April 8, 2011

Peter Lorre on XM Radio, April 10 to 16, 2011

Harry Morgan’s 96th birthday on April 10 is the occasion for two episodes of Peter Lorre’s 1947 radio series Mystery in the Air on the satellite radio channel Radio Classics – channel 164 on the XM dial and channel 118 on the Sirius dial.

Mystery in the Air was an NBC summer replacement series for The Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Show. On June 26, 1947 – his 43rd birthday – Peter appeared at the close of Bud and Lou’s final show of the season to announce his upcoming series.

Beginning July 3, and for 12 weeks following, Lorre starred in mystery and suspense stories "culled from the four corners of world literature", as well as some original radio scripts, such as "The Marvelous Barastro". The series ended on Sept. 25, 1947, with an adaptation of Peter’s own film version of Crime and Punishment (Columbia, 1935).

As the "Voice of Mystery", Harry Morgan introduced and narrated each week’s episode. Airing in honor of his birthday will be "The Queen of Spades", from the short story by Russian author Alexander Pushkin; and "The Black Cat", from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, one of Peter’s favorite writers. "The Queen of Spades" aired originally on Sept. 11, 1947, and "The Black Cat" a week later on Sept. 18, 1947.

The full Radio Classics schedule can be found on the Radio Classics website. Mystery in the Air will air on the following dates and times. All times are Eastern Standard Time.

Sunday, Apr. 10:
4 am and 4:30 am
4 pm and 4:30 pm

Wednesday, Apr. 13:
6 am and 6:30 am
2 pm and 2:30 pm

Saturday, Apr. 16:
8 pm and 8:30 pm

For his book The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (University Press of Kentucky, 2005), Stephen Youngkin interviewed Harry Morgan about his experiences working with Lorre on the show.

"I have never seen in front of a microphone anybody throw himself into a performance in every which way, including physically, which was to me so astounding, as Peter," Mr. Morgan remembered. Peter Lorre was an actor who played to the microphone, not the small studio audience attending the broadcasts – ending each program bathed in perspiration from the effort of his fantastic vocal performance.

In the Appendix, The Lost One also includes a list of Peter Lorre’s radio credits, many of which are available for purchase through internet dealers such as Radio Showcase.

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