I just finished reading a book by Manley Wade Wellman for this Friday's Forgotten Books post and, as always, I'm amazed at the versatility of this author. So, for today, let's look at an episode of Lights Out that dramatized one of his stories.
Lights Out was not the first horror program on radio, but it was one of the most influential ones. Written by Wyllis Cooper, it began a series of 15-minute weekly shows on WENR-Chicago in 1934, airing at midnight. With its combination of grisly storytelling (often with a humerous twist) and innovative sound effects, the show was a hit and, by April, had expanded to a half-hour format. Station managers cancelled the program that following January, then had to backtrack a few weeks later due to public demand for the show. By April of 1935, NBC Radio picked up Lights Out, airing it late on Wednesday evenings. After writing almost 120 scripts, Cooper left the show in June of 1936 to be replaced by Arch Oboler. Lights Out remained in Oboler's capable hands for two years, after which the program was written by freelancers until its 1939 cancellation. In 1942, Oboler revived the series for CBS Radio, where it ran until the following year. NBC Radio revived the show as a summer replacement in both 1945 and 1946; ABC Radio then revived for another eight episodes in the summer of 1947.
In 1946, Lights Out made the move to television in the form of four specials on NBC-TV. The show then lingered for three years before NBC brought it back as a live half-hour program in 1949, where it ran for an additional 154 episodes, ending in 1952.
On July 9, 1951, Lights Out televised the first of only two episodes based on stories by Manly Wade Wellman, "The Meddlers," based on his story "Larroes Catch Meddlers." The story first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in April, 1951, and has been reprinted in Wellman's collections Worse Things Waiting (1973) and Sin's Doorwayand Other Ominous Entrances (2003). The script was by Douglas Wood Gibson, who had previously written three scripts for the series. William Corrigan, who would helm 25 Lights Out episodes, directed. John Carradine and E. G. Marshall starred as a crooked pair who hope to find a cache of Confederate gold in an old -- perhaps haunted -- house.
For more of today's Overlooked Video, check out Sweet Freedom where Todd Mason will have all the links.