Category Archives: mystery/thriller

10 January: Suspense in Spades

 

Howard Duff (right, with Lurene Tuttle) brings Sam Spade to Suspense. (Photo: CBS.)

Howard Duff (right, with Lurene Tuttle) brings Sam Spade to Suspense. (Photo: CBS.)

Suspense in 1948 starts the year with an experiment: an hour-long exercise digging deeper, as if the show isn’t already renowned for digging plenty deep and then some in half an hour. It’s also going to make another change little by little: incoming director Anton M. Leader will rotate the established players from Radio Row out and hold open auditions while also reaching for known Hollywood talent.

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6 January: The brave, bold, unfulfilled mystery theater

Shown here at the height of her old-time radio career, Agnes Moorehead was one classic radio veteran who tried to make The CBS Radio Mystery Theater work generations later. (Photo: CBS.)

Shown here at the height of her old-time radio career, Agnes Moorehead was one classic radio veteran who tried to make The CBS Radio Mystery Theater work generations later. (Photo: CBS.)

If you can say nothing else about The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, premiering tonight in 1974, you can say it is a brave, bold, and often interesting exercise that will prove an ultimately unfilfilled bid to revive classic radio. Certainly it isn’t for lack of effort over its eight struggling seasons. And, just as certainly, its heart—from creator/mastermind Himan Brown and host E.G. Marshall on down—is in the right place.

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28 December: A brief comeback and a memorable “Suspense”

 

A should-have-been film star whose early mishandling in Hollywood disrupted her career, June Duprez was still comely in 1984  shortly before her death. (Photo: Richard Lamparski collection.)

A should-have-been film star whose early mishandling in Hollywood disrupted her career, June Duprez was still comely in 1984 shortly before her death. (Photo: Richard Lamparski collection.)

June Duprez is in the middle of what proves a very brief return to high-production-value film making, when she takes the lead in tonight’s Suspense, after her move to Hollywood from England nearly destroyed her career.

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10 December: A bump for Fred Allen

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Pearl Harbour will affect Fred Allen as it will all radio entertainers, but in Allen’s case it will provide an inadvertent ratings bump.

The satirist and his Texaco Star Theater hour have struggled against NBC’s Eddie Cantor and Mr. District Attorney on Wednesday nights. But then the Ford Motor Company drops the curtain permanently on its Sunday night CBS mainstay, The Sunday Evening Hour, which featured performances by the Detroit Symphony. “It was wartime,” Jim Harburg would review, in his splendid volume compiling the history of network radio ratings, “and the car maker had nothing to sell.”

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21 September: Radio ad absurdium

Karl Swenson, at the height of his renown as Lorenzo Jones. (Photo: CBS.)

Karl Swenson, at the height of his renown as Lorenzo Jones. (Photo: CBS.)

Of two charming programs airing tonight in 1948, one is a series premiere. Picking the leadoff between them here is something akin to choosing between lobster fra diavolo and chicken cordon bleu for dinner, so I decided to pick according to age.

There’s no question but that Frank and Anne Hummert are old-time radio’s king and queen of the soaps, with misery, disaster, melodrama, and heartbreak their quadruple specialties. But even they seem to have needed a little relief from the afternoon anxieties to which their usual audiences repaired. They forayed into musical programming now and then (the couple were passionate music lovers, though Anne Hummert won’t have time for further indulgence until she retires upon her husband’s death) and a prime-time crime drama here and there.

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