CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Suspense

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

“Be prepared for an episode that will keep you in…suspense!”

This was the opening line to one of the greatest radio dramas of all-time, along with one of the earliest successful shows on television.

The radio version of Suspense was a perennial ratings favorite for nearly 20 years. In fact, it was one of the very last original programs to survive well beyond radio’s “Golden Age” until it was finally cancelled in 1962.

The television version of the program launched in 1949 incorporating many similarly written episodes from radio, which “borrowed” ideas from literary greats Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens and others.

As the name suggests, the program would always present many twists and turns, building tension throughout each episode to a thrilling and dramatic climax. While not always straying into the bizarre world of a show like The Twilight Zone, each episode’s spine-tingling finales were surprisingly fresh throughout the show’s entire run.

Each show featured different guest stars, who always seemed to get caught up in a web of mystery and did a great job of quickly allowing its audience to identify with them to bring viewers into the potential dangers.

Adding to the excitement of these programs was that the shows were originally broadcast live–meaning no retakes and anything could happen!

Another reason to revisit this early TV classic? You’d be surprised how many future television “regulars” and cinematic stars made early career appearances on this television program. In fact, it’s hard to go more than one or two episodes without seeing a recognizable face. Among them include:

Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Phyllis, Young Frankenstein)
Lloyd Bridges (High Noon, Airplane, Hot Shots)
Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Raven)
Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, How The Grinch Stole Christmas)
Conrad Janis (Mork and Mindy, The Buddy Holly Story, The Cable Guy)
Brian Keith (Family Affair, The Parent Trap)
Robert Emhardt (The Andy Griffith Show)
Royal Dano (Twin Peaks, Bonanza, Gunsmoke)
Richard H. Harris (Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls)
Academy Award Winning Eileen Heckart (The First Wives Club, Lou Grant)

…and others.

For most seasons, the program was run under the watchful eyes of Richard Mulligan. Mulligan would later win an Emmy for directing The Moon and the Sixpence, in which Lawrence Olivier made his TV debut. Later, he would go on to direct film classics To Kill A Mockingbird, Fear Strikes Out and The Others as well as 1991’s The Man In The Moon, which launched the career of Reese Witherspoon.

Tune in for Suspense, every Wednesday at 12 noon and Fridays at 1 pm on RCN-TV. You may also want to DVR episodes and binge-watch your favorites leading up to RCN’s annual Halloween Marathon (check back to our website soon for more details on this great annual tradition!)

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Chris Michael About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

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