|Eve Arden Star of Suspense
On July 22, 1940, a CBS Summer series, Forecast, presented "The Lodger". This series was an audition series,
presenting possible future series. This particular show was the audition for Suspense. Alfred Hitchcock
introducing the program. Mr. Hitchcock also directed and co-starred along with Herbert Marshall and Edmund
Suspense started as a summer series, presenting "The Burning Court" on June 17, 1942. A Mysterious "Man in
Black" introduce the show, played by Joseph Kearns or Ted Osborne. After the summer run of 13 shows,
ending September 30, the series started its first regular season on October 27. The series ran, with very few
breaks, until its last show, "Devil Stone", on September 30, 1962. Suspense was the last of the great radio
drama series to leave the air.
Suspense drew from the talents of many talented directors. William Spier directed in the early years. He set
up the ground rules that were to make Suspense the series that many remember. Within the first few minutes
of a show, the tone of the show was established, usually dealing with some life or death struggle. Through the
use of realistic sound effects and excellent characterization, the audience was steadily drawn into the drama.
The suspense was kept right up to the very end of the show. The stories were always realistic, with characters
that the listening audience could identify with. A characteristic of Spier's shows was that the villain rarely
escaped his just reward.
Suspense became known as an actor's theater featuring such film stars as Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Henry
Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Colman and Cary Grant. Even with the low wages of radio actors, big name
actors willingly played on Suspense's stage of the imagination.
Other well-known directors were Anthony Ellis, Fred Hendricksen, Anton M. Leader, Elliot Lewis, Norman
McDonnel, William N. Robeson and Bruno Ziratto.
The program's heyday was in the early 1950s, when radio actor, producer and director Elliott Lewis took over.
Here the material reached new levels of sophistication. The writing was taut, and the casting, which had always
been a strong point of the series. Lewis dramatized "Othello" on Suspense, using Shakespeare's original dialog
and casting himself in the lead role. He cast his wife, Cathy, to play the part of Desdemona and Richard
Widmark to play the part of Yago.
|Lurene Tuttle (left) and Rosalind
Russellin "The Sisters" on Suspense
Star of Suspense
Star of Suspense
|Bernie Surrey and Agnes Moorehead performing
"Sorry Wrong Number".
Probably the most remembered Suspense play was Sorry Wrong Number starring Agnes
Moorehead as the invalid Mrs. Elbert Stevenson. It was such a realistic thriller that Agnes
Moorhead was known to collapse across the table after reading the part. First heard on
May 25, 1943, it was produced an additional seven times, each time with Agnes Moorehead
in the lead role. There are 2 versions available of the first performance, East
Coast and West Coast versions. The East Coast version contains a mis-cue at the climax,
which almost ruins the finale.
The final broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar on September 30,
1962, are often cited as the end of the Golden Age of Radio. There were a total of 946
Author of Sorry Wrong Number