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Crime Classics Old Time Radio Program

½ hour detective episodes


Crime Classics was a U. S. radio program which aired on CBS from June 15, 1953, to June 30, 1954.

Created, produced, and directed by radio actor/director Elliott Lewis, the program was a historically true crime series, examining crimes and murders from the past. It grew out of Lewis' personal interest in famous murder cases and took a documentary-like approach to the subject, carefully recreating the facts, personages and feel of the time period. Comparatively little dramatic license was taken with the facts and events, but the tragedy was leavened with humor, expressed largely through the narration.

The crimes dramatized generally covered a broad time and place frame from ancient Greece to late 19th-century America. Each episode in the series was co-written by Morton Fine and David Friedkin, in consultation with Lewis, although the scripting process was more a matter of research, as the stories were "adapted from the original court reports and newspaper accounts" or from the works of historians.

The cases ranged from famous assassinations (of Abraham Lincoln, Leon Trotsky, and Julius Caesar) and the lives (and often deaths) of the likes of Cesare Borgia and Blackbeard to more obscure cases, such as Bathsheba Spooner, who killed her husband Joshua Spooner in 1778 and became the first woman tried and executed in America.

The only continuing character was the host/narrator, Thomas Hyland, played by Lou Merrill. Hyland was introduced by the announcer as a "connoisseur of crime, student of violence, and teller of murders." Merrill's deadpan portrayal of Hyland provided the welcome note of tongue-in-cheek humor to the proceedings. Unlike the ghoulish weird storytellers of The Whistler and The Mysterious Traveler, Hyland was an ordinary fellow who, in a dry, droll manner, would present a tale from his files, his wry comments interspersed between dramatized scenes. The episodes would typically begin with Hyland inviting the audience to listen to a sound, from drops of rain to horses' hooves, and then introducing the main players and events of his report. The titles also contributed to the series' light tone, as they were intentionally pompous and usually laced with irony. Typical titles included "Your Loving Son, Nero," "If a Body Needs a Body, Just Call Burke and Hare," and "The Axe and the Droot Family... How They Fared".

A roster of Hollywood radio actors filled the various historical roles. William Conrad was one of the more frequently heard performers, in such diverse parts as Nero, Blackbeard, Pat Garrett and King Arthur. Other performers, and the villains and victims they portrayed, included Jack Kruschen (as William Burke and Trotsky assassin Ramón Mercader), Jay Novello (as William Hare and Dr. William Palmer), Mary Jane Croft (as Bathsheba Spooner and Marie, Marquise de Brinvilliers), Betty Lou Gerson (as Agrippina and Lucrezia Borgia), Edgar Barrier (as Julius Caesar), Harry Bartell (as Brutus), Hans Conried (as Ali Pasha), Herb Butterfield (as Lincoln, Trotsky, and Thomas Edwin Bartlett), Jack Edwards (as John Wilkes Booth and Cole Younger), Irene Tedrow (as Lizzie Borden), William Johnstone (as Robert Knox), Betty Harford (as Madeleine Smith and Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly), Clayton Post (as Jesse James), and Sam Edwards (as Billy the Kid and Bob Younger).

Composer Bernard Herrmann returned to radio to score all but one of the series episodes (with Wilbur Hatch substituting for that entry), capturing the sound and feel of the various time periods simply but elegantly, often with the use of only two or three instruments per episode. During the fall of 1953, the show was scheduled back to back with On Stage, another dramatic anthology created by Lewis. He decided to connect the two by presenting "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln" on Crime Classics while On Stage featured Our American Cousin, the play Lincoln had attended the night of his death. The experiment was unsuccessful, and according to radio historian John Dunning, earned Lewis a rebuke from network head William S. Paley, who advised him to never attempt anything like it again.

`Text from wikipedia

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All of our Old Time Radio Programs are in MP3 format. You can play them on your computer, you can transfer them to MP3 players (like the IPod), but, by and large, you cannot play them on stereos, walkmen, or car radios.

The sound quality of Old Time Radio Programs can vary greatly. Some episodes are excellent, others you have to turn up the volume a little and ignore the static. All of the episodes can be listened to and enjoyed. You can listen to our free samples to get a feel for how the programs sound.
You can purchase these episodes on CD or you can download them.
To purchase on CD: To download:

Click on the Buy on CD button. A few dollars will be added for shipping depending on your zip code and how many CDs you order. Pay with Paypal (you can use a credit card even if you do not have a Paypal account). You will receive a receipt from Paypal. We will mail you the CD(s) within a few days. Usually we get the CDs in the mail the next day. Shipping usually takes 2-3 days via USPS. The episodes will be in mp3 format.



  • You save money on the cost of the episodes and you don't pay any shipping.
  • Click on the Download button. Pay with Paypal (you can use a credit card even if you do not have a Paypal account).
  • After you pay you will be returned to our site to a page with a series of links to zip files. Click on the links to download the zip files. These episodes are downloadable in large zip files.
  • To open a zip file you need software to "unzip" it. Your computer may already have unzip software, if this is the case, just click on the file and your software will automatically open up and you can unzip the files. If your computer doesn't have an unzip program, you can get one from the internet. The most popular is probably winzip (, however, we use Zip Wizard by Coffeecup Software because its pretty good, easy to use, and free. (
  • The files are large - it will take you a few minutes to download each file. Each zip file is around 40MBs. A full CD worth of episodes takes about 14 large files. if you are on a dial-up connection, we highly recommend you buy a CD.
  • You will receive an e-mail receipt from Paypal, and we will send you an additional e-mail with the links.


Buy on CD: $4.50

Download only $3.50

Crime Classics

40 episodes

530629 The Sudden Death Of .mp3

530706 The Shrapnelled Body.mp3

530713 The Terrible Deed of.mp3

530720 The Death of a Pictu.mp3

530727 The Final Day of Gen.mp3

530803 Mr Thrower's Hammer.mp3

530810 The Axe and the Droo.mp3

530817 Incredable Trial of .mp3

530824 The Alsop Family.mp3

530831 Your Loving Son, Ner.mp3

530907 The Torment Of Henri.mp3

530914 The Bloody, Bloody B.mp3

531007 The Hangman and Will.mp3

531014 Seven Layered Arseni.mp3

531021 Billy Bonnie Blood L.mp3

531028 John Hayes - His Hea.mp3

531111 Blackbeard's Fourtee.mp3

531118 The Triangle on the .mp3

531125 The Killing Story of.mp3

531202 If A Body Needs A Bo.mp3

531209 The Assassination of.mp3

531216 John and Judith.mp3

531230 Coyle And Richardson.mp3

540106 The Younger Brothers.mp3

540113 How Supan Got the Ho.mp3

540120 Madeleine Smith-Maid.mp3

540120 Madeline Smith, Maid.mp3

540127 The Boom Brothers.mp3

540203 The Incredible Histo.mp3

540210 Twenty-Three Knives .mp3

540217 Jean Baptiste Troutm.mp3

540224 The Good Ship Jane.mp3

540303 Roger Nims.mp3

540317 Old Sixtoes.mp3

540407 The General's Daught.mp3

540414 James Evens, Fireman.mp3

540428 Widow Magee and the .mp3

540526 Lethal Habit Of Marq.mp3

540602 Mr Jonathon Jewett.mp3

540623 Ali Pasha, A Turkish.mp3


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