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Original Mathew Slade: Private Investigator header art

Mathew Slade: Private Investigator Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Mathew Slade: P. I.

Pacifica Radio logo circa 1964
Pacifica Radio logo circa 1964

Playbill for Starlight Mystery Theater Premiere Announcement from KPFK Folio, June 22 - July 6, 1964
Playbill for Starlight Mystery Theater Premiere Announcement from KPFK Folio, June 22 - July 6, 1964

Mathew Slade, Private Eye spot ad from October 11, 1965. This illustrates that Mathew Slade: Private Investigator was airing over at least one CBS affiliate, if not over the CBS Network
Mathew Slade, Private Eye spot ad from October 11, 1965. This illustrates that Mathew Slade: Private Investigator was airing over at least one CBS affiliate, if not over the CBS Network.

Background

Mathew Slade: Private Investigator was a featured, half-hour mystery presentation by The Pacifica Players of Pacifica Radio of Berkeley, California and the Pacifica Foundation of North Hollywood, California. It premiered as a Starlight Mystery Theater production on July 5, 1964 over Pacifica Radio affiliate stations. Initially announced for alternating Sundays, the program soon began airing in erratic installments from August through November of 1964.

Starring William Wintersole as Mathew Slade, the program was billed as a radio mystery revival series from the outset, presented in recognition of the hundreds of popular detective mysteries that had aired throughout The Golden Age of Radio. At least twelve of the Mathew Slade: Private Investigator installments from Starlight Mystery Theater were selected by The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) for transcription and rebroadcast to both the Armed Forces Network (AFN) in Europe in 1966 and The Far East Network (FEN) in 1968.

Mathew Slade, or 'Mat' Slade, was a private investigator in the Philip Marlowe, Richard Diamond, Sam Spade, and Michael Shayne tradition--hard-boiled, hard-drinking, hard-loving, Radio Noir. The inaugural presentation, Day of The Phoenix, was announced as a three-part arc, to be aired on alternating Sundays for the first six weeks of the run. Day of The Phoenix was clearly an homage to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon--in this instance it's a statuette of a Jade Phoenix that's missing. Times have changed, however, and Mathew Slade isn't a '$50.00 a day man'. 1964's Mat Slade asks $200.00 per day -- plus expenses.

Unfortunately, as Pacifica Radio fans are well aware, their programming schedule was highly fluid--to be charitable. Given the fluidity of the scheduling, as announced in KPFK Folio, The Pacifica Radio house organ and listing schedule, the listings soon degraded to generic announcement listings during several issues for the remainder of its original season.

The Mathew Slade: Private Investigator Canon

There appear to have been at least thirteen scripts in the original canon of Mathew Slade: Private Investigator, as follows (in alphabetical order):

  • A Case of Murder
  • A Sweet Scent of Mystery
  • The Avarice Heir
  • Bachelor's Club, The
  • Day of the Phoenix Part 1
  • Day of the Phoenix Part 2
  • Day of the Phoenix Part 3
  • Find Julie Raydon
  • The Incredible Dr Lintz
  • Passage to Tangiers
  • Pattern for A Frame
  • The Secret Grey Man
  • Who Killed My Pen Pal?

The AFRTS apparently transcribed at least twelve Mathew Slade: Private Investigator episodes from the Starlight Mystery Theater canon, as follows (in AFN as broadcast order):

  • A Sweet Scent of Mystery
  • Day of the Phoenix Part 1
  • Day of the Phoenix Part 2
  • Day of the Phoenix Part 3
  • Find Julie Raydon
  • Passage to Tangiers
  • Pattern for a Frame
  • The Bachelor's Club
  • A Case of Murder
  • The Secret Grey Man
  • Who Killed My Pen Pal?
  • The Incredible Dr Lintz [no record of actual broadcast]

The AFRTS named their denatured transcriptions of Mathew Slade: Private Investigator simply ''Matthew Slade,'' assigning it the END-834 desigination. Note that The AFRTS spelled the name, Mathew Slade, with a second 't' as ''Matthew Slade.'' However, the listings of the Far East Network retained the Mathew Slade spelling for the series. Nowhere in the FEN listings is the name Starlight Mystery Theater employed in identifying the program or promoting it, even though Starlight Mystery Theater is announced in the preamble to all of the AFRTS exemplars of Matthew Slade. We point this out simply to dispel confusion over references to the AFRTS exemplars as anything but simply Matthew Slade.

Clearing the Air: The Avarice Heir and The Incredible Dr. Lintz

Of the complete Mathew Slade: Private Investigator canon originally broadcast over Pacifica Radio, it would appear that AFRTS either never transcribed The Avarice Heir, or that it has yet to surface among the archived exemplars in the AFRTS archives. The Incredible Dr. Lintz appears nowhere in either the original KPFK scheduled listings or among the broadcast listings from either Pacific Stars and Stripes or the European Stars and Stripes.

The Incredible Dr. Lintz was clearly among the AFRTS transcriptions, since we've listened to the AFRTS-transcribed version of this exemplar which contains the AFRTS closing signature with no evidence of tampering.

Something of a controversy remains regarding a reported The Incredible Dr. Lintz from 1949. However, the The Incredible Dr. Lintz from the AFRTS canon of transcriptions is clearly and unmistakably from the 1964 Starlight Mystery Theater canon of Mathew Slade: Private Investigator. Given that William Wintersole, the actor who portrayed Mathew Slade in the original 1964 run would have been only 17 years old in 1949, we find it a bit of a stretch to swallow the logic that an alleged October 8, 1949 rendition of The Incredible Dr. Lintz can possibly exist--or that someone with the ability to see into the future, could have somehow assembled that original cast from 1964 as early as 1949 for one magical episode and one only.

First and Last Episodes

Since both the KPFK run and the AFN run of the AFRTS-transcribed series agree that ''Who Killed My Pen Pal?'' is the last episode of the series, we can accept that as the series' end. KPFK inaugurated their original run with the three-part arc of Day of The Phoenix, but AFN led with A Sweet Scent of Mystery for its 1966 run and the FEN led with A Case of Murder for their 1968 run. These were, after all, transcribed programs for syndication first over the Pacifica Radio chain, then to subscribing independent affiliates, then ultimately to The AFRTS. As with any transcribed, syndicated production, dates, times, and episode order will vary with the market in which the series aired.

Reviving Radio Noir Detective Drama from The Golden Age

Keep in mind that this was, from the outset, a Vintage Radio revival series, and it's clear that some performances were calculatedly over the top--William Wintersole's among them. When you undertake an homage--via writing style, atmosphere, or performance--you must expect comparisons, whether intended or not. In that respect, Mathew Slade: Private Detective wears very well. It maintained many of the 'set' pieces--boozin', floozin' male protagonist; sexy, leggy secretary/love interest; grumpy old Police Detective nemesis--but the scripts weren't over the top in the least.

In any case, the performances feel just as over the top as they should be, as an homage, and they remain some of Radio's most entertaining detective dramas of the genre, despite their 'revival apostrophe' in the lexicon of Radio.

Series Derivatives:

AFRTS END-834 Matthew Slade; KPFK Starlight Mystery Theatre; Mathew Slade, P.I.
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Detective Dramas
Network(s): AFN, AFKN, FEN; KPFA, KPFK and other Pacifica Affiliate stations
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown [possibly The Incredible Dr. Lintz]
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 1964 KPFK Run: 64-07-05 01 Day of The Phoenix Part 1
1966 AFN Run: 66-10-06 01 A Sweet Scent of Mystery
1968 FEN Run: 68-08-02 01 A Case of Murder
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 1964 KPFK Run: 64-07-07 to 64-11-22; KPFK; Thirteen, 25-minute programs; Alternating Sundays and Saturdays, various times
1966 AFN Run: 66-10-06 to 66-12-15; AFN; Eleven, 25-minute programs; Thursdays, 2005 hrs (8:05 p.m.)
1968 FEN Run: 68-10-06 to 66-12-15; FEN; Thirteen, 25-minute programs; Fridays, 9:05 p.m.
Syndication: KPFK, The AFRTS
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s):
Brian Adams [Producer/Director]
Michael Dayton and Richard Guy [Technical Direction]
Principal Actors: The Pacifica Players: William Wintersole, Sylvia Walden. Norman Belkin, Joyce Reed, Michael Fox, Barton Heyman, William O'Connell, Mary Kate Denny, John Anniston, Maureen Mcllroy, Valora Noland. Stuart Levin. Joyce Reed, Barton Heyman, Ed Cooper, Karl Swenson, Edward Ashley, Bob Legionnaire, Lou Krugman, Sondra Rodgers
Recurring Character(s): Mathew Slade, Private Investigator [William Wintersole]; Loretta Jones or ''Jonesy'' [Sylvia Walden]; Lieutenant Barney Flagg [Karl Swenson]
Protagonist(s): Mathew Slade, Private Investigator
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Brian Adams, Robert Frederick
Music Direction: Unknown
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Unknown
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
13
Episodes in Circulation: 10
Total Episodes in Collection: 11
Provenances:
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Pacifica Radio Archives.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


We invite you to compare our fully provenanced research with the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and their Matthew Slade, Private Investigator 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.

OTRisms:

We're understandably confused by what the OTRR refers to as a 'log' of Matthew Slade, Private Investigator:

  • They have no dates whatsoever for their 'log'
  • Two of their titles are spelled wrong.
  • They have no episode numbers for their 'log'

This, from ''the most accurate archive of OTR series [sic] in the world.'' We're in the world--last time we checked, anyway. KPFA KPFK, the AFRTS, AFN, The Pacifica Foundation and their records are quite demonstrably in the world as well--despite the best efforts of the Joseph McCarthy types in the Republican Party. We got it right--or as right as it current information has taken us. Could the OTRR be misrepresenting the accuracy of their database--again?

The enduring, bald-faced fiction about an episode titled The Incredible Dr. Lintz dated October 8, 1949 is a classic example of the tripe that passes for scholarship in the 'commercial otr' world. The circulating recording for that date announces the same cast from the genuine 1964-1965 broadcasts of Starlight Theatre's Matthew Slade: Private Investigator. William Wintersole, the actor who portrayed Matthew Slade, was barely 17 years of age in 1949. There's the 'big lie' enjoying a resurgence of popularity as of late, and then there's the 'whopper lie.' This is of the latter variety. Whopper lies like this persist throughout the 'commercial otr' world simply because a small, but influential, group of commercial 'otr wags' and 'reknowned' otr writers continue to perpetuate this nonsense. No one speaks out because it's simply more profitable to ''go along, to get along.'' It's just that simple. The world of insanely profitable commercial otr has always been about money and will always be about money. It was 'invented' in the 1970s to make money and it's been about nothing else but money since that time. See how this absurd misinformation persists. Perform the following quoted Google search:

"Incredible Dr. Lintz"


What you see here, is what you get. Complete transparency. We have no 'credentials' whatsoever--in any way, shape, or form--in the 'otr community'--none. But here's how we did it--for better or worse. Here's how you can build on it yourselves--hopefully for the better. Here's the breadcrumbs--just follow the trail a bit further if you wish. No hobbled downloads. No misdirection. No posturing about our 'credentials.' No misrepresentations. No strings attached. We point you in the right direction and you're free to expand on it, extend it, use it however it best advances your efforts.

We ask one thing and one thing only--if you employ what we publish, attribute it, before we cite you on it.

We continue to provide honest research into these wonderful Golden Age Radio programs simply because we love to do it. If you feel that we've provided you with useful information or saved you some valuable time regarding this log--and you'd like to help us even further--you can help us keep going. Please consider a small donation here:

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.







Starlight Mystery Theater - Mathew Slade: Private Investigator [KPFK] Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
64-07-05
1
Day of The Phoenix Part 1
N
64-07-05 KPFK Folio 64-06-22
8:30 p.m. STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER:
Beginning a regular biweekly feature to be heard at this time, tonight's presentation is
The Day of the Phoenix.

Brian Adams - Director / Original Script
Robert Frederick - Original Script
Michael Dayton - Technical Production

Cast
William Wintersole, Joan Tompkins, Karl Swenson, Norman Belkin, Sylvia Walden, Edward Ashley, Bob Legionnaire, Barton Hayman, Michael Fox, Lou Krugman, Sondara Rogers, John Anniston
64-07-0x
2
Day of The Phoenix Part 2
N
64-07-0x
3
Day of The Phoenix Part 3
N
64-07-19
4
The Avarice Heir
N
64-07-19 KPFK Folio 64-07-06
8:30 p.m. STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER:
Presents this week Bill Wintersole as Mathew Slade in "
The Avarice Heir." The bi-weekly series is written and directed by Brian Adams and Bob Fredericks, with technical production by Michael Dayton.
64-08-08
5
The Bachelor's Club
64-08-08 KPFK Folio 64-08-03
12:00 p.m. Starlight Mystery:
Bachelors' Club
64-08-16
6
A Case of Murder
N
64-08-16 KPFK Folio 64-08-03
8:30 Starlight: A Case of Murder
64-08-30
7
Title Unknown
N
64-08-30 KPFK KPFK Folio 64-08-17
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade. sleuth, sleeps not.
64-09-13
8
Title Unknown
N
64-09-13 KPFK Folio 64-08-31
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade continues his war on crime.
64-09-27
9
A Sweet Scent of Mystery
N
64-09-27 KPFK Folio 64-09-14
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: A Sweet Scent of Mystery.
64-10-11
10
Pattern for a Frame
N
64-10-11 KPFK Folio 64-09-28
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Pattern for a Frame.
64-10-25
11
The Secret Grey Man
N
64-10-25 KPFK Folio 64-10-12
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade meets "The Secret Grey Man."
64-11-08
12
Passage to Tangiers
N
64-11-08 KPFK Folio 64-10-26
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Passage to Tangiers.
64-11-22
13
Who Killed My Pen Pal?
N
64-11-08 KPFK Folio 64-11-09
8:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: "Who Killed My Pen Pal," the final adventure of Mathew Slade, Private Investigator.
65-05-07
14
A Case of Murder
N
65-05-07 KPFK Folio 65-05-10
11:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade. Private Investigator. Slade solves "
A Case of Murder." With William Wintersole, Joyce Reed, Michael Fox, Norman Belkin, William O'Connell. Produced, directed and written by Brian Adams, technical production by Michael Dayton.
65-05-21
15
Find Julie Raydon
N
65-05-21 KPFK Folio 65-05-10
11:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade—Private Investigator. Slade attempts to "
Find Julie Raydon." With William Wintersole, Valora Noland. Stuart Levin. Joyce Reed. Norman Belkin. William O'Connell and John Anniston.
Produced and directed by Brian Adams, written by Robert Frederick, technical production by Michael Dayton.
65-06-04
16
The Avarice Heir
N
65-06-04 KPFK Folio 65-05-24
11:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade — Private Investigator. Slade solves the "
Case of the Averice Heir." With William Wintersole, Sylvia Walden. Norman Belkin, Joyce Reed, Michael Fox, Barton Heyman, William O'Connell, Mary Kate Denny, John Anniston, and Maureen Mcllroy. Written, produced and directed by Brian Adams with technical direction by Michael Dayton and Richard Guy.
65-06-18
17
The Bachelor's Club
N
65-06-18 KPFK Folio 65-06-07
11:30 STARLIGHT MYSTERY THEATER: Mathew Slade, Private Investigator. Slade joins "
The Bachelor's Club." With William Wintersole, Barton Heyman, John Anniston, Norman Belkin, Sylvia Walden, and Ed Cooper. Produced and directed by Brian Adams, written by Robert Frederick, technical production by Michael Dayton and Richard Guy.





AFRTS END-834 'Matthew Slade' AFN Radio Program Log











Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
66-10-06
1
A Sweet Scent of Mystery
Y
66-10-06 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-10-13
2
Day of the Phoenix Part 1
Y
66-10-13 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-10-20
3
Day of the Phoenix Part 2
Y
66-10-20 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-10-27
4
Day of the Phoenix Part 3
N
66-10-27 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-11-03
5
Find Julie Raydon
Y
66-11-03 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-11-10
6
Passage to Tangiers
Y
66-11-10 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-11-17
7
Pattern for a Frame
Y
66-11-17 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-11-24
8
The Bachelor's Club
Y
66-11-24 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-12-01
9
A Case of Murder
Y
66-12-01 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-12-08
10
The Secret Grey Man
Y
66-12-08 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-12-15
11
Who Killed My Pen Pal?
Y
66-12-15 European Stars & Stripes
2005 Matthew Slade
66-xx-xx
--
The Incredible Dr. Lintz
Y





AFRTS END-834 'Matthew Slade' FEN Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
68-08-02
1
A Case of Murder
Y
68-08-02 Pacific Stars & Stripes
FRIDAY: At 9:05 p.m. you'll hear "Matthew Slade," a new series about a private investigator. In "A Case of Murder," Matthew is hired by a wealthy woman to help "fix" an accidental murder of her husband.
68-08-09
2
Title Unknown
Y
68-08-09 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-08-16
3
Title Unknown
Y
68-08-16 Pacific Stars & Stripes
FRIDAY: Mystery fans tune in at 9:05 p.m. when "Mathew Slade" is hired by a society woman to investigate her daughter's death.
68-08-23
4
Title Unknown
Y
68-08-23 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-08-30
5
Day of the Phoenix Part 1
Y
68-08-30 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-09-06
6
Day of the Phoenix Part 2
Y
68-09-06 Pacific Stars & Stripes
FRIDAY: At 9:05 p.m. "Matthew Slade" is involved with murder and a missing art piece . . . That's at 9:05 p.m.
68-09-13
7
Day of the Phoenix Part 3
Y
68-09-13 Pacific Stars & Stripes
FRIDAY: At 9:05 p.m. Matthew Slade solves another case in "Day of the Phoenix" . . . That's at 9:05 p.m.
68-09-20
8
Find Julie Raydon
Y
68-09-20 Pacific Stars & Stripes
FRIDAY: As a favor to a beautiful young woman, Matthew Slade tries to find her missing roommate . . . That's at 9:05 p.m.
68-09-27
9
Who Killed My Pen Pal?
Y
68-09-27 Pacific Stars & Stripes
At 9:05 p.m. a wealthy woman hires Matthew Slade to find out what happened to a fellow letter writer who seems to have disappeared.
68-10-04
10
Title Unknown
Y
68-10-04 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-10-11
11
Title Unknown
Y
68-10-11 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-10-18
12
Title Unknown
Y
68-10-18 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-10-25
13
Title Unknown
Y
68-10-25 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-11-01
14
Title Unknown
Y
68-11-01 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-11-08
15
Title Unknown
Y
68-11-08 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade
68-11-15
16
Title Unknown
Y
68-11-15 Pacific Stars & Stripes
9:05—Mathew Slade






Mathew Slade: Private Investigator Radio Program Biographies




William Richard Wintersole
(Mathew Slade)

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1931-)

Birthplace: Portsmouth, Ohio, U.S.A.

Radiography:
1964 Mathew Slade: Private Investigator

William Wintersole as Professor Andrew Whitsett with Robert Duvall in the Outer Limits from 1964
William Wintersole as Professor Andrew Whitsett with Robert Duvall in the Outer Limits from 1964


William Wintersole as Baring in The Wild Wild West from 1967
William Wintersole as Baring in The Wild Wild West from 1967


William Wintersole as Abrom from Star Trek:The Original Series
William Wintersole as Abrom from Star Trek:The Original Series (1968)


William Wintersole as Dr. Kessler in The Partridge Family from 1971
William Wintersole as Dr. Kessler in The Partridge Family from 1971.


William Wintersole as Dr. Wolfe in The Waltons from 1973
William Wintersole as Dr. Wolfe in The Waltons from 1973


William Wintersole as Tom Henderson in Little House on The Prairie from 1978
William Wintersole as Tom Henderson in Little House on The Prairie from 1978
William Wintersole came to Radio, Television and Film after a ten-year career on the Stage. Born and raised in Ohio, Bill Wintersole's distinctive, authoritative voice and bearing soon found him appearing in stock and Stage plays throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s.

It was in the early 1960s that he found his way to Southern California, soon after appearing in Stage productions from Berkeley to Pasadena. His first Radio appearance was in a starring role: as Mathew Slade in Pacifica Radio's Starlight Mystery Theater presentation of thirteen Radio Revival episodes of Mathew Slade: Private Detective (1964).

After his appearance in Mathew Slade: Private Detective, Wintersole almost immediately made the jump to Television, embarking on a highly respectable career of over 100 Television appearances between 1964 and 2009. Indeed, many of those appearances were in some of modern Television's most successful and historical programming, including The Outer Limits (1964), The Fugitive (1966), The Wild Wild West (1966), The Invaders (1967), Star Trek (1968), Judd for The Defense (1968), The Mod Squad (1969), Lancer (1970), Mission: Impossible (1966-1971), Emergency! (1974), Little House On the Prairie (1978), Quincy M.E. (1981), Airwolf (1986) through to his present day continuing appearances in The Young and The Restless, as Mitchell Sherman.

Still a solid, well-respected Stage actor, throughout Wintersole's Television career, he continued appearing in stock and Stage roles throughout California and the East Coast, including numerous appearances at The Pasadena Playhouse.

Bill Wintersole is one of that rare group of character actors whose performances, precisely because of their workmanlike craft, stay with you irrespective of the number of lines they may have uttered in any presentation. But it's not merely Wintersole's commanding voice and Stage presence that made him a success. His performances consistently feel as real as projects them.

Still performing at the age of 78, we wish Bill Wintersole even longer Stage and Television careers, while continuing to share our enjoyment of his memorable Radio and Television appearances over the years via his Mathew Slade: Private Investigator recordings and the numerous archived Television recordings of his work to date.



Karl Swenson
(Lt. Barney Flagg)

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1908-1978)

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.

Radiography:
1938 Mercury Thetatre
1937 Lorenzo Jones
1939 Columbia Workshop
1940 Adventures In Reading
1940 Cavalcade Of America
1944 Words At War
1944 Treasury Salute
1944 Theatre Of Romance
1944 Inner Sanctum
1944 Molle Mystery Theatre
1945 Matinee Theater
1945 But For Their Grace
1945 The Eternal Light
1945 This Is Your FBI
1945 The Adventures Of Father Brown
1945 The Whisper Men
1945 Theatre Guild On the Air
1946 The Adventures Of the Red Feather Man
1946 Murder At Midnight
1947 Reader's Digest Radio Edition
1947 Romance
1947 Ford Theatre
1947 Casey, Crime Photographer
1948 The Golden Door
1948 CBS Is There
1948 Your Playhouse Of Favorites
1948 You Are There
1949 Radio City Playhouse
1949 Citizens Of the World
1949 Mr Chameleon
1950 Our Gal SUnday
1951 Hallmark Playhouse
1951 American Portraits
1952 The Chase
1952 Counterspy
1952 Horizons West
1953 Stroke Of Fate
1954 Inheritance
1955 X Minus One
1958 Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone
1958 Suspense
1973 Hollywood Radio Theatre
1974 CBS Radio Mystery Theatre

Karl Swenson as  Eddie Haskell's father, George, from Leave It To Beaver (1958)
Why is this man smiling?!?
Karl Swenson as Eddie Haskell's father, George, from Leave It To Beaver (1958)


Karl Swenson as ''John'' in Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1960
Karl Swenson as ''John'' in Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1960

Karl Swenson as Mr. McBeevee in The Andy Griffith Show from 1962
Karl Swenson as Mr. McBeevee in The Andy Griffith Show from 1962


Karl Swenson as George Sherston in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from 1962
Karl Swenson as George Sherston in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from 1962

Karl Swenson as Axel Norstad in The Case of The Tarnished Trademark from Perry Mason (1962)
Karl Swenson as Axel Norstad in The Case of The Tarnished Trademark from Perry Mason (1962)


Karl Swenson as Corley Ketchum in the Perry Mason episode, The Case of The Bigamous Spouse (1963)
Karl Swenson as Corley Ketchum in the Perry Mason episode, The Case of The Bigamous Spouse (1963)


Karl Swenson as butler Charles Norman in the Perry Mason episode, The Sleepy Slayer from 1964
Karl Swenson as butler Charles Norman in the Perry Mason episode, The Sleepy Slayer from 1964


Karl Swenson as Dr. Karl Svenson in Hogan's Heroes from 1967
Karl Swenson as Dr. Karl Svenson in Hogan's Heroes from 1967


Karl Swenson as a Police Detective in Happy Days from 1974
Karl Swenson as a Police Detective in Happy Days from 1974


Karl Swenson as Lars Hanson, the Founder of Walnut Grove in Little House On the Prairie from 1978, Swenson's last acting role.
Karl Swenson as Lars Hanson, the Founder of Walnut Grove in Little House On the Prairie from 1978, Swenson's last acting role.
Sturdy, Swedish, fair-haired character actor Karl Swenson was born and raised in Brooklyn, from where he launched a 50-year career on the Stage, on Radio, in Film and in Television. His forty-year career on Radio, encompassing an estimated 3,000 performances, spanned the entire Golden Age of Radio era, including its revival era through the mid-1970s--from Mercury Theatre (1938) to CBS Radio Mystery Theatre (1974).

Karl Swenson embarked on his 50-year acting career on the stage, beginning with nine performances as Thompson in the American Laboratory comedy A Glass of Water (1930). Swenson's next foray onto the Stage was as the leader of the vigilantes in 30 performances of Carry Nation (1932) at the Biltmore Theatre.

Swenson's stongest Stage credit during the period was his 339 performances as Rowdy for the Little Theatre production of One Sunday Afternoon (1933). The remainder of the 1930s found him on Stage in House of Remsen (1934), It's You I Want (1935), and the original tragedy, Panic (1935), which, true to its genre, closed after only two performances. Once Swenson's extraordinary Radio career took off, Swenson appeared only twice more on Broadway: A Highland Fling (1944) at the Plymouth Theatre and The Man Who Had All the Luck (1944) at the Forrest Theatre.

One of Radio's most distinquished and effective artists, between the late 1930s and 1960s, the incredible range of his voice and characterizations could be heard over virtually every significant venue in Radio.

Karl Swenson was a favorite of some of Radio's greatest producers and directors. He appeared in:
  • Dracula and Abraham Lincoln for Mercury Theatre of The Air (1938) for Orson Welles
  • Seven Columbia Workshop presentations (1938-1946)
  • 100 episodes of Cavalcade of America (1940-1951), often in multiple roles during the same production
  • Five Words At War (1945) episodes
  • Six Norman Corwin productions, including the production finale of CBS Radio Workshop with an extraordinarily touching and effective portrayal of Sinclair Lewis' ''Young Man Axelbrod: An Old Man At Yale'' (1957)
  • Six You Are There (1948) episodes
  • Fourteen Inner Sanctum (1944-1952) episodes for Himan Brown
  • Eight installments of Horizons West (1952)
  • Seven Radio Reader's Digest (1957) episodes
  • Ten Suspense (1958-1959) episodes for William N. Robson
  • Twelve episodes of Hollywood Radio Theatre (1973) for Elliott Lewis
  • Two episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theatre (1974-1975) for Himan Brown

He commanded starring roles in:

  • Eighteen seasons of Lorenzo Jones (1937-1955)
  • G. K. Chesterton's mystery anthology, The Adventures of Father Brown (1945)
  • The Whisper Men (1945)
  • Lawyer Q (1947)
  • Mr. Chameleon (1948-1953)

He also appeared in several recurring roles such as Walter Manning in Portia Faces Life (1940-1951)--a role he later took to Television in 1953, Mrs. Miniver (1944), and Lt. Barney Flagg in the Starlight Mystery Theater presentations of Mathew Slade: Private Investigator (1964), several with Joan Tompkins, who he'd recently married after years of working together in Radio--a union that lasted the remainder of his life. They appeared often together throughout their careers in Radio, Film, and Television.

In the 1950s, Karl Swenson reinvented himself with hundreds of character roles thoughout the visual medium of The Golden Age of Television. Beginning with his reprise of Walter Manning in the Television version of Portia Faces Life (1953-1954), Karl Swenson was soon appearing in a remarkable array of ethnic European or highly memorable character roles in a Television career that spanned twenty-four years and at least 300 appearances over the medium.

Swenson found further recurring and costarring roles in:

  • Leave It to Beaver (1958) as Eddie Haskell's Dad, George
  • Bachelor Father (1958-1960) as Charlie Burton
  • The Best of The Post (1960) as Turner
  • The Dick Powell Show (1962) as Lang
  • Sam Benedict (1962) as Barney Rossvalley
  • Cimarron Strip (1967) as Dr. Kihlgren
  • Forty-one episodes of Little House on The Prairie (1974-1978) as Lars Hanson, founder of Walnut Grove. [Swenson passed away in 1978 within days of the fictional passing of his Lars Hanson's character.]

Between those recurring and costarring roles, Swenson appeared in numerous return roles in Gunsmoke (1955), Maverick (1957), Perry Mason (1958-1962), Dr. Kildare (1961), Mission: Impossible (1966) and Hawaii Five-O (1968). Karl Swenson was also a regular fixture in virtually all of the era's most prestigious Playhouse-type dramatic anthologies. His invariably endearing, highly sympathetic characterizations were often interspersed with some brilliant against-type casting throughout the period. But most Television fans of the era will remember him as an almost universally sympathetic Scandinavian-American or ethnic German or Central-European character in hundreds of memorable single performances.

Karl Swenson came relatively late in his career to Film, with minor roles in Kings Go Forth (1958), North to Alaska (1960), The Birds (1963) and The Sons of Katie Elder (1965). But his highly versatile voice was employed in numerous high-profile animated features such as Merlin in The Sword and The Stone (1963). Yet despite his late start in Film he nevertheless compiled twenty feature film credits over a twenty year Film career.

We've spoken before, and often at great length, about the extraordinary versatility of Radio's greatest character actors. Karl Swenson certainly epitomized that type of actor. As versatile behind a mike as in front of a Television camera, Karl Swenson was--true to his characterization from 1948-1953, Mr. Chamelon, personified. Not only could he portray a bewildering array of 'stock' characters, but he portrayed them as if he knew them personally, and he was so effective that we came to know his characterizations personally.

It's rare that a character actor can so personally invest himself or herself in an array of characters as vast as Karl Swenson provided for us. But we have literally thousands of exemplars of his performances over both Radio and Television from which to review and remind us, yet again of Karl Swenson's giant talent.




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