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OLD TIME RADIO - 1 CD - 53 mp3 - Total Playtime: 25:09:56

Crime Classics was a U. S. radio docudrama which aired as a sustaining series over CBS from June 15, 1953, to June 30, 1954.

Created, produced, and directed by radio actor/director Elliott Lewis, the program was a historical true crime series, examining crimes and murders from the past. It grew out of Lewis' personal interest in famous murder cases and took a documentary-like approach to the subject, carefully recreating the facts, personages and feel of the time period. Comparatively little dramatic license was taken with the facts and events, but the tragedy was leavened with humor, expressed largely through the narration.

The crimes dramatized generally covered a broad time and place frame from ancient Greece to late 19th-century America. Each episode in the series was co-written by Morton Fine and David Friedkin, in consultation with Lewis, although the scripting process was more a matter of research, as the stories were "adapted from the original court reports and newspaper accounts" or from the works of historians.

The cases ranged from famous assassinations (of Abraham Lincoln, Leon Trotsky, and Julius Caesar) and the lives (and often deaths) of the likes of Cesare Borgia and Blackbeard to more obscure cases, such as Bathsheba Spooner, who killed her husband Joshua Spooner in 1778 and became the first woman tried and executed in America.

The only continuing character was the host/narrator, Thomas Hyland, played by Lou Merrill. Hyland was introduced by the announcer as a "connoisseur of crime, student of violence, and teller of murders." Merrill's deadpan portrayal of Hyland provided the welcome note of tongue-in-cheek humor to the proceedings. Unlike the ghoulish weird storytellers of The Whistler and The Mysterious Traveler, Hyland was an ordinary fellow who, in a dry, droll manner, would present a tale from his files, his wry comments interspersed between dramatized scenes. The episodes would typically begin with Hyland inviting the audience to listen to a sound, from drops of rain to horses hooves, and then introducing the main players and events of his report. The titles also contributed to the series' light tone, as they were intentionally pompous and usually laced with irony. Typical titles included "Your Loving Son, Nero," "If a Body Needs a Body, Just Call Burke and Hare," and "The Axe and the Droot Family... How They Fared".

A roster of Hollywood radio actors filled the various historical roles. William Conrad was one of the more frequently heard performers, in such diverse parts as Nero, Blackbeard, Pat Garrett and King Arthur. Other performers, and the villains and victims they portrayed, included Jack Kruschen (as William Burke and Trotsky assassin Ramón Mercader), Jay Novello (as William Hare and Dr. William Palmer), Mary Jane Croft (as Bathsheba Spooner and Marie, Marquise de Brinvilliers), Betty Lou Gerson (as Agrippina and Lucrezia Borgia), Edgar Barrier (as Julius Caesar), Harry Bartell (as Brutus), Hans Conried (as Ali Pasha), Herb Butterfield (as Lincoln, Trotsky, and Thomas Edwin Bartlett), Jack Edwards (as John Wilkes Booth and Cole Younger), Irene Tedrow (as Lizzie Borden), William Johnstone (as Robert Knox), Betty Harford (as Madeleine Smith and Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly), Clayton Post (as Jesse James), and Sam Edwards (as Billy the Kid and Bob Younger).

Composer Bernard Herrmann returned to radio to score all but one of the series episodes (with Wilbur Hatch substituting for that entry), capturing the sound and feel of the various time periods simply but elegantly, often with the use of only two or three instruments per episode. During the fall of 1953, the show was scheduled back to back with On Stage, another dramatic anthology created by Lewis. He decided to connect the two by presenting "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln" on Crime Classics while On Stage featured Our American Cousin, the play Lincoln had attended the night of his death. The experiment was unsuccessful, and according to radio historian John Dunning, earned Lewis a rebuke from network head William S. Paley, who advised him to never attempt anything like it again.

Crime Classics 52-12-03(00) The Crime Of Bathsheba Spooner (Audition)
Crime Classics 53-06-15(01)CrimeOfBathshebaSpooner
Crime Classics 53-06-22(02)ShockinglyPeacefulPassingOfThomasBartlett
Crime Classics 53-06-29(03)CheckeredLife&SuddenDeathOfColJamesFisk
Crime Classics 53-07-06(04)ShrapnelledBodyOfCharlesDrew,Senior
Crime Classics 53-07-13(05)TheTerribleDeedOfJohnWhiteWebster
Crime Classics 53-07-20(06)TheDeathOfAPictureHanger
Crime Classics 53-07-27(07)TheFinalDayOfGeneralKetchum
Crime Classics 53-08-03(08)Mr.Thrower'sHammer
Crime Classics 53-08-10(09)TheAxe&TheDrootFamily
Crime Classics 53-08-17(10)TheIncredibleTrialOfLaura D.Fair
Crime Classics 53-08-24(11)TheAlsopFamily
Crime Classics 53-08-31(12)YourLovingSon,Nero
Crime Classics 53-09-07(13)TheTormentOfHenriettaRobinson
Crime Classics 53-09-30(14)TheBloody,BloodyBanksOfFallRiver
Crime Classics 53-10-07(15)TheHangman&WilliamPalmer
Crime Classics 53-10-14(16)SevenLayeredArsenicCakeOfMadameLafarge
Crime Classics 53-10-21(17)BillyBonnyBloodletter
Crime Classics 53-10-28(18)JohnHayes
Crime Classics 53-11-04(19)RaschiAmongTheCrocodiles
Crime Classics 53-11-11(20)Blackbeard'sFourteenthWife
Crime Classics 53-11-18(21)TheTriangleOnTheRoundTable
Crime Classics 53-11-25(22)KillingStoryOfWilliamCorder&Farmer'sDaughter
Crime Classics 53-12-02(23)IfABodyNeedABody,JustCallBurke&Hare
Crime Classics 53-12-09(24)TheAssasinationOfAbrahamLincoln
Crime Classics 53-12-16(25)John & Judith
Crime Classics 53-12-30(26)Coyle & Richardson
Crime Classics 54-01-06(27)TheYoungerBrothers
Crime Classics 54-01-13(28)HowSupanGotTheHookOutsideBombey
Crime Classics 54-01-20(29)MadelineSmith,MaidOrMurderess
Crime Classics 54-01-27(30)TheBoornBrothers&TheHangman
Crime Classics 54-02-03(31)TheIncredibleHistoryOfJohnShepard
Crime Classics 54-02-10(32)Twenty-ThreeKnivesAgainstCaesar
Crime Classics 54-02-17(33)JeanBaptisteTroppmann
Crime Classics 54-02-24(34)TheGoodShipJane
Crime Classics 54-03-03(35)Roger Nems
Crime Classics 54-03-10(36)TheTiger&BradFerguson
Crime Classics 54-03-17(37)Old Sixtoes
Crime Classics 54-03-31(39)RobbyBoyBalfour
Crime Classics 54-04-07(40)AGeneral'sDaughter,Czar'sLt&TheLinenCloset
Crime Classics 54-04-14(41)JamesEvans,Fireman
Crime Classics 54-04-21(42)CesareBorgia-HisMostDifficultMurder
Crime Classics 54-04-28(43)WidowMagee&TheThreeGypsies
Crime Classics 54-05-05(44)Bunny Baumler
Crime Classics 54-05-12(45)MrClarke'sSkeletonInMrAram'sCloset
Crime Classics 54-05-26(46)TheLethal HabitOfMarquiseDeBrinvilliers
Crime Classics 54-06-02(47)MrJonathonJewett
Crime Classics 54-06-09(48)TheAssassinationOfLeonTrotsky
Crime Classics 54-06-16(49)TheDeathOfABaltimoreBirdie&Friend
Crime Classics 54-06-23(50)Ali Pasha-ATurkishDelight
Crime Classics 54-06-30(51)GoodEvening,MyNameIsJackTheRipper

01 Crime Classics Intro
02 Elliott Lewis Biography





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  • Model: OTR-1CD-CrimeClassics
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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 18 November, 2010.

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