Following the success of the Batman TV series, it was decided to do a series based on another masked crime fighter, The Green Hornet, but unlike the camp style of Batman this series would be played straight.
The Green Hornet started out as a 1936 radio serial co-created by George Trendle, a lawyer and businessman who specialised in movie contracts and leases. He had acquired a radio station in 1929, renamed it WXYZ and decided to produce and broadcast his own radio dramas. He appointed a dramatic director, Jim Jewell, and a freelance radio writer, Fran Striker.
Trendle had an idea for a masked cowboy, a mysterious figure of high moral values, and between the three of them they came up with the character of The Lone Ranger.
The Lone Ranger was soon a huge hit for the station. Building on that success the team came up with another masked vigilante, The Green Hornet. This time he was a contemporary crime-fighting hero, named Britt Reid, who coincidentally was the great nephew of The Lone Ranger, whose surname was also Reid.
Just as The Lone Ranger had help from the faithful Tonto, The Green Hornet’s sidekick was Japanese valet, Kato, (although he was changed to Filipino following the attack on Pearl Harbour), just as loyal as Tonto, and an expert in Karate.
By day Britt Reid is a wealthy newspaper publisher, who produces The Daily Sentinel. By night he wears the green coat, mask and fedora hat of The Green Hornet, and with his similarly masked partner, Kato, they patrol the streets in The Black Beauty, a stealthy technologically advanced automobile. The Green Hornet is perceived by the authorities as a criminal; however The Green Hornet uses this status to his crime-fighting advantage creating trust within the criminal fraternity.
Although George Trendle shares the credit as the creator of The Green Hornet, most of the radio plays were actually written by Fran Striker.
As a cost cutting measure George Trendle insisted on using music that was out of copyright to avoid royalty fees, hence the Lone Ranger theme was The William Tell Overture by Rossini, and The Green Hornet theme was The Flight of The Bumble Bee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
In 1940 The Green Hornet was adapted into two movie serials, The Green Hornet , which starred Gordon Jones as Britt Reid/The Green Hornet and Keye Luke as a Korean Kato (coincidently Key Luke would turn up as Master Po in the 1970’s Kung Fu TV series) The following serial released in 1941 was called The Green Hornet Strikes Again . Keye Luke returned as Kato, but this time Britt Reid was played by Warren Hull.