Mysterious Traveler, Radio Play by Robert Arthur
Well I finally got time to listen to some old radio plays I have not heard in ages. I used to hear a lot of old radio plays because I loved them religiously. The 90s were pretty vague and not too great in my life. I guess being from a degenerate x kind of world you just don’t know what to do with your life besides draw and create stories. So what I would do besides all this is listen to tapes of old radio shows like the Green Hornet and the Shadow. I really enjoyed them growing up because you can use your imagination and most of the stories were much more creative than what they could dish out today. With the invasion of television, I guess the radio just died and many tuned into what they could see on TV. Don’t get me wrong. I learned many a lesson on tv, but I just could not use my imagination like I could when you hear a play on the radio. Many of kids my generation did not like listening to radio shows. Boring, not just the same as television, but I digress.
Before the 90s, then well, there is my love for Robert Arthur mysteries. The three investigators had me so much going in the 80s, 30 years ago to the day to be exact, and using my imagination while reading always was a highlight to my day as well. I loved those mysteries and each story had an impact to my mind. Each writer beyond the series had a great story to tell and I enjoyed the mystery and comedy each one played out. No wonder I had a great enjoyment for radio plays. Little did I realize that Robert Arthur was not telling a lie when he did indeed make a screaming masterpiece in the show The Mysterious Traveler. I enjoy this series as much as I did the shadow and green hornet due to the mystery it involved. They were very intriguing and lead you to think just as much as the next one. And I totally loved how they included a character. A character that would go from town to town to learn a different story every day.
The Mysterious Traveler was such a great radio program that it had its own digest series, and wow was I quite surprised to see the first issue go for 1000 on ebay! It soon even spawned a comic book series from the legendary Steve Ditko which included a more concrete character and definitely a greater image that I know Robert Arthur would be proud of. I really think that the series had a great impact to America to come up with a fan base and even shows that spawned from the series including HBOs Hitch Hiker from the 80s, I remembered watching as a child. Not really my cup of tea due to the graphic nature, but what do you expect from cable TV? Either way, the show had a serious impact to many but I know that the radio series left you to thinking.
I want to talk about 2 that had a great impact on my life listening to them again recently on a radio podcast. They just literally screamed Robert Arthur as you listen to them. One was called The House of Death and the other The Good die Young (Or how did Billy Joel say it best?) The first one was called the House of Death. A very intriguing story that involved 2 older ladies who lived with their niece and nephew. They had inherited money from their family and talking over how their friend ended up in the poorhouse. They wanted to take her in once they got settled but they seemed to have problems with their niece and nephew. Overhearing how nephew was putting the house up on the market, they were disturbed that they wanted to off them and get their inheritance. Then in a mysterious fate, both their cats had either died or disappeared from eating food which was meant for them. Apparently the first cat died of old age and the second just disappeared. Nothing was mentioned, but the two women were so scared of their family that they refused to eat. They wanted to get a message to the judge through a friend and he apparently died in a car accident. They had thought it was espionage so with that they wanted to get a message to the town. With their bit of efforts they decided to set the house on fire and trapping the niece and nephew in the cellar and ran out of the home leaving their nephew and niece to die in the fire.
The fire did signal the town and the judge showed up and told them the whole truth on how they were not going to make millions as they had thought through the family fortune to be inherited and the nephew and niece did not want to tell them the cold hard facts and tried to sell the house so they would have money to live on. The two old ladies had to go to the poor house because now they were without family and without money.
The second story was called The good die young, which was very clever as well. This one left me hanging the whole time I listened to it. It is one for the books and for most to ponder how they would signify the end. It was about a girl who’s father remarries. The young girl does not like the new mother because she had taken her father’s attention from her, so she gives her new mother a lot of hell and tries her best to get rid of her. Well throughout the story the wife was trying to convince her husband that the daughter did not like her, but the daughter had played her father so well through spoiled acts. Toward the climax of the story, the daughter wanted to walk with her father, and when he called to his wife to get his coat, she did so but fell on the steps due to marbles on the staircase.
They call the doctor for her and he prescribes her medicine and tells her to take it in order to get well, but he does offer her to use it for daughter if she ever got upset over anything as well. Well one day the daughter tried to get the medicine for her mother, but come to find out it’s poison that was in the medicine chest, looking like the medicine prescribed. The mother tells her so and so they get the right medicine. That night the daughter is having nightmares and the mother offers the father to use her medicine because it was okay to use. The daughter forcefully refused but the mother fought to get her to take the medicine. With vain, she did and the daughter died. they had no clue why or how but the doctor came and told them it was the right bottle, but it was poison which was in it. The father soon looks at the wife thinking she had poisoned his daughter and that is how it ends.
That one really had me thinking because you really don’t know who did it. Was it the wife because she forced it on her, or was it was the daughter because she knew.. or did she know it was poison? Who was the criminal?
Boy, and I thought the Mystery of the Screaming Clock had me on edge? Now you know why my favorite writer is Robert Arthur. He was very incredible the way he would write a mystery. He would point out the ironies and show what would happen if you mock them. He is the reason why I find Ron Serling so fascinating. Another great writer that just has the same impact as Arthur among many others who wrote for TV and Radio. They made clever stories where people would learn a lesson or learn something from it. I find the writings very incredible and thought provoking. If you are not a fan, or just don’t know who the heck he was, I think you should check him out. He wrote for many tv series including Alfred Hitchcock presents, and Boris Karlof’s Thriller.
Now the Three Investigators is very popular in Germany. The series is called Die Drei ???, instead of the Three investigators which he created after he left television. His baby, the series he created that turned me onto this writer in so many ways as he did for many others. The Three Investigators over there became much more popular oddly enough from their CDs. Radio plays! The kids idolize it there due to the series on tape due to the nature of the way they act on the tapes. Like an old radio play. I find it odd, and in irony that his series is greatly popular over there and all due to radio plays! It’s like in full circle. That he created a great show for radio and now his series are entertaining children over there the same way. Sad it had to die off here in the states but it is great that he has lived through what he loved to do. Radio.
If you want to listen to the series, highly recommended! I do not endorse this page: