The Green Hornet

by Guy Belleranti
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Many masked and/or disguised superhero crime fighters have captured the public's imagination through the years. The Green Hornet is one of them.

The Green Hornet and his sidekick, Kato, made their first appearances on radio in 1936. In fact, they were created and developed by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, the same men behind the creation of the masked western hero The Lone Ranger.

The radio series ran into the early 1950's. In addition, two movie serials were produced in the early forties. And comic books about the crime-fighting duo also began appearing during the 1940's.

Then, in 1966, The Green Hornet came to television, running for one season of 26 half hour color episodes on ABC.

The Green Hornet was actually a wealthy man named Britt Reid. By day Reid was publisher of a newspaper, but by night he became a green-masked crime fighter aided by his kung-fu master valet, Kato.

Van Williams played the Hornet on the TV series, and martial arts legend Bruce Lee played Kato. In fact, the series introduced Lee to American viewers. Lee was already a popular figure in Hong Kong, so popular in fact that the program was marketed there as "The Kato Show".

Other important characters on the television program included Reid's beautiful secretary, Lenore "Casey" Case, a woman who knew the Green Hornet's secret identity, and District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon. Wende Wagner played "Casey" and Walter Brooke played Scanlon.

While the Green Hornet and Kato were a super hero team just like Batman and Robin, The Green Hornet TV series was played much straighter then the Batman series. It didn't feature comical villains (like The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman, etc.) who appeared over and over.

Interestingly, the Hornet and Kato did appear on three Batman episodes in 1966-67.

While Batman had his Batmobile, the Green Hornet had his own extraordinary car. Named Black Beauty, the vehicle was loaded with all sorts of gadgets and weapons.

Another interesting fact about The Green Hornet was its theme music. Both the radio and television programs used Rimsky-Korsakov's distinctive sounding "Flight of the Bumblebee". The television series' music featured a trumpet solo by Al Hirt.

The possibility of a Green Hornet motion picture has been talked about for years, and it could still happen. For in March of 2007 Columbia announced that they had bought film rights to the character.

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