Friends, it has been a couple of weeks since we’ve last had a chance to share a Retro Radio Memories offering. As the evening is fast approaching – I think it is time to share Death Robbery, a rather chilling tale from the Lights Out radio series that was originally broadcast on July 16th of 1947. This episode also boasts the talents of the iconic Boris Karloff – working from a script by Wyllis Cooper – the creator of the Lights Out radio show. In addition it features a truly terrifying performance by Lurene Tuttle (Macbeth, The Manitou), although I should add that originally this was an uncredited role. As I understand it, Death Robbery was the first episode for what was a third revival of the extremely popular radio show… however it appears that Eversharp, the sponsor for the show was taken aback at the nature of the stories and cancelled it after two more episodes had been broadcast. At the very least Eversharp has been said to have paid Wyllis Cooper for the five remaining scripts that were not used – and it should be noted that Karloff continued to do okay for himself. By the time that Death Robbery had aired on ABC radio – the legendary actor was not only already known for the likes of 1931’s Frankenstein but a slew of horror-themed feature films including 1945’s The Body Snatcher. A film that co-starred Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and like with Death Robbery focuses on a little grave robbing.
The story for Death Robbery unlike with The Body Snatchers doesn’t concern itself with grave robbing for profit but for science. David (Karloff) is a brilliant scientist who along with the aid of Ruth (Tuttle), his Wife and lab assistant, have discovered how to conqueror death – at least this is the case in the laboratory animals they have experimented on. As the episode begins, their best friend who is named Ed is questioning the morality of their discovery – to the couple’s dismay. Ed who happens to be a skilled surgeon suggests that David go no further than his research on chimpanzees and smaller animals. Something that both Ruth and David feel is ridiculous – with the former admitting that if something tragic were to befall her, she would gladly want her Husband to bring her back to life. David gets his chance when she is sadly killed in an automobile accident, with Ed grudgingly giving assistance they manage to bring Ruth back from the great beyond… at least in body.
Death Robbery gave me the chills while I was listening to it – turn down the lights if you are able and try to imagine how listeners reacted to this back in 1947!