Escape's "Back for Christmas" was adapted from the short story of the same name by John Collier. Both Escape and Suspense presented this tale but without the gruesome elements of the original work. The radio dramatizations also added extra scenes to fill the half-hour format.
The story begins in England, inside the house of a professor of botany named Herbert Carpenter. He and his wife, Hermione, are soon to leave for an extended trip to America, where he will be lecturing.
Hermione is a shrew who keeps her husband under her constant control. She has planned every detail of their trip with precision and, to her annoyance, Herbert is not conforming with her plan. Instead, he is wasting time on a botanical project in their cellar. He is also lingering too long at the bookshop to chat with the bookseller, Miss Markham.
Hermione has promised all of their friends that they will be back for Christmas, but if Herbert has his way -- she won't be.
"Back for Christmas" was adapted for radio by Robert Tallman. Paul Frees played Herbert and Hermione was played by Eleanor Audley. As a matter of trivia, both Frees and Audley provided voices for Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Frees was the voice of the "Ghost Host" and Audley was the voice of Madame Leota. Eleanor Audley also provided the voices for two of Disney's most famous villainesses, the wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine, in Cinderella and the evil fairy, Maleficent, in Sleeping Beauty. This episode aired on December 24, 1947.
The radioplay performed on Escape had originally aired on Suspense on December 23, 1943. Peter Lorre played the role of the professor and his rendition of the hen-pecked husband gone mad is classic. The name of the actress who played Hermione is not given, but it was probably Jeanette Nolan.
Suspense presented this story for the second time on December 23, 1948. Herbert Marshall starred as the professor. Again, the name of the actress playing Hermione isn't given, but it was probably Jeanette Nolan. Betty Lou Gerson, who played the bookseller in this episode, provided the voice for another famous Disney villainess. She was the original Cruella Da Ville in One Hundred and One Dalmations.
Suspense presented "Back for Christmas" for the third time on December 23, 1956. For this presentation, the script was reworked. Herbert Marshall again starred as the professor. Also appearing were Ellen Morgan, Jack Moyles, Irene Tedrow, Paula Winslowe and Ben Wright.
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