Born Willis Oswald Cooper on 26 January 1899 in Pekin, Illinois, USA.
Parents: Charles E. and Margaret L. (?) (Oswald) Cooper (b. November 1870).
Brother: Harry Edgar Cooper (b. April 1900).
from Cooper's entry in Who Was Who in America (WWWIA), census data and other
June 1900 census data: lives at 604 Court Street in Pekin with widowed
grandmother Jeneitta (?) P. Oswald (b. March 1839 in New York, father born in
New Jersey and mother born in Scotland), uncles (Jeneitta's sons) Clifford E.
Oswald (b. April 1881, a grocery clerk) and Clyde D. Oswald (b. March 1884, an
errand boy), mother Margaret E. (who claims to have been married for three
years at that point) and brother Harry.
April 15, 1910 census data: lives on Market Street in Pekin with grandmother
Jeneta (?) P. Oswald (a seamstress), mother Margaret E. (who claims to have
been married for twelve years at that point) and brother Harry.
Graduated Pekin High School, 1916
1916 - Sergeant, U.S. Cavalry, Mexican Border
1917-1919 - Signal Corps.
1918-1919 - Allied Expeditionary Forces
1923-1927 - Captain, 31st Infantry, Illinois National Guard
1928-1933 Cavalry Reserve
1919-1929 Advertising writer (WWWIA) (in Santa Monica, CA and elsewhere)
January 1920 census data: works as a photographer and for a traction company
(presumably the Peoria Railway Terminal Company which ran to Pekin); rents an
apartment at 504 North Monroe Street in Peoria, IL with wife Beatrice L.
(Fryer?) (born in Iowa, age 20, a stenographer for an insurance company) and
brother Harry, a boarder (an engineering draftsman).
circa December 1928 - Joins Chicago's McJunkin Advertising Agency, among whose
clients are the Great Northern Railroad.
09-14-1929 - Marries Emily C. Beveridge
April 30, 1930 census data: employed as advertising copywriter; rents (for
ninety dollars per month) at 282 Bellevue Place in Cook County, Chicago, IL;
lives with wife Emily C. (born in Illinois, age 24, father born in Scotland,
mother born in New York) and divorced, unemployed brother-in-law Kenneth
Beveridge (an advertising salesman, born in New York, age 36, married at age
28); the household has a radio set.
1930?-July 1933 CBS Continuity Editor (starting date has not been confirmed)
July 1933-August 1935 NBC Continuity Editor
According to WWWIA, Cooper was a Democrat, a Mason, and a member of the Lambs.
Cooper was born in Pekin, Ill., Jan. 26, 1899, but all he'll admit about his
childhood is that he was the first man to wear a wrist-watch in Peoria, Ill.,
and the black eyes he garnered flghting over it still linger as painful
memories.--12 July 1942 The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
"... served on the Mexican border in 1916 and, in World War I, with the 131st
Infantry from Illinois. He was gassed in the Argonne Forest while attached to
the British Expeditionary Forces there." -- from New York Times (NYT) obit.
"He began as a bugler in 1916, chased bandits down along the Mexican border
when things weren't so friendly, was wounded on the Somme, gassed in the
Argonne, served in the Army of occupation in Germany and returned to this
country for work with the Army Intelligence. In 1933 he retired as a Captain
in the National Guard."-- from Washington Post, 5 April 1942
"He went overseas early in 1918 with the 131st Infantry, was smacked on the
head with a shell fragment on the Somme and was severely gassed at Consenvoye
in the Argonne in October, 1918. After the war, Cooper worked on the Chicago
Tribune, did advertising and publicity, ran his own advertising agency in
Santa Monica, Calif., then took up radio."--24 May 1942 The Capital Times
"He was wounded on the Somme, gassed in the Argonne, served with the army of
occupation in Germany, and returned to the U. S. to work with the
Intelligence. Still later came reporting job in Chicago, an advertising spot,
and a disastrous session running his own ad agency in Santa Monica, Calif. In
1928 he returned to Chicago to try radio."--12 July 1942 The Capital Times
The 131st Illinois Infantry: mustered into Federal service in June 1916 at
Springfield, IL; stationed at San Antonio, Texas; mustered out of Federal
service in October 1916 at Springfield, IL; drafted into Federal Service in
August 1917, before being reorganized and redesignated in October 1917 as the
132d Infantry and assigned to the 33d Division; demobilized in May or June
1919 at Camp Grant, IL. World War I Campaigns: Somme Offensive; Meuse-Argonne;
Lorraine 1918; Picardy 1918. -- from various sources.
THE EMPIRE BUILDERS 1929-1931
Cooper works on this pioneering NBC dramatic anthology series sponsored by the
Great Northern Railroad. The series runs from January 1929 to 06-22-31,
originally broadcast from New York and later from Chicago. Edward Hale
Bierstadt writes some of the earliest episodes which focus on historical
dramas of the American northwest. More contemporary comedies and melodramas
are also featured. Actor Harvey Hays (who would later spell his name "Hayes")
plays the folksy but mysterious host, known variously as "The Old Timer" and
"The Old Pioneer."
Though others are involved, Cooper contributes writing and directing to the
series. Credited as "W. O. Cooper, a Chicago writer" he writes a 02-10-30
episode set in the copper mines under Butte, Montana and "made a special trip
to the Butte mines to secure material for this drama" which included a climax
that "is believed to be the most difficult bit of radio melodrama thus far
attempted" according to publicity.
He writes the 11-10-30 episode, "The First Armistice Day" a copy of which
exists -- one of the oldest surviving recordings of a network radio drama. The
04-16-31 episode, described as "A railroad melodrama appropriate to St.
Patrick's day" about "the fighting spirit of the Irish" is also credited to
"W. O. Cooper."
THE LOST LEGION / TALES OF THE FOREIGN LEGION 1932-1933
Cooper writes and acts for this adventure series about a French Foreign
Legion outpost. The multinational cast of characters includes Mendoza, a
Spanish soldier, played by Cooper. Ray Appleby directs. Broadcast regionally
from February 1932 until January 1933 when it airs coast-to-coast on CBS.
Final episode: 06-23-33. Not to be confused with a competing NBC series,
"Legion of the Lost" written by Innis Osborn that premiered on 08-21-32.
DESERT GUNS 1933
Having just switched networks, continuity editor Cooper writes a similar
French Foreign Legion drama for NBC. Apparently, it premieres on 09-03-33 and
does not seem to last very long -- possibly only a month or so. With Cliff
Soubier as "a tough Yankee sergeant."
In November, Cooper writes a daily fifteen minute novelty dramatic series for
Chicago's WMAQ. One character's dialogue is printed in a local Chicago
newspaper; the listener is expected to read the lines and "act" along with the
actors in the studio.
For the 1933 Armistice Day program sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars,
Cooper writes a dramatic sketch "Cease Firing" -- "Men who served together in
the 33rd Division in the drive on St Mihiel during the closing days of the
World war will re-enact those scenes" in the play.
LIGHTS OUT! 1934-1936
Cooper creates, writes and directs this horror anthology series. He
participates from January 1934 until June 1936. Afterward, his scripts are
occasionally rebroadcast. Initially, the series is broadcast locally in
Chicago (15 minute long episodes). It expands to 30 minutes on 04-25-34, is
discontinued in January '35 in order to ease Cooper's workload at NBC, but is
brought back by huge popular demand a few weeks later. Then, after a
successful tryout in New York City, the series switches from WENR to NBC's
Red network on 04-17-35. By the time Cooper left "Lights Out!" in '36, the
series had inspired around 600 fan clubs.
Some surviving episodes with scripts by Cooper:
12-22-37 THREE MEN (a.k.a. UNINHABITED / CHRISTMAS STORY, 1918) - The
script also aired on 12-25-35, according to that day's Chicago Tribune. A
slightly shorter, revised version of the script airs 12-20-48 on NBC's RADIO
CITY PLAYHOUSE anthology series (see below).
07-21-45 REUNION AFTER DEATH (a.k.a. THE GHOST OF DIANA / REUNION)
08-25-45 MAN IN THE MIDDLE - This script was originally broadcast 03-06-35
under the title "After Five O'Clock"
07-13-46 THE COFFIN IN STUDIO B
07-20-46 THE HAUNTED CELL - This script may have been originally broadcast
under the title "The Death Cell" on 02-13-35.
07-27-46 BATTLE OF THE MAGICIANS
08-03-46 THE REVENGE OF INDIA
08-10-46 THE GHOST ON THE NEWSREEL NEGATIVE
07-16-47 DEATH ROBBERY - Script is credited to Cooper and Paul Pierce
07-30-47 THE RING
July 1935 photo
HELLO, AMERICA 1934
Cooper writes a dramatic sketch entitled "Remember the Maine!" for a special
February 1934 NBC broadcast called HELLO AMERICA, the third annual radio
broadcast of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
"Daffy-Dilly Christmas" - December 25, 1934, 5:00-5:15pm EST (NBC-WJZ)
A fantastic "Silly Symphony" with words by Willis Cooper and music
written and conducted by Roy Shield about Geevle, a mischievous dog, and his
roomful of Toyland friends. -- from a post in Usenet's alt.radio.oldtime
IMMORTAL DRAMAS 1935
Cooper writes the scripts for these half-hour adaptations "recreating famous
characters and events from the Old Testament..." According to Variety, Lloyd
Lewis, drama critic of the Chicago Daily News, is "hired to write the synopses
at [a] reported $600 weekly" while the actual scripts are "put in radio form"
by Cooper. NBC production manager Clarence Menser produces the lavish series,
which features a large cast, Noble Cain's chorus and Leroy Shield's orchestra.
Sponsored by Montgomery Ward. Airs Sunday afternoons on NBC. The series'
musical theme is the "Faith" motif from Wagner's Parsifal.
01-13 "David and Goliath" - William Farnum (David), Clifford Soubier (Goliath)
01-20 "Exodus From Egypt"
01-27 "Daniel in the Lion's Den"
02-03 "The Story of Samson" - Don Briggs (Samson)
02-10 "The Story of Esther"
02-17 "Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors"
02-24 "Joseph in Egypt"
03-03 "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba"
03-10 "The Story of Gideon"
03-17 "The Walls of Jericho"
03-24 "Ruth and Naomi"
03-31 "Saul and Jonathan"
FLYING TIME 1935-1936
Cooper writes this 15-minute, 5-day-a-week aviation serial, set at an airport,
which apparently ran from 06-25-35 to 1937. In June 1936, the Chicago Tribune
reports that Cooper leaves the show.
August 1935 - Cooper visits the Belfry Theater in Williams Bay, Wisconsin as
"a special guest of the Belfry Players" who perform one of his "Lights Out!"
August 1935 - Cooper resigns as NBC Chicago continuity chief in order to
devote more time to "Lights Out!" and other series.
09-30-35 - Cooper gives a talk on "Continuity Writers as the Continuity
Editors See Them" before members of the Matrix club at 75 East Wacker Drive in
BETTY AND BOB 1935-1936 ??
In October 1935 and April 1936, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cooper writes
this 15-minute, 5-day-a-week NBC soap opera.
UNKNOWN SERIES 1935
In October 1935, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cooper not only writes
"Betty and Bob," "Flying Time" and "Lights Out!" but also "journeys to Des
Moines [Iowa] each Sunday to produce a show there."
1936-1939 - In May 1936, Cooper moves to Hollywood, CA and works as a
screenwriter for various movie studios, including Twentieth Century-Fox,
Universal and, apparently, Paramount.
Initially, he continues to write radio scripts for production in Chicago but
in June 1936, the Chicago Tribune reports that his two series ("Lights Out!"
and "Flying Time") have been taken over by other writers (respectively, Arch
Oboler and William Murphy). Motion pictures (with release dates) for which
Cooper received an onscreen credit:
07-27-37 THINK FAST, MR. MOTO (additional dialogue)
12-24-37 THANK YOU, MR. MOTO (screenplay)
06-24-38 MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE (story)
01-13-39 SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (screenplay)
01-??-40 THE PHANTOM CREEPS (story for 12-chapter Bela Lugosi serial)
According to the American Film Institute, Cooper does uncredited work on three
Twentieth Century-Fox musicals: "Pigskin Parade" ('36, contributes to
"screenplay construction"), "Wild and Woolly" ('37, contributing writer) and
"She Had to Eat" ('37, contributing writer, although his material may not have
been used in the finished film).
Other scripts Cooper is reported to have worked on: at least one Shirley
Temple vehicle for Fox ('36); a Universal horror film for Boris Karloff and
Bela Lugosi entitled "Friday, the 13th," about "a genial chap who commits a
murder every Friday, the 13th." (spring '39); a sequel to "Dr. Cyclops," for
Paramount to be called "Phantom City" (late summer '39).
11-11-36 - Actor Hugh Studebaker reads Cooper's poem "Unknown Soldier" for a
WGN Armistice Day broadcast.
06-02-37 - Chicago Tribune reports that Cooper rents the California home of
actress Barbara Luddy.
08-29-37 - An hour and a half long Mutual Broadcasting System special from
Chicago's WGN includes Cooper's tribute "To the Unknown Soldier" presented
once again by Hugh Studebaker.
HOLLYWOOD HOTEL 1937-1938
Cooper contributes writing to this hour-long CBS variety program sponsored by
Campbell Soups which ran from 10-05-34 to 12-02-38. WWWIA incorrectly lists
Cooper's participation in this series as being in 1938-39. He joins the show
in the fall of 1937, writing short adaptations of Hollywood films, at the
request of producer Fred Ibbett, formerly of Chicago. A May 1938 newspaper
column item indicates that Cooper would share scripting duties with a newly-
hired producer, Brewster Morgan.
The show's format changes with the 09-09-38 season premiere: "Instead of
presenting excerpts from current films as done previously, full-length
dramatizations of successful stage and screen productions will be the policy
this year." From 09-09 to 10-14 Herbert Marshall hosts and acts in the dramas.
William Powell takes over as host and lead actor on 10-21. Powell signs a
three year contract but the series ends on 12-02-38 and is replaced with "The
Campbell Playhouse" starring Orson Welles.
In late '39 or very early '40, Cooper moves to New York City. Around this
time, he also changes the spelling of his first name (from "Willis" to
"Wyllis") in order "to please his wife's numerological inclinations."
01-18-40 - NYT reports Cooper's address as 71 Washington Sq. So.
04-05-40 - NYT reports Cooper's address as "a penthouse" in 242 E 72nd St
07-17-40 - NYT reports Cooper's address as 242 E 72nd St
CAMPBELL'S SHORT SHORT STORY 1940
Cooper writes scripts for this fifteen minute three-times-a-week CBS daytime
anthology series sponsored by Campbell Soups. The series begins in January
1940, is canceled in December, and is immediately replaced by a spin-off,
Cooper's serial CHARLIE AND JESSIE.
YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW 1940-1941
Cooper writes this weekly half hour WJZ-NBC training camp drama about life in
America's peacetime civilian army -- "The first radio serial about
conscription..." "a fictionalized treatment of the draft forces" "a continued
dramatization of serial characters whose predicaments are often humorous" --
from 11-11-40 to circa 03-31-41. Originally to be called THIS MAN'S ARMY.
Premieres on Armistice Day. Airs Mondays at 9 p.m. eastern. Actor Edmund Lowe
plays the lead in four consecutive episodes starting 12-30. Cooper leaves the
series when called to Chicago to work on a program called WHAT'S YOUR IDEA?
Surviving episodes at the Library of Congress:
11-11-40 A comedy about Army life...starring Donald Briggs and Ray Appleby.
11-18-40 A program about military life and army camps.
12-23-40 A program about Christmas in the army.
02-10-41 Captain Donald Preston tells all about his anti-tank corps.
THE CAMPBELL PLAYHOUSE 1940-1941
After the departure of host Orson Welles, Cooper contributes writing to the
third and final season (11-29-40 to 06-13-41) of this CBS anthology series
sponsored by Campbell Soups. The series, formerly an hour long, is shortened
to a half hour and airs Fridays from 9:30 p.m. to 10. Two episodes from this
third season survive at the Library of Congress, one of which -- a 01-31-41
adaptation of Libbie Block's story "Mrs. Fane Comes of Age" -- has a script by
CHARLIE AND JESSIE 1940-1941
Cooper writes this fifteen minute, three-times-a-week CBS comedy serial from
12-16-40 to 01-17-41. Sponsored by Campbell Soups. The Washington Post says
the series is about "a newly-married and entirely irresponsible couple who, as
the author Wyllis Cooper expresses it, were married in a madhouse and walked
down the aisle festooned with haywire. Charlie is a young and earnest
advertising man, but a fairly frantic husband. Jessie is an enthusiastic, but
somewhat scatterbrained wife." Based on a well-received script Cooper wrote
for SHORT SHORT STORY.
BEHIND THE MIKE 1941
03-09 On this NBC program, veteran announcer Graham McNamee interviews Cooper
about "how horror yarns are concocted for radio" ...
WHAT'S YOUR IDEA? (Early 1941)
Variety reports that Cooper is "called from New York on a temporary doctoring
job" for this Chicago-based audience participation show. Contestants compete
to see who can come up with the best idea for a radio program. The top three
suggestions are dramatized each week. "In addition to the $100 prize, the
winners are assured that if the program idea is sold to a sponsor the winners
get that money, too." Sponsored by the Mars candy company's latest product,
04-02-1941 Variety reports that Cooper is now a "radio exec" with the Grant
advertising agency in Chicago (responsible for WHAT'S YOUR IDEA?) but this
apparently does not last long because he is soon writing scripts for the
series GOOD NEIGHBORS.
GOOD NEIGHBORS 1941
Cooper writes this weekly NBC propaganda series about Latin America which runs
from 05-22 to 10-16, Thursdays, 10:30 P.M. to 11. Featuring NBC Concert
Orchestras (led by Dr. Frank Black, H. Leopold Spitalny, and others), a troupe
of twenty actors, and speeches by appropriate Latin American diplomats.
Apparently, Cooper leaves the series by the end of June to work on SPIRIT OF
On the NYT radio page, the program is at first listed as "Good Neighbors" but,
increasingly, the title is changed to "Salute to _____" with the name of that
week's country filling the blank.
05-22 Premiere - hosted by Milton Cross
05-29 Peru; Don Manuel de Freyre y Santander, Peruvian Ambassador to U.S.
06-05 Argentina; Don Felipe de Espil, Argentine Ambassador to U.S.
06-12 Mexico; Don Francisco Castillo Najero, Mexican Ambassador to U.S.
06-19 Ecuador; Sixto Duran Ballen, Consul General in New York
06-26 Brazil; Fernando Sabota de Madeiros, of Brazilian Embassy
07-03 Venezuela; Don Arturo Lares, Venezuelan Charge d'Affaires
07-10 Colombia; Dr. Gabriel Turbay, Colombian Ambassador to U.S.
07-17 Panama; Julio Briceno, Counselor Panama Embassy
07-24 Chile; Don Rodolfo Michels, Chilean Ambassador to U.S.
07-31 Cuba; Aurelio F. Concheso, Cuban Ambassador to U.S.
08-07 Guatemala; Enrique Lopez-Herrarte, Guatemalan Charge d'Affaires
08-14 Uruguay; No diplomat listed. Concert Orchestra; Soloists.
08-21 El Salvador; Don Hector D. Castro, Minister; Rosita Arguello, Soprano.
08-28 Dominican Republic; Dr. Julio Vega Battle, Charge d'Affaires
09-04 Bolivia; Carlos Dorado, First Secretary of Bolivian Legation
09-11 Nicaragua; Don Leon de Bayle, Nicaraguan Minister
09-18 Honduras; Dr. Julian R. Caceras, Honduran Minister
09-26 Costa Rica; Don Luis Fernandez, Costa Rican Minister
10-02 Paraguay; William W. White, Paraguayan Consul General
10-09 Haiti; Elie Garcia, Secretary Haitian Legation
10-16 Henry Wallace, U.S. Vice President; Niles Trammell, president of NBC;
Dr. Manuel de Freyre y Santander, Ambassador of Peru; Albert Spalding,
violinist; Emma Otero, Cuban soprano; Dr. Frank Black conducts the NBC
Symphony Orchestra in 'a program of music of the Americas, including the
"Symphonie Espagnole" of Edouard Lalo, the aria from "Il Guany" and Ernesto
Lecuona's "Malaguena." Also broadcast was a synthesis of the works of
Archibald MacLeish, librarian of Congress, and Walt Whitman.'
SPIRIT OF '41 / SPIRIT OF '42
From mid-1941 to early 1942, Cooper travels widely while contributing to this
weekly half-hour CBS documentary-propaganda series about national defense and
war preparations which premieres 06-29-41. Cooper leaves the series around
March '42 to work on THE ARMY HOUR. With the 12-28-41 broadcast, title changes
to SPIRIT OF '42
08-21-41 - NYT reports that "radio writer" Cooper leases two apartments at 28
East Seventy-third Street.
09-09-41 - NYT gives Cooper's address as 38 E 73rd St. The same column lists
Donald Briggs (presumably the actor) in 28 E 73rd St.
CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LOWER BASIN STREET
Cooper delivers a humorous monologue as "guest intermission commentator" on
the 09-08-41 broadcast of this NBC musical series.
THE STORY OF BESS JOHNSON 1941
A November newspaper column item mentions that Cooper is writing this offbeat
CBS soap opera.
THE ARMY HOUR 1942-1943
Made a consultant to the Secretary of War, Cooper produces, directs and writes
this weekly news and variety propaganda series which runs from 04-05-42 to
circa 11-11-45. Cooper is "retained full-time by the Army as writer-producer
during the first year of The Army Hour." The series was conceived by Col.
Edward Montague Kirby of the War Department's Radio Division.
'The Army Hour was an attempt to bring the reality of the war home to the
American people through the power and immediacy of radio. As Kirby saw it, the
show would "let the Army drop the stuffed-shirt approach ... instead, go
directly to the people with its own radio program, supplied by the men who
were doing the fighting." It was carried by NBC, which alone among the
networks reacted favorably to the Army's proposal. They eventually spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on the show. Highlights included
interviews with both top brass and returning combat veterans, as well as some
of the most descriptive battlefield reporting of the war. The program did not
sugarcoat the war, and showed the Army at its darkest moments as well as in
victory. An early broadcast featuring the terse translation of the last Morse
code message from the besieged soldiers of Corregidor had no equal for drama
on the airwaves.' --Transmitter Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2000 (Library of
'Most of the government radio propaganda series [of World War II] ran as
regular sustaining programs. The series that gathered the largest audiences,
This is War!, was an exception, since it was broadcast over all networks
simultaneously during prime time -- a privilege that was usually reserved only
for FDR's fireside chats. The other show that beat the odds based on its own
appeal was The Army Hour, which aired on Sunday afternoons over NBC and ran
throughout the war, attracting several million listeners every week.' --Gerd
Horten, Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World
War II (University of Chicago, 2002)
'More than 3,000,000 American radio-equipped homes, or 39 per cent of those
having sets in operation during the Army Hour's sixty minutes, are tuned into
this program, the government estimates. ... From the beginning, the program
has represented something like a triumph of radio technique. Indeed, so
smoothly are the complex "remote-pickups" handled that probably only a small
minority of listeners appreciate the engineering and organizational problems
that are surmounted by the Army working in collaboration with the National
Broadcasting Company.' -- NYT, 04-04-43
'In every move to assemble an "Army Hour" program is the hand of Wyllis
Cooper, civilian War Department consultant who writes, directs and supervises
details of the actual production. The only writing he doesn't do is for
scripts of speakers overseas, which are prepared by Public Relations Officers
at the scene.' -- Washington Post, 10-11-42
Conductor Jack Joy (left) and Cooper working on the Army Hour in 1942.
1943 - NBC Director of Program Development, according to WWWIA
ARTHUR HOPKINS PRESENTS 1944
Cooper writes the scripts for the first five episodes of this dramatic
anthology program hosted by the distinguished Broadway producer Arthur
Hopkins. The sustained NBC series consists of hour-long adaptations of
01 04-19 OUR TOWN
02 04-26 REDEMPTION
03 05-03 A SUCCESSFUL CALAMITY
04 05-10 THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
05 05-17 ANNA CHRISTIE
05-25-44 - NYT reports that Cooper joins the radio department of New York's
Compton Advertising, Inc.
01-11-45 - Cooper, still with the Compton agency, is among the speakers at the
monthly meeting of the American Television Society at the Museum of Modern
Art, attended by several hundred members and guests. "Various phases of the
video art were discussed" according to the NYT.
LIGHTS OUT! (1945 summer revival) [a.k.a. FANTASIES FROM LIGHTS OUT!]
This NBC revival of Cooper's 1930s LIGHTS OUT! scripts is broadcast from New
York. Apparently, all scripts are by Cooper but it is unclear whether or not
he was personally involved in the broadcasts. Because it aired early in the
evening, "only those Cooper scripts which stressed fantasy rather than horror"
are used. Most of the episodes are lost or generally unavailable. The one
entitled "Lights Out" is about a veteran on Decoration Day.
01 07-14 THE SAFE CRACKERS
02 07-21 REUNION AFTER DEATH (home wire recording survives)
03 07-28 THE ROCKET SHIP (survives at Library of Congress)
04 08-04 LADY FROM THE LAKE
05 08-11 DID THE MURDER HAPPEN?
06 08-25 MAN IN THE MIDDLE (Armed Forces Radio version survives)
07 09-01 LIGHTS OUT
LIGHTS OUT (1946 NBC TV series)
Based on the radio show that Cooper created in 1934. NBC broadcast four TV
episodes in 1946, then revived the series for TV in 1949. For the premiere
episode, producer-director Frederick Coe uses a Cooper script. The story,
about a psychopath who murders his wife in their apartment on a hot summer
evening, is narrated and photographed entirely from the point of view of the
unseen killer. Variety gives it a rave review and calls it "undoubtedly one of
the best dramatic shows yet seen on a television screen."
06-30-46 FIRST PERSON SINGULAR - with Carl Frank, Mary Wilsey, Eva Condon,
Russell Morrison, Bob Lieb, Gene O'Donnell, Vaughn Taylor, W. O. McWatters,
Thomas Healphy, Paul Keyes, Bob Davis, Harold Grou, Bill Woodson, announcer.
Producer: Fred Coe; Tech. Director: Bill States; Writer: Wyllis Cooper; Sets:
Bob Wade; 25 Mins.; Sun. (30) 8:45 p.m.; Sustaining; WNBT-NBC, N.Y.-- credits
LIGHTS OUT! (1946 summer revival)
Cooper scripts from 1934-1936 are used for this eight episode NBC revival
(produced and directed by Albert Crews and originating in Chicago), including
the premiere episode (described by Variety as 'a sort of modern version of the
"Wandering Jew" theme' complete with '[r]eligious background, philosophical
discussion, and dream diagnosis...'), as well as:
02 07-13 THE COFFIN IN STUDIO B
03 07-20 THE HAUNTED CELL
04 07-27 BATTLE OF THE MAGICIANS
05 08-03 THE REVENGE OF INDIA
06 08-10 THE GHOST ON THE NEWSREEL NEGATIVE
07 08-17 THE DILLINGER COMPLEX (lost or not available)
An eighth episode, an adaptation of Dickens' THE SIGNAL MAN, is not by Cooper.
By December 1946, Cooper joins the Washington, D.C.-based advertising agency
Wheeler and Healy "as a regular staff member in the capacity of Director of
Radio, Motion Picture and Television."
CRIME CLUB 1947
Cooper writes at least one script for this Mutual series sponsored by
Doubleday, the publishers of Crime Club mystery books.
04-24 THE TOPAZ FLOWER - with Raymond Edward Johnson; adapted from the 1939
novel The Case of the Topaz Flower, by Charlotte Murray Russell.
QUIET, PLEASE! 1947-1949
Cooper creates, writes and directs this weekly half hour fantasy anthology
series for Mutual and ABC. 105 episodes from 06-8-47 to 06-25-49. With Ernest
Quiet Please Log
LIGHTS OUT! (1947 summer revival)
This last radio revival of Cooper's signature program stars Boris Karloff, is
broadcast on ABC from Hollywood, and is sponsored by Eversharp who cancels it
after three episodes. Variety reports: "The sponsor is committed to the
show's owner, Wyllis Cooper, for the contractual period, but is understood to
have worked out a compromise payoff covering the cost of the scripts." Cooper
is doing QUIET, PLEASE! in New York at this time so he probably does not
participate directly. Variety describes this revival as "a minimum budget
production, using old scripts originally written by Cooper when the series was
launched a decade ago as a late-evening sustainer out of Chicago ..." The one
complete circulating episode features a script apparently co-authored by
Cooper and Paul Pierce:
07-16 DEATH ROBBERY with Boris Karloff, Tom Collins, Lurene Tuttle
07-30 THE RING with Boris Karloff (an incomplete version survives)
02-04-48 - Variety features a full page advertisement for "Quiet, Please!" (on
p. 35), announcing the series' switch to Mondays, calling it "radio's most
talked about program," and quoting from reviews by a half dozen critics: Sid
Weiss of Radio Daily ("one of the few adult-thinking shows on the air"), Paul
Dennis of the New York Post ("better than Benzedrine"), Paul Ackerman of
Billboard Magazine, Ben Gross of the Daily News, and unnamed writers for
Variety and Newsweek. The ad also quotes John Crosby's syndicated Radio in
Review critique ("PURE RADIO ... handled with extreme skill") in its entirety.
The ad also mentions a December 1947 drama award that the series won from the
American Schools and Colleges Association and that the program's "personal and
package representative" is Ted Lloyd, Inc. of 610 Fifth Avenue in New York
ANTA-NBC TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE (TV series)
Apparently, a version of Cooper's 1946 LIGHTS OUT! TV script airs on this
dramatic anthology. The series is a collaboration of the American National
Theater and Academy and the National Broadcasting Company.
02-15-48 FIRST PERSON SINGULAR
07-17-48 NYT reports that Cooper 'has been signed to prepare the script for
the Army's radio show, "Roll Call," heard at 8 P.M. Thursdays on NBC.' The
series had premiered 07-01-48 with the title "Armed Forces Review" and
apparently ended with the 07-22-48 broadcast. Burgess Meredith hosts.
RADIO CITY PLAYHOUSE 1948
Cooper has at least one script performed on this NBC dramatic anthology
12-20-48 THREE MEN - On the first Christmas Eve after World War I, three
Allied officers on leave (an Australian, a Frenchman, and an American) meet in
a railway compartment in France and, although they are all strangers to one
another, they each have the odd feeling that they have met somewhere
before..... Cast: Ian Martin (Australian officer); Bill Lipton; Maurice Ellis;
Grant Richards; Joe McQuade. This is a slightly shortened version of one of
Cooper's 1930s "Lights Out!" scripts. The "Lights Out!" version is known
variously to collectors as "Christmas Story" or "Uninhabited - Christmas 1918"
VOLUME ONE (1949 TV series)
Cooper writes and produces this half-hour ABC anthology from 06-16-49 to 07-
21-49. Lasting only six episodes, the series begins airing just as QUIET,
PLEASE! ends its radio run. One source claims that the TV series was
originally intended to be called QUIET, PLEASE! but that this was changed at
the last minute. Cooper appears at the beginning of each episode to introduce
the story. Variety reviews the premiere episode under the title "Vol. 1, No.
1" -- subsequent episodes are "Vol. 1, No. 2" and "Vol. 1, No. 3" and so on.
NYT TV listings title the programs "Volume One, Number One" and so on. For the
premiere episode, Alex Segal directs and organist Albert Buhrman provides the
06-16-49 - No. 1 - THE BELL HOP STORY - After committing murder and bank
robbery, a man and woman check into a hotel, only to find the gun and the
stolen money have vanished from their bags and that they are mysteriously
trapped in their room by a puckish bellhop. This three-character drama is
viewed entirely from a stationary camera behind what is supposed to be the
hotel room mirror. Jack Lescoulie and Nancy Sheridan play the couple. Frank
Thomas, Jr. is the bellhop. Apparently, this was performed by the same cast on
Cooper's ESCAPE series in January 1950.
No. 2 Anne Seymour, Donald Briggs, Sid Cassel
No. 3 Herb Sheldon, Edgar Stehli, Alice Reinheart
No. 4 Nancy Sheridan, James Monks
No. 5 Vicki Vola, Marie Kenney, William A. Lee
No. 6 Happy Felton, Abby Lewis, Alex Segal (kinescope survives at UCLA)
ESCAPE (1950 TV series)
Cooper produces, directs and contributes scripts for this brief CBS TV series
(01-05 to 03-30) which is based on the famous radio anthology series of the
same name. Air dates, episode titles and cast from the New York Times and
01-05 RUGGED JOURNEY w/ Charita Bauer, Richard MacMurray, Charles Egleston,
Lawrence Fletcher - A New York reporter travels with a transport tycoon to the
Arctic where he revives a wartime romance with an Eskimo girl. Script by
Howard Rodman, based on the short story by Franklin Gregory.
1-19 THE DIAMOND LENS
1-26 THE BELL HOP STORY w/ Nancy Sheridan, Frank Thomas & Jack Lescoulie
2-02 THE OLD CASTLE w/ Jabez Grey, Bruno Wick, Sarah Fussell, and Others
2-09 WHAPPERKNOCKER SONG w/ Peggy Wagner, Ralph Riggs and Lee Marvin
2-16 THE GREAT FOG w/ Florida Friedus, Howard Wierum and Others
2-23 THE MYTH MAKERS w/ Fran Carlon, Dan Margan, Tommy Rettig and Dave Ballard
3-02 THE COVENANT w/ Pat Peardon, Kim Stanley and Others
3-09 THE TROUBLE WITH GRANDFATHER w/ Clock Ryder, Kathryn Grill, Others
3-16 HOMECOMING w/ William A. Lee, Marie Kenny and Vicki Vola
3-23 THE SOUND MACHINE w/ Jack Lescoulie and Others
3-30 REST IN PEACE w/ Oliver Thorndyke and Clock Ryder
STAGE 13 (1950 TV series)
Cooper produces, directs and writes some of the scripts of this CBS TV
anthology series. The title refers to "a superstitious number no sound stage
would use." Apparently, Cooper appears at the beginning of each episode to
introduce the story.
04-19 NOW YOU KNOW - Patrons disappear from a Third Avenue saloon "after
acquiring an undefined key to the universe." Script by Draper Lewis from a
story by Philip Macdonald. With Alan Bunce, Peter Capell.
04-26 THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES - Nancy Sheridan, James Monks
05-03 MIDSUMMER'S EVE - Pat O'Malley, Richard MacMurray, Emily Barnes
A 1950 TV review reports that "the story centered around a young couple making
a visit to the old Druid ruins at Stonehenge. Knowing how Mr. Cooper operates,
this naive young pair still chose to spend the night at a nearby inn on, of
all times, superstition-ridden Midsummer's Eve. At the fatal hour of midnight
they become entranced and make a trek to, of all places, the sacrificial altar
of the Druid high priest. The boy becomes the reincarnation of this knife-
happy dignitary and the girl, alas, just another offering to the hungry Druid
05-10 NEVER MURDER YOUR GRANDFATHER - Leslie Nielsen, Barbara Bolton, Robert
05-17 PERMISSION TO KILL - Alice Reinheart, Daniel Morgan
05-24 THE LAST MAN - Vinton Hayworth, Cathleen Cordell
05-31 NOW YOU SEE HIM - Dennis Harrison
06-07 THE PAY-OFF - Adelaide Klein, Elaine Ward; Script by Wells Robinson
about "two miserly spinster sisters whose avarice proves their undoing..." a
"prize-winning play in the CBS Awards competition for original drama scripts
by collegiate writers ..."
06-14 Broadcast pre-empted when engineers' union goes on strike
06-21 YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED - James Monks, Jane White (her TV debut)
06-28 NO MORE WISHES - Donald Briggs, Lucille Patton, Phil Sterling
06-11-50 - The Associated Press reports that Cooper will lecture at the
International Radio Festival, a summer radio and television workshop held from
July 5 to August 15 at Adelphi College, Garden City, New York.
In March 1951, Cooper is reported to be writing scripts for "TV and film
features" of Sax Rohmer's fictional villain Fu Manchu -- to be produced by
Herbert Bayard Swope Jr., producer of NBC-TV's "Lights Out!"
RADIO FREE EUROPE (1951-?)
According to his NYT obit, Cooper writes scripts for the CIA's psychological
PHILIP MORRIS PLAYHOUSE 1951
At least one Cooper script airs on this CBS radio series, a half hour dramatic
anthology sponsored by the cigarette manufacturer.
04-19-51 - HOMECOMING - Chester Morris in a "story of a GI recovering from
At least one Cooper script airs on this sustaining NBC radio series featuring
04-21-51 WHAT DO THEY THINK OF US - "A program promoted as surveying the
satellite countries of Eastern Europe under Communist domination, but sounding
like propaganda for Radio Free Europe. Bryna Raeburn, Ross Martin, Ivor
Francis." --from radiogoldindex.com. Library of Congress calls this episode
WHAT EUROPE THINKS OF AMERICA.
LIGHTS OUT (TV series)
After Fred Coe produces and directs four episodes of "Lights Out!" for NBC-TV
in 1946, the series is revived on July 19, 1949 and runs until September 1952.
Cooper contributes scripts to this second TV version of his old radio show:
05-21-51 DEAD MAN'S COAT - directed by Laurence Schwab, Jr., with Basil
Rathbone, Norman Rose
06-11-51 PIT OF THE DEAD - directed by William Corrigan, with John Dall,
Beatrice Kraft, Joseph Buloff
WHITEHALL 1212 (1951-1952 radio series)
Cooper writes and directs these radio dramatizations of Scotland Yard cases
with an allegedly all-British cast. Series is originally announced as "This Is
Scotland Yard." 44 apparently untitled episodes from 11-18-51 to 09-28-52.
Produced by Collie Small and Jack Goldstein. With Horace Braham frequently
playing the leading role as various investigators and Harvey Hayes in a
recurring role as Chief Superintendant John Davidson of Scotland Yard's "Black
TALES OF TOMORROW (TV series)
In February 1953, Cooper apparently sells at least one script (entitled "The
Interference") to this science fiction anthology.
Ernest Chappell gives Cooper and his wife Emily tenancy of "Breezy Hill Farm,"
an "early American" house he owned in Clinton, New Jersey.
STUDIO ONE (TV series)
Cooper writes at least one script for this CBS drama anthology:
05-11-53 KING COFFIN - An adaptation of Conrad Aiken's novel, directed by
Franklin J. Schaffner with Ruth Ford and Zachary Scott
Untitled five minute radio script written for Ernest Chappell. According to
Richard J. Hand, the script is "perhaps the last Cooper wrote" and "concerns a
businessman who is interviewed by a man he believes to be a detective, and to
whom he confesses having murdered his business associate. The stranger is, in
fact, an insurance man who had come to tell the businessman that he was the
beneficiary of his late partner's life insurance."
Died 22 June 1955 - High Bridge, New Jersey, USA.
Buried in Lower Valley Cemetery, a "relatively small" Presbyterian church yard
located on Route 513 in Califon, New Jersey.