OLD TIME RADIO - 12 AUDIO CD - 24 Shows
Total Playtime: 11:31:33
Inner Sanctum Mysteries, a popular old-time radio program that aired from January 7, 1941 to October 5, 1952, was created by producer Himan Brown. A total of 526 episodes were broadcast.
The anthology series featured stories of mystery, terror and suspense, and its tongue-in-cheek introductions were in sharp contrast to shows like Suspense and The Whistler. The early 1940s programs opened with Raymond Edward Johnson introducing himself as, "Your host, Raymond," in a mocking sardonic voice. A spooky melodramatic organ score (played by Lew White) punctuated Raymond's many morbid jokes and playful puns. Raymond's closing was an elongated "Pleasant dreeeeaams, hmmmmm?" His tongue-in-cheek style and ghoulish relish of his own tales became the standard for many such horror narrators to follow, from fellow radio hosts like Ernest Chappell (on Wyllis Cooper's later series, Quiet, Please) and Maurice Tarplin (on The Mysterious Traveler).
When Johnson left the series in May 1945 to serve in the Army, he was replaced by Paul McGrath, who did not keep the "Raymond" name and was known only as "Your Host" or "Mr. Host". (Berry Kroeger had substituted earlier for a total of four episodes). McGrath was a Broadway actor who turned to radio for a regular income. Beginning in 1945, Lipton Tea sponsored the series, pairing first Raymond and then McGrath with cheery commercial spokeswoman Mary Bennett (aka the "Tea Lady"), whose blithesome pitches for Lipton Tea contrasted sharply with the macabre themes of the stories. She primly chided the host for his trademark dark humor and creepy manner.
The creaking door
The program's familiar and famed audio trademark was the eerie creaking door which opened and closed the broadcasts. Himan Brown got the idea from a door in the basement that "squeaked like Hell." The door sound was actually made by a rusty desk chair. The program did originally intend to use a door, but on its first use, the door did not creak. Undaunted, Brown grabbed a nearby chair, sat in it and turned, causing a hair-raising squeak. The chair was used from then on as the sound prop. On at least one memorable occasion, a staffer innocently repaired and oiled the chair, thus forcing the sound man to mimic the squeak orally.
Its campy comedy notwithstanding, the stories were usually effective little chillers, mixing horror and humor in equal doses. Memorable episodes included "Terror by Night" (September 18, 1945) and an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (August 3, 1941). The latter starred Boris Karloff, who was heard regularly in the first season, starring in more than 15 episodes and returning sporadically thereafter.
Other established stars in the early years included Mary Astor, Helen Hayes, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, Claude Rains, Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles. Most of the lead and supporting players were stalwarts of New York radio, including Larry Haines, Stefan Schnabel, Berry Kroeger and a few who would go on to greater fame in film or television, such as Richard Widmark, Everett Sloane and Burgess Meredith.
Of more than 500 programs broadcast, only about 200 remain in circulation, sometimes minus dates or titles.
Sound effect: A door with squeaky hinges is slowly opened. Organ begins to play.
Raymond: Good evening friends of the Inner Sanctum. This is Raymond, your host. I'm glad you came tonight, because we have a very special guest of horror with us. I'd like you meet the late Johnny Gravestone. The most celebrated member of the Inner Sanctum Ghost Society. He's the best haunter of the all. Johnny's the tall figure in the white sheet wearing the blue ribbon. He's haunted everything from a palace to a telephone booth. And uh, if you're very nice to him, he'll be glad to consider giving your house the once over. Who knows? He might even haunt you? Ha-ha-ha-ha!
Raymond: Well, we're about to begin our story. Oh, I forgot to warn you about the Tremblins. They're those pesky, invisible cousins of the gremlins. They uh, saddle up to you, give quick little shoves, and give the false impression that you're trembling. If you're being troubled by a Tremblin, just grab him by his invisible little horns and stick him into the nearest pin cushion.
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1945-01-09 Desert Death
1945-01-23 Death Is an Artist
1945-02-06 Death in the Depths
1945-04-10 The Bog-Oak Necklace
1945-04-17 The Judas Clock
1945-05-01 The Girl and the Gallows
1945-05-15 The Black Art
1945-05-22 Dead to Rights
1945-06-19 Dead Mans Holiday
1945-09-25 The Lonely Sleep
1946-01-15 The Edge of Death
1946-01-22 The Confession
1946-01-29 Blood of Cain
1946-02-26 I Walk in the Night
1946-03-26 Death Is a Double Crosser
1946-05-07 You Could Die Laughing
1946-05-21 Detour to Terror
1946-06-04 Eight Steps to Murder
1949-01-10 Murder Comes to Life
1949-01-31 The Devils Fortune
1949-03-28 Appointment with Death
1949-05-16 The Unburied Dead
1952-08-24 No Rest for the Dead