Doc Savage's co-creator, Lester Dent, retained radio, film and television rights to his character as part of his contract with Street and Smith Publications, original publishers of the Doc Savage pulp magazine. Although Dent succeeded in launching a short-lived radio program, he was never able to interest Hollywood in a Doc Savage film. Upon his death in 1959, the rights reverted to his widow, Norma.
A production team led by Mark Goodson and Bill Toddman eventually announced their intention to produce a Doc Savage feature film to cash in on the popularity of the reissued pulp novels by Bantam Books and the James Bond craze sweeping the movies in the 1960's. The film would be based on the 1934 pulp novel The Thousand-Headed Man, and starring Chuck Connors (of TVs The Rifleman) as Doc, for a 1966 release.
Unfortunately, the producers and Conde Nast Publications, the new copyright holder of the Doc Savage brand, failed to secure the film rights from the Lester Dent estate. By the time the legal issues had been resolved, the production crew and cast had moved on to do an offbeat western, Ride Beyond Vengeance. Only the now rare, one-shot comic book movie tie-in published by Gold Key, with cover artwork by James Bama, remains to mark this aborted film undertaking.
It would have been nice to see this film come to fruition. My own picks for some of Doc's fellow adventurers are highlighted above: Noted character actors J.D. Cannon (of TVs McCloud) as Ham Brooks, Neville Brand (of TVs Laredo) as Monk Mayfair, Ray Walston (of TVs My Favorite Martian) as Long Tom Roberts and Fred Gwynne (of TVs the Munsters) as Renny Renwick. I don't really have a good pick for Johnny Littlejohn, but maybe some of you could make a suggestion.
Any takers? Comments?