Jan 18, 2021
“If I ever do any more radio work, I want to do it on Suspense.”
Cary Grant (January 18, 1904 – November 29, 1986) made five visits to radio’s outstanding theater of thrills, and I think it’s safe to say he was one of the best radio performers of the scores of stars who stepped up to the microphone. Grant’s characters in his Suspense stories didn’t always synch up with his screen persona, but he was always polished and assured in his performances. In honor of his birthday, here are his four surviving appearances on the program – a batch of shows that includes one of the scariest stories of the radio era.
“The Black Curtain” – Cary Grant was the first actor to star on Suspense in its era of sponsorship by Roma Wines, and producer/director William Spier picked a terrific story to launch the new run of the show. It comes from the pen of master noir wordsmith Cornell Woolrich, and it stars Grant as a man who wakes up from an accident and realizes he’s lost all memory of the last three years. But someone remembers, and they’re hunting Cary with a gun. It was a story so nice, Cary Grant starred in it twice. The first production aired on December 2, 1943 and the second came on November 30, 1944.
“The Black Path of Fear” – In Cary Grant’s third appearance on Suspense, he starred in another story from Cornell Woolrich. A couple is on the run in Havana; she left her gangster husband for his chauffeur, but her former beau isn’t about to let her go without a fight. Soon, she’s dead and her new man (Grant) is accused of her murder. This mystery originally aired on CBS on March 7, 1946.
“On a Country Road” – Unfortunately, Cary Grant’s fourth visit to Suspense is lost, but his fifth and final show is one of the best – and most terrifying – that the series ever produced. Grant and Suspense MVP Cathy Lewis play a couple driving home from a night out only to run out of gas when they take a shortcut through the woods. Now, stuck in a heavy rainstorm, they hear a radio a bulletin that a psychotic woman has escaped from an asylum and killed a guard with a meat cleaver she’s still carrying. When a scared woman appears outside of their car pleading to be let inside for safety, it’s the start of a long and deadly night. Listen with the lights out – if you dare – to this show from November 16, 1950.