The Mysterious Traveler — Queen of the Cats

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Our OTR episode this week, in homage to Valentine’s Day 2010, showcases an episode dealing with infatuation and love, and the dire consequences when one otherwise normal young man fails to recognize the difference.

“Queen of the Cats” aired on The Mysterious Traveler on July 2, 1944 at its then time-slot of 3:30 on Sunday afternoon. Of the 370 episodes in the show’s nine-year run (1943-1952) approximately 86 still exist (the number keeps changing over time as further episodes have surfaced). This is episode #31, written and directed by the show’s creators Robert A. Arthur (1909-1969) and David P. Kogan (1916-2009), and introduced by the voice of the Mysterious Traveler, Maurice Tarplin (1911-1975). The story of The Mysterious Traveler radio show is fascinating, one of the most unusual we’ve run across in our continuing exploration of Old Time Radio’s history. For more on the history of the show we point you here.

“Queen of the Cats” begins innocently enough when a young man and woman in love meet one of the young woman’s old friends at a social function. The raven-haired friend with hypnotic eyes is stunningly beautiful and ere long the young man, beguiled and unable to resist her seductive charms, leaves his true love and marries the babe. Years later he learns that looks aren’t everything, as his wife’s beauty is only skin-deep as she shows herself to be the shrew she really is. She also exhibits a strange power over cats, as the title implies, and when the harried young man tries to leave her and meets up with his old girlfriend—the true love of his life—well, things take a decided turn for the worse, and in unexpected fashion.

Lately, I’ve been watching a number of the old black and white Alfred Hitchcock Presents tv episodes from the 1950s, some of which were adapted from old time radio. Part of the joy is watching Hitchcock introduce the shows in his quiet, deadpan manner, for his humor is macabre, dark, and decidedly droll. They’re a scream. Hitchcock was notorious for his disdain of the sponsors, and it showed in many of his short opening and closing monologues. While “Queen of the Cats” isn’t one of the adapted for tv shows, I can easily imagine Hitchcock walking slowly into the picture at the end of this episode stroking a little black pussy cat, and looking first at the cat in his arms then up at the camera, intoning with no expression on his face whatsoever, “Thank you for watching tonight’s episode. I suppose the moral of tonight’s little drama can be stated thus (if the sponsor’s will allow it): Never let a little stray pussy interfere with true love. Good evening.”

So for the men in our audience listening to “Queen of the Cats,” I urge you to take to heart Mr. Hitchcock’s imaginary advice, especially on Valentine’s Day.

Play Time:  29:42