Crime Classics

CBS true crime stories from the 1950s
from archive.org

Crime Classics came to CBS September 30, 1953 and was a neat little series of "true crime stories". The show introduced itself succinctly: "Crime Classics, a series of true crime stories from the records and newspapers of every land, from every time. Your host each week, Mr. Thomas Hyland -- connoisseur of crime, student of violence, and teller of murders." Thomas Hyland was played by Lou Merrill, although you'd never know it was an "actor" doing the part. The great Elliott Lewis, actor, producer and director of Suspense, Broadway is My Beat, and On Stage is in charge of this very intelligent and enjoyable show. Bernard Herrmann composed the music that duplicated authentic music of the era being dramatized. Morton Fine and David Friedkin wrote the scripts. Lewis and his writers collected and developed true crime stories expressly for Crime Classics.

Thomas Hyland's delivery is measured and mild-mannered, as if giving a college lecture. Would that all professors were this interesting! The actors in the stories themselves are uniformly sensitive. Orchestral scores by the great Bernard Hermann, who did Orson Welles' Mercury Theater radio show and then Alfred Hitchcock's films, give the stories sophistication and mood. So do the tasteful sound effects. There is a wry, cool-blooded tone to the proceedings.

Cases profiled on the series ranged from seventeenth-century murder to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Each and every story, however bizarre, is actually based on fact. For example, the show about the Younger Brothers of the American West has some very interesting background details concerning Quantrell's Raiders and the Kansas Jayhawks. In the story of "John Hayes, his Head, and How They Were Parted," we hear the tale of a glassblower who blows glass perfectly and completely surrounding the severed head of a unknown dead man and placed in glass. Then it is placed in a museum where it remained pending identification. Thus his killers were found out by the dead man, using his head.

This show is a good companion to other old time radio shows that are historically-oriented, such as Cavalcade of America, You Are There, and The American Trail.

Information for this description came from John Dunning's "Tune In Yesterday The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio".

NOTE: Updated Release! (22-Dec-2019)

From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Notes" Section below for more information on the OTRR.

  1. The Crime of Bathsheba Spooner (27.4Mb)
  2. The Shockingly Peaceful Passing of Thomas Edwin Bartlett, Green Grocer (27.2Mb)
  3. The Checkered Life and Sudden Death of Colonel James Fisk, Jr. (27.2Mb)
  4. The Shrapnelled Body of Charles Drew, Sr. (27.3Mb)
  5. The Terrible Deed of John White Webster (27.3Mb)
  6. The Death of a Picture Hanger (27.3Mb)
  7. The Final Day of General Ketchum, and How He Died (6.7Mb)
  8. Mr. Thrower's Hammer (27.3Mb)
  9. The Axe and the Droot Family, How They Fared (27.3Mb)
  10. The Incredible Trial of Laura D. Fair (27.2Mb)
  11. The Alsop Family, How It Diminished and Grew Again (27.2Mb)
  12. Your Loving Son, Nero (6.7Mb)
  13. The Torment of Henrietta Robinson, and Why She Killed (27.4Mb)
  14. The Bloody, Bloody Banks of Fall River (27.3Mb)
  15. The Hangman and William Palmer, Who Won (27.3Mb)
  16. The Seven-layered Arsenic Cake of Madame Lafarge (27.2Mb)
  17. Billy Bonny Bloodletter, Also Known as 'The Kid' (27.3Mb)
  18. John Hayes, His Head and How They Were Parted (27.2Mb)
  19. Raschi Among the Crocodiles, and the Prank He Played (27.4Mb)
  20. Blackbeard's Fourteenth Wife, Why She Was Not Good For Him (27.1Mb)
  21. The Triangle on the Round Table (27.4Mb)
  22. The Killing Story of William Corder and the Farmer's Daughter (26.8Mb)
  23. If a Body Need a Body, Just Call Burke and Hare (26.9Mb)
  24. The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (27Mb)
  25. John and Judith, Their Crime and Why They Didn't Get to Enjoy It (27.3Mb)
  26. Coyle and Richardson, Why They Hung in a Spanking Breeze (27.3Mb)
  27. The Younger Brothers, Why Some of Them Grew No Older (26.5Mb)
  28. How Supan Got the Hook Outside Bombay (27Mb)
  29. Madeline Smith, Maid or Murderess (26.8Mb)
  30. Madeline Smith, Maid or Murderess (27.1Mb)
  31. The Boorn Brothers and the Hangman, a Study in Nip and Tuck (27.3Mb)
  32. The Incredible History of John Shephard (27.4Mb)
  33. Twenty-Three Knives Against Caesar (27.3Mb)
  34. John Baptiste Troppmann, Killer of Many (27.3Mb)
  35. The Good Ship Jane, Why She Became Flotsam (27.3Mb)
  36. Roger Nems, How He, Though Dead, Won the Game (27.5Mb)
  37. New Hampshire, the Tiger and Brad Ferguson; What Happened Then (27.1Mb)
  38. Old Sixtoes, How He Stopped Construction on the B. B. C. and I (27.4Mb)
  39. Robby-Boy Balfour; How He Wrecked a Big Prison's Reputation (27.4Mb)
  40. The General's Daughter, the Czar's Lieutenant and the Linen Closet (27.4Mb)
  41. James Evans, Fireman; How He Extinguished a Human Torch (27.3Mb)
  42. Cesare Borgia - His Most Difficult Murder (20.1Mb)
  43. Widow Magee and the Three Gypsies; A Vermont Fandango (27Mb)
  44. Bunny Baumler, His Close Brush with Fame (26.9Mb)
  45. Mr. Clarke's Skeleton in Mr. Aram's Closet; The Noise it Made (27.4Mb)
  46. The Lethal Habit of the Marquise De Brinvilliers (27.5Mb)
  47. The Lethal Habit of the Marquise De Brinvilliers (27Mb)
  48. Mr. Jonathon Jewett; How Most Peculiarly He Cheated the Hangman (27Mb)
  49. The Assassination of Leon Trotsky (27Mb)
  50. The Death of a Baltimore Birdie and Friend (13.7Mb)
  51. Ali Pasha - A Turkish Delight (27.1Mb)
  52. Good Evening, My Name is Jack the Ripper (26.9Mb)

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