January 31: The Green Hornet

Green HornetOn this day in 1936, radio audiences were treated to the first adventure from a pair of a famed masked vigilante. This was the story of a wealthy billionaire playboy who fought crime under an animal themed alias. A man accompanied by a trusted martial arts practicing sidekick. Oh, and did I mention that this man had an awesome car? Ladies and gentlemen, there’s only one man who I could be talking about: Yes, the Green Hornet!

Were you expecting somebody else? Yes, the Green Hornet, created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, made his debut 79 years ago today, three years before our Fledermaus themed friend. The Hornet was actually created as a modern twist on The Lone Ranger. While the Ranger traveled with Native American sidekick Tonto, the Hornet was assisted by his Asian valet Kato (Kato’s nationality changed depending on international politics and the actor playing him.). In fact, some Green Hornet stories strongly hint that the Hornet’s alter ego (millionaire newspaper publisher Britt Reid) was a descendent of the Lone Ranger.

Although Kato served as Reid’s valet, he was more of an equal partner than a sidekick. Kato was just as smart as Reid and they were both martial arts experts. What made this dynamic duo different from other costumed heroes was that they actually pretended to be criminals. This way, they could infiltrate criminal organizations in costume as the Green Hornet and Kato and then bring the crooks down from the inside. Honestly, I’m disappointed that more would be screenwriters haven’t exploited this premise for their own uses.

The Green Hornet radio series was a massive hit, and in fact ran for 16 years. Later, in the 1960s the ABC tv network was inspired by the success of the Batman series and revived the Green Hornet and Kato for television. In this series, the role of Kato was played by a young Hong Kong action movie star named Bruce Lee; perhaps the first Asian actor to star in an American television series. Lee and Kato became so popular that comic books and other media were released that only featured Kato. In fact, in Hong Kong the tv series was actually called The Kato Show. Amusingly, the Green Hornet and Kato guest starred on an episode of Batman in which they fought Gotham’s dynamic duo to a stand still before teaming up to fight the real bad guys.

Of course my real reason for writing about the Green Hornet was to draw attention to a fun pair of cocktails. The Stinger is a simple mix of brandy and white crème de menthe that dates back to the 1940s New York. In New York, the Stinger was viewed as a perfect nightcap. But what happens if you make a Stinger with green crème de menthe? Why it becomes a Green Hornet, naturally.

Stinger/Green Hornet

  • 1 1/2 ounces Brandy
  • 1/2 ounce  Crème de Menthe (White for a Stinger, Green for a Green Hornet)

Pour both ingredients into an Old Fashioned glass with crushed ice and stir well.

Tomorrow: The real  vie bohème.

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