“Radio’s Outstanding Theatre of Thrills!”

A fixture on the CBS Radio Network, SUSPENSE was the longest-running anthology series on American radio. It made its debut in June of 1942 and was on the air for the next two decades — an incredible twenty year run.

True crime, detective stories, thrillers, tales of mystery and suspense were its stock in trade, and over its long run, it attracted some of the best directors and actors available, including Orson Welles, Peter Lorre, Agnes Moorehead, William Conrad, Charles Laughton, Jack Benny, Ethel Merman, Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton and others. It even managed to present a few private eye tales, most notably “The Khandi Tooth Caper,” the only “real” sequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

The show was such a success that it was later developed for television, starting in 1949, and broadcast live from New York. It was also quite popular — it ran for five years, and lasted 260 episodes. Because it was filmed live, there are few surviving copies, but those that do exist were salvaged from Kinescopes filmed off a live TV monitor in the studio.


    30 and 60-minute episodes
    Writers: Richard Carr, Jim French
    Produced by William Speir
    Hosted by Robert Montgomery

    • “Two Sharp Knives” (December 22, 1942)
      Based on the short story by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Stuart Erwin
    • “Two Sharp Knives” (June 7, 1945)
      Based on the short story by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring John Payne, Frank McHugh
    • “The Khandi Tooth Caper” (January 10, 1948)
      Based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Howard Duff as SAM SPADE
    • “Pearls Are a Nuisance” (April 20, 1950)
      Based on the short story by Raymond Chandler
      Starring Ray Milland


    (1949-54, CBS)
    260 25-minute episodes
    Black and white
    Broadcast live
    Premise: Live plays featuring people who were in dangerous and threatening situations.
    Producers: Martin Manulis, Robert Stevens, David Herlwell
    Directors: Robert Milligan, David Heilweil, Byron Paul

    • “1000-to-One For Your Money” (April 4, 1950)
      Based on the short story by Frank Gruber
      Starring Tom Drake as SAM CRAGG
      Also starring Betty Garde, Paul Stewart, Carol Williams
      Sam Cragg goes to meet a client in the “Little Serbia” section of the city and finds that everyone in the neighborhood lives in fear of a mysterious loan shark.
    • The Blue Panther” (October 14, 1952)Watch it now!
      Based on a character created by Norbert Davis
      Teleplay by Max Ehrlich
      Directed by Robert Mulligan
      Starring Michael Strong as BEN SHALEY
      Also starring Phyllis Brooks, Bruce Gordon, Erik Rhodes, Gina Petrushka, Michael Garrett, Tom Avera, Michael Gazzo, Gene Anton Jr.
      Only known television adaptation of a Norbert Davis story.
    • “Portrait of Constance” (March 24, 1953)
      Written by Edgar Marvin
      Starring Hugh Reilly, Ann Rutherford
      A private detective follows a lead on a missing person he was once engaged to, with the help of his new wife.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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