Over the July 4, 1975 holiday, WBZ in Boston was part of a Muscular Dystrophy radiothon that included recreations of radio programs. The event was held at Dunphy's resort in Hyannis on Cape Cod. Radio stars and technical artists traveled from New York and California to be part of the event. The event used scripts of the era.
Death of a Rattlesnake originally aired on December 17, 1945. The script was actually a re-use of the April 10, 1945 script Account Settled but was renamed for the second broadcast. The recreation stars Staats Cotsworth, who played the role for most of its radio run. None of the other original cast members were in the recreation, but it featured Vicki Vola (Mr. District Attorney), Marvin Miller (The Whistler), Frank Nelson (many comedic roles, especially Jack Benny), and Betty Wragge (Pepper Young's Family). Music was by organist Ashley Miller (numerous radio and TV soap operas, as well as sporting events, especially Madison Square Garden). The program was directed by Ira Ashley (Grand Central Station) with sound effects by Ed Blainey and Walt Gustafson (staff sound effects artists for ABC, and still working there at the time, on its NY-based television soap operas). This is the only surviving production of this script; neither of the 1940s productions have survived in recorded form.
Death of a Rattlesnake is one of the earliest scripts in the series for which we have a recorded performance. Because this cast had not had an opportunity to work together before, the pronunciations a names (like “Ethelbert”) and places (like “Blue Note”) are not as the regular cast express them. Ethelbert sounds like he’s in a western program, ready to go out on the trail. Even Cotsworth seems a little but unsure, and this may indicate that it was a little bit of a cold reading with only a very short time to rehearse.
ADC's Continuity Notes...
This is a Cole script, and is the earliest one for which we have a recorded performance, but it is obviously not an original one. The characters are still being developed.
3:13 Cole plants the end of the story, with Peters telling Ethelbert he doesn’t drink any more, and he’ll just have a Coke. Doctors advised him that alcohol was not good for his heart. At 4:28 Casey notes Peter heaviness, also an important fact making the ending of the story plausible.
7:22 A body is discovered in the palatial home of lawyer Max Smiley; how many radio programs, television shows, and movies have the murder occur in the library. This reinforced the idea of wealth, because only rich people could afford to have a room devoted to books. Casey suspects that Midge Bannon broke into the safe and killed Smiley.
8:25 Sylvia Brewster entered the room calling for Smiley, and Casey snapped a picture of her when she did. She left before Casey and Ann could talk to her.
10:30 Logan is at the scene and calls over to Officer Flanagan. The officer slips and starts to say “Lieutenant Logan” and catches himself and says “Captain.” This script was originally performed as Account Settled on 1945-04-10 and was the first episode where Logan was promoted to Captain. In this re-use of the script, the scene about the promotion was probably edited out, but this line that reinforces the new position stayed in… even though it was almost eight months ago in the original broadcast.
12:15 Peters confronts Casey about the picture of Sylvia Brewster. Peters has been working for her since his release from prison. 14:15 The scene continues after a commercial. Casey gives Peters the roll of undeveloped film that had the picture. It is implied in the dialogue that Brewster and Peters may be in a relationship.
16:10 Logan has papers that were in Smiley’s safe. It is a record of a woman prisoner, and he thinks she looks like Sylvia Brewster from years before, when she was 18. Then, her name was Marie Pierre. Logan is convinced it’s her… Casey doesn’t think so.
takes a phone call that Midge Bannon had been in a shootout with
police on Tremont and Ninth Street. Bannon is dead.Tremont is the name of a major
street in the Bronx borough of New York City, and Cole would have
been quite familiar with it as a resident of Mount Vernon, which
borders the Bronx.
18:30 Casey and Peters sit down… Casey accuses Peters of killing Smiley, and shows him the picture of Marie Pierre. Casey did suspect all along that Brewster was Pierre… and that she was Peters’ daughter. Before Peters divorce, the daughter’s name was Marjorie Peters, and she changed it to Marie Pierre, the practical equivalent of the name in French, made it obvious.
21:45 Peters hands Casey his gun, and tells the story about how he had killed “two snakes” who gave his daughter trouble (and therefore, the reason behind the title of the episode). He relates the full story about how she found success in performing and used the name Sylvia Brewster. Peters killed Smiley because he was blackmailing Sylvia about her prison record.
24:00 Casey tells Peters he’ll keep it all quiet because everything would be blamed on Bannon.
24:38 Peters offers Casey a drink, which he turns down. He reminds Peters about what the doctor told him, and Peters says he keeps the bottle around for when friends are over.
25:20 The usual recap at the Blue Note has Ethelbert and Casey talking about the news of Peters’ death. Casey asks for a good stiff drink.