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A MAN CALLED X

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Full Name: Ken Thurston
Series Name: A Man Called X
Codename: X
Nationality: American
Organization: Intelligence Bureau
Occupation Agent

Creator: Jay Richard Kennedy
Time Span: 1944 - 1957

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Ken Thurston is an agent with the Intelligence Bureau.
       "Wherever there is mystery, intrigue, romance, in all the strange and mysterious places of the world, there you will find 'The Man Called X'". Such was the normal introduction to the adventures of Thurston that were made available to his followers via the airwaves rather than the printed page. Another intro mentions that these tales were about "The Man Called X, international troubleshooter who flies the oceans at the drop of a hat, who charms the ladies, but who is death to crooks".
       Why he was called 'X' when his true name was so readily known is not mentioned but each of the scores of adventures refer to him as such.
       The name of the department for whom Thurston worked is clearly designated the Intelligence Bureau in the television episodes and might be so called in the radio broadcasts; it definitely is referred to as 'the Bureau' in the latter often enough but it is definitely not the FBI. The territory reached by this agency is clearly the entire world because there seemed to be nowhere that he might not be sent, including to the desolate frozen reaches of the bottom of the world, Antarctica.
       We never learn a great deal about the man himself, at least not his origins or personal life. We meet in the fourth adventure Nancy Bessington, his fiancee and someone who knows about him and his proclivity for getting involved in "one of those things of yours". As far as I could tell, we never hear about her again and from then on, it is as if he has no real home life. He, of course, has a home, an apartment in the nation's capital but since he is on the go so often, moving from one exotic locale to another, he likely never spends much time there. He does, however, have time to chat up a large number of alluring women all over the globe.
       We do learn from his exploits that he is definitely a man of action and he loves it. While there may be prudence shown when needed, there is never a reluctance to walk into danger. He is even willing from time to time to knowingly step into a trap when he believes it is the fastest or surest way to find who might be behind a problem.
       Thurston has a sense of humor and a wry one at times. He also loves the mysterious and the offbeat. For example, when a woman he has never met and thus does not know steps up to him at a show's intermission and grabs him for a kiss, he is both pleased and intrigued and uses it as an invitation to learn more, all pleasantly aware that he is walking treacherous steps.
       He 'enjoys' the frequent 'assistance' of Pegon Zellschmidts, a young and extremely cautious young man who might have been called a scamp in his youth but who now would easily invite less kind adjectives. The word 'enjoys' is in quotes because there are many times that Thurston grudgingly make use of Pegon for this or that but seldom it seems does he ask for it. The 'assistance' is marked because Pegon is not always the most capable or trustworthy of companions. Conman is a word that often comes to mind. Unprincipled is another. In one adventure when it is believed that Thurston had been gunned down, Pegon's first action is to tell Thurston's boss that his dear friend Thurston had many times insisted that Pegon be his sole heir and Pegon would be very pleased to have his financial assets transferred right away.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:39
First Appearance:1956
Last Appearance:1957
Network:Syndicated

REGULAR CAST
Barry SullivanKen Thurston [ 1-2 ]





Note: the terrific Uncle Earl's Classic TV Channel provided much need intel on the contents of most of the episodes. My words - his synopsis.
Also providing terrific intel is The Classic TV Archive.


1 For External Use Only
Episode 1-01, first aired 01/27/1956

Ken Thurston is in Vienna to meet with an informant to get intel vital to the West but the contact has vanished.

2 Ballerina Story
Episode 1-02, first aired 02/03/1956

A famous ballerina wants to defect to the West and tell the truth about how her countrymen were being treated. Ken Thurston is on hand to help her.

3 Extradition
Episode 1-03, first aired 02/10/1956

In Honduras reports come in that rebels are using American made arms and Ken Thurston heads there to investigate. He goes undercover as a bank robber on the run.

4 Assassination
Episode 1-04, first aired 02/17/1956

In Singapore, Ken Thurston, the Man Called X, must stop the planned assassination of a Free China general.

5 Truth Serum
Episode 1-05, first aired 02/24/1956

A Czech underground leader has been unmasked and he and his team, about to take one a mission, will be killed unless Ken Thurston gets the word to him

6 Afghanistan
Episode 1-06, first aired 03/02/1956

Ken Thurston heads to Kabul to find out if a tunnel disaster was caused by accident or sabotage.

7 Embassy
Episode 1-07, first aired 03/09/1956

There is a security leak at a military mission in Costa Rica and Ken Thurston is sent there to find out which of three suspects is at fault.

8 Dangerous
Episode 1-08, first aired 03/16/1956

In Trieste, Ken Thurston must find out why intelligence has stopped coming in from agents there after the death of one of them.

9 Provocateur
Episode 1-09, first aired 03/23/1956

In Iran, an anti-American country is working hard to keep the US from landing any oil deals. Ken Thurston is sent there to stop them.

10 Local Hero
Episode 1-10, first aired 03/30/1956

A group of refugees are trying to flee China. Ken Thurston joins them in disguise in order to discover which of them is a traitor.

11 U.S. Planes
Episode 1-11, first aired 04/13/1956

There is a plot underway to discredit the US in South America over bombers being sold to a tiny nation.

12 Acoustics
Episode 1-12, first aired 04/20/1956

There is a rumor that a famous rocket scientist has died in Europe. To find the truth, Ken Thurston has to head to Amsterdam.

13 The General
Episode 1-13, first aired 04/27/1956

Word comes that two Balkan nations are about to go to war with each other and Ken Thurston is sent to that region to find a way to calm things down.

14 Maps
Episode 1-14, first aired 05/04/1956

An American woman has gotten hold maps showing military bases behind the Iron Curtain. Enemy agents want to get them from her and Ken Thursten heads to Prague to help her.

15 Missing Plates
Episode 2-01, first aired 09/27/1956

Suspected counterfeit American currency is being spread in Europe. It is believed they were made using old plates which were supposed to have been destroyed. Ken Thurston heads to Brussels to track them down.

16 Enemy Agent
Episode 2-02, first aired 10/04/1956

To Stockholm Ken Thurston heads to find a way to get a dangerous spy out of that country. His plan involves stealing government secrets and then selling them to the agent.

17 Gold
Episode 2-03, first aired 10/11/1956

Ken Thurston finds a difficult choice to be made when he heads to the Philippines to recover a lot of American gold lost when the Japanese took over the island it was on. Unfortunately a young Dutch girl is in need of rescuing and doing both missions seems out of the question.

18 Operation Janus
Episode 2-04, first aired 10/18/1956

An American spy working in Istanbul needs help proving that a watch maker is spying on America. Ken Thurston heads there to lend a hand.

19 Staff Headquarters
Episode 2-05, first aired 10/25/1956

Hearing that the Communists were practicing a naval attack on the U.S., Ken Thurston travels via submarine to the Baltic island where the operation is running.

20 Underground
Episode 2-06, first aired 11/01/1956

Posing as a reporter, Ken Thurston parachutes into Poland with a lot of cash to pass around to anti-Red fighters.

21 Spare Parts
Episode 2-07, first aired 11/08/1956

Reports that a Czech plant making ball bearings had ceased operations due to broken machinery might not be true. Ken Thurston heads there to make it a fact.

22 Fallout
Episode 2-08, first aired 11/15/1956

Foreign agents are planning to cause trouble during an upcoming H-bomb test and Ken Thurston is told to get onboard the freighter they are said to be using.

23 Speech
Episode 2-09, first aired 11/22/1956

The prince of a small Himalayan country is in danger of being assassinated as he prepares to deliver a speech reporting the signing of an oil treaty with the US.

24 Ship Sabotage
Episode 2-10, first aired 11/29/1956

Ships are being sabotaged while in port in Manila. Ken Thurston is sent there undercover as a sailor to learn who is behind it.

25 Rendezvous
Episode 2-11, first aired 12/05/1956

The presence of an American fleet near the coast of a Communist country is giving that nation's dictator ammunition to use against the US. Ken Thurston is told to find a way to discredit him.

26 Switzerland
Episode 2-12, first aired 12/12/1956

A famous communist spy named Lubbock wants to quit but his bosses won't let him. At the same time Ken Thurston heads to Geneva to find a way to entice him using American cars as bait.

27 Voice on Tape
Episode 2-13, first aired 12/19/1956

The voice of a dead man is part of a very unusual Xmas present to the man who betrayed him.

28 Code W
Episode 2-14, first aired 12/26/1956

In Copenhagen, Ken Thurston looks into how a foreign embassy is able to get hold of US coded messages.

29 Gas Masks
Episode 2-15, first aired 01/03/1957

When word comes that a foreign country has been making weaponized gas to kill soldiers and to frighten the populace, Ken Thurston is sent to put a stop to it.

30 Murder
Episode 2-16, first aired 01/10/1957

A scientist who has been forced to work on guided missiles by the communists has managed to escape to Turkey but their agents are closing in on him. To help, Ken Thurston heads there disguised as a scientist himself to attract the agents' attentions.

31 Train Blow Up
Episode 2-17, first aired 02/06/1957

A lovely US envoy in Paris is approached by an Iron Curtain diplomat who offers to pass along vital intelligence.

32 Powder Keg
Episode 2-18, first aired 02/13/1957

Someone in Morocco is illegally selling American rifles and it is the mission of Ken Thurston to find out who and to stop it.

33 Passport
Episode 2-19, first aired 02/20/1957

In Egypt, an American has been arrested as a spy. Ken Thurston is sent to learn who the man was thought an operative when apparently he was not.

34 Forged Documents
Episode 2-20, first aired 02/27/1957

A planned anti-Communist conference by Middle East countries in Tangier has been cancelled. Ken Thurston is sent there to learn why.

35 Australia
Episode 2-21, first aired 03/06/1957

Someone has found a way to get hold of vital secrets in Australia. Ken Thurston is but one of the agents from three different countries of the West sent to figure out how they are being stolen.

36 Radio
Episode 2-22, first aired 03/13/1957

Ken Thurston is ordered to stop a scheme to sabotage a foreign country's battleship and put the blame on the U.S.

37 Business Empire
Episode 2-23, first aired 03/20/1957

While in Guatemala to investigate an anti-Community vigilante group which is being lead by an American, Ken Thurston finds a spy ring at work.

38 Hungary
Episode 2-24, first aired 03/27/1957

An undercover agent in a Communist country has been providing excellent intel but now he is in danger of being captured and unfortunately only one person knows who he is. Ken Thurston must learn the truth and get the word to that agent.

39 Kidnap
Episode 2-25, first aired 04/04/1957

The daughter of an important US scientist has been lured to a Communist country and now she is being held by the authorities to get what they want from him.

RADIO / AUDIO


Number of Episodes:112
First Appearance:1944
Last Appearance:1952
Network:NBC,CBS

REGULAR CAST
Herbert MarshallKen Thurston [ All ]
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MY COMMENTS

       This is one excellent series to listen to. Since I wanted to include a brief synopsis of each episode, I chose to spend a few minutes listening to the opening lines to get an idea what the main gist was going to be but each story drew me in and a couple minutes became a whole lot more. I could easily have presented this series over a month ago but for this 'dedication' to learning more.
       Ken Thurston, the Man Called X, certainly got around and we the listeners, and later the viewers, got to travel with him. Luckily for those of us who were too young to have not been in front of the radio or television back then, almost all of them are still available and I strongly recommend taking the time to listen to at least a couple.

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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