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Straight as an Arrow

May 3, 2009

Justice, law, order...these were the things that meant the most to Steve Adams, owner of the Broken Bow Ranch. So when Steve saw these great ideals being violated, that's when he would make way for his secret cave - only to emerge as Straight Arrow, brave Comanche Indian, decked out in war paint and brilliant dress. With his golden palomino Fury close by, Straight Arrow would go to any lengths to protect the innocent and punish the guilty ...

This was the premise behind the Western radio series Straight Arrow, which ran from 1948 -1951. It was broadcast weekly on the West Coast on the Don Lee network, moving to three times a week on the national Mutual network in early 1949 (it would only be broadcast twice a week, however, beginning in 1950). But though Steve donned his Indian garb and fought justice under the guise of Straight Arrow, did you know that Straight Arrow was actually Steve's real identity? Steve really was a Comanche Indian, disguised as a white man in his everyday life running the Broken Bow Ranch. So what everyone knew as Steve's Indian alter-ego wasn't really an alter-ego at all!

The story of Straight Arrow was conceived for Nabisco by Sheldon Stark, as a means of promoting the company's seemingly adult cereal, Shredded Wheat, to a younger crowd. As the legend goes, Steve was born a Comanche Indian, was orphaned and was ultimately raised by white folks. As he grew, his true identity was known only to his sidekick Packy McCloud.

Howard Culver played the title character, while Fred Howard played Packy and Gwen Delano played the Ranch housekeeper Mesquite Molly. Needless to say, the adventures that unfolded had all the sharp-shooting stuff of any Western legend - and radio premiums abounded. There were rings, a Mystic Wrist Kit containing an arrowhead and a cowrie shell, an arrowhead flashlight, an Indian war drum, a bandana, a patch, and a feathered headband. And there were the famed sets of Injun-Uity cards, given away in cereal boxes and later reissued as bound volumes. There was even a contest that was held to name Straight Arrow's palomino - with the grand prize actually being a palomino pony, tack and cowboy outfit! The name Fury was ultimately chosen from over 50,000 submissions.

In addition to all the contests and premiums, Straight Arrow was also featured in a newspaper strip and a comic book. The strip, distributed by the Bell Syndicate, debuted in 1950 and ran for only two years. The comic book, on the other hand, ran from 1950 - 1956, and had sales reaching as high as one million per month.

It's enough to make us cry, "Kaneewah, Fury!"

If you're interested in knowning more about this great character, you might want to read Straight Arrow: The Definitive Radio Log and Resource Guide for that Legendary Indian Figure on the Trail of Justice by William Harper. It is available from Bear Manor Media or the author.

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