OLD TIME RADIO - 6 CD-ROM - 277 mp3 - Total Playtime: 131:30:10
The character premiered in The Green Hornet, an American radio program that ran on WXYZ (the same local Detroit station which originated The Lone Ranger), the Mutual Broadcasting System and the network known through its succession of various owners as NBC Blue, the Blue Network and the ABC Network from January 31, 1936 to December 5, 1952.
The series detailed the adventures of Britt Reid, debonair newspaper publisher by day, crime-fighting masked hero at night:
With his faithful valet Kato, Britt Reid, daring young publisher, matches wits with the Underworld, risking his life so that criminal and racketeers within the law may feel its weight by the sting of the Green Hornet!
During World War II, this was changed to:
... matches wits with racketeers and saboteurs, risking his life so that criminals and enemy spies will feel the weight of the law by the sting of the Green Hornet!
After the revving of the Black Beauty motor, the announcer would then say:
Ride with Britt Reid in the thrilling adventure. The Green Hornet strikes again!
When the series first began in 1936, this was originally:
Ride with Britt Reid as he races toward another thrilling adventure! The Green Hornet strikes again!
and after the thrumming of the hornet sound, Britt Reid would then call out:
"Hurry, Kato! Here's where we smash a racket!"
The opening sequence of the radio show originally began with the announcer proclaiming that the Green Hornet "hunts the biggest of all game ... public enemies that even the G-Men cannot reach," referring to FBI agents. Bureau chief J. Edgar Hoover objected to the line's implication that some crime fighting was beyond the abilities of the FBI, and it was changed to "public enemies who try to destroy our America."
The vigilante nature of his operation quickly resulted in his being declared an outlaw himself, and Britt Reid decided to play to it. The Green Hornet became thought of as one of his city's biggest criminals, allowing him to walk into suspected racketeers' offices and ply them for information, or even demand a cut of their profits.
He would be accompanied by his similarly masked but unnamed chauffeur/bodyguard/enforcer, who was also Reid's valet, Kato, initially described as Japanese, and eventually as Filipino. A widespread urban legend has been the claim that the show's writers switched from one nationality to the other immediately after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, but in fact this happened well before direct U.S. involvement in the war.
Specifically, in and up to 1939, in the series' opening narration, Kato was called Britt Reid's "Japanese valet" and from 1940 to '45 he was Reid's "faithful valet" there. However, in June of 1941, in the episode "Walkout for Profit," about 14 minutes into the episode, Reid specifically noted Kato having a Philippine origin and thus he became Reid's "Filipino valet" as of that point. When the characters were used in the first of a pair of movie serials, the politically perceptive producers of 1939 had Kato's nationality given as Korean.
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