George Nader enjoyed an acting career that spanned over two decades. Between 1950 and 1974 he took a multitude of roles that encompassed stage, screen and TV. In this series, we’re going to look at a selection of his most notable and most fondly remembered roles. To begin, let’s head back in time to the end of 1959, when TV show The Man and the Challenge first hit the small screen.
Dr Glenn Barton
The ‘man’ to whom the show’s name referred was one Dr Glenn Barton. Played by Nader, Barton was the show’s main character and appeared in all 36 half-hour episodes. He was a scientist, explorer and adventurer who was routinely tasked with seemingly impossible missions by the government.
Week in and week out, Barton would be asked to test the limits of human endurance in order to save the day. Whilst he faced no end of difficulties, Barton’s quick wits helped him to test equipment for space, rescue damsels in distress and plenty more besides.
The Show & Its Guest Stars
The Man and the Challenge ran for one 36-episode series. Each episode lasted a total of 30 minutes and was first broadcast on Saturday nights by NBC. It was produced by Ivan Tors, who described it as ‘the first
to portray a scientist who does exciting things and is not a stuffed shirt’.
Nader’s Dr Barton was the only character to appear in each of the 36 largely standalone episodes of the show. He was joined each week by different guest stars. Most of those stars had a role in just one episode, but there were a few actors who popped up as occasional, recurring characters.
Canadian-born Joyce Meadows played Lynn Allen in five episodes. At the time she was a recognisable face from the small screen, who had taken roles in shows like Wagon Train and Perry Mason.
Jack Ging, meanwhile, co-starred with Nader in three episodes, playing Dan Wright. That was one of Ging’s earliest roles in what would become a long and successful career. During the 1970s he starred in a string of movies opposite Clint Eastwood, including Hang ‘Em High and High Plains Drifter. He was best known in the 1980s for playing General Harlan “Bull” Fulbright in The A-Team.
The Final Curtain
The final episode of The Man and The Challenge aired on 11th June 1960. Named ‘Highway to Danger’, it saw Dr Barton investigate the phenomenon of ‘highway hypnosis’ after the death of five truck drivers. After that episode aired, the show continued in rerun during its Saturday night slot. In September 1960, when a second series might have been introduced, The Man and the Challenge was replaced by NBC. A western called The Tall Man took its coveted slot at 20.30 on Saturdays and no more episodes of Nader’s show were ever commissioned.