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Original Whitehall 1212 header art

WHItehall-1212 Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> WHItehall-1212

New Scotland Yard at Thames Embankment circa 1892
New Scotland Yard at Thames
Embankment circa 1892

New Scotland Yard as viewed from The Thames
New Scotland Yard as viewed from
The Thames

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Harold Scott was responsible for giving NBC the green light to explore the gruesome recesses of The Black Museum
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir
Harold Scott was responsible for giv-
ing NBC the green light to explore the gruesome recesses of The Black

New Scotland Yard's impressive triangular sign identifying its new Headquarters at Victoria Street S.W.1
New Scotland Yard's impressive
triangular sign identifying its new
Headquarters at
Street, S.W.1 in 1967

Never doing anything by half-measure, The 'Yard commissioned this highly distinctive font expressly for New Scotland Yard's signage during the 1967 move and reorganization.  One is reminded of the Johnston Underground font  commissioned in 1913 by Frank Pick, Commercial Manager of the London Electric Railway Company, as part of his plan to strengthen the company's corporate identity throughout the system
Never doing anything by half-measure,
The 'Yard commissioned this highly
distinctive font expressly for New
Scotland Yard's signage during the
1967 move and reorganization.
One is reminded of the Johnston
Underground font commissioned in
1913 by Frank Pick, Commercial
Manager of the London Electric
Railway Company, as part of his
plan to strengthen the company's
corporate identity throughout the

The New Scotland Yard Patch
New Scotland Yard Patch ca. 1967

Harry Alan Towers circa 1957. Towers produced both The Black Museum and Secrets of Scotland Yard for syndication. Both series were remarkably  similar to WHItehall 1212
Harry Alan Towers circa 1957.
Towers produced both The Black
Museum and Secrets of Scotland
Yard for syndication. Both series
were remarkably similar to
WHItehall 1212

The Vehicles of Scotland Yard's vaunted Flying Squad ca. 1929

Lea Frances Medallion

1929 Lea Francis coupé Advert
1929 Lea Francis coupé Advert.
Lea Francis tantalizingly offered a Hyper 1.5 Litre Supercharged (Type S) coupé that year. Sounds like a Flying Squad type of vehicle, and a classic 'plain brown wrapper' to boot.

Railton medallion
1929 Railton 4 litre
1929 Railton 4 litre

Lagonda medallion

1929 Lagonda 192 Cabriolet
1929 Lagonda 192 Cabriolet

Invicta medallion
1929 Invicta 2.5 litre Touring
1929 Invicta 2.5 litre Touring

Bentley medallion

1929 Bentley 'Blue Train' Coupé
1929 Bentley 'Blue Train' Coupé

Fascination with the inner workings of Great Britain's world-famous Scotland Yard, London's Criminal Investigations Department or C.I.D., had been peaking for half a century prior to the advent of The Golden Age of Radio. The novels and stories by both Dame Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had swept around the world from the turn of the century throughout the Golden Age. Scotland Yard featured prominently in most British Crime, Mystery and Detective novels of the era.

WHItehall-1212 was the first network-broadcast program to showcase Scotland Yard (The Metropolitan Police of London, or 'The Met'). There seemed no end of interest in Scotland Yard's famous 'Black Museum' and its seemingly endless collection of infamous weapons of death from the sublime to the most gruesome.

NBC was the first network to finally capitalize on the 'recently revealed secrets of Scotland Yard' with its network-sustained, all-British cast and Wyllis Cooper-written anthology of some 44 to 52 episodes of crime retrospective dramas (the actual number is still uncertain as of this writing). Though a thoroughly American production, and both written and directed by the gifted Cooper, the production billed itself as a completely British undertaking, all the more underscoring its projected message of absolute authenticity.

But NBC was by no means alone in seizing upon the revelation of Scotland Yard's long hidden 'secrets'. By the time WHItehall-1212 was well under way, the Orson Welles-narrated Black Museum began airing, as well as the Towers of London syndicated Secrets of Scotland Yard. In spite of the apparent glut of Black Museum-based programming, American--and Canadian--audiences seemed to find no end of fascination with this often notorious outpouring of Scotland Yard's most famous and infamous cases. So much so that now, half a century later, the three series are often conflated and intermixed in the memory of even the most knowledgeable Golden Age Radio collectors.
  • Secrets of Scotland Yard (1950 from Radio Lourenço Marques--LM Radio--in Mozambique, 1951 to 1953 in Canada, then later in the U.S.) was also a Towers of London syndicated production. It should be noted that the first airing of Secrets of Scotland Yard, was out of the pirate station, Radio Lourenço Marques from Mozambique to South Africa. This would clearly not have been a Scotland Yard sanctioned production, despite the fact that the BBC would almost certainly have known the syndicated series was being broadcast in both Australia and via LM Radio to South Africa. One can only surmise that this was a 'wink-wink, nudge-nudge' means of skirting the BBC's proscriptions against commercial broadcasts of their programming.
  • WHItehall-1212 (51-11-18 to 52-10-26) was a fully NBC produced and distributed network offering.
  • The Black Museum (1952 to 1953) was another Harry Alan Towers (Towers of London) syndicated production. Black Museum also aired out of a pirate station, Radio Luxembourg, beginning in late 1951, a practice that clearly would not have gained the overt support of Scotland Yard.

In his January 2, 1952 column, Walter Winchell provided the following typically terse--yet succinct--observation regarding WHItehall-1212:

"The Airistocrats: A refreshing, new program is "Whitehall 1212" based on actual Scotland Yard cases. The only top flight radio mystery that registers solidly without shootings, stabbings and other familiar hokum ..."

What really set the NBC production apart from its competitors' offerings was the splendid writing and direction of Wyllis Cooper. Having long since established himself as an accomplished writer and producer for both Radio and early Television, this was one of Cooper's first opportunities to direct an entire network production run of a series. The all-British cast also leant a distinctly authentic feel to the production, elevating it to the type of production one might expect to have come from The BBC's The Third Programme. Indeed, it was popularly believed by many to have been a BBC import. Had it not been for Wyllis Cooper's writing and direction--and his hoardes of Lights Out! and Quiet Please! fans, WHItehall-1212 might well have continued to be conflated with Secrets of Scotland Yard and The Black Museum to this day.

WHItehall-1212 framed each production with a brief introduction to The Black Museum, located in the basement of Scotland Yard's original building in Whitehall and its erstwhile custodian, curator, or docent of The Black Museum's most gruesome reliquary. A senior member of the C.I.D. would usually provide a moment or two of exposition about The Black Museum before turning over the night's proceedings to Chief Superintendent John Davidson [or James Davidson or William Davidson, depending on the accuracy of the actor reading the script for each episode] of the New Scotland Yard. Once introductions had been made Chief Superintendent Davidson would introduce one or more of the infamous relics of Crime held within the walls of The Black Museum and its background as pertaining to the crime of the evening. If this rings a familiar note, this is virtually the identical approach employed in both Secrets of Scotland Yard and The Black Museum. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then it goes without saying that Harry Alan Towers thought the world of NBC's WHItehall-1212 production.

It should be noted, however, that Walter Winchell's observation very much held true for almost all of the WHItehall-1212 productions. By contrast, both The Black Museum and Secrets of Scotland Yard most definitely provided far more grim and salacious criminal details in both of the Towers of London syndicated productions. It's also worth noting that there was a growing arc of push-back against the proliferation of blood and guts crime and mystery anthologies of the 1940s and early 1950s, to the point that the networks voluntarily established 'curfew' periods during the late 1940s under the aegis of their National Association of Broadcasters . The voluntary curfew constrained Radio network members from broadcasting blood and guts crime, mystery, or supernatural dramas prior to 9:30 p.m. in most national markets.

The predictable irony was that though Network Radio productions were curfewed, it was still the 'Wild Wild West' era on the Golden Age Television front. So much so that by the early 1950s the major Radio Networks had pretty much abandoned the stricter guidelines and voluntary curfews. But that didn't stop the broadcast journalists of the era from continually chiding Radio for any further perceived excesses during the Family Hours of Radio scheduling. It should come as no surprise that the growing proliferation of Television sets throughout America's Middle Class were a powerful drug to Television Network executives and their Congressional lobbyists. American Television's infamous 'vast wasteland' was quickly arriving, while Radio was still being heavily criticized to the point of stifling the risk-taking and experimental Radio productions that reached their peak in the mid- to late-1940s.

And so it was, that WHItehall-1212's more historic retrospective and almost clinical approach to most of its subject material seemed to fly well under the radar of popular critics throughout its year-long run. By contrast, Harry Alan Towers felt no apparent need to feel so voluntarily constrained by either the NAB or the more vocal Radio critics of the era and their endless rants about 'cleaning up Radio'. Put in political and historical perspective one is tempted to cast a more cynical eye towards the feigned outrage of many of those more vocal media critics and question their ulterior motives. But by the time their true underlying agenda was ultimately revealed, the death knoll for popular Golden Age Radio drama was already beginning to sound.

The WHItehall-1212 productions wear well, all things considered. It's apparent that Wyllis Cooper and Percy Hoskins, Chief Crime Reporter for the London Daily Express, did their homework with this series. Most of the tales told by WHItehall-1212, whether actually fictional or not, certainly feel real, which only adds all the more to their authenticity to this day. This is one of the Golden Age Radio productions that readily invite a complete re-airing every few years, and wear just as well with each new re-airing. They may lack Orson Welles' narration, but they more than make up for it with the crisp, authentic Wyllis Cooper scripts and direction and the all-British cast.

WHItehall-1212 was the exchange and number of The Metropolitan Police Headquarters--New Scotland Yard--or simply Scotland Yard. As in our own '911' system, Great Britain eventually adopted '999' as their all-encompassing civilian emergency response number--of course the British did it two decades earlier. The Metropolitan Police had maintained a 'Dial 0' (zero) service until 1932, when they introduced their Information Room with the famous number of WHItehall-1212. As metropolitan areas continued to grow, emergency calls via telephone kept increasing to the point that telephone operators were unable to identify emergency calls from other operator service calls. Between July 1, 1937 and through most of 1939 Great Britain converted to a universal '999' system for coordinated Fire, Police and Ambulance emergency services. Scotland Yard relinquished their WHItehall-1212 exhange number when The Metropolitan Police built their new headquarters in 1967. So universally associated with Scotland Yard and its 'Flying Squad', the various divisions of the Metropolitan Police often continue to use 1212 as the last four numbers for many of their stations to this day--among other easily memorized numbers as 1313 and 1116.

According to the Metropolitan Police website, the Prisoners Property Act of 1869 provided the authority for police to retain certain items of prisoners' property for instructional purposes. The collection itself actually took shape with the establishment of the Central Prisoners Property Store on April 25, 1874 which provided the opportunity to start a collection. ['Store' as in storage, not as in commercial retail outlet.] The store was sited and housed in No. 1 Great Scotland Yard, at the rear of the Commissioner's Office at No. 4, Whitehall Place.

It was an Inspector Neame who'd already amassed a number of crime mementos, intending to provide police officers with practical instruction on how to detect and prevent burglary. By the latter part of 1874, a museum of sorts slowly evolved. It was only later that year that official authority was granted for a proper crime museum to be inaugurated.

Inspector Neame, with the help of a Police Constable Randall, gathered the initial collection of material, from both old and new cases, to assemble a useful and interesting museum. The actual date in 1875 when it opened is lost to history, but the permanent appointment of Neame and Randall to duty in the Prisoners Property Store on April 12, 1875 would suggest that the museum ultimately came into being in the latter part of 1875.

And yet it wasn't until October 6, 1877 that the then Commissioner, Sir Edmund Henderson, K.C.B., accompanied by Assistant Commissioners, Lt. Col. Labolmondiere and Capt. Harris, visited the museum with other distinguished functionaries. During the ensuing two years, the collection had dramatically expanded in size, breadth and scope, as did its Visitors' Book, which eventually spanned some eighteen years from 1877 to 1894 and read like a British 'Who's Who' for the era. Apparently not all visitors were asked to sign the Visitors Book but, since instruction in the Museum was part of C.I.D. training, the museum was reportedly in constant use throughout the period.

The name 'Black Museum' was coined on April 8, 1897, when a reporter from London's The Observer used the term after having been snubbed by Inspector Neame in response to a request to visit the Museum for an article. Although the museum is properly referred to as the Crime Museum, the more colorful Black Museum more readily captured the imagination of its visitors. Among its many noteworthy visitors over the years, were Gilbert & Sullivan, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, The Prince of Wales (later to be Edward VII), Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Jerome K. Jerome, E.W. Hornung and quite understandably, several members of The Royal Family.

In 1890 the museum moved--along with the Metropolitan Police Offices--to new premises at the other end of Whitehall on the newly constructed Thames Embankment. An imposing and impressive building, it was designed and constructed by Richard Norman Shaw R.A., the most influential architect of the last decades of the 19th Century, and was made of granite quarried by convicts on Dartmoor Prison's grounds, and was called New Scotland Yard. A set of rooms in the basement of Thames Embankment was set aside to house the Crime Museum. Though there was no official curator at the time, Police Constable Randall was assigned the responsibility for keeping the museum in order, adding to exhibits, screening visitor requests and arranging tour dates for visitors. The Crime Museum was closed during both World War I and World War II. In 1967, the Metropolitan Police Headquarters moved to new premises in Victoria Street, S.W.1, and the Crime Museum was sited in rooms on the second floor. The 'WHItehall' exchange was replaced with a numeric 'exchange number prefix' in keeping with the relocation of The Met's new Headquarters. In 1981 a newly redesigned museum was opened on the first floor.

Referenced several times throughout the WHItehall-1212 productions, The Flying Squad of Scotland Yard bears a bit of exposition. Begun in 1918 as an experimental group of specialized detectives and support staff, by 1929 the group was issued its own fleet of six cars. They didn't mess about, either, as the fleet included a Lea Francis coupé, Invicta, Lagonda, Railton 4 litre and a Bentley coupé, all presumably tricked out and outfitted with appropriate Scotland Yard kit. The understandable improvement in both alacrity and mobility prompted greater results and both criminals and the public soon became aware of their successes as a subdivision of Scotland Yard. Today's Flying Squads of Great Britain are similar to America's metropolitan SWAT teams, though more proactively involved in the investigative aspects of their activities.

Series Derivatives:

Fabian of Scotland Yard; Secrets of Scotland Yard; The Black Museum
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Crime Dramas
Network(s): NBC
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 51-11-18 01 The Blitz Murder Case
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 51-11-18 to 52-10-26; NBC; Forty-eight to fifty-two, 30-minute programs; Sundays, 8:30 p.m.
Syndication: NBC-Transcribed for Affiliate Stations
Sponsors: NBC Sustained
Director(s): Wyllis Cooper; Jack Goldstein and Collie Small [Producers]
Principal Actors: Lester Fletcher, Horace Braham, Cathleen Cordell, Court Benson, Harvey Hayes, Lester Fletcher, Evan Thomas, Patricia Courtleigh, Elizabeth Eustis, John Durth, Winston Ross, Beulah Garrick, Joseph Huntley Wright, Guy Spaull, Gordon Stern, Morris Dallymore, Maurice Gosfield, Pat O'Malley, Evan Thomas, Ronald Long, Carl Harbord, Edward Ashley, Francois Grimar, Basil Langston, Victor Chapin, Peter Foster, Glen Farmer, Jared Burke,  Gwendolyn Williams, Isabel Elsom, Catherine Hines, Florence Sears
Recurring Character(s): Superintendent John Watkins, Chief Superintendent John Davidson, Commissioner Sir Harold Scott, Inspector Sunderland [Winston Ross]
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Wyllis Cooper; Percy Hoskins, Chief Crime Reporter for the London Daily Express [Researcher]
Music Direction: Unknown
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Lionel Ricou
Estimated Scripts or
Episodes in Circulation: 43
Total Episodes in Collection: 43

Billboard Magazine review of Whitehall 1212 from December 8 1951
Billboard Magazine review of Whitehall 1212 from December 8 1951
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, The Capital Times (Madison, WI).

Notes on Provenances:

The most plausible was the log of the radioGOLDINdex. One can employ several approaches to identifying and titling the programs from this production.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc

  • The approach adopted by many in the 'OTR' community has been to name the title after the item discussed in the the Black Museum as a preamble to each episode.
  • An alternative method would be to identify the Case number of the crime behind the script, but not all Case numbers were identified in this manner.
  • A third approach would be to identify and name the episode after the vicitim or victims.
  • The ideal approach would be to title each episode after the title given in contemporaneous newspapers or Radio magazines of the era, but we uncovered only three titles in this manner.

We invite you to compare our fully provenanced research with the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and their Whitehall 1212 log, which the OTRR claims to be correct according to their 'OTTER log' they represent as the "most authoritative and accurate vintage Radio database in the world":


We've provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE to protect our own ongoing due diligence and intellectual property.

A great number of the anecdotally named titles throughout the OTR community were either inaccurate or misspelled. We've corrected all of the anecdotal titles in the following log.

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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.

WHItehall-1212 Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
The Blitz Murder Case
Case No. 302MR651 [The bodies of three women shot to death]
Murder On The High Seas
51-11-25 San Antonio Light
Whitehall 1212,
a new series of Scotland Yard case histories, begins at 4:30 p.m. over WOAI. Harvey Hays, English actor, is narrator.
The Fournier Case
Case No. 498MR381
The Murder Of Duncan Frazier
Case No. 201MR340
The Man Who Murdered His Wife
Case No. 397MR381
The Heathrow Affair
[The Heathrow Affair]
No Broadcast
The Murder Of Charles Brooks
Case No. 108MR131
Murder in the Black Market
Case No. 604MR530 Kasimir Kaczuba Is Murdered
52-01-12 Capital Times - 4 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212: "
Murder in the Black Market." --WIBA.
The King's Housekeeper's Murder
Case No. 505MR074 [The Case Of Donald Simms]
52-01-19 Capital Times - 4 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212: "
The King's Housekeeper's Murder"--WIBA
The Murder Of Little Philip Avery
Case No. 693MR966
The Pete Williams Case
Case No. 921MR421[The Williams Case]
The Death of the Innocent Bystander
Case No. 160277 [The Case Of Arthur Freeman]
52-02-09 Capital Times - 4 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212: "
Death of the Innocent Bystander"--WIBA
The Case Of the Late Mrs Harvey
Case No. 133123
52-02-16 Capital Times - 4 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212:
curiosity brings murder to light--WIBA
The Murder Of Peter Amory
Case No. 140MR519
The Case Of Air Cadet Gordon
Case No. 202124 [Marjorie Ashley Murdered]
The Case Of Dr. Duncan Allen
Case No. 1098702
The Case Of Thomas Applebee
Case No. 330220
The Case Of the Black Gladstone Bag
Case No. 381397
52-03-22 Capital Times - 4:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212:
Lothario turns killer--WIBA
The Murder Of A Bloody Belgian
504MR701, October 31, 1917
Title Unknown
An episode aired in some markets
The Case Of the Fatal Bath
Case No. 50MR242 [The Case Of Stanley Brown]
52-04-12 Pre-empted in larger markets by The Story Of Easter
The Case Of Mrs Minerva Bannamon
Case No. 604MR804
52-04-19 Capital Times - 4:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212: pawnshop owner foils killer--WIBA
The Case Of Francesca Nicholson
Case No. 270809
The Case Of William George Greenlee
Case No. 899MR952
The Case Of Marjorie Tate
Case No. 630612
The Case Of Sydney Wolfe
Case No. 914029
The Case Of Maggie Rawlinson
Case No. 202131, September 26, "some years ago"
The Case Of Winifred Hogg
Alt: Arsenic Fly Papers, September 20, 1911
The Case Of the Strange Bonfire
Case No. 198920 [The Case Of Donald Patric Padgett]
The Case Of the Homemade Reticule
[The Case Of Daphne Cordwainer ]
Alt: The Handmade Reticule
October 14, "a few years ago"
The Murder Of Mrs. Anne Battersbye
Case No. 636966
The Case Of the Weed Eradication
Case No. 87-300 [The Case Of Major Birdsong]
The Murder Of Mr. Street
January 11, 1929
Alt: The Case of the Hammer
52-07-06 Wisconsin State Journal - 4:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212 (WIBA):
book collection creates suspicion in murder case.
The Case of the Mahout's Ankush
Murder in The Tapir House
The Case Of the Unidentified Woman
[The Case Of Sheila Kolfax]
52-07-20 Wisconsin State Journal - 3:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212 (WMAQ):
killer tries to disguise murder as a hit-and-run accident.
The Case Of The Magenta Blotting Pad
[The Case Of Mr. Hughes' Sister]
52-07-27 Press-Telegram
"Whitehall 1212" is
the story of a miserly old woman who is found murdered. This airs on KFI at 2:30.
The Case Of Nora Brady
Case No. 3431198
The Case Of the Missing Clarinet
[The Case Of Herman Foster]
52-08-09 Capital Times - 4:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212:
night club singer murdered--WIBA
The Case Of Dougall Henry
Case No. H42426
The Murder Of Lady Madge Johnson
52-08-23 Capital Times
4:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212:
murder in a London hotel--WIBA
The Case Of the Madden Family
52-08-31 Wisconsin State Journal
4:30 p.m. -- Whitehall 1212 (WIBA):
local jealousies force a policeman's sacrifice.
The Case Of the Eaton Brothers
52-09-06 The Times
An alleged murder who tries the same deception twice is trapped by Scotland Yard in an unusual case on "Whitehall 1212" heard on KNBC at 2:30.
The Case Of the Winchester Bottles
[The Case Of Lionel Tomlinson]
The Case Of the Inoperative Wireless
[The Case Of Thom Addison]
The Case Of The Battered Electric Torch
Sept 16, 1937 Murder of Geoffrey Alpthal, at Wimbledon
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
[ Last Broadcast ]

WHItehall-1212 Radio Program Biographies

Willis Oswald 'Bill' Cooper [Wyllis Cooper]

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Writer, Producer, Director, and Actor

Birthplace: Pekin, Illinois, U.S.A.

1929-31 Empire Builders
1932 Tales of the Foreign Legion
1933 Desert Guns
1933 Fifty-Fifty
1933 Armistice Day Program
1934-36 Lights Out!
1934 Hello, America
1934 Daffy-Dilly Christmas
1935 Immortal Dramas
1935-36 Flying Time
1935-36 Betty and Bob
1944 Arthur Hopkins Presents
1945 Lights Out
1947 Crime Club
1947 Quiet Please
1948 Radio City Playhouse
1950 Cloak and Dagger
1951 Living 1951
1951 Philip Morris Playhouse
1951 Scotland Yard
1951 WHItehall 1212
Wyllis Cooper at work in Hollywood ca. 1947
Wyllis Cooper at work in Hollywood ca. 1947

U.S. Army Signal Corps Emblem
U.S. Army Signal Corps Emblem
1st Batallion, 131st Infantry Coat of Arms
1st Batallion, 131st Infantry Coat of Arms.

Original Light's Out cover art

Willis Cooper (1935)
Willis Cooper (1935)

Arthur Hopkins Presents spot ad from 1944
Arthur Hopkins Presents spot ad from 1944

Willis Cooper was born in 1899 in Pekin, Illinios, to Charles Edgar and Margaret (Oswald) Cooper. He was joined a year later by his younger brother Harry Edgar Cooper.

Upon graduating from Pekin High School, he entered the the U.S. Cavalry, serving initially as a Sergeant patrolling the U.S. border with Mexico. By 1917 he was in the Army Signal Corps as a member of the Allied Expeditionary Forces until 1919, at which time he returned to Illinois. His three years in the Army were far from uneventful. He'd chased Mexican Bandits on the border, he'd shipped overseas with the 131st Infantry, suffered a head injury from a German shelling in Germany, and he'd been gassed in the Argonne Forest. He continued to serve with the Illinois National Guard, as a Captain of the 31st Infantry. Cooper retained his commission from 1923 through 1933, serving the last five years of his commissioned service with the U.S. Cavalry Reserve.

When not serving on active duty between 1919 and 1929, Cooper found several writing positions with Advertising concerns. Throughout that period he'd been employed variously as a photographer and ad copywriter in various places between Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois. He'd reportedly started his own advertising company while in Santa Monica. He'd married his first wife Beatrice shortly upon returning to civilian life. And by 1929 he'd apparently divorced his first wife and married the former Emily Beveridge in Chicago.

Willis Cooper began writing for CBS some time around 1931, as a continuity editor until 1933, at which time he took a position with NBC as a continuity editor. He apparently worked as a free-lancer, since he was writing for NBC's Empire Builders (1929-1931) while reportedly working for CBS at the same time. In any case, Cooper left NBC in 1935 to devote his full interest to Lights Out!.

Apparently he was simply hedging his bets, since 1935 found him writing for Betty and Bob for WGN, Chicago before leaving Illinois for Hollywood, California to work as a screenwriter for the 20th Century Fox, Universal and Paramount studios. He tried to keep his hand in Lights Out! from L.A., but by 1936 he was notified that Arch Oboler had been contracted to take over Cooper's writing duties with Lights Out!.

Between 1936 and 1939, Cooper received screen credits for Think Fast Mr. Moto (1937), Thank You Mr. Moto (1937), Mr. Moto Takes A Chance (1938), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and the serial, The Phantom Creeps (1940) with Bela Lugosi. Some time around 1940, in response to a request from his wife--an ardent numerologist--Willis changed his name to Wyllis with a 'y'.

A prolific writer for Radio, Cooper wrote almost all of the 1934-36 scripts for Lights Out!, at least eight more Lights Out! scripts post-1945, all of the scripts for Quiet Please!, and of course the 500+ other scripts he penned before lending his hand to screenwriting in Hollywood.

Television was a natural extension for both his writing and producing talents. Wyllis Cooper contributed to many of Television's earliest dramas, including his own short-lived Volume One (1949) and Stage 13 (1950), Escape (1951), Lights Out! (1951), Tales of Tomorrow (1951) and CBS's prestigious drama anthology, Studio One (1951).

Cooper was not without his severest critics, the curmudgeonly Radio critic, John Crosby among them, from his Radio In Review columns:

From the September 5th 1949 edition of the Oakland Tribune: 

Writer Puts Unique
Tone In Air Plays
   Wyllis Cooper, who looks like a cross between a gnome and Alexander Woollcott, is an arresting and, in one respect, almost unique figure in radio.  He is one of the few writers whose own personality is impressed on listeners more vividly than that of the actors.
   He is the author of "Quiet Please," now off the air, and of a short-lived television program.  Any single drama on either of those programs was instantly recognizable as the handiwork of Cooper, whose mind works in strange ways.  In almost all Cooper scripts a sense of dread, or imminent catastrophe, hangs over the characters from the outset to about one minute before the closing commercial.  Yet nothing much happens in the half hour.  There are long, long pauses, so long sometimes you wonder if your radio has gone on the blink.  Networks are horrified at the amount of dead air they purchase along with Cooper.  (A half hour Cooper script played at ordinary tempo would run about 11 minutes.)
   A Cooper story always ends with a surprise, a twist of some sort, many of them unexplained.  The supernatural figures strongly, though in strange ways.  Supernatural characters in Cooper's dramas are not terribly sinister.  Many of them are more likeable than the humans in the script and some of them are just ridiculous and a little poignant.  They are likely to pop in unexpectedly.  You'll see (or hear of) a couple of guys at a bar drinking beer and suddenly become aware that one of them has four arms and hails from the moon.
   A Cooper story starts so slowly you can hear your heart beat, sometimes with a satiric twist right at the beginning.  There was one about a private eye to whom nothing had ever happened.  He'd had no adventures at all.  And his secretary was no glamor girl, but a battleaxe, roughly 112 years old.  Then a man walked in to discuss a murder.  "Who was murdered?" asked the private eye.
   "I was," said the man, rather aggrieved about it.
   Some of these twists are little too elfin to stand analysis, but then Cooper is not long on plot anyhow.  His gift is for mood and character.  The listener gets so wrapped up in a Cooper character, wondering who he is, what he's doing there, and how its all going to come out, he'll sit on the edge of his chair for half an hour.  And at the end of half an hour, he may still be pretty fuzzy about what happened depending on how explanatory pending on how explanatory Cooper feels at the moment.
   Like Henry Morgan, Cooper has no respect for or interest in listeners who are doing the dishes or who drop out to the icebox for a beer during his stories.  He never repeats himself.  "Why should I make concessions to the audience that doesn't pay attention?" he says.  As a matter of fact, he doesn't make very many concessions to the people who do pay attention.  At the end of half an hour they may be just as baffled as the dishwashers.
   Cooper's Holinshed, at least his principal one, is the  Bible.  "Quite a source book," he explains.  Cooper loves to lift stories from the Bible and then wait around for the mail to see how many people recognized the source.  Biblical stories are put into modern dress and sometimes re-arranged rather drastically to suit Cooper's peculiar point of view.  In the Cain and Abel story, for example, it was all Abel's fault.  Abel was such a nasty character he provoked his brother into what Cooper considered justifiable homicide.  (A lot of people wrote in to say they agreed.)
   There are few characters in any Cooper script, two or three or sometimes just one, and he uses more straight narrative than almost anyone.  Besides insisting--against all the rules--on long stretches of silence.  Cooper frequently has two people talking at once--again against all radio rules.  In ordinary conversation, says cooper, everyone talks at once and they appear to understand one another, so why not in radio?
   While unquestionably a rare and entertaining writer, Cooper has some strong faults.  He avoids cliches with such intensity that he's creating his own.  Some of his characters, surprising as they are, bear as much resemblance to human beings as a baby in a bottle at Harvard.  His tricky but obscure endings sometimes seem an easy way for a writer to get out of a bad hole.
   In his single invasion of television Cooper's crotchets were as individual and startling as they were in radio.  But that will have to wait until tomorrow.
   Copyright, 1949, for The Tribune

From the September 7th 1949 edition of the Portsmouth Times: 

'You Can't Do That!' 

    Wyllis Cooper, a writer of eerie, sometimes incomprehensible though remarkably literate radio and television dramas looks as if he'd stepped out of one of his own scripts.  He's a short, bespectacled man, broad of brow and sweeping of girth.  His double chin is an expanse of incomparable grandeur.  He works, hunched over a typewriter like an intelligent spider, in a large office in the Hotel Brittany behind drawn blinds.  The drawn blinds, he explains, are to protect him from street noises, which is the sort of contradiction he loves to use in his radio plays.   After his single brush with television, a six-program series on ABC-TV entitled characteristically Volume 1 (Nos. 1 to 6), he is brimming with theories about television, most of them heretical.  Television, he says, is neither a movie nor an illustrated radio show.  Too much television, he feelsl, is just a bad adaptation of Hollywood techniques with cameras running wild all over the place. WINDOW IN ROOM    Television, says Cooper, is really a window in your living room and should be treated that way.  In his own series, Cooper tried to get the home audience to forget all about the cameras, to become eavesdroppers.  The audience was told in the first of the plays, that it was seated behind a mirror.  The audience could see every move of the characters; the characters, of course, could see only their own reflections in the mirror.   Into the room--a hotel room--crept a man and a woman who had just robbed a bank and were using the place as a hideout.  The camera never budged throughout the half hour.  The woman would tidy her hair in front of the mirror--which was your television screen--then walk away.  The man would stamp out a cigarette on an invisible bureau over which the mirror hung.  An ordinary kitchen chair was the only prop.  There was no scenery.  The room was black as a cave except for spots illuminating the actors.     Gradually, the couople became aware there was something very fishy about the hotel room.  The bellhop, the only other character, seemed to know all aobut their crime and to pity them for it.  Their money disappeared.  They couldn't get food or, a more desperate need, cigarettes.  And they couldn't get out of the room.  Finally--if my interpretation of the convolutions of Cooper's brain is correct, and I wouldn't swear to it--they realized they were doomed to spend eternity in that hotel room with a neon light flashing off and on, off and on, outside the window and a jukebox playing the same dreary tune down stairs.  It's a torment I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. TYPICAL OF STORIES    That is typical of the stories Cooper tells and also of this methods.  He used no scenery in four of his six plays and only rudimentary scenery in the other two.  The purpose was not to save money.  The televisionscreen is so small, he says, that the viewer can't absorb the scenery and also see what the people are doing.  He uses small casts because he thinks too many characters clutter up the action.  As in radio, he was spate with dialogue.  Cooper feels there is too much chatter in television.  Yet the first script totaled 74 pages, two-thirds the length of a two-and-a-half housr play.  Most of it was stage directions.    Cooper is trying to establish on television the intimacy that was radio's peculiar distinction among dramatic forms.  He admits it's difficult, but he says that the imitation of movie technique is the wrong way to go about it.    "The movies can go into great detail," he points out.  "In television, we can't.  We haven't the time, the clarity, the size, or the Audience stimulation."  (Audience stimulation:  people in an audience stimulate one another.  Two people in a living room don't vary much.)   On the other hand, television has an urgency and a freshness that can't be duplicated by the movies.  Cooper used to writer his little vignettes and throw them in front of the camera--three one-hour reading periods, six hours for rehearsals--before he had time to grow cold on the.

HE STILL INSISTS his series was not experimental and was wildly indignant when ABC press releases listed them as such.  "I had some theories about television and I proved them--to my satisfaction at least.   The main rule, says Cooper:  "Don't try to do what you can't do.  You can't do 'Gone with the Wind' on television.  Why does anyone want to do it anyway?"   His brief experience with television left him unbowed--he'll undoubtedly be back--but he admits it wilted him a little.   " I never heard 'You can't do that' so many times in my life," he says.
   Copyright, 1949, The Tribune

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