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Serial Report
    - Chapter Ninety-Eight
    - Chapter Ninety-Seven
    - Chapter Ninety-Six
    - Chapter Ninety-Five
    - Chapter Ninety-Four
    - Chapter Ninety-Three
    - Chapter Ninety-Two
    - Chapter Ninety-One
    - Chapter Ninety
    - Chapter Eighty-Nine
    - Chapter Eighty-Eight
    - Chapter Eighty-Seven
    - Chapter Eighty-Six
    - Chapter Eighty-Five
    - Chapter Eighty-Four
    - Chapter Eighty-Three
    - Chapter Eighty-Two
    - Chapter Eighty-One
    - Chapter Eighty
    - Chapter Seventy-Nine
    - Chapter Seventy-Eight
    - Chapter Seventy-Seven
    - Chapter Seventy-Six
    - Chapter Seventy-Five
    - Chapter Seventy-Four
    - Chapter Seventy-Three
    - Chapter Seventy-Two
    - Chapter Seventy-One
    - Chapter Seventy
    - Chapter Sixty-Nine
    - Chapter Sixty-Eight
    - Chapter Sixty-Seven
    - Chapter Sixty-Six
    - Chapter Sixty-Five
    - Chapter Sixty-Four
    - Chapter Sixty-Three
    - Chapter Sixty-Two
    - Chapter Sixty-One
    - Chapter Sixty
    - Chapter Fifty-Nine
    - Chapter Fifty-Eight
    - Chapter Fifty-Seven
    - Chapter Fifty-Six
    - Chapter Fifty-Five
    - Chapter Fifty-Four
    - Chapter Fifty-Three
    - Chapter Fifty-Two
    - Chapter Fifty-One
    - Chapter Fifty
    - Chapter Forty-Nine
    - Chapter Forty-Eight
    - Chapter Forty-Seven
    - Chapter Forty-Six
    - Chapter Forty-Five
    - Chapter Forty-Four
    - Chapter Forty-Three
    - Chapter Forty-Two
    - Chapter Forty-One
    - Chapter Forty
    - Chapter Thirty-Nine
    - Chapter Thirty-Eight
    - Chapter Thirty-Seven
    - Chapter Thirty-Six
    - Chapter Thirty-Five
    - Chapter Thirty-Four
    - Chapter Thirty-Three
    - Chapter Thirty-Two
    - Chapter Thirty-One
    - Chapter Thirty
    - Chapter Twenty-Nine
    - Chapter Twenty-Eight
    - Chapter Twenty-Seven
    - Chapter Twenty-Six
    - Chapter Twenty-Five
    - Chapter Twenty-Four
    - Chapter Twenty-Three
    - Chapter Twenty-Two
    - Chapter Twenty-One
    - Chapter Twenty
    - Chapter Nineteen
    - Chapter Eighteen
    - Chapter Seventeen
    - Chapter Sixteen
    - Chapter Fifteen
    - Chapter Fourteen
    - Chapter Thirteen
    - Chapter Twelve
    - Chapter Eleven
    - Chapter Ten
    - Chapter Nine
    - Chapter Eight
    - Chapter Seven
    - Chapter Six
    - Chapter Five
    - Chapter Four
    - Chapter Three
    - Chapter Two
    - Chapter One

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Chapter Ninety-Eight

Dorothy Herbert and “Mysterious
Dr. Satan” (Pt. 1)

by Boyd Magers

Dorothy Herbert.Dorothy Herbert joined Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1930 and became a featured star with her trick riding act and aerialist work. Republic head Herbert J. Yates scouted and signed her for “Mysterious Dr. Satan” (‘40) even though her riding talents may have been better showcased in a Western. Assigned the role of Professor C. Montague Shaw’s secretary, Alice Brent, the equestrienne displayed her riding skills in chapters 1 and 8. Bound and gagged in a stable in Ch. 1 she still managed to mount a horse, jump the steed through a window with her hands still tied behind her back and ride to tell star Robert Wilcox of Dr. Satan’s presence.

In the circus publication BANDWAGON (March/April 1989) Dorothy related her experiences at Republic. “Mr. Yates ordered a screen test and I was told to report on Monday. Outfitted in western garb, I was driven to the location. I did not know what I expected, but certainly not a test on a horse! There stood this big white horse with a huge, silver mounted western saddle. The wrangler who was holding him told me he was one of the three ‘look alikes’ which were used in ‘The Lone Ranger’ serial. Silver had two doubles, each had a different function. This was the one they used when a scene called for a rear. The director informed me I was to gallop up to a line and rear the horse. No one bothered to tell me what the cue was to make the horse rear. I cantered the horse up to the line and pulled on the reins. The horse made what was to me, after the horses I had been used to, a very half-hearted rear. ‘Okay,’ called the director, ‘the next one will be a take.’

Dorothy Herbert title shot from "Mysterious Dr. Satan".Far from satisfied, I thought to myself: I am not going to settle for this, I am going to have to make it look good. This time, when I reached the line, I yanked on the reins and the horse reared all right…and fell over backwards. I picked myself up out of the dirt and was in for another surprise. The director was jumping up and down and shouting to the cameraman, ‘Did you get it? Did you get it? That will make a great stock shot.’ The horse was unharmed and the director called for another shot, which must have suited him because after it was over they loaded everything and we went back to the studio. Several times a week I would drive to the studio and work with the writers in regard to the stunts I would be doing in the picture. The script was finished at last, and they gave me a copy. It was to be a serial, ‘The Mysterious Dr. Satan’. I was cast as the professor’s secretary and, from the looks of things, I would spend most of my time rescuing him and his daughter from all sorts of predicaments. I studied the first episode over and over. Then I found, to my dismay, they did not start at the beginning and go through the story, but were going to shoot an episode I hadn’t even read yet. The first day of shooting took place indoors on a sound stage. Someone handed me a briefcase and I was told by the director to enter a room filled with an assortment of people and, without attracting the attention of any of them, convey to a large man wearing a mask, the secret formula I had hidden in the briefcase. All of these greedy people were seeking to get their hands on this formula. This action was to take place without speaking a single word. I had not been coached on anything like this. I opened the door and walked in, letting the door slam shut behind me, causing everyone in the room to look in my direction. The director called for us to try it again, quietly. This time, after turning around and pushing the door shut gently, I gazed up at this hunk of man, who appeared to be eight feet tall and, with the look of a dying calf, gave him a sickly grin and glanced down at the object I was holding in my clammy hands. Everyone seemed surprised except the director. He was stunned. I had a feeling I wasn’t making much of a hit with the director when he inquired, ‘How many pictures have you appeared in?’ And I told him, ‘None, so far.’ That’s when I heard him mumble, ‘I get them all.’ I guess he figured I was someone’s movie-stuck girlfriend who was being pushed off on him. I was taken to a far-off corner, and when my instructor felt I was ready for it, they shot the scene. Nothing more was said until a couple of days later.

Robert Wilcox, William Newell, Dorothy Herbert, Edwin Stanley, C. Montague Shaw and Ella Neal meet around the control console prior to a demonstration in Ch. 2 of Republic's "Mysterious Dr. Satan".

All of those concerned with this episode had been driven to another studio that had a large sound stage, with a boat and real water. I was dressed in a navy blue sailor suit trimmed in white. When I walked onto the set I noticed another girl dressed in the same sort of outfit as mine, and with the same kind of hairdo. As I drew near, I could not help but overhear the argument which she was having with one of the prop men; it had to do with the stunt she had been requested to perform. I walked over to the director and told him I was supposed to do all of my own stunt work and not use a double to which he quipped, ‘And I assume you are going to do the horse stunts, too?’ At that time I weighed 105 pounds and hardly looked like a roughneck rider. Why this man had not been informed of the work I was to do, I will never know. One of the scriptwriters, who happened to be standing nearby and heard him, said, ‘That’s right, she does her own stunts. That is why she is in the picture in the first place. In fact, most of these stunts were her own original suggestions, or else devised from some she has already done.’ In the scene which they were about to shoot, six men were having a fight; the good guys and the bad guys. I was supposed to climb up a ladder, grab a rope with one hand, swing off, and hit a couple of the bad guys in the back, knocking them down. I was then to pick up a gun that had been dropped on the deck, and shout, ‘Hold it, boys!’ Now this was not much of a stunt for an aerialist. They had a rope run through a pully, with two men holding it. When the time came, they would give the rope a yank, and down I would come. I told them the way I thought it ought to be done and was informed they had been performing such stunts since before I was born. Came time for the shot, someone called, ‘Action,’ they yanked, the rope slipped, giving them a rope burn, and they let go; I went sailing across the deck on my backside. Now, the floor was made of rough lumber, and the shot they got (I saw it later) was me howling, ‘Splinters!’ I was sent to the studio doctor and, after he removed the splinters, we again tried the scene. This time they agreed to give my way a try and it worked fine.” (See below.)
(More with Dorothy Herbert online in SR#99.)

 

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