From Fibber McGee to The Shadow: Iconic Characters in Old Time Radio Shows

Old time radio shows hold a special place in the hearts of many entertainment enthusiasts. These audio dramas, popular during the 1920s to the 1950s, brought captivating stories and unforgettable characters into people’s homes. From comedies to mysteries, old time radio was a medium that sparked imagination and created lasting memories. In this article, we will explore some of the most iconic characters in old time radio shows that continue to be beloved by fans even today.

Fibber McGee and Molly – A Classic Comedy Duo

Fibber McGee and Molly was one of the longest-running and most popular comedy shows of its time. Created by Don Quinn, this show revolved around the lives of Fibber McGee (played by Jim Jordan) and his wife Molly (played by Marian Jordan). The couple’s witty banter and hilarious misadventures endeared them to audiences across America.

Fibber McGee was known for his exaggerated storytelling, often boasting about his tall tales. One recurring gag that became a trademark of the show was his closet, which he would open with disastrous results as an avalanche of random items would come crashing down. This running joke became so famous that it even led to the coining of the phrase “You’ve got a real Fibber McGee’s closet.”

The Shadow – Master of Mystery and Intrigue

If there’s one character that truly embodies the essence of old time radio mystery dramas, it is The Shadow. Originally created as a narrator for Detective Story Hour on radio station WOR in 1930, The Shadow quickly gained popularity due to his mysterious persona and unique ability to cloud men’s minds.

The character was later given his own show titled “The Shadow” in 1937. Voiced by actor Orson Welles initially and later by other talented actors, The Shadow became a cultural phenomenon. The show followed the adventures of Lamont Cranston, a wealthy man with the power to become invisible, who fought crime alongside his loyal companion Margot Lane.

Jack Benny – The King of Comedy

Jack Benny was one of the most influential figures in old time radio comedy. His show, “The Jack Benny Program,” was a weekly comedy series that aired from 1932 to 1955. Benny played a fictionalized version of himself, a stingy and vain character who always found himself in humorous situations.

Known for his impeccable timing and deadpan delivery, Benny’s comedic genius made him one of the most beloved entertainers of his time. His show featured a talented cast of characters, including Eddie Anderson as Rochester Van Jones, Mel Blanc as various voices, and Mary Livingstone as his wife. Together, they created unforgettable moments that still resonate with audiences today.

Gunsmoke – Western Drama at Its Finest

While old time radio shows were predominantly comedies or mysteries, there were also successful dramas such as “Gunsmoke.” This iconic western series aired from 1952 to 1961 and captivated listeners with its gritty portrayal of life in Dodge City.

Marshal Matt Dillon (voiced by William Conrad) was the central character in “Gunsmoke.” He was joined by other memorable characters like Doc Adams (played by Howard McNear), Miss Kitty Russell (voiced by Georgia Ellis), and Chester Proudfoot (played by Parley Baer). With its realistic storytelling and powerful performances, “Gunsmoke” became one of the longest-running shows in radio history.


From Fibber McGee’s comedic mishaps to The Shadow’s mysterious adventures, old time radio shows introduced us to iconic characters that have stood the test of time. These audio dramas brought laughter, suspense, and excitement into households across the nation. Whether it was through comedy, mystery, or western dramas, old time radio shows continue to hold a special place in the hearts of fans who appreciate the power of imagination and storytelling.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.