The Whistler was one of American radio's most popular
mystery dramas, with a 13-year run from May 16, 1942 until September
22, 1955.The Whistler was the most popular West Coast-originated
program with its listeners for many years. It was sponsored by the
Signal Oil Company: "That whistle is your signal for the Signal
Oil program, The Whistler."
Episodes of The Whistler began with the ominous narration:
I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night.
I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women
who have stepped into the shadows. Yes ... I know the nameless terrors
of which they dare not speak.
Those opening words were spoken along with the echo of footsteps
and Wilbur Hatch's 13-note theme, whistled weekly by Dorothy Roberts
for 13 years. Another whistle theme with footsteps was heard on
The Saint which aired on CBS, Mutual and NBC between 1945 and 1951.
Some sources say the theme for The Saint was by Leslie Charteris,
while others credit RKO composer Roy Webb.
Bill Forman had the title role of host and narrator.
Others who portrayed the Whistler at various times were Gale Gordon,
Joseph Kearns (the first Mr. Wilson on TV's Dennis the Menace),
Marvin Miller (announcer for The Whistler and The Bickersons and,
later, Michael Anthony on TV's The Millionaire), Bill Johnstone
(who had the title role on radio's The Shadow from 1938 to 1943)
and Everett Clarke.
The stories followed an effective formula in which a person's criminal
acts were typically undone by either an overlooked but important
detail or their own stupidity, except on some rare occasions when
a curious twist of fate caused the story to end happily for the
episode's protagonist. Ironic twist endings were a key feature of
each episode of the series. The Whistler himself narrated, often
commenting directly upon the action in the manner of a Greek chorus,
taunting the criminal from an omniscient perspective.
The Whistler seldom featured any major Hollywood stars, but the
quality of writing and performance made it a radio mainstay. Regular
members of the show's ensemble cast included Gerald Mohr, William
Conrad, Joseph Kearns, Bill Johnstone, Hans Conried, Elliot Lewis
and Betty Lou Gerson. Mercedes McCambridge, Jeanette Nolan, John
Dehner, Virginia Gregg, Howard Duff, Lurene Tuttle, Frank Lovejoy,
Willard Waterman and Jack Webb also made frequent appearances on
Writer-producer J. Donald Wilson established the tone of the show
during its first two years, and he was followed in 1944 by producer-director
George Allen. Other directors included Sterling Tracy and Sherman
Marks with final scripts by Joel Malone and Harold Swanton. A total
of 692 episodes were produced, of which over 200 no longer have
copies in existence. In 1946, a local Chicago version of The Whistler
with local actors aired Sundays on WBBM, sponsored by Meister Brau
Text from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Whistler
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