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Happy Birthday, Wyllis Cooper!

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Radio writer and playwright Arch Oboler once had these words of praise for the man he would eventually replace as the mind behind the mayhem that fueled the horror series Lights Out: “Radio drama (as distinguished from theatre plays boiled down to kilocycle size) began at midnight, in the middle thirties, on one of the upper floors of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The pappy was a rotund writer by the name of Willys [sic] Cooper.” Okay, maybe Arch could have worked on the spelling of his mentor’s name a bit; he’s referring to Wyllis Cooper, who created the series that featured the intonation of “Lights out, everybody!” before presenting plays guaranteed to chill the bone marrow. After spending a brief sojourn in Hollywood, Cooper—born Willis Oswald Cooper in Pekin, Illinois one hundred and seventeen years ago today—would later follow up that success with the underrated Quiet, Please in the 1940s.

cooper2Pekin was also where the young Willis attended high school, and after graduating in 1916 he joined the U.S. Cavalry—eventually attaining the rank of Sergeant as he served along the Mexican border. The following year found him in France during the First World War as a signal corpsman, and though he was gassed at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive as part of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, he continued to serve until 1919…and for many years after, was a member of the Illinois National Guard and the Cavalry Reserves. Advertising, however, was the civilian field in which Cooper chose to toil. After working as a copywriter for several agencies (including a brief stint at one he founded himself), Willis got into the ground floor of radio at NBC in Chicago, where his first assignment was for the Western drama The Empire Builders.

cooper6After writing for Empire Builders, Cooper worked at rival CBS as a continuity editor, and generated scripts for such series as The Witching Hour and The Lost Legion (Tales of the Foreign Legion). His loyalty then reverted back to NBC when he was hired to do the same continuity editor job, and he continued to write prolifically with such contributions as Desert Guns and Fifty-Fifty. Willis would create the program that would become his radio legacy in 1934: a fifteen-minute horror program broadcast at midnight known as Lights Out.

Lights Out began as a quarter-hour in January of 1934, but its popularity convinced NBC Chicago to grant it half-hour status three months later. Lights Out’s midnight time slot allowed Cooper to go a bit beyond broadcasting’s usual norms by concentrating on gory sound effects and terrorizing subject matter, and it attracted such a devoted following that even when the series was discontinued in January of 1935 to ease its creator’s workload, public outcry brought Lights Out back a few weeks later. In April of 1935, the program made its debut national on NBC Red after a positive reception to test broadcasts in New York City.

cooper7Willis Cooper stayed with Lights Out until May of 1936 (allowing Oboler to take over and put his distinctive stamp on the show), when he answered the siren call of Hollywood and moved west. After doing uncredited work on such films as Pigskin Parade (1936), Wild and Woolly (1937), and She Had to Eat (1937), Willis received his first onscreen credit by contributing “additional dialogue” to Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937). Cooper would receive screenplay credit for Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) and story credit on Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938), two entries in the popular 20th Century-Fox franchise starring Peter Lorre as the Japanese sleuth created by John P. Marquand. Willis’ best-remembered screenplay was 1939’s Son of Frankenstein—the third in Universal’s highly successful horror series, and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the monster. (Willis also participated in projects that never materialized on the silver screen…though he earned a place in the hearts of cheesy movie fans by scripting the Universal serial The Phantom Creeps [1939].)

cooper4During his sojourn in Hollywood, Willis Cooper had kept his hand in radio by writing scripts for the popular Hollywood Hotel program, and in 1940 he returned east (New York City) to continue in broadcasting and contributing to such shows as Charlie and Jesse and The Campbell Playhouse (the new name of The Mercury Theatre On the Air after creator-star Orson Welles landed a sponsor). By this time the writer was signing “Wyllis Cooper” on his scripts, purportedly changing the spelling of his first name “to please his wife’s numerological inclinations.” Cooper’s experience in World War I landed him a position as consultant to the Secretary of War during the Second World War, and part of his new job involved producing and directing The Army Hour, a weekly propaganda show with elements of both news and variety.

cooper3After the war, Wyllis was hired by the radio department of Compton Advertising in New York, and many of his old scripts for Lights Out would be utilized when the series enjoyed three summer runs in 1945, 1946, and 1947. In June of 1947 Mutual premiered what many consider to be Cooper’s most exemplary contribution to radio drama: Quiet, Please. A horror anthology that was much more understated than the previous Lights Out, Quiet, Please didn’t attract much attention during its initial run (it lasted a year on Mutual before moving to ABC for its second and final season), but has since become recognized by historians as one of the medium’s most outstanding shows. John Dunning praised Quiet, Please as “a potent series bristling with rich imagination,” and University of Glamorgan professor Richard J. Hand declared the show’s creator “one of the greatest auteurs of horror radio.”

20904Wyllis Cooper made a grab for small screen achievement with contributions to TV shows like Escape and (of course) Lights Out, but his own productions of Volume One and Stage 13 never caught on in the way that his radio contributions did. He would enjoy one last success with one final radio series, Whitehall 1212—a 1951-52 NBC crime anthology (featuring an all-British cast) that dramatized stories based on artifacts held at Scotland Yard’s Black Museum (Whitehall competed with a similar Orson Welles program on Mutual, The Black Museum, and there has occasionally been confusion between the two). Wyllis Cooper passed away in 1955 at the age of 56.

Radio Spirits features an outstanding collection of broadcasts from Wyllis Cooper’s final radio series, Whitehouse 1212, in This is Scotland Yard, and there’s also some choice Quiet, Please tales on the sets Great Radio Horror (which also features Cooper’s Lights Out drama “The Haunted Cell”), Science Fiction Radio: Atom Age Adventures, and Radio Classics: Selected by Greg Bell. For a taste of our birthday boy’s contributions to the boob tube, check out “Dead Man’s Coat”—available on the Lights Out: Volume Five DVD!

“Fortune: Danger!”

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It’s safe to say that without author Dashiell Hammett, the crime rate in Radio Land would be at risk of going on an uptick. Hammett’s legendary gumshoe Sam Spade—introduced in his novel The Maltese Falcon—would become “the greatest private detective of them all” over the airwaves (in The Adventures of Sam Spade), and the Nick and Nora Charles characters from his book The Thin Man (purportedly inspired by Dash and longtime lady friend Lillian Hellman) also enjoyed much radio success (The Adventures of the Thin Man). Seventy years ago on this date, Hammett created a radio “hat trick” when The Fat Man made his debut over the ABC Radio Network.

fatman2The titular sleuth was Brad Runyon, who topped the scales at a hefty 237 pounds…and the reason why listeners knew this was because it was incorporated into the show’s unforgettable opening each week:

WOMAN: There he goes into that drugstore…he’s stepping on the scale…
(SFX: Penny tumbling onto scale)
WOMAN: Weight? Two hundred thirty-seven pounds…
(SFX: Click of card popping out of scale)
WOMAN: Fortune…danger! (Music sting) Whooooo is it?
RUNYON: The Fat Mannnnnn…

The actor who played Runyon (and who actually weighed a bit more than his fictional counterpart, coming in at 270) was radio veteran J. Scott Smart, tabbed “The Lon Chaney of Radio” by his peers for his talent in playing character parts. Smart had worked on such programs as The Cavalcade of America and The Lux Radio Theatre, in addition to being a member of Fred Allen’s popular “Allen’s Alley” as windy politico Senator Bloat. Smart’s deep bass voice had a distinctive rumble to it, so when he pronounced “murder” it came out as “murrr-derrr.” Suffice it to say, he was perfect casting for the role of Runyon, a man who despite his girth and “tough as nails” demeanor was also a charming ladies’ man (he could have double-dated with The Great Gildersleeve), which added an interesting dimension to his ability to bring down any suspect before his half-hour came to a close.

fatman7The origins of The Fat Man have often been a topic of discussion amongst fans of the series. Some argue that the character of Casper Gutman in Falcon inspired the portly sleuth (one of the chapters in Falcon is titled “The Fat Man”), while others posit that radio’s Runyon bears a striking similarity to the nameless detective Hammett created known to fans as “the Continental Op” (so named because he worked for the Continental Detective Agency). There’s even disagreement as to how much involvement Hammett himself had in the creation of The Fat Man; a number of sources suggest that he might have penned a few of the program’s early scripts before allowing staff writers to take it from there. I myself remain skeptical about this, particularly since Hammett himself declared in 1949 (regarding the radio versions of his literary efforts): “My sole duty in regard to these programs is to look in the mail for a check once a week. I don’t even listen to them. If I did, I’d complain about how they were being handled, and then I’d fall into the trap of being asked to come down and help. I don’t want to have anything to do with the radio. It’s a dizzy world—makes the movies seem highly intellectual.”

fatman3Whether or not Hammett was ghost-writing The Fat Man, the fact remains that the show—under the sponsorship of Pepto-Bismol, a match made in heaven—was a very popular one for ABC, frequently occupying the Top Ten in the radio ratings. It was such a smash that, in 1951, Universal brought J. Scott Smart (reprising his Brad Runyon role) to the big screen with a feature film adaptation of The Fat Man that also spotlighted the talents of Julie London, Rock Hudson, Jayne Meadows, John “Lawman” Russell, and legendary clown Emmett Kelly. (The movie, directed by future schlockmeister William Castle, features a climax set against the background of a circus). Sadly, the critical reaction to the movie was rather tepid (one wag remarked that J. Scott “was better behind the microphone than in front of the camera”) and it eventually was relegated to Late, Late Show status allowing television listings to have a bit of fun (“Rock Hudson as The Fat Man”).

20291It was perhaps for the best, for the radio Fat Man was also having trouble. Despite the program’s popularity, there was pressure being put on ABC to give the rotund detective a pink slip—mostly due to the association it had with Dashiell Hammett, who was being investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee at that time for his political affiliations. Hammett’s other creations suffered a similar fate: The Adventures of The Thin Man left a vacant microphone in 1950, and The Adventures of Sam Spade would have followed had not an outcry from its fans given the series a temporary one-year reprieve. The Fat Man was the last Hammett-inspired show to take its final bows at the curtain, departing ABC’s schedule on September 26, 1951.

Time was not kind to The Fat Man. Less than a dozen broadcasts of the 1946-51 series survived, though about three dozen episodes from the Australian version (which went on the air in 1954, starring actor Lloyd Berrell) were saved, and a mixture of episodes from the U.S. and Australian series comprise the content of Radio Spirits’ classic radio detective collection of The Fat Man. At the height of his popularity, the corpulent Brad Runyon was heard by six million listeners weekly, and after listening to his adventures on this set you’ll gain a new appreciation for the sleuth adept at dealing with the art of “murrr-derrr…”

Happy Birthday, Herb Ellis!

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It’s not often that we here at the Radio Spirits blog get an opportunity to blow a noisemaker and celebrate the natal anniversary of an old-time radio performer who’s still with us—but that’s what we intend to do today, as we commemorate actor Herb Ellis’s 95th birthday! Herb, born Herbert Siegel in Cleveland, OH on this date in 1921, was a longtime collaborator with Dragnet actor-director-producer Jack Webb. In fact, it was once recalled in an interview that the police procedural, lauded for revolutionizing crime drama in both radio and television, was mapped out on Ellis’ kitchen table. (Jack and Herb wanted to sell the idea to television as Joe Friday, Room Five—but their small screen efforts would have to take a detour towards a radio microphone first.)

20334Herb Ellis began his radio career as an announcer, presiding over many a jazz band remote (broadcast under the aegis of One Night Stand). He would eventually land work at San Francisco’s KGO…a station where Jack Webb also found employment. Ellis worked with Webb on Jack’s Pat Novak for Hire, both during its KGO years and its brief run on the ABC network. Herb could also be heard on Jeff Regan, Investigator, on which Jack played the titular gumshoe. But Herb really became indispensable on Dragnet, becoming a solid member of Jack Webb’s “stock company” of performers, hewing to the creator’s insistence on realism. (In Leonard Maltin’s The Great American Broadcast, Ellis recalled that he had reservations about Webb’s style of monotone acting on the series. “He was so vertical in the way he wanted everyone to play,” reminisced Herb, “that I felt there was no humanness, because we all talked the same way. Why it struck America and struck a chord, I don’t know, but it did.”) Ellis was the first actor to portray Officer Frank Smith, which he did for eight episodes in the TV transplant before being replaced by radio veteran Ben Alexander. Herb later had a co-starring role (as Frank La Valle) on the Jack Webb-produced series The D.A.’s Man in 1959. In 1967, when Dragnet was revived for NBC, Ellis made appearances on that as well.

ellis4However, to suggest that Herb Ellis owed his long career to a fruitful association with Jack Webb would be doing the actor a tremendous disservice. Herb’s work on Dragnet shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he was in high demand as a radio actor, working on other crime dramas such as The Adventures of the Saint, Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator, Broadway’s My Beat, Jason and the Golden Fleece, The Line-Up, Mike Malloy, Private Cop, Night Beat, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Tales of the Texas Rangers, and This is Your FBI. Ellis was even a member of the “revolving door” fraternity that took a crack at satisfying star Sydney Greenstreet’s standards for an actor to play sidekick Archie Goodwin on The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (unfortunately for Herb, the gig lasted for one solitary broadcast). Ellis’s radio resume also includes Dangerous Assignment, Dr. Christian, Escape, Family Theatre, Fibber McGee & Molly, Frontier Gentleman, Gunsmoke, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, Hallmark Playhouse, The Halls of Ivy, The Lux Radio Theatre, The NBC Star Playhouse, Rocky Fortune, Rogers of the Gazette, Romance, The Six Shooter, The Story of Dr. Kildare, Suspense, The Whisperer, Wild Bill Hickok, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. Even after the casket belonging to Radio’s Golden Age had long been lowered into the ground, Herb Ellis worked on the shows that nobly wanted to keep radio drama alive including Heartbeat Theatre, Horizons West, and The Sears/Mutual Radio Theatre.

ellis2When radio was “down on its uppers,” Herb turned to television to make a living, and found that his talents as a character actor were welcomed by a number of shows that signed him on as a semi-regular. On Peter Gunn, he played a character named “Wilbur”—who owned a bistro and did a little sculpting on the side. He was “Dr. Dan Wagner” on the Jackie Cooper comedy-drama Hennesey, and “Lou Porter” on the short-lived Peter Loves Mary. Ellis made guest appearances on such television classics as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Fugitive, M Squad, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, My Favorite Martian, and Perry Mason. On the silver screen side of the Ellis resume, we have such movies as Rogue Cop (1954), Naked Alibi (1954), The Killing (1956), The Fortune Cookie (1966), What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966), and The Party (1968)—not to mention the Jack Webb feature film Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955) and the big-screen version of Dragnet in 1954.

21120Radio Spirits invites you to listen to some of Herb Ellis’ work on our newest Night Beat collection, Human Interest, and we’ve also got Herb working with his pal Jack Webb in Pat Novak for Hire: Pain Gets Expensive. In addition, Herb is Archie Goodwin for a night in Parties for Death, a set of broadcasts from The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe. Round out your Ellis library by acquiring Escape to the High Seas, Frontier Gentleman, Richard Diamond, Private Detective: Homicide Made Easy, Romance, The Six Shooter (Grey Steel and Special Edition), Suspense at Work, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (Expense Account Submitted, Mysterious Matters, Murder Matters, Phantom Chases, Wayward Matters) in honor of this versatile actor’s milestone birthday!

Happy Birthday, Morton Fine!

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Before embarking on a rewarding career as a radio, television and movie writer, Morton S. Fine—born a Christmas Eve baby in Baltimore, MD on this date in 1916—was a “jack-of-all-trades.” He worked in an advertising agency, toiled in a bookstore, and punched a card at an aircraft factory (before the work at that factory inspired him to join the Army Air Force in 1942). Though he had previously graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis before his hitch in the service, he returned to the “halls of ivy” (the University of Pittsburgh) upon being mustered out in 1944 and earned a Master’s in English. Mort tried to put that degree to use as a writer for magazines, but had no success in that field…causing him to decide that he ought to be in California instead. He found work as a radio scribe on shows like Let George Do It, and then teamed up with David Friedkin (who was four years his senior) in 1948 to form one of the medium’s most fruitful writing partnerships. Together, they delivered scripts for such series as The Front Page and The Philip Morris Playhouse.

20546Fine and Friedkin played a large role in the success of Broadway’s My Beat, an Elliott Lewis-produced crime drama that was heard over CBS Radio from 1949 to 1954. Broadway’s My Beat established the template for the gritty, realistic cop show that many (including myself) associate with Dragnet—even though Beat premiered before Jack Webb’s seminal police procedural by several months. Beat originated in New York from February to June of 1949 in its first season, and then moved to the West Coast. The series showcased first-rate acting from its star, actor-announcer Larry Thor (as Detective Danny Clover), and a superlative supporting cast that included Charles Calvert (as Sergeant Gino Tartaglia) and Jack Kruschen (Detective Muggavan). Mort and David’s scripts for the series were an interesting blend of introspective prose and hard-hitting social commentary (they often tackled controversial subjects like juvenile delinquency and anti-Semitism), and were praised by radio historian Fred MacDonald as “a striking example of a writing flair which was generally absent from radio.”

20850Morton Fine and David Friedkin also contributed scripts for Elliott Lewis’ directing-producing efforts on Suspense and On Stage, and in addition set the tone for the puckish black humor that became the hallmark of the offbeat anthology known as Crime Classics. Classics presented historical tales of murder and mayhem laced with a very dry wit; Messrs. Fine and Friedkin once commented about their macabre efforts: “You can afford to laugh at murder as long as you’re safely a century or so away from it…the killers we make fun of are good and dead. If they weren’t, we know a pair of writers who would be.” Though Crime Classics had but a brief sustained run over the CBS Radio Network (from June 15, 1953, to June 30, 1954), it remains a firm favorite with old-time radio fans today.

ventureOther series on which Fine and Friedkin turned in scripts include Escape, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, The Line Up, Pursuit, Romance, San Francisco Final, and Sara’s Private Caper. The writing duo also had a hand in the blueprint of what would eventually become radio’s Gunsmoke (they penned the 1949 audition script, “Mark Dillon Goes to Gouge Eye”) after CBS President William S. Paley suggested a series that would echo “Philip Marlowe in the Old West.” In addition, Fine and his partner can take a little credit in luring Humphrey Bogart to a stand-up microphone. Long reluctant to commit himself to the rigors of a live weekly series, Bogie liked Fine and Friedkin’s pitch for Bold Venture, an adventure program that would co-star Mrs. Bogie (Lauren Bacall) and allow them to record 3-4 shows in advance while he and Baby concentrated on their film careers. Bold Venture would go on to become one of the Fredric W. Ziv radio syndication company’s biggest hits, awarding the husband-and-wife team a princely sum of $4,000 per episode.

frontierLike many of their radio brethren and sistren, Fine and Friedkin decided to try their luck writing for that newfangled upstart television…and were quite successful for the most part, contributing to the likes of Climax! and Suspense, and later shows such as Bat Masterson, The Aquanauts, and Bold Venture (brought to TV in 1959 with Dane Clark and Joan Marshall). One of their interesting “failures” was an anthology entitled Frontier, which tried to do for the Old West what the duo had previously done for “murder-throughout-the-ages” on Crime Classics. Episodes from the series netted the duo Emmy and Writers Guild of America nominations (they lost both); still, Fine was able to add “producer” to his resume with Frontier, which led to future gigs on The Virginian, Breaking Point, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Morton Fine and David Friedkin’s most successful television collaboration was I Spy, the tongue-in-cheek espionage series starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as a pair of globetrotting secret agents masquerading as a tennis amateur (Culp) and his trainer (Cos). Though nominated three times as Outstanding Dramatic Series for every season it was on the air (Fine and Friedkin were the producers), I Spy was only Emmy-lucky for Bill Cosby (who scored a hat trick as Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series). Morton and partner David did get a nice consolation prize in Writers Guild of America honors for their screenplay for The Pawnbroker (1965), which still remains one of the important films from that era.

T8DMODE EC003By his lonesome, Morton Fine contributed scripts (as Mort Fine) to such 1970s TV favorites as Barnaby Jones, Kojak, and The Streets of San Francisco. With partner David Friedkin, Fine attempted a few more series like The Most Deadly Game (which the two created) and Bearcats!; their last collaboration was a short-lived cop drama starring Paul Sorvino as Bert D’Angelo/Superstar (I am not making that title up) before Friedkin’s passing in 1976. Morton Fine busied himself in the meantime with writing for TV movies and feature films like The Greek Tycoon (1978) and Cabo Blanco (1980) before his death in 1991.

20944Here at Radio Spirits, we’re pleased to honor Morton Fine’s birthday with collections featuring his rewarding partnership with David Friedkin. We have plenty of Broadway’s My Beat on hand, in the form of Murder, Neon Shoals, and Great White Way. The duo can also take credit for the content on Crime Classics, and its sequel The Hyland Files. But be sure to check out Mort’s fine work on the likes of Escape (Escape Essentials, Escape to the High Seas), The Line Up (Witness), Suspense (Ties That Bind), and San Francisco Final (on our Stop the Press! compilation) as you help yourself to ice cream and cake!

Happy Birthday, David Kogan!

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Columbia University student David A. Kogan (born in New York City on this date in 1916) met Robert Jay Arthur, Jr. in his radio writing class. The pair would go on to form one of the most fruitful collaborations in old-time radio. It was a perfect partnership. Kogan already had experience scripting for the medium with efforts for shows like The Shadow and Bulldog Drummond. And Arthur could lay claim to a lengthy list of stories published in nearly every major pulp magazine being sold on newsstands of the day (Weird Tales and Astounding Science Fiction, among others). Their first project—in tandem with WOR producer Jack Johnstone—was a short-lived program entitled Dark Destiny, heard from August 26, 1942 to March 11, 1943.

MtarplinDespite the brevity of its run, the supernaturally-themed Dark Destiny was essentially a blueprint for what was to follow when Dave Kogan and Bob Arthur pooled their unique talents. Arthur had a preference for specializing in horror-themed scripts (part of his Weird Tales training, no doubt) and Kogan favored those that dabbled in science fiction. Kogan also tackled the directing chores on the program, after his partner let him know he really wasn’t interested in that aspect of radio. From the appropriately titled Dark Destiny, the two men launched the series (with producer-director Jock MacGregor) that would be their longest-running radio venture on December 5, 1943: The Mysterious Traveler. The titular host, portrayed by actor Maurice Tarplin, narrated spooky tales from a club car on a locomotive speeding toward an unknown destination each week. “This is the Mysterious Traveler, inviting you to join me on another journey into the strange and terrifying,” he would say in introducing the program. “I hope you will enjoy the trip, that it will thrill you a little and chill you a little. So settle back, get a good grip on your nerves and be comfortable—if you can!

elspetheric1The repertory company of actors that appeared on Traveler included many of New York’s experienced radio veterans: Jackson Beck, Lon Clark, Elspeth Eric, Bill Johnstone, Jan Miner, and Santos Ortega—just to name a few of the many. I’ve often facetiously suggested that despite similarities between Traveler and The Whistler (both shows featured stories narrated by omnipresent personages, for example), Traveler had a few advantages over the man who “walked by night” despite the fact that he broadcasted over the Mutual network, considered by many to be radio’s “poor relation.” First, M.T. clearly had the wherewithal to afford a train ticket every week…while his whistling cousin was forced to expend a lot of shoe leather as he travailed over CBS’ West Coast. That was also what separated the two shows: The Mysterious Traveler was heard nationally over Mutual, while The Whistler was limited to areas within driving distance of a Signal Oil station.

clarkeThe Mysterious Traveler influenced two other Mutual series that depended heavily on previous scripts from the team of Kogan and Arthur. The Strange Dr. Weird was a weekly quarter-hour (the kindly Doc Weird was played by the same thespian who emoted as The Mysterious Traveler, Maurice Tarplin) that recycled a good number of Kogan and Arthur’s Traveler submissions and was heard over Mutual (for Adam Hats) from November 1944 to May 1945. The Sealed Book, a syndicated half-hour produced by Mutual/WOR also salvaged scripts from Traveler during its twenty-six episode run from May to September of 1945. Other Mutual shows that relied on scripts by the Kogan-Arthur team include Adventure Into Fear, Nick Carter, Master Detective, The Shadow, and A Voice in the Night.

JohndicksoncarrIf The Mysterious Traveler was David Kogan and Robert Arthur’s longest-running series on Mutual…Murder by Experts was unquestionably their most ambitious. Premiering on Mutual on June 18, 1949, Experts was a cut above the usual mystery anthology in that it concentrated on old-school detective tales selected weekly by Kogan and Arthur, and gussied up with an “endorsement” by the prestigious organization known as The Mystery Writers of America. To add a further bit of esteem, John Dickson Carr (mastermind behind the Dr. Gideon Fell novels and Sir Henry Merrivale mysteries) hosted Murder by Experts in its first season…and the show soon became a favorite of those who worked in the mystery writing field, to the point where the show nabbed an “Edgar” from the Mystery Writers of America in 1949 as radio’s top mystery program.

DavidKoganHad Murder by Experts been fortunate to secure a sponsor—or even sweet-talked a network like CBS or NBC for a berth on their schedule—it might have had a longer run. It left the airwaves on December 17, 1951, which was no doubt disappointing to author Davis Dresser (better known as “Brett Halliday,” the creator of Michael Shayne), who took over for Carr as Experts host in mid-1950. Kogan and Arthur continued their work on Mysterious Traveler (a series that resulted in the team being bestowed with a second “Edgar” in 1952 for Best Radio Mystery Drama), but there were storm clouds on the horizon. Both Kogan and partner Arthur were members of the Radio Writers’ Guild, a union that had run afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee. HUAC was convinced that the Guild was leading its members, in Kogan’s words, “down the path to Moscow.” (If they indeed were…perhaps The Mysterious Traveler could have arranged for train tickets.) Mutual pulled Traveler into the station on September 16, 1952.

20355Many sources report the year of David Kogan’s death as 1964, a bit of misinformation that amused Mr. K when he came across this news on an online website in 2009 and felt it his duty to correct the record. “I was surprised to find that I had died in 1964,” he e-mailed Tangent Online. “This means I have been living forty-five years on borrowed time. I begin to see a script shaping up—on whose borrowed time have I been living?” Sadly, three weeks after he sent that e-mail, David Kogan did leave this world for a more fantastic one (his son Kenneth was the bearer of the bad news).

If you’re curious to sample some of Mr. Kogan’s work in honor of his natal anniversary, Radio Spirits highly recommends our Great Radio Horror compilation, which includes two episodes of The Mysterious Traveler: “If You Believe” (12/29/46) and one of my personal favorites, “The Man the Insects Hated” (07/27/47). (Great Radio Horror also features a tale from The Sealed Book, “Beware of Tomorrow” [09/30/45].) Last but certainly not least, Murder by Experts is represented in our Mystery is Mutual collection with “The Creeper” (07/18/49) and “Dig Your Own Grave” (08/15/49). Happy birthday, David Kogan!

Happy Birthday, Sir Ralph Richardson!

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There’s a hilarious story (possibly apocryphal, so we make no claims as to its accuracy) concerning Sir Ralph Richardson, who was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England on this date in 1902. Performing in a play, the famously eccentric Richardson stopped the action and addressed the audience with the traditional “Is there a doctor in the house?” joke. When a physician acknowledged that he was, indeed, in attendance, Sir Ralph joshed: “Isn’t this a terrible play, Doctor?”

richardson12The actor who would eventually be knighted in 1947 for his contributions to the British theatre was the third (and youngest) son of Arthur and Lydia Richardson, both renowned artists (father Arthur had been the senior art master at Cheltenham Ladies’ College). For murky reasons that are still debated by biographers today, Mr. and Mrs. Richardson split in 1907—no divorce or formal separation involved—and Ralph’s elder brothers Christopher and Ambrose went off with their father while Ralph remained with Lydia. (“She eloped with me, then age four,” he later mused.)

Lydia raised Ralph as a Roman Catholic, and very much wanted him to enter the priesthood…but at a seminary for training priests, Richardson soon found he lacked the discipline to commit to such a career. At age sixteen, he obtained a position as an office boy with a prestigious insurance firm—once again, his nonchalant approach to his job (as well as a penchant for pulling pranks) jeopardized his future with the company. But a legacy of £500 left to him by his paternal grandmother enabled him to give the Brighton School of Art a try. It was eventually revealed that he had no aptitude for an art career, either. Ralph finally decided on an actor’s life after seeing Sir Frank Benson in the title role of a touring production of Hamlet.

richardson15Richardson went an unconventional route in his quest to become a professional actor: he paid a local theatrical manager ten shillings a week to let him become a member of the troupe, where he quickly learned the craft of acting. His stage debut was as a gendarme in a Brighton production of Les Misérables, and he later landed roles as Banquo in Macbeth and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. His first professional gig—a year later, after he had been engaged by theatrical manager Charles Doran for the princely sum of £3 a week—was playing Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. Ralph would later tackle important parts in Macbeth and Julius Caesar.

The early foundation of his work as a Shakespearean actor—though Sir Ralph Richardson also performed in modern works as well—would eventually lead to his acclaim as one of the greatest English stage actors of the twentieth century. Richardson is often recognized alongside two other actors—contemporaries Sir John Gielgud and Sir Laurence Olivier—as representing the crème de la crème of British theater. In fact, Ralph was invited by producer Harcourt Williams to join the prestigious Old Vic company in 1930, ostensibly to take over for Gielgud in leading the dramatic company the following year. There was a clash of personalities between the two thespians at first, but eventually a long friendship and professional association blossomed between Richardson and Gielgud that would last many years. Richardson’s relationship with Laurence Olivier was also a close one, particularly on stage (where they often played opposite one another in Old Vic productions staged during the 1940s), but also in films like The Divorce of Lady X (1938) and the very entertaining Clouds Over Europe (1939—released in the U.K. as Q Planes).

Ralph Richarrichardson16dson’s first credited film appearance was in the 1933 feature The Ghoul, and while maintaining his successful stage career he welcomed movie roles with open arms (he was no snob about motion pictures, once observing that films “are to the stage what engravings are to paintings”). Sir Ralph appeared in two movies based on H.G. Wells works: Things to Come and The Man Who Could Work Miracles (both released in 1936). The more famous titles on his cinema resume include The Citadel (1938), The Four Feathers (1939), The Lion Has Wings (1939), and The Day Will Dawn (1942). Both his work on film and on stage were temporarily curtailed by the outbreak of World War II and Ralph’s determination to do his part for England’s war effort. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a sub-lieutenant pilot, and (despite what he believed of his limitations in the air) rose to the rank of lieutenant commander.

richardson1In 1948, Richardson graced two more films that are considered among his most impressive acting showcases: Anna Karenina (alongside Mrs. Olivier, Vivien Leigh), and the Carol Reed-directed The Fallen Idol. The following year, the actor made his Hollywood feature film debut with The Heiress (1949), in which he played opposite eventual Best Actress Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland (as her father, Dr. Austin Sloper). (Richardson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor…but had to settle for a consolation prize in Best Actor honors from the National Board of Review.) Ralph enjoyed playing the role so much that he reprised it for a West End production of The Heiress in February of 1949 (under the direction of his good friend John Gielgud). He continued his film work throughout the 1950s in such gems as Outcast of the Islands (1951), Home at Seven (1952—his sole attempt at directing a film), Breaking the Sound Barrier (1952—which won him several Best Actor honors, including a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award), and Richard III (1955—featuring Gielgud and Olivier).

richardson3Ralph Richardson’s rich baritone voice was a natural for the aural medium; he had been performing on radio as far back as 1929, and even performed on CBS’ Columbia Workshop in 1946 in Old Vic productions of Richard III and Peer Gynt (one of his notable stage triumphs). In 1954, he appeared as a performer/host on NBC’s Theatre Royal, an outstanding British drama anthology that also featured (in its first season) Sir Ralph’s colleague Laurence Olivier as a host. The following year, NBC rebroadcast a number of BBC radio dramas that teamed Richardson with his good friend John Gielgud in dramatizations of Sherlock Holmes tales (Sir John was Sherlock, Sir Ralph was Dr. Watson). Orson Welles was also featured on this series as Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty, and Gielgud’s brother Val not only directed some of the plays, but fittingly appeared as Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s bro) on one occasion.

richardson11To do justice to Sir Ralph Richardson’s acting career would require a blog the size of an encyclopedia. Suffice it to say, he continued his impressive string of feature film turns in such classics as Exodus (1960), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Wrong Box (1966), Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Dragonslayer (1981), and a personal favorite—Time Bandits (1981). Before his death in 1983, Sir Ralph appeared in several scenes with Gielgud and Olivier in a 1981 TV miniseries entitled Wagner (it was released shortly after Richardson’s passing), and achieved a bit of recognition from his industry peers with a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). (He would receive posthumous honors for this role from the New York Film Critics Circle.)

20347Sherlock Holmes devotees often declare the 1955 BBC series with Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir John Gielgud to be one of the very best interpretations of the adventures of the iconic detective. Radio Spirits offers up a first-rate collection of these broadcasts; sixteen shows gleaned from what currently exists of the syndication masters. You should check out this set in honor of today’s birthday boy, a consummate actor who once declared: “The art of acting lies in keeping people from coughing.” (Trust us—you’ll be positively spellbound by the breadth of Sir Ralph’s talent.)

Happy Birthday, Edward G. Robinson!

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To start off our birthday tribute today…a bit of trivia: the “G” in actor Edward G. Robinson’s name stands for “Goldenberg”—for Eddie G. was born Emanuel Goldenberg in Bucharest, Romania one hundred and twenty-two years ago on this date in 1893. As Edward G. Robinson, the actor conquered stage, screen and radio—becoming one of the movies’ most easily recognized actors despite not having the handsome good looks (or tall stature—Robinson stood 5’7”) of most leading men. “Some people have youth; some have beauty,” he once observed. “I have menace.” And Eddie G. put it to good use, particularly when it came to tackling gangster roles in such films as Little Caesar (1931) and Smart Money (1931). Despite the respect he received from his peers in the industry as a solid thespian…Edward G. Robinson was never nominated for a competitive acting Oscar for any of the 101 films he appeared in during his fifty-year career.

robinson19The decision of the Goldenberg family to emigrate to New York City in 1903 was purportedly prompted by one of Eddie’s brothers being attacked in their native country by an anti-Semitic mob. Once arrived on these shores, Robinson grew up on the Lower East Side, attending school at Townsend Harris High School and later moving on to the City College of New York. A scholarship to the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts followed, after Eddie expressed an interest in acting. It was there that Emanuel Goldenberg became Edward G. Robinson. After a brief stint performing in the Yiddish Theatre District in 1913, he landed his first part in a Broadway production two years later.

eddie15It is not generally known that Eddie G.’s lengthy movie career predated the “talkies”; he had a small showcase as a factory worker in Arms and the Woman (1916), and in 1923 was billed as “E.G. Robinson” in The Empty Shawl. Robinson’s Broadway turn as a gangster in The Racket (1927)—later brought to the big screen in 1928—earned him the success necessary to begin appearing in movies on a regular basis. His stage background was also a plus, since the studios were looking for thespians with good speaking voices. Robinson’s movie resume included vehicles such as The Hole in the Wall (1929) and Outside the Law (1930), but it was his performance as Caesar Enrico “Rico” Bandello in the classic Little Caesar—with his legendary death scene of “Mother of mercy…is this the end of Rico?”—that really cemented his prominence among the moviegoing public. Eddie G. wasn’t as typecast as James Cagney when it came to gangsters—though the two actors did appear in a film together (Smart Money)—but Robinson did play his share of “tough guys” in such movies as Five Star Final (1931), Barbary Coast (1935), and The Last Gangster (1937). For a little variety, Robinson also acted tough in lighter fare like The Little Giant (1933—which sends-up his “Little Caesar” image) and the hilarious A Slight Case of Murder (1938).

bigtown2At the same time, Edward G. Robinson made inroads in front of the radio mike with appearances on such programs as The Lux Radio Theatre and The Jack Benny Program. His decision to headline Big Town, a newspaper drama that premiered over CBS Radio on October 19, 1937, might have been motivated by his intention to demonstrate his acting range could extend beyond gangsters and bad guys (though in the early broadcasts, his character was a bit of a louse). On Big Town, Robinson played crusading Steve Wilson of The Illustrated Press, whose lofty position of managing editor allowed him to go toe-to-toe against the gangsters and racketeers of the underworld. Wilson was aided and abetted by gossip columnist Lorelei Kilbourne—played by Claire Trevor—who served as the editor’s sidekick and occasional love interest. Having two stars of Robinson and Trevor’s stature soon catapulted Big Town towards the top of the radio ratings…though Trevor would eventually lose interest in what she thought was a thankless role and she turned things over to Ona Munson in 1940. Robinson took an active hand in shaping the scripts for the series (taboo topics like racial prejudice were addressed on occasion), but when it was announced that Big Town was moving East to New York in 1942 Eddie G. handed the Steve Wilson role off to Edward J. Pawley as the program continued to be heard over CBS and NBC from 1943 to 1952.

robinson1Radio gave Edward G. Robinson much exposure as he frequently performed adaptations of his film hits like The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse (1938), Manpower (1941), The Sea Wolf (1941), and The Woman in the Window (1944) on The Gulf Screen Theatre, The Lux Radio Theatre, and Screen Director’s Playhouse. Robinson also made the rounds on such programs as The Cavalcade of America, Family Theatre, The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre, The Theatre Guild of the Air, and Theatre of Romance. In addition, he appeared alongside such radio celebrities as Al Jolson, Amos ‘n’ Andy (Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll), Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Eddie Cantor, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, and Victor Borge (more likely than not goofing on his “tough guy” image).

eddie9By the mid-1940s, Eddie G.’s age started to dictate that he move toward “character” roles. One of his most successful was wily investigator Barton Keyes—the man who suspects Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are up to no good in the film noir classic Double Indemnity (1944). Robinson would briefly revive his gangster image in one of his superior screen turns as Johnny Rocco in Humphrey Bogart’s Key Largo (1948). When the pair had appeared together in such early 1930s Warner Bros. vehicles as Bullets or Ballots (1936) and Kid Galahad (1937), Bogie usually wound up dead by the time the closing credits rolled. But in Largo, Bogart finally got the upper hand on Robinson, shooting him down in the movie’s memorable climax. (Largo also brought back his former Big Town co-star Claire Trevor as Robinson’s moll, and her performance netted her a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.)

eddie8For a time in the late 1940s and through the early 1950s, Edward G. Robinson often found difficulty finding work in films. He didn’t completely disappear from the screen, but the many times he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee to answer for supposed “subversive” political views made him a bit radioactive in Hollywood. His memorable appearance in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 remake of his earlier The Ten Commandments provided just the boost for Robinson’s stalled career. Eddie soon began to grace such hits as A Hole in the Head (1959), Seven Thieves (1960), The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and his final feature film, Soylent Green (1973). Edward G. Robinson died twelve days after finishing his final scene in Green, and two months later he received the long-due recognition of his industry peers with a posthumous Honorary Academy Award.

20741It probably won’t come as a surprise that Edward G. Robinson was, in real life, the complete opposite of his “tough guy” film persona: a cultured, sophisticated individual with a passion for art (at the time of his death, his personal collection of rare treasures was estimated at $2,500,000). Radio Spirits invites you to check out one of Robinson’s atypical movie roles in The Red House (1947), a nifty suspense thriller that’s available on the DVD set Danger, Death & Dames: Film and TV Crime Dramas. Eddie is also one of several celebrities who appear in the World War II tribute DVD Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops, and to get a feel for just how powerful Mr. Robinson could be in front of a radio microphone, our Suspense: Ties That Bind collection spotlights one of the actor’s most beloved turns on “radio’s outstanding theatre of thrills.” In “The Man Who Thought He Was Edward G. Robinson” (10/17/46), the titular performer plays a milquetoast who’s anxious to do away with his wife…so he asks the toughest guy he knows for advice on how to accomplish the deed! (The broadcast was so popular that Suspense did an encore performance of the play on September 30, 1948, with Robinson reprising his dual roles.) And keep your eye out in the coming weeks for a new collection of Big Town episodes, starring Robinson as newspaper editor Steve Wilson.

Happy Birthday, Harry Bartell!

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On the radio western Fort Laramie, actor Harry Bartell—born in New Orleans, LA on this date in 1913—played the part of Lieutenant Richard Sieberts, a greenhorn junior officer stationed at the outpost. Listening to Harry play the character, he is absolutely convincing as a young, earnest officer occasionally handicapped by his inexperience. Bartell was also forty-two at the time, older than star Raymond Burr and co-star Vic Perrin. It was Harry’s youthful voice that distinguished him from his fellow performers amongst the Radio Row fraternity, but it was his outstanding acting talent that kept him busy through most of Radio’s Golden Age, where he added immeasurably to the enjoyment of such classic programs as Dragnet and Gunsmoke.

bartell2Although he was a native of N’awlins, Harry grew up in Houston, Texas. After graduating from high school, he would attend Rice University and start his radio career in the early 1930s at Houston’s KRPC, performing in short audio versions of films that were playing in the theaters of the time. (He received a modest salary of two 25 cent theater tickets for each dramatic turn.) Bartell would temporarily abandon radio to attend Harvard Business School, followed by a move out to the West Coast to look for work in retail. The acting bug bit again, and he got a disc jockey job with KFWB (the station of the Warner Brothers studio) while studying at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Bartell eventually worked his way up to network radio, landing acting jobs on The Cavalcade of America and The Lux Radio Theatre. His work over the airwaves was curtailed for a time while he served a military hitch in World War II, but upon his return in 1943 Harry secured a nice gig as the announcer on Mutual’s The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Each week, Bartell received an invitation from Dr. John H. Watson (played by Nigel Bruce) to sit by the fire and listen to a tale about The World’s Greatest Consulting Detective, and in return Harry would extol the virtues of Petri Wines. Harry worked the show until the fall of 1946, and at one time did double duty as the pitchman on the Holmesian clone The Casebook of Gregory Hood. (Harry was also the announcer on The Silver Theatre for a time in the 1940s.)

bartell3While he was a first-rate announcer, Harry Bartell had larger acting ambitions…and he soon began to exercise them on such series as Rogue’s Gallery and Let George Do It. Harry was always available for roles on the popular dramatic anthologies of the day, and he did appear on most of them, including All-Star Western Theatre, The CBS Radio Workshop, Family Theatre, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, Hollywood Star Playhouse, Hollywood Star Time, Screen Directors’ Playhouse and Stars Over Hollywood. Bartell demonstrated a remarkable versatility…and also a sense of humor; he landed roles on lighter fare like The Adventures of Maisie, The Charlotte Greenwood Show, Meet Mr. McNutley, My Favorite Husband and My Friend Irma. It would be nearly impossible to list every radio program on which Harry emoted but a good list would also include The Adventures of Sam Spade, The Adventures of the Saint, Dangerous Assignment, Defense Attorney, The Green Lama, Hopalong Cassidy, I Was a Communist for the FBI, The Man Called X, Night Beat, Somebody Knows, This is Your FBI, T-Man, Wild Bill Hickok, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. He was often used by “Mr. Radio” himself, Elliott Lewis, on such shows as Broadway’s My Beat, Crime Classics, On Stage, and Suspense. Harry was also part of the revolving door that was Archie Goodwin on The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, playing the corpulent sleuth’s leg man for a brief period on the NBC Radio series that starred Sydney Greenstreet.

bartell7One of Harry’s fiercest radio patrons was director-producer Norman Macdonnell. I mentioned earlier that Norm hired Harry for Fort Laramie, but Bartell also made the rounds on such Macdonnell shows as The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, The Bakers’ Theatre of Stars, The General Electric Theatre, Romance, Rogers of the Gazette and of course, Gunsmoke. Like John Dehner, Virginia Gregg, Vic Perrin—and too many others to name—Harry didn’t have a regular role on Gunsmoke but managed to be on it practically every week. Macdonnell also relied on Harry in his years of producing Escape even though the actor had done the series before Norm’s concentrated participation. One of my favorite Escape shows on which Bartell appeared was “A Shipment of Mute Fate” (03-13-49); I once told Harry during an online chat room session that his performance was the best of the three times Escape tackled the story, and he thanked me profusely, mentioning it was one of his favorites as well.

bartellHarry Bartell’s other frequent source of radio work was on Jack Webb’s seminal police procedural Dragnet. Once again, versatility was the watch word as the actor could play one of Joe Friday’s fellow police detectives one week…and a combative, nasty drunk the next. On Dragnet’s Yuletide-themed episode “The Big Little Jesus”—in which a statue of the Christ child disappears from a church in a Latino neighborhood—Bartell played “Father Xavier Rojas” on both the radio and television versions…and when Webb updated the episode during the series’ 1967-70 revival, Bartell reprised his role as the kindly priest. Throughout the 1950s, Harry Bartell continued to be one of the busiest men in radio, appearing on such favorites as Frontier Gentleman, Have Gun – Will Travel, and The Six Shooter—even after radio was forced to make room for Top 40 tunes and obnoxious radio dee-jays, Harry did his best to keep the medium alive with appearances on shows like Horizons West.

bartell6Because radio kept Bartell fairly busy, he didn’t have as impressive a movie resume as some of his fellow performers—his movie roles include such favorites as Destination Tokyo (his film debut), Monkey Business, Dragnet (the 1954 big screen version), Johnny Concho, Voice in the Mirror, and Brainstorm (directed by Marshal Dillon himself, William Conrad). But Harry definitely made the rounds on the small screen, with guest roles on such series as I Love Lucy (he’s one of the jewel thieves in the classic “The Great Train Robbery”), Have Gun – Will Travel, The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, The Wild Wild West and The Fugitive. Harry did a number of TV Dragnet’s and Gunsmoke’s. I remember seeing him in the last Gunsmoke penned by co-creator John Meston, “Honey Pot,” and recalling with sadness that there had been a time when he was on every week. Bartell retired in 1975 to concentrate on such interests as photography (something he indulged in often—the famous publicity photos of the Gunsmoke radio cast in western garb were taken by him), but he still kept a hand in the medium that he loved so: appearing at old-time radio conventions, writing articles, and spending time with fans in online chats. Fittingly, his last show business gig was appearing on an episode of radio’s The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (recorded in 2003) before his passing in 2004.

20948Harry Bartell recalled during an online chat room session that he once paid a visit to his local public radio station and offered his services—free of charge—to read short stories over the airwaves in a small, intimate venue (not unlike that of old-time radio). The station turned him down flat. It was their loss—but fortunately for us, we have an embarrassment of riches available at Radio Spirits in the form of Harry’s incredible radio legacy. For starters, why not enjoy one of his finest acting turns in two volumes of Fort Laramie? In addition, you can check out his early work as an announcer on our Sherlock Holmes collection, The Game is Afoot, and his co-starring role as Archie Goodwin on The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (Parties for Death). Rest assured—this is just the tip of the iceberg; we also have plenty of Bartell performances in sets of The Adventures of Philip Marlowe (Sucker’s Road), The Adventures of the Saint (The Saint is Heard, The Saint Solves the Case), Broadway’s My Beat (Great White Way, Murder), Crime Classics (The Hyland Files), Defense Attorney, Dragnet (Crime to Punishment), Escape (Escape to the High Seas, The Hunted and the Haunted, Escape Essentials), Frontier Gentleman (Aces and Eights, Life and Death), Hopalong Cassidy (Out from the Bar-20), Let George Do It (Cry Uncle), My Friend Irma (On Second Thought), Night Beat (Lost Souls), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (Homicide Made Easy), The Six Shooter (Gray Steel, Special Edition), Somebody Knows, Suspense (Suspense at Work), and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (The Many Voices of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Confidential, Mysterious Matters, Murder Matters, Phantom Chases, Expense Account Submitted, Wayward Matters). I hope, by the way, you saved room for dessert: Harry can be heard on our Stop the Press! compilation, in episodes of Rogers of the Gazette and San Francisco Final. Happy birthday to one of radio’s acting greats!