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Louis Hector in NBC Radio’s Great Plays Series

Louis Hector in NBC Radio’s Great Plays Series

“… the actor in some strange drama …”

– The Adventure of the Yellow Face (YELL)

Louis Hector as Sherlock Holmes – New York Times, January 13, 1935

Actor Louis Hector first portrayed Sherlock Holmes on the radio beginning in 1934 and would later become television’s first Sherlock Holmes when the National Broadcasting Company did two experimental broadcasts of The Adventure of the Three Garridebs. Those two television broadcasts are believed to be lost. Likewise, only one recording, with Hector as Holmes, on the radio exists today. That broadcast, airing on November 11, 1934, was the Adventure of the Hebraic Breastplate, and can be listened to below.

As a consequence of the lack of recordings, not many Sherlockians are familiar with Hector. We have recently come across six different recordings of the National Broadcasting Company’s radio series Great Plays.

Broadcast from 1938 until 1942, Great Plays assembled actors from stage, screen and radio to dramatize many theatrical presentations. Louis Hector performed in seven of these surviving broadcast reoordings. Since many are not familiar with his work, we are sharing those recordings in this post.

Your editor learned, from listening to these broadcasts, that he had been mispronouncing Hector’s first name. The correct pronunication is “Louie.”

First, here is November 11, 1934 Sherlock,Holmes broadcast of the Adventure of the Hebraic Breastplate, so you an familiarize yourself with Hector’s voice.

Here we have The Great Magician which was broadcast on March 12, 1938.  The opening of this broadcast is slightly different than the others that will follow, as this only was the second or third in the series. The broadcasts to follow all seem to have similiar styles for the introduction. Hector would portray the Great Magician in this broadcast.

We next have Love for Love, the April 9, 1938 broadcast of Great Plays. Hector portrays Sir Sampson Legend in this broadcast.

Sir Peter Teazle is Hector’s character in this April 16, 1938 broadcast entitled School of Scandal.

Hector would portray Death in this October 23, 1938 episode of Great Plays that was titled Everyman.

The October 13, 1940 broadcast has been titled as Greece to Broadway by some Old Time Radio afficianados, but after listening to this recording I have some doubts about that title. At the end of the show, Louis Hector is credited, but no roles are defined for any actor. As a plus, this cast also includes Alfred Shirley. Shirley would later portray Dr. Watson in the 1947-1948 season of the radio broadcasts that were sponsored by Clipper Craft clothing and starred John Stanley as Holmes.

Our last broadcast episode is The Tempest and aired November 24,1940. Hector was cast in the role of Caliban. Again, this broacast features another actor with a Sherlockian background. Cedric Hardwicke, father of Edward Hardwicke (the second Dr. Watson in the Granada series), would portray Holmes in a BBC Radio broadcast of The Speckled Band, which can be listened to HERE.

These six episodes give us a look into Louis Hector’s skill as an actor. We will share additional recordings, of television’s first Sherlock Holmes, as we find them .