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RADIOPLAYS

After the CBS reign the cousins returned to the prose and wrote 'Calamity Town', Dannay wrote his anthology '101 Years' Entertainment'  and launched EQMM. He had a near fatal accident in 1940 but despite all this they restarted to produce a radio script a week. The reason being one of their best works till date  'Calamity Town' was rejected for prepublication in a national magazine. So they decided it wise not to put all the eggs in one basket. By that time Ellery went to the movies but Dannay described them quiet rightful as '...each one more dreadful than the other...' .They had much more control over their product in radio and frankly more luck...their agent was instructed to look for a network and sponsor.  In 1941 the cast did an episode in The Campbell Playhouse (the follow up to The Mercury Theater On The Air, CBS The name changed to reflect the sponsor, as was often done in radio, and the series took off with a large radio audience.  In 1941 these 30 minutes broadcasts were produced by George Zachary. Episode 78 broadcast on 04/25/41 was called 'Do Not Disturb', billed as a 'comedy-mystery' it featured the Ellery Queen radio cast and starred Edmund Lowe. None of these episodes seem to have survived.

On June 3, 1941 Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee appeared in a 10 minutes show called America in Transition (WABC 3:45 pm). The authors of the Ellery Queen mystery tales, told why mystery stories are so popular in America.

The two cousins appeared on Behind the Mike (Jan 25, 1942 3:30 pm) a program which provided listeners not only an insight into NBC behind the scenes but into many of the technologies and practices behind most broadcast networks of the era. This episode came under the title "Creating Ellery Queen". In 1942, it coincided with the start of the new season when after an absence of 15 months, a new sponsor for the regular series was found...

Hugh Marlowe and Marian Shockley Inspector Queen turns the tables. Ellery Queen, Columbia's master of mysteries, and Nikki listen to Inspector Queen. Usually Ellery's father finds it difficult to get in a word when the youngsters are in action. This time, they are not only listening but positively concentrating. 

  Season 2
  "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!)
list of titles
Ernest Chappell   NBC Bromo-Seltzer Thursdays 9:30 - 10:00 pm 1942 (68-93)
   East Coast version aired Saturdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm
   Producer/Director: George Zachary
   Announcer: Ernest Chappell
   Scripts: Frederic Dannay, Manfred B. Lee
   Music: Charles Paul, organist
   Stars: Carleton Young (Ellery), Santos Ortega (Inspector Queen),
              Ted de Corsia (Velie), Marion Shockley (Nikki Porter).


Manny and Kaye Brinker were married on July 4, 1942 coinciding with the last broadcast of the series. During the next three months of he and Dannay worked on There was an Old Woman. On June 6. 1943 the Fred Allen show had "Ellery Queen" as guest. This was Carleton Young and Fred Allen was armchair detective (along with a couple of him comedy characters).
Zachary had left to work for the Office of War Information and it wasn't long before they were contacted by the OWI and asked to feed their American public some war propaganda. They would keep control over the plots and only some slogans were added by the Office. Tom, Dick and Harry or the Adventure Of The Murdered Ship (EQMM, 7/43) is by no means the best example of a Queen story but it does show the format of the radio plays and, like no other radio drama the influence of the Office. In 1944 under the overt sponsorship of the OWI a (15 minutes) 'special' was made from the West Coast broadcast of "The Bullet-Proof Man" (11-18-43) and renamed
"The Adventure of the Wounded Lieutenant", it was also published in EQMM that summer.(EQMM, 7/44)

 

Season 3
   "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!)
list of titles
  
NBC Bromo-Seltzer Thursdays 9:30 - 10:00 pm 1942 - 1943 (94-145)
   East Coast version aired Saturdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm
   Producer/Director: Bruce Kamman
   Announcer: Ernest Chappell 
Stand-by Announcer: Ben Grauer
   Scripts: Frederic Dannay, Manfred B. Lee
   Music: Charles Paul, organist
   Stars: Carleton Young (Ellery), Santos Ortega (Inspector Queen),
              Ted de Corsia (Velie), Marion Shockley , Helen Lewis for nine weeks starting
              Sep 1943 (Nikki Porter).

 

Sydney Smith Marian Shockley, actress heard as Nikki Porter on NBC "Ellery Queen". NBC photo is marked 3/18/42 included text: "SCREAM TEST: screaming techique is part of the necessary equipment for Marian Shockley"

 Season 4
   "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!)
list of titles
  
NBC Bromo-Seltzer Thursdays 9:30 - 10:00 pm 1943 - 1944 (146-197)
   East Coast version aired Saturdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm
   Producer/Director: Bruce Kamman / Bob Steel
   Announcer: Ernest Chappell
   Scripts: Frederic Dannay, Manfred B. Lee
   Music: Charles Paul, organist
   Stars: Sydney Smith (Ellery), Santos Ortega (Inspector Queen),
             Ted de Corsia (Velie), Helen Lewis 5 episodes / Marion Shockley (restarting
              11/11/43) (Nikki Porter)
 

The middle of the War was the peak of their success, reportedly they earned $50,000 per year most of which through the radio adventures which were heard by more than fifteen million listeners every week! In 1943 some reruns were scheduled and the cousins used their time to write The Murderer is a Fox . Enter Sydney Smith as Ellery Queen which kept the role for almost four years. As a gimmick NBC kept his identity a secret.As did Hugh Marlowe before him Smith convinced himself he actually was Ellery Queen.  August 18, 1944 Sydney Smith appeared as"Ellery Queen" on "Bill Stern's Sports Newsreel". (The previous day Bill had been an armchair detective). In his 15 minutes shows sports reporter Bill Stern tells many stories of and about sports and sports figures -- many are rumors, or even gossip. Each week he had a different guest who told a story themselves.

  Season 5
   "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
  
NBC Bromo-Seltzer Thursdays 9:30 - 10:00 pm 1944 (198-210)
   East Coast version aired Saturdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm
   Producer/Director: Bob Steel
   Announcer: Ernest Chappell
   Scripts: Frederic Dannay, Manfred B. Lee
   Music: Charles Paul, organist
   Stars: Sydney Smith (Ellery),  Santos Ortega (Inspector Queen),
              Ted de Corsia (Velie), Marion Shockley (Nikki Porter).

  
"The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
  
CBS Anacin Wednesdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm 1945 (211-239)
   Producer/Director: Bob Steel
   Announcer: Don Hancock
   Scripts: Frederic Dannay (Anthony Boucher), Manfred B. Lee
   Stars: Sydney Smith (Ellery), Santos Ortega (Inspector Queen),
              Ted de Corsia (Velie), Barbara Terrell / Gertrude Warner  beginning
               7-25-45 (Nikki Porter)


The next series knew it part of chances but the one most radical was the 'replacement' of Dannay with Anthony Boucher. Mary Dannay was near dead (she died that same year) and Fred had to redistribute his priorities. They already had farmed out some publication of radio stories and beginning with 'The Corpse of Mr.Entwhistle" all but a few scripts were the uncredited work of Anthony Boucher and Manfred B.Lee. Unlike Dannay or Lee, Boucher was profoundly religious and the figure was to be transformed from celebrated gentlemen to socially concerned citizen.

  Season 6
   "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
  
CBS Anacin Wednesdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm 1945 - 1946 (240-291)
   Producer/Director: Bob Steel
   Announcer: Don Hancock
   Scripts: Frederic Dannay (Anthony Boucher), Manfred B. Lee
    Stars: Sydney Smith (Ellery), Santos Ortega (Inspector Queen),
               Ted de Corsia (Velie), Gertrude Warner /Charlotte Keane beginning mid-
               July 1946
(Nikki Porter)


 In 1946 both "Mr. & Mrs. North" and "Ellery Queen" won an Edgar Award for best radio drama. Richard Coogan (once an Armchair detective) took over the Ellery Queen part late in 1946. Anthony Boucher described Coogan’s performance in a letter to Manfred B. Lee, (25 October 1946) as “not quite so smug” as his predecessor’s. (Nevins)

  Gertrude Warner, (a hidden) Ellery Queen and Santos Ortega in the studio (11-1945)Warren Hull, Parks Johnson (When the Vox Poppers were armchair detectives) and Charlotte Keane before the CBS mike, (August 21 1946)

 Season 7
 "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!)
list of titles
   CBS Anacin Wednesdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm 1946 - 1947 (292-318)
   Producer/Director: Bob Steel
   Announcer: Don Hancock
   Scripts: Anthony Boucher, Manfred B. Lee
   Stars: Sydney Smith / Richard Coogan / Lawrence Dobkin (Ellery),
             
Santos Ortega / Bill Smith (Inspector Queen), 
              Ted de Corsia / Ed Latimer (Velie), Charlotte Keane (Nikki Porter)
 

The start of each episode of the 1947-1948: " I dedicate this program to the fight against crime- not only crimes of violence and crimes of dishonesty, but also crime of intolerance, discrimination and bad citizenship-crimes against America." and ending with "This is Ellery Queen saying goodnight till next week, and listening all Americans every night - and every day- in the fight against bad citizenship, bigotry, and discrimination-the crimes which are weakening America!" In 1947 when mandated segregation was proudly practiced a bold statement. Lawrence Dobkin played Ellery and would later direct the Ellery Queen TV-series. We also mention the appearance of Kaye Brinker (Mrs. Lee!) to be heard in 'the Message in Red'.

Ford Theatre re-ran a first season episode "Bad Boy", 1 hour long with Howard Lindsay as host and following actors: Hugh Marlowe (EQ), Santos Ortega (IQ), Ted De Corsia (Velie), Charlotte Keane (Nikki) (1-4-48). After the last episode of Season 8 Ellery Queen left the airwaves (05-27-48).
 
  Season 8
   "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
  
NBC Anacin Sundays 6:30 - 7:00 pm 1947 (319-328)
   Producer/Director: Tom Victor
   Announcer: Don Hancock
   Scripts: Anthony Boucher, Manfred B. Lee
   Music: Chet Kingsbury, Organist
   Stars: Lawrence Dobkin (Ellery), Bill Smith (Inspector Queen),
              Ed Latimer / George Mathews (Velie), Charlotte Keane (Nikki Porter)

 Show moves to Hollywood

   "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
   ABC Sustained Thursdays 7:30 - 8:00 pm 1947 - 1948 (329-338)
  
ABC Sustained Thursdays 8:30 - 9:00 pm 1948 (339-355)
   Producer/Director: Dick Woolen / Dwight Hauser
   Announcer: Paul Masterson
   Scripts: Anthony Boucher, Manfred B. Lee
   Music: Rex Koury, Organist
   Stars: Lawrence Dobkin / Howard Culver (Ellery),
              Herb Butterfield (Inspector Queen), Alan Reed (Velie),
              Virginia Gregg / Kay
e Brinker  (Nikki Porter)


Both April 12 and 13, 1951 Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay appeared in The Tex and Jinx Show , WNBC, New York City. Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburg interview the authors who describe how they seldom go to the office and talk about one time they neglected to collect the mail for three years. They also describe their first book, published in 1929.

E llery Queen reappeared briefly from 1954 until 1955 on Australia's radio where a package of 52 Ellery Queen episodes were restaged for the Australian market with local actors and local commercials, a common practice back then. Charles "Bud" Tingwell, the Australian actor who portrayed Ellery Queen in the restaged episodes.The Australian episodes were produced by Grace Gibson Radio Productions and all were directed by John Saul. The cast originally had Charles Tingwell as Ellery Queen, Wendy Playfair as Nikki Porter and Harp McGuire as Inspector Queen.  Other members of the cast were Lloyd Berrell (Velie) and Georgie Sterling (various roles). Later in the series, for reasons unknown, Tingwell left the production and Harp McGuire took over as Ellery Queen and Edward Howell stepped in to play the inspector. The scripts only differed in a few minor respects e.g. New York City became Sydney.  The episodes were all taped and two of them have survived. Their broadcasting dates are often (if not always) confused with the dates of the original US broadcasts.

  Australian episodes
 
"The Adventures of Ellery Queen" Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
  
Grace Gibson Radio productions Fridays 7:30 - 8:00 pm 1954-1955 (1-52)
   Director: John Saul ...
   Stars: Charles Tingwell (EQ), Wendy Playfair (Nikki), Harp McGuire (RQ/../EQ),
   Nigel Lovell (Velie)


The following 'Queen radio products' we only mention to be complete but in essence the radio story ends here, fortunately by that time television had began to show interest (1951).
In 1957 the BBC broadcast a six weeks summer series based on six of the earliest Queen short stories.

During the sixties the cousins rented their hero for use in this syndicated package of 100 (silly) one-minute-mysteries. None of them with any involvement of Lee or Dannay. Most of these episodes seem to have survived.


   "Ellery Queen's Minute Mysteries"
 Click for list of episodes... (and more!) list of titles
   (Syndicated)
Label on reel with Ellery Queen Minute Mysteries
   Bill Owen played the role of Ellery. No less than
  520 one minute long mysteries were produced by
  Creative Marketing & Communications,
  Cincinnati, Ohio and issued on a reel-to-reel
  format.
 
            Set 1: November 1965 (episode 1-130)
            Set 2: April 1966 (episode 131-259)
            Set 3: September 1966 (episode 260-390)
            Set 4: February 1967 (episode 391-520)


After the decline of OTR it seemed this kind of entertainment was lost for mass audiences. This still seems true till this day although some kind of revival is seen in re-enactment of old OTR scripts. This is the case for Ellery Queen in both "...Cast members, directed by Sharon Wood, are Brian Bevacqua,Mary Carter, Mike Grace,Kara Lee, Meredith Lewko, Scott Magnuson, Stan Marro, Eric Peirce, Julie Richardson, Arthur Vidro and Dori Yacono. "Japan and Italy. We had to wait until 2013 to find a noteworthy American addition. Off Broad Street Players (OBSP) paid tribute with the production of two 1940's era radio shows starring the popular amateur detective. The radio shows included prominent guests in the audience who participated as “armchair detectives” and were asked to offer their opinion on whodunit and why. That feature was part of the 1940s radio shows as well and will be included in the OBSP productions. Real-life mystery writer Michael Nethercott was in the audience as an armchair detective on May 8th. Other 1940s era celebrity guests were portrayed by OBSP members Trudee and Chris Rice, Mike Cirre, and other community notables. OBSP has chosen to feature their work because of local connections to the writers and their families.

 

(radio pages partially based on
Francis M.Nevins Jr & Ray Stanich "The Sound of Detection"and
David S.Siegel's "A Challenge to the Listener: Ellery Queen on the Air")

 

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Introduction | Floor Plan | Q.B.I. | List of Suspects | Whodunit?  | Q.E.D. | Kill as directed | New  | Copyright

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