Suspense 4: the Elliott Lewis years, August 1950 to July 1954
Suspense was a long-running dramatic anthology on CBS from Summer of 1942 to what many consider final day of radio's golden age on September 30, 1962. It was one of radio's most successful series, with exceptional writing and high production standards. The series started slow, but the May 1943 broadcast of the play Sorry, Wrong Number brought the show great attention. In December 1943, Suspense finally had a national sponsor, Roma Wines. Their sponsorship ended in November 1947. The series continued without a sponsor for a few months, and experimented with an hour-long format. In July 1948, a new sponsor, Auto-Lite, returned the program to its half-hour format and produced much of its finest work. In June 1954, the sponsorship ended, and Suspense continued without a national sponsor until it went off the air. Hollywood's biggest movie and music stars appeared on the series from about 1943 to 1954, often playing against type, such as comedians playing dramatic roles. The program starred singers, musicians, and others in the Hollywood scene, and they were all held to a high standard of dramatic performance supported by some of radio's most esteemed actors, directors, and production personnel. Roma Wines sponsored Suspense in its Hollywood hey-day, from December 1943 to November 1947. With the cancellation of the Roma contract because of slackened demand for wine, the entire production was essentially cancelled. But CBS executives wanted the program to continue because of its large audience. After December's 1947 unsponsored broadcasts, CBS experimented with an hour-long format that failed. Behind the scenes, CBS CEO William Paley had Auto-Lite sponsor the series in the original 30-minute format, and also agree to sponsor the new Suspense television series. Anton Leader was brought in as producer from New York to finish the 60-minute format and lead Suspense and continued in the first year of the Auto-Lite years. Friction with CBS and some of the ensemble supporting cast led to a return to William Spier as producer for one year with Norman Macdonnell directing. Spier had other projects that demanded his attention. He aspired to produce motion pictures and become involved in television. When CBS asked for a recommendation, he suggested Elliott Lewis, and they agreed. Lewis took over starting with the 1950-1951 season, and continued until July 1954 when Auto-Lite decided to cancel its sponsorship of both the radio and television series despite high ratings. It was under Lewis that Suspense started to dramatize stories that had some historical or news nature. Auto-Lite and its ad agency encouraged the change as a way of differentiating Suspense from other programs. Lewis was multi-talented. He was a superb actor, but found it to be less satisfying than directing and producing. Suspense became more creative and innovative, but when pushing the bounds of production and creativity, occasionally an production would fall flat. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating part of Suspense and radio's history. IMPORTANT NOTE: These recordings are part of the Joe Hehn Memorial Collection. Mr. Hehn (1931-2020) was a pioneering collector of radio recordings when the hobby emerged in the 1960s. Since the time of Mr. Hehn's collecting in the 1960s and 1970s, many Suspense recordings have been upgraded and are now in better sound. The recordings held in this collection at the Internet Archive are only those considered to be superior to the ones for that date and geography in common circulation among collectors at the time of this posting. A small number of the recordings have not been in general circulation in their particular format, and some of the recordings are more complete than others in common circulation . This is not intended to be a complete compilation of the Suspense series, but to be only the best sounding Suspense recordings of the Hehn collection . The Suspense recordings are in different categories: Suspense 1: the series early years, June 1942 to November 1943 Suspense 2: the Roma Wines years, December 1943 to November 1947 Suspense 3: the "after Roma" years, December 1947 to July 1950, including the first year of Auto-Lite's sponsorship Suspense 4: the Elliott Lewis years, August 1950 to July 1954 Suspense 5: the final years, July 1954 to September 1962 Important abbreviations and notations: LQ = low quality sound, but still better than what is currently in circulation VLQ = very low quality sound, but still better than what is currently in circulation AIRCHECK = recorded off the air by a service or a home recorder rather than an in-studio recording; airchecks may also be identified by the call letters of the radio station in the file name COMPLETE = previously circulating recordings had a clipped opening or a clipped closing AFRS = recording from an Armed Forces Radio Service transcription Digitizing Mr. Hehn's collection of reel tapes and discs is the effort of a wide range of North American volunteers, and includes assistance of some international collectors. The groups supporting this effort with their funds, time, technology and skills are the Old Time Radio Researchers and a small group of transcription disc preservationists who refer to themselves as the "The Knights of the Turning Table." There is a superb log and history of the Suspense series here at the Internet Archive. click here
This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.