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The mastermind behind The Witch's Tale was writer- director Alonzo Deen Cole. He convinced management at WOR in New York to let him try a drama series devoted entirely to the supernatural to compete against musical programs in the same time slot. The series became the premier radio program of its day and is fondly remembered by fans. However, less than 10% of the recordings of this pioneering series survive. Cole kept bound copies of his 332 different Witch's Tales scripts, and was proud enough of his work to actually copyright his stories. (He may have been the first radio writer to do so.) But by 1961, he didn't think there was any commercial value in the actual radio transcriptions. According to Dave Siegel's book The Witch's Tale, Cole destroyed all his own recordings of the series when he moved from New York to California. The three dozen or so surviving recordings are thanks to the efforts of other sources that salvaged what was left of this groundbreaking classic.

The horror series was undoubtedly influenced by the lurid pulp magazines of the same era, complete with vampires, jungle curses, crawling hands, Frankenstein monsters, werewolves, and ghostly manifestations. Cole played the lead in the series while his wife Marie O'Flynn played the primary females. Mark Smith and Alan Devitte rounded out the ensemble cast. (Siegel, 9) By today's standards, the acting can seem overblown, but the plots themselves are engrossing and often crawl under your skin. Some of the surviving episodes are actually Australian remakes based on original scripts (including "Haunted Crossroads" and "Tourists Accommodated").

The host was a cackling old witch named Nancy, played by Adelaide Fitz-Allen, who had a long career as a stage actress. She died in 1935 at the age of 79. A young 13-year-old named Miriam Wolfe auditioned to fill the role at midnight, after one of Cole's shows ended. He was amazed at how ancient the child could make her voice sound and he hired her on the spot. Martha Wentworth also played Nancy during the show's run. Cole himself voiced Satan, the "wise black cat."

The Witch's Tale was recorded live on acetate discs during broadcast and syndicated to other stations. This was common for Mutual because they were the smallest of the four networks (The big money was with David Sarnoff's Blue and Red Networks, also known as the National Broadcasting Company, and William Paley's Columbia Broadcasting Company.) Mutual was owned by Louis Bamberger, a New Jersey department store owner. He didn't have the deeper pockets of his rivals and could not afford the big budget stars and productions. So local stations commonly developed their own shows and syndicated them to other stations in the network. The most famous of these was The Lone Ranger series, which was produced at sister station WXYZ in Detroit.

Sometimes, the stories were drawn out over a couple of episodes, but this was usually unintentional. The program was intended to run 30 minutes, but if it ran long during the live broadcast, Cole would write on-the-spot modifications to extend the story until the next week. He would then go home and write a new second half. According to Jack Beck, a veteran actor who appeared in a couple of episodes, Cole would frantically rewrite and hand new script changes out to the actors in mid-broadcast (Siegel, 7). No wonder the stories were suspenseful, the actors themselves couldn't be sure what would happen!





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310611 2 The Were-Wolf
310702 5 The Bronze Venus
310803 10 Frankenstein
310831 14 The Firing Squad
311005 19 The Boa Goddess
311207 27 The Confession
320201 35 The Flying Dutchman
320314 41 The Wonderful Bottle
320516 50 Rat in a Trap
320718 57 The Bronze Venus
320725 58 Rockabye Baby
320926 67 Hairy Monster Part 1 & 2
321017 70 The Haunted Crossroads
321024 71 Share and Share Alike
321031 72 In the Devil's Name Pt 1
321114 74 The Gypsy's Hand
330102 81 The Spirits of the Lake
330220 87 A Happy Ending
330227 88 The Priest of Sekher
330306 89 Graveyard Mansion
330321 91 The Wonderful Bottle
330327 92 The Confession
330522 100 The Statue of Thor
330529 101 Troth of Death-01
330626 105 The House of the Bridegroom
330731 110 The Boa Goddess
330821 113 The Firing Squad
330911 116 La Mannequinne
331218 129 The Haunted Crossroads
340108 130 The Devil Doctor
340222 136 The Power of Lucifer
340405 142 The Gypsys Hand
340426 145 Flying Dutchman 1
340426 145 Flying Dutchman 2
340426 145 Flying Dutchman
340503 146 The Violin
340802 158 Rock-a-bye Baby-01
340907 163 The Puzzle
340928 166 A Happy Ending
341108 169 Physician to the Dead
350107 178 The Entomologist
350128 181 Rat in a Trap
350218 184 Wonderful Bottle
350613 198 The Devil Mask
350717 203 Tale Frankenstein
350814 207 The King Shark God
350821 208 The Bronze Venus 1 of 2
350821 208 The Bronze Venus 2 of 2
350827 209 The Knife of Sacrifice
370108 265 In the Devil's Name Pt 1
370122 267 The Suicide
370212 269 The Bulldog
370219 270 The Devil Doctor
370311 273 The Truth of Death
370318 274 The Boa Goddess
370422 278 The Statue of Thor
371012 301 The Haunted Crossroads
371019 302 Four Fingers and a Thumb
371207 307 The Power of Lucifer
380113 310 Altar of Hate
380120 311 The Firing Squad
380224 316 The Violin
380303 317 Tourists Accomodated
380329 321 The Wedding Gift
380502 326 The Devils Number
380523 329 The Gypsys Hand
391013 362 Four Fingers and a Thumb
xxxxxx Devil Mind
xxxxxx Siegel-Gassman Interview
xxxxxx The House of the Bridegroom Part 1
xxxxxx The House of the Bridegroom Part 2
xxxxxx The Sprits of the Lake Part 1
xxxxxx The Sprits of the Lake Part 2
xxxxxx Tourists Accommodated
xxxxxx Wedding Gift

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  • Model: OTR-1CD-WitchsTale
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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 21 October, 2011.

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