“Get this and get it straight: crime is a sucker's road, and those who travel it wind up in the gutter, the prison, or the grave...” Old-time radio fans will instantly recognize that phrase as the one that kicked off each weekly installment of The Adventures of Philip Marlowe over CBS Radio from September 1948 to September 1951. The actor who uttered those words was Gerald Mohr, whose unforgettable voice was heard practically everywhere over the ether during Radio’s Golden Age—he starred as Jungle Jim, Bill Lance (The Adventures of Bill Lance), Sorrowful Jones (The Damon Runyon Theater) and Archie Goodwin (The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe)…and could also be heard on broadcasts of The Adventures of Superman, Dr. Christian, Escape, Let George Do It, Mandrake the Magician, Nightbeat, Rogue’s Gallery, The Shadow of Fu Manchu (as announcer), Suspense, Tales of the Texas Rangers and The Whistler. Mohr appeared on most of the major dramatic anthologies—Cavalcade of America, Hallmark Playhouse, The Lux Radio Theatre, Screen Director’s Playhouse—but also displayed quite a flair for comedy with roles on The Adventures of Maisie, Burns and Allen, The Eddie Cantor Show (as Cantor’s kidnapper, “Baby Face”), The Judy Canova Show (as muscle-bound movie star Humphrey Cooper), My Favorite Husband, Our Miss Brooks (one of my personal favorites—he was Jacques Monet, Madison’s French teacher) and The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.
As ubiquitous a presence as he was on radio, Mohr possessed the good looks to appear on the big and small screens throughout his career. He got quite the workout in the cliffhanger serials, both as the voice of “The Scorpion” in Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) and as Slick Latimer in Jungle Girl (1941). He played Michael Lanyard, aka The Lone Wolf in three of the films in the Columbia series (a part he also played in the 1948-49 radio series), and had roles in Lady of Burlesque (1943), Gilda (1946), Two Guys from Texas (1948), Hunt the Man Down (1950), Sirocco (1951), Detective Story (1951), The Sniper (1952), The Ring (1952) and Money from Home (1953). Like Reed Hadley, Gerald’s stentorian tones could also be heard narrating feature films like Southside 1-1000 (1950) and Smoky Canyon (1952); during my convalescence my mother and I watched quite a few episodes of The Lone Ranger from my The Lone Ranger: 75th Anniversary set, and giggled every time the narrator would say that the Masked Man “was a fabulous individual” (he’s fab-u-lous!). That was Gerald Mohr, too.
As for television, I’ll always remember Mohr for a guest appearance as a would-be Satan in a Lost in Space episode entitled “A Visit to Hades” (12/07/66)—but he can be spotted in tons of classic television reruns in everything from Maverick to Perry Mason (he also scored a regular gig as Christopher Storm in the 1954-55 series Foreign Intrigue, and the voice of Reed Richards in the 1967-68 cartoon series based on Marvel’s the Fantastic Four). Mohr suffered a heart attack in 1968 while filming a TV pilot in