Quiet Please — “Tanglefoot”

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Quiet Please (June 8, 1947-June 25, 1949) aired “Tanglefoot” on June 4, 1949 as the 103rd episode of the series’ 106. Due to the low audio quality of most of the surviving episodes we have showcased only three previous episodes since we began this OTR feature in June of 2009. Our last episode was from September of 2015 where we provided the following background to the series and its creator: 

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 “Tanglefoot,” where the small cast, including 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 on 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.

“Tanglefoot” takes a familiar, hackneyed story–that of a scientist’s experiment on an animal or insect going awry and creating panic, havoc, or death–but giving it a creepy, horrific ending, and one you probably won’t see coming. Also worthy of note is the grounded dialogue which lends an air of reality to the dramatization, as if the writer knew how someone such as the lead character might really speak. This is one of the relatively few episodes where the audio quality is head and shoulders above many of its brethren, so enjoy the strangely titled “Tanglefoot,” and steel yourself for that chilling ending.

Play Time: 28:38

{Early June of 1949 found the neighborhood gang growing in number by a friend or two as a new family had moved into the vacant house at the end of the block, their son and daughter quickly becoming friends with our welcoming band of similar age youngsters. Even the new girl was welcomed into the weekly group trek to the corner newsstand, where they soon learned she was a big horror fan. Guess which of the three magazines below she bought. Fantastic Adventures was launched by Ray Palmer in 1939, was monthly, and would enjoy a healthy run until 1953. The flamboyant Thrilling Wonder Stories was bi-monthly in 1949, the issue below featuring one of Leigh Brackett’s most beloved stories, “The Sea Kings of Mars.” Weird Tales was also bi-monthly in 1949 and continued to uphold its reputation as “the unique magazine.” Weird Tales‘ began its legendary run in 1923, though an editorial change was made in November of 1924 when the magazine’s most famous editor, Farnsworth Wright, took the helm, a position he would hold until March of 1940 when his Parkinsons disease became debilitating. Wright would die a few months after leaving the magazine. WT‘s new editor, Dorothy McIlraith, would hold the post until the magazine’s (first) demise in September of 1954. One of several attempts to revive the magazine would not occur until almost 20 years later, in 1973.}

[Left: Fantastic Adventures, June 1949 – Center: Thrilling Wonder, June 1949 – Right: Weird Tales, May 1949]


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