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You have the wrong date on the 6/29/43 episode for Kearns' return (1943-06-29 rather than 1943-09-23).
Thanks -- I was able to get a copy of the book, too.
This is what we know so far....
Kearns is missing from Suspense for 10 consecutive episodes, likely as Bannon claims with a broken jaw.
Bannon was very very busy, and as he writes this letter to his parents in September, many weeks later, he may not remember the specific number of episodes he did, and the exact number was not really important in this letter to his parents or in this context.
Through the years, most of these episodes were not attributed to Bannon, but to Berry Kroeger or Ted Osborne. It was assumed that Ted Osborne was strictly a New York actor, and that this attribution was inaccurate just for that reason. The same was true for Kroeger, but newspapers indicate he was going to Hollywood for a screen test and other opportunities around this time, so Kroeger, also a friend of Kearns, was available for the role. Most of the information we have indicates that he did not take the Man in Black role at this time, despite being on the west coast. So the main objection to the Kroeger role turns out not to be true, but there's no indication he did it.
Bannon is hard to identify in the role because he is trying to act, for want of a better term, "Man in Black-ish" -- so many of the folks I have had listen to the programs who are radio voice experts know it is not Kearns, but suspect it is Bannon, but can't say "yeah, that's Bannon's voice" because Bannon is not speaking naturally.
The question is did Bannon do all 10? That's still up in the air -- we'll take his word for it that he did six... and that he probably did 10... but where is the certainty?
There isn't -- no copies of scripts with cast assignments exist for this particular era. We have early scripts that were used in prepared for production, but none that were brought into the studio.
And now this became a new wrinkle the other day...
If Kearns was not on Suspense during his recovery, then why is he performing in Lights Out in August? Why didn't he just return to Suspense? He is in both circulating Lights Out episodes from August 1948 (Murder Castle, Sub-basement), though not in the show credits. It's obvious it's him in these episodes, with extended speaking parts.
When Kearns was injured and needed to recover, did Suspense hire Bannon for a specific number of episodes rather than on a week-to-week freelance basis? That would explain Kearns' absence even though he would have been available. They didn't need two Men in Black.
For right now, until some other information surfaces, it seems that Bannon did Suspense for 10 weeks, but now there's a new mystery about why Kearns did not return sooner when it was clear that he was able to resume acting.
This was a strange time for Suspense, too, as Spier had a heart attack and missed three weeks while Kearns was out.
My experiences in researching Suspense continues to be like an onion... you peel a layer, and the onion still seems to stay the very same size!
THANKS for your help!