Question: Greetings! I have rather vague but persistent memories of a TV series based on the evil Chinese doctor Fu Manchu (I think he was a doctor) that aired in the late '50s. I grew up in the New York City area and perhaps it was more of a local show. Any help? Thanks.
Answer: It wasn't a local show, Richard, but it was syndicated, so it's tough to say exactly where it aired around the country. I can tell you, however, that 39 episodes of The Adventures of Fu Manchu were produced from 1955-56, starring Glen Gordon as the nefarious doctor. (Yep, he had his degree, though for all I know it might have been one of those honorary certificates you get when you're famous and speak at graduation. Or perhaps he had to defend his thesis on poisoning the masses or something?)
Based on the characters created by writer Sax Rohmer, Fu Manchu revolved around the brilliant scientist and those who thwarted his no-good schemes. Fu's chief nemesis was Scotland Yard's Sir Dennis Nayland-Smith (Lester Matthews) and, in a blatant racial statement that would be difficult to defend today, it was your basic valorous Westerner fighting off the vicious evil of the Orient.
Hmmm... a show named after the bad guy? Perhaps it's time to push my sitcom concept for "Cigarette-Smoking Man & Son."