Suspense's "Tom Dooley" stars Joseph Cotten in a dramatic interpretation of a famous folk song. It is one of a group of episodes in which Suspense created an original radio drama from a popular American folk/blues song. (See also "St. James Infirmary Blues").
Suspense first presented this story in 1953, but then brought it back again in 1958 when the Kingston Trio's rendition of 'Tom Dooley" became a major hit.
This episode is Suspense's unique interpretation of the song and not an account of the events in the 1866 criminal case of Tom Dula in North Carolina. Wikipedia has more information about the history of the folk song and the true events on which it is based.
As the episode opens, Tom Dooley has returned home to North Carolina after his service in the Confederate Army and is on his way to see his girl, Laura Foster. When he tries to rekindle their romance, Laura puts him off. She was told that Tom had died in battle, and after grieving for him, started a relationship with a new man. Now, she wants Tom to leave her in peace, but he won't have it. He threatens her, but he is stopped by his cousin.
Tom doesn't want to let go of Laura, and he doesn't like the Yankee she is involved with. Unwilling to change or accept what has happened, Tom kills Laura and then tries to flee...
"Tom Dooley" was written by Morton Fine and David Friedkin. Elliott Lewis produced and directed. Joseph Cotten starred. Also appearing were Joseph Kearns, Bill Bissell, William Conrad, and Sam Hill. This episode aired on March 30, 1953.
Suspense presented this story a second time on December 7, 1958, but it is shorter and with some minor changes. The Kingston Trio's song is played as narration during this episode. William N. Robson produced and directed. Robert Horton starred. Also appearing were Robert Esson, Hilda Hart, Norm Alden, Karl Swenson, and Joe DiSantis.
If you haven't heard this song in its entirety, you can listen to the Kingston Trio's version in the video below:
(Image of the Kingston Trio from Wikipedia)