Feb 22, 2021
Happy Birthday, Robert Young (February 22, 1907 – July 21, 1998)
To generations of television fans, Young is immortalized as both Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best and as the titular doctor Marcus Welby, M.D. Though he appeared in over 100 films, he found his greatest success on the small screen.
Before he starred in Father Knows Best on television, Young headlined the radio series which ran from 1949 to 1954. In 1969, he scored his second television hit with Marcus Welby, which ran until 1976. Though he’s best known as the saintly dad and wise doctor, Young was a versatile actor who could play a dastardly heel - as he often did on Suspense.
Here are Young's seven appearances on "radio's outstanding theater of thrills" - shows that find him playing murderers and intended victims, innocent men and men hiding deadly secrets. Several of these are personal favorites from the series, and I hope you like them too.
“A Friend to Alexander” - In his first appearance on Suspense, Robert Young plays a man plagued by dreams of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr night after night. Long before we were all singing along with Hamilton, Young’s character couldn’t get the infamous showdown out of his mind, and his wife (played by Geraldine Fitzgerald) is increasingly concerned over his obsessive behavior. (Originally aired on CBS on August 3, 1943)
“The Night Reveals” - This terrific Cornell Woolrich tale was adapted several times for Suspense, but this production starring Robert Young may be the best. He plays an arson investigator who learns - to his horror - that his latest case of a firebug may have connections close to home - and to a secret kept by his nervous wife (played by Margo). (Originally aired on CBS on December 9, 1943)
“The High Wall” - Robert Young wakes up in a strange bed in a room he doesn’t recognize, and six months have passed without so much as a memory. That’s how this intriguing thriller opens, and Young must figure out how he ended up in an asylum for the criminally insane...and how he can escape. (Originally aired on CBS on June 6, 1946)
“You’ll Never See Me Again” - Another Cornell Woolrich tale finds Robert Young as a new husband whose wife storms off to her mother’s house after a fight. After he cools off, he phones to apologize but he learns she never arrived. Soon, he’s suspected of foul play, and he must convince a cop that he’s innocent and that his wife’s odd stepfather may be involved in her disappearance. This is a fantastic episode, with a pair of eerie twists before the final curtain. (Originally aired on CBS on September 5, 1946)
“Crossfire” - In this sixty minute episode, Robert Young reprises his screen role, and reunites with co-stars Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan, in a radio recreation of the film noir drama Crossfire. Young plays a cop investigating a brutal murder, and he discovers the ugly, bigoted motive that may have fueled the killer’s actions. (Originally aired on CBS on April 10, 1948)
“Celebration” - Robert Young co-stars with Virginia Bruce in this story of a couple’s anniversary that may be their last. Young picks up Bruce from a hospital where she’s been recuperating from an accident. But instead of a dinner or dancing, he takes the couple out to a deserted location. And he didn’t bring a gift, but he did pack a box of bullets. (Originally aired on CBS on September 23, 1948)
“A Murder of Necessity” - A perfect crime is foiled by a witness on the other end of a phone call in Robert Young’s final visit to Suspense. After killing his blackmailer, Young discovers the man was on the phone at the time of the murder, and the entire crime may have played out for the listening party. (Originally aired on March 24, 1952)