The Suspense Project: The first Roma Wines broadcast "The Black Curtain" with Cary Grant

Joe Webb

Today's Suspense is the first under Roma Wines sponsorship, with other "firsts," too. Suspense was finally in the big time, with new and recognizable tag lines for branding, and one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Cary Grant, to usher the new era in. The broadcasts have a richer and lusher feel, and you can get a heightened sense of excitement about them.
Sponsors wanted prime time slots in their biggest markets. Normally, this would mean two live performances on the same night for East and Central time zones, and then another for Mountain and Pacific. Because the Roma sponsorship was finalized after the Fall 1943 season started, a different strategy was needed. CBS Pacific had already committed a Thursday slot to another series. It was decided to have the East and Central on Thursdays and the Mountain and Pacific on Mondays until the situation could be resolved.
This was the first time we hear both tags “A tale well calculated to keep you in … Suspense!” and “radio's outstanding theater of thrills.” And it’s the first time at the Suspense microphone for Cary Grant.
Grant, like Peter Lorre, has such a distinctive voice that casting around him for radio drama was easier than for other lead actors. Grant is also a superb radio performer as well as having the star power Suspense wanted for its first sponsored episode. He is excellent here.
This is likely the East Coast broadcast. Only one of the two broadcasts has survived.