Taking its name from a popular series of mystery novels, Inner Sanctum Mysteries debuted over
NBC’s Blue Network in January 1941. It featured one of the most memorable and
atmospheric openings in radio history: an organist hit a dissonant chord, a
doorknob turned, and the famous “creaking door” slowly began to open. Every
week, Inner Sanctum Mysteries told
stories of ghosts, murderers, and lunatics. Produced in New York, the cast
usually consisted of veteran radio actors, with occasional guest appearances by
such Hollywood stars Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Claude Rains. What made Inner Sanctum Mysteries unique among radio
horror shows was its host, a slightly sinister sounding fellow originally known
as “Raymond.” The host had a droll sense of humor and an appetite for ghoulish
puns, and his influence can be seen among horror hosts everywhere, from the
Crypt-Keeper to Elvira. Raymond Edward Johnson was the show’s host until 1945;
Paul McGrath took over as host until the show left the air in 1952. Producer
Hiram Brown would utilize the creaking door again in the 1970s, when he
produced and directed The CBS Radio
The Voice on the Wire,
starring Lesley Woods
Trapped on an island, a voice on the telephone warns a woman
that she has only four hours to live. Originally aired November 29, 1944.
Desert Death, starring
Two men driving across the desert pick up three hitchhikers
who turn out to be escaped Nazi prisoners. Originally aired January 9, 1945.
Death Is an Artist,
starring Lee Bowman
Four dead cats and a man are found in an apartment—all with
their throats slit or their heads cut off. Originally aired January 23, 1945
Death in the Depths,
starring Santos Ortega
A deep-sea diver meets some old friends down in a shipwreck.
Originally aired February 6, 1945.
No Coffin for the Dead,
starring Les Tremayne
Who killed Peter Frame? The killer may be an insane person
who is unable to walk. Originally aired February 20, 1945.
The Bog Oak Necklace,
starring Miriam Hopkins
The discovery of a necklace around a skeleton is the key to
a forty-year-old murder. Originally aired April 10, 1945.
The Black Art, starring
A murderer about to be hanged is rescued by a woman with
strange powers. Originally aired May 15, 1945.
Dead to Rights, starring
An inept couple murders for profit and then flees when the
net closes in on them. Originally aired May 22, 1945.
Death across the Board,
starring Raymond Massey
A murdering madman is battling the police as a chess game—with
dead bodies galore! Originally aired June 5, 1945.
Portrait of Death,
starring Lesley Woods
A cursed painting invariably kills its owner. Originally
aired June 12, 1945.
Dead Man’s Deal, starring
A poker game has murder as the stakes. Originally aired
August 28, 1945.
The Murder Prophet,
starring Wendy Barrie
Who killed Claudia’s first husband … and her second … and
the man who loved her? Originally aired September 4, 1945.
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