J. Scott Smart was a natural for the part of Brad Runyon. He would often say, "It takes a fat man to sound like a fat man."
Brad Runyon weighed-in at 237 pounds (or 239/241 pounds, depending on which episode), Jack Smart tipped the scales
at around 270 pounds, only being 5- foot, 9-inch tall. Jack Smart was not only a famous radio actor, also an accomplished
stage actor, jazz historian and musician, amateur gourmet chef, newspaper writer, and artist.
There was a steady climb in popularity that caught the attention of Norwich Pharmaceutical Company. They wanted a
way to advertise their Pepto Bismol. Norwich Pharmaceutical Company sponsorship of "The Fat Man" started around
February 1947. The series lasted six seasons. The radio shows were loosely based on the books written by Dashiell Hammett.
In 1950 Dashiell Hammett was called before the House Un- American Activities Committee and he refused to give names.
He was tried and imprisoned for his failure to cooperate with the Committee and was blacklisted along with the many
other fine artists and entertainers who fell victim to the anti- communist hysteria of the day. Norwich Pharmaceutical
Company was quick to withdraw its sponsorship.
In 1951, there was a film titled The Fat Man starring J. Scott Smart, along with Jayne Meadows, Rock Hudson; John
Russell and circus clown Emmett Kelly, wherein the investigation of a dentist's murder leads Runyon to a circus
showdown. Universal-International removed his name from the titles of The Fat Man movie. It was only released because
it was already made by the time of Dashiell Hammett's situation.
No one is sure how much Dashiell Hammett helped develop the series, or if he just lent his name. In the Martha's Vineyard
Gazette of September 6, 1949 he was quoted as saying, "My sole duty in regard to these programs is to look in the mail for
a check once a week. I don't even listen to them. If I did, I'd complain about how they were being handled, and then I'd fall
into the trap of being asked to come down and help. I don't want to have anything to do with the radio. It's a dizzy
world--makes the movies seem highly intellectual."
There was also an version made in Australia, syndicated on the Artansa lable, about 1954. There are at least 36 shows
available from vendors. The Australian Fat Man was played possibly by Lloyd Berrell. Although not featuring J. Scott
Smart, who really fit the part, the series is quite good.
|The Fat Man (1951) movie with sleuth
J. Scott Smart and John Russell
|The Fat Man shows done in America
|The Fat Man shows done in Australia
|"There he goes, into that drugstore. He's stepping on the scales. Weight? 237 pounds. Fortune? Danger.
Whoooooo is it? The Fat Maaaan!"