1940s series about unusual bequests
Strange Wills was a radio program syndicated in 1946. It was produced in Hollywood by Charles Michelson and Teleways Syndication. Stage and film star Warren William, who starred in the show, was also part of the creative team.
The stories were said to be based on actual wills, with the names of those involved changed. The stories themselves were compiled by lawyer-turned-author Ken Krippene from his research over a ten-year period. These shows were quite different from other mystery dramas of the era. They would look at the complexities, dramas, and legal entanglements that arise from some wills. The wills would have unusual bequests, or involve a search for a missing heir. Warren William would portray Probate Attorney Warren Francis O'Connell, who would act as probate and relay the story as he observed it.
The cast for most of the productions included its host and star, Warren William, and have co-starring Howard Culver and Carleton G. Young. Other actors include Lurene Tuttle, William Conrad, and Peggy Webber. The remainder of the supporting cast of most productions was comprised of many of the West Coast's finest voice talent. This was one of Teleways finest productions up to this point. The show ran for one season of 26 shows, although in the May 17, 1947 Billboard magazine states that an addition 26 shows were in production. Unfortunately, only a few more may have been made and four are in circulation.
Eventually, Charles Michelson bought the syndication rights from Teleways, and then licensed them further to Grace Gibson Radio Productions for distribution in Australia. This was done in part to skirt the 1948 Petrillo Ban, which was a musician strike at the time.
Warren William either bought or licensed the entire series of productions from Charles Michelson. With this, William would form his own company, Warren William Radio Productions, Inc., with hopes of continuing the series on NBC. This series was then renamed I Devise and Bequeath. There were five shows created, of which four are in circulation. However, these use the same scripts as the Strange Wills show. Unfortunately, William would pass away from multiple myeloma in 1948 and no further work is known to have occurred.
Information for this synopsis was taken from The Digital Deli Too website, from Jay Hickerson's The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming, from Wikipedia and Google Books.
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