The Campbell Playhouse

The Campbell Playhouse

Infobox Radio Show
show_name = The Campbell Playhouse

imagesize =
caption = Lionel Barrymore performing as Scrooge in the December 24, 1939, broadcast of "A Christmas Carol" on "The Campbell Playhouse".
other_names =
format = Anthology drama
runtime = 60 minutes (seasons 1-2)
30 minutes (season 3)
country = flagicon|United States United States
language = English
home_station = CBS
syndicates =
television =
presenter = Orson Welles
starring = Bea Benaderet, Frank Reddick, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Georgia Backus, Everett Sloane, Edgar Barrier; other radio, film, and theater personalities
creator =
writer = Howard Koch
Wyllis Cooper
director = Orson Welles
George Zachary
producer = John Houseman
executive_producer =
narrated =
record_location =
first_aired = December 9 1938
last_aired = June 13 1941
num_series = 3
num_episodes = 85
audio_format = Monaural sound
opentheme = Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor
endtheme =
website =
podcast =

"The Campbell Playhouse" (1938-40) was a CBS radio drama series directed by and starring Orson Welles. Produced by John Houseman, it was a sponsored continuation of the "Mercury Theatre on the Air".


As a direct result of the front-page headlines Welles generated with his Halloween, 1938 production "War of the Worlds" production, Campbell's Soup signed on as his sponsor. "The Campbell Playhouse" began December 9, 1938, offering 60-minute adaptations of classic plays and novels, plus some adaptations of popular motion pictures.

The same creative staff stayed on, but the show had a different flavor under sponsorship. This was partially due to a guest star policy which relegated the Mercury Players to supporting roles. There was a growing schism between Welles, still reaping the rewards of his Halloween night notoriety, and Houseman, who became more like an employee than a partner. The primary writer, as during the unsponsored run, was Howard Koch.

Productions included "The Citadel" (with Geraldine Fitzgerald), "Rebecca" (featuring an interview with Daphne du Maurier), "A Christmas Carol" (broadcast once with Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge, and once with Orson Welles himself in the role), a non-musical version of "Show Boat" (with Margaret Sullavan as Magnolia, Orson Welles as Cap'n Andy, Helen Morgan as Julie, and author Edna Ferber herself as Parthy), "A Farewell to Arms" (with Katharine Hepburn), "Mutiny on the Bounty", "Arrowsmith" (with Helen Hayes), "Les Misérables" (with Walter Huston), "Our Town", "Ah, Wilderness", "Dodsworth", "Lost Horizon" (with Ronald Colman), "Dinner at Eight" (with Hedda Hopper and Lucille Ball), "Liliom" (with Orson Welles in the title role and Helen Hayes as Julie), and "Huckleberry Finn" (with Jackie Cooper).

When Welles left the series in 1940 to begin his movie contract with RKO Radio Pictures in Hollywood, Houseman stayed as producer for the final season, and the focus shifted to more obscure fare, still with casts drawn from the ranks of film actors. The writer during this final season was Wyllis Cooper (he and "Campbell" announcer Ernest Chappell would go on to create "Quiet, Please") .

The final broadcast of "The Campbell Playhouse" was on June 13, 1941.


Other programs with the same name

"Campbell Playhouse" was also the title of a television series aired on NBC between 1952 and 1954 as a replacement for "The Aldrich Family". It was also known as "Campbell Soundstage". Scriptwriters for that anthology series included Rod Serling.

See also

*Lux Radio Theater
*Screen Director's Playhouse
*The Screen Guild Theater
*Ford Theatre
*Theater Guild on the Air
*Academy Award Theater
*Author's Playhouse
*Cavalcade of America
*CBS Radio Workshop
*General Electric Theater
*Mercury Theatre on the Air


* [ Frank M. Passage's "Campbell Playhouse" log]

Listen to

* [ Mercury Theatre site with "Campbell Playhouse" shows]

External links

* [ "The Campbell Playhouse": Script of "A Christmas Carol" (December 24, 1939) (full text)]

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