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Campbell Playhouse

Premiere Episode: 1938-12-09
Final Episode: 1941-06-13

Anthology Drama

RadioGoldindex Listing

Broadcast History:

Dates: 12/9/1938 - 3/31/1940
Network: CBS
Days: Friday
Starting time: 9:00PM
Sponsor: Campbell Soup Company
Length of show: 60 minutes

Dates: 11/29/1940 - 6/13/1941
Network: CBS
Days: Friday
Starting time: 9:30PM
Sponsor: Campbell Soup Company
Length of show: 30 minutes

Series Synopsis: After Orson Welles terrified the nation with his Halloween 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, his name became a household word. The immediate result was sponsorship for his theatrical air company, The Mercury Theater on the Air. Campbell Soups had been sponsoring the once-famed but fading variety hour Hollywood Hotel, which closed its doors in December 1938. The soup company immediately picked up Welles and his players, and the first Campbell Playhouse under that title was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, introduced by newsman Edwin C. Hill. The intro made full use of the Halloween notoriety from which Welles had been only too anxious to distance himself a month earlier. The goals of the new Playhouse were then stated by Welles: to do “all kinds of stories, mostly modern, and all of them chosen for their suitability to this medium.” The fare would include such chestnuts as The Count of Monte Cristo, The Magnificent Ambersons, and A Farewell to Arms. State Fair presented Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll in character as Amos and Andy, and June Moon starred Jack Benny. Lionel Barrymore continued his annual performance of A Christmas Carol for Campbell. The immediate effect of sponsorship was a real operating budget, providing top film stars to play opposite Welles but relegating his talented aggregation to supporting roles. The 1940–41 series, without Welles, was a different show, though his former partner John Houseman continued in the producer’s role. The productions were of such seldom-heard radio fare as The Go-Getter (with Helen Twelvetrees, Randolph Scott, and Frank Morgan) and The Nervous Wreck (with Eddie Cantor). Fred Allen was starred in Norman Corwin’s My Client Curley, and again Barrymore provided Yuletide tradition in A Christmas Carol. On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning
Series Theme: Piano Concerto #1 in B-Flat Minor, by Tchaikovsky
Creator: ***  
Cast: Mary Astor
Georgia Backus
Richard Baer
Bea Benaderet
Humphrey Bogart
Director: Orson Welles
 George Zachary
Announcer: Ernest Chappell
 Dan 'Danny' Seymour
 Del Sharbutt
 Niles Welch