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Original Stroke of Fate header art

Stroke of Fate Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Stroke of Fate

Stroke of Fate Spot Ad from 53-11-15
Stroke of Fate Spot Ad from 53-11-15

  • What if Robert E. Lee had accepted President Lincoln's offer to command the Union Army?
  • What if the plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I had succeeded?
  • What would have happened if, instead of Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton in the famous duel, Hamilton had killed Burr?
  • What if one of the plots to free Marie Antoinette had succeeded?
  • What might have happened if Abraham Lincoln had obtained the job he wanted in 1841--a position in the United States Consular Service in South America?
  • What might have happened if Benedict Arnold's plot to betray America had succeeded?
  • What would have happened had Julius Caesar actually wed Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt?
  • What might have happened if the French in 1936 had opposed, by military force, Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland?
  • What might have happened if the French had won the Battle of Quebec in 1759?
  • What might have ensued if the U.S. had failed to purchase Alaska?
  • What might have happened if Alexander the Great had recovered from the illness that took his life at such an early age?
  • What might have happened if America's first secret weapon had succeeded in it's intended purpose during the Revolutionary War?
  • What might have happened if a stroke of fate had prevented the Norman Conquest of England?

These were the thirteen fascinating hypotheses set forth by Stroke of Fate, an historical retrospective with a thought provoking twist: What might have happened if key historical world events had taken a fateful turn?

Backed up by pains-taking research from four noted historians of the era, the brief series of thirteen installments spanned over 2,200 years of World History. A sustained effort by NBC, the series attracted some of Radio's finest East Coast voice talent and dramatic actors.

Famed American journalist and social and political commentator Walter Kiernan narrated most of the productions, interspersed with commentaries by several of NBC's News Bureau reporters and journalists. It's clear from each production that the on-air staff found these fascinating hypotheses as interesting as their national audience did.

Placed in context, one is reminded that CBS had already aired their equally well mounted CBS Is There and You Are There Radio programs to popular acclaim just five years earlier and it's You Are There Television program was meeting equally popular acclaim even as Stroke of Fate was airing on Radio. Given the incredible popularity of You Are There, it's quite understandable that the CBS Television historical retrospective was literally sucking all of the oxygen out of any competing historical retrospective--over any medium of the era. It's possible that NBC felt that this fascinating hypothetical twist would provide some competition to CBS, but given Stroke of Fate's brief history, it would appear that Stroke of Fate was fated to languish if continued beyond its initial thirteen productions.

But as a tribute to its underlying premise, Stroke of Fate's thirteen posited 'What Ifs' stand the test of time--as intriguing to this day as they were when they first aired over 56 years ago. This is amply born out by their inclusion in virtually every serious Radio Collector's holdings. Give them a listen. They're well framed, fascinatingly developed and thought-provoking reflections on the eternal vagaries of Fate.

Series Derivatives:

AFRTS IED-372 Stroke of Fate
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Historical Retrospective Hypotheses
Network(s): NBC, The AFRTS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 53-10-04 01 Robert E. Lee
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 53-10-04 to 53-12-27; NBC; Thirteen 30-minute programs; Sundays, 9:00pm, then 8:30 p.m. EST
Syndication: None
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Fred Weihe, Roger Bower; Lester Lewis [Co-Creator/Producer]
Principal Actors: Roger De Koven, Cameron Prud'Homme, John Seymour, Peggy Allenby, William Keene, Ken Williams, Kermit Murdock, Judith Evelyn, Karl Swenson, Burford Hampden, Alexander Scourby, Horace Braham, Ian Martin, Ted Osborne, Anne Burr, Peter Capell, Joe DeSantis, Ross Martin, John Stanley, David Pfeffer, Bryna Raeburn, Guy Repp, Francois Grimar, Ralph Robertson, Monya Shayon, Ralph Camargo, Karl Weber, Richard Waring, Marie Stroud, Wendell Holmes, Frederick Rolfe, William Redfield, Santos Ortega, Leon Janney, Peter Capell, William Griffis, Patricia Weil, Stefan Schnabel, Luis Van Rooten, Everett Sloane.
Recurring Character(s): Varied from production to production
Protagonist(s): Varied from production to production
Author(s): George Faulkner, Mort Lewis [Creator/Producer/Writer]
Writer(s) George Faulkner, Mort Lewis [Creator/Producer/Writer]
Consultants: Allan Nevins - Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian
Stephen Lorant - Historical Consultant
James Thomas Flexner - Historical Consultant
Moses Haddas - Historical Consultant
Musical Theme(s): Adapted from "Also sprach Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss.
Announcer(s): Lionel Ricou; Walter Kiernan, Wesley Addy [Narrators]; Gordon Craig, Stephen Lorant, James Thomas Flexner, Moses Haddas [Commentators]; Henry Cassidy [Newscaster]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
13
Episodes in Circulation: 13
Total Episodes in Collection: 13
Provenances:
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Newspaper Radio Listings (see below), 'The Directory of The Armed Forces Radio Service Series'.

Notes on Provenances:

The above cited provenances agree for the most part. The most helpful provenances were the logs of the radioGOLDINdex and Newspaper Radio Listings.


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Stroke of Fate Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
53-10-04
1
Robert E. Lee
Y
53-10-04 Zanesville Signal
Nine o'clock this evening finds the new program "Stroke of Fate" in the spotlight. Today's program deals with what might have happened if Robert E. Lee had accepted President Lincoln's offer to command the Union Army.
53-10-11
2
Queen Elizabeth I
Y
53-10-11 Post Standard
Judith Evelyn will be heard as Queen Elizabeth I in the second broadcast of Stroke of Fate at 9 p.m., WSYR radio. The series' scripts concerns what might have happened if an historic person, at the moment of decision, had made a different choice.
53-10-48
3
Aaron Burr
Y
53-10-18 Post Standard
Stroke of Fate at 9 p.m. on WSYR radio will present the question "What would have happened if, instead of Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton in the famous duel, Hamilton had killed Burr? Stefan Lorant, biographer of Lincoln, will be the commentator at the close of the dramatization.
53-10-25
4
Marie Antoinette
Y
53-10-25 Syracuse Herald Journal
A dramatization of what might have happened if Marie Antoinette of France did not get it in the neck will be presented on Stroke of Fate tonight at 9 over WSYR radio. One of the plots to free her, engineered by Baron de Batz, nearly succeeded.
53-11-01
5
Abraham Lincoln
Y
53-11-01 Syracuse Herald Journal
What might have happened if Abraham Lincoln had obtained the job he wanted in 1841--a position in the United States consular service in South America? This supposition will be dramatized on Stroke of Fate tonight at 9 over WSYR radio.
53-11-08
6
Benedict Arnold
Y
53-11-08 San Antonio Express
Stroke of Fate--8:30 p.m., WOAI--What might have happened if Benedict Arnold's plot to betray America had succeeded.
53-11-45
7
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra
Y
53-11-15 Post Standard
"What would have happened had Julius Caesar wed Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt?" will be the subject of Stroke of Fate at 9:30 p.m., WSYR radio.
53-11-22
8
Hitler
Y
53-11-22 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m. Stroke of Fate (WMAQ): French fight Hitler's occupation of Rhineland.
53-11-26
9
The Battle Of Quebec
Y
53-11-29 Zanesville Signal
Stroke of Fate tonight at 9:30 (WHIZ-NBC) has an interesting question. What might have happened if the French had won the Battle of Quebec in 1759?
53-12-06
10
Sale of Alaska
Y
53-12-06 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m. --- Stroke of Fate (WIBA): U.S. fails to buy Alaska.
53-12-13
11
Alexander the Great
Y
53-12-13 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m. -- Stroke of Fate (WMAQ): Alexander the Great recovers from his illness.
53-12-20
12
America's First Secret Weapon
Y
53-12-27
13
The Norman Conquest of England
Y
53-12-27 San Antonio Express
Stroke of Fate--8:30 p.m., WOAI--What might have happened if a stroke of fate had prevented the Norman Conquest of England.






Stroke of Fate Radio Program Biographies




Theodore 'Ted' Osborne
(Actor)

Stage, Screen, Radio and Television Actor; Radio Writer
(1905-1987)

Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.

Radiography:
1931 Merrymakers [Don-Lee]
1932 Tarzan Of the Apes
1934 Mary Pickford and Company
1937 White Fires Of Inspiration
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1937 The Chase and Sanborn Hour
1938 Lux Radio Theatre
1939 The Black Chapel
1939 The Shadow Of Fu Manchu
1939 Columbia Workshop
1940 Big Town
1941 Great Plays
1942 Suspense
1943 Words At War
1943 Romance
1944 Arthur Hopkins Presents
1946 Cavalcade Of America
1947 Crime Club
1947 Casey, Crime Photographer
1947 The Adventures Of Ellery Queen
1947 Crime Club
1947 The Shadow
1947 Mr President
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1947 Quiet Please
1947 The Big Story
1948 Ford Theatre
1948 Sherlock Holmes
1948 Inner Sanctum
1949 The Whistler
1949 Family Theatre
1949 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1949 The Adventures Of the Saint
1949 Let George Do It
1949 Hallmark Playhouse
1950 The Halls Of Ivy
1950 THe Railroad Hour
1950 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1950 Broadway Is My Beat
1950 The Story Of Doctor Kildare
1950 The Log Of the Black Parrot (Audition)
1950 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1950 Escape
1950 Rocky Jordan
1951 This Is Your FBI
1951 Stars Over Hollywood
1951 The Line-Up
1952 The Silent Men
1952 Stars In the Air
1952 Violence (Audition)
1952 Best Plays
1952 Inner Sanctum
1953 The Chase
1953  Stroke Of Fate
1953 Rocky Fortune
1954 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1954 The Marriage
1955 X Minus One
1957 Five-Star Matinee
1957 CBS Radio Workshop
Treasury Salute
The Adventures Of Maisie
Obsession

Ted Osborne (as Tom Agnew) in 'Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum' (1940)
Ted Osborne (as Tom Agnew) in 'Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum' (1940)

Ted Osborne in another scene from Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum cast appropriately enough as a Radio announcer on remote. He's seen here with lovely Joan Valerie
Ted Osborne in another scene from Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum cast appropriately enough as a Radio announcer on remote. He's seen here with lovely Joan Valerie
Ted Osborne was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After graduating from high school he embarked on an acting career in local and regional stage dramas and vaudeville presentations, including appearances in Winnipeg, Canada.

Osborne migrated to Southern California in the early 1930s and began working in Radio for the early Don-Lee syndicate of Radio stations throughout California. His first program of note was the popular Merrymakers program (1931). Possessed of a natural speaking presence and projection, Osborne soon became one of the West Coast's most sought-after Radio actors, appearing in the early Tarzan of The Apes (1932), Mary Pickford and Company (1934), and White Fires of Inspiration (1937). Ted Osborne was also among the amazing West Coast Radio cast of 1937's The Cinnamon Bear, heard as both King Blotto and Professor Whiz the Owl. Cinnamon Bear, a perennial Christmas favorite of children young and old, sported a cast of some of the most historic names from The Golden Age of Radio.

Osborne went on to appear in over 2,000 Radio productions over a twenty year career in Radio. One of Radio's most identifiable voices, Ted Osborne appeared in virtually every popularly collected Radio program of The Golden Age. Osborne enjoyed starring roles in The Shadow of Fu Manchu (1939) and key supporting roles in virtually all major Mystery, Detective, Thriller and Crime dramas of the era. Never truly typecast, Osborne was as effective in historical dramas, situation comedies, and straight dramatic roles.

Ted Osborne began his Film career with Give Me Liberty (1936), soon becoming a solid character actor throughout the 1930s and early 1940s.

Making the progression from Radio and Film to early Television, Osborne appeared in The Bigelow Theatre (1951), Kraft Television Theatre (1953) and Television's Inner Sanctum series (1954). Osborne had appeared in six of Radio's Inner Sanctum episodes before making the jump to the small screen.

Ted Osborne retired from acting in the mid-1950s after a highly successful thirty year career. One of Radio's most ubiquitous voices, Ted Osborne's Radiography remains a compliation of some of Radio's finest, most successful programs. A tribute to this fine actor and his contribution to the amazing era that was truly The Golden Age of Radio.



Walter J. Kiernan
(Narrator)

Radio, Television, and Print Journalist and Correspondent; Author; Television Game Show Host

(1902-1978)
Birthplace:
New Haven, CT, U.S.A.

Radiography:
1947 Walter Kiernan
1947 News Of the Day
1947 Walter Kiernan Commentary
1948 Kiernan's Korner
1948 That Reminds Me
1949 Sparring Partners
1951 What's the Story?
1951 Family Circle
1951 Who Said That?
1952 I've Got A Secret
1953 Stroke Of Fate
1954 Who's The Boss?

Walter Kiernan at the ABC mike circa 1951
Walter Kiernan at the ABC mike circa 1951

Walter Kiernan, broadcasting on election night November 1952
Walter Kiernan, broadcasting on election night November 1952


Walter Kiernan's New Year's Resolutions for 1943
Walter Kiernan's New Year's Resolutions for 1943
Walter Kiernan began his career as a journalist in New Haven in the early 1920s as a feature writer for the Elm City (Conn.) Clarion and the New Haven (Conn.) Union. He was a writer and editor of the New Haven Register from 1926 to 1928. He wrote for The Saturday Evening Post and started The Town Crier newspaper of West Haven, Connecticut in 1930.

Mr. Kiernan was an Associated Press (AP) correspondent from 1928-29 and joined the now long since defunct International News Service (INS) as manager of its Hartford bureau in 1937. The following year he was moved to New York, serving until 1943 as a roving reporter and special assignment writer for INS, during which he spent a remarkable New Year's Eve with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on a train ride from the United States to Canada during World War II.

While a staff correspondent for the INS, Kiernan wrote the syndicated column Manhattan Side Streets which appeared in papers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Indiana and Texas. His column One Man's Opinion was also nationally syndicated by INS. In addition to his fascinating train ride with Winston Churchill, he had previously covered Douglas 'Wrong Way' Corrigan's return to New York, as well as the royal visit of King George VI and Queen Mary during their tour of the US in 1939. He also wrote a 'Broadway' column for the Dallas Times Herald.

In 1942, Kiernan co-authored The Life Story of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker with the other noted columnist of his day, Damon Runyon. Kiernan's animated reporting and analysis of V-E Day in 1945 remains one of the era's most stirring historical recordings. Walter Kiernan eventually hosted his own news analysis program, Kiernan's Korner which ran throughout 1948 for ABC Radio. He also hosted That Reminds Me--a chat program--in 1948. In an interesting twist of Fate, Kiernan hosted another chat program, Family Circle, for ABC Radio in 1951, during which one of his guests was Winston Churchill's daughter, actress Sarah Churchill.

Kiernan hosted several daytime chat and commentary programs on both Radio and Television throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, including the short-lived but fascinating Stroke of Fate historical retrospective (1952-1953) for NBC. After the relative success of Stroke of Fate, he began co-hosting NBC Radio's long-running news magazine, Monitor. Kiernan co-hosted Monitor from 1955 to 1960, when the program's format was dramatically changed.

A familiar voice on New York radio for many years, his commentary program on WOR Radio, One Man's Opinion was heard daily, in addition to co-anchoring WOR-TV's local evening news.

Walter Kiernan was most remembered in political circles for his reporting of every national political convention from 1940 through 1972. Kiernan retired from from journalism after covering the 1968 Republican Convention in Miami. Walter Kiernan passed away from a protracted struggle with cancer in 1978 at the age of 75.

Walter Kiernan's career as a journalist endeared him to four generations of newsprint readers, Radio fans and loyal Television audiences. His memory lives on through many of the fascinating Golden Age Radio recordings and historical news broadcasts of the era.



Roger De Koven
(Actor)

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor
(1907-1988)

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Education: The University of Chicago

Radiography:
1939 Great Plays
1940 Columbia Workshop
1942 Suspense
1943 This Is Our Enemy
1943 Words At War
1944 Arthur Hopkins Presents
1944 The Eternal Light
1945 Treasury Salute
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1947 Casey, Crime Photographer
1947 A Brighter Tomorrow
1947 The Shadow
1947 The Milton Berle Show
1947 Gang Busters
1948 The Adventures Of the Falcon
1948 Mysterious Traveler
1948 Famous Jury Trials
1948 Great Scenes From Great Plays
1948 The Adventures Of Frank Merriwell
1948 World Without End
1949 Murder By Experts
1950 Dimension X
1950 Hallmark Playhouse
1952 The Chase
1952 Best Plays
1953 Stroke Of Fate
1953 Rocky Fortune
1953 The Marriage
1954 Crime and Peter Chambers
1954 Inheritance
1954 Easy Money
1955 By the People
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1956 This Is My Story
1957 Police Blotter
1958 The Couple Next Door
1958 Indictment
1961 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1964 Theatre Five
1974 CBS Radio Mystery Theatre
Dr Six-Gun
Music Hall Varieties Orchestra

Roger De Koven circa 1941
Roger De Koven circa 1941


Roger De Koven performs in Joan of Lorraine circa 1946
Roger De Koven performs in Joan of Lorraine circa 1946

Roger De Koven from an episode of The Flying Nun circa  1969
Roger De Koven from an episode of The Flying Nun circa 1969

Roger De Koven as the dour 'Nate' in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour circa 1969
Roger De Koven as the dour 'Nate' in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour circa 1969
Roger De Koven was born and raised in Chicago. Upon completing school, De Koven moved to New York to pursue a Stage career. His first Stage appearance was in a walk-on role in the 1926 New York play, Juarez and Maximillian at the Guild Theatre.

Returning to Chicago to complete his College degree, he graduated from The University of Chicago in 1930. He returned to the New York Stage appearing in Mystery Man (1936) and Murder in the Cathedral (1937). Over The next 4o years, Roger DeKoven returned to the Stage regularly, appearing in 24 more stage plays and Broadway musicals through the 1980s. De Koven's last Stage work was in 1986 for the Jewish Repertory Theater revival of Arnold Wesker's Roots.

An extremely versatile Stage actor, his roles ranged from Edmund to Sam Jaffee's King Lear in 1940, to Florenz Ziegfield's famous Broadway musical, Funny Girl in 1968.

Roger De Koven began his Radio career in the late 1930s with New York Radio productions as diverse as Great Plays (1939) through crime anthologies such as Casey Crime Photographer (1947) and Gang Busters (1947) . Equally adept in virtually any Radio genre, De Koven appeared equally effectively in adventure dramas, situation comedies and science-fiction dramas. One of Radio's more ubiquitous East Coast actors, De Koven appeared in virtually every popular prime time Radio program that aired between 1938 and 1974.

Making the jump to Television in 1943, De Koven showed the same characteristic versatility in early Television, appearing in Drama anthologies, situation comedies, mystery anthologies and adventure thrillers. Roger De Koven is most remembered by the 'Now' generation for his twenty-year appearance in Television's Days of Our Lives as James Spencer.

De Koven's remarkable career spanned sixty years on the Stage, Screen, Radio and Television. But it was not without it's speed-bumps. In 1949, subsequent to simply reading a poem at a Peace Conference, Roger De Koven was blacklisted in the infamous periodical, Red Channels. His career came to an abrupt halt until he signed a statement
drafted by Red Channels denying that he was a Communist and condemning the Communist Party. De Koven later courageously denounced his accusers in a newspaper interview, calling them peddlers of the ''most vicious un-American kind of slander.''

To this day one of Radio's most identifiable voices, Roger De Koven's Radiography spanned the depth and breadth of the entire Golden Age of Radio. He continues to acquire new Radio fans in the 21st Century through the literally thousands of his appearances in Golden Age Radio productions.



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