Dark Dark Dark tales
and other dark tales!
Radio Dramas by
featuring Sandor Weisberger
ŅI didnÕt see anything
upstairs. IÕll go down
these stairs here. Wonder whatÕs down there?
Looks like IÕm going down the cellar of a house—
ŅAs you know, they run radio programs different times. The same time itÕs daytime one place while you may be listening, itÕs night time some other place theyÕre listening at the same time you are. So if itÕs daytime youÕre listening to this program now, well, just listen. But if itÕs night time youÕre listening—STOP!, whatever you are doing. Turn out all the lights, because right now, Judson Fountain brings you a brand new radio drama, as only radio can bring it to you.Ó —Sandor Weisberger, intro, The GorgonÕs Head
For fans of old-time radio tales of mystery and suspense, Judson Fountain is back to shed some ŅdarkÓ on the subject.
In 2004 we compiled a CD, Completely in the Dark, featuring radio dramas written and produced by Judson Fountain in New York during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This material had originally been released independently by Judson on vinyl LP, in small editions of unknown quantity. By the time of our CD release, Judson had achieved worldwide cult notoriety thanks to airings of his dramas on WFMU radio since the early 1990s. When the broadcasts began, we didnÕt know the whereabouts of Judson or his announcer sidekick, Sandor Weisberger. In September 1995 they were both located (Judson in Jersey City, NJ; Sandor in Brooklyn) by a fan, Geoff Wrightson. The two artists had long been out of contact but were reunited in a historic one-time WFMU appearance on October 30 of that year, to commemorate Halloween.
Judson and Sandor were as delightful and cooperative as we expected and excited to be back on radio. Judson was innocent and free with his emotions, ebullient in his enthusiasms, and respectful about the people he admires in show business. Sandor was warm, patient, and avuncular.
The old buddies were interviewed and given a transcript of JudsonÕs 1969 classic The Old Woman of Haunted House for live reenactment (with sound effects). They gave an intrepid performance, re-creating their roles and character voices with gusto. A surprise awaited the duo: a new radio drama, The Nasty Roomer!, written in JudsonÕs style by charter ŅFountainheadÓ Don Brockway specially for their appearance. In a one-take, live sight-reading, they acted their parts with ˇlan.
After that visit, we lost touch with Judson, and to date he cannot be located. Sandor still lives in Brooklyn, and we remain in contact. We hope word reaches Judson that his dramas have been preserved with great affection in two volumes. We hope to release a third volume in a few years. In the meantime, we invite you again to Ņturn out all your lights and be completely in the dark.Ó
Judson Fountain and Sandor Weisberger visited WFMU Radio, October 30, 1995. Excerpts from the interview by Irwin Chusid and Irene Trudel.
WFMU: WeÕve got Judson Fountain and Sandor Weisberger live in the studio. YouÕve probably heard their drammers on the radio. We call them ŅdrammersÓ because, Sandor, thatÕs the way you pronounce it.
Sandor: Yes, I say Ņdrammer.Ó
Judson: Well, itÕs supposed to be Ņdrama.Ó (laughs)
WFMU: Judson, say hello to the WFMU audience.
Judson: Hello to everybody. IÕm very, very proud and happy to be here, doing the radio programs for you. I hope it goes over well.
WFMU: With Sandor at your side, very spiffily dressed in a suit. This is radio, Sandor, they canÕt see you.
Sandor: Yeah, thatÕs right. I was thinking of television, but thatÕs okay. (laughs)
WFMU: Sandor was the announcer in all the Judson Fountain drammers.
Sandor: Yes, I also played an evil real estate agent and JohnnyÕs father.
WFMU: Judson, have you been doing radio over the years?
Judson: A little bit. IÕve done work mostly in the theater, and that went over very, very good. I did something with Mary Monday, and then we did quite a few years ago a show at Carnegie Hall. But the church I belong to in Brooklyn, we have a theater, and I have been doing shows there, Halloween things. And hereÕs one of the most heart-touching things I got: we try to raise money for people, and I got a letter from one of my best friends in Hollywood, Jimmy Stewart, and he said he was very happy that I helped to raise $3,000. And I got a letter from the fire department, they said, ŅJudson, you ought to be proud of yourself because what you donated to us went to help a lot of firemen.Ó And I got a letter from the police department because I was able to help them too, and St. PeterÕs College. Years ago, when I was small and skinny, I used to play the piano at the P.A.L. So itÕs very, very good to do all these nice, cheerful things and all, because youÕre an asset to other people. ThatÕs what I really believe in. Other people comes first.
WFMU: Sandor, you have been out of radio and theater for years?
Sandor: For a while, yes, a little while.
WFMU: But you used to work with Judson all the time?
Sandor: Yes, yes. But also I did acting at the Manhattan club I belonged to. I was in different shows, plays. And then for talent nights, I would sing songs. I sing fairly well.
WFMU: Judson, when you guys first met, you had a lot of scripts you were trying to produce. You met Sandor, who seemed like the right person for the announcer and supporting roles. Yet youÕre a one-man cast yourself.
Judson: Thanks. I saw that Sandor had a talent, but I helped to train him because he had a very, very good voice. And then weÕd do the play at the library in Brooklyn. Some of the churches where we had different shows, he helped too.
Sandor: And people enjoyed it very much.
WFMU: All the stories that IÕve heard—theyÕre horror stories, theyÕre frightening, there are witches and goblins and hags. That seems to be an obsession.
Judson: In a way, yeah, but we did a lot of comedy and things, too.
WFMU: But you really like Halloween?
Judson: Yeah. Yeah.
WFMU: Were your parents in theater?
Judson: Yeah, in a way. See, my mother was a cripple. She was short, she had a hump on her back, and her legs was a little twisted. I had red hair when I was younger, she had red hair too. Her own mother was a dancer, but she didnÕt want my mother. So she left her with Mrs. Murphy to raise in Brooklyn. IÕm Canadian. My father came over from Canada and he went back. When my grandmother passed away I had to go out and work and support my mother—not in radio, but I had to work sometimes from 9 oÕclock in the day until 8 and 9 oÕclock at night, and I had to give her my whole salary, and sometimes she couldnÕt give me anything because she had to run the house. But IÕm very, very grateful for things like that, because it teaches you to have respect for other people. I donÕt believe a parent give the kids everything they want—no, no, IÕm against that. Let them go out and work and see what itÕs like, and then they grow up with respect for people.
What IÕm going to say now isnÕt nice to say, but itÕs true. A lady that lived in my neighborhood, she always said, ŅOh my little boy, he wants something,Ó and then when he got in his teens, she gave him everything he wanted. If he didnÕt feel like going to work, he didnÕt have to. And then she moved away, and when I saw her again, she said, ŅDo you know what happened to my son?Ó And I said, ŅNo, because I donÕt live in Brooklyn no more.Ó She said he was found dead in a park from an overdose of dope. This isnÕt my type of conversation. I usually donÕt like it. I just have to say this now. So I donÕt believe in a child, anybody, the parents giving them—even if the person is very, very rich—giving the kid what they want. Let the kid go out and work for it. They will have respect for their own parents and for other people. Like another lady said, her son wanted a car when he got a certain age. I had big respect for her, she said, ŅOh you want a car? Oh, youÕre going to get a car, but this is what youÕre gonna do. YouÕre gonna go out and work. And youÕre gonna work hard, even if you have to take a job at night. All the money you make, youÕre gonna save, youÕre gonna bring it to me, and in one year from now, not a few months or anything, what you lack, IÕll match.Ó He did that, and he was able to get the car. He turned out to be a nice, decent citizen. Another person out there did something like that, heÕs proud of his son because his son is a policeman.
WFMU: Judson, how did you get into radio? What interested you about radio dramas? YouÕre not quite old enough to remember the golden age of radio, right?
Judson: I love radio, maybe because of my background. My grandmother was a dancer. And then I used to play the piano. ThereÕs one church group that we had, they sang around different churches. But what I did too, I did dramas, takeoffs of radio programs. And then something very, very wonderful happened to me. When my mother and I had to move, my mother had to move in a place where disability people were, so I had to move and Millie Pagarmo, she let me have a five-room apartment for 65 dollars a month rent. Nobody pays that in this day and time. But hereÕs how I got the apartment—like I said, so many good things goes around. I played the piano years ago at the P.A.L. And then when I did certain radio programs and things, and helped other people. Millie Pagarmo and her husband George and their family—he had a cork leg, he was hurt in the war, so what happened was I did a story called ŅThe Tinderbox,Ó dedicated to the soldiers. And Uncle Bill Adams of LetÕs Pretend [an old-time radio show] helped me in it, but it was a different type of story, the library had it too, it was dedicated to the soldiers for Memorial Day. And the District Attorney said, ŅJudson, what you did was wonderful because I was a veteran. And people over here, they donÕt know what the soldiers and things go through out there. A lot of people donÕt even think about that, but if you have a family out there, you always worry, are they going to come back crippled? Are they going to come back lame or something? So what you did to help the soldiers and the veterans was very, very nice.Ó And we didnÕt know it at the time, the Pagarmos owned a few houses, but George, he had a cork leg, he was hurt in the war. And because my mother was a cripple, and I supported her, and then the other things I did for other people, they let me have that apartment when I needed it, right at a cheap rent. So like I said, it never hurts to do something good, because you never know which way it is going to come back.
It makes you feel nice because it shows you that people really can be nice. ItÕs not like people think, the world is so bad all the time. I often say, so much good going on, all over. If more people would tell the good things thatÕs going on, I often felt that if the newspapers would say, ŅOkay, today, what weÕre gonna do, weÕre gonna put all the good in the newspaper that people are doing,Ó the paper couldnÕt hold it. Because thereÕd be too much.
1. The GorgonÕs Head (14:47)
Sandor Weisberger: Announcer; RichieÕs Father
2. Captain Hale Goes to Japan! (9:07)
Judson Fountain: Ghost of the Castle; Giant, Seven-Year-Old Boy; Witch Dame Gudrun
Sandor Weisberger: Announcer; Captain Hale
3. The Golden Arm (9:34)
Judson Fountain: Old Man
Sandor Weisberger: Announcer
Lauren Scott: Old ManÕs Wife
4. Dark, Dark, Dark! (5:15)
5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (8:34)
Judson Fountain: Granny; Witch
Kenneth Benjamin: Ichabod Crane
James White: Roland
Colin Gary: Johnny
Sandor Weisberger: Announcer
6. The Wax Museum (6:20)
Judson Fountain: Old Irishman; Old Lady; Mama La Meccia
Kenneth Benjamin: Owner of the Wax Museum
7. The Evil Portrait of
Old Man Beni (5:47)
Judson Fountain: Old Man Beni
Kenneth Benjamin: The Man
8. The Nasty Roomer! (12:41)
Judson Fountain: Johnny; Molly; The Old Hag
Sandor Weisberger: Announcer
The Old Codger: himself
DARK DARK DARK TALES
AND OTHER DARK TALES!
Original radio dramas written, directed, and produced by
Track 1 from untitled album, Sanders Recording, New York, 1970
Tracks 2 and 4 from Fun in Radio! (label, studio, date unidentified)
Tracks 3 and 5 from untitled album, Sanders Recording, New York, 1971
Tracks 6 and 7 from untitled album, Sanders Recording, New York, 1972
Track 8 recorded live at WFMU, 10/30/1995, engineered by Irene Trudel
Produced for CD issue by Irwin Chusid and Barbara Economon
Audio transfers: Barbara Economon
Mastering: Irwin Chusid at WFMU
Cover illustration: Drew Friedman
Back cover montage: Don Brockway
Art director, cover and booklet design: Laura Lindgren
Innova Director: Philip Blackburn
Innova Operations Manager: Chris Campbell
Digital stills by Don Brockway and Mitch Friedman
Thanks to: Judson Fountain, Sandor Weisberger, Don Brockway
Geoff Wrightson, Scotty Marshall, Philip Blackburn, Jen Vafidis
Ken Freedman continues to deny any involvement.
www.JudsonFountain.com, designed and maintained by Otis Fodder
Also available: Completely
in the Dark!: Tales of Mystery & Suspense
by Judson Fountain (Innova 200)
Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight
Supported in part by a grant from the New York State Music Fund, established by the
New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
*except Track 8, written by Don
Brockway, produced by Irwin Chusid and Irene Trudel,
ŅJust because IÕm
18 years old doesnÕt mean IÕm a criminal. You were 18 years old once yourself.Ó
(The Wax Museum)
ŅA suitcase that
size is too small
to hold clothes. It can only hold one
(The GorgonÕs Head)
ŅNow, go and have one on your brain!Ó (The Wax Museum)