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The Mysteries of the Inner Sanctum
(30 min)

Show Description

This horror series features probably the most famous opening in the history of radio. After the greeting, “Good Evening...” a door creaks slowly open and the listener is greeted by the host, a gruesome joke and then the introduction to the story for the evening. A strange mixture of horror and humor.

Show History

Inner Sanctum Mysteries was a popular old-time radio program that ran from January 7, 1941 to October 5, 1952. Its creator was Himan Brown, who later created the long-running CBS Radio Mystery Theater. It featured stories of mystery, terror and suspense told, in sharp contrast to shows like Suspense and The Whistler, with a broad tongue-in-cheek approach. A total of 526 episodes are known to have been produced, a great many of which are lost today.

Each show opened with a jovial greeting from the host, Raymond, played initially by Raymond Edward Johnson and then by Paul McGrath beginning in 1945. Speaking in an exaggeratedly “spooky” voice, Raymond would spout jokes and puns over a melodramatic organ score that one can easily imagine being played by a skeleton. As the series progressed, even the advertisers would get into the act, trading banter with Raymond before the story proper began.

Its campy comedy notwithstanding, the stories were often effective little chillers, mixing horror and humor in equal doses. Memorable episodes include “Terror by Night” (9/18/45) and “The Tell-Tale Heart” (8/3/41) with Boris Karloff. More than a few established stars appeared over the years, including Mary Astor, Helen Hayes, Peter Lorre, Burgess Meredith, Claude Rains and Frank Sinatra.

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