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An Interview with Carlton E. Morse


Recently, a big fan of "I Love A Mystery" contacted me to express their delight at finding this web site (aw, shucks!) that covered one of their favorite radio shows.  They generously forwarded some of the great images that appear elsewhere on this site.

It so happens this same person (who prefers to remain anonymous) had actually talked to Mr. Morse several times over the telephone in the 1970s.  They even taped part of one of their conversations, essentially an interview, and had it transcribed. This wonderful person re-typed their transcribed conversation and forwarded it to me to share with all of you.  

At long last, I am delighted to have this interview here for you to enjoy!

::Brian:: 


A CONVERSATION WITH CARLTON E. MORSE  

Q.      How did you ever came up with the characters of Jack, Doc and Reggie?

A.      Well all three of those boys, Michael Raffetto who played Jack, Barton Yarborough who played Doc, and Walter Patterson who played Reggie were all people who I had used in "One Man's Family", and I knew these people very well, so it was easy for me to write for them, so I made the characters for them, that was how that happened.

 

Q.        You seem so well acquainted with the different parts of the world that your stories were set in and I wondered if you had traveled extensively or had just done a tremendous amount of research?

A.        Most of the information came out of the Encyclopedia Britannica, that is for authentic facts, and then I colored them to suit myself

 

Q.        The characters of Jack, Doc and Reggie, you just dreamed them up in your mind?

A.        Yes, using the great talents of each one of these boys that they had from past experience.  You know before I ever started "I Love A Mystery", oh back in, I think 1930, 1 started with a show called "The Cross-eyed Parrot".  Lets see now, there was ten half-hour series in an episode and I wrote about eight of these shows which were only done on the Pacific Coast.  That's where I got my background training for "I Love A Mystery".

NOTE: I think Mr. Morse went ten half-hour episodes in a story and eight stories.

 

Q.        In Jim Harmon's book, "The Great Radio Heroes" he has written of a couple of characters were semi-regulars on "I Love A Mystery"?

A.         (Russell) Thorson occasionally played Swede, they were just for particular shows.  They were not regulars in the cast.

 

Q.        I recall a gentleman named Forrest Lewis who sounded just like Peter Lorre.

A.        As a matter of fact he played it so well that we got complaints from the other guys agent, but nothing ever happened.  He was a wonderful mimic and he played it beautifully, but this was for only one series.  He wasn't permanent on the show.

 

Q.        When "I Love A Mystery" was a half-hour show did it still have a continuing story line or was it complete in 30 minutes.

A.        That's right, still the same way.  A little later towards the end of the half-hour shows, once in a while I would put in a complete story in one episode, but there weren't very many of those.

 

Q.        I understand "I Love A Mystery" was first broadcast on January 16, 1939, but I can find no mention of it in the New York Times.  Could it possibly have been broadcast on the West Coast before it was picked up by the rest of the country? 

A.        The first story was the "Roxy Gang".  The first three or four episodes I had written before we had the dates set up, but the first program was broadcast on January 16, 1939.  In the very beginning it was only done on the Pacific Coast for several months, I think it was.

 

Q.        When "I Love A Mystery" was revised in 1949 were they the old stories or did you write new ones?

A.        They're all the older stories.  My contract with the New York station (Mutual) was that we would re-do these stories and I put them in a little different sequence than they were originally, but otherwise they really are the same.  I translated some of them from half-hour stories to 15 minutes.  I didn't change the story or anything, but I had to break them up because this was strictly a 15 minute broadcast.

 

Q.        Did they ever have any type of give away or premiums on "I Love A Mystery"?

A.        No, nothing on "I Love A Mystery".

 

Q.        Can you tell me anything about when you did "I Love A Mystery" on Mutual in New York?

A.         When we were doing the show on Mutual tapes were available and we used to go in on Saturday and Sunday and we would do two or three weeks of programs in those two days, so it was very convenient for the actors.  They just made a little extra money, so this didn't interfere with any of their more important shows.

 

Q.        Didn't Mercedes McCambridge work on the Mutual run of "I Love A Mystery"?

A.        That's right.  Well she's a very good actress and she had a hard time with alcohol.  Now she is heading up Alcohol Anonymous on the television and radio playing around the country asking people to get in touch with them and showing what she had been through, and now everything is under control again.

 


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