Friday, October 28, 2011

"It's Called the Monster Bash...."

In recognition of Halloween, I felt it might be appropriate to recognize a classic film festival that rocks! Every June, hundreds of movie fans migrate to the city of Butler, Pennsylvania to attend the "Monster Bash International Classic Monster Movie Convention and Film Fest." Monster Bash celebrates the films of the silent era through the 1950s, and is presented by Scary Monsters Magazine and Creepy Classics Video & DVD! It's also a monster memorabilia shopping center with vendors selling tee shirts, monster magazines, movies, lobby cards and posters and toy models. 

Advertisement for the 2002 Monster Bash Convention

Unlike other horror/sci-fi conventions, the Monster Bash Movie Convention is even more. It's a state of mind. A place, like Skull Island, where our imaginations were ignited and still burn behind our everyday jobs and life. The Bash is Forrest Ackerman's classic monster magazine, the local TV Horror Host, the Aurora monster models, the monster toys of all shapes and plastics.... It's a place when Halloween was eagerly awaited. It's the horror and science fiction paperback collections, and most of all it is...the movies!

Lawrence Elig's sculpture of Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Now I'd like to clarify something for the nostalgia fans who have never attended Monster Bash. It's the only convention on the East Coast that recognizes vintage classics. Every horror/sci-fi convention I attend center on the latest pop culture crazies like Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and celebrity guest are known primarily for their appearances in Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees movies. Now, if that's your cup of tea, by all means there are dozens along the East Coast to choose from. But if Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Rondo Hatton are the figures you prefer to watch on the celluloid screen, than Monster Bash is the one for you. And sadly, the only one that is centered primarily on the oldies but goodies.

Ron Adams is the mastermind behind this convention. His family, friends and volunteers (some of whom travel great distances to come attend and help keep the event running smooth) have done wonders. Celebrities in the past have included Bob Burns, Dolores Fuller, Beverly Garland, Ben Chapman, Ray Harryhausen, Carla Laemmle, Forrest J. Ackerman, Bela Lugosi Jr., Sara Karloff, Ron Chaney, David Skal, Elena Verdugo, Julie Adams, Richard Gordon, and Tom Savini to name a few. Ackerman himself once wrote, "Monster Bash gets an eleven out of ten! My favorite convention."

Bert I. Gordon from the 2006 event.

Actor Kevin McCarthy at the 2007 event.

The event began in 1997. Among the highlights was a representative of the U.S. Post Office who was on hand with Sara Karloff (the daughter of Boris Karloff) for the East Coast revealing of the classic monster stamps! Photo enclosed.

In 1998, the event celebrated King Kong's 65th birthday. The 1999 event offered film fans a rare treat. A showing, in 3D, of a rare Frankenstein film short from the 1940s called Third Dimensional Murder, and an uncut showing of the original Frankenstein, produced by Thomas Edison in 1910, which was thought lost for many years. Since then, the Edison film short has been released on DVD (sadly, the company chose to insert watermarks and logos in all the corners so it's not a pure, clean offering).

The kind of merchandise found at most horror conventions.
For comparison, here's merchandise found at Monster Bash.

Among the film screenings, celebrity question and answer sessions, panels and staged presentations, authors are granted time slots to talk about their books, magazines, and the subjects they wrote about. Friday night has become Mexican Movie Night, with free tacos from Taco Bell, while attendees get to watch a 1960s Mexican horror movie. Saturday morning offers a vintage cartoon showing, along with free cereal. Sunday morning offers the Monster Bash Mass with Father Mike (I love him, he's a great guy) leading the proceedings and all denominations are welcome. Father Mike loves the same kind of films I do, and we share a passion for Kate Smith films.

Scarlet magazines are available for sale.

Best of all, Monster Bash is not gory, scary or gothic like other horror conventions. You rarely see teenagers dressed in black with piercings and gothic makeup wandering the hallways. It's a place you can take your children to. A family, friendly atmosphere. And over the years, my wife and I have stopped going to horror conventions because they became less and less friendly. In fact, the only event we attended this calendar year is Monster Bash. How's that for an endorsement?

A spaceship landed in Mars, Pennsylvania!

But if the convention itself is not enough of an excuse for attending, be prepared to act like a local tourist. My wife and I, and our two friends, Mary and Gary Lowe, drive 10 miles south of Butler to Mars, Pennsylvania. Not sure how they came to have a town named after a planet, but they encourage tourists. In the center of the small community is a six-foot UFO. 

Six miles away from Mars is Evans City, also a borough of Butler County. The Evans City Cemetery and the borough became popularly known as the place where the 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead was filmed. The film's director, George Romero, shot most of the movie in and around Evans City. Sadly, many of the landmarks have been torn down. But if you want to scare yourself silly, pay a visit to the cemetery and have your photo taken. Below is a screen capture from the movie and you'll notice my wife posing by the very same tombstone! In a "Where's Waldo" sort of way, you might be able to find the same tombstone, but it's sure fun looking! There is no address to enter into your GPS for the cemetery so you'll have to travel into the city and ask a local. It appears they are used to out-of-towners asking for directions to the cemetery.

Screen capture from the original movie.

My wife posing before the same tombstone!

This same tombstone is also in the opening of the movie!

I have noticed within the past year that a couple horror/sci-fi events along the East Coast have attempted to compete against Monster Bash by adding a few guest celebrities that would also make appearances at the Bash, but they never even came close. So if you like Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing Hammer films, the classic Frankenstein, Dracula, Invisible Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon classics, Monster Bash comes recommended. If you are tired of attending those horror conventions that have very little to do with the classics, Monster Bash comes recommended. The official web-site is located below.

Lawrence Elig's sculpture of the Creature From The Black Lagoon was impressive. He was kind enough to allow me to take a photo, and you can find out more about his work at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friends of Old Time Radio: The Early Years

Paraphrasing Westbrook Van Voorhis from The March of Time, as it must come to all things, the Friends of Old Time Radio is coming to an end. The four day celebration acknowledging the Golden Age of Radio, featuring live recreations of classic radio programs with all-star casts, celebrity guests, memorabilia, music, and historical presentations is closing doors this October. And it seems only fitting, thanks to Jay Hickerson, to revisit (briefly) the early years.

Any familiar faces?
For 36 years, this event has been held in late October and ran from Thursday to Saturday. Over the years, the convention was able to secure appearances from such legends as Russell Horton, Arch Oboler, Carlton E. Morse, Margot Stevenson, Ken Roberts, Celeste Holm, Mason Adams, Jackson Beck, John Hart, Gordon Gould, Jerry Stiller, Will Hutchins, Ron Lackman, Art Gilmore, Gale Storm, Leonard Maltin, Bob Mott, Soupy Sales, Joyce Randolph, Fred Foy, Jimmy Lydon, Paul Peterson, Rosemary Rice, Bob Hastings, Elliott Reid, Hal Stone, Michael Gwynne, Noel Neill, Simon Jones, Frankie Thomas, Chuck McCann, Mickey Freeman, Peggy King, Bill Dana, and many others.

“Just as exciting as seeing the special guests perform is meeting them in person and finding out how many wonderful people were involved in old radio and are willing to share their time to swap stories of favorite shows and actors,” recalled Sean Doughtery. “At my first convention I was blown away finding myself at dinner with Rosemary Rice and Hal Stone. Years later, I had the thrill of introducing my parents to Dick Beals and Arthur Anderson… I remember marveling at how Fred Foy could reel off that Lone Ranger introduction just like it was 1948.”

Frequent attendees who have made the annual migration to the convention will substantiate how they made a number of life-long friends who shared the same enthusiasm for the hobby. Even with the advent of e-mail and the internet, friends still gather to shake hands, provide hugs and chat about their recent attainments. As Barb Davies once remarked, “It’s like a family reunion where no one is related.”

Jay Hickerson at FOTR in 1978.
The very first convention was held on Saturday, December 4, 1971 at the Holiday Inn Downtown, 30 Whalley Ave. (near Yale), New Haven, Conn., but was not originally called the Friends of Old Time Radio. That term would not be used until 1976. (Which means while the convention organizers celebrate 36 years, this October marks the 41st convention.)

“In the 1960s/1970s, as a pianist/entertainer, I often played radio theme songs and asked the audience to identify them,” recalled Jay Hickerson, the father figure of FOTR. “In 1970, at one of the parties, a guest told me of a friend, Sal Trapani, who had recordings of those radio shows, which intrigued me. I contacted Sal, and we subsequently met. After that initial meeting, Sal, gave me 100 shows on 4-¼ track reels. Thus, my collection of old-time radio shows began. This meeting also started a friendship with Sal, and in 1970 we tossed around the idea of having a radio convention.”

“A mini-convention in the form of a picnic was initiated and collectors in the New England area were invited to the home of Sal Trapani,” recalled Bill Smerckanicz. “The turnout was better than expected with more than 17 radio buffs from New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut attending. It was here that the initial plans for the first convention were decided. The group felt that Connecticut would be the central point for the convention and should he held there.”

“My newsletter, Hello Again, which was in its infancy, spread the word of this event,” recalled Jay. “The convention was held in 1971 and we called ourselves both the Lo-Fi Radio Buffs and The Golden Radio Buffs.” Jay Hickerson published the decision of the group in his publication. Jay also asked for a response from his readers and the favorable replies exceeded his expectations.

John Eccles gets an autograph from Bob Hastings.
“It is now a reality,” Jay Hickerson later wrote in a two-page flyer promoting the event. “A deposit has been made and a date has been set. Now all we need is you.” The 1971 event would be referred to as “The First East Coast Convention of Golden Radio Buffs.” Celebrity guests included Brett Morrison, Rosa Rio, Bill Youmans (Rosa’s husband), Mrs. House Jameson, Joe Franklin and Ron Lackmann. Walter Gibson, author of The Shadow pulps, was originally scheduled to appear as a guest. He was unable to attend but would make up for that years later.

The cost of admission at the very first old time radio convention was $9.50 per person, $18 for couples. The hotel was then charging $14.75 for a room with one bed, and $22.50 for a room with two beds. Jay Hickerson mailed his two-page flyer to old-time radio collectors known in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was also mentioned in the October issues of Hello Again and Stay Tuned. Towards the bottom of the flyer, it clearly stated: “Only you can make this a success and ensure future get-togethers.”

Bob Prescott
The event began 1 p.m. in the afternoon and continued until midnight. Informal browsing consisted of vendors selling premiums, magazines, books, tapes, newsletters, old radios, records and other radio memorabilia was for sale or trade. Radio related movies were screened in a private room at the hotel. There was even a “listening corner” where attendees could walk in and sit down and listen to old time radio shows being played. Several headsets were available. Beginning at 6 p.m., hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were served. Beginning at 7 p.m., a buffet dinner followed by entertainment in the form of recreations, talks and panels conducted on the stage.

Committee members included Jay Hickerson, Mel Shlank, Sal Trapani, Dave Davies, Jack Miller, James O’Neal and Bill Smerekanicz. “The first inkling of a convention was born in the minds of two avid collectors of old radio, Sal Trapani and Jay Hickerson,” remarked Smerckanicz. “Together they hashed the idea of a convention and believed it would be the way to bring all the collectors together in a common interest.” Little did they know that the events held on that particular Saturday afternoon would become a standard for conventions yet to come.

Shortly after the first convention, the “Golden Radio Buffs” was dropped in favor of a more official title, Sal Trapani formed the Society of American Vintage-Radio Enthusiasts (SAVE). Through a charter, the purpose of SAVE was six-fold:
1. To perpetuate the great days of radio.
2. To establish a radio museum that can store the great programs of the past on tape so that they will not be lost forever.
3. To set up a radio hall of fame to honor the guests of radio.
4. To have an organization of collectors so that information can be exchanged.
5. To cataloge those great years of radio.
6. To make available a complete reference library of the years of old time radio that are in print.

Lee Allman at FOTR in 1977.
The first annual SAVE convention was held on October 28 and 29, 1972, at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in New Britton, Conn. The presentation was a salute to radio’s 52nd anniversary. SAVE, under the direction of Trapani, sponsored the next four conventions. Word of the East Coast convention spread quickly and other old time radio buffs began organizing their own. A group from the Mid-West headed by Rolly Roos, formed the Mid-West convention, held on May 6, 1972, in Oak Brook, Illinois. About fifty men and women were present to talk about old-time radio. Chuck Schaden, radio host of Chicago’s Those Were The Days, was guest master of ceremonies. A convention in Oklahoma was held this same year, centering on more than old-time radio – it included all forms of nostalgia.

The second convention was held in New Britain at the Howard Johnson. Personalities present included Raymond Edward Johnson, William Spier, Evie Juster, Charles Michelson, Jackson Beck, Mary Jane Highby, Peg Lynch, Roger Bower and Richard Dana. The attendance tripled in size. “At the second convention in Connecticut there was a session by a sound effects man who gave an amazing demonstration of footsteps,” recalled Prof. Mike Biel. “He started as one man walking, then two men, then three or more walking at the same time at different paces. He even could do women’s footsteps included. Watching him do it looked like he was tap dancing. I’ve never seen anything like it since.”

(L to R) Jackson Beck, Kevin Scullin & Ken Roberts
The third convention was held at the Holiday Inn in Meridan, Conn. On September 7 and 8, 1973. With Sal Trapani as Executive Director, Ira Shprintzen and Dick Wolfe served as Associate Directors. In memory of William Spier, who met an untimely death, the awards henceforth were known as the William Spier awards. For 1973, they honored Jack Pearl “Baron Munchhausen,” Minerva Pious “Mrs. Nussbaum” (who appeared in person) and Freeman Gosden “Amos” (the latter of which accepted the award via radio link). Saturday afternoon featured an informal buffet luncheon, all you can eat for $3 dollars. Live music was supplied by a radio organist. The 7 pm grand banquet featured a giant cattleman’s steak dinner with all the trimmings, $10 admission charge. From 9 am to 5 pm, the event held seminars on radio drama, free movies, listening rooms, exhibits, lectures by experts in drama, news, comedy, etc. and a sound effects demonstration. Other guests included Will Jordan, Jackson Beck, Peg Lynch and Evie Juster. Raymond Edward Johnson returned to keep the audience spellbound with a reading of The Steel Worker.

The fourth convention was at the Howard Johnsons in Milford on November 1 and 2, 1974. The William Spier Award was presented to Himan Brown and Sam Digges. Others attending were Mandel Kramer, Raymond Edward Johnson and Will Jordan. Hickerson will fix this.

Raymond Edward Johnson
The fifth and final SAVE Convention was held at the Park Plaza in New Haven. Awards were presented to Anne Elstner, Staats Cotsworth, Rosa Rio and Irene Wicker. “By 1975, Sal wanted to write shows to be broadcast in New York,” recalled Hickerson. “He then was working with Ira Shprintzen, in New York. Most of the other committee members wanted to continue what we were doing. As a result, Sal left the group and continued his ideas. We changed our name to the Friends of Old-Time Radio. In 1976, we held our first convention with that name. The flyer, however, didn’t list the new name until 1978.” The program guides simply stated the “Sixth Annual” and “Seventh Annual.” In 1978, the “Third Annual Old-Time Radio Convention” (note a new number) was “sponsored by the Friends of Old Time Radio.” It wasn’t until 1979 that the convention was officially named after FOTR.

Members of the original committee were Julie and Larry DeSalvatore, Ann and Peter Greco, Lora Palmer, Joe Webb, Stu Weiss, Carol and Bob Witte. 

Jackson Beck and Raymond Edward Johnson were present at this one day convention and loved it so much that they were present every year since. Jackson Beck, Evie Juster, James Maloney, Lee Stanley and Don MacLaughlin starred in a re-creation of The FBI in Peace and War. Ham O’Hara provided the sound effects. 160 fans and guests were present.

Rosa Rio provided organ music for the re-creations and would ultimately do the job for several years. Our Gal Sunday and The Shadow starring Mandel Kramer and Grace Matthews were presented. Ed Blainey provided the sound effects. Warren Somerville directed. Other new guests present were Court Benson, Fred Foy, James Monks, Vicki Vola and Blair Walliser. Ken Piletic joined the committee, and has been going to the convention every year since.

Radio actress Alice Reinheart in 1977
A re-creation of The Romance of Helen Trent starred Alice Reinheart. Front Page Farrell and Counterspy were also performed.  New guests who accepted FOTR's invitation were Lee Allman, George Ansbro, Ira Ashley, Bob Dixon and Betty Wragge.  Bob Prescott senior and junior helped Ed Blainey with the sound effects.

Bob Burchett began taking photographs of the convention beginning in 1978, and quickly became the official convention photographer -- a post he held for many years. “My wife had a 35mm camera so I used it that year and took six rolls of film,” Bob recalled. “Only when I got home did I discover only three rolls has been loaded right. But it gave me something to do and I enjoyed it. I might add that I never made that mistake again.” This was the last day the convention was held only on Saturday.

Beginning with this year, the convention began Friday evening this year.  The first Allen Rockford Award was given to Ken Piletic.  Anthony Tollin came for the first year and presented a slide show about The Shadow. Re-creations performed were Joyce Jordan, Mark Trail starring Jackson Beck and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar starring Mandel Kramer and Don MacLaughlin. Also present were Ralph Bell, Ward Byron, Bill Griffis, Art Hanna, Peg Lynch, Ted Mallie, Ian Martin, Ted Malone, Arnold Stang and Sybil Trent. FOTR began getting more fans from all over the country and Canada. Bob Prescott and his two sons, Bob and Pete were now doing the sound effects.

"The convention I met Peg Lynch stands out in my memory," recalled Bob Burchett. "I walked into the dinning room for breakfast and I saw Ron Lackman sitting with her. They were just about finished, so Ron left, but she stayed. It was like I was doing a script with her. I laughed my way through breakfast. Sunday morning Harold Zeigler wanted me to do an interview with her. No one was around, and we talked for an hour. Or I might say she talked and I laughed for an hour. I had two questions and never got the the second one. She called it the Peg and Bob Show. This was the beginning of a great friendship that has lasted to this day."

Arthur Anderson

The highlight of the weekend was “Cinderella” from Let’s Pretend with Arthur Anderson, Gwen Davies, Don Hughes, Evie Juster, Bill Lipton and Sybil Trent. Jay Hickerson presented the first of several sing-a-longs. Also presented were Strange, hosted by Walter Gibson, and “Death Across the Board” from Inner Sanctum, hosted by Raymond Edward Johnson. Also present were Fran Carlon, Betty Tyler Karp and Rita Lloyd.

The conventions were now being video taped by Ken Piletic. They had up to this point just been audio taped. Re-created were My True Story, and Nick Carter, Master Detective with Lon Clark and Charlotte Manson. Arthur Tracy entertained with songs for the first of several conventions. New guests present included Nancy Douglass, Elspeth Eric, Teri Keane, Ann Loring, Arnold Moss, Bill Owen, Sidney Slon and a special appearance by Kenny Delmar.

Events/seminars included “OTR in the Community” and the first of what would become many panels centered on OTR authors. An Al Jolson special was presented by Ed Greenbaum and Herb Goldman of the International Al Jolson Society, Inc. This ultimately led to an Al Jolson Special every year from the same organization for a number of years. Johnson recreated “Cask of Amontillado.” Recording techniques was the focus of one workshop, while “Views of Collecting Experts” became a highlight.

“In 1981, as a boy of 14, I attended my first FOTR Convention, having accidentally learned of its existence due to an off-hand comment made during a visit to the OTR museum by Art Schreiber, the museum’s curator,” recalled John Eccles. “I was welcomes with open arms by all of the invited guests and fellow OTR fans. Imagine the excitement I felt after spending my childhood listening to these programs and then having the opportunity to actually see many of the actors, actresses, writers and directors who were responsible for them. Not only was I able to see them, but they were all so generous and giving of their time that I was able to meet and talk with them about many of their experiences during radio’s golden age.

Beginning in 1982, the convention was held at the Holiday Inn in Newark, New Jersey, where the convention has been held every year since. Re-creations included Aunt Jenny, and The Green Hornet with Dwight Weist, Ezra Stone, Jackson Beck and Lee Allman. Some new guests present were Don Buka, Jack Grimes, Abby Lewis, Dick Osgood, Frank Papp, Ruth Russell, Terry Ross, Jane Ward, Florence Williams and Alice Yourman. Terry Ross now handled the sound effects. Karen Hickerson entertained with a few songs for the first of several times.

Dave Warren supplying a voice coming from a long tunnel.
From now on until 1992, FOTR had at least 45 dealers. Parley Baer became the first West Coast guest. Up to this time, all of the guests originated from the East Coast, mainly New York City. Re-created were “The Brave Little Tailor” from Let’s Pretend, directed by Arthur Anderson with much of the original cast.  Anthony Tollin directed The Shadow with Ken Roberts, Margot Stevenson, Gertrude Warner and Jackson Beck.  Some new guests present were Joan Bishop, Nancy Coleman, Helen Coule, Cliff Carpenter, Ruth Duskin, Bob Guilbert, Pat Hosley, Ernest Ricca, Karl Weber and Miriam Wolff.  Rosa Rio and Ted Malone put on a musical program.  Anthony Tollin began coordinating the re-creations, something Joe Webb had done up to this time.

“Frank Nelson was an invited guest and agreed to come to FOTR that year as one of the first West Coast guests,” recalled Terry Salomonson. “What most people do not know was that Frank was also having some serious health issues and the closer the convention approached, together with his medical issues, it became apparent that he was not going to be able to attend at the last minute. Hoping not to disappoint the convention for the medical situation beyond his control, he asked Parley if he would consider going in his place, if at the last minute Frank could not make the trip. Eventually Frank couldn't make the trip and Parley stepped in at the last minute for his friend.”

“Parley arrived at the hotel in the evening during the night’s activities and after checking in and refreshing himself in his room, he quietly slipped in one of the side door to the convention room where Jay Hickerson was at the keyboard in the middle of an event,” continued Terry. “When Jay noticed Parley entering the room, he stopped what he was playing and started playing the theme music from Gunsmoke. Everyone in the room by this time noticed Parley standing threre, rose and started a huge applause.  For a moment Parley thought someone else had entered the room behind him and turned around to find no one else standing there, except himself. When the though occurred to him that it was for him, he was both shocked, touched and teared up at the moment and from the love and respect being offered to him from the entire room full of strangers.”

Re-created were Mr. District Attorney with Dwight Weist and Vicki Vola and Grand Central Station.  Coming from the West Coast were Frank Nelson and Veola Vonn. Eddie Layton provided the music. Some new guests present were Margaret Draper, Helene Dumas, Edith Meiser, Stella Reynolds, Adele Ronson, Joe DeSantis and Arthur Peterson.

“In Newark we always had a party in our room,” recalled Barb Davies. “One time Frank Nelson was there with Viola Vonn. I asked if he would take a picture with me. He said yes but only if I sat on his lap. So I did and he put his hand on my knee and moved my skirt up a bit. Then he said, ‘now you may take the photo.’ The next year he was there again and I asked him to autograph the photo, he did with the line: Better luck next time Honey.”

At the 10th annual convention, director Bill Robson and writer Lucille Fletcher watched a re-creation of “Sorry, Wrong Number.” Also re-created was The Adventures of Superman starring Jackson Beck. Leta Beemer Peterson, widow of Brace Beemer, received a posthumous award for Brace Beemer. Some new guests present were Lee Alan, Tony Caminita, Humphrey Davis, Tom Dougall, Fred Flowerday, Jim Fletcher, Ernie Winstanley and Whit Vernon.

“That was a special moment for me,” recalled Donald Ramlow. “I was always a fan of Suspense, as you well know. Well one day, after already having attended a couple of FOTR cons, I was listening to an episode of Suspense, “The Diary of Sophronia Winters,” when the character played by Agnes Moorehead asked why she was being threatened. She said ‘I’m just a woman from Kalamazoo, and my father works at the First National Bank,’ etc. I had already been a fan of Fletcher, but when I heard that dialogue, it made me want to find out more about her. I then started looking through reference books and articles, where I eventually discovered her address and phone number. I mailed her a letter, but she didn’t respond right away. I followed with a phone call, and she answered the phone. I introduced myself and explained why I was contacting her. She then went on to explain that a roommate of her's at college had grown up in Kalamazoo and that she included this in her story as an inside reference. We talked several times after that and she was amazed to find out about all the OTR fans out there. She eventually gave me permission to share her address with FOTR, which resulted in an invite to the convention. She attended, along with her daughters, and authorized the performance of “Sorry, Wrong Number” and she participated in several panels.”

The Lone Ranger was the center piece for this year’s convention. Fourteen people who were alumni of WXYZ attended and were involved in a special Lone Ranger presentation. These included Fred Foy, Michael Tolan, Jim Fletcher, Lee Allman, Ernie Winstanley, Whit Vernon, Fred Flowerday, Tony Caminita, Elaine Alpert and Harry Goldstein, among others. The 50th Anniversary celebration of The Lone Ranger included Leta Beemer Peterson, widow of actor Brace Beemer, who received a posthumous award for Brace Beemer.

Bob Burchett
Willard Waterman attended from California and starred in The Great Gildersleeve with Shirley Mitchell and Louise Erickson. Also re-created were The Aldrich Family with Ezra Stone and much of the original cast. Gilbert Mack entertained with songs and patter. Also re-created was The Whistler. Other new guests present were Vivian Della Chiesa and Sara Seeger. The Dave Warren Players made their initial of many performances with Tom Mix. Don Ramlow began video taping the events. The program guide grew in size this year, now featuring ads, biographies and pictures.

“Dave had a real knack for casting the right voice in the right role,” explained Gary Yoggy. “Soon there were well over 40 players in Dave’s company. Dave considered you a member of his acting group if you made a single appearance in one of his re-creations.”

Among the performers was Suzanne Barabas, Barry Hill, Ron Lackman, Bobb Lynes, Bill Nadel, Carolyn and Joel Senter, Charlie Stumpf, Maggie Thompson, Barbara Watkins and Dave Zwengler. Warren passed away in February 2001. In recognition for his devoted services, an award has been named after Dave Warren, which has been given away annually at the Cincinnati Old Time Radio & Nostalgia Convention.

FOTR Program Guide
Barney Beck and Ray Erlenborn now worked with Terry Ross on the sound effects. FOTR did the first of three Gateway to Hollywood re-creations. Winners this year were Carolyn Senter and David Zwengler. Joining FOTR from California were John Archer, Les Tremayne and Bill Zuckert. The Thin Man was re-created with Les Tremayne reprising the title role. Also re-created were Young Widder Brown with Les Tremayne and Adele Ronson and Big Town with Fran Carlon, Mason Adams and Dwight Weist.  FOTR started giving donations to worthy organizations, this lasted only for a few years. Some new guests were Eric Arthur, Judith Bublick, Laurette Fillbrandt, Joseph Kahn, Joseph Nathan Kane, Elaine Kent, Joyce Randolph and Bob Steel.

“Alice Reinhart was about to do a read-through of a Thin Man script,” recalled Bill Nadel. “She kept chuckling while Les Tremayne was reading his lines. ‘What’s wrong?’ someone whispered to Alice, ‘Those lines aren’t funny.’ ‘No, but Les and I used to be married!’ was her reply.”

The convention now began on Thursday evening. About 600 people attend the convention. Arnold Moss was featured in the re-creation of Cabin B-13. Carlton E. Morse attended from California and watched the re-creation of I Love a Mystery with Bob Dryden and Alice Reinheart. Also from California were Bob Hastings, Jackie Kelk and Richard Wilson. Jackson Beck was featured in another re-creation of The Adventures of Superman. Arthur Anderson directed a third episode of Let’s Pretend. Robin Fields and Bill Daugherty entertained the audience. Some new guests present were Jeanne Harrison, Hildegarde (who only attended the dinner banquet), Robert E. Lee, Jan Miner, Larry Robinson and Joan Shea. During the evening festivities on Saturday, the dinner guests were interrupted by an updated version of “War of the Worlds.”

Hildegarde at the dinner banquet in 1988.
Child stars were honored with a panel on “Growing Up in Radio.” Participating were Ray Erlenborn, Charlie Mullen, Ezra Stone, Jean Gillespie, Arthur Anderson, Bob Hastings, Teri Keane and George Ward. Re-creations included Nick Carter, Private Detective with Lon Clark and Charlotte Manson; Archie Andrews with Bob Hastings and  Charlie Mullen; Mandrake the Magician  with Raymond Edward Johnson; The March of Time with Arnold Moss and Dwight Weist. New guests present also included Lee Falk (the creator of The Phantom and Mandrake), Earl George, Ross Martindale, Charles Woods and Margaret Whiting. The convention became international with the attendance of Barry Hill from England. FOTR started inviting authors and Robert Taylor talked about his book, Fred Allen: His Life and Wit. Since then, dozens of authors have attended to promote their books.

Although Jack Benny never attended, his daughter Joan made the first of three visits. You Can’t Take it With You was re-created with Margot Stevenson, Abby Lewis, Ezra Stone, Rosemary Rice and Florence Williams. Other re-creations included “Dracula” from The Mercury Theater (actually, First Person Singular. The series would eventually be re-titled The Mercury Theater on the Air) with Elliott Reid, Richard Wilson, Arthur Anderson, Bill Herz and Burgess Meredith. Norman Corwin directed “The Plot to Overthrow Christmas” with Burgess Meredith, Dwight Weist and Arthur Anderson. The first variety type of show was also presented with “A Tribute to CBS.” Other new guests included Hendrik Booraem, Jr., Phyllis Creore, Betty Mandeville and Betty Winkler.

“I remember I got off the elevator on the 9th floor and Burgess Meredith was slowly wandering in the hall, looking for his room,” recalled Don Aston. “I made a phone call from my room and found out he was on the 4th floor. I took him there. That night this frail old actor was given a part in a recreation. What a change came over him when he was given a script. He became positive, aggressive, clear headed and a complete opposite of what I met in the hall.”

Ed Herlihy
The convention now started at 2 p.m. on Thursday. During the earlier conventions there had been trivia contests. Dave Zwengler presented the first of several quiz shows this year. Re-creations included The Bickersons with Shirley Mitchell and Sam Edwards; Buck Rogers with Adele Ronson; Ethel and Albert with Peg Lynch and Bob Dryden; The FBI in Peace and War with George Petrie and John Archer; The Great Gildersleeve with Willard Waterman, Shirley Mitchell and Louise Erickson; Gunsmoke with Jackson Beck as Matt Dillon and Parley Baer as Chester.  Ray Kemper provided the sound patterns. Other new guests present were Harry Bartell, Bob Bell, Vivian Block, Oscar Brand, Bob Bruce, Lillian Buyeff, Harry Fleetwood, Ruth Last, Tyler McVey, and Francis von Bernhardi.

Bill Nadel recalled a story when George Petrie was vehement. “I can’t read these crappy lines. No radio writer would have written this and no actor would read this,” remarked Petrie, in the midst of a run-through of The FBI in Peace and War. Barney Beck, ace sound-effects man responded. “Then George, write the way you want, but leave the cue lines in place.” Petrie did just that, even though it had been the exact same script that he did decades before and the recording of Petrie clearly had him doing the questionable lines. Barney turned around and whispered to Bill, “I did say it was a bad script!”

The convention now opened Wednesday evening with complimentary wine and cheese for the overnight guests, which would continue until the the final convention. The convention, since 1976, has gone from a one-day event to a three-day event with the Wednesday evening added. Dealers could now open 9 a.m. on Thursday. There were two panels Thursday afternoon. FOTR also started having children of performers give a special presentation Thursday evenings. This year Chris Costello, Bud Abbott, Jr. and Paddy Costello Humphreys attended. Re-creations included “Chain of Command” from X Minus One; Archie Andrews with Bob Hastings and Hal Stone; Dragnet with Herb Ellis, Harry Bartell and Peggy Webber; Street and Smith Detective Story Hour with Adele Ronson, Dick Osgood, Ken Roberts and Lon Clark; Inner Sanctum Mystery with Raymond Edward Johnson; and John Rayburn presented his first of many spoonerism. Other new guests present were Dick Beals, Vanessa Brown, Fred Collins, Win Elliot, Don Hastings, Corinne Orr, Eleanor Phelps, Clive Rice, and Anne Sargent.

Carlton E. Morse speaks to his friends.
Arthur Godfrey was saluted with Lee Munsick leading two separate panels with such guests as Lee Erwin, Bill Murtough, Ward Byron, Sy Shaffer, Carmel Quinn and others. Al Jolson was honored on Thursday. About 700 people attend the convention. The Boogie Woogie Girls of Company E entertained for the first time, in the same costumes worn by the Andrews Sisters. Re-creations included Doc Savage with Fred Foy and Earl George; Sherlock Holmes with Frankie Thomas and Earl George; Tom Corbett with the original cast including Frankie Thomas, Jan Merlin, Ed Bryce, Al Markim, Jackson Beck and George Gould; The Mysterious Traveler. Everyone was also entertained with Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Other new guests included Elaine Hyman, Florence James, Maxine Marx, and Lucille Mason.

“We met Frankie Thomas on an elevator,” recalled Dick Olday. “I asked him about his role in the Nancy Drew movies, specifically about the time they were throwing milk cans. I asked if they were props and he said no. They really hurt if you were hit by them.” 

If you live within driving distance of the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention and can attend, or have been meaning to attend and never had the opportunity, consider coming this year. You won't get another chance and I assure you it will be fun. Information about this year's events (along with summaries of past years) can be found at This year, FOTR will be offering a special commemorative book (about 40 pages) documenting all 36 plus years of the convention, similar to what you see here. Memories from attendees, tons of photos, a list of all the award winners (FOTR has been giving away at least three different awards every year) and much more. For more information, contact Jay Hickerson at after November first. (He cannot give one away before the convention.)

All copyrighted photos in this article are provided courtesy of Ken Piletic and Joe Webb.

One small note: After 41 years of celebration, the party continues. The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention has been growing every year. Many (if not most) of the yearly die-hards who still want a yearly get-together, will be making plans to attend MANC. After attending FOTR this October, consider attending MANC in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Existing Inner Sanctum Mystery Episodes

Known for its signature opening, a creaking door, Raymond the host invited listeners in for a weekly half-hour fright fest of murder and madness. Werewolves, vampires, creeping vines, walking corpses, dark stormy nights, haunted houses, black cats, vengeful ancestors and even ghosts of gangsters roamed the airwaves. For eleven seasons this horror program frightened listeners and today, remains a popular collector's item for fans of old-time radio.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, episodes of Inner Sanctum Mystery originated from transcription discs, transferred to a feasible listening format, courtesy of a number of OTR vendors. The shows were also licensed and commercially released through companies like METACOM (doing business as Adventures in Cassettes) and Radio Spirits.

About ten years ago, when the mp3 format became a standard for the casual collector (serious collectors still prefer CD and reel to reel format), episodes of Inner Sanctum Mystery began popping up all over the internet at various prices. The mp3 craze, coupled with illegal free downloads (the radio program is still copyrighted), ultimately killed the hobby. Vendors who were willing to spend $100 and $200 for a transcription disc with a formerly "lost" episode, now hesitate in fear that the internet market will kill off any chance of recouping their investment. As a result, unlike other old-time radio programs, no new episodes of Inner Sanctum Mystery have surfaced in collector circles within the past five or six years. This is a sad statement to make, but is nonetheless true. (Those who have debated this fact in the past few years are staunch supporters of the mp3 format, free downloading and file swamping, merely defending their own actions. When the possibility of two new "uncirculated" episodes became available last year, all of the defenders were approached and none were willing to pay for the new episodes -- one even stated he'll wait till he can download it off his favorite web-site.)

Vendors who have been in the hobby for more than two or three decades continue to offer radio programs on CD, audio cassette and reel-to-reel, avoiding the mp3 format altogether. Thankfully, this allows serious collectors the opportunity to collect vintage radio broadcasts without the complications, struggles and frustrations that mp3 customers have experienced in the past. Johnny-come-latelys who are determined to squash their competition faster than The Incredible Hulk, have purposely and unscrupulously offered duplicate recordings with alternate titles, tricking customers into believing they paid good money for the largest collection of Inner Sanctum episodes assembled on a single disc.

Newspaper advertisement
Now to be honest, a number of vendors in the 1980s and early 1990s were offering a handful of Inner Sanctum episodes on audio cassette with alternate titles. Even the casual listeners knows that the announcer gives the title of the episode at the beginning of each episode, and therefore should be no excuse for alternate titles. But the 1952 summer revival of Inner Sanctum was transcribed for the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) and the titles (and the Pearson Pharmaceutical commercials) were deleted. This caused momentary confusion until a list was created to label the correct title and broadcast date with the AFRS rebroadcasts. Vendors quickly began adjusting their catalog pages, even printing supplements and mailing them out to their customers, who could also make the correction. It would seem at that time the problem was resolved. 

Enter stage left the mp3 format. Customers unaware of how many episodes of Inner Sanctum Mystery are known to exist, began buying CDs with over 200 episodes, in what they thought was the complete series. Sadly, not even 200 episodes are known to exist. Vendors were taking recordings of a South African radio series from 1968, The Creaking Door, and adding them to the Inner Sanctum discs. A number of 1950s Australian radio shows titled Inner Sanctum were also added. But then collectors began hearing the same recording twice -- each file on the CD had a different title! Over the years, the situation got worse. Vendors were unscrupulously duping files and renaming them, tricking customers into believing the vendor had more episodes than his competition. If Vendor A had 189 episodes, Vendor B began offering 190. Vendor A quickly began offering 191 and Vendor B followed with a multi-CD mp3 set with 195 episodes.

As the battlefield grew, customers were getting more disappointed. Having written a book about Inner Sanctum Mystery, I started receiving an e-mail every month from someone pleading for me to review their mp3 files and straighten out the mess. It seems they were getting tired of driving to work and discovering they were listening to the same episode they heard last week -- believing the new title meant a new episode. I can understand their frustration. The requests quickly grew and soon I was receiving the same request every week and I discovered there was not enough time on the clock to perform the favors for everyone. In order to keep peace in a civilized world, I began suggesting they get a copy of my book -- after all, there are plot summaries and guest cast, besides the titles, broadcast dates and episode numbers, and anyone with an I.Q. higher than room temperature could easily determine the correct title and broadcast date. What I failed to reckon with, however, was the nature of the beast. In business, there are two different markets -- customers who buy and customers who aren't. If they were downloading mp3 files of Inner Sanctum Mystery, or buying $5 mp3 discs, then they were not the same crowd that would pay $25 for a book that would solve all their problems.

So in 2003, I created a list of all the existing radio broadcasts of Inner Sanctum Mystery. The purpose of this listing was to encourage both collectors and fans to look back through their holdings, and see if maybe some episodes in their collection are considered "lost." A "lost" episode is considered any radio broadcast not known to exist, or available from collectors in circulation. The second purpose was so collectors of mp3 files would be able to accurately date and title the recordings. The list was updated twice, with additional commentary added in 2007 (featured below this list).

Because it is possible that "lost" episodes could turn up in the future, this list is subject to revision in the near future, as updates are acquired.

The code LOC are marked beside episodes known to exist in the Library of Congress Archives. Many of these LOC entries are not available from collectors yet, but according to the LOC, they do exist. If there is an episode marked Q, that means "questionable." There still remains a few episodes that supposedly exist but I marked a Q because I have not verified the recording with my own ears. Everyone who claims they have a questionable episode asked me to remove the Q, but I did not because they never sent me a recording to verify. If anyone feels they have a recording that isn't on this list, do contact me. However, beware of duplicate recordings with alternate titles and airdates! 

  • "The Amazing Death of Mrs. Putnam" (1/7/41)
  • "The Strangled Snake" (2/18/41) LOC
  • "The Man of Steel" (3/16/41) Boris Karloff LOC
  • "Dead Freight" (5/18/41) Myron McCormick
  • "The Tell-Tale Heart" (8/3/41) Boris Karloff
  • "The Death Ship" (8/10/41)
  • "Hunter From Beyond" (9/7/41) only last seven minutes known to exist
  • "The Stallion of Death" (9/14/41) LOC
  • "The Haunting Face" (9/28/41) LOC
  • "Hell is Where You Find It" (10/19/41) Burgess Meredith
  • "Nocturne of Death" (11/2/41) LOC
  • "The Island of Death" (12/7/41)
  • "The Man From Yesterday" (12/21/41) Myron McCormick
  • "Death Has Claws" (12/28/41) Santos Ortega
  • "The Scarlet Widow" (1/11/42) LOC
  • "Dead Reckoning" (1/18/42) Arthur Vinton
  • "A Study for Murder" (5/3/42) Boris Karloff
  • "Terrible Vengeance" (6/14/42) The Australian version of this script is floating about, not the American.
  • "The Dead Walk at Night" (9/20/42) Donald Buka starred in the 1952 version of the same script. This 1942 version does not have Donald Buka! Does anyone have this episode WITHOUT Buka?
  • "The Black Seagull" (3/7/43) Peter Lorre
  • "The Horla" (8/1/43) Arnold Moss
  • "The Walking Skull" (4/15/44)
  • "The Melody of Death" (4/22/44) Mary Astor
  • "The Silent Hand" (5/13/44) Mary Astor
  • "Death is a Joker" (6/10/44) Peter Lorre
  • "Dead Man's Vengeance" (10/7/44)
  • "Dead Woman's Tale" (10/28/44)
  • "Blind Man's Bluff" (11/4/44)
  • "The Voice on the Wire" (11/29/44)
  • "The Color Blind Formula" (12/6/44) Richard Widmark
  • "Desert Death" (1/9/45)
  • "Death is an Artist" (1/23/45) Lee Bowman
  • "Death in the Depths" (2/6/45) Santos Ortega
  • "No Coffin for the Dead" (2/20/45) Les Tremayne
  • "The Meek Die Slowly" (4/3/45) Victor Moore Q
  • "The Bog Oak Necklace" (4/10/45) Miriam Hopkins
  • "The Judas Clock" (4/17/45) Santos Ortega
  • "Song of the Slasher" (4/24/45) Arnold Moss
  • "The Girl and the Gallows" (5/1/45) Wendy Barrie
  • "The Black Art" (5/15/45) Simone Simone
  • "Dead to Rights" (5/22/45) Elspeth Eric and Santos Ortega
  • "Musical Score" (5/29/45) Berry Kroeger
  • "Death Across the Board" (6/5/45) Jackson Beck and Raymond Massey
  • "Portrait of Death" (6/12/45) Leslie Woods
  • "Dead Man's Holiday" (6/19/45) Myron McCormick
  • "Dead Man's Debt" (6/26/45) Joseph Julian
  • "Dead Man's Deal" (8/28/45) Larry Haines
  • "The Murder Prophet" (9/4/45) Wendy Barrie
  • "The Last Story" (9/11/45) Richard Widmark
  • "Terror By Night" (9/18/45) Anne Shepherd
  • "The Lonely Sleep" (9/25/45) Karl Swenson
  • "The Shadow of Death" (10/2/45) Richard Widmark
  • "Death By Scripture" (10/9/45) Stefan Schnabel
  • "Till Death Do Us Part" (10/16/45) Larry Haines
  • "The Corridor of Doom" (10/23/45) Boris Karloff
  • "Death for Sale" (10/30/45) Boris Karloff Q  A recording of the 1952 version does exist, in AFRS format, and is commonly mistaken as the 1945 broadcast. Does anyone actually have the 1952 version? To my knowledge, the 1945 version does not exist.
  • "The Wailing Wall" (11/6/45) Jackson Beck and Boris Karloff
  • "The Dreadful Hunch" (11/13/45) with Anne Shepard and Richard Widmark Q
  • "Boomerang" (11/20/45) with Martin Gable
  • "The Dark Chamber" (12/11/45) Kenneth Lynch
  • "The Undead" (12/18/45) Anne Seymour
  • "The Creeping Wall" (1/8/46) Irene Wicker
  • "The Edge of Death" (1/15/46) Larry Haines, Mercedes McCambridge
  • "The Confession" (1/22/46) Santos Ortega
  • "Blood of Cain" (1/29/46) Mercedes McCambridge, Karl Swenson
  • "Skeleton Bay" (2/5/46) Betty Lou Gerson
  • "Elixier Number Four" (2/12/46) Richard Widmark
  • "I Walk in the Night" (2/26/46) Larry Haines
  • "The Strands of Death" (3/12/46) Santos Ortega
  • "Death is a Double Crosser" (3/26/46) Lawson Zerbe
  • "The Night is my Shroud" (4/2/46) Ann Shepherd
  • "Lady with a Plan" (4/9/46) Elspeth Eric
  • "Make Ready My Grave" (4/23/46) Jackson Beck and Richard Widmark
  • "You Can Die Laughing" (5/7/46) Santos Ortega
  • "Detour to Terror" (5/21/46) Mason Adams
  • "Eight Steps to Murder" (6/4/46) Berry Kroeger
  • "I Want to Report a Murder" (6/18/46) Santos Ortega
  • "Spectre of the Rose" [Ben Hecht special] (8/19/46)
  • "Murder Comes at Midnight" (9/9/46) Mercedes McCambridge
  • "The Dead Laugh" (9/23/46)
  • "Death's Old Sweet Song" (11/4/46) Mercedes McCambridge
  • "No Rest for the Dead" (11/25/46)
  • "Death Bound" (2/3/47) Richard Widmark
  • "The Ghost in the Garden" (2/10/47) Leslie Woods
  • "Don't Dance on My Grave" (5/5/47) Charlotte Holland
  • "Over My Dead Body" (6/23/47) Larry Haines, Vera Allen
  • "Till Death Do Us Part" (10/27/47) Mercedes McCambridge
  • "Death Out of Mind" (12/29/47) Larry Haines and Ann Shephard
  • "Tempo in Blood" (1/12/48) Mason Adams and Everett Sloane
  • "The Doomed" (1/26/48) Mercedes McCambridge and Karl Swenson
  • "The Magic Tile" (3/8/48) Mercedes McCambridge and Everett Sloane
  • "Lady Killer" (3/29/48) Everett Sloane
  • "Death Demon" (7/5/48) Ann Seymour and Everett Sloane 
  • "The Eyes of a Murderer" (7/19/48) Donald Buka  Just discovered, 11/12/12
  • "Murder Takes A Honeymoon" (7/26/48) Ann Shepherd and Everett Sloane
  • "The Murder Ship" (8/2/48) Mason Adams
  • "House of Doom" (8/9/48) Charlotte Holland and Santos Ortega
  • "Death Rides a Riptide" (9/6/48) Arlene Blackburn and Lawson Zerbe
  • "The Murder Carousel" (9/13/48) Larry Haines
  • "Hangman's Island" (9/20/48) Mason Adams and Elspeth Eric
  • "Murder by Prophesy" (9/27/48) Joseph Julian
  • "Death of a Doll" (10/18/48) Mason Adams
  • "Deathwatch in Boston" (11/15/48) Ted Osborne
  • "The Cause of Death" (12/6/48) Berry Kroeger
  • "Murder Faces East" (12/13/48) Charlotte Holland
  • "Between Two Worlds" (12/20/48) Mason Adams and Ann Shephard
  • "Fearful Voyage" (1/3/49) Elspeth Eric and Arnold Moss
  • "Murder Comes to Life" (1/10/49) Charles Irving and Santos Ortega
  • "Mark My Grave" (1/17/49) Santos Ortega and Lawson Zerbe
  • "The Deadly Dummy" (1/24/49) Mason Adams and Elspeth Eric
  • "The Devil's Fortune" (1/31/49) Jackson Beck
  • "Death Demon" (2/7/49) Everett Sloane and Leslie Woods
  • "Birdsong for a Murderer" (2/14/49) Arlene Blackburn
  • "Flame of Death" (2/21/49) Charlotte Holland
  • "Only the Dead Die Twice" (3/21/49) Larry Haines
  • "Appointment with Death" (3/28/49) Charlotte Holland and Karl Swenson
  • "Death Wears a Lonely Smile" (4/4/49) Mercedes McCambridge
  • "Murder Off the Record" (4/11/49) Mason Adams and Elspeth Eric
  • "The Death Deal" (4/18/49) Mercedes McCambridge
  • "The Unburied Dead" (5/16/49) Leslie Woods
  • "Strange Passenger" (5/23/49) Mason Adams
  • "Death on the Highway" (6/6/49) Ted Osborne and Alice Reinhart
  • "Corpse Without a Conscience" (6/20/49) Karl Swenson
  • "Pattern for Fear" (7/4/49) Cameron Prud'Homme and Everett Sloane
  • "Deadly Fare" (7/18/49) Larry Haines
  • "Dead Heat" (8/15/49) Mercedes McCambridge and Karl Swenson
  • "Mind Over Murder" (8/22/49) Elspeth Eric
  • "Death's Little Brother" (8/29/49) Amzie Strickland
  • "Murder Rides the Carousel" (9/5/49) Leslie Woods
  • "The Vengeful Corpse" (9/12/49) Karl Swenson
  • "Honeymoon with Death" (9/19/49) Mason Adams
  • "Catch a Killer" (10/3/49) Larry Haines and Barbara Weeks
  • "The Devil's Workshop" (10/10/49) Mason Adams
  • "Image of Death" (10/17/49) Jean Ellen
  • "Night is my Shroud" (10/24/49) Ken Lynch and Ann Shephard
  • "A Corpse for Halloween" (10/31/49) Larry Haines
  • "The Wish to Kill" (11/14/49) Karl Swenson and Leslie Woods
  • "Beyond the Grave" (12/19/49) Martin Gabel
  • "Killer at Large" (1/9/50) Larry Haines
  • "The Scream" (1/16/50) Barbara Weeks
  • "The Hitch-Hiking Corpse" (1/23/50) Ken Lynch
  • "Skeleton Bay" (1/30/50) Charlotte Holland (both versions exist)
  • "Murder Mansion" (3/27/50) Arnold Moss
  • "Beneficiary-Death" (4/17/50) Everett Sloane and Barbara Weeks
  • "No Rest for the Dead" (7/13/50) different story from that of the 1946 episode of the same name.
  • "Twice Dead" (11/6/50) Larry Haines and Amzie Strickland
  • "Beyond the Grave" (12/4/50) Mercedes McCambridge
  • "The Smile of the Dead" (2/19/51) Larry Haines, only the first half of this episode is known to exist.
  • "The Man From the Grave" (2/26/51) Ralph Bell and Peter Cappel, only the second half of this episode is known to exist.
  • "The Unforgiving Corpse" (5/28/51) Luis Van Rooten and Lawson Zerbe
  • "Birdsong for a Murderer" (6/22/52) Boris Karloff
  • "Terror By Night" (6/29/52) Agnes Moorehead
  • "Death Pays the Freight" (7/6/52) Everett Sloane
  • "Death for Sale" (7/13/52) Boris Karloff
  • "The Listener" (7/20/52) Agnes Moorehead
  • "The Murder Prophet" (7/27/52) Agnes Moorehead
  • "Murder Off the Record" (8/3/52) Ken Lynch
  • "The Magic Tile" (8/10/52) Ann Seymour 
  • "The Corpse Laughs Last" (8/17/52)
  • "No Rest for the Dead" (8/24/52) Barbara Weeks and Everett Sloane 
  • "Strange Passenger" (8/31/52) Wendell Corey
  • "The Meek Die Slowly" (9/7/52) Arnold Moss
  • "Till Death Do Us Part" (9/14/52) Mason Adams
  • "The Corpse Nobody Loved" (9/21/52) Joan Lorring
  • "The Dead Walk at Night" (9/28/52) Donald Buka
  • "Death Pays the Freight" (10/5/52) Everett Sloane

Sad story to describe the KXOK advertisement featuring Raymond Edward Johnson, pictured on the left. Some time after my book about Inner Sanctum was published, a web-site chose to scan the advertisement and post it on their site. Not that I am capable of scolding them for doing so, but was shocked to learn from their mouth to my ears how, after scanning the ad, altered it. They used computer software to re-design much of the text that appears in the ad, reproducing the art work. Why? At first they claimed they were "restoring" the newspaper advertisement. Later they admitted that they wanted to brand their own work so they can sue other people for reprinting what they considered property they now owned. And it gets worse. Turns out they have been altering vintage newspaper advertisements for years and posting them on their web-site. Gasp! I know we all encourage restoration, but there is a considerable difference between a "restoration" and an "alteration." And it gets worse! The editor of a magazine for the past year or two has been reprinting articles from that web-site and reproducing their "altered" newspaper advertisements. And yes, the story gets even worse than that. A book was recently published through a University Press, reprinting one of the altered newspaper advertisements from that magazine! Which now means that the altered newspaper ad is getting reprinted. Why couldn't the author just dig up a copy of the original newspaper ad? Why couldn't the editor of the magazine listen to the numerous people who warned him about reprinting stuff from that web-site?

Now the funny part of this story. The owner of the web-site in question denied scanning the ad from my book. He boldly claimed he scanned it from some old radio/movie guide magazine. When I corrected him by pointing out that a national magazine never promoted a local radio broadcast, and that such ads (such as KXOK which promoted in the local St. Louis, Missouri newspaper where I flew a great distance to browse the microfilm in the public library and where I copied the ad from originally) were found in local newspapers, they went dead silent except to threaten a lawsuit if I contact them again. Yes, there are nut cases out there and sadly, they are causing more harm than help. With the exception of the watermark I placed in the center of the ad, I am reprinting it without any alterations. I have no doubt if and when the whacko discovers I just posted this ad on the internet, they'll find a way to remove the watermark and replace it with their altered version to deny any wrong doing. (They have a reputation for making up lies and negatively blasting the people they steal from.)

"The Mystery of the Howling Dog" (2/11/41) does not exist. There was such a drama aired over the radio, but there is no recording of this episode known to exist. Someone at one time, during the mid-1980s, took the premiere episode, which is entitled "The Amazing Death of Mrs. Putnam," and labeled it "The Mystery of the Howling Dog." This mistake somehow got carried over into the mp3 format.

Why? Simple. Over the past few years, collectors have taken various recordings and edited them - or in this case, re-labeled them - so other collectors would think, "Horray! A new episode of Inner Sanctum has just been discovered!" This sort of scam (creating or labeling already existing episodes so people think a new episode has surfaced) only adds a little profit to the collectors who start this sort of con game. Sadly, no matter what the hobby, there will always be someone out there like that. But the routine is pretty much the same. By the time a handful of people complain, the seller then stops offering the recording and even if he has to refund money to a couple collectors, he has already made a large profit from the dozens of people who jumped on the bandwagon.

Newspaper advertisement promoting Inner Sanctum.
This has been done for many years. Examples: Many episodes of Arch Oboler's Plays had their opening and closings deleted, replaced with the familiar Lights Out! theme, and whoala - the collector just created a "newly discovered" episode of Lights Out! There are many of these recordings circulating, and innocent collectors have turned around and put the "new" recording into their catalog, and the chain of circulation begins. Before we know it, the same false recording as been handed down through dozens of sources and many hands, and those with a keen ear start complaining because they discover that it wasn't a real Lights Out! episode.

Regarding Inner Sanctum, the episode floating about on MP3s entitled "The Snow-White Scarf" is really an episode from a South African radio program (circa 1966-68) entitled The Creaking Door. There was, in fact, an Inner Sanctum episode titled "The Snow-White Scarf" from 1951, but this is not that episode - it's a recording of the sixties' South African broadcast. If you have this recording and insist that you do have the 1951 broadcast, send it to me and I'll verify for you. But believe me, I've received over a dozen copies of this same recording. The 1951 Inner Sanctum broadcast does not exist. This of course, is just one of many examples floating about. 

So why is Inner Sanctum Mystery one of the few radio programs that is really messed up? Simple.
  1. It's one of the few radio programs out there have really have not received any special treatment of restoration. Look at the Gunsmoke and Suspense series for example, and I guarantee with a few phone calls to the vendors who have been around for decades, you can acquire the entire series in the most beautiful, restored, remastered sound quality from the vendors who have the archival masters in their archives. Inner Sanctum has not yet received that sort of treatment.
  2. It is estimated that of the 100+ episodes of Inner Sanctum known to exist in circulation, about half of them only exist because of the AFRS. Since the AFRS replayed various episodes over the late forties and early fifties, (sadly editing many of these shows into their own format with a closing signature "this is the AFRS, brought to troops over seas."), about half of the circulating episodes are the AFRS broadcasts only. Take "Murder Comes at Midnight" from September 1946. Only the AFRS recording exists, not the CBS aircheck. Although many collectors dislike what the AFRS did to the recordings (like deleting the original sponsor commercials), we do have to thank the AFRS for having done what they did, else we would not have as many Inner Sanctum episodes floating about today.
  3. Like many radio programs, the same scripts were performed more than once, so even if the 1946 version of one episode exists and the 1949 version of the same drama does not, collectors have been (purposely or unintentionally) labeling the same show under two different titles. So if collectors go by the airdates to verify whether or not they have a specific episode of Inner Sanctum or not, they will find that they have only one recording with two different broadcast dates. Each repeat performance had a different cast so beware of this! (Careful listening to the closing of some of these episodes such as the host telling us the Inner Sanctum novel of the month can help narrow down which version of these episodes actually exists.)
  4. Many of the Inner Sanctum episodes, during the mid-late forties, were also repeats of earlier scripts, but retitled and with a different cast. Instead of the female being the victim, the second version to air four years later had a man as the victim. All they did was switch the sex of the protagonist and change the title. The plot may be familiar, but the script was not 100% exact. There are multiple versions of these available in circulation. Sadly, stubborn collectors listen to the first few minutes, say to themselves "Hey, I've heard this before. This is the wrong title and airdate listed on my cassette!" Reality, it's the right date and title, just a repeat of the drama.
Thanks to Gordon Payton, a.k.a. "The Sci-Fi Guy" (one of the few originators in the hobby who jumped ship when the mp3 market began cutting away his expensive efforts to acquire "lost" episodes), enclosed below is a list of alternative titles that have been floating about. Gordon severely fell victim to the plague many Inner Sanctum fans have gone through. He continued to buy and trade for copies of Inner Sanctum that did not match any other titles on his list. He eventually discovered like the rest of us, that he was just getting duplicates of what he already had. So Gordon started detailing the "alternative titles" in his catalog. I expanded on that list three-fold and here they are. If you have an alternate title (though I think we've covered them all by now), please let me know.

  • "Aunt Ellen" is the same as "The Listener" (7/20/52)
  • "Catherine Bryan" is the same as "The Confession" (1/22/46)
  • "Cemetery Hitch-hiker" is the same as "Murder Prophet" (7/27/52)
  • "Chinese Tile" is the same as "The Magic Tile" (8/10/52)
  • "Claudia" is the same as "Murder Prophet" (7/27/52)
  • "Corpse in a Cab" is the same as "The Corpse Nobody Loved" (5/23/49)
  • "Death Rides a Carousel" is the same as "The Murder Carousel" (9/13/48)
  • "Death" is the same as "Detour to Terror" (5/21/46)
  • "El Fortuna Diablo" is the same as "The Devil's Fortune" (1/31/49)
  • "Florida Keys" is the same as "Appointment With Death" (3/28/49)
  • "Ghosts Always Get the Last Laugh" is the same as "The Dead Laugh" (9/23/46)
  • "Highgate" is the same as "Murder By Prophesy" (9/27/48)
  • "Homicidal Maniac" is the same as "Lady Killer" (3/29/48)
  • "Jane Carter" is the same as "The Meek Die Slowly" (9/7/52)
  • "Kathleen Bryan" is the same as "The Magic Tile" (8/10/52)
  • "Lady and the Corpse" is the same as "The Corpse Nobody Loved" (5/23/49)
  • "Lady is a Witch" is the same as "The Black Art" (5/15/45)
  • "Last Refrain, The" is the same as "Murder Prophet" (7/27/52)
  • "Lion Reigns at Hillcrest" is the same as "Murder By Prophesy" (9/27/48)
  • "Raymond Meets Gideon Blake" is the same as "Dead Man's Vengeance" (10/7/44)
  • "Raymond Receives a Call From a Dead Man " is the same as "Dead Man's Vengeance" (10/7/44)
  • "Razor's Edge" is the same as "The Corpse Nobody Loved" (5/23/49)
  • "Richard Fenner" is the same as "The Color Blind Formula" (12/6/44)
  • "Ship of Doom" is the same as "Murder Ship" (8/2/48)
  • "Skull That Walked' is the same as "The Walking Skull" (4/15/44)
  • "Stardust" is the same as "Strange Passenger" (8/31/52)
  • "Switch" is the same as "Death Pays the Freight" (10/5/52)
  • "Terror Out of the Fog" is the same as "Beyond the Grave" (12/19/49)
  • "The Three Steps" is the same as "Murder By Prophesy" (9/27/48)
  • "Thing From the Sea" is the same as "Dead Reckoning" (1/18/42)
  • "Undertaker" is the same as "The Meek Die Slowly" (9/7/52)

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The June 10, 1944 broadcast of "Death is a Joker" stars Peter Lorre in the drama -- not Boris Karloff. This was an AFRS broadcast that played an excerpt of a Karloff performance from a different radio show, after the Inner Sanctum drama. Reference works still continue to list Karloff as the star of the drama. He was featured in the recording, but not in the drama. If someone was to find the original CBS aircheck, you would never hear Karloff in that Inner Sanctum broadcast. 

People insist that the broadcast of October 7, 1944 entitled "Dead Man's Vengeance" was not an Inner Sanctum episode. I can state for a fact that it was an Inner Sanctum episode. Raymond Edward Johnson was not just the host, but an occasional star and lead actor for more than one Inner Sanctum episode, and this is one such example. 

In Closing
Ray Stanich's log on Inner Sanctum Mystery from the early 1980s has been reprinted on numerous web sites without giving him due credit. Starting from scratch, I consulted network files and a large number of radio scripts to compile my own log, published in 2002 in a book titled, Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Behind the Creaking Door. Stanich made a number of errors, obviously corrected in the log I compiled. The difference between the logs (his error and my correction) verifies whether the logs on the internet (which don't contain plot summaries like my book does, by the way), are lifted from Stanich's work, or mine. If you see a log that isn't given proper credit, notify the owner of the web-site. Even if they don't do anything (a number of them prefer to ignore those requests, showing bad character), you have at the very least made an effort to set the record straight. In 2006, someone gave me an mp3 disc with Inner Snactum radio shows that supposedly had about 30 episodes from 1941. After listening to each recording, I discovered that the person who created that disc simply duplicated pre-existing radio shows and unscrupulously labeled each file according to the titles and dates on those logs. This is just another example of a bad scenario getting worse -- and is unforgivable.

What's the solution? Simple. Buy your radio shows from respectable vendors who have been in the hobby for decades. Inner Sanctum is a copyrighted property and licensed through Radio Spirits, Inc. ( and you can feel assured that what you buy from them is pure, digitally restored (better quality than an mp3 can provide) and contains accurate titles and broadcast dates.