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Radio's, Captain Midnight : The Wartime Biography [Hardcover]

Stephen A. Kallis Jr.
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 2000 0786406216 978-0786406210
During World War 2 a fictional radio character named Captain Midnight stormed his way into the consciousness of American radio listeners. Using facts, details and events from those early scripts, the author has constructed his biography.'

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Editorial Reviews


"covers Captain Midnight from his origin to immediately before the end of the Second World War...[Kallis] deftly imparts technical information about the planes (real and fictional) without sounding like a textbook. [Photographs] add an integrity to the storyline that helps keep the period fresh in the readers mind...sit back on a warm Spring transp

About the Author

Stephen A. Kallis, Jr., an active member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, developed a way to generate control tapes for film laboratories' additive color printers. His articles have appeared in the American Rocket Society Journal, SMPTE Journal, Cryptologia, and General Aviation News. He lives in Tampa, Florida.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company (February 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786406216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786406210
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,023,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kallis breathes life into a fictional character March 26, 2000
While World War II had many real-life heroes, during the war years there were many fictional characters portrayed with a similar status. One such fictional character was Captain Midnight.
Many baby boomers know this character from television. But before TV and especially during WW II, radio was a major medium and Captain Midnight had his beginnings here. Beginning as a child-oriented radio program in the late 30's, Captain Midnight, aka Charles Albright, was heard as another "white-hat" hero fighting evil injustice throughout the world. As American involvement in WW II increased, so too did the radio series finding Captain Midnight fighting both Nazi and Japanese soldiers and spies.
Though fictional, Stephen Kallis Jr. has written a "biography" in the best traditions of Sherlock Holmes and others by fleshing out the man known as Captain Midnight. The book details the early beginnings of the myth, how Captain Midnight joined with his ward Chuck Ramasy, and the genesis of the Secret Squadron.
What I found fascinating about the book was how much the fictional character took on the aura of reality. Kallis, though he follows the radio series plots, provides a lot of detail of the events that Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron found themselves involved. For fans of the radio series (and even the television series), the book has exciting elements as Midnight battles the Nazi and Japanese forces.
One of my favorite parts is where Midnight has been captured by the Japanese and is soon to be killed, but through skill and some luck is able to escape.
The author, a pilot himself, provides lots of details about the planes of the period. He also brings a lot of knowledge about decoders and cryptology - something that played a very important role in the Captain Midnight saga.
If you love planes, cryptography, or even the radio series, this book will prove a fascinating read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captain Midnight March 30, 2000
What a treasure trove for Old Time Radio buffs and especially fans of the Captain Midnight radio show! There are so few episodes of the program that have survived on tape, that most of what we remember is from our faulty memories. Steven Kallis fixes that problem in a jiffy with a detailed and full review of the adventures faced by Captain Midnight and his Secret Squadron during the period of WWII, based on the scripts of the show that he was able to review from the original Ovaltine files. He writes in such a fashion, however, that the character comes alive and seems as real as have Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan.
The radio program was one of those that offered a number of premiums to the listener, particularly a variety of secret decoding devices and manuals. Kallis incorporates these items into his biography as logical and important tools used by the Secret Squadron in its pursuit of some really colorful villains.
Let's have another volume that covers the post war years! Soon!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Radio Days June 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purchased for my father. He loves it! It brings back his childhood memories. Book is very well written with a lot of information. My dad can't put it down. Great for all Captain Midnight fans remembering those radio days.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable history of 1940s Americana October 6, 2007
With this groundbreaking book, author Stephen A. Kallis, Jr. has rescued a chunk of American radio history from oblivion. And it's a prominent chunk of 1940s American radio culture, with the Ovaltine-sponsored Captain Midnight series broadcast 5 days a week in the late afternoons from 1940-1949. It was a popular program with American households of the era. While this book mentions the Captain Midnight Radio series was created by Robert Burtt and Wilfred Moore (both were retired WW1 military pilots), it misses the fact that Wilfred Gibbs Moore died in July of 1939; and so Moore never co-wrote any Ovaltine shows covered by "The Wartime Biography." The Ovaltine radio scripts were solely the work of Robert Morris Burtt (although there are serious questions on whether Burtt wrote the 1949 half-hour radio programs in the postwar time frame beyond the span of this book.)

Author Kallis was privileged to gain rare access to radio scripts in Ovaltine's archives. This rarity of access allowed him to summarize material for his book. But whenever comprehensive source documentation and/or broadcast recordings are not available to the general public, there are also significant risks regarding historical accuracy. The public has no choice but to rely on a researcher who has had access, or claimed to have had access, to source information before the age of home recordings from the media. There are no checks and balances concerning reliability and authenticity of what such a researcher or author presents.

In response to my inquiries and challenges, Stephen Kallis rightly acknowledged the "real" names of Captain Midnight, broadcast under Skelly Oil and Ovaltine sponsorship (namely James/Jim, "Red," and Albright), are the actual names of history.
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