The Witch's Tale

The Witch's Tale was a horror-fantasy radio series which aired from May 21, 1931, to June 13, 1938, on WOR, the Mutual Radio Network, and in syndication.[1] The program was created, written, and directed by Alonzo Deen Cole (February 22, 1897, St. Paul, Minnesota - April 7, 1971).

Old Nancy (Adelaide Fitz-Allen) watches as a sinister Alonzo Deen Cole frightens his wife, Marie O'Flynn, in this early 1930s posed publicity photo for The Witch's Tale.

Production and casting

Cole's spooky show was hosted by Old Nancy, the Witch of Salem, who introduced a different terror tale each week. The role of Old Nancy was created by stage actress Adelaide Fitz-Allen,[1] who died in 1935 at the age of 79. Cole replaced her with 13-year-old Miriam Wolfe, and Martha Wentworth was also heard as Old Nancy on occasion. Cole himself provided the sounds of Old Nancy's cat, Satan. Cole's wife, Marie O'Flynn, portrayed the lead female characters on the program, and the supporting cast included Mark Smith and Alan Devitte.

The majority of the scripts were original stories, but there were literary adaptations as well, including:

There were likely other adaptations that have not survived.

For syndication, the shows were recorded live during broadcast and distributed to other stations. These recordings were destroyed by Cole in 1961, so few episodes survive. Cole was also the writer, producer, and director of the radio mystery-crime drama, Casey, Crime Photographer.

In November 1936, Alonzo Deen Cole edited The Witch's Tales magazine with the lead story by Cole. It ran for only two issues.


An effort was made to bring the series to television. In 1958, Television Programs of America made plans to film a pilot with Cole as consultant and story supervisor. The associate story editor was Raymond Levy. However, the show never made it to TV.


EC Comics' publisher Bill Gaines was inspired by Cole's Old Nancy host to create the character the Old Witch, illustrated by Graham Ingels as the host of EC's The Haunt of Fear.

Listen to

See also


  1. ^ a b Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 724.

Further reading

  • Cole, Alonzo Deen, edited by David S. Siegel with introduction by Miriam Wolff. The Witch's Tale (253 pages). Dunwich Press, 1998. 13 scripts plus episode log and biographical sketch of Cole. ISBN 978-1-891379-01-7
  • Killmeier, Matthew A. (15 May 2012). "Aural Atavism: The Witch's Tale and Gothic Horror Radio". Journal of Radio & Audio Media. 19 (1): 61–82. doi:10.1080/19376529.2012.667021.

External links

1001 Nights of Snowfall

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall is a graphic novel prequel to the comic book series Fables written by series creator Bill Willingham with a variety of artists. It was released on October 18, 2006 by Vertigo.

In the story Snow White has been sent to negotiate with the Arabian fables. The sultan, considering it an insult that a woman was sent to negotiate, holds her hostage. Snow White tells him a story every night to keep him from beheading her.

1931 in radio

The year 1931 saw a number of significant events in radio broadcasting history.

1938 in radio

The year 1938 saw a number of significant events in radio broadcasting.

Alexander Ilyinsky

Alexander Alexandrovich Ilyinsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Ильи́нский; 24 January [O.S. 12 January] 1859 – 23 February 1920) was a Russian music teacher and composer, best known for the Lullaby (Berceuse), Op. 13, No. 7, from his orchestral suite "Noure and Anitra", and for the opera The Fountain of Bakhchisaray set to Pushkin's poem of the same name.

Alexander Ilyinsky was born in Tsarskoye Selo in 1859. His father was a physician in the Alexander Cadet Corps. His general education was in the First Cadet Corps at St Petersburg, and he served in the Artillery from 1877 to 1879. His music studies were in Berlin, under Theodor Kullak and Natanael Betcher at the Berlin Conservatory, and under Woldemar Bargiel at the Neue Akademie der Tonkunst. He returned to Russia in 1885, graduated from the St Petersburg Conservatory and taught at the Moscow Philharmonic Society School of Music and Drama. He resigned in 1899 and started giving private lessons. In 1905 he joined the staff of the Moscow Conservatory. His students included Vasily Kalinnikov, Anatoly Nikolayevich Alexandrov, Nikolai Roslavets, and the Finnish composer Väinö Raitio.His major work, the 4-act opera The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, to a libretto based on Alexander Pushkin's poem, was produced in Moscow in 1911. He also wrote a symphony, a Concert Overture, a string quartet, three orchestral suites, a set of orchestral Croatian Dances, a symphonic movement called Psyche, two cantatas for female chorus and orchestra (Strekoza (The Dragonfly) and Rusalka), incidental music to Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Philoctetes, and to Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy's Tsar Fiodor Ioannovich, piano pieces, church music, songs, etc. His name is perhaps most familiar to music students for his Lullaby from the third orchestral suite (sometimes described as a ballet), "Noure and Anitra", Op. 13, which excerpt has appeared in many different arrangements.

Alexander Ilyinsky also wrote "A Short Guide to the Practical Teaching of Orchestration" (1917), which remained in use long after his death. In 1904 there appeared under his editorship "Biographies of all Composers from the Fourth to the Twentieth Century". He edited the complete piano works of Beethoven for a commercial publication.He died in 1920 in Moscow.

Orgy of the Spirits, an excerpt from The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, was used in the scores of the film East of Java (1935) and the adventure serials Tim Tyler's Luck (1937) and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938). It was also used as the theme music for the radio serial The Witch’s Tale.

Anthology series

An anthology series is a radio, television or book series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode or season. These usually have a different cast each week, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.

Frankenstein in popular culture

Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, and the famous character of Frankenstein's monster, have influenced popular culture for at least a century. The work has inspired numerous films, television programs, video games and derivative works. The character of the monster remains one of the most recognized icons in horror fiction.

Funeral March of a Marionette

The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d'une marionnette) is a short piece by Charles Gounod. It was originally written for solo piano in 1872 and orchestrated in 1879. It is perhaps best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

La Vénus d'Ille

La Vénus d'Ille is a short story by Prosper Mérimée. It was written in 1835 and published in 1837. It tells the story of a statue of Venus that comes to life and kills the son of its owner, whom it believes to be its husband.

Lights Out (radio show)

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Created by Wyllis Cooper and then eventually taken over by Arch Oboler, versions of Lights Out aired on different networks, at various times, from January 3, 1934 to the summer of 1947 and the series eventually made the transition to television. Lights Out was one of the earliest radio horror programs, predating Suspense and Inner Sanctum.

Margaret Frazer

Margaret Frazer, born Gail Lynn Brown (November 26, 1946 – February 4, 2013), was an American historical novelist, best known for more than twenty historical mystery novels and a variety of short stories. The pen name was originally shared by Frazer and Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld in their collaboration on The Novice's Tale, the first of the Sister Frevisse books featuring the Benedictine nun Dame Frevisse. Their collaboration came to an end with The Murderer's Tale, the sixth book in the series. Starting with the Edgar Award-nominated The Prioress' Tale, the Margaret Frazer pen name was used exclusively by Gail Frazer. She also wrote the Player Joliffe mysteries, starring the medieval actor Joliffe.

Frazer was born and grew up in Kewanee, Illinois. An actress and member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, she lived and worked in Elk River, Minnesota. Frazer died February 4, 2013 from breast cancer, aged 66.

Martha Wentworth

Verna Martha Wentworth (June 2, 1889 – March 8, 1974) was an American actress. Her vocal variety led to her being called the "actress of 100 voices".

Miriam Wolfe

Miriam Wolfe (January 2, 1922 – September 29, 2000) was an American actress, director, producer and writer, who worked in theatre, television and radio from the 1920s to the 1950s. She is mainly remembered for her character roles on radio's weekly Let's Pretend.

She was born Miriam Wolff in Brooklyn, New York on January 2, 1922 to Belarusian and Ukrainian immigrant parents. She made her professional acting debut at age four, reciting poems and reading stories on The Uncle Gee Bee Kiddie Hour on WGBS, one of New York's first radio stations.

Mutual Broadcasting System

The Mutual Broadcasting System (commonly referred to simply as Mutual; sometimes referred to as MBS, Mutual Radio or the Mutual Radio Network) was an American commercial radio network in operation from 1934 to 1999. In the golden age of U.S. radio drama, Mutual was best known as the original network home of The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and as the long-time radio residence of The Shadow. For many years, it was a national broadcaster for Major League Baseball (including the All-Star Game and World Series), the National Football League, and Notre Dame football. From the mid-1930s and until the retirement of the network in 1999, Mutual ran a highly respected news service accompanied by a variety of popular commentary shows. During the late 1970s, Mutual pioneered the nationwide late night call-in radio show and introduced the country to Larry King.

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Once General Tire sold the network in 1957, Mutual's ownership was largely disconnected from the stations it served, leading to a more conventional, top-down model of program production and distribution. Not long after the sale, one of the network's new executive teams was charged with accepting money to use Mutual as a vehicle for foreign propaganda. The network's reputation was severely damaged, but soon rebounded. Mutual changed hands frequently in succeeding years—even leaving aside larger-scale acquisitions and mergers, its final direct corporate parent, Westwood One, which purchased Mutual in 1985, was the seventh in a string of new owners that followed General Tire.

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The Witch's Tales

The Witch's Tales was an American pulp magazine edited by Tom Chadburn which published two issues in November and December 1936. It was a companion to a radio program, called The Witch's Tale, which had begun broadcasting in May 1931. With the exception of the lead story in each issue, all the stories were reprints from the American edition of Pearson's Magazine. Alonzo Deen Cole, who wrote the radio series, contributed one lead story, and provided the plot for the other. The authors of the reprint stories included George Daulton, Wardon Allan Curtis, William Hamilton Osborne, and John C. Haywood.

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