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While Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre production of War of the Worlds is arguably the most famous broadcast in radio history (more on that tomorrow!), my pick for the creepiest goes to “Three Skeleton Key.” An adaptation of the short story by George G. Toudouze first appeared on the airwaves in 1949 as part of the anthology series Escape, then again with different casts in ’50 and ’53. (It was common in radio to create an entirely new performance of a hit broadcast for eager fans yet to learn the word “rerun.”) So popular was the 1950 version, its leading man performed it again in ’56 and ’58, this time on Suspense. The leading man? Vincent Price.
Here’s the 1950 version, considered by many to be the best of Price’s three turns in the role. Do yourself a favor and don’t peek at the plot before listening. And turn off the lights… if you dare.