Jack Bivans (age 16 - left), Ed Prentiss (center), Marilou Neumayer (right)
Photo taken September, 1943
Jack Bivans (age 23 - left), Ed Prentiss (center), Angeline Orr (right),
Sherman Marks (back to camera)
Photo taken October, 1948
Captain Midnight was a funny story. Well, all those shows were funny stories, like The Adventures of Lou Loyal with the girl's name being Betsy True. I mean, everything was so well defined in those days. You knew that they had to be honest - Loyal and True! You knew the good guys from the bad guys from their voices. In Captain Midnight, the villain's name was Ivan Shark. You knew anybody named Ivan Shark was a bad guy. And his daughter, his maniacal daughter, I should say, her name was Fury Shark.
Captain Midnight's boss in the story was named Major Steel. He was played by an older actor - a fellow by the name of Jess Pew, a real old nice guy and good actor. And I remember so well; we were at rehearsal and Major Steel says to Captain Midnight, "Well, Captain, good job. You've caught him again. This time he won't escape." And Captain Midnight's return line is - and we were all standing at the microphone - "Well Major, just a few more mopping up operations to do and we're through." Now we go on the air. You hear Major Steel say his line, "Well Captain, good job...." and now it's Captain Midnight's turn to speak and he says, "Well Major, just a few more mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mopping up operations to do..." and the rest of the cast was all standing there at the microphone, saying to ourselves, "Jess," meaning Jess Pew - Major Steel, "he's not gonna read his line, is he? Is he really gonna read that line?" Because his next line - and Jess read it! - his next line was, "I like a man with a quick tongue!" ..Don't you just love it?! We all threw our scripts on the floor; I mean it was just awful! Oh, dear! We had fun in those days!
(Left to right) Kirby Hawkes, Bivans, Prentiss
For 13 weeks, every day, five days a week, we would chase and try to catch them. And only the kids that had sent in the thin round aluminum seal from under the lid of a can of Ovaltine plus ten cents and had gotten by return mail a decoder badge could get the secret message at the end of Captain Midnight. For example - on a Friday afternoon, Ivan Shark and Fury Shark would run into the bottom of a cave, and there was a mountain above it. We would run in after them. It was dark in there and we'd be on echo chamber. And you'd hear Chuck, that was me, say, "Captain, I can't see anything, it's dark in here." And he'd say, "Don't worry Chuck, I'll take care of you," and just then, you would hear, "crshhhhhhhh", a loud crash, and Ivan Shark and his daughter Fury had gone up to the top of the mountain and dynamited closed the entrance we had just come in. And we were hacking and spewing in there and you don't know whether we're gonna get out or suffocate to death. Only the kids that had gotten this decoder badge got the secret message at the end of the show from Pierre Andre. He would read off, "E7, Y14" and the kids would turn their badge and write these numbers down. And at the end it would say, "They're saved." So we would know if we'd sent in for the badge that they were saved, but the other kids would have to wait all weekend to know whether or not we got blown up in that cave. Every weekend there was a suspense, and every 13 weeks we would catch the villain and on the 14th week he would escape.