March 6, 2010

Peter Lorre on Radio – Mar. 6, 2010

Old-time radio fans – as well as fans of Peter’s work in radio – may want to tune in on Saturday, March 6, 2010, to Chicago radio station WDCB, where Those Were the Days, hosted by Steve Darnall, airs series’ episodes from the Golden Age of radio – including original commercials.

The program airs from 1 to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Today’s line-up, titled “Radio Goes to the Cats”, includes “The Black Cat”, the penultimate installment in Peter Lorre’s 13-week NBC series Mystery in the Air. Based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, this episode tells the story of Charles (Lorre), who strangles his pet cat and is then haunted by his deed when a cat with similar markings shows up.

Today’s complete schedule of 30-minute programs:
  • Mysterious Traveler (July 2, 1944), “Queen of the Cats”

  • Father Knows Best (Apr. 2, 1953) – Bud starts a business selling Panama cats

  • The Shadow (Jan. 12, 1947), “The Cat and the Killer”

  • Claudia (Nov. 24, 1947), Claudia gives her cat Shakespeare a bath

  • Frontier Gentleman (Aug. 10, 1958), “The Cat Man”

  • Fibber McGee and Molly (Oct. 14, 1947), Teeny’s cat hides under the McGees’ front porch

  • Mystery in the Air (Sept. 18, 1947), “The Black Cat”

Those Were the Days may be heard over WDBC 90.9 or through streaming audio on the station’s website.

Each installment of Those Were the Days is also available on demand for one week, beginning the following Tuesday, through the Nostalgia Digest website. To listen to the most recent broadcast, click on the dial on the image of the antique radio.

Mystery in the Air was a 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).

For his book The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (University Press of Kentucky, 2005), Stephen Youngkin interviewed Harry Morgan, “The Voice of Mystery” and host of Mystery in the Air, about his experiences working with Lorre on the show. His recollections are amusing and enlightening – as Peter Lorre was an actor who played to the microphone and ended each program bathed in perspiration because he had just given a 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.