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Original Sleep No More header art

The Sleep No More Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Sleep No More

Vanguard Sleep No More LP from 1956

The Vanguard label first issued an LP of six of the stories from the Nelson Olmsted Sleep No More canon in 1956:

Side One:

  • The Signalman by Charles Dickens
  • The Mummy's Foot by Theophile Gautier
  • Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson

Side Two:

  • An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
  • What Was It? by Fitz-James O'Brien
  • The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson

Nelson Olmsted broadcast an award winning series of stories about the State of Ohio and its history for over five years between 1952 and 195
Nelson Olmsted broadcast an award winning series of stories about the State of Ohio and its history for over five years between 1952 and 1957

Spot ad from 1961 run of Stories of Pacific Power Land
Spot ad from 1961 run of Stories of Pacific Power Land. Nelson Olmsted recorded a series of stories about the Pacific Northwest and its history for over fifteen years between 1961 and 1976

Pacific Power and Light logo


Nelson Olmsted was a national treasure. Over a broadcasting career of thirty-five years, Olmsted's soothing, reassuring, and highly versatile narrations graced thousands of broadcast recordings. While also a prolific and highly successful actor in both Radio and Television, it's Olmsted's literature readings and narrations that are the focus of this series and this article.

Sleep No More was Nelson's Olmsted's contribution to The Golden Age of Radio's rich tradition of broadcasting compelling and stirring supernatural and suspense dramas, predominantly from the finest supernatural literature throughout modern history.

Sleep No More arrived during the waning years of the Golden Age of Radio--understandably risky Radio programming for the mid-1950s. On the plus side of the equation were Nelson Olmsted's extremely loyal following throughout the U.S. combined with the classic nature of the stories which comprised the series. These stories were many of the most popular and compelling supernatural stories and adventures in literary history.

As evidence of the series' short-lived success, Vanguard Records, the label for which Olmsted recorded many of his readings, produced an LP, Sleep No More, to great success and critical acclaim for the era. The LP contained six of the stories that never made it into the Radio series: The Signalman, The Mummy's Foot, Markheim, An Occurence At Owl Creek, What Was It?, and The Body Snatcher.

Nelson's versatile readings of the great supernatural authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought them alive as only Nelson Olmsted could intone them. In many respects Sleep No More was an audiobook for broadcast. Nelson Olmsted was a master of the format.

Olmsted had contracted with Ohio Bell and the State of Ohio to narrate a series of vignettes about Ohio history titled, The Ohio Story, running in three installments a week, from 1952 to 1957. He also narrated numerous other short story programs before Sleep No More, some of which follow:
  • 1937 Black Night
  • 1939 World’s Greatest Short Stories
  • 1941 Dramas by Olmsted
  • 1946 Stories by Olmsted
  • 1946 Nelson Olmsted Playhouse
  • 1947 Story for Tonight
  • 1948 Story For Today

Nelson Olmsted's range is amply demonstrated throughout this series. If you have any of the printed works behind the stories in this series, you might try following along with Olmsted's readings and listen to the words on the page come alive with Olmsted's intonations. Olmsted quite literally follows almost every word, occasionally employing an altered contraction or two during the course of a reading to lend interactions between the various characters he portrays a more natural, conversational tone. But clearly, Olmsted rarely misses a word. Indeed, given his, by then, vast experience with literary narrations and readings, it's clear that Nelson Olmsted had a particular gift for bring the printed word to life.

While this article should be more about the literary works themselves, it's impossible to separate the stories from their reader. This was Olmsted's signature throughout his performing career. Having spoken well over a million words throughout his performing career, given the nature of his specialty, it becomes hard to imagine anyone else lending the same verisimilitude and clarity to these great supernatural and thriller stories.

This is undoubtedly the reason the series has enjoyed the popularity it has for well over sixty years now--especially during the run up to Halloween each year. Much as the adventures of Jump Jump, the Cinnamon Bear, and Jonathan Thomas have become Radio traditions at Christmas over the past seventy years, Sleep No More has become a favored traditional recording during the scariest month of the year.

Olmsted's technique in performing these readings could probably merit an entire article in itself. Olmsted doesn't presume to embody every nuance of the various characters he portrays in each reading. He doesn't have to. His subtlely altered inflection, tone, and timbre with each characterization are just enough to differentiate the various characters, while delivering them with his signature soothing, confident and expressive monotone. Monotonal delivery is traditionally taught to be something to avoid in delivering oratory or narration. But Olmsted had so mastered his entirely unique voice instrument so as to lend a wide range of minutely altered inflection to his narrations--precisely enough to differentiate the various characters, while still maintaining his unique, comforting and compelling delivery.

One of the rare ideal matches of performer to material, Olmsted and these wonderful supernatural classics combine to transfix the listener in a throwback to the wonderful lights-out, glowing dial experiences of the earliest days of broadcast Radio. Clearly, these readings are best experienced in a dimmed or darkened room, or even more ideally from the speakers of a vintage, tube-powered Radio or amplifier.

We understand from contemporary articles of the era that Nelson Olmsted was allowed to select his readings himself. This is underscored by the enthusiasm and focus that Olmsted demonstrates with each reading in the series. Olmsted knew this material--and their authors--intimately. Indeed, the response to the programs was so great, that upon completing the series, Olmsted's recording label--Vanguard--pressed another six stories from the originally proposed canon of supernatural thriller into a highly successful LP--Sleep No More: Famous Ghost and Horror Stories--that's been rereleased twice since 1956. The Sleep No More LP and a companion LP, Tales of Terror, were rereleased as a two-record set in the 1960s and 1970s.

The stories themselves, represented the work of authors as early as Edgar Allan Poe and as contemporary as Nelson Bond. Bond's 1937 novel--and subsequent three-act play and movie--Mr. Mergenthwirker's Lobblies had the distinction, in Bond's own words, " . . . of being the first full-length play ever broadcast on network television - the 'network' at that time consisting of but three stations in New York, Boston and Washington.'' Edgar Allan Poe's lyrical short poem, Annabel Lee--the last, complete poem penned by Poe--was reputedly inspired by Poe's own wife, Virginia. Nelson Olmsted's wonderfully evocative reading of the poem is backed by a beautiful, delicate underscore. Olmsted's fanciful and animated reading of Mr. Mergenthwirker's Lobblies, by contrast, delivered with an appropriately fanciful underscore, tongue well in cheek, brought Bond's unlikely titled supernatural science fiction tale to life as much as might be experienced in watching the Stage play.

NBC's legendary and greatly beloved Ben Grauer announced the program. It's clear that the two great voicemen enjoyed the experience of working with each other. Their interaction is seamless, given the structure of the production. Directed by Kenneth W. MacGregor, Sleep No More's pace and timing was perfectly suited to the format. Had Sleep No More aired even ten years earlier, it's likely that the production would have continued beyond twenty-one installments. Nelson Olmsted was, by then, already one of Radio's most popular voices with a huge following throughout the midwest and rural areas of the nation.

Olmsted's Television work was taking off throughout the 1950s, leading to an extraordinarily successful career in Television for the remainder of his life. Beginning in 1961, Nelson Olmsted began recording a fascinating series of historical bumpers for Pacific Light & Power, titled Stories of Pacific Power Land. The series ran in syndication throughout the western United States until 1976. But of all the thousands of narrations, readings, and dramatic performances Nelson Olmsted undertook during his storied career, Sleep No More remains one of the signature exemplars of his work. Each Halloween season, Sleep No More is taken out, dusted off, and thoroughly enjoyed by generation after generation of new fans. A fitting tribute to one of Golden Age Radio History's perfect marriages of performer to material.

Series Derivatives:

AFRTS END-598 'Sleep No More'
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Thriller Dramas
Network(s): NBC; The AFRTS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unkown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 56-10-31 01 Title Unknown
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 56-10-31 to 57-04-24; NBC; Twenty-six, 30-minute programs
Syndication: NBC; AFRTS; Vanguard Recordings
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Kenneth MacGregor; Bert Leonard [Supervisor]
Principal Actors: Nelson Olmsted
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): W.F. Harvey, Nelson Bond, Cornell Woolrich, Edgar Allan Poe, A.M. Burrage, Ambrose Bierce, Catherine Ann Porter, Paul Ernst, Guy de Maupassant, Jack London, Anton Chekhov, H.G. Wells, Irvin S. Cobb, Emile Zola, Davis Grubb, James Thurber, Christopher Isherwood, Geroge G. Toudouze, John Collier, Walker Everett, Algernon Blackwood
Writer(s)
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Ben Grauer
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
26
Episodes in Circulation: 18
Total Episodes in Collection: 19
Provenances:
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, contributor Gerry Wilkinson of Broadcast Pioneers.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings and especially Gerry Wilkinson of Broadcast Pioneers. The least helpful was the Hickerson Guide.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


This program comprised only twenty-one 10 twenty-three unique titles. The vast majority of the titles were derived from published--often famous--literary works. And yet, in spite of the long-standing, widely published nature of these works, the canon order, broadcast titles, or even the existence of many of the titles in the canon has been utterly misrepresented by the commercial 'otr' community for over fifty years.

OTRisms:

First off, Sleep No More never--ever--aired between 1952 and October 1956--that widely disseminated 'otr' lore is rubbish. The series that 'informative otr nugget' is referring to is, in all likelihood, Nelson Olmsted's long-running series of 15-minute historical vignettes, The Ohio Story. Those of you who've been searching--in vain--for Sleep No More recordings prior to October 1956 can stop wasting your time--finally.

We might add that The Arizona Republic, The New York Times, and the Newport Daily News all listed an airing of Sleep No More on October 31st 1956. There were no further listings for Sleep No More in the newspapers we researched until November 14th 1956--though that doesn't rule out an airing on November 7th 1956.

The widely reported "Marius" episode never existed, as such--nor did anything called, The Hourse Cult. The Marius episode that the 'otr' community cites as a unique episode is actually a portion of the Sleep No More episode titled, 'The Horsehair Trunk and A Friend To Alexander.' The episode, The Horsehair Trunk and A Friend To Alexander, has been widely described as, The Hourse Cult and A Friend To Alexander. Thus, from one actual [partial] broadcast episode, the 'otr' community has 'invented' two bogus episodes. If that practice didn't harm anyone then no harm, no foul, right?

But that's not the case.

The canon of Sleep No More broadcast recordings has been sold by the commercial 'otr' community as a CD package or cassette set tens of thousands of times to unwitting consumers at $3 to $20 a pop, representing the collection as accurate--when nothing could be further from the truth.

That's just wrong.

Do an internet search on any of the following, quoted search terms:

  • "Sleep No More" "Conquer's Isle"
  • "Sleep No More" "Conquerer’s Isle"
  • "Sleep No More" "Mr. Mergenthurker's Loblies"
  • "Sleep No More" "Death of Olivia Bicai"
  • "Sleep No More" "Browdian Farm"
  • "Sleep No More" "Thus I Refute Bealsley"
  • "Sleep No More" "Thus I Refute Beasley"
  • "Sleep No More" "Hourse Cult"
  • "Sleep No More" "Mr. Mergenthurker’s Lovelies"
  • "Sleep No More" "The Death Of Olivia Beckey"
  • "Sleep No More" "The Tilting Of Grannie Whitherall"
  • "Sleep No More" "The Flowering Of The Strange Orchard"
  • "Sleep No More" "Marius"
  • "Sleep No More" "Aunt Tessie"
  • "Sleep No More" "Ben Grower"

We're just guessing, mind you, but we'll bet that all of those searches turned up predominantly--or only--'otr' sites. Pretty good guess, huh? Plagiarism--and plagiarized misinformation at that--are clearly alive, well, and thriving in the cozy little world of 'commercial otr.'

Now . . . if our due diligence of these logs is correct--and it often is--there were only twenty-one to twenty-three titles in the entire canon of Sleep No More (another six if you count the Vanguard LP). By our count, the 'otr' world has at least twelve of those titles predictably wrong--laughably wrong in most instances. If you're a consumer of this nonsense, you're simply enabling the 'commercial otr' cheaters, posers, authors, plagiarists and charlatans.


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.







The Sleep No More Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
56-10-24
--
--
56-10-24 New York Times
9:30--WRCA: Les Brown Band
56-10-31
1
The Tell-Tale Heart - The Signalman - The Cask of Amontillado
N
56-10-31 NewYork Times
9:30--WRCA: Sleep No More

56-10-31 Newport Daily News
9:30--WJAR: Sleep No More

56-10-31 The Arizona Republic
9:30--KTAR--Sleep No More
56-11-07
2
The Pit and the Pendulum - Occasion at Owl Creek - The Mask of Red Death
N
56-11-07 Zanesville Signal
9:30--
Sound Flight

56-11-07 Idaho State Journal
7:30--
Sound Flight '58

56-11-07 Newport Daily News
9:30--
Sound Flight

56-11-07 Alton Evening Telegraph
9:30--
People Are Funny

56-11-07 NewYork Times
9:30--WRCA: To be announced

56-11-07 The Arizona Republic
9:30--KTAR--Sleep No More
56-11-14
3
Title Unknown
N
56-11-14 Zanesville Signal
9:30--Sleep No More

56-11-14 NewYork Times
9:30--WRCA: Sleep No More

56-11-14 Newport Daily News
9:30-WJAR: Sleep No More

56-11-21
4
Conqueror's Isle
Y
56-11-21 Zanesville Signal - TO ADD to the evening's mystery, Nelson Olmsted reads stories of suspense and horror on SLEEP NO MORE tonight on WHIZ at 9:30.

Nelson Olmsted announces "
August Heat" and "Mr. Mergenthwirker's Lobblies" for next week.

Announces Olympic Games beginning November 22, 1956
56-11-28
5
Mr. Mergenthwirker's Lobblies - August Heat
Y
56-11-28 Zanesville Signal - NELSON Olmsted narrates tales of the supernatural. Mr. Olmsted, a noted actor and storyteller, will relate both modern and classic "tales of impossible occurrences," on SLEEP NO MORE to be heard on WHIZ tonight at 9:30.

Nelson Olmsted announces "
Over the Hill" and "The Man in The Black Hat" for next week.
56-12-05
6
Over The Hill - The Man In the Black Hat
Y
56-12-05 Zanesville Signal - 9:30--Sleep No More.

Nelson Olmsted announces "
Three O'Clock" for next week.
56-12-12
7
Three O'Clock
Y
56-12-12 Corpus Christi Times
8:30--Sleep No More.

56-12-12 Logansport Pharos-Tribune
8:30--Sleep No More.

Nelson Olmsted announces "
The Storm" for next week.
56-12-19
8
The Storm - Annabel Lee
Y
56-12-19 Zanesville Signal
9:30--Sleep No More
56-12-26
9
Fishhead - The Death of Olivier Bécaille
Y
56-12-26 Zanesville Signal - NELSON Olmsted narrates tales of fantasy tonight on SLEEP NO MORE on NBC and WHIZ at 9:30. Included tonight is Irvin S. Cobb's "Fishhead," and Emile Zola's "The Death of Olivier Becailli."

Nelson Olmsted announces "
The Horse Hair Trunk" by Davis Grubb and "A Friend To Alexander" by James Thurber for next week.
57-01-02
10
The Horsehair Trunk - A Friend To Alexander
Y
57-01-02 Zanesville Signal
9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

[1st Half Only]
57-01-09
11
The Waxwork - The Man and the Snake
Y
57-01-09 Zanesville Signal - 9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

Nelson Olmsted announces "
I Am Waiting" and "Browdean Farm" for next week.
57-01-16
12
I Am Waiting - Browdean Farm
Y
[Possible preemption due to Humphrey Bogart Tribute--Bogart died on January 14, 1957]

57-01-16 Long Beach Press Telegram
A tribute to the late Humphrey
Bogart is set for 9:30 p.m. on
KFI.

57-01-16 Zanesville Signal - NELSON Olmsted narrates "tales of the supernatural" on SLEEP NO MORE tonight at 9:30. Tonight's stories will be "I Am Waiting," by Christopher Isherwood, and A.M. Burrage's classic tale of the occult, "Browdean Farm."

57-01-16 Amarillo Times
9:30--Sleep No More

57-01-15 NewYork Times
9:30--WRCA: Sleep No More
57-01-23
13
I Am Waiting - Browdean Farm
Y
57-01-23 Zanesville Signal
9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

57-01-23 Kingsport Times
9:30--Sleep No More

57-01-23 San Antonio Light
8:30--Sleep No More

57-01-23 Panama City Herald
8:30--Sleep No More

Nelson Olmsted announces "
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" and "Escape" for next week.
57-01-30
14
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall - Escape
Y
57-01-30 Zanesville Signal - 9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

57-01-30 Bennigton Evening Banner
9:30--Sleep No More

57-01-30 Edwardsville Intelligencer
8:30--Sleep No More

Nelson Olmsted announces "
Banquo's Chair" and "The Coward" for next week.
57-02-06
15
Banquo's Chair - The Coward
N
57-02-06 Zanesville Signal - 9:30--SLEEP NO MORE.

57-02-06 Edwardsville Intelligencer
8:30--Sleep No More

57-02-06 Bennigton Evening Banner
9:30--Sleep No More

Nelson Olmsted announces "
To Build A Fire" and "Three Skeleton Key" for next week.
57-02-13
16
To Build A Fire - Three Skeleton Key
N
57-02-13 Zanesville Signal
PERRY COMO and Dinah Shore will reign over
a special DEEJAY HEART PARADE program on NBC and WHIZ tonight at 9:30 in conjunction with the 1957 Heart Fund campaign.

57-01-15 NewYork Times
9:30--WRCA: Sleep No More
57-02-20
17
To Build A Fire - Three Skeleton Key

Y
57-02-20 Zanesville Signal - TONIGHT Nelson Olmsted narrates "To Build a Fire," by Jack London, and "Three Skeleton Keys" by George G. Toudouze. This program, originally scheduled for February 13th, was postponed until tonight due to a special broadcast. Listen to SLEEP NO MORE on WHIZ radio at 9:30.

Nelson Olmsted announces "
Thus I Refute Beelzy" and "The Bookshop" for next week.

57-02-20 Chicago Tribune
8:30 p.m.--WMAQ--Sleep No More
57-02-27
18
Thus I Refute Beelzy - The Bookshop
N
[Preempted in the midwest for regional Basketball Game]

57-02-24 Zanesville Signal
To sustain the mood created by "X-Minus One" Nelson Olmsted will narrate strange tales of suspense on "Sleep No More". This week's stories "Thus I Refute Beelzy," by John Collier and Nelson Bond's "The Bookshop."

57-02-27 Zanesville Signal
TONIGHT at 8:35 listen to the
Rosecrans - Cambridge Sectional Class AA Basketball game on WHIZ. Dick Keys will report the play-by-play description.

57-02-27 Chicago Tribune
8:30--WMAQ--Sleep No More

57-02-27 New York Times
9:30-10:00--Sleep No More: Nelson Olmsted narrates John Collier's "Thus I Refute Beelzy" and Nelson Bond's "The Bookshop."--(WRCA).
57-03-06
19
Thus I Refute Beelzy - The Bookshop
Y
57-03-06 Zanesville Signal
NELSON Olmsted narrates "tales of the occult" on SLEEP NO MORE at 9:30 p.m. Tonight's stories are "Thus I Refute Beelzy," by John Collier, and Nelson Bond's "The Bookshop."

57-03-06 Chicago Tribune
8:30--WMAQ --Sleep No More

57-03-06 New York Times
9:30--WRCA --Sleep No More

Nelson Olmsted announces "
The Escape of Mr. Trimm" for next week.
57-03-13
20
The Escape of Mr Trimm
Y
57-03-13 Zanesville Signal
9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

57-03-13 New York Times
9:30-10:00--Sleep No More: Nelson Olmsted narrates Irvin S. Cobb's tale of suspense, "The Escape of Mr. Trim"--(WRCA).

Nelson Olmsted announces "
A Suspicious Gift" and "The Woman In Grey" for next week.
57-03-20
21
The Woman In Grey - A Suspicious Gift

Y
57-03-20 Zanesville Signal
NELSON Olmsted narrates "tales of suspense," tonight at 9:30 on SLEEP NO MORE. Tonight's stories are "The Women In Grey" by Walker Everett, and "A Suspicious Gift" by Algernon Blackwood.

57-03-20 New York Times
9:30-10:00--Sleep No More: Nelson Olmsted narrates two tales of suspense--"The Woman in Grey," by Walker Everett, and "A Suspicious Gift," by Algernon Blackwood--(WRCA).

Nelson Olmsted announces "
The Bet" and "The Clerk's Quest" for next week.
57-03-27
22
Title Unknown
The Signalman - The Mummy's Foot - Markheim
N
57-03-27 Zanesville Signal
9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

57-03-27 Bennington Evening Banner
9:30--Sleep No More

57-03-27 Record-Eagle
8:30--Sleep No More

57-03-27 Janesville Daily Gazette
9:30--WMAQ --Sleep No More

57-03-27 Chicago Tribune
8:30--WMAQ --Sleep No More

57-03-27 New York Times
9:30--WRCA --Sleep No More
57-04-03
23
The Bet - The Clerk's Quest
Y
57-04-03 Zanesville Signal
9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

Nelson Olmsted announces "
A Passenger to Bali" for next week.
57-04-10
24
A Passenger To Bali
Y
57-04-10 Zanesville Signal
9:30--SLEEP NO MORE

Nelson Olmsted announces "
Homecoming" and "Aunt Cassie" for next week.
57-04-17
25
Homecoming - Aunt Cassie
Y
57-04-17 Zanesville Signal
NELSON Olmsted narrates "tales of the occult," tonight at 9:30. Tonight's stories are "Homecoming" and "Aunt Cassie".

Nelson Olmsted announces "
Evening" and "The Flowering of The Strange Orchid" for next week.
57-04-24
26
Evening - The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
Y
57-04-23 Traverse City Record-Eagle
Wednesday 9:30 Sleep No More





AFRTS END-598 'Sleep No More' Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
1
I Am Waiting
N
57-04-03
The Bet - The Clerk's Quest
N






The Sleep No More Radio Program Biographies




Leroy Nelson Olmsted, Jr.
(Narrator/Host)

Radio, Film, Television and Stage actor; Producer, Director; Writer
(1914-1982)

Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Education: B.A., University of Texas


Radiography:
1935 Organ Reveries
1937 Black Night
1939 Nelson Olmstead
1939 The World's Greatest Short Stories
1940 Dramas by Olmsted
1941 Author's Playhouse
1941 Story Dramas
1946 The World's Greatest Novels
1946 Lights Out
1947 Story For Tonight
1947 American Novels
1948 Radio City Playhouse
1949 You Are There
1949 NBC Summer Symphony
1950 Next Door Neighbor
1951 Dimension X
1951 Roy Shield and His Orchestra
1952 Cavalcade Of America
1952 The Ohio Story
1953 The Chase
1954 Crime and Peter Chambers
1954 Inheritance
1955 X Minus One
1956 Sleep No More
1958 The Couple Next Door
1961 Stories of Pacific Power Land

Nelson Olmsted circa 1947 from the back of the jacket of his Vanguard LP Sleep No More (1956)
Nelson Olmsted circa 1947 from the back of the jacket of his Vanguard LP Sleep No More (1956)

Nelson Olmsted circa 1961 as Dr. Lewis in Perry Mason
Nelson Olmsted circa 1961 as Dr. Lewis in Perry Mason.

Nelson Olmsted as Cartman Jasper from the Perry Mason Television series
Nelson Olmsted as Cartman Jasper from the Perry Mason Television series

Nelson Olmsted as Arthur Colemar from the Perry Mason Television series
Nelson Olmsted as Arthur Colemar from the Perry Mason Television series

Nelson Olmsted as Colonel Matthews from the Gomer Pyle Television series
Nelson Olmsted as Colonel Matthews from the Gomer Pyle Television series

Nelson Olmsted hosted the Ohio Story for Televsion from 1955-1957
Nelson Olmsted hosted the Ohio Story for Televsion from 1955-1957


Nelson Olmsted narrated the Stories of Pacific Powerland for the Pacific Power and Light Company for over fifteen years between 1961 and 1976
Nelson Olmsted narrated the Stories of Pacific Powerland for the Pacific Power and Light Company for over fifteen years between 1961 and 1976

Pacific Power and Light logo circa 1970


Leroy Nelson Olmsted, Jr. was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1914. Raised in the upper midwest, Olmsted attended college at the University of Texas as Austin. While attending U.T. Austin, he gained some broadcasting experience as an announcer for the locally originated Organ Reveries program (1935).

It was while working with the Austin's Little Theatre that Olmsted met and married fellow performer Alma Holloway. Upon graduating from college, Nelson Olmsted began his career in professional Radio in 1936 as an announcer for radio station WBAP, an NBC Red affiliate in Fort Worth, Texas. His first exposure narrating Radio thrillers began in 1937 with Black Night (1937-39), a series of late night thrillers broadcast to the local area and over the Texas Quality Network's WOAI from 11:00 to 11:15 every Monday night. Olmsted's natural gift for narrating classic supernatural thrillers created a growing sensation throughout WBAP's broadcast range--which reached as many as ten states.

Throughout its run, Black Night continued to receive fan mail from as far away as the upper midwest. Olmsted inaugurated the series with a performance of Edgar Allan Poe's classic, The Tell-Tale Heart. Nelson Olmsted both starred in the series and was heard in a wide variety of characterizations throughout the first year of the series. WBAP's sister station was WFAA, an NBC Blue affiliate colocated with WBAP.

By 1938, the buzz that Black Night--and Olmsted--had created brought Olmsted to New York City, where NBC established Nelson Olmsted as their resident teller of tales. In that capacity, Olmsted launched into a decade of compelling Radio narrations, beginning with NBC's The World's Greatest Short Stories. With a combination of The World's Greatest Short Stories, Dramas By Olmsted and Stories by Olmsted, NBC and Nelson Olmsted enjoyed a period of unprecendented success with the format for almost ten years--interrupted only by Olmsted's two year stint in the Army, stationed in Italy. But his Army service didn't derail his stirring narrations in the least. He performed in the same capacity while stationed in Italy.

Alternately billed as Nelson Olmstead, his most fondly remembered national broadcast success was in the NBC Radio series Sleep No More, which aired during 1956 and 1957. Sleep No More reunited him with the material which catapulted him to national success with NBC--Black Night from his WBAP days. Olmsted narrated some thirty-five of the finest and most popular supernatural suspense thrillers of the 19th and 20th centuries, with another NBC Radio legend, Ben Grauer as his announcer.

The short-lived series was so successful--uncharacteristically so, during the Golden Age of Television--that his recording label, Vanguard, released an LP of six more of his narrations, entitled Sleep No More!: Famous Ghost and Horror Stories, that's been rereleased twice since 1956. The Sleep No More LP and a companion LP, Tales of Terror, were rereleased as a two-record set in the 1960s and 1970s.

Omsted briefly summarized his performing life through 1956 on the flip side of the record jacket from the Vanguard Sleep No More LP:

"Now that I think of it, we had a sort of Golden Age of Drama down in Austin, Texas, during those depressed middle thirties. There was the Curtain Club of the University of Texas and Austin’s Little Theatre, and working between them were such aspirants as Zachary Scott, Elaine Anderson Scott, Eli Wallach, Walter Cronkite, Brooks West and Alma Holloway, whom I had sense enough to marry.

Most of them came on to New York, fought the actor’s battle, and made it one way or another. I stayed behind with the security of a radio announcer’s job. By the time I moved to WBAP, in Fort Worth, this security was pulling, and the announcer’s life seemed endlessly sterile. What to do about it? Dramatic shows cost money and there were no budgets. The cheapest drama for radio I could think of was good literature, read aloud. Especially the work of that great dramatist who never wrote a play -- Edgar Allan Poe. WBAP gave me some time with which to experiment. That was way back in 1939 -- and it worked. By 1940, the storytelling show was on NBC for a ten-year run. There were a couple of years out for the Army, but even so I managed to tell stories over the Army radio network in Italy.

Television brought rough competition to the industry. Rather than fight, I joined by adapting some of the best stories into plays, selling them to Fred Coe, and playing a part in them -- sometimes the lead.

So -- in the long run -- I got to New York, too, and made it as an actor, literally by telling stories!"

Modest to a fault, Nelson Olmsted had caught the wave of the early success of Television during its Golden Age, steadily working in many of Television's most prestigious and popular programs for the following 30 years--ultimately appearing in some 300 productions over his Television career.

One of Radio and Television's busiest performers, Olmsted also created a completely separate niche for himself recording long-running promotional vignettes for firms large and small for the remainder of his performing career. Most prominent among them were some 1200 recordings of historical vignettes for the Pacific Power and Light Company, titled Stories of Pacifc Power Land (1961-1976). Between 1952 and 1956, Olmsted had narrated an estimated 800 historical vignettes about Ohio, its history and famous citizens titled The Ohio Story. Beginning in 1957, The Ohio Story began airing as ten-minute Television shorts for another three years.

Olmsted's last performance in Television was as Professor Martin Kyle in The Paper Chase (1978). His last commercial narrations were the 1976 run of Stories of Pacific Power Land.

Over a career of some forty years in Radio, another thirty years in Television, 20 years of success as a record label artist, and occasional, yet memorable appearances in Film over 20 years, its safe to say that Nelson Olmsted was one of the 20th century's most successful performers.

For Golden Age Radio fans, especially throughout the Midwest, the Southwest and Northwest, Nelson Olmsted remains an icon from the Golden Age of Radio, his mellow intonements a constant reminder of the best of America and its cultural history.

For supernatural thriller fans, Nelson Olmsted remains a tradional treasure every Halloween--and for generations of new fans every passing year. Nelson Olmsted passed away in 1982, at the age of 68. The Southland loved him as much as any other area he'd ever graced with his voice. But for Southern California residents, especially, the passing of Nelson Olmsted left a huge hole in the collective heart of millions of adoring fans.




Benjamin Franklin 'Ben' Grauer
(Announcer)
Radio, Television, Film and Stage Actor; NBC Announcer/Narrator
(1908-1977)

Birthplace: Staten Island, New York City, U.S.A.

Education: B.A., City College of New York

Radiography:
1930 The Coca-Cola Top-Notchers
1932 Olympic Games
1933 Thrills Of Tomorrow For Boys
1934 The Baker's Broadcast
1934 Fleischmann's Yeast Hour
1935 Radio City Matinee
1935 The Nellie Revell Show
1935 Ripley's Believe It Or Not
1935 Circus Night In Silvertown
1935 Lux Radio Theatre
1935 The Magic Key
1936 Paul Whiteman's Musical Varieties
1937 The Shell Show
1937 Shell Chateau
1937 The Fact Finder
1938 The Royal Desserts Program
1938 Walter Winchell
1938 Pulitzer Prize Plays
1939 Richard Himber and His Orchestra
1939 The Vitalis P rogram
1940 H.V. Kaltenborn
1940 News Roundup
1952 America Looks Abroad
1940 Behind the Mike
1941 The News From Europe
1941 Sunday Evening News Roundup
1941 NBC Sunday News Roundup
1941 Jergens Journal
1941 The Hemisphere Review
1941 Two Years Of War
1941 Radio City Music Hall Symphony Orchestra
1941 Kay Kyser's Kollege Of Musical Knowledge
1941 The March Of Time
1942 Radio City Music Hall On the Air
1943 Music Of the New World
1943 Mr and Mrs North
1943 Information Please
1943 The NBC Symphony Orchestra
1943 The Fitch Bandwagon
1943 Your Home Front Reporter
1943 General Motors Symphony Of the Air
1944 Treasury Salute
1944 Opening Of the Fourth War Loan
1944 NBC D-Day Coverage
1944 Republican National Convention
1944 Democratic National Convention
1944 We Came This Way
1944 Liberaton
1945 The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre
1945 V-E Day Coverage
1945 Atlantic Spotlight
1945 The Charlie McCarthy Show
1946 Alec Templeton Time
1946 A Story For V-J Day
1947 Echoes Of A Century
1947 Home Is What You Make It
1947 Here's To Veterans
1947 You Have To Go Out
1947 Housing 1947
1948 The Chesterfield Supper Club
1948 Guest Star
1948 Living 1948
1948 Author Meets the Critics
1949 March Of Dimes
1949 The Henry Morgan Show
1949 Could Be
1950 The People Act
1950 We Can Do It
1950 The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show
1951 Memo For Americans
1951 The Big Show
1951 Theatre Guild On the Air
1951 Living 1951
1951 American Portraits
1952 The Endless Frontier
1952 The Forty Million
1953 Medicine U.S.A.
1955 Biography In Sound
1955 Best Of All
1955 Guest Star
1956 X Minus One
1956 Recollections At Thirty
1956 Sleep No More
1957 The Boston Pops
1959 Johnny Presents
1959 Meet the Press
1961 Monitor
1962 Democracy In America
1968 New Year's Eve All-Star Parade Of Bands
1973 New Year's Eve With Guy Lombardo
1976 The First Fabulous 50

Ben Grauer circa 1947Ben Grauer circa 1947


Caption: Ben Grauer not only takes 'em but develops 'em (1938)

Ben Grauer applauds the Boss, Raymond Firestone on accepting an award for The Firestone Hour
Ben Grauer applauds the Boss, Raymond Firestone on accepting an award for The Firestone Hour.

Ben Grauer interviews Tobey Balding a five year old British evacuee during a World War II Broadcast
Ben Grauer interviews Tobey Balding a five year old British evacuee during a World War II Broadcast
Ben Grauer chats with Kukla of Kukla, Fran and Ollie from the TV Show of the same name
Ben Grauer chats with Kukla of Kukla, Fran and Ollie from the TV Show of the same name

Ben Grauer circa 1964
Ben Grauer circa 1964

Helen Hayes sits next to Mrs. Ben Grauer -- Melanie Kahane -- at an unidentified event during the 1960s
Helen Hayes sits next to Mrs. Ben Grauer -- Melanie Kahane -- at an unidentified event during the 1960s

Ben Grauer sits at the Monitor Desk with Miss Monitor on the phone
Ben Grauer sits at the Monitor Desk with Miss Monitor on the phone.


Benjamin Franklin Grauer was born in Staten Island, New York. Already a child actor in films and on Broadway during the 1920s, he began his career as a child actor in David Warfield's production of The Return of Peter Grimm. Among his early credits were roles in films directed by D.W. Griffith.

After graduating from Townsend Harris High School, he received his B.A. from City College of New York in 1930. Grauer started in radio as an actor but soon joined the broadcasting staff of the National Broadcasting Company. Grauer was one of the four narrators, along with Burgess Meredith, of NBC's public affairs series The Big Story, which focused on courageous journalists.

Starting in 1932, Grauer covered the Olympic Games, presidential inaugurations and international events. During the course of his extraordinary radio career, Ben Grauer covered nearly every major historic event, including the Morro Castle fire, the Paris Peace Conference and the US Occupation of Japan.

Upon graduating in 1930, a 22-year-old Ben Grauer joined the staff at NBC. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a senior commentator and reporter. He was the designated announcer for the popular 1940s Walter Winchell's Jergens Journal and was selected by Arturo Toscanini to become the voice of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Grauer took over in 1940 and remained until it was disbanded in June 1954. Toscanini said he was his favorite announcer.

Grauer provided the commentary for NBC's first television special--the opening in of the 1939 New York World's Fair. In 1948 Grauer, together with John Cameron Swayze provided the first live TV coverage of the national political conventions. In 1956 NBC began broadcasting some of their shows in living color and in 1957 the animated Peacock logo made its debut. It was Grauer who first spoke the now famous words, "The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC," behind the Peacock graphic. During his forty year broadcast career, Ben Grauer hosted numerous TV programs on NBC, including game shows, quiz shows, concerts and news programs.

In 1954, he married interior designer Melanie Kahane.

Millions still remember his NBC coverage of the annual New Year's celebrations on both radio and TV. Between 1951 and 1969, Grauer covered New Years Eve at Times' Square eleven times. Grauer continued covering New Year's Eve for Guy Lombardo's New Year's Eve specials on CBS throughout the 1970s, with his last appearance on December 31, 1976, the year before both he and Guy Lombardo died.

Several years after the death of Toscanini, Grauer and composer Don Gillis (who produced the NBC programs from 1947 to 1954), created the Peabody Award-winning radio series Toscanini, the Man Behind the Legend. Beginning in 1963, it continued through the centennial of Toscanini's birth in 1967. The Toscanini series ran for nearly two decades on NBC Radio and then other radio stations until the early 1980s.

In the last decade before his death, Grauer collected material for a projected history of Prices and Pricing, with special attention to Book Prices. He was active in several professional journalistic organizations as well as the Grolier Club. Grauer had a strong interest in the graphic arts, annually printing his own Christmas cards.

All of the networks produced at least one or two truly memorable network voices, whether as recurring announcers, heavily tapped narrators, or on occasion simply the voice of a familiar newsreader. NBC Radio was particularly blessed in this regard, as were its listeners. CBS had Dan Seymour, and NBC had Ben Grauer. The two were justifiable legends in their own lights at their respective networks.

But Ben Grauer quite literally did it all at NBC. No matter the task--from newswriting or reading to comedy to Toscanini to quiz shows to all day stints at Monitor--and on both Radio and Television. Ben Grauer literally has no equal in the history of Radio and Television as an announcer, and few equals in overall versatility.

The literally thousands of circulating Radio recordings and Television kinescopes or films that bear Ben Grauer's unmistakable signature--crystal clear ennunciation, steady rock-solid delivery, and natural enthusiasm. We miss him now 32 years after his passing and indeed he will always be missed as long as any of his recordings remain available.




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