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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Suspense - "The Diary of Sophronia Winters"

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Suspense (1942-1962) aired "The Diary of Sophronia Winters" on April 27, 1943 as its 39th episode out of nearly one thousand. Written by the incomparable Lucille Fletcher (1912-2000), it stars Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) and Ray Collins (1889-1965, who many will recall as Lieutenant Tragg on the original Perry Mason television series, which ran from 1957-1966).

Lucille Fletcher was one of the premier writers during the Golden Age of Radio. Two of the most famous radio plays of all time were written by Fletcher: "Sorry, Wrong Number" (which Orson Welles called "the greatest single radio script ever written"); and "The Hitch-hiker." "Sorry, Wrong Number" was made into the classic 1948 noir film of the same name and starred Barbara Stanwyck (taking Agnes Moorehead's role from the radio version) and Burt Lancaster. And "The Hitch-hiker" was made into an episode of The Twilight Zone. In 1939 Fletcher married Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) who would become one of the most acclaimed and respected composers throughout the 1940s through the 1970s, both for his radio work and that for the silver screen. He composed the score for Orson Welles' classic 1941 film Citizen Kane, wrote the score for several of Alfred Hitchcock's films, among them Psycho (1960), and of genre interest scored The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still, and director Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966). Pictured above right in 1941, Fletcher and Herrmann married on October 2, 1939, had two children, and would divorce in 1948.

"The Diary of Sophronia Winters" is another taut, tense, edge of the seat radio drama from Fletcher. A young woman will inherit the money left to her upon her father's death if she remains sane until her 23rd birthday. She meets a man who captures her heart and they are soon married. He whisks her away to the wilds of Maine for a honeymoon to his family's cavernous (125 room) hotel, now empty and long abandoned. The atmosphere is nothing short of creepy, with mentions of spiders, scurrying rats, encroaching fog, and ghosts appearing in a nearby graveyard. But this serves only to heighten the anxiety and suspense, for the real story involves her newlywed husband who has brought her to this place for a reason, and a dark secret he will soon reveal...at Sohpronia Winters' expense. It's all too much for her to handle, and the corkscrew ending will leave the listener wondering. Wondering what, you may ask? You'll have to listen and discover this for yourself, for no spoilers on this one! The incomparable Agnes Moorehead stars as Sophronia Winters, and Ray Collins gives an outstanding performance as the husband. This radio play was so well received it was rebroadcast twice, once in August of 1944 and again in August of 1958.

Play Time: 30:32

{April of 1943 saw the weather clearing up and the neighborhood gang itching to get outdoors at every opportunity, which, of course, would lead them to the corner newsstand to once again ogle a wide selection of their favorite magazines, a few prime contenders of which are shown below.

The middle of World War II hit many magazines hard. Even the reliable monthly Amazing Stories would publish only 10 of its 12 issues that year. Planet Stories maintained its quarterly schedule, but rather than calling its first two issues of 1943 Spring and Summer, called them the March and May issues for some reason, then reverted to the Fall and Winter nomenclature for its last pair of issues. The war took a harder toll on Thrilling Wonder Stories, however. 1941 saw 8 issues of TWS, 1942 dropped two issues for a total of 6, in 1943 only 5 issues were printed--and in 1944 it went quarterly for two years.

Nelson S. Bond appeared to be having a good start to 1943, with his name on all three of the covers below. You'll have to look close to see his name in the lower right corner of the Planet Stories cover. It's just below Ross Rocklynne's "Slaves of the Ninth Moon" blurb.}

[Left: Amazing, April 1943 - Center: Planet Stories, March 1943 - Right: Thrilling Wonder, April 1943]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.