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The Cast of 

"I Love A Mystery"

 

The Original Hollywood/NBC/CBS Cast 


     In keeping with the atmosphere of his popular "I Love A Mystery" radio series, Carlton E. Morse originally insisted that  the trio of adventurers be known only by their fictional names.  But listeners began writing in, demanding to know who the actors were and requesting autographs and pictures.  

     Eventually both Morse and the network relented, and the original trio turned out to be the three male leads from Morse's other radio serial, the soap opera "One Man's Family"! These were Mike Raffetto, Bart Yarborough and Walt Paterson.  

Other players during the original run of "I Love A Mystery" appeared enough times to also be mentioned, Gloria Blondell and Mercedes McCambridge.  Finally, the role of Jack Packard was sequentially replaced by two other actors--Jay Novello and John McIntire--for 5 stories each after both Raffetto and Yarborough left the show to pursue careers in Hollywood production and acting.

Photos and a brief Bio of each appear below.


Michael Raffetto (alias Jack Packard)

(1910-1990)

 

 

 

 

     Elwyn Creighton (Michael) Raffetto was born in 1910 in Placerville, California. Initially wanting to be a lawyer, he studied law at the University of California (Berkley). He also became interested in the theatre, and he spent a year in Hawaii acting and directing. After failing at a career in silent films, and making only an meager living as a diction coach, Raffetto came to San Francisco where he became a lawyer.

     Still interested in the world of dramatics, Raffetto dabbled at radio writing, and wrote a serial, "Arms of the Law" which NBC bought with him playing the lead. When Morse was looking for actors for his earliest mystery-thriller serials for NBC, he remembered Raffetto from his college days, and Raffetto was selected as one of the players for "NBC Mystery Serial".  He even played Dr. Jamie Croft (to Barton Yarborough's "Sgt. Jack Long"!) in the 1931 version of "Dead Men Prowl". 

     Later, Raffetto became involved with  Morse's first national radio hit, the family drama "One Man's Family" (OMF) where he played the defacto head of the family, the battle-scarred writer Paul Barbour. When Morse wanted a change from the sugary confection of OMF and created "I Love A Mystery," Raffetto was tapped for the role of Jack Packard, basing Packard's personality in large part on Raffetto's own! 

     For four years Raffetto played Jack Packard on ILAM. However, his relationship with ILAM ended when he was passed over for the cinema role of Jack Packard for the three picture Columbia ILAM series (in sequential order, Jay Novello and John McIntyre hurriedly replaced him).  Concentrating on his acting work as Paul Barbour on "One Man's Family", Raffetto was so familiar with that series that he not only wrote some of the OMF episodes, but was also part time director for the series as well. When Raffetto was forced to retire from OMF in mid 1955 because of a voice affliction, the role of Paul Barbour was taken over by Russell Thorson.

     He made relatively few films, the first being Today I Hang (1942). Other films included Seven Doors to Death (1944), Pirates of Monterey,  A Foreign Affair (1948); Storm Center (1956) was his last credited film role.  He only made one credited television appearance, in "Law of the Plainsman" (1959) in the episode: "Appointment in Santa Fe"

     Raffetto died on May 31st, 1990.  He was 80 years of age.


Barton Yarborough (alias Doc Long)

(1900-1951)


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     Playing, (and even looking!) the part of Doc Long during the entirely of the Hollywood run of the ILAM series was Barton Yarborough.  

     A native of Goldthwaite Texas where he had been born on October 2nd 1900. Yarborough ran away from home as a boy to join a traveling show. After a stint on vaudeville, he studied acting with Eva LeGalliene.  At the urging of his family he enrolled into the University of California, and became involved with Berkeley's theatre community, playing the leads in the troupe, "The Mask and Dagger Productions."  

     On "One Man's Family" he played Cliff Barbour (with his native accent strongly toned down) beginning in 1932. In 1939 he joined "I Love A Mystery" in the role of the strongly accented Doc Long. In fact, Yarborough's distinctive "Texas Tawk" was hated by the critics, but made him beloved to the fans of the series.  His first wife was comedienne Barbera Jo Allen, and was also a cast member for several  ILAM stories; his second wife was Janet Warren.  When Michael Raffetto left the ILAM series, so did Yarborough (his last speaking role on that series was in the story, I AM THE DESTROYER OF WOMEN.

     His first film was They Meet Again (1941) followed closely afterwards in the role of Dr. Kettering in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). Yarborough also appeared in the short lived Columbia ILAM film series of  I Love a Mystery (1945), The Devil's Mask (1946) and The Unknown (1946).  In Hiss and Yell (1946)  he plays the role of  a man who has been accused of decapitating his own wife (!).  His last film role was in Henry, the Rainmaker (1949)

     Yarborough's was also a regular cast member of television's "Dragnet", playing the role of Ben Romero until his sudden death. Yarborough died suddenly in his home in Burbank California after sustaining a myocardial infarction on December 19th 1951.  He was 51 at the time. Because of his sudden death, the role of Clifford Barbour was written out of the OMF series. 

    December 27, 1951, eight days after Bart's death, Jack Webb (who played Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet) remembered his friend in a new episode of Dragnet that was dedicated to Barton Yarborough called "THE BIG SORROW". Friday is working Homicide when he gets the news that his partner, Ben Romero, has died at his home from a heart attack.  


Walter Paterson (alias Reggie York)

(1911-1942)

 

 

    The youngest of the lead trio of ILAM actors was Walter Paterson, born in 1911.  

     Formerly of the British stage, he entered radio in San Francisco in 1930. He too was an alumni on Morse's other series, "One Man's Family". On OMF, he played Nicholas Lacy or "Nicky" (and in some of the ILAM scripts I have examined that Morse wrote, he at times forgets himself and absent-mindedly types NICKY for REGGIE).

    Tragically, Walter Paterson, killed himself with an overdose of carbon monoxide in his own car on September 1942.  He was 31 at the time.

    Morse, who had been a friend of Paterson's, didn't have the heart to simply replace him with another actor. The last time Reggie's voice is heard on ILAM is in SECRET PASSAGE TO DEATH, after which he is mentioned briefly in later episodes, then written entirely out of the series. The role of Nicky was continued on OMF, with Tom Collins and Ben Wright sequentially replacing him.   


Gloria Blondell (alias Jerry Booker)

(1910-1986)

 

 

 

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     More famous for being the younger sister of the Hollywood actress Joan Blondell, Gloria Blondell was born in New York City on August 16th, 1910. 

     She joined the ILAM in in the story MURDER ON FEBRUARY ISLAND. Her  husky voice was very distinctive on the series. After the tragic death of Walter Paterson, Blondell's role as the A-One Detective agency's beautiful secretary became more prominent.  In fact, for much of the CBS run, the series was subtitled "The Adventures of Jack, Doc and Jerry."

     Blondell made relatively few films, the first being the serial The Spider's Web (1938).  Others included Accidents Will Happen (1938) and The Twonky (1953). She also played the role of Honeybee Gillis on the television version of The Life of Riley (1953-5, 1956-8)

     She died in Los Angeles on March 25th, 1986.  She was 76.  


Mercedes McCambridge (alias Ellen Monk, Louise Potter, Charity Martin, and many other female roles)

(1918-     )

 

 

 

     Charlotte Mercedes McCambridge was born on March 17th, 1918 in Joliet Illinois.  Nicknamed "Mercy" while very young, she began her entertainment career in the "Speaking Choir" at Mundelein College in the 1930s, and went on to win her college's Drama award when she  graduated in 1937. 

     Her radio debut was on Light's Out, where she was a regular member of the Chicago cast, and later on moved to NYC when the show did.  She stared in many other radio programs (mostly in un-credited roles) before she went out to Hollywood. It was in Hollywood that Mercy joined the cast of ILAM, where she played nearly all the female roles until the first run of the show ended.

     Mercy's Broadway theatre debut was in A Place of Our Own in 1945, playing the role of Mary Lorimer. Her first credited film debut in All the King's Men won her an Oscar for best supporting actress.  Other notable film roles included Giant, A Farewell to Arms, Suddenly Last Summer, among many others.  She even played the voice of the Devil in The Exorcist!

   She also starred in the second run of ILAM (to learn more about this, click here).


 Jay Novello (alias Jack Packard)

(1904-1982)

 

 

 

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     When Michael Raffetto and Barton Yarborough left ILAM to pursue independent careers of acting and producing in Hollywood midway through the CBS Hollywood run of the series, Jay Novello stepped into the role of Jack Packard, and the role of Doc was at first downplayed, then changed into that of Irishman Terry Burke. 

     Novello joined ILAM in in the solo story YOU CAN'T PIN A MURDER ON NEVADA (May 15, 1944).  He continued the role of Jack Packard for only another four stories, until his final story, THE MAN WHO HATED TO SHAVE (August 21st, 1944) whereupon John McIntire took over the role. Only one surviving recording of ILAM with his voice survives, one from NEVADA

    As a character actor in Hollywood, though, Novello was far more active, having made many films until 1966, where he became more involved with television. His first film was Tenth Avenue Angel (1938).  Others included Phantom Lady (1943) Son of Sinbad (1955) and The Lost World (1961). His last film was The Domino Principle (released in 1978).

     Novello died of cancer in 1982.  He was 78.  


John McIntyre (alias Jack Packard)

(1907-1991)

 

 

     Born in 1907 in Spokane WA,  John Herrick McIntire was a Hollywood character actor who strayed earlier into the world of radio (he was the voice of "The March of Time" in the newsreels) before finding a lasting career on film.  He was also married to prolific Hollywood film actress Jeanette Nolan. 

     McIntire took over the role of Jack Packard from Jay Novello in a repeat of the infamous ILAM story TEMPLE OF VAMPIRES (8/28/1944) and continued playing this part for an additional four stories until the series ended with FIND ELSA HOLBERG DEAD OR ALIVE (last episode 12/29/1944). No recording of ILAM featuring McIntire is known to survive.

   McIntire made dozens of films in Hollywood in character roles, one of his first being  Call Northside 777 (1948).  Others included An Act of Murder (1948), Apache (1953), Psycho (1960), Herbie Rides Again (1974), and Cloak and Dagger (1984), just to name a few. His last film role was that of Amos Reed in the 1989 movie, Turner & Hooch.

     McIntire died in 1991, of cancer and emphysema. He is survived by his son, actor Tim McIntire.


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