Quiet Please — “Shadow of the Wings”

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Quiet Please (1947-49) aired “Shadow of the Wings” on April 17, 1949 as its 96th episode. It tells the heartwrenching story of a bedridden little girl who has every faith that her mother and doctor can cure her, so she can leave her bed and play with other children. The doctor tells her mother that she must have absolute bedrest and quiet, to which her mother agrees. But the girl’s mother becomes concerned when she hears her daughter conversing with someone, and on entering the room finds no one there–just a shadow. Saying more would give too much away; just be warned that this is a tear-jerker of a tale and if you find yourself with a lump in your throat or your lips aquiver once or twice, you have been warned.

Wyllis Cooper (1899-1955) was the creator, producer, director, and writer for Quiet Please. He didn’t go in for flashy production values or plot-heavy scripts, believing instead in more emotional, character-driven tales. This minimalist approach is in stark evidence with “Shadow of the Wings,” where a cast of three, along with the series narrator, Ernest Chappell, are all that are required. Cooper is best known as the creator and writer of Lights Out (1934-47). Trading on its success, Cooper turned the show–best known for its gory sound effects and often grisly stories–over to wunderkind Arch Oboler in 1936, when he would then move to Hollywood and began working for various film studios, where one of his efforts would be the screenplay for 1939’s Son of Frankenstein (where he introduced the character of Ygor to the franchise).

After Lights Out‘s successful twelve-year run, Cooper created and wrote the stories for Quiet, Please, which critics feel was his best work, though it would last but a modest two years. Unfortunately, many of the episodes are of inferior audio quality, having been copied from scratchy 78 rpm discs, and a few of the approximately 106 episodes are considered lost.

Wyllis Cooper led a fairly interesting life. After graduating high school in 1916 he would join the U.S. Cavalry where he attained the rank of Sergeant and was subsequently stationed at the Mexican border. In 1917 he became part of the Signal Corps and was stationed in France during World War I where he was gassed during a military offensive. Remaining active duty until 1919, he then became an advertising writer which would eventually lead to his radio career. Cooper died in High Bridge, New Jersey on June 22, 1955.

I hope you enjoy “Shadow of the Wings,” which I think can best be described as, if nothing else, unusual. Due to the nature of the theme, parents with young children might want to preview this episode first before allowing their youngsters to listen to it unattended.

Play Time: 29:47

{It took several days for the effect of this episode to wear off, but the resilience of youth won out and would find the neighborhood gang once again exuberant in their trek to the corner newsstand in April of 1949, eyes racing over the gaudy covers of their favorite SF magazines, a few of their possible choices being shown below. Amazing Stories offered its usual monthly fare, while Thrilling Wonder and Weird Tales were bi-monthly.}

[Left: Amazing, April 1949 – Center: Thrilling Wonder, April 1949 – Right: Weird Tales, March 1949]


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