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CBS Radio Mystery Theater (aka Radio Mystery Theater and Mystery Theater, sometimes abbreviated as CBSRMT) was a radio drama series created by Himan Brown that was broadcast on CBS Radio Network affiliates from 1974 to 1982, and later in the early 2000s was briefly carried by WVXU in Cincinnati.
The format was similar to that of classic old time radio shows such as The Mysterious Traveler and The Whistler, in that the episodes were introduced by a host (E. G. Marshall) who provided pithy wisdom and commentary throughout. Unlike the hosts of those earlier programs, Marshall is fully mortal, merely someone whose heightened insight and erudition plunge the listener into the world of the macabre (in a manner similar to that of "The Man in Black" on yet another old time radio program, Suspense).
As with Himan Brown's prior Inner Sanctum Mysteries, each episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater opened and closed with the ominous sound of a creaking crypt door, accompanied by Marshall's disturbing utterance, "Come in. Welcome. I am E. G. Marshall." This was followed by one of Marshall's other catchphrases, usually either "The sound of suspense" or "The fear you can hear." At the conclusion, the door would swing shut, preceded by Marshall's classic sign off, "Until next time, pleasant... dreams?" Marshall hosted the program from January 1974 until February 1982, when actress Tammy Grimes took over for the series' last season, maintaining the format.
CBSRMT was broadcast each weeknight, at first with a new program each night. Later in the run three or four episodes were new originals each week, and the remainder repeats. There were 1,399 original episodes. The total number of broadcasts, including reruns, was 2,969. Each episode was allotted a full hour of airtime, but after commercials and news, episodes typically ran for about 45 minutes.
Prominent actors from radio and screen performed on the series. Notable regulars included Mason Adams, Kevin McCarthy, Arnold Moss, John Beal, Howard Da Silva, Keir Dullea, Morgan Fairchild, Veleka Gray, Jack Grimes, Fred Gwynne,Larry Haines, Paul Hecht, Celeste Holm, Kim Hunter, Mercedes McCambridge, Tony Roberts, Norman Rose, Alexander Scourby, Marian Seldes and Kristoffer Tabori, and a then-unknown John Lithgow.
The series also introduced a new generation of listeners to many of the great old time radio voices, including such distinctive performers as Joan Banks, Jackson Beck, Ralph Bell, Roger DeKoven, Robert Dryden (who was heard in more than 240 episodes), Sam Edwards, Virginia Gregg, Leon Janney, Victor Jory, Evelyn "Evie" Juster, Mandel Kramer, Marvin Miller, Santos Ortega, Bryna Raeburn, Alan Reed, Anne Seymour, Ann Sheppard, Les Tremayne, Lurene Tuttle and Janet Waldo.
A number of well-known veteran and future stars made guest appearances, including
  • Theodore Bikel ("Just One More Day," first aired May 29, 1975)
  • Richard Crenna ("Ghost Plane," September 12, 1975)
  • Joan Hackett ("The Eye of Death," March 7, 1975)
  • Margaret Hamilton ("Triptych for a Witch," October 30, 1975)
  • Casey Kasem ("The Headless Hessian," September 23, 1975)
  • Agnes Moorehead (appeared in the first broadcast, "The Old Ones Are Hard to Kill"; and "The Ring of Truth," January 26, 1974)
  • Jerry Orbach ("The Follower," January 25, 1975)
  • Sarah Jessica Parker ("The Child Cat's Paw", May 17, 1977)
  • Mandy Patinkin ("Lost Dog," January 9, 1974)
  • Kathleen Quinlan ("Ring of Evil," April 16, 1979)
  • Jerry Stiller ("The Frontiers of Fear," August 13, 1974)
  • Roy Thinnes ("Journey Into Terror," August 14, 1974)
  • John Lithgow ("The Deserter," February 6, 1980)

For Episode List And More Information: