Escape -- "The Return"

Saturday, 28 February 2015 16:00 Dave Truesdale

Escape (1947-54) first aired Kathleen Hite's story "The Return" on November 9, 1952, and then again on April 1, 1954 as its 221st episode. Save for the ad spots they are identical and the latter presentation is the one presented here. "The Return" tells the story of a troubled adventurer bemoaning the struggles of life to a blind Arab beggar within the walls of a city in the middle east. He seeks a Perfect Place, a Utopia where he can find peace of mind and where there is no pain or strife. The blind beggar says he knows of such a place if his friend will but follow him to a certain wall. Dubious, the adventurer follows the beggar into an alley where he is mugged...but soon awakens in a seeming Paradise. What he experiences forms the body of the story and is a timeless lesson retold in countless stories and fables through the ages. Escape's high production values--musical score and acting--make this a classic interpretation of the theme and a captivating listening experience for listeners of all ages.

Kathleen Hite (1917-1989) was born in Wichita, KS and her story is an interesting one. Pictured (above right) on the cover of Writer's Digest with tv's Gunsmoke star James Arness, Hite would begin her career by graduating from the University of Wichita in 1938. From 1943-50 she worked at a local radio station before moving to California and landing a job as a secretary for CBS, where she was later hired as the station's first female staff writer. She would write a total of 86 scripts for numerous radio shows, including Nightbeat, Lux Radio Theatre, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, Gunsmoke, Fort Laramie (36) and others before moving to television, where she would pen teleplays for many episodes of Gunsmoke, Falcon Crest, The Waltons, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Zane Grey Theater among others.

Kathleen Hite was awarded the 1964 Women in Communications Headliner Award from the National Professional Journalism Society. In 1965, she became a charter member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK, and also in 1965  was made an honorary member of the Choctaw Tribe. In 1969 she was awarded the Heritage Cowboy Hall of Fame Award.

Kathleen Hite was a remarkable talent. Listen now as she ventures into fantasy territory with a timeless fable set in the exotic middle east, where she takes us to a perfect world where fish jump into the fisherman's boat, deer line up in the meadow to be shot at will, and a beautiful woman is only a wish away.

Play Time: 29:30

{After listening to the desperate man in this Escape episode searching for paradise, youngsters knew they could find a slice of their own paradise from reading their favorite science fiction and fantasy magazines in early 1954, a few examples of which are shown below. Note that Philip K. Dick's first name is misspelled on the cover of Amazing, which had no April issue in 1954 and published but five issues. F&SF's publishing schedule was steady with 12 monthly issues, while Planet Stories was bi-monthly.}

[Left: Amazing Stories, May 1954 - Center: F&SF, April 1954 - Right: Planet Stories, Mar/Apr 1954]