The Mysterious Traveler

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Overview | Significance | Background | Plot | Cast | Resources | Episodes

Overview

The Mysterious Traveler (1943-1952) was an OTR dramatic anthology series written, produced, and directed by Robert A. Arthur, Jr. and David Kogen. Episodes ranged from wild science fiction to straight crime.

Significance

The successful narrative of the radio series spun off comic books, magazines, and another radio drama series. The Mysterious Traveler is an example of transmedia storytelling.

Background

Each episode of The Mysterious Traveler anthology radio series began with train sounds (including a steam whistle), all fading into narrator Maurice Tarplin's introduction.

This is a Mysterious Traveler, inviting you to join me on another journey into the strange and terrifying. I hope you will enjoy the trip, that it will thrill you a little and chill you a little. So settle back, get a good grip on your nerves and be comfortable—if you can.

The Mysterious Traveler narrated each episode. At the end, the story fades into the sound of train wheels and The Mysterious Traveler saying

Oh, you have to get off here! I'm sorry! I'm sure we'll meet again. I take this same train every week at this same time.

Each episode was written, produced, and directed by Robert A. Arthur and David Kogen.

In addition to a radio series, The Mysterious Traveler was also a magazine and a comic book. The single issue comic book, The Mysterious Traveler Comic #1 (Trans-World Publications November 1948) was directly tied to the radio series, including the story "Five Miles Down," adapted from Episode 090, 9 February 1947. Charlton Comics published a separate Tales of the Mysterious Traveler comic book for thirteen issues from 1956 to 1959, followed by two more issues in 1985. Steve Ditko illustrated many stories in the series.

A magazine spin-off, Mysterious Traveler (Grace Publishing), ran for five issues, November 1951-1952. Each issue featured a pulp cover illustration by Norman Saunders. David Kogen was the publisher; Robert A. Arthur the managing editor.

The Strange Dr. Weird was a weekly radio spin-off series on the Mutual Broadcasting System featuring fifteen-minute versions of The Mysterious Traveler episode. Each was written by David Kogan and Robert A. Arthur, and narrated by Maurice Tarplin, who lived "on the other side of the cemetery." Each week he invited listeners to enjoy a different horror story, and invited them back the following week for more. Twenty-eight episodes, 7 November 1944-15 May 1945.

Plot

Stories ran from science fiction thrillers to crime-based mysteries.

Cast

Writers/directors/producers Robert A. Arthur, Jr. and David Kogen drew talent from unsung but quite professional radio voice actors of the day.

Resources

The Mysterious Traveler Radio Logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
Plot summaries and credits at Radio Gold Index website
OTRR certified episodes at Internet Archive
Single episodes at Internet Archive
The Definitive Mysterious Traveler at Digital Deli Too website
The Mysterious Traveler at Radio Horror Hosts website

Episodes

Totals

Total episodes: 370
Surviving episodes: 69

Timeline

5 December 1943-2 September 1952
Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS)

Inventory

Information and description for each episode of the series. Learn more.
OTRR certified episodes at Internet Archive

Exemplary Episodes
  • Episode 159

    Zero Hour
    Episode 159; 22 June 1948
    A professor and his biographer visit the crash site of an alleged Martian space craft. This is not the Rod Sterling story of the same title.

  • Episode 205

    Behind the Locked Door
    Episode 25; 25 May 1949 and Episode 329, 6 November 1951
    The episode of The Mysterious Traveler series. Two archaeologists exploring caves in the southwestern United States find one blocked behind a landslide. Inside is a one-hundred year old wagon train. When their guide is attacked, the archaeologists wonder if some members of the wagon train survived. What if their descendants still live in this dark world?

  • Episode 225

    The Last Survivor
    Episode 225; 11 October 1949

  • Episode 253

    S.O.S.
    Episode 253; 2 May 1950
    Three criminals attempt to steal diamonds aboard an ocean liner but encounter more trouble than they imagined.

  • Episode 331

    The Most Famous Man in the World
    Episode 331; 20 November 1951
    Two time travelers return to the 20th Century to prevent a man from becoming the first Dictator of America.