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Culver's image on a gold-plated Straight Arrow ring, a radio premium circulated in 1950
Howard Culver (June 4, 1918 - August 4, 1984) was an American radio and television actor, best known as hotel clerk Howie Uzzell during the entire run of TV's Gunsmoke. On radio he starred in the title role of the Western adventure series Straight Arrow, which aired on Mutual from May 6, 1948 to June 21, 1951.
Straight Arrow first made his first appearences almost simultaneously on a radio program and on "Injun-uity cards". These two projects were tightly coordinated projects backed by the National Biscuit Company and its advertising agency, McCann-Erickson. After a six month test-run on a local radio station in California, the radio series and the publication of the Injun-uity cards ran parallel with each other from 1949 to 1952. Nabisco was the sole advertiser on all the radio programs.
Shredded Wheat was an American breakfast cereal made by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). Each portion of Shredded Wheat was a loosely-woven, pillow-shaped biscuit about 10x6x3 cm in size. A package of Shredded Wheat contained 12 such biscuits, packed in four layers with 3 biscuits in each layer. Separating these layers were three gray cardboard dividers. Starting in 1949, "Straight Arrow's secrets of indian lore and know-how" were printed on these cardboard dividers in an effort to increase the popularity of Shredded Wheat among children. Fred L. Meagher of Magazine Enterprises was the illustrator of all these cards. These cards were dubbed "Injun-uity Cards." The word, "injun-uity" is a play on words, combining the word, "injun," (a slangy, uneducated pronunciation of the word, "indian") and the word "ingenuity" meaning the ability to do things in clever ways. One topic of this "indian lore and know-how" was dealt with on each card - either making indian-style artifacts or showing correct ways of doing various outdoor activities. The cards were published in 4 series called "books." Cards from each individual Book were included in Shredded Wheat packages for a period of about 9 months. Books 1 and 2 were printed with blue ink and books 3 and 4 were printed in green. Each book consisted of 36 Injun-uity cards. All the cards of the first two books were published as an single "Injun-uity Manual" with a stapled binding in 1951. This manual was available through the mail from the National Biscuit Company for 15 cents and a Shredded Wheat box top (advertisement for manual).
NABISCO STRAIGHT ARROW CARDS
STRAIGHT ARROW HEAD BAND WITH FEATHERS
The correct version is simply the reverse: Straight Arrow was a Comanche orphan raised by the whites, and as an adult, Steve Adams was his "secret identity."
The history of this popular juvenile Western series is an interesting one. In 1947 the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) made plans to challenge the domination of youngsters' allegiance to the cereals of Post, Kellogg's and General Mills. Nabisco officials picked one of their "adult cereals", Shredded Wheat, to promote as a kids' breakfast food by sponsoring a new radio series.
McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency in New York City was given the task of creating this new kids' show. The premise evolved of an American Indian as the hero and Sheldon Stark was picked to write the script. Stark was an excellent choice; he had spent ten years at WXYZ under George Trendle writing episodes for THE GREEN HORNET and CHALLENGE OF THE YUKON.
Stark created a story-line involving a Comanche Indian named Straight Arrow, who disguised himself as Steve Adams (note the same initials), the owner of the Broken Bow cattle spread. His secret identity was known only to his grizzled side-kick, Packy McCloud. The initial script was finished by Stark in January 1948 and turned over to the agency.
Long-time writer and researcher William Harper shares his wealth of articles, comics, complete radio log and much more in this definitive work on the great Western radio show, Straight Arrow! Table of Contents Acknowledgements Foreward Introduction Overview Straight Arrow Radio Sheldon Stark Howard Culver Fred Howard (Wright) Gwen Delano Frank Bingman Milton Charles Ted Robertson Ray Kemper Straight Arrow Radio Log Getting It Right Straight Arrow in Person Premiums and Merchandise and Others Premiums Merchandise John C. Walworth Novel Novelties Straight Arrow Board Game Others Print Media Injun-Uity Straight Arrow Comics Vincent Sullivan Gardner Fox Fred L. Meagher Straight Arrow In the Comics Daily Strip John Belfi Joe Certa Miscellaneous Sources Addendum A word about the author
"Straight Arrow," son of a Comanche Indian chief was
reared by a Westerner named "Packey." When he came of age, he was a
tall-and-handsome (naturally) rancher who called himself "Steve
Fred L. Meagher was the artist of the 1950s monthly comic book 'Straight Arrow' at Magazine Enterprise. Meagher started his career as an illustrator on Hershey Publications' short-lived pulps Dan Dunn Detective Magazine and Tailspin Tommy Air Adventures. From 1935 through World War II his illustrations appeared in various aviation publications and books produced and written by Assen Jordonanoff. He drew for Tom Mix Comics from 1941. He worked on the 'Straight Arrow' comic from 1949. In addition, he drew for other titles by the company, such as The Durango Kid, where he did the back-up feature 'Dan Brand and Tipi'. In addition, he did the 'Broncho Bill' comic strip for United Features Syndicate. This strip evolved into 'Buffalo Bill' in February, 1955. The demise of ME and 'Buffalo Bill' in 1956 marked the end of Meagher's comic work. With the end of his comic career Meagher moved into industrial design by joining American Can.
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