Welcome back, friends. It has been a few months since out last podcast episode. We are back though and furthermore it is a listener request. Giant Jungle Man is an episode of the Bring ‘Em Back Alive old time radio shows. Yes, I am indeed aware that of late I have had more than a few posts about Bring ‘Em Back Alive. From the Ben Cooper Halloween costumes to the fact that it was based on the real life adventures of Frank Buck. With Giant Jungle Man – Frank and his aide Ali are hot on the trail of an Orangutan.
Giant Jungle Man appears to be one of two surviving episodes of the show. Or at the very least the only two I have been able to locate. Furthermore that was thanks to none other than the Retroist. He was able to find them in the Retroist Vault.
The Bring ‘Em Back Alive old time radio series was produced by RKO. Starting on October 30th and lasting until December 18th, 1932. It was in conjunction with the release of the Bring ‘Em Back Alive feature film at that time.
So grab your favorite snack and beverage, friends. Let the glow of your monitor and phones ease your worries. And join us as we venture into the jungles of Sumatra with Frank Buck and Ali as they search for the Giant Jungle Man!
If you have any comments or feedback for the show you can e-mail them to at VicSage@Retroist.com. You can also reach me on Twitter and of course on Facebook.
Friends, you might remember a couple of days ago when I shared those Ben Cooper outfits. One of those costumes was for Frank Buck of 1982’s Bring ‘Em Back Alive. The short lived television series that aired on CBS. Obviously it attempted to capture that feeling of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Naturally I’m talking about the pulp feel to it all. What I didn’t know however is that the 1982 show was based on an 1930 book entitled Bring ‘Em Back Alive. Nor that the Frank Buck that Bruce Boxleitner played was based on a real life adventurer!
You could have knocked me over with a single feather when I found that out. Frank Buck was in fact a celebrated animal collector. As well as an author, actor, director, and film producer. Beyond his popular book Bring ‘Em Back Alive he would go on to co-write seven more books from 1932 until 1945. Not to mention starring in eight motion pictures as well as serials. To say nothing of having an RKO old time radio show dramatizing his exploits!
It appears that Frank Buck did safely capture a variety of animals, to bring them back and sell them to zoos and circuses. Frank was actually invested in the animals well being and briefly,VERY briefly was the Director of the San Diego Zoo. Buck and the head of the board of Directors did not get along. While Frank apparently was very excited about the prospect, he was sacked three months after he took the job in 1923. If you want to get into some disturbing details you can check out this link to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Obviously that was in the 1920’s, his best selling book didn’t even come out until 1930. Not even the Wall Street Crash of 1929 could halt Buck. He was certainly affected by it but thanks to a loan of $6,000 he was off around the world once again. Collecting animals and more importantly bringing them back alive. Heck, he went on lectures and tours and even appeared with Abbott and Costello. Three years after the adventurers passing, Classics Illustrated started publishing comic books based on his 1930 book!
Remember I said that Frank Buck appeared in serials? How would you like to watch one right now?
Of course remember Jungle Menace was originally released in 1937…so prepare for some unfortunate stereotypes.
Friends, of course those of us of a certain age remember the Ben Cooper line of Halloween costumes well. Perhaps best known for just how wide Ben Cooper threw its net in regards to merchandising. Finding one of these delightful costumes in the wild never fails to bring a smile to my face. Especially when I dropped by my local Vintage Stock and discovered they not only had three Ben Cooper costumes for sale – but they also were still in their boxes.
Ben Cooper actually got his start designing sets as well as costumes for the legendary Cotton Club. With the Great Depression however, the entrepreneur noticed that Halloween was still popular. So he decided to go for the licensing of Walt Disney characters beginning in 1937. Thanks to partnering up with Fishbach’s Spotlight in 1942, Ben Cooper costumes became super popular. Sears, J.C. Penney, and Woolworth’s carried the easily affordable costumes and helped cement the company as a household name.
Now as soon as I stepped through the doors of my local Vintage Stock. It was indeed like my eyes were magnetically drawn to the display of vintage costumes. Thankfully the staff as always were kind enough to let me start snapping photos of them all. Almost as if they are used to me doing such a thing, right? First up is Gary Gnu from 1981’s The Great Space Coaster.
Which I should add if you don’t check out that intro to the short lived series is none other than Bruce Boxleitner. Also appearing in the show was his co-star from TRON, the beautiful Cindy Morgan. I am not sure if her character was available as an costume option for Halloween that year, but it wouldn’t shock me if one was available.
How about we close this out with this vintage 1978 Woolworth’s TV commercial? Featuring quite a few of Ben Cooper costumes I might add.