Inner Sanctum — “Strands of Death”

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Inner Sanctum (1941-52) aired “Strands of Death” on March 12, 1946. Borrowing in part from a previous episode and repeated here for newcomers to Inner Sanctumwhile Old Time Radio historians have given their best guesses that there were 500+ episodes produced, an exact figure remains elusive, with only 140 believed to be in circulation (i.e. known to exist at this time) due mostly through the efforts of the AFRS broadcasts. Raymond Johnson (1911-2001) was the show’s first host and he quickly became known to his late-night listening audience for his atrocious puns. Lipton Tea became the show’s sponsor beginning with the 1945 season. Host Johnson would leave the show in the middle of its 1945 season to join the military, and was ably replaced by Paul McGrath (1904-78, photo at right) who continued Johnson’s popular shtick of horrible puns (some lousy, with others darkly droll and quite funny), and ably assisted by the charming, perky co-host and Lipton Tea spokesperson, Mary Bennett.

Santos Ortega (1899-1976, photo at right), one of the most highly regarded and versatile radio performers during the medium’s golden age and a true workhorse, stars in “Strands of Death.” He plays the character of a well-meaning and supportive husband who gives his ungrateful wife everything she wants, but when she lies to him about where she is off to after he surprises her with a new pair of nylon stockings–and ends up on a short vacation with her new boyfriend–and the poor husband finds out about her deception accidentally, he finally has had enough and snaps. His sanity gone, all he wants is to “Kill, Helen!” The problem arises when it seems that every woman he sees on the street, or in a store, or anywhere else, looks like Helen and he proceeds to carry out his threat. When women’s bodies start piling up and their deaths marked by the same M.O., it almost turns into a case worthy of the tv show Criminal Minds. Does our poor mad husband outwit the cops? Or is he clever enough to stay one step ahead of their profiling and traps? Only by listening to this harrowing tale of deceit and murder will you find the answer to the tale Inner Sanctum calls “Strands of Death.”

Play Time: 28:44

{After listening to this twisted, murderous episode of Inner Sanctum, the neighborhood gang wanted nothing more than to lighten their collective mood with a trip to the corner newsstand and some upbeat reading material. They were not disappointed. Astounding SF (1930-present, now Analog) was its usual reliable self, and maintained its monthly schedule in 1946. Startling Stories (1939-55) promised excitement and adventure with its garish covers and lent itself to the susceptible imaginations of the young who forever craved such things. Having been hit hard by the preceding war years, 1946 saw but 5 issues, but the magazine returned to a steady bi-monthly schedule in 1947, a schedule it would keep for the first six of its remaining nine years. Thrilling Wonder Stories (1936-55) was also hit hard by the war years and, like Startling Stories, saw only 5 issues in 1946, but also like Startling Stories it bounced back to a solid bi-monthly schedule in 1947, a schedule it would also keep for the first six of its remaining nine years.}

    [Left: Astounding, Mar. ’46 – Center: Startling Stories, Mar. ’46 – Right: Thrilling Wonder, Spring ’46]



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