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The Strange Dr. Weird Radio Program

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Strange Dr. Weird spot ad for Harry's Dependable Shop and Adams Hats from April 19, 1945
Strange Dr. Weird spot ad for Harry's Dependable Shop and Adams Hats from April 19, 1945

KFWB spot ad for The Strange Dr Weird from July 29th 1945
KFWB spot ad for The Strange Dr Weird from July 29th 1945

The Strange Dr. Weird spot ad for Harry's and Adams Hats from April 12 1945
The Strange Dr. Weird spot ad for Harry's and Adams Hats from April 12 1945

Background

The supernatural thriller genre was highly popular throughout the mid-1930s, right on through the mid-1950s over Radio. In the larger scheme of things, The Strange Dr. Weird arrived at about the mid-range of the thrillers of the period:

The Strange Dr. Weird was quite aptly named, given the elusive, reclusive nature of it's oft-referenced Host, the very strange Dr. Weird and his mysterious, decrepit mansion conveniently overlooking a nearby graveyard. Strange Doctors weren't exactly new. Scott Bishop of Dark Fantasy fame aired a program for NBC in 1943 titled Strange Dr. Karnac, another supernatural thriller produced by Stuart Buchanan and starring James Van Dyk and Jean Evelyn. The Mysterious Traveler was also depicted as a medical doctor.

Such was the specific supernatural atmosphere the producers were aiming for with this series of Radio productions. Supernatural thrillers had long been a highly popular staple of early Radio. The distinct advantage this genre employed made it a natural for late-evening, lights-out listening--or simply to have the bejeebers scared out of its most avid weekly listeners. After all, what better way to convey a compelling, supernatural story than from the glowing dial of a radio, with the lights dimmed, someone to grab at arm's length, and something to munch on as the suspense mounted. These components were a match made in heaven during a period of Radio's History during which a war-weary nation sought some escape from the anxiety of simultaneous world conflicts.

This series remains one of The Mutual System's most captivating productions, albeit somewhat abbreviated to only one season. One can only speculate on its early demise, but given the occurence of V.E. Day during its run, it's conceivable that the nation simply breathed its first collective sigh of relief, and found other, more celebratory or optimistic genres to cling to as they awaited V.J. Day and the end of their war-weariness.

The writing for this series was clearly superb, given the wonderful duo of Arthur and Kogan, and Jock MacGregor's direction guaranteed high production values regardless of its budget or sponsorship. Add to this foundation the already well-established talent of Maurice Tarplin as the eerie Host/Narrator and you have all the elements of a top-notch supernatural series of nail-biting thrillers. The series wears very well to this day, and topical air-checks, commercials and public service announcements provide a fascinating historical perspective to the series--if you can still find the unadulterated recordings 'as broadcast.'

All in all, with its production atmospherics, true-to-genre integrity, superb narration, and wonderful scripts, The Strange Dr. Weird is as captivating today as it was during the seemingly interminable years of World War II.

Series Derivatives:

Also referred to as 'Dr. Weird', 'The Strange Story of Dr. Weird', and 'Strange Dr. Weird'; Mysterious Traveler
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Supernatural Dramas
Network(s): The Mutual Broadcasting System
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 44-11-07 01 The House Where Death Lived
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 44-11-07 to 45-07-31; WOR; Twenty-six to thirty-nine, 15-minute programs; Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m., in the New York/New Jersey WOR broadcast area, Thursdays and Wednesdays in other markets.
Syndication: NBC Radio Recording Division Transcriptions
Sponsors: Adam Hats and local distributors
Director(s): Jock MacGregor
Principal Actors: [Unknown]
Recurring Character(s): Maurice Tarplin, as 'The Strange Dr. Weird '
Protagonist(s): Vary from episode to episode
Author(s): [Unknown]
Writer(s) Bob Arthur and David Kogan
Music Direction: [Unknown]
Musical Theme(s): [Unknown]
Announcer(s): Host: Maurice Tarplin, as 'The Strange Dr. Weird '
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
26-39
Episodes in Circulation: 29
Total Episodes in Collection: 29
Provenances:

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Martin Grams' Radio Dramas.

Notes on Provenances:

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc

OTRisms:

1. All above cited log provenances are in error in one form or another. The most helpful provenance was the log of the radioGOLDINdex. Mr. Goldin accurately cites the fact that:

"These programs were originally dated by the dates etched on the disc matrices. These dated [sic] indicated when the disc was cut, which sometimes is the date of broadcast, sometimes later. Slight conflicts with reported broadcast dates may therefore exist".

As the 1944-1945 Radio Listings of the New York Times illustrate, the first airing of Strange Dr. Weird over Mutual's WOR in the local area was on November 14, 1944--not the November 7, 1944 premiere date reported by every other publicly available log. A review of all weekly, Tuesday listings from that date forward, show an episode broadcast every Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. EWT for the subsequent 31 weeks, without exception. The actual premiere of The Strange Dr. Weird remains ambiguous as of this writing. One might expect a possible answer to be found among the papers of Robert Arthur, Jr., who, with David Kogan, wrote the scripts for The Strange Dr. Weird. We do however, have two 'anchor provenances' at 45-03-06 and 45-03-20 which, if interpolated back through the reported transcription order, would lend credence to a November 7, 1944 start date. We've therefore provisionally dated our The Strange Dr. Weird from November 7, 1944, forward, as indicated by the red encoding of the dates. We would simply caution anyone using these provisional dates to not represent them as accurate.

2. The other provenance issue of note is radioGOLDINdex's references to the 'V.E. Day tribute broadcast',
Murder, One Million B.C., sponsored by Adam Hats. In reviewing the above referenced New York Times Radio listings, it's clear that one--and only one--15 minute episode of Strange Dr. Weird was broadcast over WOR on May 8, 1944--the day following the declaration of the end of hostilities in Europe. RadioGOLDINdex helpfully cites the date of this episode, but also cites another identical date for episode #27. This is not a conflict, nor is it a mistake in the radioGOLDINdex. Given the clear provenance of the largest, most historically accurate daily newspaper in WOR's broadcast area, it would appear that the episode of May 8, 1944 may very well have been the V.E. Day Tribute episode for that date, and episode #27 actually aired the immediately following Tuesday, followed by the episode #28 cited by radioGOLDINdex (again, qualified from the first radioGOLDINdex entry as to the accuracy of broadcast dates). Unfortunately, the radioGOLDINdex also inexplicably cites May 23, 1945 as the correct date for two episodes: Picture of A Killer and Revenge From the Grave, neither of which could possibly have aired on May 23, 1945 since that day and timeslot over WOR were occupied by The Answer Man, the regularly scheduled program for that day and time.

3. As to the length of the run of The Strange Dr. Weird, while there are only some twenty-nine exemplars in circulation, we have every reason to believe there were actually thirty-nine episodes recorded. We cite a run through July 31, 1945 from newspaper listings. From this we can either hypothesize that, while WOR only aired some thirty-one episodes of the canon, it may very well have continued to air in syndication for another eight episodes. Or, the remaining ten cited episodes below were simply rebroadcasts. We can't as of this writing, substantiate either hypothesis. It would, however, be intriguing to think that there might still be another ten exemplars of The Strange Dr. Weird in collectors' hands.


We invite you to compare our fully provenanced research with the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and their Strage Doctor Weird log, which the OTRR claims to be correct according to their 'OTTER log. We've provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE to protect our own further due diligence, content and intellectual property.


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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

All rights reserved by their respective sources. Article and log copyright 2009 The Digital Deli Online--all rights reserved. Any failure to attribute the results of this copywritten work will be rigorously pursued.







The Strange Dr. Weird Series Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
44-11-07
1
The House Where Death Lived
Y
[NOTE: Had The Strange Dr. Weird attempted to premiere on Nov 7, it would invariably have been preempted by Election Returns over WOR and every other New York station that night]

44-11-07 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Hopkins Orchestra

44-11-14
2
The Summoning of Chandor

Y
[Premiere Episode ]

44-11-14 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird



44-11-21
3
Journey into the Unknown
Y
44-11-21 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
44-11-28
4
Death in the Everglades
Y
44-11-28 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
44-12-05
5
Murder Comes Home
Y
44-12-05 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
44-12-12
6
The Man Who Talked with Death
Y
44-12-12 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
44-12-19
7
White Pearls of Freedom
Y
44-12-19 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
44-12-26
8
Stand- in for Death
Y
44-12-26 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
45-01-02
9
The Tiger Cat
Y
45-01-02 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
45-01-09
10
Murder Ship
Y
45-01-09 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
45-01-16
11
Beauty and the Beast
Y
45-01-16 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-01-23
12
Survival of the Fittest
Y
45-01-23 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-01-30
13
The Man Who Lived Twice
Y
45-01-30 New York Times
7.15 - WOR - Strange Dr. Weird
45-02-06
14
The Dark Wings of Death
Y
45-02-06 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-02-13
15
The Secret Room
Y
45-02-13 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-02-20
16
The Knife of Death
Y
45-02-20 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-02-27
17
Murder Will Out
Y
45-02-27 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-03-06
18
The Voice of Death
Y
45-03-06 Chester Times
"The Strange Dr. Weird," played by Maurice Tarplin, narrates the story of "The Voice of Death" over WOR, at
7.15
45-03-13
19
The Two Faces of Death
Y
45-03-13 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-03-20
20
The Man Who Knew Everything
Y
45-03-20 Chester Times
Maurice Tarplin, as "The Strange
Dr. Weird." narrates
the story of a man who learns to read minds and then tries to put his knowledge to selfish use, on the WOR program at 7.15
45-03-27
21
He Woke up Dead
Y
45-03-27 Chester Times
7.15 - WOR - The Strange Dr. Weird
45-04-03
22
The Devil's Caverns
Y
45-04-03 The Capital
6:15-WOR-Strange Dr. Weird
45-04-10
23
When Killers Meet
Y
45-04-10 The Capital
6:15-WOR-Strange Dr. Weird
45-04-17
24
Dead Man's Paradise
Y
45-04-17 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-04-24
25
The Ghost Ship
Y
45-04-25 The Capital
6:15-WOR-Strange Dr. Weird
45-05-01
26
The Man Who Played Dead
Y
45-05-01 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-05-08
27
Murder, One Million B.C.
Y
[ V.E. Day Tribute by Adam Hats]

45-05-08 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-05-15
28
Picture of a Killer
Y
45-05-15 Bradford Era
6:15-Strange Dr. Weird
45-05-22
29
Revenge from the Grave
Y
45-05-22 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-05-29
30
Title Unknown
N
45-05-29 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-06-05
31
Title Unknown
N
45-06-05 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-06-12
32
Title Unknown
N
45-06-12 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-06-19
33
Title Unknown
N
45-06-19 New York Times
7:15--WOR--The Strange Dr. Weird
45-06-26
34
Title Unknown
N
45-06-26 New York Times
7:15--WOR--Dance Orchestra
45-07-03
35
Title Unknown
N
45-07-03 Berkshire Evening Eagle
7:15-WBRK-Strange Dr. Weird

45-07-03 New York Times
7:15--WOR--Lopez Orchestra
45-07-10
36
Title Unknown
N
45-07-10 Berkshire Evening Eagle
7:15-WBRK-Strange Dr. Weird
45-07-17
37
Title Unknown
N
45-07-17 Berkshire Evening Eagle
7:15-WBRK-Strange Dr. Weird
45-07-24
38
Title Unknown
N
45-07-24 Berkshire Evening Eagle
7:15-WBRK-Strange Dr. Weird
45-07-31
39
Title Unknown
N
45-07-31 Berkshire Evening Eagle
7:15-WBRK-Strange Dr. Weird






The Strange Dr. Weird Biographies




Maurice Tarplin
[a.k.a. Maurice Tarlin]
(Host/Actor)

(1911-1975)
Birthplace: Boston, MA

Radiography:
1939
Ideas That Came True
1940
The Columbia Workshop
1942
Murder Clinic
1943
Words At War
1944
The Mysterious Traveler
1944
We Came This Way
1944
The Strange Doctor Weird
1945
Famous Jury Trials
1946
Boston Blackie
1947
Echoes Of A Century
1948
Sherlock Holmes
1949
Secret Missions
1949
Nick Carter, Master Detective
1949
Murder By Experts
1950
Cloak and Dagger


and many, many more.

Maurice Tarplin, ca. 1945
Maurice Tarplin, ca. 1945
Maurice Tarlin [Tarplin] is one of those memorable personae etched forever into the collective memory of Golden Age Radio aficionados the world over. Although he's most often mistakenly identified as Raymond Edward Johnson, his two most memorable roles were as the host of The Mysterious Traveler and the host of The Strange Dr. Weird (as 'Dr. Weird').

His obvious pleasure in attempting to scare the bejeebers out of his anxious listeners, though at times over the top, was delivered in a consistently tongue-in-cheek manner, thus appealing equally well to juvenile listeners at bedtime [remember, this was the 1940s] as to dyed-in-the wool supernatural mystery fans.

And he always managed to deliver these two personae with predictable gusto. He's so deeply associated with Mysterious Traveler and Dr. Weird, that his fans are often unaware of the fact that he was a very busy, diverse actor for most of his career. His radio experience reads like a 'Who's Who' of superior radio dramas (witness his brief radiography in the sidebar at the left).

He didn't limit his considerable talent to Radio. He also enjoyed a repectable career on the stage and television as late as 1980 (kinda scary in itself since he's reported to have passed away in 1975--could the IMDB be wrong, or . . . .?).



Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor
(Producer/Director)

Singer, Songwriter, Radio, Stage and Television Actor, Radio Producer, Radio Director
(190?-19??)

Birthplace: Unknown

Radiography:

1938 American Portraits
1942 WOR Summer Theatre
1942 The Cisco Kid
1942 Just Five Lines
1943 The Adventures Of Raffles
1943 Nick Carter, Master Detective
1943 Beatrice Kay's Capers
1944 The Mysterious Traveler
1945 Brownstone Theatre
1945 The Sealed Book
1945 The Strange Dr Weird
1946 For Your Approval
1947 The Bitter Herb
1947 The Trojan Women
1947 Crime Club
1947 Did Justice Triumph?
1948 Stars Of the Air
1948 Meet the Stars
1948 Secret Missions
1948 Roger Kilgore, Public Defender
1953 Cavalcade Of America
1955 Inheritance
1957 X Minus One
1957 Five-Star Matinee

Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor as Morris Fink, Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler from The Honeymooners, ca 1956
Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor as Morris Fink, Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler from The Honeymooners, ca 1956

The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Bensonhurst Chapter of the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons Makes His Entrance
The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Bensonhurst Chapter of the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons Makes His Entrance


Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor was one of The Mutual System's most successful producers and directors during The Golden Age of Radio. MacGregor began his career in Radio as a singer, heard over Radio as early as 1926, singing mostly minstrel songs and dressed for public appearances of his minstrel act in traditional Highlander garb--kilts and all.

Ever the thrifty Scot, Jock MacGregor was quoted in 1927 as boasting that he and his new bride saved the expense of a honeymoon at Niagara Falls by simply listening to its roar over a broadcast on Radio. One of MacGregor's contemporaries, 'Sir' Harry Lauder was often heard singing tradional Highland songs over the early Enna Jettick Melodies program (1929). Contemporaneous newspaper articles often favorably compared Jock MacGregor to the more famous Sir Harry Lauder.

Apparently both loved and respected for his early Radio work, the famous pioneering Radio station KDKA (Pennsylvania) devoted an entire prime-time, 15-minute program to MacGregor on August 31, 1936 as an on-air Farewell Party for him. By 1938 he was producing and directing many Radio programs for NBC-Blue [WJZ] as a staff director and writer.

But it was Jock MacGregor's move to the Mutual Broadcasting System's flagship station, WOR that ultimately afforded MacGregor the latitude and artistic freedom that made him famous. Beginning with WOR Summer Theater (1942), MacGregor was soon writing, directing and producing WOR staples such as The Cisco Kid (1942), The Adventures of Raffles (1943) and Nick Carter, Master Detective (1943-1953). Indeed it was while producing Nick Carter that Jock MacGregor first teamed up with the famous fiction writing team of Robert Arthur, Jr. and David Kogan. That same team would soon produce many Nick Carter programs together, as well as the long-running The Mysterious Traveler (1943-1952), The Sealed Book (1945), and several episodes of The Strange Dr. Wierd.

The team's success producing The Mysterious Traveler was cut short when the series was abruptly cancelled by WOR during the infamous witch-hunts of the HUAC blacklisting years. With the successful team broken up, MacGregor continued producing and directing several Radio programs and early Television programs, occasionally appearing as an uncredited actor.

MacGregor produced the successful Inheritance (1953), X Minus One (1957) and Five-Star Matinee (1957) programs for competing networks. During the 1950s Jock MacGregor returned to his acting roots appearing in both Stage productions and Television. MacGregor also helped produce the James Cagney feature Shake Hands with The Devil (1959).

The late 1950s and early 1960s found him both acting in Television and producing Television features in Great Britain. MacGregor's last notable appearance on Television was as Jed Morgan in The Wahoo Bobcat (1963), a Walt Disney Presents television episode.



Adam Hats
Sponsor
(1937-1951)
Founded: New York City

Radiography:
1937 - 1941
Madison Square Garden Boxing
[Blue]
1943 - 1944
Star for a Night
[Blue]
1943
That’s a Good One
[Blue]
1944 - 1945
Strange Dr. Weird
[Mutual]
1947
The Big Break
[NBC]
1949 - 1951
Drew Pearson Comments
[ABC]

Adam Hats metal sign
Adam Hats 'The Major' spot ad
Adam Hats window display
Adam Hats Gift Box
Adam Hats Storefront
Adam Hats Matchbook
Adam Hat Stores produced a 'value' line of hats throughout The Golden Age of Radio. In the 1940s you could buy a fine quality Adam Hats fedora for between $4 - $8, when a comparable Stetson or Borsalino would be between $10 - $18 for similar quality and materials.

Adam Hat Stores operated a national chain of 98 stores, 31 of which were in New York City. The company also distributed its hats through 116 independent retail stores in cities and towns that did not have one of its chain stores. In 1939 Adam Hats had $7.14 million in sales, spending $151,000 on magazine and radio advertising.

Adam Hat Stores sponsored several popular radio programs, including Drew Pearson, and The Strange Dr. Weird. Adam Hat Stores' sponsorship of the longer running Drew Pearson Comments program 'drew' some flack from no less than the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy himself, naming Adam Hats in open session, and challenging Adam Hat Stores to immediately cease sponsorship of Drew Pearson's radio program. Indeed, Adam Hat Stores withdrew their sponsorship with a 1950 full-page ad in the New York Times, repudiating any connection between the timing of their disassociation with Drew Pearson and McCarthy's denunciation of Pearson as a Communist. What a notion . . . denouncing anyone who challenges the party in power as un-American. Who could imagine such a thing in our lifetime? Which party would stoop to that level in the first place?

Indeed it was almost certainly Pearson's late 1940s challenge of U.S. Congressman John Parnell Thomas' tactics as Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities that led to McCarthy's retaliation. Pearson's exposé of Congressman Thomas was instrumental to Thomas' eventual conviction of conspiracy to defraud the Government for hiring friends who never worked, then depositing their paychecks into his personal accounts. Pearson was an ceaseless opponent of McCarthyism, and was one of the few journalists to stand up to the demagoguery of the senator from Wisconsin.

Pearson's revenge was karmicly apropos, ultimately acquiring Lee Hats as one of his longer running sponsors.



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