Just in case you missed the first time . . .
- 6 June: D-Day On the Air—73 Years Later
- 31 December: Here’s to the New Year
- 24 December: ‘Tis the night before Christmas
- 20 December: From Macy’s to Dickens on the plains
- 12 December: Eden rocked
- 9 December: The aftermath, continued . . .
- 8 December: Immediate aftermath
- 7 December: The date still lives in infamy
- 5 December: The mean widdle man-kid
- 21 November: Freed fall
We’re building a history here . . .
Tag Archives: William Spier
Because its reputation will merely increase with time, as network radio’s classic era recedes further and further in the rearview mirror of American entertainment, it might be difficult for 21st Century fans to believe that it took several seasons before Suspense proved anything close to a ratings hit commensurate with its image as radio’s most sophisticated thriller.
Launched (as was Duffy’s Tavern) by way of the CBS anthology series Forecast in 1940, before becoming a full-time series in 1942, Suspense didn’t exactly begin with a bang—the show was nowhere to be found in Wednesday night’s top ten for 1942-43, and you’d have needed a homing pigeon to contact it past the overal top fifty.
Howard Duff “was a seasoned but insung veteran” of radio when he bumped into the radio role of a lifetime in 1946, and he had the wife of the show’s director to thank for getting the role in the first place.
William Spier (Suspense) wanted nothing less than the next best thing to Humphrey Bogart when he decided to bring Sam Spade, the hero of Dashiell Hammett’s stories The Maltese Falcon, to radio, and Duff was anything but. But Spier’s wife, Kay Thompson, was taken so powerfully by Duff’s audition that her husband relented.
Bernard Herrmann, already composing so much of the music that helps make Suspense a bellwether among old-time radio dramas, probably had no idea that an illness in his own life would help produce perhaps the best-remembered among numerous high-profile Suspense offerings.
In its final episode on Mutual, Quiet, Please‘s creative supermen elect to pay tribute to the symphony whose second movement has yielded the show’s arresting musical theme . . . by deploying it as a murder tool. Which may or may not be more benign, in its macabre manner, than the backstory animating the symphony itself.