Hall of Fantasy -- "Markheim" by Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, 02 April 2016 15:00 Dave Truesdale

Hall of Fantasy aired this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's (1850-1894) classic short story "Markheim" on April 24, 1947 as its 24th episode. This supernatural tale of horror tells of a young man attempting to impress his lady love with a Christmas gift. Finding himself in an antique shop he is handed a mirror by the shop owner as a possible gift. Staring into it and not liking what he sees, when the shop owner's back is turned to replace the mirror, Markheim stabs him in the back, killing him. Alone in the shop and now contemplating a robbery, he then is confronted with a supernatural being who tells him he has been watching him his entire life and that he had better hasten his robbery for the young female clerk will be returning shortly. What takes place next is an internal battle between Good and Evil--with the unknown specter looking on.

Hall of Fantasy (1946-47 from station KALL in Utah, and 1949-53 from station WGN in Chicago) would rebroadcast this episode in 1949, and while an earlier Weird Circle adaptation would be produced and air in 1945, we much prefer this Hall of Fantasy production. Out of the estimated 200+ scripts or (combined) broadcasts, only between 40-45 are known to still exist, which is a shame, for creator, writer, director, and sometimes Hall of Fantasy actor Richard Thorne (1925-2007*, photo at right) was an extremely talented individual, and those episodes of the show still surviving are held in high regard by OTR fans. The first two years airing in Utah (on those stations on the Intermountain Network) the show concentrated on straight mysteries or murder plots, but when the show ended up in Chicago and was subsequntly revived due to a fortunate turn of fate, it shifted focus to the supernatural or straight horror story format for which it became famous, all but adaptations of the classics (such as "Markheim") being written by Thorne. The show went national on the syndicated Mutual Network in 1952.

For those desirous to learn more of Robert Louis Stevenson and his fascinating life in the South Pacific, we point you to a previous Stevenson story, "The Bottle Imp."

"Markheim" saw print originally in Unwin's Christmas Annual in 1885 and would later be one of the six stories in Stevenson's 1887 collection The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables.

*I would like to express my thanks to Old Time Radio historian Karl Schadow for supplying the birth and death dates for Richard Thorne after my own search came up empty. Karl had my answer within an hour.

Play Time: 26:41

{April of 1947 found the neighborhood All-Stars getting ready for the start of the professional baseball season, but before they began pounding their mitts into shape and taking a few swings of their bats, they would continue to haunt their home away from home--the neighborhood newsstand--for their favorite reading, a few examples of which are showcased below. As always, Astounding kept to its monthly schedule, as did PLanet Stories with its quarterly schedule. Donald A. Wollheim--who would found DAW Books 25 years later and would see its first title in 1972--edited the Avon Fantasy Reader. Its first issue would appear in February of 1947 and it would see a total of five issues by the end of the year. It was a fantasy reprint magazine, collecting famous, classic fantasy and horror (along with some newer, still reprinted) stories from the likes of A. Merritt, William Hope Hodgson, H. G. Wells, Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, M. R. James, Ray Bradbury, and many others.}

[Left: Astounding, April 1947 - Center: Planet Stories, Spring 1947 - Right: Avon Fantasy Reader #2, April 1947]


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