Thursday, December 3, 2015

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 3 - Christmas Story from The Mysterious Traveler

Made it to day three!  Once again, I am showcasing more Christmas themed shows from Old Time Radio's golden age.  Here is a link to all the 2014 OTR Christmas entries.  If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  He does a great job of showcasing great holiday themed episodes, especially as we get closer to Christmas and the end of December.

Holland-Fawcett Family Christmas Party (2010)
Santa paying a visit in 2010
Well, here we are on December 3rd and for the third consecutive day, I found a story of someone playing Santa Claus.  But actually, if you listen to all three, you will notice that they are very, very different.

This entry is from The Mysterious Traveler, a great old time radio series focused on the supernatural.  This series was broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network and recorded in the studios of WOR in New York City.  The show was the brainchild of Mutual Network's Robert Arthur and David Kogan.  They also produced other series including Dark Destiny, The Strange Dr. Weird and The Sealed Book.  The Strange Dr. Weird was a 15 minute show sponsored by Adam Hats, and often was a trimmed version of a story on one of their 30 minute series.  The Sealed Book is one of my favorites - despite being pretty campy!  I will definitely write about that later.  The series was directed and co-produced by Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor.  Each episode of the Mysterious Traveler starts off with the following introduction:

This is the Mysterious Traveler inviting you to join me on another journey into the realm of the strange and the terrifying. I hope you will enjoy the trip! And that it will thrill you a little, and chill you a little. So settle back and get a good grip on your nerves - if you can!

The Mysterious Traveler was played by Maurice Tarplin, a very well known radio actor.  Tarplin also played the often frustrated Inspector Faraday on Boston Blackie, one of my favorite Old Time Radio series.  His wonderful voice sets the mood so perfectly on the show, though he is only on air in the beginning and end of each episode.  In each of these episodes, strange and mysterious happenings take place.  There would be an explanation offered, if there was one!  The show was so popular that it even inspired a series of comic books that started in 1948 (that are also on the Internet Archive) and a magazine starting in 1951.

This Christmas story starts with a down on his luck man, named Steve Ferrell, who ended up playing Santa Claus is a huge way!  He was in Seattle with few prospects and even less money.  By chance looking through the classified section of the paper (think Craigs List) when he found a personal ad from Paul Harris.  Paul was looking for someone to share a drive to New York City - no expenses needed!  Steve jumped at the chance to get a free trip to New York City and off they went.  On the long car drive, they talked and talked and talked.  Steve learned a great deal about Paul Harris and why he was heading to New York.  Turns out that Paul Harris was recently contacted by a grandfather he never met.  The grandfather, who was estranged from Paul's parents, was getting older and wanted to connect with his only living heir.  But then an accident in the Allegheny Mountains cost Paul his life, but spared Steve.  So in a moment of seizing the brass ring, Steve, who was not hurt badly in the wreck, decided to move forward in Paul's place.  No one ever met Paul in New York City, and there was an inheritance on the other end.

As he struggled to keep up the act, Steve (as Paul) fell in love and realized that he found something better than the inheritance that he might get.  Without giving the story away, he decided that playing Santa Claus would be the best way to win the girl and save the day.

Christmas Story (December 25, 1951)

    25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

    25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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