BW - EP132—002: Mutual Mystery Shows Of The 1940s—The Mysterious Traveler

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Written and directed by Robert Arthur and David Kogan, The Mysterious Traveler first aired over the Mutual Broadcasting System on December 5th, 1943. Mostly sustained, the show was heard on virtually every night of the week. There were frequent gaps in its runs, but it was always good for a revival. It was cheap to produce; there were no major film stars to pay, and plenty of New York radio actors willing to work for union scale. With that said, it was popular enough to spawn a comic book and magazine. Maurice Tarplin played the title role with a good-natured malevolence. The traveler mostly narrated from an omniscient perch. He came to his listeners in the night, riding a phantom train. The opening signature was the distant wail of a locomotive whistle, fading in gradually until the rumble of the train could be heard. The stories ran from crime drama to wild science fiction. David Kogan later recalled that he broke into radio with Bulldog Drummond, Shadow and Thin Man scripts. He met Robert Arthur in Greenwich Village, suggesting they team up. The pair developed Dark Destiny, which aired on Mutual from August 26th, 1942 through March 11th, 1943. They came up with the Mysterious Traveler concept and prepared three sample scripts. Norman Livingston bought it for WOR. As independent producers, they were paid a flat rate for the whole package. Any money they saved by using the same actor in multiple roles went into their own pockets, so they used the best character actors in New York radio. Kogan also directed the series. This episode, “Death is My Caller” featured Santos Ortega, Agnes Young, Ted Jewett, and Neil O’Malley. Along with The Mysterious Traveler, Kogan and Arthur also wrote a season of Nick Carter, The Strange Dr. Weird, The Sealed Book, and later Murder By Experts. The Mysterious Traveler would air until September of 1952.

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