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The Unexpected

"The Unexpected" was a quarter-hour radio series produced by Hamilton-Whitney Productions, a Los Angeles-based company producing programs for syndication. One of many production houses to spring up in the City of Angels after World War II, Hamilton-Whitney dedicated itself primarily to the production of weekly or twice-weekly radio features designed to be sold to local stations. Like many syndicated shows of the time, "The Unexpected" chose its stars from the rank and file of both radio and motion pictures. Unlike big-time network dramatic shows, of course, Hamilton-Whitney couldn't afford the price tags attached to "A" list celebrities - but this actually proved beneficial, since busy character actors like Barry Sullivan, Jack Holt, and Marsha Hunt were used to playing a multitude of parts with little preparation. Likewise, busy radio performers like Lurene Tuttle could, based on long experience, credibly play most any part after only one or two read-thrus. The budgets may have been small but, thanks to experienced hands both before and behind the microphone, the results were quite impressive. Then as now, every show that hoped for success had to have some sort of a hook - a gimmick, if you will - that differentiated it from the rest of the competition. In the case of "The Unexpected", the series specialized in tense stories of mystery and suspense, usually centering on the thoughts or actions of a single person. A husband loses patience with his nattering wife and decides to do away with her; an ex-con finds himself blackmailed by a fellow inmate; a self-centered debutante carefully plans her break-up with her fiancé - all were simple but engaging plots for this enterprising series. But the fascinating thing about the shows - and the "hook" designed to attract and retain the interest of listeners - was the twist ending that came with each program. You'll be listening along to the story and then, just about the time the plot is being resolved, the program's announcer will say "You think the story is over, don't you? But wait! Fate takes a hand. Wait…for the Unexpected!" Well, after that, what can a poor listener do but sit through the commercial that follows to find out the REAL ending to the tale? [radioarchives.com]


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