Bill Murray as . . . The Human Torch?

Flame on! Bill Murray as Bunny Breckenridge in Ed Wood.

In 1975, before he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and after he was a featured player in the late, great National Lampoon Radio Hour (also home to other future SNL and SCTV stars like John Belushi and Joe Flaherty), Bill Murray actually played it straight in a 13-week radio adaption of The Fantastic Four. Airing for five minutes a day, five days a week, the series dramatized the first issues of the comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and, surprisingly, they hold up very well today. Murray played Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, and the shows were narrated by none other than Smilin' Stan himself. Here's a clip from the first episode, where Johnny transforms himself into the Torch.

While the programs don't seem to be available commercially, they show up occasionally on old-radio newsgroups, and this webpage even hosts a few chapters of the first serial. For diehard FF fans, this interview with the original producer will tell you probably more than you want to know about the making of the show, including the reason Lee sounds so goddamned congested during his narration. As Stan would say, Excelsior!

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