The Whisperer

The dual identity makes life very interesting.

The Whisperer

The Whisperer (1951) was a short-lived weekly OTR crime series in which Philip Gault, a lawyer, acted as a front for The Syndicate, even while trying to disrupt its plans.

As he explained in the prologue to the final episode, Gault led two lives: one as a lawyer, the other as a front for a crime syndicate, known only as "The Whisperer." As "The Whisperer," Gault communicated orders from organized crime bosses in New York City to the local syndicate in Central City. As a lawyer, Gault used this inside information to thwart or break down organized crime, often putting himself in the middle of conflict. The only person who knows about Gault's double life is Ellen Morris, his former nurse and now girlfriend.

The Whisperer is significant because it used dual identity and voice as narrative devices to combat crime, it had a short broadcast history, and of an estimated twenty-six episodes, only thirteen survive.

Episodes

Totals

Total Episodes: 26
Surviving Episodes: 13 (those that aired 8 July-30 September 1951)

Episode 01, 1 July 1951, lost

Tea Time for Teenagers
Episode 02, 8 July 1951, available
"The Whisperer" tackles the plans of Scurelli to sell marijuana to the unsuspecting youth of the city.

The Attempted Murder
Episode 03, 15 July 1951, available
The Syndicate plans to kill a crusading reporter during a raid at the Club 17, an illegal gambling casino.

Murder in Central City Jail
Episode 04, 22 July 1951, available
AKA "Hippity Hoppy." "The Syndicate" orders the death of two men in jail, and succeeds with one murder with the help of a "teacher."

A Policeman in Danger
Episode 05, 29 July 1951, available
"The Whisperer" tries to prevent "The Syndicate" from murdering Lieutenant Denvers. Helen is amazed at "The Whisperer's" latest invention, a car telephone!

What Ye Sow
Episode 06, 5 August 1951, available
"The Syndicate" tries to kill the daughter of Anthony Powers, a member of the Liquor Control Board, when he refuses to resign.

The Fight Game
Episode 07, 12 August 1951, available
"The Syndicate" is determined to obtain control of boxer "Kid Noonan's" contract.

Into Each Life
Episode 08, 19 August 1951, available
"The Syndicate" is determined to kill a nightclub owner who refuses to pay them off. They've already tried to assassinate him seven times! Includes a scene where "The Whisperer" recounts his origins to Ellen.

Taken for a Ride
Episode 09, 26 August 1951, available
The Ace Trucking Company refuses to buy insurance from "The Syndicate." One of their trucks is ordered wrecked, the driver is ordered killed.

Stanley Hayes
Episode 10, 2 September 1951, available
"The Syndicate" order Stanley Hayes to be killed by midnight the following day.

Woman on Ice
Episode 11, 9 September 1951, available
"The Whisperer" gives "The Syndicate's" instructions. It's only one word, "Now."

Never the Twain
Episode 12, 16 September 1951, available
"The Syndicate" orders the kidnapping of Patricia Folsom.

The Police Lieutenant
Episode 13, 23 September 1951, available
"The Syndicate" orders the murder of a man leaving The Lawyer's Club at 7:30 P. M. The man's name is Phillip Gault, the secret identity of "The Whisperer"!

Strange Bed Fellows
Episode 14, 30 September 1951, available
"The Whisperer" is ordered by "The Syndicate" to help Jay Pollack kill Joe Ainsley. The story ends with anti-Communist dialogue.

Unknown
Episodes 15-26, 7 October 1951-23 December 1951, lost

Background

Based on stories written by Irene Humphrey and her husband, Dr. Stetson Humphrey, a voice coach and music director, and written for radio by Jonathan Twice, each episode of The Whisperer explored Gault's dual identity and use of his voice to thwart the criminal underworld, "The Syndicate."

The back story was never told until the last episode when Gault explained,
It all began 10 years ago when I was kicked in the throat while playing college football. After the bandages were removed I opened my mouth to speak and all that came out was this rattling hiss. After a baker's dozen of women fainted when I spoke to them and countless babies went into paraclisms [sic] of crying, I disappeared from my usual haunts and went to work for a group which I later discovered were known as the crime syndicate. I decided to stay with them and collect sufficient evidence to help destroy them. Then one day I met Dr. [Benjamin] Lee and through a miracle of surgery he restored my voice enabling me to resume my real identity as Philip Gault, Lawyer. This dual identity makes life very interesting. For if the syndicate ever finds out that the Whisper, who passes on their orders, is really Philip Gault, the man who has wrecked so many of their plans, there'll be slow walking and low moaning. But I won't be around to comment on it.

The Whisperer was one of many popular OTR crime and detective shows from the 1940s-1950s. This popularity coincided with rising concerns for emerging criminal activities, especially organized crime, and containment efforts at all levels. The local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were often incapable of stemming the advance of crime. They were no match for the dashing private detectives with their brash manners, wry insults, and wise-guy slang, untouched by cynicism or sentimentality. These detectives were incorruptible and rigorously true to themselves, but never self-righteous.

And, there was narrative, one of radio's most refined and powerful elements. Most radio detectives spoke in Hollywood-inspired tough-guy style. Their vocabulary was colorful, full of similes and metaphors, both often overwrought and today the stuff of parody. They provided, honestly, an entertaining listening experience. This entertainment is still popular with current day OTR enthusiasts and those who seek to reprise this genre of radio. See New York Crimes.

The recurring cast included
Philip Gault (Carleton G. Young)
Ellen Morris (Betty Moran)
Lieutenant Denvers (Paul Frees)
Announcer (Don Rickles)
Director (Bill Cairn)
Writer (Jonathan Twice)
Organ music (Johnny Duffy)

Despite this interest, The Whisper was short lived as a radio drama series. The first episode was broadcast 1 July 1951. The last, 23 December 1951. All episodes were broadcast on National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

The Whisperer is akin to The Shadow, The Whistler, and other series where the main character uses a disguise, secret powers, or special talents to thwart the efforts of organized crime.

Resources

Episodes at Internet Archive website
Episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library
The Whisperer radio logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
The Definitive The Whisperer at Digital Deli Too website
Plot summaries and credits at Radio Gold Index website