The stories were written by Lee Falk
and Phil Davis
, and just like the comic strip, the tales told of a master magician called Mandrake who could quickly hypnotize anyone, a member of the public, a mobster, a thug, and even his friends during times of great emotional strain.
Aimed at a young audience, and just like the comic strip, the serial brought mystery, adventure and suspense, with every episode opening with Mandrake invoking his chant:
"Invoco legem magicarum" ("I invoke the laws of magic").
It is widely believed that the basis for the character Mandrake the Magician came from a real performer called Leon Mandrake, an Italian-American magician, mentalist, illusionist, escapologist, ventriloquist and stunt performer. He bore a strong resemblance to the central character in the comic strip, but he had in fact been a performer long before Lee Falk put pen to paper - who stated that he invented the name coincidentally.
The main characters in Mandrake the Magician are: Mandrake the famous magician (played by Raymond Edward Johnson, Lothar his friend and strongest man in the world (played by Juano Hernandez), and Princess Narda of the European nation Cockaigne (who is played by Jessica Tandy). His brilliant mind was pitted against a team of criminals, gangsters and the master villain, Barracuda.
There were 195 episodes of the 15 minute radio serial recorded and it was originally supposed to only air three days a week, but in 1941 it was expanded to be over five days.