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"He's Everywhere.....He's Everywhere"

 

 

Glen Teason, an avid fan of this site sent me an email and asked if I remembered the famous crime fighter "Chickenman."  I had to stop and think for just a moment but yes I did. I guess he was hidden in my brain somewhere prepared to be recalled for future use and I guess this is it. Below is part of the email Glen sent me and the facts of "Chickenman." 

"....wonder if you recall, in the mid sixty's, hearing of a Chicago radio station playing a "2 minute take off of the batman theme (popular at that time)", called "Chicken Man". I think it was WLS? The timeline was, I think, around 1968? Anyway, the station made up this "character" called "Chicken Man". He was supposedly a mild mannered, shy shoe salesman (why not?) named Benton Harbor. Also, by coincidence, name of a nearby city in Michigan, just across the lake from Chicago. Anyway, they would play these funny adventurous vignettes several times a day; about how this guy dressed in a chicken suit would go out and "fight crime and or evil". Funny, at the time, so folks enjoyed it. Me to. Then they had a contest, to draw, what you think Chicken Man looked like. One day, at my job, in the engineering department of a large manufacturing company, I jotted down a two minute sketch on a sheet of paper, tore off the corner, and mailed it in. A week later, driving home, I heard my name announced, "from the Chicken Cave", as the winner. My prize, to meet the creator of Chicken Man, at the downtown Chicago radio station and to be presented with a life size oil portrait of Chicken Man. I must admit, my one minute sketch, nailed it. Also, I won a Kodak super 8 home movie system and my tiny sketch was displayed for a week or so, in one of the major downtown department stores with, as I recall, an armed guard for first day or two, to add drama. Years later, when I didn't know what to do with this huge five foot gold framed oil portrait of a guy in a chicken suit, and had no more room in the garage, I called the gentleman who created the character, met with him, and sold it back to him so I could buy a lens for my camera. Guess my focus had changed. Fun times, those. :-)"

After receiving Glen's email I started reeling and searching and discovered that it wasn't WLS that developed "Chickenman" but Chicago radio station WCFL. "Chickenman" was created by Dick Orkin and he wrote all 273 episodes of "the fantastic crime fighter the world has ever known"  Dick Orkin was the production director of WCFL.

I replied to Glen's email and said I had heard of "Chickenman", probably from a drifted radio signal but now I remember that Armed Forces Radio also used the episodes on their radio broadcasts so I am sure that is where I had heard of "Chickenman."  In fact, "Chickenman" was broadcasted in over 1500 radio stations across the nation.

In the army "Chickenman" was famous, in fact there was a battalion nicknamed "Chickenman Battalion."

The show started in 1966 and was part of the Jim Runyon Show. DJ Jim Runyon served as narrator of the series. In the show's 195 episodes, Orkin voiced "Chickenman", who worked as shoe salesman Benton Harbor (the name of a Michigan city on Lake Michigan) Monday through Friday at a large Midland City department store and thus he could only fight crime on weekends...his only two days off. His main contacts were Commissioner Benjamin Norton and his secretary Miss Honor Helfinger (actress Jane Roberts). Chickenman's mother Mildred (also Jane Roberts) helped as the "Maternal Marauder," or the "Masked Mother." He traveled around Benton Harbor in his yellow, two door crime fighting automobile (the Chicken Coupe).

Among "Chickenman's" greatest foes were the Chicken-Plucker, the Dog Lady, Big Clyde Crushman, the Bear Lady, the Very Diabolical, Rodney Farber (former childhood playmate who never forgave Benton Harbor for breaking his red wagon on Christmas Day) and the Couple from SHTICK (Secret Henchmen To Injure Crime Killers).

Even today when you mention "Chickenman" the reply is "He's everywhere....he's everywhere."

So as Paul Harvey use to say "Now you know the rest of the story."

Thank you Glen for retrieving a long lost memory of past radio. I bet you wish you still had that picture of "Chickenman" now. Perhaps you could sketch us another one just so we knew what he looked like.

Update:  Glen has come through! Check out the photos.

 

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