Inner Sanctum Mystery

Stories of terror and suspense
from archive.org

The anthology series featured stories of mystery, terror and suspense, and its tongue-in-cheek introductions were in sharp contrast to shows like Suspense and The Whistler. The early 1940s programs opened with Raymond Edward Johnson introducing himself as, "Your host, Raymond," in a mocking sardonic voice. A spooky melodramatic organ score (played by Lew White) punctuated Raymond's many morbid jokes and playful puns. Raymond's closing was an elongated "Pleasant dreeeeaams, hmmmmm?" His tongue-in-cheek style and ghoulish relish of his own tales became the standard for many such horror narrators to follow, from fellow radio hosts like Ernest Chappell (on Wyllis Cooper's later series, Quiet, Please) and Maurice Tarplin (on The Mysterious Traveler).

When Johnson left the series in May 1945 to serve in the Army, he was replaced by Paul McGrath, who did not keep the "Raymond" name and was known only as "Your Host" or "Mr. Host" (Berry Kroeger had substituted earlier for a total of four episodes). McGrath was a Broadway actor who turned to radio for a regular income. Beginning in 1945, Lipton Tea sponsored the series, pairing first Raymond and then McGrath with cheery commercial spokeswoman Mary Bennett (aka the "Tea Lady"), whose blithesome pitches for Lipton Tea contrasted sharply with the macabre themes of the stories. She primly chided the host for his trademark dark humor and creepy manner.

The Creaking Door: The program's familiar and famed audio trademark was the eerie creaking door which opened and closed the broadcasts. Himan Brown got the idea from a door in the basement that "squeaked like Hell." The door sound was actually made by a rusty desk chair. The program did originally intend to use a door, but on its first use, the door did not creak. Undaunted, Brown grabbed a nearby chair, sat in it and turned, causing a hair-raising squeak. The chair was used from then on as the sound prop. On at least one memorable occasion, a staffer innocently repaired and oiled the chair, thus forcing the sound man to mimic the squeak orally.

Guest Stars: Its campy comedy notwithstanding, the stories were usually effective little chillers, mixing horror and humor in equal doses. Memorable episodes included "Terror by Night" (September 18, 1945) and an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (August 3, 1941). The latter starred Boris Karloff, who was heard regularly in the first season, starring in more than 15 episodes and returning sporadically thereafter. Other established stars in the early years included Mary Astor, Helen Hayes, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, Claude Rains, Frank Sinatra, and Orson Welles. Most of the lead and supporting players were stalwarts of New York radio. These included Santos Ortega, Mercedes McCambridge, Berry Kroeger, Lawson Zerbe, Arnold Moss, Leon Janney, and Mason Adams. Players like Richard Widmark, Everett Sloane, Burgess Meredith, Agnes Moorehead, Ken Lynch, and Anne Seymour, also found fame via the Inner Sanctum Mysteries.

Out of more than 500 programs broadcast, only about 200 remain in circulation, sometimes minus dates or titles.

NOTE: Updated with Version 2.1 files (03-Jan-2020).

From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group.

  1. Amazing Death Of Mrs Putnam (11.6Mb)
  2. The Tell-Tale Heart (24.4Mb)
  3. The Death Ship (24.9Mb)
  4. Hunter from Beyond (3.1Mb)
  5. Island of Death (13.1Mb)
  6. The Man from Yesterday (27Mb)
  7. Death Has Claws (14.1Mb)
  8. Dead Reckoning (20.2Mb)
  9. Study for Murder (9Mb)
  10. Black Sea Gull (26.3Mb)
  11. The Horla (8.4Mb)
  12. The Skull That Walked (27.2Mb)
  13. The Melody of Death (24.2Mb)
  14. The Silent Hands (23.7Mb)
  15. Death Is a Joker (14.1Mb)
  16. Dead Man's Vengeance (18.6Mb)
  17. The Voice on the Wire (26.6Mb)
  18. The Color Blind Formula (22.9Mb)
  19. Desert Death (27Mb)
  20. Death Is an Artist (27Mb)
  21. Death in the Depths (27.2Mb)
  22. No Coffin for the Dead (27.1Mb)
  23. The Bog-Oak Necklace (26.9Mb)
  24. The Judas Clock (27Mb)
  25. Song of the Slasher (13.4Mb)
  26. The Girl and the Gallows (26Mb)
  27. The Black Art (26.1Mb)
  28. Dead to Rights (27.1Mb)
  29. Musical Score (27Mb)
  30. Death Across the Board (27.2Mb)
  31. Portrait of Death (27.3Mb)
  32. Dead Man's Holiday (27Mb)
  33. Dead Man's Debt (26.9Mb)
  34. Dead Man's Deal (27Mb)
  35. The Murder Prophet (26.5Mb)
  36. The Last Story (21.8Mb)
  37. Terror by Night (26.7Mb)
  38. The Lonely Sleep (27.2Mb)
  39. The Shadow of Death (26.4Mb)
  40. Death by Scripture (24.4Mb)
  41. Death by Scripture (27.5Mb)
  42. Till Death Do Us Part (24.6Mb)
  43. Till Death Do Us Part (6.5Mb)
  44. The Corridor of Doom (26.8Mb)
  45. The Wailing Wall (26.8Mb)
  46. Boomerang (27.4Mb)
  47. The Dark Chamber (23.1Mb)
  48. The Dark Chamber (27.3Mb)
  49. The Undead (26.8Mb)
  50. The Undead (27.2Mb)
  51. The Creeping Wall (27.1Mb)
  52. The Edge of Death (27.1Mb)
  53. The Confession (11.5Mb)
  54. The Confession (26.1Mb)
  55. Blood of Cain (27.2Mb)
  56. Skeleton Bay (27.2Mb)
  57. The Man Who Couldn't Die (26.9Mb)
  58. I Walk in the Night (12.3Mb)
  59. I Walk in the Night (27.1Mb)
  60. Strands of Death (13.1Mb)
  61. Death Is a Double-Crosser (5.6Mb)
  62. Death Is a Double-Crosser (27.2Mb)
  63. Lady with a Plan (26.2Mb)
  64. Make Ready My Grave (22.3Mb)
  65. Make Ready My Grave (27.2Mb)
  66. You Could Die Laughing (26.5Mb)
  67. Detour to Terror (27Mb)
  68. Eight Steps to Murder (27.2Mb)
  69. I Want to Report a Murder (22.8Mb)
  70. Spectre of the Rose (18.1Mb)
  71. Murder Comes at Midnight (23.1Mb)
  72. The Dead Laugh (23.8Mb)
  73. Death's Old Sweet Song (20.3Mb)
  74. Death Bound (13.7Mb)
  75. The Ghost in the Garden (23.1Mb)
  76. Don't Dance on My Grave (11.9Mb)
  77. Over My Dead Body (11.3Mb)
  78. Till Death Do Us Part (26.7Mb)
  79. Death out of Mind (22.2Mb)
  80. Tempo in Blood (22.3Mb)
  81. The Doomed (11.4Mb)
  82. The Magic Tile (22.3Mb)
  83. Death Demon (27.2Mb)
  84. The Eyes of My Murderer (23.4Mb)
  85. Murder Takes a Honeymoon (22.2Mb)
  86. The Murder Ship (11.6Mb)
  87. House of Doom (11.8Mb)
  88. Death Rides a Riptide (22.8Mb)
  89. Hangman's Island (24Mb)
  90. Murder by Prophecy (22.7Mb)
  91. Death of a Doll (22.9Mb)
  92. Deathwatch in Boston (6.1Mb)
  93. Cause of Death (22.2Mb)
  94. Murder Faces East (21.7Mb)
  95. Between Two Worlds (22.1Mb)
  96. Fearful Voyage (23.2Mb)
  97. Murder Comes to Life (23.9Mb)
  98. Mark My Grave (12.1Mb)
  99. Mark My Grave (23.2Mb)
  100. The Devil's Fortune (23.4Mb)
  101. Death Demon (11.8Mb)
  102. Birdsong for a Murderer (11.6Mb)
  103. Flame of Death (12Mb)
  104. Only the Dead Die Twice (22.9Mb)
  105. Appointment with Death (23.7Mb)
  106. Death Wears a Lonely Smile (22.6Mb)
  107. The Death Deal (5.8Mb)
  108. The Unburied Dead (23.5Mb)
  109. The Corpse Is Lonely (23.5Mb)
  110. Death on the Highway (11.7Mb)
  111. Corpse Without a Conscience (23Mb)
  112. Pattern for Fear (11.8Mb)
  113. Deadly Fare (12Mb)
  114. Dead Heat (22.3Mb)
  115. Mind Over Murder (22.2Mb)
  116. Death's Little Brother (12Mb)
  117. Murder Rides the Carousel (22.4Mb)
  118. The Vengeful Corpse (25.8Mb)
  119. Honeymoon with Death (10.9Mb)
  120. Catch a Killer (12.1Mb)
  121. The Devil's Workshop (23.9Mb)
  122. Image of Death (12Mb)
  123. Night Is My Shroud (11.5Mb)
  124. Corpse for Halloween (12Mb)
  125. Wish to Kill (22.2Mb)
  126. Beyond the Grave (5.6Mb)
  127. The Enchanted Ghost (19.9Mb)
  128. Killer at Large (23.1Mb)
  129. The Scream (22.3Mb)
  130. The Hitch-Hiking Corpse (22.2Mb)
  131. Skeleton Bay (6.7Mb)
  132. Murder Mansion (21.7Mb)
  133. Beneficiary -- Death (27.1Mb)
  134. No Rest For The Dead (26.6Mb)
  135. Twice Dead (20.3Mb)
  136. The Smile of Death (5.7Mb)
  137. Man from the Grave (6.1Mb)
  138. The Unforgiving Corpse (27.2Mb)
  139. Birdsong for a Murderer (9.9Mb)
  140. Terror by Night (10.5Mb)
  141. Death Pays the Freight (10.6Mb)
  142. Death for Sale (11.4Mb)
  143. The Listener (11Mb)
  144. The Murder Prophet (11Mb)
  145. Murder off the Record (11.5Mb)
  146. The Magic Tile (22.5Mb)
  147. The Corpse Laughs Last (23.1Mb)
  148. No Rest for the Dead (14.5Mb)
  149. No Rest for the Dead (16.8Mb)
  150. Strange Passenger (10.6Mb)
  151. The Meek Die Slowly (10.7Mb)
  152. Till Death Do Us Part (11.1Mb)
  153. The Corpse Nobody Loved (21.4Mb)
  154. The Dead Walk at Night (10.6Mb)
  155. The Judas Clock (12Mb)

MP3 files hosted by archive.org.