Candy Matson, YUkon 2-8209
It’s June 30, 1949 and San Francisco is the radio capital of the West Coast. NBC’s Radio City building at the corner of O’Farrell and Taylor is busy as usual, and as we step inside Studio B on the second floor, tension is high in anticipation of the debut of a new detective series. Now many popular radio shows across the country are detective/crime dramas, so why all the nerves? Because in tonight’s broadcast the dick is a dame!
“Candy Matson, YUkon-2-8209”. That’s how this gumshoe with gams answered her phone at the start of every program. It was also the title of the series that ran on the West Coast NBC Radio network from 1949-1951. Candy's adventures were set in San Francisco and the scripts incorporated a lot of local color, from Telegraph Hill to Chinatown to Fort Ord. The regular cast included her bohemian sidekick, Rembrandt Watson, and her sweetheart, police Detective Ray Mallard.
Jack French, in his book, Private Eyelashes: Radio’s Lady Detectives ($18.95, www.bearmanormedia.com), considers Candy Matson to be the best of that genre. “It had all the strengths of a great radio drama,” he writes, “strong and likeable characters, superb writing, authentic settings, fast-paced excitement, subtle humor, and high broadcast standards ... Candy was at least the equal of Mallard, and frequently she solved the case before he did. [She was] able to use her wits, physical prowess, or her pistol to get out of any serious trouble.”
Monty Masters, with several radio shows under his belt, set out to create a detective series in line with Pat Novak For Hire, a popular show broadcast from San Francisco on ABC and starring Jack Webb. Monty cast his wife, Natalie Masters, in the role of Candy. They, in turn, hired Henry Leff to play Mallard and Jack Thomas, Natalie’s uncle, to play Watson. By the end of its run those opening night nerves were long forgotten. Candy Matson was, not surprisingly, the most popular show in San Francisco, and often the top rated radio program on the West Coast. After 94 original broadcasts, Candy went off the air for good on May 21, 1951. And with the sun setting on radio drama, many of those involved with the production moved to Los Angeles to pursue careers in television.
In the One Act Audio Theatre production, Wendy Tremont King is Candy Matson; John Mercer is Rembrandt Watson; Scot Crisp is Detective Ray Mallard; John True is Roger Ellsworth; and Blanca Florido is Mrs. Ellsworth. For the live performance in October 2005, John Parsons replaces John Mercer in the role of Rembrandt Watson.