Do you have a lost episode of Suspense?
If you have some AFRS discs in your collection or attic, you just might!
Armed Forces Radio rebroadcast many network programs during radio's "Golden Age", including that "outstanding theater of thrills", "Suspense". In some cases, the original network or affiliate acetates of particular shows are lost and AFRS discs, pressed and shipped to AFRS stations around the world, are the only source for missing network radio programs.
Part of the trick in finding one of the lost episodes is to know what to look for. AFRS numbered each disc or disc set in a series they released sequentially. So, the following list of missing episodes of "Suspense" was compiled using logs of the series, my own AFRS "Suspense" discs, and mentions of AFRS program numbers in the RadioGOLDindex.
I simply made a spreadsheet of the "Suspense" episodes in chronological order, dropping in AFRS program numbers where known and filling in the missing gaps. The list should tell you the program number that will be stamped on the label of the AFRS discs for the missing "Suspense" shows.
The earliest AFRS "Suspense" disc in my collection is program 8, "Sorry Wrong Number", broadcast May 25, 1943. That would make the start of the series likely with the CBS broadcast of March 6, 1943. Episodes broadcast on CBS before that date probably won't be on AFRS "Suspense" discs, but could turn up on the "Mystery Playhouse" series, which was a kind of anthology program pulling from several mystery and detective shows.
Generally, the labels of AFRS discs list only the series name and the episode number. The episode numbers usually do not match the program number of the original network series, since AFRS might start running a program after it had been on the network for some time. So, ARFS episode "1" of a series might be from a few weeks in or in the middle of the network run.
Practically all AFRS discs of radio shows from the 1940s and early 50s include the original broadcast date of the show in the vinyl trail-off of the disc. You have to look carefully, but you should see the date in the format "mm-dd-yy".
In the list below are the likely numbers for AFRS "Suspense" discs containing missing shows. Note that because of differences in the CBS and AFRS schedules, where "Suspense" might be preempted on either network, the numbers might be off by a few numbers (probably no more that three to five).
The list includes the probable AFRS program number, original CBS broadcast date, episode title and star.
107 - 6/14/45 The Burning Court -- Clifton Webb
113 - 7/26/45 Fury And Sound -- Norman Lloyd
137 - 1/10/46 This Was A Hero -- Phillip Terry
141 - 2/7/46 Too Little To Live On -- George Murphy
144 - 2/28/46 The Keenest Edge -- Richard Greene
156 - 5/23/46 Spoils For The Victor -- Dane Clark
197 - 3/20/47 The Waxworks -- Claude Rains
198 - 3/27/47 Trial By Jury -- Nancy Kelly
The numbers for the following shows may be off a bit more - I haven't found any existing examples listed for AFRS discs in the 1947 period and, in January 1948, "Suspense" went to a one hour format. I'm not sure how AFRS handled this. They may have run the series in a one hour slot, divided the show into half-hour segments or even taken it off the schedule.
214 - 7/17/47 Beyond Good And Evil -- Vincent Price
237 - 12/18/47 Wet Saturday -- Boris Karloff
244 - 1/31/48 A Bet With Death -- Lee Bowman (one hour program)
259 - 7/8/48 The Last Chance -- Cary Grant (first show that went back to 30 min format)
With the following shows, I'm fairly certain about the episode numbers since some examples during this time period of AFRS discs are listed with episode numbers as a guide.
330 - 6/15/50 Deadline -- Broderick Crawford
334 - 9/7/50 The Tip -- Ida Lupino
370 - 5/24/51 Fresh Air And Murder -- Jeff Chandler
386 - 11/5/51 Trials Of Thomas Shaw -- Joseph Cotton
387 - 11/12/51 Mission Of The Betta -- John Hodiak
388 - 11/19/51 The Embezzler -- John Lund
389 - 11/26/51 Misfortune In Pearls -- Frank Lovejoy
According to the log at otrsite.com, the 10/13/51 episode of "Suspense" was originally recorded with Howard Duff in the lead role. Because of Duff's supposed Communist sympathies, the show was quickly re-recorded with a different star and Duff's version was never broadcast, making that version one of the missing episodes. If you have AFRS "Suspense" program number 390 in your collection, give it a spin to see if AFRS accidentally used the Duff version. (AFRS discs were prepared weeks in advance of AFRS broadcast and some have turned up that used the rehearsal versions of shows, so this is worth checking for. Howard Duff, btw, was often heard as a staff announcer on program openings in the early days of AFRS.)
390 - 10/13/51 A Murderous Revision - Howard Duff
These are a bit more uncertain in episode numbers; again, I wasn't able to dig up AFRS episode numbers in program listings as a guide for this period of the show.
394 - 12/24/51 The Night Before Christmas -- Greer Garson
419 - 9/15/52 Sorry, Wrong Number -- Agnes Moorehead
515 - 1/6/55 Murder Aboard The Alphabet -- William Conrad
548 - 8/23/55 Beetle And Mr. Bottle -- Eric Snowden
564 - 1/3/56 The Eavesdropper -- Lawrence Dobkin
580 - 4/24/56 A Case Of Nerves -- Parley Baer
These last two may have two possible numbers. I found a listing for a show at the Goldin index that should have been in the 500 range, but was listed in the 800 range. This could be a misprint on Goldin's part, so I'm including both possible numbers.
575/875 - 8/1/56 Massacre At Little Big Horn -- Stacy Harris
630/930 - 9/15/57 Night On Red Mountain -- Richard Crenna