat Casanova” (June 5, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Fatal Letter” (June 12, 1952)
    • “The Case of Jennifer” (June 19, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Plume Peddler” (June 26, 1952)
    • “The Case of the Red Letter” (July 3, 1952)
Respectfully submitted by Jack French, with additional infon by Kevin Burton Smith.

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