Suspense — “Christmas for Carole”

[Please welcome returning guest host Jonathan Sherwood as he provides our Old Time Radio episodes for this week and next. Jonathan writes of himself that his “love of old radio dramas began when he fell asleep each night listening to The CBS Radio Mystery Theater. These days he writes his own fiction, which has appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, and others, and he’s collected thousands of radio dramas that he still listens to as he falls asleep.”]

Suspense (1942-62) aired a Christmas-themed episode on December 21, 1950, titled “Christmas for Carole.” The episode, the show’s 408th, is an unusually upbeat story for Suspense.

Paul is an everyman; he works hard at his job as a bank teller, he has very little money, and he has a good heart. Unfortunately, he also has a dear wife, Carole, who is suffering through a difficult pregnancy. The doctors tell Paul his wife needs a full-time nurse to help her through her last two months of pregnancy or she and the baby might die.

Paul assures his wife everything will be fine, even though a nurse will cost $50 a week and Paul brings home only $48 each week.

The story shows how Paul has a number of acquaintances that take more than a few liberties with the law, but he fights their temptations until one day Paul helps an elderly gentleman at the bank. The man is withdrawing his life savings—$8,000—to retire. In desperation, Paul hires a thug to help him steal the money from the man’s home, and the story plays out as the robbery unfolds.

In a decidedly uncharacteristic moment for Suspense, the episode concludes with Dennis Day (1916-1988, photo top right), the actor who played Paul, singing the First Noel as a bittersweet coda.

At the time, Day was mostly known for his comedy, having become a regular on the The Jack Benny Program. Even though Day went on to have his own semi-fictitious television show on NBC, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day, he remained associated with Jack Benny’s radio and television shows until Benny’s death in 1974. In this episode, however, he leaves the laughs with Benny and plays Paul straightforwardly as a sympathetic man trying to do what’s right.

Christmas for Carole” somehow turns a story about desperation and robbery into a heartwarming vignette about the human spirit, and packages it up in a Christmas theme. If you like your holidays with a bit of suspense—but maybe a bit less murder than the show’s usual—make some egg nog, put your feet up, and enjoy “Christmas for Carole.”

Play Time: 29:38

{“Christmas for Carole” aired on a Thursday evening, with Christmas coming the following Monday. Having caught up on all of their regularly purchased magazines, the neighborhood gang nevertheless found themselves at the nearby newsstand the next morning (no school due to the Christmas holiday) more out of ritual than any burning reason to buy any further must-collect magazines, their must-collect purchases being up to date. In the mood for just about anything to read, their selections ranged over several genres. Adventure (1910-1971) looked like it was worth taking a chance on, and being a 40th Anniversary Issue the sale was made. It was a monthly in 1950 though for some reason there was no December issue to round out the year. Fantastic Novels (1940-1951) began as a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries (1939-1953), which was edited by Mary Gnaedinger. She received so many requests for reprints that she launched Fantastic Novels a year after the debut of Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Both magazines enjoyed successful runs, with Fantastic Novels being a bi-monthly in 1950. Fifteen Western Tales (1941-1955) caught the attention of one of the gang who had recently found stories of the Old West to his liking, primarily due to his becoming an ardent fan of The Lone Ranger television show (1949-57) which became ABC’s first true hit, managing the #1 ratings spot at ABC (1948-present) and #7 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1950-51 season. Fifteen Western Tales was a monthly publication in 1950.}

[Left: Adventure, Nov. 1950 – Center: Fantastic Novels, Nov. 1950 – Right: 15 Western Tales, Dec. 1950]


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