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Suspense Upgrades

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Post by artatoldotr on 6/19/2020, 8:20 am

Thanks greybelt
Best regards

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Post by greybelt on 6/20/2020, 6:07 am

This is another episode recording that exists for us to enjoy solely because, decades ago, a person listening to Armed Forces Radio decided they would record it. OTR fans traded it for years and years, and  numerous collectors tried to fix it with equalizers and other means. Now we have it from a reel of that era, newly processed. It's still leaves a lot to be desired, but it's "less worse." Perhaps an AFRS transcription copy will surface one day and we will finally have a good copy of the performance.

Suspense_1958-01-05_AWeekAgoWednsday_wHillaryBrooke (likely home rec) AFRS LQ UPGRADE.mp3
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1958-01-05 Los Angeles CA Times
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1958-01-05 Pasadena CA Independent Star-News
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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It looks like about nine more episodes to go... but then... a large number of YTJD upgrades, new versions, and a few new episodes!


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Post by artatoldotr on 6/20/2020, 9:02 am

Thansk greybelt
Best Regards
Art
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Post by greybelt on 6/21/2020, 6:45 am

This version is much less noisy and better sounding.
Suspense_1954-08-03_GoodnightMrsRussell_wVGregg&VPerrin UPGRADE-2.mp3
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Goodnight, Mrs. Russell was first broadcast in 1949 starring Bette Davis. It was her only Suspense appearance. I list it here because it mentions the scriptwriter, Ben S. Hunter. Is this is a Suspense one-hit wonder who strikes radio gold and then disappears? He has another credit, Hermit, on The Whistler 1949-07-24, but nothing else. More below...

1949-10-20 Miami FL Herald
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1954-08-03 Decatur IL Daily Review
(The YTJD episode would be re-named Hampton Line Matter prior to broadcast)
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1954-08-03 Syracuse NY Post-Standard
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1954-08-03 Tampa Bay FL Times
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The search for "Ben S. Hunter" found some curious things, but nothing that offers any sense of certainty. Googling finds a letter between a Mr. Hunter and Nancy C. Russell.
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She was the wife of western artist Charles Russell, and known for her business acumen, promoting his work even his passing and maintaining his artistic legacy.
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I don't know if it's the same person corresponding with that Mrs. Russell, but there was a "Ben S. Hunter" who was a founding executive at Lockheed and was involved in other early aviation endeavors. Only the 1949 broadcast lists the name. There are no entries for a "Ben Hunter" in IMDb that seem to fit the timeline. Another Suspense mystery...

And then... there's the host of a movie program on KTTV in Los Angeles in the 1960s... it's him! And this promotional card from the station has some details...
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He hosted an overnight radio program "Night Owl" and its followers would meet in Banning, CA once a year. I found one newspaper reference that as many as 30,000 people attended, and many other times with 5,000 to 6,000.

Hunter died in 1980, age 59. That means he was about 28 at the time he wrote Goodnight, Mrs. Russell
1980-12-12 Santa Cruz CA Sentinel
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He was also author if the book The Baja Feeling. It was about his family's adventures in building a home in Mexico. He was also known for his successful efforts in promoting the adoption of children.

Was he related to the Lockheed "Ben S. Hunter"? I can't find any information about that.

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Post by artatoldotr on 6/21/2020, 8:43 am

Thanks greybelt

Best Regards

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Post by greybelt on 6/22/2020, 6:52 am

Suspense_1958-04-06_JustOneHappyLittleFamily_wRNoble&LPatrick AFRS UPGRADE-2 (still LQ).mp3
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1958-04-06 Bridgeport CT Post
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1958-04-06 Eugene OR Guard
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1958-04-06 Pasadena CA Independent Star-News
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1958-04-06 Tampa Bay FL Times
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Post by artatoldotr on 6/22/2020, 9:13 am

Thanks greybelt
Best Regards

Art
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Post by greybelt on 6/23/2020, 7:22 am

The search for replacements of these late-series AFRS recordings continues. This copy is slightly better than the previous one... it would be nice if an AFRS disc would appear.
Suspense_1958-07-27_SteelRiverPrisonBreak_wBartlettRobinson AFRS NO COMMLS UPGRADE.mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted earlier.

This is an opportunity to compare how this story was credited when it was first used in 1951 when Robson was having his Red Channels issues, and how he was credited for this episode. There must have been some great satisfaction in being able to give credit to himself this time.
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The 1951 presentation was supposed to open the season and star William Holden. It was announced 10 days before the opening broadcast of August 27. Instead, they used Jolly Death Riders with Holden for the season debut.

1951-08-18 NY Daily News
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A reason for the swap is speculative. Lewis could have felt that even after making a big deal in show publicity about "Steel River" (the original name), that Death Riders was better suited for Holden. After digging through the Red Channels mania at CBS, it seems likely Robson was being pushed out and the one-week delay may have been figuring out how to keep Robson's script in the schedule. So they used "William Norman" as the writer attribution. Escape was canceled until 1952 when an opening in the schedule became available, so Robson had already lost that position. Robson was left with Operation Underground, a successful program (only a bad recording of the pilot exists), which he produced from June 1951 to April 1952. That series kept his proper name in the credits, but CBS canceled the series and used the slot for some western show that was unlikely to go anywhere: Gunsmoke. While that series exceeded all expectations, the ups and downs and crosscurrents at CBS pushed Robson out. Robson's dwindling submission of scripts suddenly had his other nom de plume, the combination of his sons' names, "Christopher Anthony." Steel River Prison Break looks like it was an opening pitch of CBS executive Daniel O'Shea's internal pressure campaign against Robson to force him out.

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Post by artatoldotr on 6/23/2020, 10:36 am

Thanks greybelt
Best Regards
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Post by greybelt on 6/24/2020, 5:40 am

Suspense_1958-11-15_AffairAtAden_wFrankLovejoy UPGRADE-3 CLIPPED OPEN STILL LQ.mp3
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Newspaper clipping posted previously.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Found two curious items yesterday as I look for newspaper clippings for every episode.

First, One and One's a Lonesome was supposed to be done two and a half years before it was broadcast, and star John Lund!

1947-08-21 Decatur IL Herald & Review
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Second, the spelling "Alonesome" is not a typo! The unique spelling was undone when it was broadcast with Ronald Reagan in 1950.

Third, Lonesome was by a Suspense one-hit wonder Norman Sykes who was an advertising executive. Brief bio information indicates he scripted other shows, but none were credited and none can be found in clippings or RadioGoldindex.

Fourth, Murder Aboard the Alphabet was broadcast instead, starring Lund, and had a working title of "Murder by the Alphabet" prior to broadcast.

I'm starting to suspect that Suspense was in significant danger of cancellation in mid-year 1954 after Auto-Lite ended its sponsorship. The Suspense TV show was getting a tremendous amount of publicity while the sustaining radio version did not. The lack of Hollywood stars on the radio series played out in little interest on the part of newspaper editors compared to the rapidly growing TV market of those years. Suspense was listed in the radio timetables but show details disappeared to the point where no clippings can be found at all for some broadcasts, and even episode titles disappeared from the newspapers. That indicates that CBS public relations efforts were pushing television hard and radio was being abandoned as they allocated time of their staff. Publicity for Suspense picked up when Robson returned to CBS in 1956.

So it is strange that it was the TV version that ended production and the radio version that played on. The TV program was getting excellent ratings and drew some of early TV's best writers and directors. It may have been too expensive in comparison to other programs for a sponsor to pick it up, and TV had vast opportunities for other programming at that time.

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Post by artatoldotr on 6/24/2020, 8:17 am

Thanks greybelt
Best Regards

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Post by greybelt on 6/25/2020, 2:38 pm

This is a nicer recording of the infamous Murderous Revision with Richard Widmark. Briefly, there was a version recorded with Howard Duff in January 1951 but the CBS "vice president in charge of treason," as he was called at the water cooler, Daniel O'Shea, would not allow it. Lewis had a version completed taking the drama portions recorded with Duff and turned into a complete show with no credits for any of the actors, and that was turned down. Months later, it was finally aired with Widmark. It had three other names in the process, "The Twist is Death," "The Twist is Murder," and "The Twisted Murder." It had another name as a repeated performance, Murder on Mike. Duff stayed very busy with movies and TV while in CBS Radio exile, as his agent told him to take whatever offers came his way and not be picky about it. He finally returned to CBS and Suspense in December 1956, welcomed back by another O'Shea forced exile, Bill Robson. O'Shea was pushed out of CBS and ended up leading RKO Pictures. They were happy to see him go and put the disruption behind them.

Suspense_1951-12-03_MurderousRevision_wRichardWidmark UPGRADE-3.mp3
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Newspaper clippings posted previously.

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Post by greybelt on 6/26/2020, 7:17 am

This is the network version. The AFRS copy we have is better.
Suspense_1959-01-11_Night_On_Red_Mountain_wDickCrenna UPGRADE-2.mp3
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Newspaper clippings posted earlier.

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Post by artatoldotr on 6/26/2020, 8:39 am

Thanks greybelt

Best Regards

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Post by greybelt on 6/26/2020, 10:56 am

SPECIAL REQUEST

Every once in a while I like to get a sense of how many folks are following this thread -- there was not an easy way to do that before, but we did find a way to collect names via special posts and private messages.

Now that we have a "like" button the task is easy!

Can you click the "like" button for this particular message so we can get a sense of Cobaltian Suspensefulness?

THANKS so very much!

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Post by greybelt on 6/27/2020, 5:09 am

Don't forget to go to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] if you are a regular follower of this thread and "like" it (if you have not done so already).

This copy is less noisy than prior ones.
Suspense_1959-02-08_Death_Notice_wVictorJory UPGRADE-2 (narrow range).mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted earlier.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As I go through newspapers for every Suspense episode, I find all kinds of cast changes, script changes, and title changes. This is one of the more curious ones... The show at broadcast became Murder in G Flat. The original title was "Murder in F Sharp." Same note... but is "flat" funnier than "sharp"? From a couple of clippings I found the rehearsals with Benny and Elliott Lewis were quite fun and full of cutting up and razzing each other.

1951-04-05 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
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Post by greybelt on 6/28/2020, 1:26 pm

Don't forget to go to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] if you are a regular follower of this thread and "like" it (if you have not done so already).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Suspense_1959-02-08_Death_Notice_wVictorJory UPGRADE-2 (narrow range).mp3

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Newspaper clippings were posted previously.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Been digging into newspaper clippings that I had not had a chance to gather previously.

It turns out that Copper Tea Strainer is a one-hit-wonder author. He was a police reporter, and the radio columnist made a big deal about it!

1949-04-21 Pasadena CA Independent
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Among other things that have been added to the Suspense log...

Frank Morgan was scheduled for Suspense in October 1949, but his unexpected death in September is how Edward Arnold replaced him in Account Payable.

Ginger Rogers was supposed to do Angel Face on 1950-03-26 but was not available. The script was held and performed in May with Claire Trevor.

Cary Grant was supposed to star in Salvage. He might be the most cancelled guest star, but was such a favorite of fans and Spier and others, that he was always asked back. For others, it seems that if you cancelled once, you went to the bottom of the future guest list and stayed there.

In April 1950, Arthur Godfrey was supposed to star in Two Sharp Knives. There were "scheduling conflicts" and the appearance was cancelled. The script was never performed on Suspense again. It was an unlucky script in terms of scheduling and noted in my book p117.

Frank Lovejoy bailed out Suspense once for Shooting of Billy the Kid when rehearsals with Donald O'Connor did not go well, and now it seems for Public Defender when Robert Ryan pulled out at the last minute.

These comments by Lewis in relation to the Suspense adaptation of Othello are interesting...

1953-05-10 Pittsburgh PA Press
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Post by greybelt on 6/29/2020, 9:02 am

REMINDER about our little Cobaltian Suspense census... if you have not already, please go to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] if you are a regular follower of this thread and "like" it.  THANKS!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Suspense_1959-03-15_Death_In_Box_234_wFrankLovejoy UPGRADE.mp3
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1959-03-15 Eugene OR Guard
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1959-03-15 Shreveport LA Times

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday I continued my collection of newspaper clippings for programs for which I had none. If you ever wondered why 1948-12-23 is called "Holiday Story" and not "Back for Christmas" as it was other times, the answer may be pure embarrassment.

When I was out at Thousand Oaks Library last year, I knew there was a script "Rich Man, Poor Man" that was sitting in the Suspense files but it was not identified in any way. It turns out that it was supposed to be the Christmas story on Suspense in 1948. The planned star was Ronald Colman.

1948-12-19 Sioux City IA Journal
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Then it was changed to Herbert Marshall. This clip has details of the story... in my hunt for newspaper clippings, the Ottawa, ON paper in the late 1940s and early 1970s has had very detailed information about Suspense. So kudos from 2020 to whoever was the editor of the paper back in 1948 for helping us today!

1948-12-23 Ottawa ON Citizen - Rich Man, Poor Man
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This is the first page of the script... which was never used! The script was by "Miles Connolly" in one of the news releases, but I suspect it was by Myles Connolly. He was a well-known screenwriter at the time, who worked with Frank Capra [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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SOMETHING happened for them to change their plans for the broadcast... and because ALL of the news releases emphasized the wholesomeness of the story, this had to be an embarrassment to Tony Leader to have to yank the script away... and replace it with Back to Christmas, a story where a husband murders his wife and buries her in the basement floor... and runs away with his mistress. Was there a "dust-up" with Connolly? Could agents not agree on a contract? Did rehearsals go badly? We will never know.

RadioGoldindex mistakenly says that "Holiday Story" is also known as "Rich Man, Poor Man." They are definitely not. They obviously were working from newspaper clippings they could find... and because the scripts and other information were not available to them, the listing is incorrect. It will be corrected sometime in the future. The broadcast has no real title but mentions the phrase "holiday story." Was this a "cover-up" to obscure the use of Back for Christmas once more?

In my mind, the Leader season is the best Suspense had... but from digging through the newspaper clippings and all of the changes in scripts and casting, it must have been a very chaotic season. To the outside, Suspense had a marvelous year, bouncing back from the hour long version to a new sponsor and some outstanding performances. But in the backrooms of decision-makers, it must have seemed out of control, a big difference from Spier's leadership. Managing Suspense was difficult, but Spier may have kept the innate chaos of it all in control and out of view. Leader may have had just as much chaos as Spier had, but did not deal with it as well as Spier did.

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Post by greybelt on 6/30/2020, 6:35 am

The name of this episode is always unclear. There is no consistency for any of the broadcast dates with the script name, the announced name, or the publicity name. They use Ivy is a Lovely Name and Ivy is a Lovely Name for a Girl interchangeably without precision.

Suspense_1959-06-21_IvyIsALovelyName_wFLovejoy&JBanks UPGRADE-2.mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted earlier.

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This is the news item that no one really believed until it happened. Suspense first, in August 1959 and it was going to be cancelled anyway in 1960 (that was the thinking at the time). YTJD moved at the end of November 1960. There still must have been some indecision about that because the last Hollywood YTJD was Jack Johnstone's taunting title "The Empty Threat." Both shows were lucky to escape the 1960 purge of daytime drama. As we know, when radio Gunsmoke ended in 1961, they slipped a new season of Suspense in the mix to replace it. Then came the fateful day of September 30, 1962. There were still doubters of CBS management resolve at that time, too.

1959-06-29 Broadcasting
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Locating these newspaper clippings is like panning for gold. There is a pattern. The number of clippings with detailed show information did not really start until the Auto-Lite sponsorship. In the period from July 1948 through the end of the sponsorship in June 1954 there are often background stories about casting and script development and production techniques that were not present before. The difference is stark, almost night and day. In the pre-60 minute years, plotlines except for a few words were not really mentioned. Guest stars were their focus. When Auto-Lite leaves, so did the publicity. There was a big push for the TV version in the publicity, but that would end, too, when Auto-Lite left that series, and the TV version was cancelled. The news items picked up with the Robson years as the number of other series competing for editorial space on the TV-radio pages dwindled. Those pieces, however, were nothing like the 1948-1954 period.

This was an interesting one yesterday...

1947-09-04 Miami FL News
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It must not have been working in rehearsals, so they decided to repeat Argyle Album instead. It does seem so strange to have Johnny Dollar under the pendulum... but YTJD had not started yet. We think it's funny because we associate O'Brien with the Dollar role because we see the entire radio era all at once. They lived it and saw it incrementally day by day.

The other item that was a surprise yesterday was learning that the CBS Pacific Network carried the hour-long version of Suspense on late Sunday afternoons and not Saturday. These were not new performances. Ratings must have been awful for this kind of program at 4:30pm on Sunday afternoons. KQW, broadcasting south of San Francisco carried it twice over the weekend, with an 11pm Saturday night broadcast. These would have been transcribed playbacks of the recordings from Saturday that the East and Central zones live productions. The KQW Saturday night broadcasts seem to start in February, a month after the hour productions began. I could find no instance of the other time zones having a different broadcast time than the initial live feed. It turns out that a contributing factor in the failure of the format was the inability to hold a consistent national broadcast day and time with it.

And this item is for chasedad who advised me that the two performances of Celebration had different endings... the implausible happy one under Leader and the violent one under Robson. This item makes it pretty clear that the Leader one was sanitized for Auto-Lite sponsorship. It turns out that Celebration was based on the writer's experience as a reporter in Wisconsin in 1928. The Robson ending mirrors the truth! I have not located an actual news report of the incident yet, but will keep looking.

1948-09-23 Madison WI State Journal
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More gold panning today...

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Post by artatoldotr on 6/30/2020, 8:53 am

Thanks greybelt

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Post by greybelt on 7/1/2020, 6:56 am

Suspense_1959-09-06_AfterTheMovies_wKevinMcCarthy UPGRADE-2 (NO OPEN).mp3
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1959-09-05 Kansas City KS Star
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1959-09-05 Paterson, NJ News
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The episode with Jackie Cooper The Clock and the Rope had a working title of "The Rope and the Clock," changed a day or so before broadcast.

Molle Mystery Theater had scheduled their presentation of "Crime Without Passion" for their 1946-05-03 broadcast, a day after Joseph Cotten starred in the Suspense version. They changed to a different play, "Murder Without Crime" in the days before broadcast. Magee Adams of the Cincinnati Enquirer had noted that both were doing the same play in her column of 1946-05-02, and that listeners should compare how Cotten did against Kroeger! They didn't get the chance. I wonder if Ben Hecht, author of the original short story, intervened to solve the issue. Molle had done "Crime Without Passion" on 1944-08-29 (no recording exists) and was repeating it. They did not reschedule a repeat performance on a different 1946 date, and it was never presented on Molle again.

1946-05-02 Cincinnati OH Enquirer
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Ruth Bartlett Vemec, scripter of Lucky Lady is likely a one-hit-wonder writer. I could not find any references to her writing anywhere except in newspaper clippings for this broadcast, and where a script is archived in the Spier-Havoc papers at U of Wisconsin. I did find an obituary, and she did have a position at CBS helping to develop programming, and went on to have a nice career and life. Obit is attached.... it mentions NBC's Suspense --- whoops!!! --- rewrite! Smile

1994-11-25 West Palm Beach FL Post
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Post by artatoldotr on 7/1/2020, 12:21 pm

Thanks greybelt
Best regards

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Post by greybelt on 7/2/2020, 4:55 am

Great new Escape log at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] -- a MUST download item!

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Suspense_1959-09-13_Death&TheEscort_wdMcLaughlin&EEric UPGRADE-2.mp3
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Newspaper clippings posted previously.

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1944-10-12 Merry Widower original title was "The Rubber Trumpet," the name of the adapted short story by Roy Vickers

1944-10-12 Atlanta GA Constitution
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1943-12-09 The Night Reveals was sent to newspapers as "The Night Revealed"; the 1943-03-02 (missing) was sent to newspapers as "Reveals"; seems to be error in CBS publicity... some papers got it right, so CBS may have sent out a correction

1943-12-09 Pittsburgh PA Press
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Suspense did not have separate east-west performances until the Roma sponsorship, or so it seemed. It appears that for the Saturday nights of August 21 (Sorry, Wrong Number) and August 28 (King's Birthday), it did. The east coast got a 7:30pm performance (4:30pm PT in the studio) and the west coast got an 8pm performance (8pm PT in the studio). All of the other times before and after have times like 10pm eastern and 7pm western, indicating one performance. I think the east-west performances were made to get the series more publicity via Sorry, Wrong Number's popularity. I suspected something might be up when I was going through some Casey press releases that the late Dave Siegel gave me, and one of the pages had a release about SWN with a Casey item. I could not find any east coast radio timetable that indicated a station picked up the 11pm eastern feed. It was just for those two weeks, and nothing more.

1943-08-11 CBS Press Release
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Robert Young was supposed to be in the Dec 1943 A Friend to Alexander -- we knew Richard Whorf was in it, but I did not know he was replacing Young.

1944-06-15 Miami FL Herald
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Cincinnati Enquirer critic Magee Adams really took a dislike to 1955 I Saw Myself Running -- makes me want to listen to it again!
1955-05-30 Cincinnati OH Enquirer
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Last edited by greybelt on 7/2/2020, 8:41 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by artatoldotr on 7/2/2020, 8:28 am

Thanks greybelt
Best regards
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Post by greybelt on 7/3/2020, 8:47 am

This is the last Suspense entry for a little while, but check back now and again for some news and various things that I find in the clippings and other places. Yesterday I got into 1958 and the clippings about episode content become less and less detailed and more and more random. It's the nature of the times.

Tomorrow, posts of many YTJD upgrades will begin on that thread. Join us, won't you?

PLEASE.... remember about our little Cobaltian Suspense census (shall we call it "The Suspensus"?) ... if you have not already, please go to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] if you have been a regular follower of this thread and "like" it.  THANKS!!

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This episode was first a television script from January 31, 1951 on the program The Web. No kinescope of the program exists. It was a popular series that used stories from the members of the Mystery Writers of America. The series ran from 1950-1954 and was produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman who later made their media fortunes with game shows (as did later Suspense and YTJD producer Bruno Zirato, Jr.) [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

1951-01-31 Camden NJ Courier Post
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Suspense_1959-10-18_CrisisOfDirkDiamond_wBernardGrant UPGRADE.mp3
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1959-10-18 Miami FL Herald
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1959-10-18 Tampa Bay FL Times

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