Googling Wyllis Cooper

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Posted May 08, 2007 - 9:00 PM:

Here is a new batch of Cooper clippings. Some of these are incomplete and undated fragments I found while looking up Cooper on Google Book Search ( ). That particular search engine sometimes provides only part of the text from a book or journal, either a "limited preview" (of pages) or a "snippet view" (of sentences). Very frustrating, but I guess something is better than nothing.

[From "The Story Behind Empire Builders," an article (circa April 1930) in _The Great Northern Goat_, a magazine published by the Great Northern Railway's traffic department.]

... Some of the writers outside of the Great Northern organization, who have prepared continuities for Empire Builders programs, are introduced on these pages. Most of these have spent many years in the territories which were the locales of the programs they wrote, while the others made special trips into the Northwest to acquire the necessary local atmosphere.

Ben Hur Lampman, a recognized nature story author and editorial writer for the Portland Oregonian, was the author of the "Coming of the White Man," a tale of Portland [December 16, 1929] and "Steelhead Fishing," an Oregon nature story [January 1930].

W. O. Cooper, a member of the staff of the McJunkin Advertising Company, who handle the Great Northern's national advertising, prepared Thriller Films Glacier Park story [February 24, 1930], the Armistice Day story [November 11, 1929]] and the St. Patrick's Day program [presumably March 17, 1930].

Ruby Bailey Harlowe, a nationally known author of Seattle, Washington, wrote the program that marked the first anniversary of the Cascade Tunnel [January 13, 1930].

Walter Dickson, a fiction writer and author of numerous sketches for KOMO in Seattle, compiled the Denny Hill program and the Oriental romance which was broadcast March 10.

George Redmond, continuity editor of the Chicago studios of NBC, is the author of several of the programs, among them being "Rising Wolf," a story of Glacier Park and the Wenatchee apple program.

H. S. Bokhof, a member of the McJunkin staff, is the author of a musical comedy—burlesque—historical program, featuring the first run of the Wm. Crooks [March 3, 1930] and Minnesota's lakes, which will be broadcast May 5.

Alice Elinor, on the staff of the Hearst papers on the Pacific Coast, wrote the Empire Builder travel story which will be broadcast April 25. ...

[Meanwhile, at -- you can read the complete January 1931 Goat which features a detailed, illustrated article about the Empire Builders series written in the style of a radio script. It reads suspiciously like something Cooper himself might have written or contributed to and includes a small photo (the earliest one I've seen) of W. O. Cooper and his spiffy haircut.]

[From Paul K. Damai's Short Circuits radio column in the November 11, 1933 Hammond (IN) Times. Damai discusses a short-lived 15-minute-long daily show for which Cooper apparently wrote the scripts.]

... WMAQ these nites at 6.15 have an innovation called Fifty-Fifty. Lines are printed in the paper which you read as part of the dialogue. The other characters say theirs from the studio. Everyone, they say, wants to be an actor, and this is supposed to be the golden chance and right in your own home, too. We tried it once and the stuff wasn't so hot but if you have an audience it might be better. We just followed the lines mentally and alone.

But what we wanted to point out in connection with Fifty-Fifty is our own adaptation of the game. Supply your own lines that are missing in the paper. At a party it affords endless fun by taking turns filling in the lines to make a logical (?) story. The story we made out of it one night could not be put in print, or we're afraid, offered on the air! ...

[Now, which Chicago newspaper was printing the daily dialogue? And how are you, pal?]

[From a circa 1941 issue of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company's _Bell Telephone Magazine_]

... A broadcast from the New York Information Center was arranged by the Columbia Broadcasting System during which Captain Wyllis Cooper, Military Commentator for CBS, said:

"This is essentially the same warning and interception system that the British have used in interdicting large sections of their island to enemy bombers. The systems were developed independently and we are adapting British methods to our own use, while we pass on to them whatever we have discovered that they don't already know.

"The difference between our system and the British is this: England has high-quality telephone service, but there are relatively fewer telephones. That means that there are blank spaces that aren't covered by observers.

"That's not the case with us—we can have more observers because we have the finest telephone service and equipment in the world, all concentrated under one company, a company that has been so enthusiastically helpful in cooperating with the Army that it can be said with assurance that it couldn't have been done without the telephone company. They have developed special equipment; their engineers have worked with the Army over long periods; they have designed and built information centers and lent their experts to teach people how to run them; they have done, are doing, a magnificent job. ..."

[Well, it was a pretty good commentary until it turned into a commercial for the phone company.]

[Cooper's entry in the 1941 _Who's Who in America_. It includes a line about the number of scripts Cooper had written to date that I don't remember reading elsewhere.]

COOPER, Wyllis ..., Radio writer; b. Pekin, Ill., Jan. 26, 1899, s. Charles E. and Margaret L. (Oswald) C.; grad. Pekin High Sch., 1916; m. Emily Beveridge, Sept. 14, 1929. Advertising writer, 1919-29; radio writer and dir. since 1929; also motion picture writer, 1936-39; continuity editor Columbia Broadcasting System, Central Div., 1930-32, Nat. Broadcasting Co., Central Div., 1933-36. [sic] Originated radio dramatic series "Lights Out," 1933, [sic] and wrote and directed it to 1936; also author of "Empire Builders," 1929-30, [sic] "Immortal Dramas," 1934 [sic], "Hollywood Hotel," 1938-39 [sic]; has written about 4500 radio plays ("about 200 or 250 of these have really been pretty good," he says); now writing a series "Good Neighbors" for the S. Am. broadcast of Nat. Broadcasting Co. Served as sergt. U.S. Cav., on Mexican border, 1916; in infantry and Signal Corps, 1917-19 (overseas, 1918-1919; in 4 major offensives; wounded once); capt. 131st Inf., Ill. Nat. Guard, 1923-27; capt., Cav. Reserve, 1928-33. Democrat. Mason. Home: 242 E. 72d St., New York, NY References: TM [Time Magazine], June 2, 1941. p. 62; Variety Radio Directory, 1940.

[First part of a 1941 article in something called _Brazil_, presumably published by the American-Brazilian Association]


"Good Neighbors," the National Broadcasting Program, Dramatizes Brazil and other Latin American Nations for the Radio Network Audience of the United States.

EVERY Thursday night the coast-to-coast NBC Red Network dramatizes the historical background and the present progress of a Latin American republic to the radio millions of the United States. "Good Neighbors" is a program dedicated to the Good Neighbor Policy and Inter-American understanding.

The sixth "Good Neighbors" program, June 26, was devoted to Brazil. The script was written by Wyllis Cooper. Charles Schenck staged the production. Dr. Frank Black, who has collected a library of Latin American music for the series, was music director. "Good Neighbors" is under the personal supervision of Sidney Strotz, NBC Vice President in Charge of Programs, and of John Royal, Vice President in Charge of the International Division.

Musical theme of the program was the NBC Concert Orchestra's interpretation of Carlos Gomes' "O Guarany." A feature of the program was the dramatic device of cutting in voices with pithy facts about Brazil:

VOICES: I know a lot about Brazil.

ANNOUNCER (MILTON CROSS): What? Who are you?

VOICES: I'm Everybody.

CROSS: Oh, you are, eh? Well, what do you know about Brazil?

VOICES: I know that Brazil's the largest country in South America.

VOICE 1: Yes, but Everybody doesn't know that Brazil's the largest country in all the Americas, and the sixth largest in the world.

CROSS: And what else does everybody know about Brazil?

VOICES: Coffee comes from Brazil.

VOICE 2: But Everybody doesn't know that diamonds come from Brazil--and rubber and cotton and cocoa and wax and hardwoods.

VOICES: Rio de Janeiro is the principal city of Brazil.

VOICE 3: But Everybody doesn't know that there are four communities in Brazil called Philadelphia; six named New York; 28 Californias; one Washington -- yes, and a Brooklyn!

VOICES: The Amazon River is the largest river in the world.

VOICE 4: Does Everybody know that the mouth of the Amazon is 180 miles wide? And that transatlantic ships navigate over 1000 miles up the Amazon— far beyond the city of Manaos?

CROSS: I guess Everybody doesn't know all there is to know about Brazil.

Romantic Dramatizations

Narrators told of Vincente Yanez Pinzon, one of the companions of Columbus, credited with first seeing the (Continued on page 24) ...

[Photo caption 1: "GOOD NEIGHBORS" CREATIVE STAFF -- Left, Charles Schenck, who directs production of the program; Center, Dr. Frank Black, director of the NBC Concert Orchestra -- and Right, Wyllis Cooper, who writes the scripts.]

[Photo caption 2: NBC STUDIO from which "Good Neighbors" is broadcast to millions of listeners in the United States.]

[From a column in _Film News_ by Educational Film Library Association, probably dated circa 1944 or '45.]


_It's All Yours_, a two-reeler for Pocket Books, Inc. on the value of reading, for distribution among high school groups. The production was supervised by Wyllis Cooper of Compton Advertising, Inc, and directed by Howard Styles of Willard Pictures.

[From circa "the early 1950s," here is part of a piece in a journal called _The Canadian Forum_ which quotes from a journal called _The Wisconsin Idea_.]

... [S]omeone sent me a copy of _The Wisconsin Idea_, a magazine of the University of Wisconsin. In the course of an article on the University's own radio station, the magazine has many nice things to say about the CBC, including: "... a truly mature medium of expression," "... a truly artistic national radio," and two paragraphs which I will quote in full:

"It is just this tenacity not to abandon cultural standards that has driven Canadians to develop their radio in terms of true artistry, directly in the teeth of American overtures. This singleness of purpose has produced radio playwrights who have outwritten America's best. Only people like Norman Corwin, an extremely agile propagandist; Wyllis Cooper, a creatively original pioneer; Jim Mosher, [sic] the "Dragnet" scripter; certain poets on an occasional fling; and tape-script men, can compare with Canada's top writers. This situation does not exist simply because the Canadians have something to say and Americans have not.

"The situation exists because Canadian writers get a chance to say things--American authors do not. It simmers down to an essential difference--which creates an essential chasm between American and Canadian radio--the CBC has guts."

That this has been true in the past is unquestionable; that those guts are at present turning to water seems just as unquestionable. ...

[From _The Television Program: Its Direction and Production_ by Edward Stasheff and Rudy Bretz. This is the updated 1962 edition of a book which seems to have been first published in the '50s.]

... In discussing the various methods of directing, a word should be said about a technique developed many years ago at CBS by Wyllis Cooper and now in very common use. Under this system, the director runs all his rehearsals from the studio floor instead of the control room. With only one monitor before him on which he can see the program line, he places himself in a strategic location, almost among the cameras, and works out his camera shots from there. Switching instructions are given to the T.D. [technical director] in the control room; the audio engineer is also on headphones; and the assistant director is usually in the control room to keep his timing records and production notes on the script. It is only when the program goes into the first complete run-through that the director goes into the control room. This has the very real advantage of allowing the director to work very intimately with the cameramen as well as the actors; their every problem is immediately evident to him, and he always keeps a clear picture in his mind of where the cameras are positioned. ...
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Posted Jul 27, 2007 - 11:13 PM:

More articles and items about our good friend Wyllis Cooper. Nothing about "Quiet, Please" but a 1950 TV column describes a couple of QP-like episodes of Cooper's "Stage 13" series.

[January 11, 1930 The (Butte) Montana Standard]


Great Northern Publicity Director Announces Program for Feb. 10.

A tense melodrama with the action revolving around the mines of Butte, with the popular character of the "Old-Timer" taking a prominent part in the program, will be given national prominence over the National Broadcasting company's network on the evening of February 10, W. O. Cooper, publicity director for the Great Northern, announced at the New Hotel Finlen last night.

The program, which will be one of the series of the Empire Builders' programs, which have been presented on each Monday evening during the winter, Mr. Cooper said he will truly represent Butte, its people and its major industry. Mr. Cooper will remain in Butte for several days gathering material for the story and will, during his stay, make a personal trip through some of Butte's mines to secure local color for his preparation of the drama on his return to St. Paul.

[February 21, 1932 San Antonio Light]

Foreign Legion Drama Realistic

Every attempt possible is being made to assure the authenticity of the "Lost Legion" dramatic sketches, presented from Chicago over a CBS network every Sunday evening. W. O. Cooper, the writer of the scripts is being provided with music and source material by the New York office of the Foreign Legion veterans' society in this country—Les Anciens de la Legion Estrangere. Cooper himself takes the role of Mendoza, the Spaniard, in the series, and his fellow actors are Vinton Haworth, Ray Appleby, Jack Daly and Don Ameche of Columbia's dramatic staff in Chicago. Arabia is the locale of the sketches.

[November 11, 1941 San Antonio Express]

... Wyllis Cooper, rotund and prolific radio writer, is the scripter of the "Story of Bess Johnson" . . . The new assignment has resulted in a reunion for three of the principals of NBC's old hair-raising series, "Lights Out" . . . Cooper wrote them, Bess Johnson was starred in them and Basil Loughrane, who directs "The Story of Bess Johnson," got his first radio start there ...

[December 28, 1941 San Antonio Light]

... "The Spirit of '42" offers another program devoted to branches of the army, navy and marine corps (KTSA-1 p. m.). Rush Hughes, son of Rupert Hughes, the writer, handles the spot broadcasts, with Wyllis Cooper as narrator and script writer. ...

1:00p.m.—"SPIRIT OF '42" Description of the activities at another United States training center. ...

[November 15, 1942 Kansas City Star]

"The Army Hour" Brings the War Front to Radio Listeners

In Order to Present the Sunday Afternoon Programs an Organization That Literally Extends Around the Globe Has Been Provided by N. B. C. and the War Department.

SHORTLY after Pearl Harbor the United States army took full advantage of a new weapon offered by N. B. C. and affiliate stations—the hour-long Sunday program, "The Army Hour," which was immediately commissioned by Secretary of War Stimson as "a military operation."

Now that military operation has completed a successful six months' campaign, and will have new fields to conquer as Uncle Sam's army expands across the face of the globe. The men behind "The Army Hour"—Author Wyllis Cooper, his assistant, Donald Briggs, and Arthur Feldman—look back at six months of prodigious effort that are not without achievement.

Their accomplishments are well known to American listeners who enjoy the results of their efforts each Sunday at 2:30 o'clock. The cold figures make an equally impressive record. The half-year period aired 150 pick-ups. Of that number about fifty were broadcasts scattered across the United States, from training schools, and factories in New England to airports in California.

Overseas "The Army Hour" traveled even more widely. Close to 100 foreign broadcasts brought messages from Chungking, London, Panama, Puerto Rico, Montreal, the Dover Cliffs, Curacao and innumerable others.

"The Army Hour" sets an unequaled record, too, in presenting celebrities. More than seventy high-ranking officers appeared on the program, and half that number were generals. Five civilian celebrities have been heard, among them Secretary of War Stimson.

Demonstrate 30 War Weapons.

In demonstrating the new tools of war, "The Army Hour" has broadcast the sound of thirty or more weapons—"weapon" meaning anything used by the army, from a pistol to a dozen bombers. Rifles, machine guns, pursuit planes, anti-tank guns, bombers, jeeps and flame throwers have been on the air.

To accomplish so much so soon "The Army Hour" developed an organization that literally extends around the globe. First, the worldwide facilities of N. B. C. are at its beck and call. Announcers, actors, producers, engineers, musicians, singers and foreign correspondents. In the way of equipment the network provides everything needed, from a microphone to an international short-wave hookup. The material for the broadcasts comes from the army. If the program wants a flight of P-38's in action, for instance, the army will provide them.

But radio broadcasts don't "just happen." They have to be arranged and integrated, and it's work. In the six months of activity close to 1,500 long-distance calls have been made, and an equal number of teletype messages. That's not counting preliminary letters, and overseas conversations by short wave. And it all adds up to a bill you wouldn't care to pay.

The vast scope of the program's operations in itself sets a noteworthy record. To date, only three pickups have failed to come through. Two of these failures were caused by last-minute reception trouble. The third pickup fizzled out when a foreign station accidentally began broadcasting on the frequency a minute before the broadcast.

A "Mike" Goes to War.

Considering the number of men and machines used by "The Army Hour," there has been remarkably little trouble in the field. The only casualty in twenty-six broadcasts was a soldier in a mock attack who was knocked out when he was hit on the head by a parabolic mike. He recovered, however, and returned to the attack. Otherwise "The Army Hour" hasn't lost a man.

Despite the practically unlimited co-operation extended "The Army Hour," the program works under full wartime restrictions. For instance, production men can only pray that an unexpected "alert" at a West coast airport doesn't send planes and program vanishing into thin air.

Censorship Is Observed.

Then, too, usual censorship precautions must be constantly observed. One time an announcer at an airport had to ad lib for twenty minutes when a flight of planes was lost in fog. Weather information, you see, is not permitted on the air.

Despite the fact that "The Army Hour's" six months may feel like six years to the men behind the program, they enjoy their work, and are proud of the job they are doing.

"So far," says Author Wyllis Cooper, "we've been very lucky. Everything has gone pretty well." But Cooper's not resting on any laurels right now. His headache is just starting. When winter weather sets in, troubles will be multiplied a thousandfold. But "The Army Hour," like the men it's about, will carry on.

[April 5, 1943 Time Magazine]

The Army Hour

Ain't it pretty, sir?

That's not precisely the word for it, but it's certainly going to be useful.

Yes, sir. Take some Jap's buck teeth out right by the roots.

If this bit of shoptalk between a Fort Bliss cavalryman and his commanding officer made any listener's stomach twitch last week, that was exactly what the U.S. Army wanted.

The plain-spoken colloquy turned up on The Army Hour (NBC, Sun., 3:30-4:30 p.m.). The "pretty" weapon was a mean-looking steel blade about eight inches long, forged out of the fast disappearing horse shoes of the cavalry. Most U.S. cavalry men have these gougers. They are handy for infighting.

Plain facts like this are one good reason why more than 3,000,000 U.S. radio homes tune in The Army Hour on Sunday afternoons. The show has the authority of a headquarters communique. It ignores hokum, heroics, gags. One year old this week, it has given the home front a pretty good idea of how the Army has been put together, how it uses its matériel.

The visit to the 1st Cavalry Division was full of the sound & fury of horse dismounted and mechanized cavalry training.

Listeners heard the voices of the cavalry's rifles, machine guns, mortars, pack howitzers (jackass batteries) peppering a prepared position, the roar of flame throwers as the outfit took over a village named Little Tokyo. The accompanying explanation of cavalry's role in modern warfare was succinct and pointed. The all-Army cast was first-rate.

Colossal Cast.

The Army Hour's cast of characters comes close to fitting Hollywood's never-attained definition of colossal. Only the Army could supply it. Ranging around the world on almost every show the program has presented scores of personages and plain people, from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek through United Nations generals to fighting men in the ranks. Colonel Warren J. Clear, of General MacArthur's staff, wept at the microphone when he told the firsthand story of the fighting on Bataan. Profane soldier-talk often sneaks into the prepared script. Because the Axis would like very much to know that General Sir Archibald Wavell, for instance, would be on the air from a certain place at the broadcast time, audiences never learn the show's personnel until it is on the air.

The Army Hour is a skillful blend of Army and NBC talent. The Army provides the cast and the military props. NBC pays the costs ($3,500 a week) and supplies the broadcast facilities. A staff of seasoned radiomen (Writer-Producer-Director Wyllis Cooper, Studio Director Eddie Dunham, Liaison Man Captain Ed Byron) put the show together. The man who conceived it is Lieut. Colonel Edward M. Kirby, chief of the radio branch of the War Department's Bureau of Public Relations.

[July 6, 1950 Chester (PA) Times]

TV Notes


Re-viewing--The summer changeover period has already begun to take its toll of some of television's better shows. One of the more recent to bid farewell is CBS-TV's "Stage 13" (Wed. 9.30 p. m.) Following a long stint of striking terror into the hearts of radio audiences on "Lights Out," Producer-director Wyllis Cooper has been performing the same service for television and with intensified results. Based on stories from the realm of the supernatural and peopled, I use the word very loosely, by witches, wraiths, vampires and sundry equally attractive characters, "Stage 13" takes the viewer through varied and nightmarish situations. On one recent show, the story centered around a young couple making a visit to the old Druid ruins at Stonehenge. Knowing how Mr. Cooper operates, this naive young pair still chose to spend the night at a nearby inn on, of all times, superstition-ridden Midsummer's Eve. At the fatal hour of midnight they become entranced and make a trek to, of all places, the sacrificial altar of the Druid high priest. The boy becomes the reincarnation of this knife-happy dignitary and the girl, alas, just another offering to the hungry Druid gods. In another vein, and the word has morbid significance, Mr. Cooper recounts the tale of the young writer who is turning out a book entitled "I Am a Vampire." This would be harmless enough, but the tome proves to be autobiographical. Seems our hero was born some 400 years ago and served as a protege of the father of all good vampires, Dracula. In order to survive through the centuries, [he] has had to partake of the vital fluid of some unfortunate mortal. In turn, his victim joins him in the ranks of the undead. The story ends with our hero victimizing both his unwanted wife and his much-desired secretary, thus foolishly creating an eternal triangle in fact. Mr. Cooper, in a rare kindly moment, passes on the following information concerning these wander werewolves. Their approach will always be heralded by the baying of the neighborhood dogs. Also, identification can be definitely established should your suspect to unable to produce his image in an ordinary mirror. Once the identity is known to you, a wreath of white roses placed on the door will serve to ward off the thirsty intruder. If no roses are available at that crucial moment, you might as well resign yourself to an intrusion as well as a transfusion. For lovers of the supernatural, here is your dish. As for me, well, Mr. Cooper at times can be just a little too convincing. ...

[May 23, 1967 Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette - syndicated "Television Today" column by John Horn]

Reminder of the Golden Age ...

... Cameraman [Johnny] Lincoln, a lineal descendant of President Abraham, said: "I'm a practitioner of a lost art — dramatic television. It's like Inca pot painting. Not many of us are left." He reminisced about the late Wyllis Cooper, an early genius in TV drama, a writer-director-producer who liked continuous action and so used only one camera of three, and Director-Producer Robert Herridge, whom Writer Lee Pogostin had called "Huckleberry Dracula". ...

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Posted Jan 12, 2008 - 12:19 AM:

A new batch of Cooper-related clippings with some interesting biographical info buried here and there.

[December 27, 1935 Wisconsin State Journal]

5,000 Pictures

More than 5,000 pictures of the cast of "Flying Time," NBC's nifty aviation serial, were mailed last week. When you request one, you receive a real souvenir—not a casual mailing by some letter service. Once a week the players assemble at Author Bill Cooper's. Jules Herbuveaux, production manager, assigns the work. Some do addressing, some check lists, others stamp. Each has a job, and everybody has a good time.

[December 29, 1935 Wisconsin State Journal]

Members of the cast of "Flying time," NBC's dramatic serial of aviation, heard daily on WIBA at 5 p. m., are so versatile that most of them could switch avocation into vocation at a moment's notice. Harold Peary, "Tony," is an excellent baritone. Loretta Poynton, "Ruth Morrow," is also a clever designer of feminine apparel, and Ted Maxwell, "Capt. Bob Ross" is a successful writer. The story is written by Bill Cooper, and has attracted a wide audience throught [sic] the Madison area.

[Jan-Jun 1936 Camera: A Practical Magazine for Photographers, volume 52]

Radio Camera Club of Chicago

Here is a club which limits itself to twelve active members. As reported to us: "The reorganized Radio Camera Club of Chicago has been meeting weekly since October 8, 1935, at 401 Melrose Street, Chicago; is unique in the fact that all its members are engaged in radio broadcasting and all are miniature camera workers. Officers are: President, Willis Cooper; Vice-Président, Theodore Sherdeman; Secretary-Treasurer, Rudolph Peterson. Among themselves, weekly competitions are held on chosen subjects, each submitting an 8x10 print. Closed ballots are taken each week, the 3 best prints receive five, three, and one point. When a member has [25?] points to his credit, he wins a prize of photo-material. If a member enters no print, he gets a demerit of 2 points for each offense. What ho! you fellows who only make negatives!

[April 5, 1942 San Antonio Express]

New Army Hour Program Makes Debut Today

Listeners to Be Taken Abroad, Hear Leaders

Trying to tell listeners about the new Army Hour without divulging military secrets is about as easy as pushing a peanut down the street with the end of your nose. The reason is that the series is designed to be a military operation as well as a radio show. It can be told, though, that the program makes its bow today at 2:30 p. m. over NBC-WOAI.

Its debut marks the first time the United States War Department has written and produced a radio program to accomplish a military mission. And no secret is the fact that its author is Wyllis Cooper. Today he is generally accounted the most knowledgeable radio writer in United States Army matters. Though he has made radio history with many a broadcast series, Cooper considers the new Army Hour the most exciting show he's ever had his hand in. This series is 100 per cent authentic, absolutely official. It will serve as a reference point to which the American people can turn each week to find out what their Army is doing here and on far-flung battlefronts.

Listeners will be taken to Army camps in the United States, Ireland, Australia, Hawaii, the Caribbean area and elsewhere. Leaders of all the United Nations are to appear on the series, speaking from the world's farflung battlefronts. Because of the prominence of these men, it won't be possible in many cases to announce their appearance in advance.

"If, for example," says Cooper, "we said that General MacArthur was to broadcast from a certain place at a specific date, we'd be courting bombs from the Japs. Listeners, though, can expect quite a few surprises in the roster of men who will be heard during the series."

[May 24, 1942 The Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Wyllis Cooper Knows Inside of Army Life

Army Hour Producer Is Veteran of First World War

When he writes the scripts for "The Army Hour," heard each Sunday at 3:30 over station WIBA, Wyllis Cooper can draw on his own experiences in the World war. He went overseas early in 1918 with the 131st Infantry, was smacked on the head with a shell fragment on the Somme and was severely gassed at Consenvoye in the Argonne in October, 1918.

After the war, Cooper worked on the Chicago Tribune, did advertising and publicity, ran his own advertising agency in Santa Monica, Calif., then took up radio. Here he did "Empire Builders," "Tales of the Foreign Legion," "Lives at Stake" and "Immortal Dramas." He also thought up, wrote and directed the famous old "Lights Out" series which every week threw half the nation into alleged convulsions of fear.

Cooper did a stint in Hollywood, writing pictures for Shirley Temple, among others, then returned to radio. He wrote the widely acclaimed "Good Neighbors" program.

Cooper was born in Pekin, Ill., Jan. 26, 1899, but all he'll admit about his childhood is that he was the first man to wear a wrist-watch in Peoria, Ill., and the black eyes he garnered fighting over it still linger as painful memories.

Cooper used to spell his first name Willis but a numerologist told his wife it should be spelled Wyllis and he's done so ever since.

[July 12, 1942 The Capital Times (Madison, WI) - Over the Waves column by E. Bowden Curtiss

SALUTES and paeans of praise to this man Wyllis Cooper, producer and director of the "Army Hour," the official program which has become a potent morale builder among the nation's armed forces both at home and abroad, and a splendid vehicle for publicizing the army to the nation.

When we call the program "official" we mean just that. And to the extent that there is a rigid censorship each week as to what particular base outside of the country is going to broadcast.

Cooper, the man responsible for the show, has a background and reputation for such a series that he claims that one of the occupational hazards besetting those of the radio writing business that he is invariably dodging people "who want to tell me stories."


Accounted one of radio's top-flight dramatists. Cooper knows whereof he speaks. He has made air history with many a broadcast series — most notably, perhaps, with "Lights Out" and "Good Neighbors." His current assignment, the War Department-sponsored "Army Hour," he considers the most exciting job he's ever had a hand in.

Today Cooper is rated the radio writer with the most U. S. army savvy. And well this is, because his actual experience with army life has given him a world of fact from which to draw. It all goes back to 1916 when, at 17, he entered the army as a bugler. Later he chased bandits along the Mexican border. He was wounded on the Somme, gassed in the Argonne, served with the army of occupation in Germany, and returned to the U. S. to work with the Intelligence.

Still later came reporting job in Chicago, an advertising spot, and a disastrous session running his own ad agency in Santa Monica, Calif. In 1928 he returned to Chicago to try radio. There, from 1933 [sic] to 1936 Cooper wrote and directed "Lights Out," one of the most popular hair-raising chillers in radio history. It was aired late at night so the kiddies couldn't hear.

And his experience was not limited to radio drama alone. In the movie capital he wrote some Shirley Temple films, the first three Mr. Moto pictures and "The Son of Frankenstein," as well as a host of radio scripts.


Last year Cooper authored NBC's "Good Neighbors" series which aimed to promote inter-American goodwill. The show brought cheers from listeners from coast to coast and from official Washington. It was one of the first studied attempts at familiarizing the people on both sides of the Rio Grande with their respective cultures and institutions. The success of the series was so successful that it was one of the many reasons Cooper was chosen for the important "Army Hour" chore.

To prepare himself for the war department program Cooper spent nine months covering the country as civilian correspondent with all the army maneuvers. He lay in the Carolina mud, rode tanks in Louisiana, tried out every vehicle in the army's list from jeep to bomber.

When he's not in Washington or traveling around the country gathering material for the "Army Hour," Cooper lives in a New York penthouse. Yes, he's married, but the little lady doesn't get to see much of him because this army assignment require most of his time.

Listeners to the 2:30 Sunday afternoon show can readily see the tremendous preparation which goes into each broadcast. Atmospheric difficulties often require a last minute change in program lineup, for many of the broadcasts come by short wave. This necessitates a foolproof schedule in which parts may be easily substituted.

Excerpt from the book _Radio in Wartime_ by Sherman Harvard Dryer (Greenberg, 1942)

... <u>This Is War!</u> was a profitable experiment because it taught radio some important lessons. The trend of subsequent programs has been toward direct and frank statement of content. The language is becoming simple and forthright. When Wyllis Cooper was assigned to write the <u>The Army Hour,</u> he announced that "there'll be no poetry in what we have to say."

[December 11, 1949 San Antonio Light]

Perry Rich In Know-How

WOAI-TV's production manager, Dick Perry, has a rich background in the dramatic arts. ...

Perry's experience in radio has been extensive—as announcer, special events director, and master of ceremonies. At one time, he was radio director for the New York offices of Grant Advertising, inc., and director of the Dr. I.Q. program. He gave up this lucrative employment (he was earning around $14,000 annually) to join the National Broadcasting co. at half this salary because he wanted to work with one of radio's greatest writers, Wyllis Cooper. ...

[Excerpt, apparently from a letter or a column, in a 1950 issue of Televiser]

Wyllis Cooper, director-producer of "Stage 13," CBS on Wednesday nights, is a good man and true at creating horror. But a recent opus of his on werewolves of Hungary, who are the (quote) "Undead" (unquote), was not horrible enough for three guys at the bar where I sometimes hang up. "Let's turn to the wrestlers, who are much more horrible," they said. But the bartender held out for "Stage 13." Turned out he was from Hungary: "And I never miss a chance to find out what's going on in the old country."

[April 13, 1951 The Capital Times (Madison, WI)]

Europeans Tell What They Think of U.S.

WHAT DOES Europe think of America? The answers — chiefly from the Iron Curtain countries—will come to U. S. listeners in a series of three weekly drama-documents which NBS's [sic] "Living — 1951" will present in cooperation with Radio Free Europe starting at 4 p.m. Saturday via WIBA and WIBA-FM.

Wyllis Cooper will write the scripts. Wade Arnold will be the producer, and Edard [sic] King director. Ben Grauer will be narrator.

The answering voices on the series ("What Europe Thinks of America") will not be those of bellowing propaganda Radio Moscow nor those of the satellite nations' the officialdom, but those of the people themselves. The broadcasts will incorporate much actual material supplied to "Living" by Radio Free Europe— material recorded in the organization's headquarters somewhere in Europe and in Displaced Persons camps.

[May 14, 1951 Syracuse Post-Standard]

Basil Rathbone visits Lights Out at 9 p. m. today, WSYR-TV, when he stars in "Dead Man's Coat," an original TV drama by Wyllis Cooper. Sounds like one weird tale coming up. It's about a man who believes that he will become invisible if he puts on a dead man's coat. His belief comes true.

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Posted Mar 22, 2008 - 11:21 AM:

Some stuff that appeared recently on the net:

1. A blog post about QP's "Whence Came You" is here:

2. QP's lost "Meeting at Ticonderoga" episode is briefly alluded to in this post about the ghost story it's based on:

3. The Middlebury Radio Theater, which is basically the radio drama club at a Vermont liberal arts college, performed QP's "The Evening and the Morning" recently:

4. On eBay, a 1935 promotional brochure for Cooper's "Flying Time" series was up for sale:

And here is another batch of items from magazines and newspapers:

[August 10, 1935 Radio Guide]

They Must Be Scared!

Willis Cooper Knows Better Than to Give His Listeners Anything But Hair-Raising, Blood-Curdling Thrills

By Meryl Dell

"LIGHTS OUT, Everybody." A deep voice speaks softly.

Thirteen chimes ... Evil omen.

Wind rising to a crescendo and fading ... ominous--foreboding.


By the time this much of the Lights Out program has gone out over the air, hundreds of thousands of listeners, literally in the four corners of the country, are sitting in the dark, nerves taut in anticipation.

Then the play. Whatever its story, it must be gory, blood-curdling, terrifying. It had better be, or Willis Cooper, creator and author of the program and Western NBC continuity editor, will be deluged with letters calling him "sissy."

Lights Out fans want their horror undiluted. And they get what they want--or else. Which means that by letter, phone and telegram they shout long and loudly until they do get what they want. NBC found that out when the program was taken off the air last Winter.

The program started as a novelty--an experiment. Its immediate, overwhelming success probably will make it Exhibit A for all those who insist that listeners do know what they want from their radios, and will emphatically voice their approval when given an incentive.

About a year and a half ago it occurred to Willis Cooper that a great many listeners might welcome a dramatic show late at night as relief from the constant song of dance bands. Being an avid reader of mystery and horror stories, especially as relaxation after a hard day's work, he decided quite naturally that midnight and ghastly stories would make a grand combination for night-owl listeners.

Whereupon Mr. Cooper spent a few evenings giving himself the jitters by writing tales of horror instead of reading them. That's no gag. With that vivid imagination of his ... you know he has to have one to write those chilling tales ... he sometimes scares himself so he has to stop writing in the middle of a story, and finish it the next day. Especially is this so of ghost stories. Bill is scared to death of ghosts; so much so that often he refuses to listen when one of his ghost stories is being broadcast. "Just can't take it," he admits.

He presented his scripts and suggestions for midnight dramas to NBC's program board. Only mildly interested, the others on the board--Cooper himself is one of them--bowed to their continuity editor's enthusiasm and decided the idea was worth giving a trial.

Without ballyhoo of any kind, Lights Out was presented for the first time over WENR on a Wednesday at midnight early in January, 1934.

The studio personnel, accustomed to all types of programs and therefore generally indifferent to all, started staying up late on Wednesday nights. A few radio editors paid tribute to something new on the air. Letters from listeners started to come in, slowly but surely increasing in number each week. It was evident that Lights Out was a successful experiment. But no one, not even Willis Cooper, imagined that it was a sensation.

THAT amazing revelation came months later. As continuity editor, Bill has a great deal of work to do. He decided he needed for his other work the time it took to write Lights Out.

One night last January the announcer ended the program with a simple announcement: "This is the last of the series of Lights Out programs."

Then came the deluge. From North, East, South and West came letters, phone calls, telegrams, petitions--some signed by as many as 200 people. Radio editors were swamped with protesting mail from their readers. The mailing room was flooded. "Put Lights Out back on the air!" was the cry. It wasn't a plea. It was a demand. "You can't take Lights Out away from us" was the ultimatum laid down by the world's greatest dictator--the public.

Sweet music to an author's ears. Pleasant surprise for the network.

With such acclaim, Cooper didn't care how much extra work he had to do. What writer would?

THREE weeks later, Lights Out was back on WENR each Wednesday night at midnight. And shortly afterward, yielding to the demands of station managers whose listeners were clamoring for Lights Out, the program was scheduled for the entire network. To save Eastern listeners the necessity of staying up all night to hear the program--blase New York had been particularly emphatic in demanding the thriller for its supposedly sated listeners--the program is now being broadcast half an hour earlier, at 12:30 a. m. EDT.

Watching a Lights Out broadcast is an experience in itself. As the opening words are spoken, all studio lights are extinguished. Working in utter darkness excepting the pin point of light that enables the actors to see their scripts, and another in the control room so they can watch the program's producer, everyone becomes tense. A huge studio in almost total darkness and silence is not the most cheerful place to be, even if you know it is just a play going on.

At a sign from the production man, the play starts. You keep reminding yourself that this is only a radio program, try to force yourself to be cool and unconcerned. After all, it's only a play and there are the actors in front of you; but so realistic is the acting--the atmosphere--the sounds--that cold chills insist upon running up and down your spine.

The program is over. Lights go on. With a sigh of relief you silently breathe thanks that no one was around to see you jitter. It seems silly to get so scared watching a broadcast.

BUT it isn't silly. It is a great tribute to those who are responsible for the program--the production man, the actors, the engineer and the sound men. Under the sensitive direction of Ted Sherdeman, the program's producer, the actors actually live the experiences written in Cooper's lines; sound and action are so real that one loses all sense of listening to a program; one seems actually to be witnessing a living drama. So intensely real is the drama that it sends shudders through thousands of people many miles away, and keeps the illusion of reality even in the studio. Audiences are not permitted at Lights Out broadcasts; but unlike many programs, it would spoil no listener's illusions if they were.

Some of Chicago's finest actors and actresses take part in the Lights Out shows. Betty Winkler and Bernardine Flynn share the feminine parts; Arthur Jacobson, Don Briggs, Sidney Ellstrom, Phillip Lord, Ted Maxwell and Butler Manderville are the stock group from which each week's male cast is chosen.

LIGHTS OUT mail is probably the most interesting received by any program. From all walks of life, from nearly every state in the Union, and from half a dozen countries, it pours in every week. So varied is its source, seemingly encompassing every type and class of people, that one is struck by the thought that if there is such a thing as a universal type of entertainment ... a type to please all tastes ... Lights Out is it.

There are at least 200 Lights Out clubs, composed of from four to as many as fifty members. They meet each Wednesday evening to play cards or dance until time for the program's broadcast. Each of these, as well as hundreds of other listeners, sends in a weekly comment. "And woe is me," says Bill, "if the story has been even a little milder than usual. Those bloodthirsty fans pounce on me like some of my characters do their victims. Gives me nightmares."

But don't take that too seriously. Actually, Bill gets a kick out of writing his Lights Out--and a real thrill from those fan letters.

Lights Out may be heard Wednesday over an NBC-WEAF network at 12:30 a. m. EDT (11:30 p. m. EST; 11:30 CDT; 10:30 CST; 9:30 MST; 8:30 PST).

[photo caption 1] To make sure of the chill, actors on this hour do their own stuff as well as speak their lines. From left, Betty Winkler, Don Briggs, Sydney Ellstrom

[photo caption 2] Willis Cooper, who writes Lights Out

[photo caption 3] Ted Sherdeman, producer of the program

[August 31, 1935 Radio Guide review]

Flying Time *** [Excellent]
Heard Thursday, August 16, at 6 p. m. EDT (5 EST; 5 CDT; 4 CST; 3 MST; 2 PST) over an NBC-WEAF network.

Talent: Capt. Robert Ross, the Skipper, played by Ted Maxwell; Harry Blake, by Willard Farnum; Ruth Morrow, by Loretta Poynton; Aunt Sue, by Betty Lou Gerson; Major Arthur Fellowes and Tony, by Harold Peary.

Here is an answer to the Parent-Teachers' Association and women's club prayers for something more educational and less horrifying in children's programs--but, be warned! It still has many thrills!

The idea behind Flying Time, written by Willis Cooper in collaboration with Jules Herbuveaux, is to teach the youngsters the aviation works while clearly sandwiching the whole between a dramatic plot to carry along their avid youthful interest.

In the episode of Thursday, August 15, Skipper Ross had young Ruth brought up in the air on an instruction flight. The cause of a stall and how to come out of it, as well as an explanation of the term, "goosing" the motor and why it is done in landing, were skillfully covered during the episode, which likewise had its dramatic anti-climax.

[July 24, 1941 The Capital Times (Madison, WI)]


Chile, which extends over a greater latitudinal range than any country in the world, will be featured on the "Good Neighbor" broadcast over WMAQ tonight at 8:30. The careers of Bernardo O'Higgins and Jose De San Martin, Chile's national idols, as well as the nation's most important historical events, will be the basis of a dramatization written by Wyllis Cooper and under the direction of Charles Schenck.

[October 8, 1941 San Antonio (TX) Light]

Radio Script Writer "Casualty"

Wyllis Cooper, script writer for CBS' "Spirit of '41" (KTSA—9:15 p. m. Wednesday) was a real casualty in the Louisiana maneuvers of the Second and Third armies.

Cooper, assigned to the Second army, was at radio headquarters in the Winnfield, La., grammar school when Third army raiders planted smoke bombs in the school.

Copper ran out with other correspondents, but with a lung full of smoke. Since he was severely gassed in the World war, he was particularly vulnerable.

He still wheezes when he tries to talk.

[December 22, 1969 Broadcasting magazine letter column]

Disagrees on 'Lights Out' credit

EDITOR: Your Nov. 17 BROADCASTING carries the story of _Lights Out_ and its re-issue as a syndicated radio feature by some Hollywood show peddlers. Your yarn states that Arch Obler [sic] was the show's original creator ...

Lights Out was the brainchild of the late Wyllis Cooper. It came into being in the late [sic] '30's in Chicago. It was performed there by some of the fine radio names that made Chicago the hub of broadcasting in the '30's ... Raymond Johnson, Betty Winkler, Bernadine Flynn, Sid Ellstrom, Art Jacobson to name a few.

As an NBC property _Lights Out_ was ultimately moved to New York. On the death [sic] of Cooper the direction of the show was taken over by Obler [sic] adopted Coop's format and added few if any touches of his own, except name casting.

Robert Brown, Lexington, Ky. (NBC Chicago announcer, 1932-1946; now instructs in broadcast advertising, University of Kentucky).

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Posted Jun 16, 2008 - 9:24 PM:


Info on Cooper's The Spirit of '41 / The Spirit of '42:

[June 1, 1936 Oakland (CA) Tribune]

Radio Writer Wins Contract With Movies

Because Darryl F. Banusk, [sic] 20th Century-Fox production chief, listens to the radio while driving his automobile, Willis Cooper, radio continuity writer, will henceforth be writing motion pictures.

Cooper, for three [sic] years chief continuity writer for the National Broadcasting Company and for several years with the Columbia Broadcasting System, has been signed to an exclusive long term contract by the studio, according to announcement by Zanuck.

Zanuck's attention was attracted to Cooper by two programs in particular, "Flying Time" and "Lights Out," which are now on the air.

[November 20, 1937 San Antonio Light - Excerpt from Louella Parson's syndicated column - At this time, Cooper is supposed to have been writing the brief movie adaptations on "Hollywood Hotel," an hour-long variety show.]

... Harry Sherman's "The Barrier," did a box office leap wherever it has been shown and he is crediting the air preview on "Hollywood Hotel" with its success.

[July 14, 1948 Cumberland (MD) Evening Times]

... Wyllis Cooper, author-producer-director of "Quiet Please" on, MBS Monday nights, has been spending weekends at the New Jersey farm of Ernest Chappell, the show's narrator. But Bill comes back to town more exhausted than when he left.

He gets all tired out just sitting in the shade with a cool drink, watching Chappell rush around watering the stock, hoeing the corn and doing the rest of the chores. No farmer, he. ...

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Posted Apr 14, 2009 - 8:46 PM:

Here's the latest batch of Cooper-related articles:

[December 5, 1942 Tyndall Target, Vol. 1, No. 45, Army Forces Gunnery School, Tyndall Field, Fla.]


Lt. Jesse N. Bigby, Tyndall's acting P.R.O., received a highly complimentary letter this week from Mr. Wyllis Cooper, "Army Hour" radio show Director, for the Field's part in the November 22nd edition of that program.

Mr. Cooper wrote, "...The script was swell and the whole pickup was one of the best we have ever had on the show. Everyone here in Washington certainly appreciates your wonderful cooperation and help. You and your staff deserve a lot of credit for the success of Sunday's program..."

Pvt. Ted Meltzer, newest addition to the P.R.O. staff and Cpl. Bob Paquin deserve quite a bit of praise for their work on the script, which, incidentally, dramatized the part that Tyndall's crash boats play in rescuing plane accident victims in the waters surrounding this area.

[May 1, 1943 The Billboard]


Web Sets Up Program Nursing Unit Under Wyllis Cooper To Develop Ideas, Review Shows

NEW YORK, April 24.--Talent seems headed for a better shake at NBC as a result of the creation this week of a Program Development Division to ride herd on all phases of talent usage. Under the guidance of Wyllis Cooper, radio and screen writer and producer, the PDD "will be concerned with the development and organization of new programs, new ideas, new talent, as well as the constant review of programs already on the air."

In the past any one of four or five NBC execs received and considered program ideas and new talent. And it was not unusual for one of them to insist on airing someone or some idea that the others had nixed. All of which was not particularly helpful to the artist, writer or producer involved.

In addition the same situation existed in NBC Chicago and Hollywood. Consequently talent never knew whether it was coming or going, , how it was doing, and whom to heed in the advice and direction department. For which reason NBC's record has not been up to snuff insofar as finding and building new series and ideas are concerned. For a time the late NBC Artist Bureau handled this function, but never on an exclusive basis.

Under the new PDD set-up Wyllis Cooper will be in sole charge of creating, co-ordinating and developing programs of all types for the entire network as well as well as finding and keeping tabs on new talent and ideas, dealing with, independent program producers and working with the net's sales department. For the time being, PDD will work out of New York, with offices in Chicago and Hollywood in view after the plan gets into swing and experience has had opportunity to nail weak spots.

Cooper, a short, rotund gent, in appearance not unlike Alfred Hitchcock, has been in radio for 15 years, less two and a half years he spent writing Mr. Moto and other thrillers for films. In radio he has written everything from musicals to strips to dramas. His credits include Empire Builders, Hollywood Hotel, Immortal Dramas and Lights Out. For the past year he has been writer-producer of The Army Hour and before that did Spirit of '42 for CBS.

"He stacks up," said one indie producer, "as a smart gent for the job for, in addition to his savvy, he has worked in the past with C. L. Menser, the NBC v.-p. in charge of programs. They know each other and will work together, which should make it easier for everyone concerned."

For the nonce, Cooper's staff will consist of Tom Bennett, NBC staff composer, who will concentrate on musical talent, and Lester O'Keefe, head of the NBC production department, who will scout the dramatic field. Cooper himself figures the job as no cinch but thinks it can be made to work out; meantime he is retaining his staff small to keep operations simple.

For NBC the creation of PDD figures to yield one immediate asset, namely, more economic operation, since department heads will henceforth not waste time listening to new people and ideas.

[May 22, 1943 The Billboard]


Supreme Court Nix of Chain Hold on Stations Paves Way For Emphasis on Sustainers


NEW YORK, May 15.--The Supreme Court's upholding (Monday) of the Federal Communication Commission's authority to regulate the networks in "the public interest" may prove to be the biggest break for talent since the formation of the American Federation of Radio Artists. Talent is not mentioned in the decision nor was talent ever an issue. But under the tribunal's ruling the nets must adhere to the FCC regulations, which boil down to one major point, namely, that the chains can no longer tie up an affiliate on an exclusive contract.

Thus any station is theoretically open to any network, is no longer limited exclusively to airing the commercials of the chain with which it is affiliated. ...

This also means that the networks can no longer dangle the big-name commercial programs before stations as bait for their agreeing to affiliate and keeping them in line once they do sign up. For these shows, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, etc., are ad-agency produced; and under the new rules any advertiser can deal thru any network, or even on his own, to line up a string of stations. ...

... so the networks with the best sustainers will have an edge in talking turkey with their affiliates.

This is where the performers get a break. The nets will have to turn to big-time production efforts (in fact this is the reason behind NBC's inauguration of a program development division under Wyllis Cooper) or become glorified station reps. With emphasis on production will come a better break for talent, better vehicles, money and treatment. ...

[September 11, 1943 The Billboard]

... NBC has stopped calling its 20 salaried directors production men. They are now known as production-directors. Weekly pay checks vary from $75 to $100, but the boys are encouraged to take on commercial programs. Wyllis Cooper, director of the net's program development, is sure that the producer-director is coming into his own. He is of vital importance. Script, people, the whole show depend on him. He has to know every kind of job.

"Not that NBC directors are on the job to run radio schools," Cooper hastens to add, "but they often have to come close to it." ...

"Talent," remarks Wyllis Cooper, "always pays off. It's sometimes slow, but it pays in the long run."

[October 2, 1943 The Billboard]

... Two shows in NBC works: Prophecies of 1943 directed by Frank Papp, concerned with post-war world and a serial sustainer War Wives, also directed by Papp and scripted by Wyllis Cooper. ...

[March 25, 1944 The Billboard]

... Wyllis Cooper only scheduled to write first four shows of "[Arthur] Hopkins Presents" series. Other writers not assigned yet. ...

[April 29, 1944 The Billboard]

Arthur Hopkins Presents

Reviewed Wednesday (19), 11:30-12:30 p.m. Style--Drama. Sustaining on WEAF (New York) and NBC.

Preem of new drama series ticks off another milestone in progressive co-op between ether drama and stages of Times Square, Arthur Hopkins Presents has headed many a top Stem playbill thru the years. If his subsequent air-productions fulfill the promise of the first, the billing will take on equal ether importance.

Thornton Wilder's legit prize winner, Our Town, made an excellent lead-off. Its narrator construction is a natural for air-transposing, and Wyllis Cooper scripted a thoroly satisfactory listening version. The layout was smart, with intros and announcements cut to a minimum, and the three acts carried thru with bob-tailed musical intermissions. In short, Hopkins stresses the play and keeps it as nearly to the tempo of a stage performance as radio limitations permit. Wynn Wright's direction and and timing kept it all smoothly in that groove.

Hopkins, of course, was particularly fortunate in having several of the original Pulitzer prize cast available. Frank Craven, currently ornamenting Mrs. January and Mr. X at the Belasco, stepped over to tell the folks again about Grovers Corners and, incidentally, to give another marvelous exhibition of underplaying. Helen Carew, also in the company at the Belasco, revived her old role of Mrs. Webb, and Philip Coolidge of the Theater Guild's Jacobowsky and the Colonel troupe, was back as the drunken choirmaster. Evelyn Varden and Thomas W. Ross were on hand also to recreate Mrs. Gibbs and Editor Webb. The Our Town veterans got ample support from other principals less familiar with the script. John Thomas and Mary Patton played the love-sick youngsters commendably in spite of an over-tensioned, whispered soda-counter scene, and Howard Smith gave a sympathetic reading of the homely country doctor. The lesser parts were well cast thruout. The production can be written down as a particularly bang-up radio job.

Orchestra interludes were specially arranged by Tom Bennett to catch the simple New England mood of the play. Ed Herlihy had the announcer's chore. It may be that future Hopkins representations will not lend themselves to ether adaptations as readily as this one. Some of those skedded look like a real job of work. Next session (26) brings Dorothy Gish and Louis Calhern in Redemption, and follow-uppers are Successful Calamity with Philip Merivale, and Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story. One thing is certain, however. If the initial pace is approached, radio will be making a definite contribution to drama.

Bob Francis.

[July 22, 1947 The Billboard]

Lights Out

Reviewed July 16, 1947
E. S. Felton, Adv. Mgr.
Thru the Biow Company
Milton Biow, Account Exec.
Wednesday, 10:30-11 p.m.

Estimated Talent Cost: $4,500; producer, Larry Robertson; director, Bill Lawrence; music director, Leith Stevens; announcer, Ken Niles; writers, Willis Cooper and Paul Pierce; cast, Boris Karloff. ...

Boris Karloff plus the heat plus the characters who put together Lights Out are guaranteed to disrupt any listener's blood chemistry and endocrinology. There's no doubt about it. And for those who like to indulge in this sort of thing, this program fills the bill. It's an expertly done thriller backed by a long successful tradition. Now it's got the sepulchral Karloff in the lead, and if you'll take my advice you won't extinguish those lights--just dim 'em somewhat.

Series, which replaces Henry Morgan for the summer, debuted with a blood-thickening opus about a scientist who thinks he can bring dead people back to life. He's done it with monkeys, you see. But as his assistant reminds him, there's a moral issue involved in such experimentation with humans. The fears of the assistant prove very true, as the scientist finds when he resuscitates his wife who had been killed in an auto accident.

There are a couple of unearthly screams and two murders, for the resuscitated woman gets handy with a scapel [sic] and must be silenced once again. It's all effectively done, and those ghoulish actors led by Karloff, and the writers and directorial talent, deserve kudos.

Plugs for Eversharp were generally fair, altho the closing phrase of the blurb, "push-pull, click click," grows very annoying.

Paul Ackerman.

[June 12, 1948 The Billboard]

For Sale! Here's Mutual's List

NEW YORK, June 5.--The list below shows programs available for sale thru the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS), with the accent being on inexpensive offerings. Not all the programs shown are on the air, but most are. Also shown is the owner of each package involved.

The Falcon - Schubert - $2,750 ...
Casebook of Gregory Hood - Frank Cooper - $2,200 ...
Chicago Theater of the Air - WGN - $17,500 ...
Lionel Hampton Show - Sam Levine - $3,500
Lone Wolf - Lyons Office - $1,750 ...
Mysterious Traveler - WOR - $1,750 ...
Quiet, Please - Ted Lloyd - $1,750
Racket Smashers - Jennings - $900 ...
Superman - Maxwell Prod. - $3,000 (Presently co-op) ...

[August 29, 1948 St. Petersburg Times]

Tomorrow night's "Quiet Please" suspense-series on WTSP at 9:30, will be based on the widely publicized picture of the crying Chinese child, a victim of Japanese aggression. Wyllis Cooper, author of the series, has remembered that picture since published during the war, and has used it as a base for his story "Motive" which deals with a New York City baby whose crying sets a man crazy. Ernest Chappell will be featured, as usual, in the major role.

[June 25, 1949 The Billboard]

Volume One

Reviewed Thursday (16), 9:30-10 p.m. (EDT). Style--psychological drama. Sustaining via the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Cast: Jack Lescoulie as Floyd, Nancy Sheridan as Georgie, as Frank Thomas Jr. as Milty. Sound, William J. McClintock; music, Albert J. Buhrmann; director Alex Segal; writer-producer Wyllis Cooper.

This may be the program television has been waiting for to show those potentialities inherent in video which no other medium can duplicate. Bill Cooper, one of radio's truly imaginative workmen, in taking his first fling at TV, came up with a production concept brilliantly fresh, and one which, as he said in introducing the program, could not be done in any other art form. The result was always fascinating and usually gripping.

Few dramatic video shows ever have attempted the economy of cast and settings which Cooper utilized: Three players and one chair, with a card table brought in only momentarily. A mood of tension and growing terror was unquestionably abetted by the stark set and the use of nearly shrill black and white light and shadow effects. As with most Cooper radio productions (Lights Out, Quiet, Please), the program stressed mood rather than plot.

The Plot

The plot simply dealt with Floyd and Georgie, a couple who had previously gleaned $40,000 in a bank haul in which an elderly man was killed, and had come to a cheap hotel to hole up until the heat was off. The third character was Milty, a bellboy whose character came to take on peculiar significance. When everything began to go wrong for Floyd and Georgie, the thought began to seep thru that this was no ordinary hotel room, but perhaps a waiting room for the ultimate fate they had brought upon themselves; the bellboy took on the sinister overtones of a representative of that fate. The approach and treatment were typical Cooper.

The viewer's screen was treated as the mirror atop a dresser in the hotel room. Much of the action was played directly at the mirror, with the characters realistically performing customary rites before it and supposedly watching the others' reflection in the glass. Thus, Georgie went thru a considerable lipstick operation, while Floyd's mannerism of pulling back his lips and rubbing imaginary matter from his teeth with forefinger while playing directly to the camera captured a real slice of human habit.

The mirror effect was used frequently and tellingly, as when Floyd rumaged [sic] thru the drawers which were supposed to be beneath it, and when, in a fit of nerves, he had broken their only whiskey bottle, he furiously scratched the top of the chest, again just below camera level, with the jagged bottle top. As their nerves tautened and Floyd began to crack up he excitedly charged that he sensed people looking at them thru the mirror, pointing directly at the camera and the viewer. Rubbing of the mirror, apparently directly on the viewing tube, was an additional fillip which carried the effect further.

The Climax

The climax came after a series of psychological torments had been imposed on the two fugitives. The bellboy refused, in turn, to bring them food, cigarettes and matches. Their loot and gun mysteriously disappeared from the suitcase, they were given a week-old newspaper to read, sirens sounded frequently outside, loud Dixieland music blared in from outside, the bellboy walked in and out of a locked door at will and seemed to read their hidden thoughts, and finally, a deck of cards they found and hoped to pass time with turned out to have two cards missing. After Milty handed Floyd the missing gun, without explanation of where it was found, the crazed man hurled it at the "mirror," seeming to splinter it. The remainder of the show was played with crack marks between the viewers and the players.

Finally, when Floyd and Georgie found they could not escape thru the room's only door, the bellboy seemed to open a "door" in the dresser and mirror, and then locked it behind them, closing them from the camera's view and leaving the unfortunate pair to their fate. While these various effects may sound like mere tricks, they took on a very realistic appearance indeed when combined with the sustained and mounting mood of the little drama. Jack Lescoulie and Nancy Sheridan were intensely effective as the criminal duo, while Milty, as portrayed by Frank Thomas Jr., was generally good but sometimes a bit more glib than mysterious. Alex Segal's direction was true and in keeping with Cooper's intentions.

This production, the first of a series of six, set virtually a new standard by which future video dramatic efforts must be judged.

Sam Chase.

[July 2, 1949 The Billboard]

'Volume One' Option Extended by Kudner

NEW YORK, June 25.--The Kudner Agency this week extended the option it had taken on Wyllis Cooper's dramatic series, Volume One. The show, which has showcased two of the six sustainers contracted for by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as a sample series, received considerable critical acclaim.

The agency originally had optioned the suspense airer until Wednesday (2), but this week asked ABC to continue over into next week. An ABC official said this week that should no commercial deal materialize by the end of the series' sixth week, the network might continue the series sustaining.

[July 9, 1949 The Billboard]

"Lights Out" Revived For TV on July 22

NEW YORK, July 2.--Lights Out, one of radio's top psychological shows, will be revived for video starting July 22. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC), which owns the title and many of the scripts, will spot the show Fridays at 9:30 p.m., currently occupied by Lucky Strike. Should Luckies keep the time spot, Lights will shine elsewhere.

Lights was written by Wullis [sic] Cooper and Arch Oboler and helped launch them both on their careers. The web did a few TV versions of the show about two years ago. Cooper now has the click volume one series on WJZ-TV.

[July 30, 1949 The Billboard]

Lights Out

Reviewed Tuesday 9-9:30 p.m. on NC TV network. Style--Drama. Producer Fred Coe; director Kingman Moore; sets, Paul Barnes; music, Billy Nalle. Cast: Phil Arthur, Anita Anton.

The radio Lights Out series, written by Wyllis Cooper originally and later Arch Oboler, holds a rare and hallowed place among psychological air shows. It produced some of the top writing and acting the field has enjoyed. It was continually inventive, setting up an unmatched mood. Above all, it was a program written for one specific medium--radio, one of the rather limited number of which this may be said. Cat Wife and Ugliest Man in the World, for example, could have been offered only on radio, relying almost solely on the listener's imagination. But the only relationship between the AM and TV Lights Out is the similarity in name.

NBC had an admirable idea when it set out to adapt the series to the new medium, but the trouble is that adaptations, in such an instance, aren't sufficient. Generally speaking, this is one of TV's troubles--its program men concentrate on adapting from another medium; what is needed is not appropriating from another branch of of show business, but creating for video.

Imagination Needed

It will take more than a hand dripping blood on the opening title shot, or a filter mike, or mood music to give Lights Out TV value. It will require the same imagination, the same escape from formal and routine stories which characterized Lights in AM, and which Cooper brought so admirably to his recent ABC TV series, Volume One--classics in their own rights as were his Lights stories.

The initial TV offering was a drab and obvious story, bereft of mood and reasonable characters, outlining the attempts of a psychotic wife to commit suicide and making it appear she had been murdered by her husband. The final scene, rather than productive of mood or tension--it attempted to show the wife talking after her death, by using an offscreen voice against a shot of her casket--was almost ludicrous. A competent cast struggled but couldn't surmount the flaccid story or production; an effort hardly worthy of Producer Fred Coe.

Jerry Franken.

[November 25, 1949 The Billboard]

Cooper To Convert CBS's "Escape" to TV Show

Wyllis Cooper's first assignment as an executive producer for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)-TV operation will be to convert "Escape," CBS radio package into a TV property. Cooper will handle some of the writing in addition to producing the series. CBS-TV will probably do a kine of the show first. Cooper was brought over from the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), where he produced, directed and wrote "Volume One" for video.

[March 10, 1950 Long Beach (CA) Independent]

ESCAPE—An old New England legend involving the inability to tell a lie when one hears the "Whapperknocker Song" is the theme for tonight's "Escape" play on KTTV (11) at 8:30. Three Broadway stars, Ralph Riggs, Lee Marvin and Peggy Warner, play the leads.

[July 27, 1950 New York Times]

The radio version of "We, the People," which now is separate from the television program, will introduce a new format tomorrow evening at 8:30 over N.B.C., when it incorporates the documentary-type presentation and late reports on world events. The title of tomorrow's program is "The Face of the Enemy."

[July 29, 1950 The Billboard]

Cooper To Do New "We, the People" Radio Version

Wyllis Cooper has been signed to script and direct the radio version of "We, the People" for Gulf Oil. The program, formerly simulcast and now being done in separate versions for AM and TV, will concentrate more on a documentary approach for radio and will feature one person or idea, rather than a group. Cooper previously was with CBS-TV where his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. Young & Rubicam is the agency.

[August 26, 1950 The Billboard]

We, the People

Reviewed Friday (11), 8:30-9 p.m. EDT. Sponsored by Gulf Oil thru Young & Rubicam, via NBC. Producer-announcer Dan Seymour; director-scripter Wyllis Cooper; music, Oscar Bradley's ork. Cast: Alan Bunce, Eric Dressler, Sid Cassell, Danny Ocko, Marcy Sheridan, Don Briggs and Art Kohl.

After 12 years We, the People has used the Korean war as a reason to revise its radio format and has come up with a timely documentary dramatized program of events in the war. Using material furnished by correspondents covering the conflict, the emphasis is now on timeliness and story rather than a series of odd personalities.

The episode caught told the story of a Korean correspondent's encounter with a vodka-loving MVD (Russian Security Police). Before the story was over Anatoli Schopsin, the Soviet hood, shot a gun into an unarmed crowd of Americans who were in Seoul celebrating the Fourth of July, assassinated a Korean girl who had failed in a spying mission, was sent back to Moscow himself for goofing off on an assignment and, at the end, turned up in New York as chipper as ever.

A stand-out bit of thesping was provided by Eric Dressler in the role of the Russky bloodhound. Also enormously effective was the background of Russian folk music. The only minor gum-ups were the fuzzy climaxes at the shooting scenes.

The Gulf commercials plugged its line of all-purpose lubricants and its gasoline.

Leon Morse.


[April 1952 Dorothy Kilgallen column]

The Lyndon Brook whose voice is heard on the Scotland Yard series "Whitehall 1212" is the son of British film star Clive Brook ...

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Posted Jul 02, 2009 - 3:31 PM:

[February 12, 1933 San Antonio (TX) Light]

... "Tales of the Foreign Legion," which has been heard off and on KTSA, apparently has settled down as a weekly CBS feature at 9:30 p. m. each Sunday. In any event, the initial presentation of the new series will be on KTSA this evening. ...

[September 3, 1933 San Antonio (TX) Express - "Desert Guns" was apparently the NBC version of "Tales of the Foreign Legion."]

... Back to Meknes with the Second March Regiment of the Foreign Legion. Back to Meknes with Achmet Ali, Slattery, Mendoza, John Smith, Tchernov, the Sergeant, and Lieutenant Vibart—the heterogeneous and colorful mob with the legion in Morocco. "Desert Guns," the old tales of the Foreign Legion comes back to WOAI this afternoon at 5:30 o'clock. ...

[December 23, 1934 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle]

On WJZ ... A special Christmas program for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, during which a message to the wounded will be delivered by their National Commander James E. Van Zandt, will be presented on Tuesday at 12 noon. The program also will include a dramatic sketch by Willis Cooper.
_________________________________________ _

[From "The Business of Radio Play-Writing" in a mid-1930s issue of The Improvement Era - Continuity chief Cooper was apparently the person to whom you submitted scripts for NBC's "Grand Hotel."]

... Grand Hotel, Willis Cooper, Nat'l Broadcasting Co., Chicago, 111. "Send for script outline. $50.00 per play immediately after production." ...

[J uly 23, 1935 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle]

... And speaking of radio writing brings up the case of the two lads on the Chicago staff of NBC, who almost simultaneously conceived the idea of a kiddy program dealing with the adventures of a boy in the midst of aviation. But instead of quarreling over who was first, etc., Willis Cooper, continuity editor and Julius Herberveaux, production man, got together and are now collaborating on the series which they call "Flying Time." Both boys have done considerable flying and know the business from the ground up, or from the sky down, depending on how you look at such things.

[J anuary 21, 1939 Box Office magazine - Cooper gets his option renewed at Universal studios after finishing "Son of Frankenstein."]


WILLIS COOPER, writer, given new contract.
_______________________________________ ___

[June 10, 1939 Box Office]

Rowland V. Lee Assigned

Next producer-director assignment at Universal for Rowland V. Lee will be "Friday the Thirteenth," now being scripted by Willis O. Cooper. Boris Karloff will have the top role.

[March 7, 1940 Richfield (NY) Mercury photo caption - Unless this item is in error, it seems Arch Oboler contributed a script to Cooper's "Short Short Story" series.]

[photo caption] Columbia network's new daytime dramatic idea — Campbell's "Short Short Story"—presents a complete play in each 15-minute broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The touch of realism here is a scene from Arch Oboler's "Adults Only," during which CBS listeners heard Rosaline Greene (right) promise to tweak Tommy Donnelly'a nose. When the script calls for nose-tweaking, noses are tweaked. Tommy seems to think it's fun.

[January 20, 1941 Poughkeepsie (NY) Star-Enterprise]

Mike-believe soldiers in the cast of the new NBC-WKIP serial, "You're in the Army Now," are doing their bit for a bunch of real-life doughboys down at Fort Dix, N. J. The actors, heard Monday nights at 9, learned that, through some mixup, members of the 108th infantry on holiday furlough had been called back to camp by collect telegrams, and had to pay their train fare out of their own pockets to get there. Sympathizing heartily with the rookies whom they impersonate on the air, the players together with Author WYLLIS COOPER and Director ALBERT N. WILLIAMS, immediately took up a collection and sent the resultant $15 to the commanding officer at Fort Dix for distribution among the out-of luck recruits.

[M arch 5, 1941 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle - Jo Ranson's RADIO DIAL LOG]

'Lights Out' Author Behind the Mike

Among the lads who wrote the "Lights Out" series was Wyllis Cooper, who is to face a ribbon mike on Mort Lewis' "Behind the Mike" program on Sunday afternoon over WJZ. Cooper said today that he wrote those chill-producers with all lights on because his own scripts scared him. Now he's writing "You're in the Army Now," a more sedate series for less courageous radiolators. But while he was penning "Lights Out" he had every one in a state of jitters. When his ghost stories were particularly good, they were produced with only desk lamps
over the mikes. This not only lent realism at the midnight hour but scared the actors right out of their monogrammed shirts.

Cooper said listeners used to phone and ask NBC to stop the program because it was too scary. When [asked] why they didn't turn it off wouldn't--they were [?]. [?] an unusually ghostly show, the desk sergeant in Chicago's New City station called and wished they'd [?] those ghost stories because he "couldn't get the cops to leave the station house to go out on their beats."

The author revealed he had to write his "Lights Out" at night--he was much too busy during the day acting in the capacity of NBC continuity editor in the windy City studios. His dramas scared him so much that he turned on all the
lights in the house and sat with his back to a wall while working on them. And he was a pushover for practical jokers who cooked up gags to scare him.

Several lads, by the way, have tried writing "Lights Out." There was one fellow, for example, named Arch Oboler, who got his first real break in radio with this series. He didn't do so badly. ...

[Pic of Cooper in the March 7, 1941 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle]


[Adjacent to the above pic was the following column.]

[March 7, 1941 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle - Jo Ranson's RADIO DIAL LOG]

Oboler Will Offer 'Ugliest Man' Again

Arch Oboler's production on "Everyman's Theater" at 9:30 tonight over WEAF is a comedy entitled "Problem Papa", starring young Tommy Cook, a discovery of that very able writer, Joseph Patrick McEvoy. The program will come from Hollywood. It is next Friday's program, however, that we would like to tell you a little more about. Oboler is reviving his magnificent thriller, "The "Ugliest Man in the the World" with Raymond Edward Johnson in the lead.

Next Friday's airing of "The Ugliest Man in the World" means that it will have been heard on the air for the third time with Johnson in the lead--which is certainly something of a rarity in radio. The history of the production is interesting, too. In the Spring of 1939 Oboler wrote the play, which is in the stream-of-consciousness manner. The idea was given to him by Boris Karloff, the great bogey man. Originally intended for the "Lights Out" series which he was then writing and directing, the play proved to be a great deal more artistic than the type of stuff "Lights Out" listeners were in the habit of getting at the stroke of midnight.

The result was Oboler called Johnson in and had him do a phonograph recording of the story which the playwright immediately rushed via plane to New York. At Radio City Oboler played his home-made records for the exacting Lewis H. Titterton, head of the NBC Script Division. It thrilled Titterton so much that he signed Oboler on the spot for a series of original dramas "Arch Oboler's Plays".

Johnson came on from Chicago to play the character he had created when the drama was aired on the network March 25, 1939, for the first time. On July 23 of the same year he repeated it and on March 14 it will be heard for the third time.

[J une 21, 1941 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle - Jo Ranson's RADIO DIAL LOG]

New Defense Series On WABC June 29

The program department over at CBS is about to usher in a new national defease series tagged "The Spirit of '41" in which listeners will learn all about the fighting units of the army and navy. Each week the program will single out one unit of the armed forces and, in dramatic form, trace its history and development. The series starts Sunday, June 29, at 4:30 p.m. and will be directed by Brewster Morgan, with Bill Slocum, CBS special events director, in charge of remote broadcast pickups. Willis Cooper will do the scripts. Opening show will be about the Army Engineer Corps and the on-the-spot broadcast will originate at Fort Belvoir, Va., where a demolition company of engineers will attack and destroy a pillbox. ...

[July 24, 1941 Richfield Springs (NY) Mercury]

... Wyllis Cooper writes "Spirit of '41" for CBS & "Good Neighbors" for N B C ...

[August 19, 1941 Poughkeepsie (NY) New Yorker radio column]

... For would-be radio writers we offer as guest columnist, WYLLIS COOPER, script writer for NBC.

"Of all the occupational hazards that beset the various professions, vocations and handicrafts, I am convinced that those of the radio-writing business are the most appalling.

"The parachute-jumper's 'chute may fail to open, certainly; but that is an incident that usually occurs but once in the 'chutist career. The sawyer may lop off an occasional finger along with the bark of the pine tree he is dismantling; but the loss of the digits is balanced by the fact that now he has fewer places for hangnails. The foundry worker may inadvertently step into a ladleful of molten high-manganese-content steel; but he is rewarded by the realization that his feet are really warm for once in his life. There are no such compensations for the hazards of radio writing.

"Och aye, as my Scots grandmother used to say. Och aye. Let me go to a cocktail party—no, that's not a plea, it's a premise—and somebody introduces a guy named Purfleet, or perhaps it's Crittenden. I mean somebody introduces the guy to me, or vice-versa.

"However it be, the entrepreneur of the introduction has hardly placed a period at the end of his sentence before Purfleet, or Crittenden, or whatever his name is, bugs his eyes out at me and says. 'Say! I got a swell idea for a story, Looky, there's this fellow and he's got a wart on his nose, and . . .'

"I go to my dentist, or rather I used to, before he made me this set of China clippers, and the good doc, whom I love like a brother, pries my mouth open, fills it with some revolting kind of plaster of Paris, and begins. 'I thought up a swell idea for a story,' he says. 'There's a spy, and he gets caught, see . . .'

"Of course, many forms of torture eventually provide their own anodynes. They say the Turk under the bastinado feels nothing after a couple of hundred whacks on the fiat of his dogs. So if enough people tell you stories, you eventually arrive at a sort of Nirvana.

"I have tried other methods of avoiding these people who want to tell me stories. Sometimes when introduced, I say that I am a barber. But people look at my hair, and they say, 'That guy is no barber. Probably he is a radio writer. I will tell him a story.' And there I am again. It seems to me that all my life I have been dodging people who want to tell me stories. I can recognize that gleam in the eye at 40 paces. I will take the unopened parachutes and the tearing saws and the boiling iron myself—and like them to pieces. ...

[January 2, 1942 Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle - Jo Ranson's RADIO DIAL LOG]

... Brewster Morgan, CBS director of defense programs, left yesterday for Maryland, where his Sunday "Spirit of '42," dealing with "Chemical Warfare," originated from Edgewood Arsenal. Morgan's program, penned by Capt. Wyllis Cooper, will show problems of protection against poison gases ahd against incendiary bombs. Airplanes flying over specially built model houses will actually drop live bombs--with a mike placed nearby. Sugar, it is revealed, may play an important part in reducing arson from the air to nothing more than a nuisance . . .

[ July 16, 1943 Ruston (LA) Daily Leader]

Merchant Seaman Training Activities Program Broadcast

A program designed to better acquaint the general public with merchant seamen training activities, shipbuilding, and the heroic sacrifices of the men who man the ships is now being broadcast each Sunday at 5.30 p. m., eastern wartime, through the facilities of the National Broadcasting Company, it was announced today by the War Shipping Administration.

The series will last for several weeks and will be heard transcontinentally over the full network of NBC. Programs in the series will deal with the activities of the recruitment and manning organization and training organizationn of the War Shipping Administration, and the shipbuilding activities of the U. S. Maritime Commission.

The schedule of programs, under the general title of "Men At Sea," will be under the direction of Wyllis Cooper of the National Broadcasting Company, who had charge of the "Army Hour," "Lights Out," "Empire Builders" and other pouplar programs. The N. B. C. orchestra will play special arrangements of music for all the programs.
_______________________________________ ___

[August 15, 1943 Lima (OH) News]

The invincible spirit which sends a sailor right back to sea after a shipwreck is the theme of Stanley Richard's script for the Merchant Marine show, "Men at Sea," on Sunday, WEAF, 6:30 p. m., EWT.

[September 14, 1946 The Billboard]

'Lights Out' Nixing Blamed on Policy

NEW YORK, Sept. 7.--Spokesman at Biow agency this week explained agency's point of view with regard to CBS' recent nixing of the whodunit, Lights Out, which the agency intended to place on the web's Monday, 10:30 p.m. time slot. "There is strong pressure by the major webs," he stated, "to keep such segs off--otherwise their nighttime periods would become filled with whodunits." He futher pointed out that modest cost of mysteries particularly appealed to agencies and spnsors, who thru experience have come to regard such segs as "safe buys" in that they generally turn in medium ratings--whereas the sponsors get "burned" on variety and comedy shows. "Some of the so-called comedy shows turn out to be something different altogether," he pointed out, "and they cost plenty."

Report that Milton Biow, now on the coast would sue CBS for refusing the Lights Out show was denied by Biow attorneys.
______________________________________ ____

[September 21, 1946 The Billboard]

... Only last week, rep of the Biow Agency explained that CBS nixed Lights Out, bought by Biow from Music Corporation of America, for the reason that they did not want to clutter the nighttime hours with horror segs. But the point of view of the agency, and the client--explained the Biow rep--was that horror segs, for a reasonable production cost, assured a medium rating, and were therefore a "safer" investment than expensive comedy or variety shows. ...

[November 30, 1946 The Billboard]

... One P. & G. [Procter & Gamble] ad agency (Compton) recently knocked out its video department following the resignation of Wyllis Cooper, firm's video director. Video department was absorbed by the radio department. Compton execs say the firm at this point is not particularly interested in television. ...

[October 15, 1947 The (Auburn, NY) Citizen Advertiser]


... 8:30—QUIET PLEASE—One of the finest adult programs of its nature ever conceived and produced. Willis Cooper, writer and director.

8:55—BILLY ROSE, PITCHING HORSESHOES — Dynamic Billy Rose brings his humor end keen insight to radio in this daily column-on-the-air. ...

[September 18, 1948 The Billboard]

'Quiet' Lams MBS To Buck Web's 'Shadow'

NEW YORK, Sept. 11. -- Quiet Please, one of the Mutual Broadcasting System's (MBS) top sustaining programs for over a year, will, starting Sunday (19), be in competition with Mutual's top ranking show, The Shadow. On Sunday, Quiet moves from Mutual to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and will air at 5 pm, against the Mutual front- running crime stanza. This is the second MBS show in two weeks to go over to ABC, the latter having grabbed What Makes You Tick? last week and peddled it to Procter & Gamble.

While Quiet will air sustaining over ABC, it's reported that a deal for the television rights is now under way. Info is that ABC has given an option to an advertiser, plan being to have Willis Cooper, writer-producer on the program, film the video shorts in the East. The cast would include Ernie Chappell, who plays the lead in the air show, altho Chappell himself might not actually show in the TV version.

Since its debut, Quiet, a psychological dramatic series, has drawn some of the highest critical praise, both in the trade and daily press, ever given a radio series. In addition, the program also copped an award at the recent sessions of Ohio State University's Radio Institute. The odd part of its transfer to ABC is that Bud Barry, now ABC's program veepee, wanted the show a year ago, but was overruled, according to report, by his predecessor, Adrian Samish.

Ted Lloyd handles the package which sells for $2,000 as a commercial.
_____________________________________ _____

[February 26, 1949 The Billboard]

... Wyllis Cooper will pen an adventure series for Charles Boyer, tentatively titled Man About Town. ...

[June 24, 1951 North Country Catholic Edition of Our Sunday Visitor]

TV And Radio Institute Planned At Fordham Univ.

Columbia Broadcasting System Facilities To Be Used As Classrooms

New York—(NC)— Television and radio studios of the Columbia Broadcasting System will be utilized for classes and CBS staff members will teach during the six weeks of the Fordham University-CBS Summer Institute of Professional Television and Radio, July 5 to August 14, it was announced this week by William A. Coleman, chairman of the University's Radio-Television Division.

... A morning course in Dramatic Scriptwriting for Radio and Television, also to be given on the campus, will include lectures by Richard McDonagh, Script Editor for J. Walter Thompson, Inc.; Wyllis Cooper, noted radio-TV writer-director; and Meave Southgate, television writers' agent and representative.

[O ctober 6, 1951 The Billboard]

Crosby, Serious, Charming, Hit Freedom Trail for Youth Crusade

By Paul Ackerman

"Crusade" is a transcribed show, aimed at in-school children designed to apprise the youngsters of the evils of Communism and of methods to combat them. The sponsoring agency, the Youth Crusade for Freedom, asked school superintendents thruout the country to avail the youngsters of suitable listening facilities and to plan rallies following the broadcast. The agency operates Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, stations which beam broadcasts to folk behind the Iron Curtain. More money is needed for additional broadcast facilities. Listeners are told that 3 cents will purchase one brick for the building of such facilities, $100 purchases a microphone, etc. School classes may contribute to whatever extent they are able.

The choice of the Crosby family to get over message of Democracy is most fortunate. Crosby himself has become a symbol of Americanism, is loved by the general populace. Further, he and the Crosby youngsters make the show an entertaining half-hour--entertaining, that is, while still delivering with impact the program's story.

Gary Talks

The format has Gary Crosby doing most of the talking, pointing out highlights in the lives of school children in Communist-dominated lands. Kids, who, were they given a chance, could be just as happy and free as American youth. Once in a while Bing interposes to bring up a fresh point. An interesting segment of the show is Gary's interview with a lad who escaped from Munich.

The tone is serious yet very informal, and frequently a complete change of pace is secured by Bing, or Bing and one of his children, singing a ditty.

Nobody in the broadcasting field is quite adept as Der Bingel [sic] in establishing a rapid and close accord with a radio audience. He does this on "Crusade," creating an atmosphere of urgency and charm.

RADIO--Reviewed Friday (28), 11-11:30 a.m. EDT. Presented via the National Broadcasting Company in co-operation with the Youth Crusade for Freedom. Cast: Bing Crosby and sons Gary, Dennis, Philip and Lindsay. Producer, Tom Bennett. Script, Wyllis Cooper.
_________________________________________ _

[January 24, 1952 Reno (NV) Evening Gazette]

The new Scotland Yard series WHITEHALL 1212 will dramatize the story of "The King's Housekeeper's Murder" on tonight's show at 8:30. Adapted from the files of the famous British detective corps, the story deals with a housekeeper of an exiled king.

[February 16, 1952 The Billboard]


Public Reaction Cues Axing of "Lights Out"

Admiral Corporation's cancellation of its sponsorship of "Lights Out" on the
National Broadcasting Company Friday (8) was partly because of the heavy load of special events Admiral has scheduled, and partly due to public reaction against crime shows. Admiral execs had been increasingly conscious of public ill will that was coming with the show, along with its creditable ratings.

The decision to cancel came the same day that Chicago's police commissioner, Timothy O'Connor, sounded off against crime shows on TV. O'Connor, who is not a reformer and rarely gives interviews, on Tuesday night watched three network crime shows in a row. Wednesday he called in reporters and said that TV should put the damper on its crime shows because they are going into such detail that youngsters are bound imitate them. O'Connor said he is imposing strict regulations on his own three children as the result of watching the Tuesday night episodes.

Whether O'Connor's pronouncement had anything to do with Admiral's decision wasn't stated but it is the sort of thing that built up to the decision to cancel. Admiral's scheduled special events include the political conventions over the American Broadcasting Company, radio and TV nets, and The Chicago Tribune's Golden Gloves finals and all-star football game, both over Du Mont and Mutual.
_________________________________________ _

[March 17, 1962 Binghamton (NY) Press]

Tom McDermott Four Star exec is huddling with Theodore Bikel as host and sometime star of their projected Lights Out series, being prepared for the '63-'64 season.
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Posted Jan 12, 2010 - 10:21 PM:

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Here's the latest stuff:

[June 21, 1923 excerpts of advertisement in Printers' Ink, v. 123, p. 91]

... THE STAFF ...

W. O. Cooper, Copy Writer ...

This Service Staff is supplemented by over seventy-five assistants making a complete organisation [of] approximately one hundred and twenty-five persons — all devoted to giving Campbell-Ewald clients the benefit of "Advertising Well Directed."

[January 27, 1927 Printers' Ink v. 138]

W. O. Cooper Starts Own Advertising Business

W. O. Cooper, formerly service manager of _Domestic Engineering_, Chicago, has started an advertising business at Santa Monica, Calif., under the name of Cooper Advertising. He was at one time with the Chicago office of the Campbell-Ewald Company and Vanderhoof & Company, also of that city.

[1927 Printers' Ink v. 138]

Appoint Santa Monica Agency

The Kiddie Playground Equipment Company, Venice, Calif., and the Provident System of America, Los Angeles, trust counselor, have appointed Cooper Advertising, Santa Monica, Calif., to direct their advertising accounts.

[1928 Printers' Ink v. 143]

Joins Houston Advertising Service Company

W. O. Cooper has joined the Houston Advertising Service Company, Los Angeles, as an account executive. He formerly was engaged in advertising agency work in Chicago.

[1927 article by Cooper in _American Photography_ (a continuation of _American Amateur Photographer_), Volume 21, edited by Frank Roy Fraprie, pp. 655-657.]


Advertising men are of many tribes. There are salesmen, contact men, space buyers, artists, copywriters, research men, and what have you. Of all the people engaged in advertising as a profession, I have chosen the advertising technician to talk to this time. He is the man who produces the advertisement. Into those honeyed words that lure your nickels from your wallet goes his perspiration — sometimes even a little inspiration. I know. I earn my bread, and sometimes my butter, that way.

Advertising photography, as a business, is not a part of this story. It is the every-day camera shots of the advertising technician on the job, that I propose to deal with. Probably every advertising man has some sort of a camera. Most everyone has. But I'd be willing to wager a dollar or two that not every advertising man looks on his camera as part of his technical equipment. There may be a reason for that. It looks hard. And it's so easy to call in the artist and say do this and do that, and the artist does it, and when the job is done the advertising man tears his hair.

A copywriter, let us say, is assigned a new account. It is his job to get the copy out on that account, and for that copy he is held responsible by the chief, who is a large hairy man with a cast in his eye, and a decided resemblance to Simon Legree. The first thing Brother Copywriter does (theoretically, at least) is to soak up a lot of information on that account so that he can write of it intelligently. He makes a trip to the factory, is introduced to the production manager, and starts on a tour of inspection. Let us say, merely for the purpose of argument, that his account is the Jones Gadget Works. For the next few days that copywriter lives in an atmosphere positively muggy with gadgets. He observes the raw gadgets as they come in the receiving room door. He sees them as skilled operators peel them, remove the outer cuticle, and turn them over to other operators. He gets to dreaming about huge gadgets in his sleep. He goes back to the office after a week of study, all primed to write thrilling advertisements about these superlative gadgets.

For a few days visions of gadgets haunt his every waking hour. He can see them in every conceivable circumstance. He visualizes quantities of advertising material, all about these same gadgets. He goes to work in a frenzy, and when he reaches above his head to snare one of the phantom gadgets that float above him he finds they elude his grasp. Are they double-jointed gadgets? Is there a thingumbob abaft the binnacle?

He can't remember. But no mind. Let us on. He goes on with his writing. Just as he's in the midst of his copy, telling with bated breath about a most important process in the manufacture of gadgets, old man memory slips again. But let us draw a merciful curtain.

Now let us take the copywriter in the next coop. He is a young man of equal ability, but he has a camera. I think we'll make him the hero of our tale. He is assigned to handle the account of the Pobble Manufacturing Company. He packs his grip, seizes his trusty Graflex, and descends on the pobbles. On the way to the factory, he stops in the drug-store and purchases a large quantity of film packs. He is duly introduced to the production manager, and starts on his tour of inspection. He observes a truck-load of pobbles draw up to the receiving platform. In a flash he unlimbers the trusty Graflex, and the truck is perpetuated. He goes on down the lane.

He sees an operator bending over a stack of pobbles. More meat for the Graflex. He doesn't worry about the poor light, for his 4.5 lens will take care of that. If the light is really too bad, he rests the Graflex on a neighboring machine, tells the operator "hold that a second" and proceeds to shoot. He gets the operator's name and promises to send him a print.

He goes through the works, but he doesn't have to remember details. That's what the Graflex is for. His mind is busy with the sales possibilities and the copy possibilities of pobbles, and the Graflex does the dirty work. After the inspection tour is finished, he stops in an at the main office a minute. "Mr. Queek," he says to the president, "will you step out in the yard and let me shoot your picture? I'll send you copies next week. Tell Mr. Jibb and the other executives to come out, too." The executives obligingly step, and our hero Graflexes them all. He bows politely and hies him to his den.

Back again in his office, he dispatches the whole flock of films to the finisher, orders "six of each" and starts to get at his schedules. The next day the prints arrive, duplicates are mailed to all concerned, and with the data fresh in his mind, our boy friend proceeds to write detailed descriptions on the back of each picture. He opens his desk drawer, files them in the folder labeled "Pobbles" and there he is. For him there's no racking of the brain, trying to remember detailed processes. He merely pulls a picture from the drawer, gazes at it a moment, and words of wisdom flow from his pen. In the room next to him low moans indicate the mental perturbation of the camera-less youth. The next day our hero's salary is raised, and the gadget chap is unceremoniously fired.

Seriously, there are so many uses for a camera in the creative divisions of advertising that I don't see how the conscientious advertising man can be without one. He may not be able to afford a lordly Graflex, but there are lots of good Brownies for sale. And in the hands of a competent operator -- but that's been said before by a good many others. You know the rest.

Let us enumerate some of the uses for the advertising man's camera. We have already seen how it can be of immense value in going to work on a new account. Even the complimentary pictures of the executives are useful. When a photograph is wanted, it's wanted in a hurry. And when somebody can produce it in that same hurry, he is saluted by shouts of approbation. Good artists maintain "morgues" or clipping files for ideas. I maintain that a good copywriter or a layout man ought to do the same thing. And his camera can be the source of that morgue.

Again we may suppose that a frenzied artist wants to make a careful drawing of a complicated device. The device is in the office, but to sketch it is out of the question. Our photographic friend may save the day. If there is time he may photograph the article, rush the film or plate to a finisher, specify a quick developing job, a formaldehyde rinse and an eight by ten in a hurry from a wet negative. In the meantime he tells the artist to send out to the drug store for half a pound of hypo and some ferricyanide.

When the enlargement comes in, he tells the artist to draw around the outlines he's got, and then proceeds to work magic, to the round-eyed wonder of the artist and his mates. He quickly hurls a handful of hypo in the the lavatory bowl, mixes in some ferrycyanide until the bowl presents a beautiful yellow hue, and when the artist takes the enlargement off the radiator where he's put it to dry the ink, he tosses it in the yellow solution. In an instant the picture fades. The beautiful black ink lines remain, and he turns the outline drawing over to the artist to finish. The artist buys him a box of cigars, and everybody's happy.

Or if he happens to have a large camera, it's easier still -- provided he can find some place dark enough to develop a sheet of Velox. In this case he inserts a sheet of Velox in a plate holder in the dark, places the holder in the camera, and shoots the photograph on the paper. This necessitates a much longer exposure, but by concentrating the boss' desk lamp and such other electric globes as he can find, it's not so bad. Then he develops the paper and hands it to the artist. The artist places the paper wrong-side-to on a piece of glass, places an electric light beneath it, and proceeds to trace his outlines on the back of the paper, as the electric light shows it through. He finishes it as he likes, pastes down on a bit of cardboard, and again -- there you are!

I can readily picture the horror that comes to the reader who believes in formulas letter for letter. In the processes I've outlined, there is no time for careful measuring, even if there were a graduate to hand, which of course there never is. Results are usually the thing desired; and there's only one way for results in these cases. That's to take the bull by the horns and throw things together strong enough to work, and work quickly.

You'd be surprised, too, how many times a mere snapshot becomes the basis for an illustration in a high-priced advertisement. The retoucher can really do wonders with some sort of photograph to work from; and, at that, every once in a while, the old camera produces a real masterpiece that the retoucher never even has to play with.

The advertising man who is on the job will discover many another way of making his camera justify itself; and the forward-looking advertising agency executive will see that his copy department, as well as his art department, are proud possessors of some kind of camera. He will see that at least one member of each department is trained anyway in rough and ready camera technique to include slambang development and above all manipulation. A tiny darkroom is often a well-paying investment, for there are occasions when the advertising photographer's studio cannot be reached. Then the man on the job ups and saves the day, and all concerned breathe again.

Now just a word or two on equipment. It's customary for all writers on such subjects to air their preferences, so here goes. I use my camera every day in my business. I've a quarter-plate Speed Graphic, a flock of plate-holders, and a film-pack adapter. I make it a point to have a box of Commercial Ortho films, a box of Process films (for line reproductions), and a box of super-speed cut film always in the office. I use film sheaths in my plate holders, and never worry about busted plates. For a quick change, I leap blithely into the little cabinet where the washbowl is ensconced, close the door behind me, and go to it. A pocket flashlight with a wad of red oiled paper from a film package around the end and fastened with a rubber band is my emergency dark-room lamp. There's a lot of advantage in that; you can put the light where you want it, and shut it off in a hurry. Incidentally, I keep a couple of these flashlights in my desk, and when I go on a job I carry them both. To lighten up the shadow side of a subject there's nothing finer. The focusing style is the best, because you can put the light beam exactly where you want it and keep it there.

My camera is equipped with a Kodak Anastigmat f:4.5. With Super-Speed cut film you can do anything. I have a Verito for soft-focus stuff, and here's another trick. When light contrast is bad, I stick the Verito on the camera, stop it down as far as necessary to get sharpness (generally about f:11) and shoot. Somehow or other the Veritor has the faculty of increasing contrasts. That's a lot of help.

I use my Kodak Auto-focus enlarger all the time. I make few contacts prints; you generally want a large picture to work from. But if you haven't the necessary facilities for enlargements, and can use contact prints, here's a daytime trick that can be used to good advantage. Dry the film as much as possible, stick it in a printing frame with a sheet of any good developing out paper. Set it in the sunshine, if any, and let it print out just the same as the old p.o.p. Then when you get a good image, bring it in, and in a more or less subdued light (artificial light won't hurt it) go over your lines with waterproof ink.

When your tracing is done, and the ink dry, immerse the print in a plain hypo solution. It will immediately bleach out and leave the ink lines. And there's another tough job done.

The amateur movie-camera is a lot of help, especially to artists. For instance a good enlargement from a negative of three or four feet of a subject in action gives a complete series of action pictures, and he can choose the one he desires, at any stage of the action.

These are just the first principles of making the advertising man's camera justify its existence, but if every advertising man can use his to the extent that I use mine, Mr. Eastman and Mr. Ansco and several other gentlemen will be a good deal richer next March. - W. O. Cooper

[February 18, 1933 Radio Guide]

'Legion' Returns Early

"Tales of the Foreign Legion" will return to the air on a coast-to-coast Columbia network a week earlier than was recently announced. The premiere of this popular program has been set for Sunday, February 12, instead of for February 19. It will be broadcast each week from WBBM in Chicago from 9:30 to 10 p. m. It was formerly sent out over a midwest network.

[February 18, 1933 Radio Guide - I don't know if Cooper ever actually had a hand in this WBBM Chicago series but I guess it's possible. He _was_ the continuity chief at this time, he did collaborate with director-producer Fred Ibbett on other occasions, and he was reportedly working on a Fu Manchu project for TV or movies in the early 1950s. Anyway, I'm sharing this blurb, with its litany of murders, because it reads a lot like some of the publicity items put out for Lights Out a few years later.]

... Dr. Fu Manchu, radio's most fiendish villain, is now being considered for Honorable Mention. The sinister Oriental is piling up the highest casualty list of any of the bad men of the airlanes. In his first twelve episodes alone, the Yellow Peril Incarnate accounted for fifty-six Occidentals (radio actors in private life). And the list is still growing. Among those Fu has sent along to their Ultimate Reward are, or rather were, nine detectives, three baronets, one butler, fifteen dacoits, one Spanish secretary, one American gangster, one baboon, two cats and two dogs.

For variety in the manner of blotting out his enemies, Fu stands absolutely alone. He has removed them with bullets, germs, poison darts, fungi, deadly insects, and by strangulation, drowning, decapitation, and the hypodermic needle. A tender soul, however, is John C. Daly, who plays the role of the Oriental demon.

[September 3, 1933 Portland (OR) Oregonian - According to radio listings on this page, Cooper's "Desert Guns" was scheduled to air from 3:30 to 3:55. It was followed by a five-minute show called "Pyroil Race Track Recreations."]

... "Desert Guns," radio drama of adventure in the sun-baked Morocco desert, will be heard beginning today at 3:30 over KGW. Willis O. Cooper, continuity editor at Chicago NBC, is the author of the script and plays the role of Mendoza, the Spanish soldier. "Desert Guns" dates back to the days of 1918, when Bill served in France as a sergeant in the United States army. ...

[September 10, 1933 Seattle (WA) Sunday Times]

... Adventure Drama

"Desert Guns," a new radio drama of adventure in the sun-baked desert of Morocco, will be heard for the second time today over the NBC network and KJR at 3:30 o'clock.

The story, written by Willis O. Cooper, author and NBC continuity editor, deals with the romantic French Foreign Legion. Cooper got the material for "Desert Guns" when serving in France in the World War. He was stationed for some time near a unit of legionnaires and in numerous visits to their camp he picked up yarns which will thrill listeners of the serial. ...

[Congressional serial set by United States Government Printing Office - 1935. I'm guessing this is about the November '33 broadcast of Cooper's sketch.]

... On Armistice Day the National Broadcasting Co. gave the Veterans of Foreign Wars a 30-minute period which was featured with the presentation of a dramatic sketch entitled, "Cease Firing ", written by Comrade Willis Cooper, continuity editor of the National Broadcasting Co., and a 15-minute talk by Commander in Chief Van Zandt. ...

[January 30, 1935 Racine (WI) Journal-Times]

Promptly at midnight tonight your house lights will flicker and go out ... the wind will wail in your chimney and suddenly a piercing scream will shock your ears. All of which means that radio's real horror drama, "Lights Out," will come back to its 12 o'clock WENR audience tonight. ... "Lights Out" with an all-horror cast of ghosts, vampires, bats, haunted houses and cemeteries, 12 p.. m., WENR.

[May 29, 1935 Racine (WI) Journal-Times - I'm guessing this script was scheduled to air on the 1945 "Fantasies from Lights Out" summer season under the title "Lights Out."]

The story of a Civil War veteran, who realized the final wish of his long and brave career...that he might die on Memorial Day...will be enacted on the Lights Out program over WENR tonight at 10:30. This script, written by Willis Cooper, NBC Central Division Continuity Editor, is being repeated because of popular demand.

[September 25, 1935 Racine (WI) Journal-Times - This script sounds like a forerunner of QP's "A Ribbon of Lincoln Green."]

"Sherwood Foresters," an original half-hour spook drama by Willis Cooper will be the Lights Out presentation over WENR tonight at 10:30 oclock. The scene of the drama is laid in France during the World war and the plot is based on familiar British army legends.

[January 21, 1936 Racine (WI) Journal-Times]

In making a last-minute revision of a Flying Time script, author Willis Cooper and Julius Herbuveaux, technical advisor, got into one of their friendly arguments. Finally they realized in consternation that they were on "the dead line" and no text. "Oh, yes, there is," said the writer's secretary. While the flyers wrangled, she had been transposing their arguments into lines for Ted Maxwell (Capt. Robert Ross) and Willard Farnum (Harry Blake). Capable girl!

[March 11, 1936 Racine (WI) Journal-Times - This script sounds like a forerunner of QP's "Not Responsible After 30 Years."]

Telephone operators at the NBC Chicago studios received several hundred calls Wednesday night, March 4, due to the fact that the Lights Out program reached Chicago listeners at 12:30 a. m. CDT, and they failed to find the listing in Chicago papers at the old time, 11:30 p. m. Lights Out is heard over WMAQ at 11:30 p. m. CST, but under daylight saving time, now in effect in Chicago, the program goes on the air at 12:30 a. m. CDT. For the program tonight, author Willis Cooper has written a weird drama which begins with the disappearance of two aviators in England during the World war, shifts with a mysterious telescoping of time back to the year 17 B. C., when the Roman legions were fighting natives of the British Isles, and ends in the present time with a startling discovery by two archaeologists.

[Jun e 16, 1936 Portland (OR) Oregonian - "Behind the Mike" column prints a letter about Arch Oboler's "Lights Out" episode "Burial Service."]

Dear Mike--May I add my bit to the flood of protest which KGW will undoubtedly receive for the NBC production "Lights Out" which was broadcast Wednesday night at 8:30? This play by comparison makes "Death Rides the Highway" seem like comic relief and "Gloomy Sunday" a rollicking ballad.

I cannot conceive of any possible excuse for such a morbid and pointless presentation. Possibly NBC thinks that everyone listens to George and Gracie over CBS at that hour and it doesn't make any difference what sort of stuff they put on the air. Unfortunately, before I could switch the dial after Town Hall this program started and I just had to see if the poor girl got out.

I would certainly like to know whether the play received any favorable comment, and if so, in what institution those who liked it are confined.

Lights Out, originated two years ago by Willis Cooper, is now being written by Arch Oboler. Arch got his reputation writing dramas presented by Freddie Bartholomew and other guest stars on [Rudy] Vallee's program as well as many First Nighter and Grand Hotel dramas. No other kicks on Lights Out so far. B. Mike for one enjoyed the show. Hooray for murder, ghosts and arson. ...

[September 14, 1936 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer]

... [NBC Chicago executive C. L. Menser] is tagged radio's Cecil B. DeMille. ... Last winter no less than eight of his radio names have won Hollywood diplomas. These are Don Ameche, Don Briggs, Art Jacobson, Cliff Sobier [sic] and Cliff Arquett, [sic] actors, Shandel [sic] Kalish, actress, and Bill Cooper and Darrell Ware, writers.

Cooper, by the way, is the original writer of those blood-curdling "Lights Out" dramas. And what do you think he's doing in Hollywood? He's tossed aside all the horror and is now writing film tales for little Shirley Temple. ...

[October 30, 1937 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer]

... Willis (Bill) Cooper, creator of "Lights Out" series, is now writing those Hollywood Hotel scripts. ...

[April 5, 1942 Cleveland (OH) Plain-Dealer]

Facts to Be Army Hour's Air Product

TODAY "The Army Hour" makes its bow through WTAM at 3:30 p. m. Wyllis Cooper will be its author. A former army man, he wrote those old time chillers, "Lights Out." In Hollywood Cooper wrote movie scenarios for Mr. Moto pictures, "The Son of Frankenstein" and others. But "The Army Hour" is to be different, says Cooper.

"In no sense is it to be just another radio series," says he. "This series will be 100 per cent authentic; absolutely official. It will serve as a reference point to which the American people can turn each week to find out what their army is doing both here and abroad. And we're going to tell the truth--good, bad, or indifferent."

Nor will there be any inspirational stuff, Cooper promises.

"We're not out to inspire anybody," says he. "The show will be a straightforward, factual report utilizing news, drama and pickups from all parts of the world."

And Cooper promises something more: No blank verse; no lush prose.

"Talk like that makes me wince," he says. "This series is going to be in language anybody can understand."

The show will bring prominent speakers although in many cases they will not be named in advance due to military reasons. And the show will carry entertainment which will be directed chiefly to our armed forces abroad.

[July 1, 1942 Portland (OR) Oregonian radio column]

... Fast becoming the nation's No. 1 cliche:--picking on Walla Walla whenever a funny name is wanted in a radio script. Like the Army Hour on Sunday. There are lots of burgs back east where the programs are written and they have funnier names. And very much funnier people. ...

[July 13, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian]

A mystery sequence centered around the rehearsal of a radio broadcast will be dramatized in the episode entitled "Coffin Studio D" [sic] on Lights Out, KGW at 6.

The story opens with an eccentric coffin salesman going through the routine of measuring one of the members of the radio cast for his final resting place. The preliminary selling points of the salesman appear to be a gag, but tragedy soon follows.

[July 20, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian]

A murderer's cringing fear of the supernatural will wring out a confession of guilt after a frightening night in "The Haunted Cell" on Lights Out, KGW at 6.

The spine-chilling Wyllis Arpee [sic] story deals with a simple but effective method police often use to make reluctant but conscious-stricken [sic] criminals talk. Boris Aplon will be heard as narrator.

[July 27, 1946 New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune]

Two dealers in the supernatural who fight a grim battle for remote control of a speeding aircraft is the eerie tale of "The Battle of the Magicians" on WSMB's "Lights Out" at 9 p. m.

[August 3, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian]

The weird story of how a Britisher, trained in a mysterious Hindu cult, travels across the world to exact a fearful vengeance on the gangsters who murdered his brother, will be told in "Hindu Revenge" on Lights Out, KGW at 6.

Boris Aplon will be heard as narrator. The scripts are by Wyllis Cooper and Albert Crews will direct.

[August 10, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian]

Two motion picture cameramen will almost lose their sanity as well as their jobs because of "The Ghost in the Newsreels" on Lights Out, KGW at 6.

The men are sent to photograph a ghost at a haunted farmhouse, but only find an evil-appearing old man whom they use to fake the ghost sequence. The developed film will be full of surprises.

[August 17, 1946 New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune]

A nagging sense of guilt, fear and an overactive imagination seals the doom of a hunted criminal on "Lights Out," heard over WSMB at 9 p. m.

[August 23, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian - excerpts of letter to radio column]

Teen Ager's Analysis ...

First of all, most kids my age (14) are rabid listeners to all forms of mysteries. ... Worst thing is that only a very small majority [sic] are even worth listening to. Bill Lance, Ellery Queen and Lights Out are about the best, although Ellery Queen is becoming a bit too "sopkiss-ticated" and the dialogue is just plain silly at times. ... ERNESTINE SEXTON, Vancouver, Wash. ...

[August 24, 1946 New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune]

Mystery fans will receive a real treat when WSMB's "Lights Out" presents the story of a fiction writer who finds that the characters he has created come to life to help him pen the climax to his story of horror on "An Author Writes His Execution," heard at 9 p. m.

[August 24, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian]

A murder mystery writer will suddenly discover that his characters of fiction have come to life to help him pen a grim climax to his story of horror in "An Author Writes His Execution," on Lights Out, KGW at 6.

The script is by Wyllis Cooper and Boris Aplon will be heard as narrator. Albert Crews will direct.

[June 17, 1947 Cleveland (OH) Plain-Dealer - column by radio editor Robert S. Stephan]

... QUIET, PLEASE, a new Mutual Sunday afternoon show (WHK), is one of those narrative-drama mood programs with organ and sound effects so familiar in earlier radio days. It is written by Willis Cooper whose "Lights Out" tales could make you tingle. The title of this week's sketch was "I Have Been Looking for You." It concerns two lovers who just miss seeing each other so often that the plight of Longfellow's "Evangeline" and her sweetheart pales by comparison. Ernest Chappel [sic] and Claudia Morgan were in the leads. Aware of an attraction since their early school days, Cooper's lovers meet only in death, years later, in a taxi accident. ...

[June 21, 1947 The Billboard review]

Quiet, Please!

Reviewed June 8, 1947

Sustaining via MBS

Sundays, 3:30-4 p.m.

Estimated Talent Cost: $800; producer-director-author, Wyllis Cooper; cast, Ernest Chappell, narrator.

Current Hooperating for this program
(Premiere) ... None

Current Hooperating for show preceding
(sustaining) ... None

Current Hooperating for show following
("House of Mystery") ... 4.2


ABC: Sustaining ... None
CBS: Sustaining .... None
NBC: "One Man's Family" ... 6.9

Wyllis Cooper, author, director and producer of _Quiet, Please!_, and once associated with the notable _Lights Out_ series, unveiled a promising program over the Mutual network Sunday (8), 3:30-4 p.m. Tabbed _Nothing Behind the Door_, the shot--spotted in the time heretofore held by _Juvenile Jury_--impressed as an imaginative venture ingeniously put together at a very low production cost.

The lead is played by Ernest Chappell, well-known as an announcer, who turns narrator for this series. Chappell's stint breaks away from narration occasionally, during which periods one or two actors fill in for brief dramatic scenes--but the program is 90 percent narration against background music composed and played by Gene Paratzo.

Weird Pot [sic]

Opening script, _Nothing Behind the Door_, was in the tradition of Fitzpatrick and O'Brien [sic] and Ambrose Bierce, writers whose weird plotting skirted the supernatural. Like the better writers in that tradition, Cooper manages to keep his yarn in the realm of credibility--for some time anyway--thru recourse to scientific and philosophic concepts. Thus, in _Door_, three thieves decide to use a fenced off building atop Mount Wilson as a cache for stolen money. Astronomers at the Mount Wilson observatory "who know a lot more than they are telling" warn off intruders, but the thieves are undaunted. They cut thru the fence in the black hours of the early morning, break thru the door--and one and then another enters the darkness to disappear into the vastness of the universe. An astronomer appears to save the third (narrator Chappell) and to conduct him to safety over a series of catwalks suspended in the blackness amidst stars, space and nothingness.

Facile Prose

There's plenty of room for atmospheric writing in this kind of piece, and Cooper makes the best of it. His prose is facile and imaginative, and his plot structure cleverly builds suspense while combining the supernatural with a touch of scientific veracity. It's good stuff, and well-narrated in a quiet, tense style by Chappell.

Currently the program is heard over MBS, but not in New York. The web is considering shifting the show to a nighttime spot. It rates--it's good, effective, imaginative radio.

Paul Ackerman.

[May 26, 1948 Cleveland (OH) Plain-Dealer - column by radio editor Robert S. Stephan]

.... PERMIT ME to again call your attention to Wyllis Cooper's unusual dramatic narrative materials on his "Quiet, Please" series over WHK Monday evenings at 9:30. The program this week was exceptionally fine. Captioned "In the Home [sic] Where I Was Born," it was a beautiful tribute to our unknown service dead and the "Unknown Soldier" in particular. Ernest Chappell does the narration which is threaded with brief dramatic flash-ins. Cooper catches moods in his word pictures. His is an unusual writing style for the radio. ...

[December 8, 1951 The Billboard review]

Whitehall 1212

RADIO - Reviewed Sunday (25), 10:30-11 p.m. EST. Sustaining via the National Broadcasting Company network. Producer, Collie Small. Director-scripter, Wyllis Cooper. Cast: Horace Braham, Cathleen Cordell, Winston Ross, Pat O'Malley, Court Benson, Lester Fletcher and Harvey Hayes.

An example of English crime treated in realistic documentary style, "Whitehall 1212," a reworking of stories culled from the recently opened Scotland Yard files, is a smooth, underplayed mystery series which should get its quota of listeners.

The show heard, which detailed the murder of an actress on the high seas, 10,000 miles from London, also was a tribute to Scotland Yard's detective ability. The English police organization had to work by cable until the boat docked, but uncovered some vital evidence even then. Leaning primarily on scientific detection, however, when the boat arrived, the murderer was tricked into admitting his guilt.

The sole demerit was an occasional slowness of pace, with the show having to make bows to the methods with which the Yard works. The script also introduced and tied in interestingly with the famous Black Museum of the Yard where exhibits gathered from important cases are kept.

Wyllis Cooper handled direction and script in his usual fresh and authoritative manner, eschewing the trite private-eye antics. Winston Ross' Inspector Sutherland was in the understated British vein.

Leon Morse.

[July 27, 1952 Cleveland (OH) Plain-Dealer]

Wyllis Cooper Does Right by Scotland Yard Sleuths

By Lawrence Perry

NEW YORK. July 26--(NANA)--If you are addicted to crime-mystery literature, you probably have a pretty low idea of the inductive reasoning, the prevailing inability to get their men and the shrewdness of Scotland Yard detectives.

Inept, thick-headed to the point of dumbness, they always are relying on some private sleuth of the Sherlock Holmes type to solve problems by much more mentally gifted perpetrators of crimes of varied sorts.

Now, Wyllis Cooper, for one, doubted the accuracy of these purveyors of "whodunits" in their appraisals of the ability of Scotland Yard workers. While preparing his current N. B. C. radio network series of stories involving London's detective force, called "Whitehall 1212," he journeyed to England to check up.

Results of his investigation were so enlightening as to confirm what he had always believed, and to convert him into enthusiastic admirer of Scotland Yard dicks, individually and collectively.

"I won't assert that they are better than our New York detectives," says Wyllis, "but they are just as efficient--if not more so--while I cannot say too much in praise of the system under which they work.

"They certainly are in advance of us here in their adherence to the theory that a man is innocent until proved guilty, and that is the way they work. They start by assuming innocence and work from that angle in process of establishing him as the criminal they want."

No Manhandling

"Their methods show unusual consideration of a suspect," he explained. "'If you please, sir, we would like you to accompany us to headquarters.' Prisoners are never manhandled or browbeaten and, as a rule, the investigators are unarmed.

"If you think of New York detective work, conducted under the handicap of a cosmopolitan population, you might consider the fact that London sleuths are handicapped by 17 different English dialects.

"In fact, crossing the Thames River, you encounter cadences, inflexions and so forth wholly unintelligible. Yes, they do a great job over there. The record of crimes solved so overbalances those for which no solution has been found as to make no matter."

Cooper, by the way, early adopted a career as a soldier. He began as an infantryman, one of Gen. John J. Pershing's outfit when he was chasing Pancho Villa fruitlessly through the sage and cactus of Mexico.

Then came World War I; Wyllis was a top sergeant with the A. E. F., and, finally, in World War II he was in the War Department as a radio consultant to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, where his principal job was writing and conducting the "Army Hour," which you may remember. ...

[From page 57 of "Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America." - 1955]

... "Lamp Unto My Feet"

"Lamp Unto My Feet" of CBS television originates Sundays 10:00 to 10:30 AM (EST). The following Presbyterians appeared on this drama and discussion program during the year: Horace M. Bond of Lincoln University, Pa., Horace Underwood, Jr., of Korea, and Henry P. Van Dusen, president of Union Theological Seminary. The program "Push Button Christmas" written by Presbyterian Wyllis Cooper, was based on an original story by Rev. Robert W. Scott. ...

[From a profile of Robert W. Scott in The Rotarian, January 1965]

An expert in religion, jazz music, photography, and social-work leadership, the Reverend Robert W. Scott [of Elizabeth, N. J.] intermixes and applies all his talents in all four fields. ... Dr. Scott's photographic talents help his preaching; he has developed many "audiovisual" sermons. One, "Push-Button Christmas," illustrating what Christmas commercialization might lead to by A. D. 2000, was adapted for the CBS program "Lamp Unto My Feet." ...
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[January 29, 1933 The Pittsburgh Press - Radio Mail Box column]

... last Sunday Columbia's press director announced that "Tales of the Foreign Legion" were off the air, then the feature turned up Sunday afternoon. All papers listed another program in the place usually allotted the Legion. It's hardly fair to the reader to make changes in this manner but the newspapers can nothing about it.

[February 19, 1933 The Pittsburgh Press]

Radio Legionnaires Play Varied Roles

Stars of French Foreign Military Drama Found in Lead Parts in Other Important Presentations


NEW YORK radio critics heard "Tales of the Foreign Legion" for the first time last Sunday and they panned it "because Achmed Ali, the Algerian, was too much like Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan."

Which compels the disclosure that John C. Daly is "Achmet Ali" on Sunday and "Fu Manchu" on Monday.

And Vinton Haworth is "Corporal Smith" on Sunday and "Jack Arnold," Myrtle Spear's attorney in Myrt and Marge five days a week.

Willis O. Cooper, "Mendoza," who "maybe steeks a leetle knife in your ribs" for the Foreign Legion, is the same fellow who wrote "Empire Builders." Now he writes the legion episodes.

Ray Appleby, the legion's "hard-boiled sergeant," is the meek "Christus" of the American Passion Play.

Stanley Andrews, "Tchernov," the Russian Legionnaire, is really a Russian and a veteran of the stage.

Douglas Hope, "Lieutenant Vibart," is a native of Pennsylvania, who served with the Twentieth Division during the World War.

Goldie Cassin, "Amelia LeBlanc," is an Irish girl, who paints pictures on glass.

Let's take them in their order:

John C. Daly has adventured from the Arctic Circle to South Africa, served with the Canadian Mounted Police, was wounded in the Boer War, has worked in Mexico and played in shows in almost every country in the world. He was born in Bombay, studied light opera at Cambridge University, appeared in two productions and surrendered to the wanderlust.

In Canada he found that working as a farm hand was more promising of food than the stage. Then the "Mounties" attracted him and he joined. The Boer War came along and Daly was among the 150 "Mounties" chosen for the Royal Dragoons. Back home as a casualty of the war, Daly recovered and returned to the Canadian stage. Then off to Mexico he went on a construction job.

A stock company was formed to tour the world and Daly was in the cast. South Africa, Egypt, Australia and India were visited.

Back in New York Daly directed "Take It From Me" and "Up in the Clouds." Finally, radio called and Daly stepped into the role of "Fu Manchu" and "Achmet Ali."

Now meet "Corporal Smith" who always gets into trouble trying to be a good fellow, but who seems to keep everyone out of trouble in "Myrt and Marge," although "heavy, heavy, hangs over his head." Vinton Haworth plays these roles and how well he does the jobs.

He's a handsome fellow--now wait a minute girls--he's married, consults his wife on every move he makes and she's the queen of the world to him. Haworth never criticizes his wife and she never finds fault with him--and they say the agreement works to perfection.

Haworth was born in Washington, D. C., and became temperamental by the time he was 6, when he broke his arm. Despite that and a lot of other bumps he has grown to six feet, has black wavy hair, blue eyes and a mustache a la Jack Holt. He panics the femmes.

That broken arm was sustained when a rival "thespian" shoved the young man into the orchestra pit, because the other fellow was a "prince," a role Haworth thought he had sewed up. So, he made up his mind to become a real actor. A visit to a married sister in New York brought him an actor's job at $40 a week. Then came vaudeville and radio caught him in Chicago. He was "Don" in "Don and Betty," then came "Myrt and Marge" and the heavy role and "Tales of the Foreign Legion."

Willis O. Cooper, "Mendoza," was born in Pekin, Illinois. He is just 34, another of the young fellows who left school to join the Army. When a vehicle was sought for Harvey Hayes to star in, Cooper wrote and produced "Empire Builders." Cooper has been in radio and advertising for almost the lifetime of broadcasting. He is of Scotch parentage and a captain in the U.S. Cavalry reserves. Instead of carrying "leetle knives" he may always be found "armed" with a camera and with a Scotch collie at his heels.

Ray Appleby, the tough-cussin' sergeant of the Legion, made his first stage appearance at 17, in San Francisco. He played the role of the Artful Dodger in "Oliver Twist." Francine Larrimore took him into the cast of "Scandal" and May Robson in "Mother's Millions." His greatest ambition was realized when he was cast for the role of "The Christus" in the American Passion Play. For two years Appleby has been filling radio roles in Chicago, prior to his part in "Tales of the Foreign Legion."

If the leap from the role of as profane a sergeant as radio will permit to that of the humble "Christus" isn't seemingly impossible enough--can you imagine Ray Appleby portraying "Jimmy" the dopey brother of Marge in Myrt and Marge? Well, that's just another of Appleby's jobs.

Stanley Andrews ("Tchernov") story can be told in a few words. He was really born in Russia and obtained a splendid education there. For years he has been on the stage.

Previous paragraphs have told you about Douglas Hope, "Lieutenant Vibart" and Goldie Cassin, "Amelia LeBlanc."

Together, in our humble judgment, these players produce one of radio's finest dramatic presentations and we know a lot of other folks who think so, too--enough to compel Columbia to give them a permanent place on the air, because the listening audience demanded their return.

[December 21, 1933 The Pittsburgh Press]

Veterans' Broadcast To Recall 'Christmas in Flanders Fields' [sic]

Willis Cooper Pens Drama of War For Holiday


Saturday evening, Sunday and Monday radio programs will be crowded with Christmas features but none will be more interesting than a Veterans of Foreign Wars NBC presentation, from the pen of Willis Cooper, "Christmas in Flanders Field."

Cooper is best known to radio fans as the writer of "Tales of the Foreign Legion" and portrayer of the role of "Mendoza" in that memorable series. He is a World War veteran, a member of the V.F.W., and is now with NBC, after years of service at Columbia's Chicago headquarters, as program chief.

Commander-in-Chief James E. Van Zandt, of the V.F.W. will introduce the Christmas presentation with a five-minute talk to 30,000 disabled men in hospitals and 400,000 members of his organization. He will have a special greeting for orphans of veterans at the national home in Eaton Rapids, Mich. ...

[January 13, 1935 Springfield (MA) Republican - "Radiosyncrasies" column by Vladimir Shrdlu (a.k.a. Norman Corwin himself) briefly reviews NBC's "Immortal Dramas" (script by Cooper, direction by Clarence Menser)]

... We happen to be in a position to preview the first program in the series of Bible dramas opening on a network including WTIC at 2 this afternoon. Although this program originates in Chicago, a recording of it was auditioned for the press at New York last Monday, and it sounded pretty fair. Harvey Hayes, narrator, laid it on thick at times, and the musical background didn't always click with us, but the program is the sort of thing that will make the Bible much more attractive to children who ordinarily prefer to read Nick Carter and Dead Eye Dick, or the Whimper Sisters in Japan. ...

[January 25, 1935 Milwaukee (WI) Journal]

THAT grand mystery sketch, "Lights Out," returns to WENR Wednesday at midnight. Listeners did quite a little yelling through the mails when the script was taken off the air and the program bosses put it back to satisfy popular demands. But it means more work for Willis Cooper, already overworked ....

[April 1, 1936 Lewiston Daily Sun - Although it's usually said that Arch Oboler made his reputation by writing for "Lights Out," he was starting to get his name in the press even before he took over the horror series in June '36.]

A new play specially written for the program will be the feature of Rudy Vallee's Variety Hour next Thursday. The play is entitled "Box Car" and it was written by Arch Oboler, author of "Rich Kid", which attracted wide attention on the Vallee Hour several weeks ago. The new Oboler work brings back the same pair of characters who were in "Rich Kid"--those youthful cynics, Red and Buck. The roles will be taken by Billy Halop and Lester Jay respectively, the same young actors who played Red and Buck in "Rich Kid" with Freddie Bartholomew. A new character, that of a little girl, will be played by Jeanne Dante, currently featured on Broadway in "Call It a Day."

Other guest stars in the broadcast over a WEAF-NBC network at 8.00 p.m. include Kay Thompson and her mixed chorus; Smith and Dale, vaudeville comedians; and the one and only Frank Fay.

[December 18, 1940 New Orleans Times-Picayune]

Comedy--"Charlie and Jessie," written especially for radio by Playwright Wyllis Cooper and directed by Diana Bourbon, features the co-starring team, stage favorite Donald Cook and screen luminary Florence Lake. The program is at 10 a. m., over CBS-WWL.

[January 5, 1942 Broadcasting]

Wrigley Defense

WM. WRIGLEY JR Co., Chicago, on Jan. 1, in the halfhour period Thursday evening period at 10:15-10:45 on CBS, donated to the U. S. Navy started First Line of Defense, a program dramatizing tales of heroism in the Naval service. Program originates from Chicago under the direction of Bobby Brown, supervisor of Wrigley-CBS programs and is written by Mr. Brown, Ray Wilson, and Willis Cooper. Agency is Arthur Meyerhoff & Co., Chicago.

[April 04, 1942 Dallas Morning News]

Army Information.

The This Is the Army Hour, [sic] which will make its network bow on WFAA Sunday at 2:30 p.m., is something new in the way of programs. Written and produced by the Army, it is designed not so much to entertain as to serve as a reference point where the American people can get the truth about their Army, be it good news or bad. Wyllis Cooper, who in spite of his self-styling as "the poor man's Alexander Woollcott," is one of the most able authors in the radio field today. Though the shows will avoid a stereotyped format, each will include a message from a leader of one of the United Nations; pickups from training centers in the United States and abroad, on-the-scene dramatizations from one of America's great national shri[n]es.

[December 7, 1942 Broadcasting]

Army Simplifies Setup of Radio Branch To Centralize Operation in Washington

... Under the main centralization program, effected last October by Gen. Surles, the New York office of the Bureau of Public Relations was discontinued. The radio branch no longer maintains a regular office there, though Willis Cooper, writer and producer of The Army Hour, is still headquartered at 9 Church St. to handle that program alone. All other New York activity involving radio is handled through Washington headquarters ...

[Excerpt from Marguerite Lyon, _And So to Bedlam_ (Bobbs-Merrill, 1943), pp. 71-75. The author describes a visit to a 1930s Lights Out broadcast. Although she mentions Arch Oboler, the episode appears to be a Cooper script, specifically the one known as "The Ring" which survives as a half-episode from the 1947 LO revival starring Boris Karloff.]

During the winter of the sore-hand incident, a particularly exciting radio program was broadcast at midnight, on Wednesdays, I believe. It was an Arch Oboler thriller, known as Lights Out. The name came from the fact that everyone was supposed to turn out the lights and sit listening in pitch blackness to blood-curdling "draymas" and sound effects that would have chilled one's blood in brightest sunshine. I tried it a few times and found it necessary to sit up the rest of the night with every light in the apartment blazing, and a pot of hot tea at hand to quiet my shattered nerves.

Then, because sound effects have always interested me, I let it be known at the office that I would like to witness one of these broadcasts. I wanted to see for myself just what equipment a sound man would use to give the effect of brains being dashed out, and how he could so realistically portray the throbbing of a giant heart! (note: In case you're interested in sound effects too, I might say that the bashed head was achieved by smashing a head of cabbage. I presume a bellows gave the heart throb.)

The program did not admit spectators ordinarily, but through our agency connections I was given tickets that would admit four of us to the clients' booth that overlooked the broadcasting studio. They were good for the next Lights Out performance. Of course I asked Marian as one of my guests. And then to make our party complete, I invited a couple of co-workers in the art department who didn't have anything else planned for that night. Since it was not necessary to be at the studios until just a few minutes before midnight, Marian suggested that the four of us have dinner at her apartment, and spend the time there until midnight. That suited us fine. Marian could cook like a whiz.

On that night she really outdid herself. It was a dinner any homemaker would have been proud to serve. And for a career girl who was a lawyer by training, and an advertising woman by choice, it was terrific! We lingered over coffee, talking the endless gossip of the advertising profession, until time to go to the broadcasting studio.

There in a darkened room hanging like a southern-mansion gallery over the studio below we saw the performance of Lights Out. No brains were bashed out that night. But the plot was particularly eerie. One Russell Sumners, or some such name, and his sweetheart Carol had worn identical rings. Then Russell had discovered that Carol was untrue to him, and had forthwith drowned himself. As the broadcast opened, Carol was enjoying life with her very-much-alive husband and their friends, without a thought of the man who had drowned himself. In another instant, the lugubrious Russell, who somehow achieved the dank, blank, dripping look of the drowned, although he was bone-dry and alive as you are, came on the scene. He had come back from the grave, he let it be known, to get that other ring. Carol refused to give it to him. There was a struggle and, so the story ran, he cut off her hand. The actress who played the part of Carol was a good one. From the instant of the struggle, she drew her hand inside her coat sleeve and showed only the smooth rounded white wrist throughout the remainder of the performance.

The four of us, sitting on the edge of uncomfortable, hard, gold chairs in the client's darkened booth, stared down at this drama in fascinated horror. It was like watching from an upstairs window something going on in our neighbor's living room. With no audience to distract us or dilute the spell cast by superb actors, the program became an incident in our very own experience, fantastic as it was. The grim, back-from-the-grave Russell, with a voice like Boris Karloff's, might have been washed up on Montrose Beach the day before. The gay, insouciant Carol, who staunchly protested to her husband and friends that she didn't know what had happened to her hand and that they should not worry because it didn't hurt a bit, might have been one of us. Finally, if memory serves me right, Carol, with hand still concealed in sleeve, went away with Russell. The rings, and the two who wore them, were all united in death. We four dazed spectators wrenched ourselves out of the world of make-believe and stumbled in silence to the elevators that took us back to earth, literally, if not figuratively.

I doubt if a horror play on the stage could have held us so spellbound! At the theater the drop of the final curtain, the curtain calls, the gay, good-natured crowding and slow shuffling down the aisle, the remarks on all sides, "Wasn't it warvelous!" "She's better than ever tonight!"—all tend to make one realize that it is just a play. But a radio horror show, well played, does not have its illusion spoiled. There's no final curtain—somehow the actors just seem to dissolve into mist or the great unknown, to go on living out their troubled lives.

On that night particularly we needed a chatty homeward-bound audience to bring us back to the world of reality; not one word was said all the way home. I tried to tell myself that those trouble-ridden characters there in the studio were simply the creations of the superb writing of Arch Oboler, who had looked, that time I met him, like a nice substantial chap from whom one might borrow a lawn mower or a bicycle pump. After all, I'm a writer, too, I reminded myself. But I had to admit I couldn't write that well! I dreamed of those harassed people all night. The next day I moved about still groggy with the horror of Carol's gaiety in spite of that cut-off hand. ...

[March 12, 1944 Springfield (MA) Union and Republican]


... The series will be titled "Arthur Hopkins Presents" ... Wyllis Cooper, widely known radio writer and head of the program development division of NBC, will write the scripts. ... Wyllis Cooper wrote the popular radio series "Lights Out" and "Good Neighbors" and was author-producer of the "Army Hour." He has been radio actor and producer and motion picture writer. He was head of the script department of NBC's Central division before coming to New York as writer and producer.

[October 10, 1947 The Coaticook (Quebec) Observer]

There's more to the haunting theme identifying Mutual's weekly "Quiet Please" series than meets the ear. The tune, a special adaptation from the second movement of Cesar Frank's [sic] Symphony in D Minor, requires a remarkable bit of ambidexterity by organist Gene Perazzo, who supplies musical background for the Wyllis Cooper fantasy creations. In the "Quiet Please" theme he plays both piano and organ simultaneously. Gene places the two instruments side by side in the studio, tracing the melody with his right hand on the piano and supplying harmonic chords on the organ with his left hand.

[1948 issue of Radio Daily, Volume 44]

... Wyllis Cooper, known for his macabre chillers on the MBS "Quiet Please" series is writer and director of a new Happy Felton comedy series being auditioned by DuMont ...

[January 25, 1949 Tipton (IN) Tribune]

Radio Ringside by John M. Cooper
International News Service
Staff Correspondent

New York, Jan. 21--(INS)--"We The People" has acquired a new writer. He is Wyllis Cooper, the veteran author-producer, whose fanciful chillers are heard on ABC Sunday afternoons under the title of "Quiet, Please."

In addition to taking over the scripting of "We The People" Cooper is dikering [sic] for still another program on still another network. ...

[From a 1949 issue of _Cue: the weekly magazine of New York life_]

... By far the best that TV has done in the field of suspense were the half-dozen plays written by Wyllis Cooper under the title, "Volume I, Numbers 1-6." Generally using no more than three characters, and sometimes only two, the recently concluded series generated more chills than the cooling system at the Automat. It's impossible to recapture the eerie quality of Cooper's dialogue, plots and lighting in cold print, but those familiar with some of his earlier work on radio's "Lights Out" series will be happy to learn that Wyllis (we don't know why they don't call him "Willies") is even more effective with a camera at his disposal.

"Lights Out," incidentally, is now a television series (WNBT-Tuesday, 9 to 9:30 P.M.), but is doing without the services of either Cooper or Arch Oboler, the writers who made the radio version such a favorite with morbid listeners. The change hasn't been for the better. The opening play was a melodrama involving a jealous wife, death from a rattlesnake bite and a suicide. We guess it should have been exiciting but it wasn't — not even the last scene, in which the dead wife makes her final speech from inside a coffin. When it was over, we felt we would have enjoyed the whole thing more if we kept our eyes closed. At least, we'd have given the gal a more elegant coffin. — PHILIP MINOFF

[May 21, 1950 Hartford Courant]

9:30, Stage 13 has Vinton Hayworth as a power mad dictator who finds himself the "Last Man" on earth.

[June 10, 1950 The Pittsburgh Press]

Wyllis Cooper, who gave "Lights Out" to radio and now produces "Stage 13," was a boy bugler with Pershing's army in Mexico.

[June 17, 1950 The Afro-American]

Jane White, 'Strange Fruit' Star, Sets Television Debut

NEW YORK--Jane White, daughter of journalist-author-crusader Walter White, makes her television debut as a dramatic actress in Wyllis Cooper's "You Have Been Warned," an original teleplay of interplanetary rockets and a proposed trip to Mars, on CBS-TV's "Stage 13," Wednesday, June 14 (CBS-TV, 9:30-10:00 p.m., EDT).

Miss White, who appeared in "Strange Fruit" on Broadway, has appeared in many radio dramas, including several by Cooper, director-producer of "Stage 13."

She is also scheduled to appear on Broadway next fall in "Come What May," starring Nancy Walker.

[July 7, 1950 New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune]

... So What? Department: We just received the following press release: Wyllis Cooper, producer of CBS-TV's "Stage 13," has two pet turtles, both named Dexter.

[December 17, 1950 Sunday Herald]

Got an Elephant or Lion? TV'll Make Him Rich

... Then there's George, a tiger-striped alley cat, who has given up walking back fences, to accept bookings that run into January, after sterling performances on the Suspense and Stage 13 shows. ...

[From a 1955 review by Philip Minoff of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" in _Cue: the weekly magazine of New York life_]

... Not since the days several seasons back when the late Wyllis Cooper was writing and directing his off-beat macabre tales for television has the medium had a suspense series worthy of that classification. Mr. Hitchcock's entry looks as if it might fill the bill neatly and nervously.

[Excerpt from James L. Baughman, _Same Time, Same Station: Creating American Television, 1948-1961_ (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007)]

... As was so often the case with success in television, I Love Lucy benefited from its place on the schedule, Mondays at nine. The previous season, viewers had favored NBC's Lights Out, a suspense anthology. But Lights Out's popularity owed much to Columbia's inability to offer an effective alternative. Lights Out, an NBC audience analyst wrote several years later, "was bucking a very weak show on CBS. We were aware that if and when CBS ever changed its programming that Lights Out was vulnerable....As soon as CBS programmed I Love Lucy, Lights Out dropped out of the first ten, out of the first twenty, out of the first eighty in one fell swoop." ...

[In his 2009 book _Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: the expanded story of a haunting collaboration_, author Gregory William Mank mentions that "Wyllis Cooper died at Hunterdon Medical Center, Raritan Township, New Jersey, on June 22, 1955, of a stroke. He was 56 years old. He left his estate to his wife, Emily. Thanks to Martin Grams, who is the author of several excellent books on old-time radio, for providing me the information on Cooper's death."]

[Here's a subject for further research: According to a page on GoogleBooks, Cooper appears to be listed among the writers of U. S. Steel's Hour of Mystery series which was the 1946 summer replacement for the same sponsor's Theatre Guild on the Air and featured hour-long adaptations of famous mystery novels.]
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[Gas Age-Record, Volume 64, Robbins Pub. Co., 1929]

A SERIES of six industrial gas advertisements of The Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company, Chicago, exhibited at the annual convention of the National Industrial Advertisers Association at Cincinnati, Ohio, September 30 to October 2, won first prize for the best exhibit of institutional advertising. The advertising was conceived by A. B. Greenleaf, a former employee of The Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company, and Willis O. Cooper of the McJunkin Advertising Company. The prize which consisted of a handsome silver service was awarded by the Bonnett Company of Cincinnati.

The six advertisements were run as a series by The Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co. in _Industrial Gas_.

The Peoples Gas advertisements that won the prize utilized the modern type face known as Futura. Use was also made of heavy rules and modernistic photography. The copy was terse and to the point. It is probably the most radical departure from the conventional in all industrial advertising.

[CAPTIONS:] Display of the prize winning advertisements

Samples of the industrial advertising of the American Gas Association Advertisements Win First Prize

One of the prize-winning advertisements shown in three-sevenths reduction

[April 24, 1934 Variety]

Schenck Quits NBC for Chi B-S-H Agency Post

Charles Schenck resigns from the local NBC program department to join the Blackett-Sample-Hummert agency here as production man. Another resignation from the NBC staff last week was Announcer George Watson, replaced by Norman Barry of WBBM. Schenck and Watson were associated on the 'Lights Out' program, NBC Wednesday midnight chiller.

[October 16, 1934 Variety column item]

... Willis Cooper back to work after serious attack of sickness. ...

[June 6, 1935 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer radio column by Robert S. Stephan]

... Broadcasters rave over production work in that late Wednesday thriller over WTAM called "Lights Out." Series uses no introductory music or chatter. It also employs effective silences in building a situation, a production matter the Plain Dealer Sunday Listener column suggested weeks ago. ...

[September 4, 1935 Variety]

Willis Cooper Quits

Willis Cooper quits as continuity chief of the local NBC offices on Sept. 15. Will free lance his own shows on NBC such as 'Flying Time' and 'Lights Out,' both of which have been clicks. It's strictly an amicable parting with Cooper signaturing with the NBC Artists Bureau for representation. Job will be taken over by Larry Holcomb, formerly with NBC continuity in New York, and with Fletcher & Ellis agency.

[May 27, 1936 Variety]

Zanuck's Air Capture

Willis Cooper, chief continuity writer for National Broadcasting Company for past three years, has been signed by Darryl Zanuck to a term writing contract for 20th-Fox. Producer tabbed Cooper after catching one of his air scripts.

[September 16, 1936 Variety - Presumably, the story discussed here eventually led to the 1939 film "Tail Spin," starring Alice Faye.]

Zanuck Buys Haugan Stunt Pilot Story

Darryl F. Zanuck has bought "Woman With Wings," airplane thriller by Genevieve Haugan, stunt pilot. Purchase gives 20th-Fox right to author's services on story and technical advice during making of picture. Willis Cooper, also flyer, will script, and Gene Markey has associate producer's assignment.

[May 29, 1937 Variety]

20th Fox Holds Cooper

Option on Willis Cooper's writer contract has been picked up at 20th-Fox.

[September 28, 1937 Variety]

Cooper Now Air Scribe

Willis Cooper has been granted his requested release from his 20th-Fox writing contract and has checked off the lot to take over the scripting chore on the 'Hollywood Hotel' radio program. Scrivener turned out the first three 'Mr. Moto' scripts at 20th-Fox with Norman Foster.

[October 11, 1937 Variety]

WILLIS COOPER, contract writer at 20th-Fox, is now collaborating with Addison Simmons on the Hollywood Hotel script. Deal was arranged only after Louella Parsons had persuaded Darryl Zanuck to allow the writer to take the air job. Picture studios have been none too receptive to overtures from agencies to permit their scriveners to double in air. Concession on part of Zanuck was as a personal favor to Hearst columnist.

[December 8, 1937 Variety]

NBC Bureau Suing Writer for Commish

National Broadcasting artists bureau, through its attorney, Frederick Leuschner, has filed suit in superior court to collect commissions assertedly due from Willis Cooper over a period of a year. Bureau signed writer to personal management contract in Chicago and claims $3,000 due for services in connection with his employment at 20th-Fox and as writer on Hollywood Hotel airshow.

[December 15, 1937 Variety]


Artists Bureau Follows Cliff Soubier precedent on Commish

Successful in its suit to collect delinquent commissions from [actor] Cliff Soubier, NBC artists bureau, through its resident attorney, Frederick Leuschner, filed a similar action in superior court against Willis Cooper, now scripting, with Addison Simmons 'Hollywood Hotel.' Complaint charges Cooper with being $3,000 in arrears on bureau payoff. Action parallels Soubier litigation in that both were signed to personal management contracts outside the state. Part of commissions are claimed for Cooper's employment at 20th Fox studio as a writer.

[December 31, 1937 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer - Radio editor Robert S. Stephan reviews a lost Arch Oboler episode]

"You should hear it," someone said. "Gee, but it's grewsome." It was. Radio has some peculiar ideas concerning acceptable entertainment. One of the most peculiar of them all is "Lights Out" over WTAM from Chicago in the wee hour. From its production it is built to thrill. It probably does jangle some folks' nerves in a horrid sort of manner. The one I listened to recently included such little pleasantries as a fellow trying to talk with his jaw shot away after which another bullet was smacked into him. To offset this horrible stuff the play itself was carrying on a crusade against ruthless munitions makers. The idea was okay but the grewsomeness of the script weakened the case. The producers were asking dialers to write in asking this series be kept on the air. I wonder if this is good radio policy. What certain dialers enjoy may not always be good radio. The young man in your household, for example, might enjoy eating three mince pies at one sitting but it's up to you to get him out of the notion. Radio has the same obligation to the home. I couldn't recommend "Lights Out" as a brilliant broadcasting achievement.

[December 24, 1938 Variety - Cooper anticipates Mel Brooks by decades.]

WEIRDEST pre-Christmas party came as surprise last night to principals and director on Universal's 'Son of Frankenstein' set when crew and assistants tossed a parody on the chiller, with Willis Cooper, author of original, writing the satire ... Gil Valle, assistant director, played the monster in a sissy version; script girl parodied Bela Lugosi's role; 200-pound prop man impersonated little Donnie Dunagan, and Otto Lederer burlesqued Basil Rathbone.

[February 8, 1939 Variety]

Proper Environment

Oklahoma City -- That portion of the great American public addicted to horror and supernatural thrills are weekly listeners to NBC's 'Lights Out' show, aired at 11:30 p. m. CST, Wednesday nights. Standard theatre thought no better spot could be secured for radio spot plug of 'Son of Frankenstein' than just before this program on WKY.

[February 24, 1939 Variety]

Willis Cooper Suit Over Commish Offed Until March 13

NBC comish suit against Willis Cooper, writer, was postponed yesterday to March 13. Network is seeking to recover damages for alleged unpaid commissions due the artist bureau. Due here for the trial is Sidney Strotz, NBC chief of the Central division, who was head of artists bureau in Chicago when papers were signed. ...

[March 14, 1939 Variety]

Willis Cooper Trial Starts Before Judge Nye

Trial of NBC Artists Bureau's suit against Willis Cooper, radio writer, to recover commissions allegedly due, started yesterday before Superior judge Clement D. Nye. Day was taken up with reading into record of a deposition given in New York by Daniel S. Tuthill, NBC Artists Bureau exec. Hearing continues today. Sidney Strotz, head of the central division for National Broadcasting, is here from Chicago, where pact between network and Cooper was signed, to testify at the trial. Fred Leuschner, NBC resident attorney, is handling legal end for company.

[March 16, 1939 Variety]

NBC's Suit Against Cooper Up to Judge

Presentation of evidence in National Broadcasting Co's suit against Willis Cooper, radio writer, was concluded yesterday and case taken under submission by Superior Judge Clement D. Nye. Attorneys for both sides have 40 days to prepare briefs in matter for submitting to Judge Nye. NBC is seeking to recover commissions from Cooper under contract with network's artists bureau executed in Chicago. Sidney Strotz, head of central division for NBC, came on from Chicago to take the witness stand.

[August 8, 1939 Variety]

NBC Artists Bureau Wins Cooper Suit

NBC Artists Bureau has been granted $1,710 judgment against Willis Cooper in its fight against writer for repudiation of management contract. Decision was given by Superior Judge Clement D. Nye after having case under submission for several months. Notification of award was received yesterday by Frederick Leuschner, attorney for NBC, which had asked 10% of the $17,100 Cooper had earned at 20th-Fox and on a radio writing chore since breaching pact. Cooper's counter claim for $10,000 against artists bureau, charging mismanagement, was disallowed.

[October 22, 1941 Variety]

Cooper on 'Johnson' Script

Wyllis Cooper starts scripting 'Story of Bess Johnson,' next Monday (20). He's currently writing CBS' 'Spirit of '41' and "Good Neighbor' on NBC-Red.

[December 6, 1941 Mason City (IA) Globe-Gazette]

Navy Yard Setting for Broadcast

Enveloped in unusual secrecy beforehand, the Columbia network's "Spirit of '41" moves into the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the broadcast to be heard over KGLO Sunday at 1:30 p. m. to bring listeners a report on some of the yard's activities never before touched upon over the radio.

Permission for the broadcast was granted by the navy department, but on the agreement that no previous information be given out which might be of aid to subversive forces.

Details for the program were worked out by Brewster Morgan, supervisor of CBS defense programs. Script Writer Wyllis Cooper and Announcer Rush Hughes have the microphone assignments under the watchful eye of Navy Intelligence, which approved one pro-program revelation:

The broadcast is to be permitted to describe in considerable detail the repairs being made at the yard to damaged warships.

[March 25, 1942 Variety -- excerpts from article about "The Army Hour."]

.... Wyllis Cooper, who will write the new 'Army Hour' series on NBC starting in April, is scheduled for a majorship and the musical director of the series is also to be a khaki-wearer, Jack Joy from Pacific Coast radio. ... Cooper resigned the scripting assignments of 'The Story of Bess Johnson' and 'Spirit of '42' to write the Army series. He's promoted from captain to major. Program will be directed by Bob Colson. ...

[November 3, 1945 The Billboard]

NEW YORK, Oct. 30.--Wyllis Cooper, Compton Agency program exec, arrived from Hollywood yesterday (29).

[April 26, 1946 Variety]

...Oboler directs an audition of "Lights Out" with Boris Karloff for Milton Biow...

[April 29, 1946 Variety]

Arch Oboler may not be commercial but you've certainly got to admire the man's honesty. Few days ago a story was given out that he would direct Boris Karloff in an audition of "Lights Out" for Milton Biow. When Oboler heard about it he blew a fuse. He immediately contacted NBC's Niles Trammell and Biow and told them they would be suckers to buy it or put it on the network. And don't forget, "Lights" is owned jointly by Oboler and NBC. "It's not a healthy program for broadcasting because it attracts only warped minds and semi-psychopathics," he belittled. He was also mindful that the show at one time was rated at 15 and that's pretty fancy for a program that cost only $1,500. "But it won't sell merchandise so what good is it?" he offered by way of a clincher and flipped the switch for "Lights Out."

[July 6, 1946 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer - Radio editor Robert S. Stephan's column]

... LIGHTS OUT returns to N.B.C. and WTAM at 9 tonight. Arch Oboler, who once wrote some weird material for this series, has been quoted as saying the show is outmoded. Clarence L. Menser, N.B.C. program director thinks otherwise. As I recall the show some seasons ago, many of the sketches were utterly fantastic and chilling. WTAM carried it around 11:30 p. m. (with most of the children in bed). If the new "Lights Out" series follows the same pattern of plays, I suspect N.B.C. could have used the 9 p. m. Saturday period to better advantage. But we will wait and see what Menser has in store. ...

[July 19, 1946 Portland (OR) Oregonian - Behind the Mike with William Moyes. Apparently, Cooper wasn't entirely happy with the 1946 summer revival.]

... Author of Lights Out is sore. He says network has dug up scripts he wrote years ago. ...

[The Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 134 (1947)]

... Monday, June 9. "Stephen Graham, Family Doctor": this Mutual network broadcast, usually originating from New York, will be originated from the American Room at the Hotel Traymore as the entertainment feature for the annual dinner tendered the House of Delegates and officers of the American Medical Association by the local medical profession. The entire production will be moved from New York as a demonstration to the delegates and as a special event commemorating the Centenniel of the American Medical Association. The topic will be "Medical Service in Rural Areas." The special script will be written by Willys Cooper and produced by Wynn Wright. The program is under the general supervision of Dr. W. W. Bauer and Harriet Hester. ...

[July 25, 1947 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer - Radio editor Robert S. Stephan reviews a lost Wyllis Cooper episode]

LIGHTS OUT is the kind of dramatic series the American living room could easily do without. It deals in horrible stuff. This week's "sketch" (WJW, Wednesdays) concerned the doings of vampires (the living dead). These are the folk who are supposed to go about at night feeding on their victim's blood until someone is fortunate enough to drive iron stakes through their hearts.

Most vampire tales follow a pattern. There is the innocent victim, the relentless chase, the final blackout of the vampire. In this tale, a young wife (played as I caught the credits by Lurene Tuttle, an actress who has the ability for much better roles) is being bled to death by one Mellodoff. The play reveals he's a fellow whose attentions once proved unwelcome to the heroine. He's been killed in a traffic accident.

The action is based on the efforts of the young husband and a physician to thwart Mellodoff. They're unsuccessful. The wife dies to become a vampire herself. Then the husband visits the wife's vault, drives a stake through her heart and then shoots himself to death. What happens to Mellodoff I'll probably never know. What possible entertainment value for the average family circle can be found in such morbid material?

[July 30, 1947 Dallas Morning News previews Cooper's "The Ring" -- with spoilers.]

... Boris Karloff, the only living human who could scare the wind out of a ghost, will be involved in a ghastly drama about a gold ring disappearing from the hand of a beautiful lady . . . and the lady's hand vanishes also. The ring is discovered later in the eye of a dead man, who has fantastically escaped from the grave to be found lying on a cold slab in the morgue. ...

[August 1, 1947 Portland (OR) Oregonian - Behind the Mike with William Moyes reviews "I Remember Tomorrow"]

... Quiet Please

Next to 30 minutes of shortwave static, the nearest thing to something really new is the MBS show Quiet Please. Here's a mystery program that gets away from the hackneyed. This week's show was fantastics, but cleverly done, and with an ending that was terrific.

Seems a guy invents a time machine. Can project himself into the future, then jump back to today. Gangsters get hold of it and rob banks tomorrow, then leap back into the present. Climax shows inventor finding gangsters (who are holding him prisoner) cleaning up pool of blood and he knows they have killed him tomorrow. However, it isn't his blood. It's yours, friend listener. You were a bystander and were wounded when the cops apprehended the gangsters. Then bang! the gangsters really kill the inventor. (Stand by, ladies and gents. We will now switch control to CBS for 30 minutes of static, while Petrillo's men stand by unemployed, in a sea of weeds, biting their nails.)

[August 7, 1947 Portland (OR) Oregonian - Behind the Mike with William Moyes]

... [Comedian Henry] Morgan's sponsor cancelled Lights Out after three episodes got the haw-haw from listeners. So ABC is filling in with just a sustainer until Morgan returns. ...

[October 6, 1948 Augusta Chronicle - Walter Winchell column]

... The scripters of "Quiet, Please" (a boodunit) merit a pat on their typewriters...

[July 26, 1950 Variety]


Effective this Friday (28), the Gulf-sponsored "We, the People" will become two separate productions, writing finis to the show's simulcasting. Both programs will continue in the Friday night at 8:30 period on NBC, with Dan Seymour continuing as producer of both units. Wyllis Cooper has joined the AM version as writer and director.

[August 2, 1950 Variety]

NBC's "We, the People" last week ended its simulcasting in favor of separate shows on AM and TV -- although both remain in the same 8:30 p.m. Friday period. The radio airer Friday (28) was sub-titled "Hot Spots of the World" and dealt with "the face of the enemy - Communism." The aim was that of a documentary and it aired the voices of three American journalists, William Atwood, David Perlman and Seymour Freiden, who recounted stories of atrocities and gangsterism in Vienna. The bulk of the program was given over to dramatizations of some espionage and counter-espionage yarns. Basically it was a 30-minute anti-Red pitch with producer-emcee Dan Seymour and the correspondent indicting the Russians. While the stanza's anti-Commie theme linked the episodes dramatized, the individual segments failed as entertainment. They added up to too much didacticism, and lacked the human interest of the show's previous angling or the solid suspense of a straight adventure series.

[August 30, 1950 Variety - Apparently, our man tried to nuke a large city in Ohio.]

Cincy Escapes Scare

"We, the People" script scheduled for Friday (25) on NBC dealt with the hypothetical atom-bombing of Cincinnati, with the wiping out of almost all of its 800,000 population. As originally planned, broadcast would have used actual names of streets, names of factories destroyed such as Procter & Gamble and other details of the imaginary blast. Web's program department, however, felt that the airer might have resulted in another Orson Welles' "Martian invasion" panic, despite the introductory disclaimer that it was merely a fictional portrayal; Script was therefore altered to remove the specific references to Cincy and toned down to avoid another catastrophe scare. However, a few hours before the broadcast, the sponsor, Gulf, yanked the script in toto and substituted an adoption of its video counterpart, which was on woman's suffrage.

[December 8, 1951 The Billboard capsule review]

Whitehall 1212, (Radio) NBC, Sunday (25) 10:30-11 p. m. EST.

An example of English crime treated in documentary style, "Whitehall 1212," a reworking of stories culled from the recently opened Scotland Yard files, is a quiet underplayed mystery series which should get its quota of listeners. Sole criticism is some slowness of pace, but since only the second show was caught, succeeding stanzas are likely to be brightened considerably.

[December 22, 1969 Broadcasting magazine letter column]

Disagrees on 'Lights Out' credit

EDITOR: Your Nov. 17 BROADCASTING carries the story of _Lights Out_ and its re-issue as a syndicated radio feature by some Hollywood show peddlers. Your yarn states that Arch Obler [sic] was the show's original creator ...

Lights Out was the brainchild of the late Wyllis Cooper. It came into being in the late [sic] '30's in Chicago. It was performed there by some of the fine radio names that made Chicago the hub of broadcasting in the '30's ... Raymond Johnson, Betty Winkler, Bernadine Flynn, Sid Ellstrom, Art Jacobson to name a few.

As an NBC property _Lights Out_ was ultimately moved to New York. On the death [sic] of Cooper the direction of the show was taken over by Obler [sic] adopted Coop's format and added few if any touches of his own, except name casting.

Robert Brown, Lexington, Ky. (NBC Chicago announcer, 1932-1946; now instructs in broadcast advertising, University of Kentucky).

[January 1970 Broadcasting magazine letter column]

The Oboler-Cooper tie-in

Editor: In answer to Robert Brown who appears to be generally unhappy regarding Lights Out credits (BROADCASTING, Dec. 22, 1969):

Since we are syndicating Arch Oboler's radio plays, permit us to set the record straight. At no time in our news release did we state that Mr. Oboler was the original creator of Lights Out. To our knowledge neither has Mr. Oboler ever made such a statement. Arch Oboler's position in international radio history, as the originator of numerous dramatic techniques plus his having been the first radio playwright to have his own network show (Arch Oboler's Plays-NBC) plus the numerous awards he has won in the broadcasting field, are record enough.

Mr. Brown makes other errors. A very living Wyllis Cooper turned over Lights Out to Mr. Oboler in Chicago in 1936 and from then on Mr. Oboler did the show exclusively from Chicago, to New York, and finally commercially in Hollywood on CBS. If Mr. Brown would refer to Erik Barnouw's recent definitive book on radio-broadcasting, he will find accolades for Mr. Cooper, long deceased, as furnished to Mr. Barnouw by Mr. Oboler. — Robert L. Niemann, president, Manzell & Associates Inc., Hollywood.
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[February 23, 1932 Variety - Article about Cooper's early, short-lived horror series "The Witching Hour." The premiere episode was scheduled to be "The Vampire."]

Chicago, Feb. 21 -- Differences among the advertiser's board of directors over the type of entertainment uncorked by the Breathem program, a Saturday afternoon event on the Columbia network, has caused three complete revisions of the show in four broadcasts. As the ether session now stands, it's a compromise affair, combining the tastes and wishes of the members of the board, their families and relatives and the company's entire personnel who also had been caucused for opinions. Wrangle among the directors and executives of the Tennessee Products Corp., a $20,000,000 outfit, with the candy losenger, Breathem, one of its minor manufacturing activities, [that?] broke when the sister-in-law of an influential board member complained about the bad effect the program was having on her children. Entire quarter hour of the Breathem show on the initial broadcast (Jan. 23), outside the ad blurbs was given to a shocker of the "Dracula" school, with the setting laid in a haunted house on a lonely hill. The shouts, screams and shots coming from the loud-speaker and the dire suspense created by the skit's enacting unsettled her youngsters' nerves, the director's relative averred, and she advised him that his company go in for some sort of entertainment other than the kind that was likely to scare the kids. At the next meeting of the board the sister-in-law's complaint was brought up and it developed that there were a couple of other directors whose wives had objected to the thrillers. After heated debate, the chairman ordered the shocker series pulled and a musical program immediately substituted. Company's execs, who had picked the thriller idea, burned over the order, but the next program went straight musical, anyway.

Sweet Breath

Pro-thriller faction, however, resumed the argument that the program was no different from hundreds of others on the air and that the broadcast line of plugging originally connected had lost its force. Hooked up with the shocker idea was the announcer's introductory catchline: "These dramas are so thrilling that they'll take your breath away. Take a Breathem and it'll come back sweetened and purified." When the anti-shocker group on the board refused to yield even to this advertising angle. It was then suggested that the company's personnel be called upon to vote on what they preferred in the way of entertainment for the Breathem program. Idea was okayed all around, and in the resultant count-up it was found that two-thirds favored a musical session and the balance resumption of the mystery show. Wrangling and differences of opinion was finally settled by re-charting the program's continuity so that two-thirds of it goes for an orchestra and a quartet, and the remaining third is devoted to thriller blackout, with the latter pretty well toned down.

[December 12, 1933 Variety]

... NBC is creeping up on the proposed plan for midnight mysteries. Has auditioned one of the Bill Cooper old chillers, "Turn out the Lights," to get a notion of the scheme. ...

[January 14, 1935 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer radio column by Robert S. Stephan]

... I listened to a new series titled "Immortal Dramas." The series is misnamed, for what I heard yesterday was the story of David and Goliath in a sort of cantata setting. Odd, isn't it, the thought that Old Testament stories are now being sponsored over the radio? There was a splendid chorus in this one and it was interesting to note there was no sales talk. ...

[April 1, 1935 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer radio column by Robert S. Stephan]

... One regrets those Immortal Dramas of Old Testament stories fade after next Sunday. They have made many friends. ...

[April 7, 1935 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer radio column by Robert S. Stephan]

Bible Dramas End.

With the dramatization of the story of Jezebel the interesting series of Immortal Dramas will come to an end at 2 this afternoon over WTAM. The sponsor, Montgomery Ward, did a splendid job with this series. The cast was exceptional.

[April 8, 1935 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer radio column by Robert S. Stephan]

Story of Jezebel ended those Immortal Dramas. This series is perhaps the most pretentious from a commercial aspect a sponsor has attempted. Productions were on a high plane and I imagine costly. Successful commercially or not, they have pointed a way. One is sorry to see them dropped.

[November 24, 1936 Milwaukee Sentinel]

... Authors of "Lights Out" seem to be Hollywood minded. First Willis Cooper dropped the program for a job in the flickers and now Arch Oboler is eyeing filmland offers. ...

[March 24, 1937 Daily Iowan]

Tuning In with Jean Thompson

... The studying, sleeping and "dating" habits of Northwestern university students is being altered by NBC's "Lights Out" program Wednesday nights, according to a recent issue of the Daily Northwestern, student paper. A student reporter discovered that study lamps were switched off in many fraternity and sorority houses on the dot at 11:30, and radios tuned to the spook dramas over NBC. He found more "Lights Out" fans in the masculine north campus than in the sorority quads and concluded that "the male of the species is probably more courageous." ...

[December 4, 1937 Saturday Review of Literature, "Jingle Bells: Notes on Christmas in American Literature" by E. Douglas Branch, professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. A favorable comment about Cooper's play, "Three Men."]

... Since the dreadful days of the "Christmas in the Trenches" stories and verse, there have been some memorable Christmas items in American letters. The best of them — for instance, Heywood Broun's "The Shepherd" and Willis Cooper's script for the radio program "Lights Out" in the holiday week of 1935 — hearken, for their locale as well as for the spiritual ingredient, back to the stable at Bethlehem. The diminished place of the American scene in American Christmas literature will become a reversed tendency when the scene again deserves Christmas. ...

[November 9, 1938 Variety - Part of an article about format changes on the fifth season premiere of Hollywood Hotel. Cooper had contributed scripts to the fourth season.

... By a happy coincidence, Claudette Colbert, who guest-starred on the first Hollywood Hotel program in 1934, is similarly spotted on tonight's inaugural broadcast. With [Herbert] Marshall she will reenact dramatic highlights from 'Dark Angel,' adapted from the screen play by Willis Cooper, last year's scripter, whose duties have been taken over by John McClain, onetime ace ship news reporter. McClain is doing the show's framework, the dramatic adaptations being bought in the open market. Next week's drama headline will be Charles Butterworth, H. B. Warner, Frieda Inescort and Aileen Pringle in 'Bulldog Drummond.' Following week will have Joan Bennett and Marshall in 'History Is Made at Night.' Roger Denny did the adaptation of 'Drummond,' while 'History' is a collaborative job.

[April 28, 1939 Variety - Part of an item about Universal Studios properties]

... Another story property uncovered recently after lying years on the shelf is 'The Electric Man.' Willis O'Cooper will screenplay. ...

[August 23, 1939 Variety]

Van Every's 'Phantom'

Dale Van Every will produce 'Phantom City' for Paramount following 'Dr. Cyclops,' now in cutting rooms. Willis Cooper has been set to script 'Phantom.'

[December 1, 1939 Variety - Part of an item on radio writers in Hollywood]

... Willis Cooper, radio horror writer with 'Lights Out' as a classic example, has been with 20th-Fox, Universal and Karloff, and is now with Paramount. ...

[November 20, 1940 Variety]

Lunt-Fontanne Broadcast [from] Coast With Stage Show; Time Okay

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, currently touring in Robert E. Sherwood's 'There Shall Be No Night,' will probably do a guest dramatic appearance on the forthcoming Campbell Playhouse series from the Coast. Program is slated to air at 9:30 Friday nights, but with the three-hour time difference, that would give the acting pair time to do the radio stint after their evening stage performance. Date might be any time between Jan. 31 and March 3, when the troupe is playing various Coast stands. Director and announcer would probably be the only talent that would have to be sent from New York for the broadcast, although probably the writer would also make the trip in advance to confer with the Lunts regarding the script. 'Night' company is unusually well balanced, so no additional actors would be needed. Leggett Brown, the Lunts' radio agent who is dickering with the Ward Wheelock agency for the date, hopes to have Willis Cooper write an original drama for the pair. It would be their first commercial stint and the expectation is that if it is successful, they would be available for repeats. After repeatedly refusing radio offers, Lunt and Miss Fontanne made their air debut several months ago on a Red Cross benefit program. Since then Miss Fontanne, with Lunt briefly introducing her, did the Alice Duer Miller ('White Cliffs of Dover') poem over NBC blue (WJZ) and repeated it two weeks later.

[April 7, 1941 Broadcasting]

Grant's Radio Expansion

IN ENLARGING its radio department, Grant Adv. Agency, Chicago, has named Wyllis Cooper, formerly of Ward Wheelock Co., to supervise activity in that department. He joined the agency three weeks ago. James McClain, former radio director, on March 31 became 'Dr. I. Q.' on the Mars Inc. NBC-Red program of that name [BROADCASTING, March 31]. Further personnel announcements are expected in connection with the expansion.

[April 28, 1941 Broadcasting]

Hodapp Joins Grant

BILL HODAPP, writer-producer of NBC in Chicago and New York, has joined the radio department of the Grant Adv. Agency, Chicago, in charge of writing and production. ... His first assignment at the Grant agency is What's Your Idea, sponsored by Mars Inc., Chicago (candy bars), on NBC-Red. ... He replaced Wyllis Cooper, resigned, who has returned to New York.

[August 1941 Fredonia (NY) Censor]

Friends never worry about telephoning "Spirit of '41" scripter Wyllis Cooper too early in the morning. He's usually up and at his typewriter at 4:30 a.m.

[September 1941 Dansville (NY) Breeze]

Wyllis Cooper, prolific, rotund author of the NBC-Red's "Good Neighbor" series and former writer of the grisly "Lights Out" tale, just signed a lease on two apartments in the same building, where the Coopers will live. The other is for "Bill's" exclusive use--an office to pound out scripts and a big dark room where he can pursue in peace his hobby of photography.

[November 24, 1941 New York (NY) Evening Post - "Photography" column by John Adam Knight]

... Still life and architectural subjects by Wyllis Cooper at the Academy Art Shop, 989 Lexington Av., through Wednesday. ...

[August 23, 1943 Broadcasting]


TOP EXECUTIVES of the four major networks met in Washington last Thursday with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. to discuss the importance of and plans for the Third War Loan .... Secretary Morgenthau thanked the networks for their cooperation in the past and their promise of even greater efforts in the forthcoming drive. Ted R. Gamble, national director of the War Finance Division of the Treasury, addressed the meeting following Secretary Morgenthau, and stressed the need for the greatest promotion campaign in history to reach the $15,000,000,000 goal.

Those who attended from the networks were: Douglas Coulter and Earl Gammons, CBS; Phillips Carlin and G. W. Johnstone, BLUE; Miller McClintock and Tom Slater, MBS; Frank M. Russell and Wyllis Cooper of NBC. Those attending the meeting from OWI were Palmer Hoyt, Donald Stauffer, and George Zachary; and from the Treasury besides the Secretary and Mr. Gamble were Oscar Doob, Vincent F. Callahan and Marjorie L. Spriggs.

[October 27, 1943 Variety television review]

Mad. Sq. Garden Rodeo Telecast By NBC In 1st of Sports Series

NBC spotted a single television camera in Madison Square Garden, N. Y., Monday night (25) to pick up the Rodeo and inaugurate a scheduled series of sports shots from the Eighth avenue arena. Telecast ranged from near-perfect images on slower moving scenes to disappointing blurs and shadows when the action speeded up. In trying to encompass the entire arena with but one camera, the crew staging the broadcast set up a real test and the outcome undoubtedly will have a definite bearing on the establishment of a technique for televising future similar events, The chief difficulty noted on the screen was frequent inability of the camera, and lights to focus exactly on fast-streaking cattle and horses. Once outside the spot the images faded into shadows, although on several occasions fast action shots came through with satisfying clarity. Best motion shots came through when a group of cowboys stationed themselves around the Garden floor for an exhibition of trick roping. Lights and camera panned to each roper and brought in good pictures. The twirling lariats, actions of the ropers and all movements were plain and easily discernible. George Putnam, WEAF ace newscaster, handled television spiels from an NBC studio where he followed action from screen and broke in when Abe Lefton, rodeo announcer, left openings for explanatory and incidental spots. This arrangement worked out well with few conflicts between the two spielers. A previous test with Putnam working alongside Lefton was not satisfactory. Near the close of the 75-minute show, when the Garden was darkened as part of regular show, a film version of the rodeo, previously prepared, was spliced in, although this 'faking' was not made plain to the air audience. Telecast, first 'live' show in 16 months from WNBT. N. Y.. NBC television outlet, was handled by Wyllis Cooper, production director, with Ed Wade at the camera. The crew of 10 men were split up between Garden, studio and transmitter atop the Empire State Building.

[October 3, 1944 Variety]

Plan Kirkwood Format

Wyllis Cooper of the Compton agency radio department in New York is due Friday to confer with Murray Bolen on the format of the new Jack Kirkwood show, supplanting "I Love a Mystery" on the coast for Procter & Gamble. ...

[From Oct. 4 issue] ... Kirkwood's quarter-hour strip airs from KNX, Los Angeles, at 8 p. m. (PWT), beginning Nov. 13, with Murray Bolen, head of the Compton Coast office office, supervising production. Only talent get so far with Kirkwood is his wife, Lillian Leigh. Comic has been emceeing NBC's "Mirth and Madness" from New York, and will be replaced by Ransom Sherman. New Kirkwood series plugs Oxydol and Ivory.

[From Dec 16 Billboard] ... Kirkwood seg got a critical roasting and a low rating in its Coast shakedown. Despite the poor reception, program is going web.

[July 20, 1945 Variety]


New York, July 19.--Names of the radio directors who will tour the Philippines area under the Army have been announced. Nate Tufts, of Ruthrauff & Ryan; [La?] Mikhail, director of "Stars Over Hollywood," and Hobart Donovan, director of "The Life of Riley" program, are the three Hollywood radiomen slated to go. From New York the Army is flying Lindsay Macharrie, of Young & Rubicam; Milton Wayne, of BBD&O; Bill Cooper, of the Compton agency; Earl McGill, who will represent the Radio Directors Guild, and Edwin L. Dunham, of NBC. Slated to go from Chicago are Burr Lee, of CBS; Joseph Ainley, of station WBBM, and Ted Robertson, who directs the "Service To the Front Show." Broadcasters will be accompanied on the trip by Capt. Peter McGovern, who heads the ASF Radio Unit in New York city. Trip, which is planned for a month to six weeks, in order to give radio men a chance to see the Army Service forces and supply problems actually being worked out, is the second one of its type.

[October 7, 1946 Broadcasting -- Excerpt from an article about television in which various ad agency art directors are interviewed.]

Agency Art Men See New Video Role

... Compton Adv. View

Wyllis Cooper, radio program and television director of Compton Adv. Inc., has also had experience in producing motion pictures. While not exactly an art director, his thoughts are pertinent to this discussion. Mr. Cooper:

"Back in the pre-radio days when the agency art departments discovered photography, and one could suddenly buy a used set of oil colours complete with secondhand easel at any hockshop, the wiseacres predicted that this new art was over the heads of the paint-stained wretches in the back room. Certainly, for a few years, it appeared that the hoary-headed ones were right; some of the fruitiest camera jobs ever seen appeared in the public prints over the logotypes of national advertisers. But time went on, and the agency art people studied photography, and the pictures got better and better, and the new medium of illustration was in. And it is certainly true that photography of today owes a great deal to the painstaking efforts of the agency people who believed in it, studied it, and paid attention to their betters who knew about it. And these same betters today owe a good many of their 1946 Cadillacs and their crusty bottles of port to the advertising business; the advertising art business.

Mighty Catalyst

"That sets the pattern for what effect the agency art departments will have on television, and vice-versa. The advertising business is a mighty catalyst. It will affect the quality of television and motion picture art enormously; but not at once. The factor of motion is a difficult one to understand and to use; and art-in-motion is controlled completely by the art and science of cinematics. The art of the motion picture -- and television is merely another way of showing motion pictures -- transcends static art. It is subject to rules as hard and fast as the law of gravity.

"It will take time to learn and apply these rules; there will be many who will leap on horseback and gallop off in every known direction--just as their forbears did when photography crept in. But if agency art directors and artists will be patient, listen carefully to the professionals in a field that is new to them, and humbly apply their ingenuity to the medium, nobody has anything to fear. But home movies aren't good enough for television; this new medium's audience has been looking at good movies twice a week all its life, and those people aren't going to be kidded by amateur pictures."

[November 11, 1946 Broadcasting]


COMPTON Adv, New York, Dec. 1 will eliminate its television department which was originally organized in July 1941. Agency has advocated television and had planned to refrain from live production (filmed), until further experiments with motion pictures were developed.

Wyllis Cooper, head of the television department, will resign from agency to do freelance writing. One of his first assignments is to write script for the Wynn Wright Assoc. half-hour Eddie Dowling-Esquire Show series. Program will dramatize Esquire magazine stories. James N. Manilla, Compton's associate producer of television and motion pictures, leaves agency to join motion picture advertising department of Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N. Y.

Future television projects will be handled by agency's radio department.

[July 10, 1947 New York Daily Post Magazine Section]

RADIO AND TELEVISION ... By Paul Denis ...

... Comedy: Henry Morgan, in his last broadcast of the season, speculated about his summer replacement, Arch Oboler's "Lights Out." "Maybe it's about two people who eat in the dark because they can't stand the sight of each other. Or it could be a travel program: John lights out for Bessarabia . . . Or a quiz program: 'Take It or Lights Out.'" Morgan, completing his first season of half-hour, studio audience broadcasting, will be sorely missed during his eight week lay-off. (He returns September 10th.) He was by far the brightest development in radio during the past year. (WJZ, Wed., 10:30 p. m.) And he should certainly be spotted at a better broadcasting time next season. ...

[August 1, 1947 New York Daily Post Magazine Section]

RADIO AND TELEVISION ... By Paul Denis ...

The Light That Failed: "No, no, not 'Arch Oboler's Lights Out,'" writes Arch Oboler from Cornell, California. Oboler was mistakenly identified as the author of Lights Out (WJZ, Wed., 10:30 p.m.), summer replacement for Henry Morgan, in this column recently. The fact is, Oboler did write the scripts for the show a few years back, but that was only temporary, and the idea didn't originate with him. About the current version of Lights Out, he writes, it is being put on "sans good sense, sans imagination, so that when poor Henry Morgan returns all built up from his vacation, he can tear himself down again trying to build up a new audience." [Oboler's renunciation comes just in time--for Lights Out is being dropped, and a variety show will fill in for the remainder of the summer, effective tomorrow night.]

[February 21, 1951 Variety]


Radio and television rights to all Scotland Yard cases were sewn up this week by Jack Goldstein, former film publicist, and magazine writer Collie Small. Duo has set a deal with Percy Hoskins, crime reporter of the London Daily Express, to sift the Yard's files for the best properties for radio and TV. Goldstein and Small are presently lining up a top-budgeted show based on the most famous cases. Casts have not been set, but they're dickering with both Francis L. Sullivan and George Sanders to play the lead role of a Scotland Yard inspector.

[April 11, 1951 Variety]


Wyllis Cooper, originator of the "Lights Out" series on radio, has been signed by NBC-TV producer Herbert B. Swope, Jr., to script one show a month for the video version, now aired Monday nights on that web under Admiral sponsorship. Cooper will write either an original story or adapt one of his radio scripts. Writer-producer was signed recently to pen the upcoming Sax Rohmer series for NBC-TV, which Swope is also producing. Swope, incidentally, is planning to base next Monday night's (16) stanza of "Lights Out" on the recently-concluded Kefauver crime committee hearings. Show, titled "The Witness," will star Dane Clark as the committee counsel, a la Rudolph Halley.

[May 23, 1951 Variety]

... Wyllis Cooper signed to produce and direct a new series of video shows based on the detective-scientist Luke S. May. Actor Vinton Hayworth will star in the show, being packaged by Richard Rolfe. ...

[May 23, 1951 Variety]


Herbert B. Swope, Jr., producer of NBC-TV's "Lights Out," has purchased four scripts penned by Arch Oboler for the original "Lights" radio series to add to those previously purchased from Wyllis Cooper. Oboler succeeded Cooper as writer-producer on the radio series, which is no longer on the air. With Admiral Corp. having picked up the show for another 52-week ride effective July 2, which means it will continue through the summer, Swope plans to utilize the Cooper and Oboler stories within the next several months. Oboler scripts are titled "Money, Money, Money," "Projective Mr. Drogan," "And Adam Begot" and "The Chinese Gong." Swope, incidentally, plans to continue spotting name stars in the Monday night series, the system he inaugurated for "Lights" last fall.

[October 10, 1951 Variety]

NBC's "Lights Out" marks its 100th video presentation Oct. 22, for which occasion producer Herb Swope, Jr., has selected an Arch Oboler original, "The Projective Mr. Drogan".
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Posted May 29, 2013 - 10:21 PM:

[February 1, 1932 Broadcasting - "NETWORK ACCOUNTS" column]

TENNESSEE PRODUCTS Corp., Nashville, Tenn., (Breethem Breath mints), started Jan. 23 for 13 weeks over 20 CBS stations with a script act known as "The Witching Hour" and featuring Brooks and Ross and orchestra. Critchfield and Co., Chicago, handles the account.

[February 15, 1932 Broadcasting - "BEHIND THE MICROPHONE" column]

WILLIS O. COOPER, writer and radio producer, has joined the continuity staff of WBBM, Chicago. For two years he was continuity editor for the Empire Builders.

[April 1932 Radio Digest]

When two other critics agree that this is a swell show, it means that I'm not prejudiced just because I happen to like it. It's quite an innovation in radio programs, dealing with tales of France's Foreign Legion. Scene, Algeria. Characters: various nationalities who've joined up for an enlistment. Type: Adventure with a spice of love and romance, with mild triangular aspects. Each broadcast is a complete story, although they are more or less joined together from week to week by character impersonation. A musical introduction to each character, who in turn says a few words, stamps each player in the listener's mind. Willis Cooper who writes the sketches, does "Mendoza" the Spanish comedy relief—and how he does him! Triangle involves Marigold Cassin as Amelie, the Colonel's daughter, and Don Ameche who is very dashing as Lieut. Vibrat, with the other angle held up by Vinton Haworth as Smith, the American Legionnaire. (No pun intended.) Sunda Love displays her French as Marie who serves the ever-thirsty. The cast is too long to enumerate in detail--listen in, and save me a lot of trouble. You won't be sorry.

[July 1, 1932 Broadcasting - "BEHIND THE MICROPHONE" column]

WILLIS O. COOPER, formerly head of the continuity department of the CBS Chicago division, has resigned to work as a free lance writer. At present he is writing the General Tire Co.'s show "Lives at Stake," on an NBC network, and has been commissioned by CBS to resume the "Foreign Legion" show in the fall.

[August 1, 1932 Broadcasting - "PERSONAL NOTES" column]

WILLIS O. COOPER, formerly in charge of continuity in the CBS Chicago division, has been appointed head of the continuity department at the NBC Chicago division to succeed John Gihon, who has gone to KDKA, Pittsburgh, in a similar capacity.

[April 15, 1933 Broadcasting - "BEHIND THE MICROPHONE" column]

THE CHOIR of Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Ill., presented an original Easter oratorio written by Bill Cooper and Harold Fair, of the CBS Chicago studios, over a CBS network April 13.

[February 1, 1934 Broadcasting - "BEHIND THE MICROPHONE" column]

WILLIS COOPER, Chicago NBC continuity editor, and Clarence L. Menser, production manager of NBC Chicago, lectured recently before the broadcasting class at the University of Chicago.

[June 15, 1934 Broadcasting - "PERSONAL NOTES" column]

WILLIS O. COOPER, head of the Chicago NBC continuity department, made a trip to Texas in June to confer with officials of the Crazy Water Hotel Co., Mineral Wells, Tex., on their radio program.

[June 15, 1934 Broadcasting - "NETWORK ACCOUNTS" column]

NBC CHANGES: Crazy Water Hotel Co. on July 4 changes program June 4 [sic] to "Crazy Crystalizers" on 17 NBC WEAF stations with schedule now daily except Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30-2:45 p. m. ...

[August 15, 1935 Broadcasting]

Roars That Are Real

REAL sound effects for Flying Time, NBC-WEAF serial to start Aug. 30, will be provided by the world's fastest planes when the cast, with director and writer, flies to Cleveland for the National Air Races. There the episodes will originate from the flying field itself. Willis Cooper, author of the series and NBC central division continuity editor, will write the scripts on the scene.

[October 26, 1935 Racine (WI) Journal-Times]

Willis Cooper, former NBC continuity head who resigned to do free-lance writing, has been engaged to write the Betty and Bob shows. The program will begin to use Bill's scripts on the Thursday, Oct. 31, broadcast. Cooper also writes Flying Time and Lights Out drama.

[January 1936 Radio Mirror]

Betty Lou Gerson, the NBC starlet who admits having a terrible complex about ghosts and bogeymen, recently was cast in a Lights Out script which concerned a girl who was killed in a taxi when a bridge went up with the car still on it. After the show, Betty took a cab home and just as they reached Chicago's famous Michigan Avenue bridge, it started lifting. Superstitious Betty deserted the cab and hoofed it the rest of the way home. Half an hour later, her cab driver was killed in a crash which occurred less than a half a mile from her home.

[January 1936 Radio Mirror - Cooper hears from movie actor Lee Tracy]

Bill Cooper who writes the Lights Out, nerve wracking dramas, is going to cherish for a long time a telegram he got the other day:


[February 27, 1936 Chicago Sentinel radio column]

. . . WILLIS COOPER who authored LIGHTS OUT is new president of RADIO CAMERA CLUB . . .

[March 1936 Radio Mirror - A correction]

WE didn't mean to, but when we wrote the caption on the "Lights Out!" pictures in the March [sic] issue of RADIO MIRROR, we gave the impression that the program was directed by Art Jacobson. The "Lights Out!" director is really Ted Sherdeman, and it's his work which has been responsible for building the program into the colorful and entertaining feature it is.

[March 17, 1936 Racine (WI) Journal-Times]

Bob Griffin's outstanding performance on a recent NBC "Lights Out" show, in which he portrayed a man gradually losing his mind, resulted in a phone call from a CBS production man asking who this bird was who had nearly driven crazy in the half hour just passed. [sic]

[July 1936 Radio Mirror]

I'm afraid Chicago's Bill Cooper and the success of his ghost stories, Lights Out, on NBC stations, was responsible for a sudden demand for that type of radio entertainment this late winter. .... Cooper turned out one show so horrifying that Mrs. Ted Weems, riding along the boulevards in a car, refused to leave the machine after the show ended. She was afraid of the midnight shadows.

[April 15, 1938 Broadcasting]

BREWSTER MORGAN has resigned from the CBS Hollywood production staff to join Ward Wheelock Co., that city, (former F. Wallis Armstrong Co.) as producer of the CBS Hollywood Hotel program sponsored by Campbell Soup Co. He will assist in production of the program until May 15 when he takes complete charge, succeeding Fred Ibbett, resigned. Morgan will work with Ibbett until he takes over as producer and collaborative writer with Willis Cooper. Addison Simmons, who has been collaborating with Cooper has left the show. Diana Bourbon, West Coast manager of the agency, continues as associate producer of Hollywood Hotel.

[April 1940 Radio Mirror]

ON THE AIR TODAY: A Short Short Story, on CBS at 11:00. E.S.T., today, Wednesday and Friday, sponsored by Campbell Soup.

The question is: Why didn't anybody ever think of broadcasting dramatized versions of clever short short stories before? And the answer is: People did, but Campbell Soup was the first sponsor with nerve enough to try it.

A short short story, you don't have to be told if you read many magazines, is a story that can be printed on one page and read in five minutes or so, usually with a surprise twist at the end. Dramatized, they make ideal brief radio plays, suitable for broadcasting in the fifteen minutes this program has on the air.

But up until now, sponsors have been afraid of tackling a series of them because they didn't think enough good short shorts were available. Diana Bourbon, producer of this series, says that so far she hasn't had any trouble finding good ones.

The stories come from all sources. Some are taken from the pages at magazines; some are stories that have never been published; and some are radio scripts turned out by radio writers in dialogue form. As they come into the office of the Ward Wheelock Company, the advertising agency which presents the program for Campbells, they are read by a girl reader who sends the best ones to Miss Bourbon, and the latter, with other officials of the company, selects the one to go on the air. Wyllis Cooper adapts them to radio.

Wyllis (his name was Willis until a numerologist advised him to change it) used to write the famous, horrible Lights Out scripts in Chicago. Then he was in Hollywood, where he adapted movies for the Hollywood Hotel program and worked in movie studios. The Wheelock company brought him to New York especially for this series of short short stories.

Diana Bourbon, who directs and produces the shows, is one of radio's few women directors. She's energetic, handsome, and dynamic. The only reason she isn't in the rehearsal picture above is that just as the photographer arrived Diana got a hurry call to go and direct Life Begins, another Campbell program, because the regular director was sick. Diana is also an actress--she was on the stage in London and New York until she went into radio--and you will hear her now and then taking a role in one of the short short stories.

The cast of the program changes with every broadcast, naturally, and all of radio's top-flight actresses and actors are being used, as well as an occasional personality from the New York stage.

[January 3, 1945 Radio Daily]

Conflicting Viewpoints Highlight ATS Meeting

The lines of battle were drawn sharply on the question of "live" versus filmed tele programs at the meeting of the American Television Society last Thursday evening. Contrasting viewpoints were the order of the day, with both sides equally definite, although not equally vehement, in their assertions.

Propounding the virtues of live talent was Ira A. Hirschmann, newly appointed organizer of the FM and television activities of the Federated Department Stores. Speaking mainly from the standpoint of store displays, and department store merchandising, he maintained that live shows possessed many advantages over the use of film, although he readily admitted that there will be a period of "work, sweat and humility" before tele-programming reached any degree of perfection.

Violently championing the opposition was Wyllis Cooper, program manager of the Compton Advertising, Inc. who in no uncertain terms, stated that at the present time "television stinks," and that the reason had nothing whatever to do with "the number or lines to the inch or other technicalities," but was simply a matter of adequate programming.

[January 16, 1945 Radio Daily]

... Willys [sic] Cooper, television director of the Compton Advertising. Inc., said:

We are glad to hear of the Federal Communication Commission's faith in commercial television. Now we hope that incompetent individuals will not succeed in running television into the ground before the American public has a chance to see it. In order to prevent that, television programming and production will have to compare favorably with the entertainment standards already established by motion pictures."
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#13 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2014 - 3:55 PM:

Didn't see this posted here previously:
From "The Flat Hat" (College of William and Mary) - May 23, 1950:

CBS Will Telecast Winning Play Script.

"The Pay-Off," Wells Robinson's prize-winning play in the CBS Awards competition for original drama scripts by collegiate writers, will be presented on STAGE 13 over CBS-TV Wednesday June 7 (CBS-TV 9:30-10:00 p.m, EDT).

Robinson, a 26-year-old ex-G.I. undergraduate at the University of North Carolina, is majoring in radio and has produced successful broadcasts for the University's communications center.

"The Pay-Off," an exercise in the integration of plot and character, tells the story of two miserly spinster sisters whose avarice proves their undoing.

The script attracted the interest of Wyllis Cooper, producer of STAGE 13, widely known for his origination of such series as "Lights Out," "Volume I," and Escape, when announcement was made of the prize awarded to Robinson.

STAGE 13, a new series launched in April, is devoted to dramas of fanciful adventures and mystery.
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Posted Mar 23, 2014 - 12:12 PM:

Hey, Zorka, how've you been? That "Flat Hat" article was an Associated Press story that also appeared in the Washington Post. It's in this earlier thread:

Here's a link to an excellent new blog about the 1929-1931 "Empire Builders" series on which Cooper worked:

Cooper's name has only come up once so far, in this important post:


Oswalt and Ellison on "Fourble Board"


Posted by Street Carnage • 11.12.13 09:00 am

Patton Oswalt forwarded this link to a 25-minute radio broadcast from 1948 that he calls "one of the creepiest things I've ever heard."

He writes:

This is a YouTube link to an episode of a 1940's radio show called Quiet, Please. It's the episode called "The Thing on the Fourble Board", and it was first broadcast on August 9, 1948.

On Halloween this year I was tooling around Los Angeles listening to the Radio Classics channel on XM (XM 082) and they had an all-day horror marathon going on. They played episodes of Quiet, Please and Lights Out and The Whistler and, of course, Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast.

Anyway, this episode started and I only got to hear the first 10 minutes before I got to a meeting I was going to and headed inside. When I came back out the episode was over. But the first ten minutes were sufficiently creepy. I kept thinking about it.

The next day I visited Harlan Ellison at his house. As we were talking I mentioned listening to all of these old-time radio shows the day before. I know he's a fan of them and I mentioned Quiet, Please. I mentioned how I heard episodes called "Five Miles Down" and "Good Ghost" and "Come In, Eddie." And then I mentioned how I heard only the first ten minutes of "The Thing on the Fourble Board."

"Did you hear the whole thing?" asked Harlan.

I hadn't.

Harlan said, "Well, I first heard that episode when I was 14 and I never fucking need to hear it again. Go listen to the whole thing and think about being a fourteen year-old kid and that comes on the radio one night. No disclaimer, no warning, just boom!"

I listened to the whole thing. It's only 25 minutes long. And it's one of the creepiest things I've ever heard.

Harlan went on to tell me how every horror writer (or writer who's dabbled in horror) he's ever known — King, Matheson, Bradbury — all of them share the experience of being royally fucked up by "The Thing on the Fourble Board." King didn't even hear it until he was in his late twenties — so this was after he'd seen Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — and it still fucked him up.

Listen and you'll see what I mean.[i]

[To the above post, Harlan Ellison commented:]

11.12.13 at 03:06 pm
Patton didn't go far enough explicating our conversation. QUIET, PLEASE is--and has been, since I was a kid in the 1940s--one of the highest favorites of fantasy I have ever been exposed to. It was a radio show that I would crawl through hellfire never to miss. I have as complete a set of audios from SPERDVAC and Radio Yesteryear as one could amass in a long lifetime. The writer and director, the Creative Intelligence behind QUIET, PLEASE was


a talent I hold on a level with Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Wm. Hope Hodgson, Poe, Bierce, and Shirley Jackson. It was my fervor, some years ago, to inveigle the US Post Office to issue a set of commemorative stamps honoring Great American Fantasists--including L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Smith and Lovecraft...and Wyllis Cooper.

Getting to the High & Secret Conclave that selects what will be so honored is a full-time job; and I had to put the endeavor on the back burner. But Now that you've been exposed to Wyllis Cooper, do not embargo yourself from seeking out the dozens of other episodes of QUIET, PLEASE and let Ernest Chappell ensorcle you for hours.

Yr. Pal, Harlan Ellison
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Posted Jul 28, 2014 - 11:50 PM:

[January 19, 1932 Variety]

CBS's 5th Chiller

When Breethem goes on CBS with 'Witching Hour,' broadcasting from Chicago, it will be the fifth commercial mystery series on that network.

[February 1, 1932 Broadcasting - "BEHIND THE MICROPHONE" column]

W. O. COOPER, writer of the "Empire Builders" continuities for two years, has left the McJunkin agency to join WBBM and the CBS in Chicago to do continuity work. He writes the "Breethem" super-natural script and has a new sustaining on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., CST, called, "The Lost Legion."

[February 23, 1932 Variety]

Keep Peace in Advice Giving Radio Advertiser's Family--It's Hard to Do

Chicago, Feb. 22 -- Differences among the advertiser's board of directors over the type of entertainment uncorked by the Breathem program, a Saturday afternoon event on the Columbia network, has caused three complete revisions of the show in four broadcasts. As the ether session now stands, it's a compromise affair, combining the tastes and wishes of the members of the board, their families and relatives and the company's entire personnel who also had been caucused for opinions.

Wrangle among the directors and executives of the Tennessee Products Corp., a $30,000,000 outfit, with the candy lozenger, Breathem, one of its minor manufacturing activities, first broke when the sister-in-law of an influential board member complained about the bad effect the program was having on her children. Entire quarter hour of the Breathem show on the initial broadcast (Jan. 23), outside the ad blurbs, was given to a shocker of the "Dracula" school, with the setting laid in a haunted house on a lonely hill.

The shouts, screams and shots coming from the loud-speaker and the dire suspense created by the skit's enacting unsettled her youngsters' nerves, the director's relative averred, and she advised him that his company go in for some sort of entertainment other than the kind that was likely to scare the kids.

At the next meeting of the board the sister-in-law's complaint was brought up and it developed that there were a couple of other directors whose wives had objected to the thrillers. After heated debate, the chairman ordered the shocker series pulled and a musical program immediately substituted. Company's execs, who had picked the thriller idea, burned over the order, but the next program went straight musical, anyway.

Sweet Breath

Pro-thriller faction, however, resumed the argument that the program was no different from hundreds of others on the air and that the broadcast line of plugging originally connected had lost its force. Hooked up with the shocker idea was the announcer's introductory catchline: "These dramas are so thrilling that they'll take your breath away. Take a Breathem and it'll come back sweetened and purified."

When the anti-shocker group on the board refused to yield even to this advertising angle. It was then suggested that the company's personnel be called upon to vote on what they preferred in the way of entertainment for the Breathem program. Idea was okayed all around, and in the resultant count-up it was found that two-thirds favored a musical session and the balance resumption of the mystery show.

Wrangling and differences of opinion was finally settled by re-charting the program's continuity so that two-thirds of it goes for an orchestra and a quartet, and the remaining third is devoted to thriller blackout, with the latter pretty well toned down.

[August 15, 1932 Broadcasting - "BEHIND THE MICROPHONE" column]

WILLIS O. COOPER, continuity writer for CBS, has been appointed assistant to Walter J. Preston, director of WBBM, Chicago, and program director of the midwest for CBS. Marigold Cassin has been moved up to head the continuity department of WBBM and CBS.

[January 31, 1933 Variety]


Chicago, Jan. 30.

Catholic Church Extension Society, directed by Monsignor William D. O'Brien, goes on WBBM every Sunday starting Feb. 5 (2:30-3 p.m.) on a commercial basis. Willis Cooper will write a series of programs showing the relation of various Catholics to the history of America.

Stanley Andrews, Tom Shirley, Reginald Knorr, Carl Hackett and Cooper will enact the series.

[January 31, 1933 Variety]


Chicago, Jan. 30.

'Tales of the Foreign Legion,' sustaining program now broadcast over 26 CBS stations, will be extended Feb. 10 to 62 stations. At that time it will be moved from afternoon spotting to 9:30 p.m. every Sunday.

John C. Daly, Vinton Haworth. Ray Appleby, and Douglas Hope are the stock actors. Build-up for the program, by Willis Cooper, is in hope of attracting sponsorship.

[July 18, 1933 Variety]


Chicago, July 17.

Willis Cooper who two weeks ago resigned as continuity editor of station WBBM (Columbia), has been named to a similar post at NBC here. He follows John Gihon who resigned.

Understood Gihon will go to KDKA, Pittsburgh, to join Bill Hedges.

[September 19, 1933 Variety - Review of Cooper's NBC follow-up to his CBS Foreign Legion series.]

Dramatic Sketch,
WJZ, New York.

For the background of this series the writer elected the Foreign Legion. It's a background that films, novels and short stories have popularized and made surefire. But for the purposes of this bunch of scripts the author could have used any soldier encampment, anywhere and anytime. Unlike the melodramatic series put on by CBS under the Foreign Legion title for a couple seasons, this one passes up plot and action for gag situations.

'Desert Gun' episodes so far have been weak stuff. Voice, casting, acting and direction on each occasion have been superior to the scripts. NBC must have other stories lying around its continuity department more worthy of such pains.

One installment had as the locale a grog shop in Morocco. Judging from this sample, farce comedy on the air is where pictures were in the John Bunny days.


[December 12, 1933 Variety]


Chicago NBC is creeping up on the proposed plan for midnight mysteries. Has auditioned one of the Bill Cooper old chillers, "Turn out the Lights," to get a notion of the scheme. ...

[January 2, 1934 Variety]

Ready Cooper's Chills

Chicago, Dec. 31.

Bill Cooper's mystery stories for NBC figured to start this Friday or next. Will run on midnight for the chills.

Will likely [st]art on a local with additio[nal] stations added if and when.

[March 13, 1934 Variety - "RADIO CHATTER" column - A "once over" in New York City?]

Chicago ...

Bill Cooper sneaked away from local continuities long enough for an o. o. of his company's Radio City edifice.

[January 15, 1935 Broadcasting]

Montgomery Ward Series

MONTGOMERY WARD & Co., Chicago mail order house, is using radio in an institutional campaign designed to increase the company's prestige with its farm customers and to combat the association of cheapness with mail order merchandise by sponsoring a series of highly dignified programs which contain no commercial announcements. The advertising is limited to a simple credit line at the beginning and closing of each broadcast. Called "Immortal Dramas," the programs are a series of biblical stories from the Old Testament, dramatized against a background of choral and instrumental music. Lloyd Lewis, Chicago author, dramatist and historian, prepared the scripts. [sic] Hays MacFarland & Co., Chicago, is the agency. [sic, see below]

[February 1, 1935 Broadcasting - "RADIO ADVERTISERS" column]

MONTGOMERY WARD & Co., Chicago, which started Immortal Dramas Jan. 13 on a coast-to-coast NBC-WEAF network, is placing the account through Hays MacFarland & Co., Chicago, and not Lord & Thomas, as incorrectly stated in the Jan. 15 issue.

[January 22, 1935 Variety - Radio Chatter column]

Illinois ...

Montgomery Ward tossed a press preview of its Biblical show, which was written by Lloyd Lewis, drama ed. of the Chicago News. ...

Literary, drama and book critics breaking precedent to review the Lloyd Lewis air scripts of the Montgomery Ward show.

[January 29, 1935 Variety]


Radio performers are setting together on the formation of a social club in the manner of the Friars Club or the legits' Lambs in New York. No tag yet chosen but likely to be Radio Artists Association.

At first had figured on a tag of National Radio Artists, but changed on account of squawks from performers with Columbia and because of the N.R.A. initials. Club will not get underway before 90 days at least, when officers will be chosen.

Dues in the organization will be $2 a month plus an entrance fee of $10. There will be 50 charter memberships at $25. Aim is for 350 members in Chicago, with already almost 100 leading performers having signified their intention of joining the association.

Club rooms will he located on La Salle street and will contain recreation rooms besides dressing rooms where performers who live in the suburbs can dress for evening shows without going all the way home.

This incipient association marks another attempt of the performers locally to get together. Other attempted associations have never gotten by the discussion stage. But the present Radio Artists Association has already chosen quarters, set up rules and dues and has been campaigning for members. Performers have for years stated that they desperately need some sort of association, but none of the performers have ever gotten into action. This organization marks the first that is actually going ahead with its plans.

Already pledged as potential members of the club are Don Ameche, Edgar Guest, Patricia Manners, Loretta Poynton, Sylvia Clark, Henry Saxe, Bob Fisk, Margie Evans, Bernadine Flynn, Pierre Andre, Maurie Wetzel, Bill Cooper, Truman Bradley, Art Millet, Tom, Dick and Harry, Edith Davis, Charles Calvert, among a flock of others. Organization of the performers into this club follows the recent formation of a luncheon club among the various radio department executives among the adverting agencies and station representatives.

According to the terms of the pledges, the club needs 350 members within 90 days. If less than 350 pledges are subscribed, a vote will be taken to decide whether to abandon the club or to organize with the number of members on hand.

[March 20, 1935 Variety]

Sears-Roebuck Warm

Chicago, March 19.

Everybody in the radio biz here scrambling for the Sears-Roebuck account.

Mail order house is hot after the ether, following click of the rival Montgomery Ward show on NBC with its Sunday Bible yarns.

[June 5, 1935 Variety]

NBC May Divert Dance Music to One Chi Outlet

Chicago, June 4.

NBC locally becoming quite cramped for bands during its late hour remote control pick-up sessions due to the Musicians Union situation in New York and the heartbreaking competish for remote pickups in this city among the five radio outlets. So much so that the network offices here have about decided to step away from dance band pickups at night. Are now working on a plan whereby only one of its two outlets will carry the dance orchestra remotes while the other station will branch out into variety programming entirely away from dance music.

This move also follows the click of script sustainers at night, proving to the satisfaction of the NBC moguls here that there is a goodly portion of the listening audience which would rather listen to something other than continuous dance music between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Shows which have proved this to NBC are such as the 'Hoofinghams' and particularly 'Lights Out,' the local mystery show which has spread out over the network.

NBC will likely delegate the straight dance music to WMAQ and will build-up the variety shows on WENR. It [m]arks the first general move made by radio to step away from the traditional dansapation in the late evening time. NBC also has angles which may result in sponsorship at the late periods for those variety shows where the straight dance pick-ups prevented any such sponsorship.

[Jan. 29, 1935 Variety]

Harvey Hayes, [Noble Cain's] A Capella Choir, orchestra direction Roy Shields
Biblical episodes
30 Mins.
WMAQ, Chicago

'Immortal Dramas' is from holy scripture. And for once the radio author is King. Auspices seem to have been smart enough first to hire a reputable writer, Floyd [sic] Lewis, historian and dramatic critic of the Chicago Daily News, and then to keep the advertising from making a mockery, as could easily be done, of a reverent narrative.

Minimum of commercial copy. Only commercial plug on the entire show is the brief mention at the beginning and at the end: 'presented by Montgomery Ward.'
No other copy is necessary, in fact, more copy would be detrimental. The very paucity of commercial copy enhances the single slug line so that the brief mention stands out more effectively than a 200-word spiel. The only danger now is that the mail order house may believe that it can, as time goes by, increase the amount of copy. If such a trick is attempted the company may lose the effectiveness of this program.

Riding for 30-minute period on Sunday early afternoon it is an almost ideal time for a Biblical series. Bible is loaded with dramatic values, with love and life and suspense and action.

Script-writing by Lloyd Lewis is a radio gem. Stark simplicity authentic in research and tempo marks Lewis' scripts.

Harvey Hayes serves as narrator, leading into the dialogue and he does the job well. Noble Cain A Capella Choir has been an NBC fixture here for several years and in this show finds a place in which it fits perfectly. Music by Shield and orchestra is excellent in keeping to the spirit of the show.


[September 1935 Radio Mirror]

... RECENT visitors to Chicago radio studios:

Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon to watch Bill Cooper's "Lights Out." ...

[September 4, 1935 Variety]

Willis Cooper Quits

Chicago, Sept. 3.

Willis Cooper quits as continuity chief of the local NBC offices on Sept. 15. Will free lance his own shows on NBC such as 'Flying Time' and 'Lights Out,' both of which have been clicks. It's strictly an amicable parting with Cooper signaturing with the NBC Artists Bureau for representation.

Job will be taken over by Larry Holcomb, formerly with NBC continuity in New York, and with the Fletcher & Ellis agency.

[October 16, 1935 Variety]


With Willard Farnum, Ted Maxwell, Art Jacobson, Harold Peary, Loretta Poynton, Betty Lou Gerson
15 Mins.
WENR, Chicago

Willis Cooper is writing this children's aviation script for NBC and doing an excellent job. Cooper quit as head of the NBC continuity department to devote himself to ether scripting.

With the kids today as aviation-minded as the kids of yesterday were railroad-minded, this airplane story figures as basically right for juve attention. Cooper has wisely kept away from making children the chief characters in the play. He is correct in assuming that the kids are more interested in hearing about adult exploits, as much as they like to see George O'Brien or Tom Mix or Hoot Gibson on the screen.

Good, fast action throughout, with Cooper inserting enough technical chatter to give the show authenticity. The fault in this show is the sound effects man, who overdoes roar-of-the-motor business. Interferes with the dialog and becomes annoying after a while.


[March 18, 1936 Variety - Here and There column]

Bill Cooper dishing up a script show for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy rattler system.

[June 1936 Radio Mirror]

Mail addressed to "Metropolitan Airport" reaches the Chicago Municipal Airport regularly and is forwarded to Bill Cooper who writes the show Flying Time in which script he uses that fictitious address.

[October 6, 1937 Variety]

... Willis Cooper trying his hand at scenarizing the 'Hollywood Hotel' airers. ...

[December 15, 1937 Variety]


Artists Bureau Follows Cliff Soubier precedent on Commish

Los Angeles, Dec. 14

Successful in its suit to collect delinquent commissions from [actor] Cliff Soubier, NBC artists bureau, through its resident attorney, Frederick Leuschner, filed a similar action in superior court against Willis Cooper, now scripting, with Addison Simmons, 'Hollywood Hotel.' Complaint charges Cooper with being $3,000 in arrears on bureau payoff.

Action parallels Soubier litigation in that both were signed to personal management contracts outside the state. Part of commissions are claimed for Cooper's employment at 20th-Fox studio as a writer.

[March 30, 1938 Variety]

'Lights Out' with Templeton Fox, Mercedes McCambridge, Arthur Peterson, Raymond Johnson, Bob Guilbert
Mystery Stories
30 Mins.
Wednesday, 11:30 p.m. CST
WMAQ-NBC; Chicago

Midwest division of NBC brought in Karloff to inaugurate the fourth anniversary for this midnight mystery show, with Karloff scheduled for a stay of several weeks on Wednesday night chiller.

Strangely enough, despite the evident draw of program. NBC has not been able to obtain a sponsor for it, with advertisers shying from the 'unorthodox' program that appeals to people who will listen to a horror yarn, or who will stay up until midnight for a spine-tingler.

Initial Karloff script was a solid piece of writing, displaying a novelty approach in projecting the story in the first person, with only occasional lapses into dramatization. Story of a man who hears voices telling him to kill, and which finally drive him to murder the woman he loves.

Karloff does a good job of the helpless murderer, with the rest of the cast being outstanding, especially the gal playing the part of the evil voice. Production was tuned perfectly to the demands at the script and built each sequence to full value.


[August 17, 1938 Variety]

Oboler Script on BBC

London, Aug. 5.

BBC has taken Arch Oboler's 'Money, Money, Money,' for performance in early September, and will spot it around 10:45 p.m. as first of series of 30-min. chillers under general title of 'Lights Out.' Norman Shelley and Charles Farrell reported in line for the leads.

It isn't [movie star Janet] Gaynor's ex-partner, incidentally, but a purely local Farrell, who's pretty familiar with BBC's mikes.

Oboler is an American script writer.

[May 10, 1939 Variety]

Follow-Up Comment

'Lights Out, NBC's Wednesday midnight chiller from Chicago, is getting grislier by the week and requires a substantial stomach to stand the 30 minute dose. Even Tom Mix in his deadliest six-shooter days wasn't as active in depopulation as one installment turned out by this program's scribbler. And Mix did his jobs without the aid of neurasthenic sound effects.

Idea of Wednesday's (3) airing was the story of one gent's campaign to provide fresh corpses for medical schools--when he couldn't get 'em fresh enough via grave robbing he took to making his own. In the course of the 30 mins. such gentle lines as 'I'll take your own axe and split you into two quivering halves,' the sound of the blows, the noise made by gore running from a pair of smashed skulls, and the top effect of all, that of a murderer being pulled apart on the rack, bones cracking, etc., were included. 'Lights Out' and welsh rarebits are on a par as pre-bedtime fare. ...

[May 17, 1939 Variety]

Chicago ...

Herbert Lyon, in the ad department at Balaban & Katz, has turned out several scripts which NBC has snapped up for the spooky 'Lights Out' program.

[June 7, 1939 Variety - Excerpt from Part 2 of a multipart series]

Parental Comment on Kid Programs

Further tabulations in VARIETY'S survey of parental reaction to sponsored radio programs are presented herewith. ... A printed questionnaire form was employed. ... All respondents were identified as parents. ...

Milwaukee, Wisc. ...


Jack Benny .......... 24
Lux ................. 18
Bob Hope ............ 12
Charlie McCarthy .... 12
'One Man's Family' .. 10
Bing Crosby ......... 8
'First Nighter' ..... 7
Kay Kyser ........... 6
'Lights Out' ........ 5
Fred Allen .......... 4
'Big Town' .......... 4
Scattered ........... 19

[August 15, 1939 Broadcasting]

VERDICT upholding an NBC Artists Service contract and awarding its claim of $1,710 for commissions was rendered Aug. 7 in Los Angeles Superior Court in a suit against Willis Cooper, Hollywood writer. At the same time the court set aside a counter suit filed by Cooper asking $10,000 on charges of misrepresentation. Decision is expected to have precedent bearing in Hollywood on numerous contracts entered into by artists and network agencies outside of California by establishing legal aspects of such pacts.

[April 15, 1940 Buffalo (NY) Courier-Express]

Today's Short Short Story is an original by Wyllis Cooper, who used to write the Lights Out thrillers for NBC; it's titled 28 Years Ago Yesterday and stars Donald Cook and Jeanette Nolan. ...

[November 13, 1940 Variety]


John Housman, Willis Cooper for Campbell--Diana Bourbon Directs

John Housman and Willis Cooper will alternate as adaptors of the scripts used on the Campbell Playhouse which opens on CBS Nov. 22. Diana Bourbon will do the directing. All programs will be out of New York, and based on stories new to radio.

Initial installment will have Walter Huston and Donald Cook, Jr., in 'Life Is So Little,' from a story by Wilbur Daniel Steele. The following broadcast will co-star Miriam Hopkins and Humphrey Bogart in Vina Delmar's 'Air Mail to Red Biding Hood.'

[November 20, 1940 Variety]

Lunt-Fontanne Broadcast While on Coast With Stage Show; Time Okay

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, currently touring in Robert E. Sherwood's 'There Shall Be No Night,' will probably do a guest dramatic appearance on the forthcoming Campbell Playhouse series from the Coast. Program is slated to air at 9:30 Friday nights, but with the three-hour time difference, that would give the acting pair time to do the radio stint after their evening stage performance.

Date might be any time between Jan. 31 and March 3, when the troupe is playing various Coast stands. Director and announcer would probably be the only talent that would have to be sent from New York for the broadcast, although probably the writer would also make the trip in advance to confer with the Lunts regarding the script. 'Night' company is unusually well balanced, so no additional actors would be needed.

Leggett Brown, the Lunts' radio agent who is dickering with the Ward Wheelock agency for the date, hopes to have Willis Cooper write an original drama for the pair. It would be their first commercial stint and the expectation is that if it is successful, they would be available for repeats.

After repeatedly refusing radio offers, Lunt and Miss Fontanne made their air debut several months ago on a Red Cross benefit program. Since then Miss Fontanne, with Lunt briefly introducing her, did the Alice Duer Miller ('White Cliffs of Dover') poem over NBC blue (WJZ) and repeated it two weeks later.

[December 4, 1940 Variety]

With Miriam Hopkins, Humphrey Bogart
30 Mins.
Friday, 9:30 p.m.
WABC-CBS, New York
(Ward Wheelock)
Another in the growing number of radio half hours devoted to dramatics, this series for Campbell's soup is directly against Procter & Gamble's Arch Oboler playlets on the NBC blue. Delayed a week because of CBS' objection to the fifth column theme for Walter Huston originally selected for the opener by the agency, the series took off Friday (29) on the slightly moulty wings of a bit of aerial tripe--flashy but still tripe--called 'Air Mail to Red Riding Hood.'

The story was wrenched from the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine to receive more loving care from adaptor and director and star performers than it deserved. Because of the skilled handling it unfolded its pointless chronicle with considerable eclat. But it was a case of a rhinestone in a Tiffany setting. In other words, it was phoney.

Miriam Hopkins was a cabaret singer, Humphrey Bogart, her man, a rum-runner. Between time she married a nice millionaire, but couldn't stand his family's refinement. While with child she ran away, got [a] divorce, married the rum-runner, a good guy who brought up the stepdaughter with the best. The rumrunner dies in the pen, the daughter must at last be sent to her wealthy grandmother. The whole tale unfolds in the flashback technique as Miss Hopkins reads aloud the letter she is writing the kid (little Red Riding Hood) telling her how it all happened. It all happened in Vina Delmar's typewriter and on the pages of the slick paper mag.

Agencies and quibblers and people in their homes all disagree on material of this nature. It is necessarily an arbitrary opinion to say it just didn't stand up; it just wasn't convincing. Others may gurgle that it was enough to break their hearts. Some people start crying as soon as the announcer says 'this is a sad story.' Change the 's' in sad to a 'b.'

But it was expertly dished out.


[December 13, 1940 Buffalo (NY) Courier-Express]

DAYTIME DATA--This is the day when Short Short Story becomes Charlie and Jessie over WGR at 11 a. m., as announced by CBS; Donald Cook and Florence Lake are the stars and the series is the work of Wyllis Cooper, one of the really good writers in radio ...

[January 1941 Radio Varieties]

"You're in the Army Now" is a new weekly NBC series dealing with life in the newly drafted forces. This is a dramatic program, aimed to interest all American families. These comic but plausible stories of the army camps are written by Wyllis Cooper, a World War Veteran and Captain in the U. S. Reserve. Cooper's successful career in radio includes the origination and writing for two and a half years of the famous "Lights Out" series. ("You're In The Army Now" is broadcast Mondays at 8:00 p.m., CST, over the NBC-Blue Network.)

[January 1, 1941 Variety]

Laurence Olivier-Vivien Leigh, on the eve of their departure for England, did Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" for Campbell's Soup. Fortunately, G.B.S. probably will never hear the production and thus feel a need to regret the permission. It was a steadily drab telling of the ordinarily exciting story. Confusion was the net result of the editing. Here is a story that depends upon the perfection of its detail, the play of subtle cultural nuances, the low development of personality. The time limit condemned the radio version, and the walk-through performance and the unimaginative, lacklustre direction finished it off. The quick clinch at the ending was a caricature on Hollywood itself. Shaw's fine play deserves to be preserved from ever again being tossed into a pot boiling concentrated soup by a stopwatch.

[January 29, 1941 Variety]

Wyllis Cooper, who writes 'You're in the Army Now,' has adapted the Libbie Block story, 'Mrs. Fane Comes of Age,' into a radio skit for use on the Campbell Playhouse, Jan. 31.....

[March 12, 1941 Variety]

Walter Huston gave a technically rough, but dramatically effective performance Friday (7) night on the 'Campbell Playhouse.' Piece was an expert adaptation of 'You and I,' an early Philip Barry play. Noted as a slow study, Huston muffed a number of lines, yet gave an underlying impression of authority, sincerity, understanding of the part and, consequently, of plausibility. Play itself is an unusually adult one for radio, posing the eternal problem of how a man must compromise his avocation-ambition to everyday demands of business, family, etc. As usual, the guest delivered a sign-off plug for Campbell's soup. That may help sell the product, but it is palpably phony and in dubious taste.

[March 19, 1941 Variety]

Gale Page and John Beal turned in one of the best shows of the series as guests on last Friday (14) night's edition of the 'Campbell Playhouse.' Script was Howard Teichman's skillful adaptation of May Edginton's short story, 'Purple and Fine Linen.' Miss Page had expressive shading and emphasis in the meatier of the two leads, with John Beal giving a vigorous and expertly climaxed performance in a part offering less scope. Ted de Corsia provided a couple of notable bits. Lyn Murray's bridges and montage music were graphic. Incidentally, the elimination of the guest testimonial for Campbell's soup was a slight, but marked, improvement in a program of this calibre.

[April 19, 1941 Movie-Radio Guide]

Chicago Writer Returns.

CHICAGO.--Wyllis Cooper has returned to the scene of his many fictitious crimes. The demon-writer of the early "Lights Out" horror plays is back in Chicago radio as one of the directors and writers of the "What's Your Idea?" program. During the past several years Cooper has been in Hollywood writing screen plays for Shirley Temple and "Mr. Moto" among others. Recently he has been writing a training-camp serial, "You're in the Army Now," and adapting plays for "Campbell Playhouse."

[August 20, 1941 New York (NY) Sun]

Script Writer Leases Two E. 73rd St. Suites

Wyllis Cooper, radio script writer, has leased two apartments at 28 East Seventy-third street, a penthouse, to be used as a residence and another suite which will be converted into an office.

[August 22, 1941 Motion Picture Daily - "Off the Antenna" column]

Wyllis Cooper, script writer for "Good Neighbors" and "Spirit of '41," will be interviewed by Nancy Craig over WJZ Wednesday at 9 A.M.

[December 19, 1941 Motion Picture Daily - From a report on "MOTION PICTURE DAILY'S sixth annual radio poll" of "more than 600 newspaper radio editors and columnists of the United States and Canada ..."

The CBS "Spirit of '41" was the program which won the award for the Best Special Events or News Job Performed by Radio in 1941 ...

CBS Spirit of '41

NBC General News } tied [with]
CBS Army Maneuvers

CBS Overseas Broadcasts } tied [with]
NBC This Is England

[June 29, 1942 Broadcasting]

MAURICE LOWELL, a director of the Henry Souvaine office, and scheduled to be director of the General Motors program Cheers From the Camps, which started on CBS June 9, died suddenly in Chicago June 19 after a short illness. Entering radio in 1934 on NBC's production staff in Chicago, Mr. Lowell directed such programs as Arch Oboler's Lights Out series, several Procter & Gamble serial shows, Don Winslow, Uncle Ezra and various variety shows. In 1939, he joined Benton & Bowles, New York, where he handled Strange as It Seems, Lincoln Highway, Woman of Courage, Ellen Randolph, When a Girl Marries and Kate Hopkins. After a period of free-lancing, Maury Lowell joined Henry Souvaine where he had charge of the Government program Listen America. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.

[November 1942 Radio Mirror]


The Army Hour, on NBC every Sunday afternoon at 3:30, EWT, is more than a radio program. It's a military mission. Everyone concerned with getting the show on the air thinks of it as something very important and deeply vital to the welfare of the nation and of the war effort. It doesn't aim to inspire listeners--but it does. Its main purpose is to tell America what the Army is doing.

Probably no other radio program ever was so difficult to broadcast. The Army Hour picks up voices from all over the world, and to weld them into a fast-moving, perfectly timed show is an engineering problem bigger than any ever tackled before. Just to make things more difficult, many of the preparations must be conducted in deepest secrecy. If General MacArthur, for instance, is scheduled to say a few words on the program, all the plans must be transmitted in code--since it certainly wouldn't do to let the Japs know he would be in a certain place at a certain time.

The Army plans the program, but much of the "get-it-done" work is performed by a civilian named Wyllis Cooper. Maybe you never heard of Wyllis, but the Army Hour isn't the first show you’ve enjoyed because he was the man behind the scenes. Primarily, Wyllis is a writer. He wrote the fantastic Lights Out stories you used to hear at midnight, and many another top-notch program has come from his typewriter. Just now he is devoting himself full-time to preparing the scripts for the Army Hour and helping see them through long hours of preparation to the point of broadcasting.

Wyllis, who describes himself as "a fat guy who looks like a poor man's Alexander Woollcott," spent nine months before taking over the assignment of writing The Army Hour in familiarizing himself completely with all phases of the Army's operations. He was a civilian correspondent and observer with all Army maneuvers, and lay in Carolina mud, rode tanks in Louisiana, and tried out every vehicle in the list from jeep to bomber. He still travels around the country a lot, gathering material for the program, but when he's at home he lives in a New York penthouse with his wife and three dogs.

In the first World War, Wyllis was in the Army as a bugler, was wounded on the Somme, gassed in the Argonne, and served with the Army of Occupation in Germany.

Because of the secrecy which, of necessity, surrounds many of the arrangements for The Army Hour, you're apt to hear a surprise personality on almost every broadcast.

[November 1947 Sponsor]

... Quiet Please, the MBS sustaining program which is in the 8:30-9:30 p.m. est time period along with the other programs checked in this paragraph doubled the audience that It's Up to Youth, Seventeen Magazine's program, garnered in that slot last year (3.8 vs 1.8). ...

[February 2, 1948 Buffalo (NY) Courier-Express - Radio Comment by Don Tranter]

There's been a switch in broadcast times for Mutual network's two "whodunits"--High Adventure and Quiet Please--thus bringing the latter to the 9.30 o'clock WEBR spot tonight while High Adventure moves over to Wednesdays at 8.30 p. m.

Quiet Please, as many dialers know, is written by Wyllis Cooper, who preceded Arch Oboler on the original Lights Out series. His writings, as in earlier days, incline to the psychological as is evidenced in tonight's stanza--Pathetic Fallacy--which casts Ernest Chappell, actor-narrator, in the role of a college professor of philosophy who learns even inanimate objects hold strange secrets.

[May 1948 Radio Mirror]

Everything is done to make that Quiet, Please show as realistic as possible, including making the leading man a little sick in the interest of his art. Recently, Ernest Chappell was supposed to be talking with a "chaw" of tobacco in his jaw. Chappell held out against the tobacco, but he had to chew on something and the director picked chocolate as a substitute cheek filler. By the time the rehearsal and the show were finished Chappell had gone away and had to forego a steak dinner party.

[February 14, 1949 Broadcasting]

JAMES SHELDON, who has been the director of We the People since last April for Young & Rubicam, New York, has been named producer and director of the program. Rod Erickson, who was producer of the show, has been promoted as trouble-shooter supervisor to Ev Meade, vice president. Willis Cooper, producer and writer of Quiet Please, effective this week takes over the writing chores of the simulcast of We the People.

[Bruce Lenthall, _Radio's America: The Great Depression and the Rise of Modern Mass Culture_ (University of Chicago Press, 2007)]

According to Oboler, NBC's Wyliss [sic] Cooper deserved credit for originating the stream-of-consciousness form on radio. Arch Oboler to Erik Barnouw, May 13, 1945, Folder 22, Box 1, Erik Barnouw Papers.
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