A Wyllis Cooper Chronology
Born Willis Oswald Cooper on 26 January 1899 in Pekin, Illinois, USA.
Parents: Charles E. and Margaret L. (?) (Oswald) Cooper (b. November 1870).
Brother: Harry Edgar Cooper (b. April 1900).
from Cooper's entry in Who Was Who in America (WWWIA), census data and other
June 1900 census data: lives at 604 Court Street in Pekin with widowed
grandmother Jeneitta (?) P. Oswald (b. March 1839 in New York, father born in
New Jersey and mother born in Scotland), uncles (Jeneitta's sons) Clifford E.
Oswald (b. April 1881, a grocery clerk) and Clyde D. Oswald (b. March 1884, an
errand boy), mother Margaret E. (who claims to have been married for three
years at that point) and brother Harry.
April 15, 1910 census data: lives on Market Street in Pekin with grandmother
Jeneta (?) P. Oswald (a seamstress), mother Margaret E. (who claims to have
been married for twelve years at that point) and brother Harry.
Graduated Pekin High School, 1916
1915-1916 - Sergeant, U.S. Cavalry, Mexican Border
1917-1919 - Signal Corps.
1918-1919 - Allied Expeditionary Forces
1924-1927 - 1st Lieutenant, Captain, 31st Infantry, Illinois National Guard
1928-1933 Cavalry Reserve
Cooper in "Roster of the Illinois National Guard and Illinois Naval Militia as
organized when called by the President for World War Service, 1917":
COMPANY A, PEKIN, ILLINOIS
Name and Rank. Cooper, Willis O. Supply Sergeant.
Date of Commission or Enlistment. July 7, 1915.
Date of Muster. May 19, 1917.
Remarks. Reported for duty Mch. 26, 1917.
Cooper's entry in "Official National Guard Register for 1926" (June 30, 1926):
Howitzer Company, Chicago.
Pvt corp sgt Inf 7 July 1915 to 4 Aug 1917
[F--sgt Inf & Sig C 5 Aug 1917 to 7 June 1919]
1 Lt Inf 20 Mar 1924, capt 23 Mar 1925
ORC Inf Capt 3 June 1925 O201340
January 1920 census data: works as a photographer and for a traction company
(presumably the Peoria Railway Terminal Company which ran to Pekin); rents an
apartment at 504 North Monroe Street in Peoria, IL with wife Beatrice L.
(Fryer?) (born in Iowa, age 20, a stenographer for an insurance company) and
brother Harry, a boarder (an engineering draftsman).
circa 1923 - Copywriter for Campbell-Ewald advertising agency, Chicago
Early 1920s - Works as copywriter for Chicago advertising agency Vanderhoof &
Company. Later works as service manager of Domestic Engineering, Chicago.
Other 1920s Chicago employers include Long & Jenkins, advertising agency, and
the Chicago Tribune.
July 1921 to circa 1924, Cooper collaborates with Norman Gregg (under a joint
pseudonym -- "The Goswogii") to produce a series of impressionistic "word
portraits" for Richard Henry Little's Chicago Tribune column "A Line o' Type
circa late 1926 or early 1927 - Starts own firm, Cooper Advertising, in Santa
Writes article, "The Advertising Man's Camera" for a 1927 issue of American
1928 - Joins Houston Advertising Service Company, Los Angeles, as an account
circa December 1928 - Joins Chicago's McJunkin Advertising Agency among whose
clients are the Great Northern Railroad.
09-14-1929 - Marries Emily C. Beveridge
April 30, 1930 census data: employed as advertising copywriter; rents (for
ninety dollars per month) at 282 Bellevue Place in Cook County, Chicago, IL;
lives with wife Emily C. (born in Illinois, age 24, father born in Scotland,
mother born in New York) and divorced, unemployed brother-in-law Kenneth
Beveridge (an advertising salesman, born in New York, age 36, married at age
28); the household has a radio set.
circa 1931 to July 1933 CBS Chicago Continuity Editor (start date is
07-04-33 Variety reports that Cooper resigns "as chief of the continuity
department" of CBS Chicago.
July 1933 to September 15, 1935 - NBC Chicago Chief Continuity Editor:
07-18-33 Variety reports that Cooper joins NBC as continuity editor.
09-04-35 Variety reports that Cooper "quits as continuity chief of the
local NBC offices on Sept. 15."
According to WWWIA, Cooper was a Democrat, a Mason, and a member of the Lambs.
"... served on the Mexican border in 1916 and, in World War I, with the 131st
Infantry from Illinois. He was gassed in the Argonne Forest while attached to
the British Expeditionary Forces there." -- from New York Times (NYT) obit.
"He began as a bugler in 1916, chased bandits down along the Mexican border
when things weren't so friendly, was wounded on the Somme, gassed in the
Argonne, served in the Army of occupation in Germany and returned to this
country for work with the Army Intelligence. In 1933 he retired as a Captain
in the National Guard."-- from Washington Post, 5 April 1942
The 131st Illinois Infantry: mustered into Federal service in June 1916 at
Springfield, IL; stationed at San Antonio, Texas; mustered out of Federal
service in October 1916 at Springfield, IL; drafted into Federal Service in
August 1917, before being reorganized and redesignated in October 1917 as the
132d Infantry and assigned to the 33d Division; demobilized in May or June
1919 at Camp Grant, IL. World War I Campaigns: Somme Offensive; Meuse-Argonne;
Lorraine 1918; Picardy 1918. -- from various sources.
THE EMPIRE BUILDERS 1929-1931
Cooper works on this pioneering NBC dramatic anthology series sponsored by the
Great Northern Railroad. The series runs from January 1929 to 06-22-31,
originally broadcast from New York and later from Chicago. Edward Hale
Bierstadt writes some of the earliest episodes which focus on historical
dramas of the American northwest. More contemporary comedies and melodramas
are also featured. Actor Harvey Hays plays the folksy but mysterious host,
known variously as "The Old Timer" and "The Old Pioneer."
Credited as "W. O. Cooper, a Chicago writer," he contributes scripts to the
series, including a 02-10-30 episode set in the copper mines under Butte,
Montana and "made a special trip to the Butte mines to secure material for
this drama" which includes a climax that "is believed to be the most difficult
bit of radio melodrama thus far attempted," according to publicity.
The 04-16-31 episode, described as "A railroad melodrama appropriate
to St. Patrick's day" about "the fighting spirit of the Irish" is also
credited to "W. O. Cooper." He also writes the 1930 Armistice Day episode, a
copy of which exists -- one of the oldest surviving recordings of a network
From the January 1931 issue of The Great Northern
Goat, the railroad's own monthly magazine
THE WITCHING HOUR 1932
Cooper writes this short-lived, 15-minute-long, weekly CBS horror series,
sponsored by the makers of Breethem breath mints. The January 23 premiere,
"The Vampire," is described by Variety as 'a shocker of the "Dracula" school,
with the setting laid in a haunted house on a lonely hill.'
But after hearing the premiere, wives and other relatives of the sponsor's
board of directors complain about the horror content, so the company's
"chairman ordered the shocker series pulled and a musical program immediately
substituted." Other executives object to the cancellation and the dispute is
"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."
THE LOST LEGION / TALES OF THE FOREIGN LEGION 1932-1933
Cooper writes and acts for this adventure series about a French Foreign
Legion outpost. The multinational cast of characters includes Mendoza, a
Spanish soldier, played by Cooper. Ray Appleby directs. Broadcast regionally
from February 1932 until January 1933 when it airs coast-to-coast on CBS.
Final episode: 06-23-33. Not to be confused with a competing NBC series,
"Legion of the Lost" written by Innis Osborn that premieres on 08-21-32.
RAILROADS OF AMERICA 1933
According to Variety, Cooper writes this twice-weekly, fifteen-minute-long
CBS-WBBM series sponsored by a "joint railroad account." The program,
scheduled to run in July and August, features music and "thrilling news" about
the Chicago World's Fair, "A Century of Progress." NYT radio listings call it
by different titles, including "Invitation to the Fair."
LIVES AT STAKE 1933
Cooper contributes to these weekly half-hour dramatizations of "noted events
in which men have faced death" (i.e., true-life adventure and suspense
stories) sponsored by The General Tire and Rubber Co. and hosted by company
president W. O'Neil, airing on NBC Red Tuesday nights at 10 Eastern. The
series premieres on April 18, 1933 with the story of Sgt. Alvin C. York. On
May 2, Variety reports that "Robert J. Casey of the Chicago Daily 'News,'
continues to supply material [to the series] .... But Bob White will write the
scripts." Cooper says that he "had that show before NBC asked me to go to work
for them [in July 1933]."
DESERT GUNS 1933
Hired as NBC Chicago's continuity editor in July, Cooper brings his half-hour
foreign legion drama series to the network under yet another title. It
premieres in September 1933. According to Cooper: "It was kicked around,
emasculated, the cast that had made the success eliminated - and it lasted
Cooper writes this 15-minute, 5-day-a-week NBC drama series.
According to one radio columnist, "Lines are printed in the paper which you
read as part of the dialogue. The other characters say theirs from the
studio." In an interview, author Ray Bradbury discussed the series and its
influence on his 1953 book Fahrenheit 451:
"But I remember when I was a kid, about twelve years old, they published radio
scripts in the local newspaper for radio plays that would be broadcast with
silences so that you could play the part of a character yourself as you were
listening. I carried that into the future of 451."
ARMISTICE DAY PROGRAM - November 11, 1933
Cooper writes a short dramatic sketch entitled "Cease Firing" for a half-hour,
Armistice Day broadcast sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the
United States and broadcast nationally by NBC. The sketch is "based on a true
Armistice day story" about "[m]en who served together in the 33rd Division in
the drive on St. Mihiel during the closing days of the World war." The program
also features music by the United States Navy Band and an address by VFW
Commander-in-Chief James E. Van Zandt. Throughout the 1930s, Cooper regularly
contributes to VFW broadcasts and works as its publicity director. Later
sketch titles include: "Christmas in Flanders Field," "Remember the Maine!"
"The Unknown Soldier," and "Known but to God."
CHRISTMAS PROGRAM - December 1933
Cooper writes a short dramatic sketch entitled "Christmas in Flanders Field"
for an NBC broadcast sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
LIGHTS OUT! 1934-1936
Cooper creates, writes and occasionally directs this weekly horror anthology
series. He participates from January 1934 until May '36. Initially, the series
airs locally in Chicago as 15-minute-long episodes, then expands to 30 minutes
on 04-25-34. Discontinued in January '35 in order to ease Cooper's workload at
NBC, the program is brought back by popular demand a few weeks later. Then,
after a successful tryout in New York City, the series switches from WENR to
NBC's Red network in April '35.
Some surviving episodes with scripts by Cooper:
04-18-35 A ROOM FOR THE NIGHT - The series' premiere over the Red network. A
copy survives at the Paley Center for Media in New York City.
12-22-37 THREE MEN (a.k.a. UNINHABITED / CHRISTMAS STORY, 1918) - The
script originally airs on 12-25-35 and is scheduled to air again in December
'38. The '37 broadcast preempted a scheduled Arch Oboler play called
"Uninhabited" which has led to confusion about the show's author and title.
07-21-45 REUNION AFTER DEATH (a.k.a. THE GHOST OF DIANA / REUNION)
08-25-45 MAN IN THE MIDDLE - This script was originally broadcast 03-06-35
under the title "After Five O'Clock"
07-13-46 THE COFFIN IN STUDIO B
07-20-46 THE HAUNTED CELL
07-27-46 BATTLE OF THE MAGICIANS
08-03-46 THE REVENGE OF INDIA
08-10-46 THE GHOST ON THE NEWSREEL NEGATIVE
07-16-47 DEATH ROBBERY - Script is credited to Cooper and Paul Pierce
07-30-47 THE RING - The first half of this episode survives.
July 1935 photo
HELLO, AMERICA 1934
Cooper writes a dramatic sketch entitled "Remember the Maine!" for a special
February 1934 NBC broadcast called HELLO AMERICA, the third annual radio
broadcast of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, "planned in
conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the U. S. battleship
Maine, Feb. 15, 1898."
"Daffy-Dilly Christmas" - December 25, 1934, 5:00-5:15pm EST (NBC-WJZ)
A fantastic "Silly Symphony" with words by Willis Cooper and music
written and conducted by Roy Shield about Geevle, a mischievous dog, and his
roomful of Toyland friends. -- from a post in Usenet's alt.radio.oldtime and
IMMORTAL DRAMAS 1935
Cooper writes the scripts for these half-hour adaptations "recreating famous
characters and events from the Old Testament..." According to Variety, Lloyd
Lewis, drama critic of the Chicago Daily News, is "hired to write the synopses
at [a] reported $600 weekly" while the actual scripts are "put in radio form"
by Cooper. NBC production manager Clarence Menser produces the lavish series,
which features a large cast, Noble Cain's chorus and Leroy Shield's orchestra.
Sponsored by Montgomery Ward. Airs Sunday afternoons on NBC for thirteen
weeks. The series' musical theme is the "Faith" motif from Wagner's Parsifal.
01-13 "David and Goliath" - William Farnum (David), Clifford Soubier (Goliath)
01-20 "Exodus From Egypt"
01-27 "Daniel in the Lion's Den"
02-03 "The Story of Samson" - Don Briggs (Samson)
02-10 "The Story of Esther"
02-17 "Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors"
02-24 "Joseph in Egypt"
03-03 "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba"
03-10 "The Story of Gideon"
03-17 "The Walls of Jericho"
03-24 "Ruth and Naomi"
03-31 "Saul and Jonathan"
FLYING TIME 1935-1936
Cooper writes this 15-minute, 5-day-a-week aviation serial, set at an airport,
which apparently ran from 06-25-35 to 1937.
August 1935 - Cooper visits the Belfry Theater in Williams Bay, Wisconsin as
"a special guest of the Belfry Players" who perform one of his LIGHTS OUT
09-15-35 - Cooper resigns as NBC Chicago continuity chief in order to devote
more time to LIGHTS OUT and other series. He signs a management contract
with NBC's Artist Bureau.
09-30-35 - Cooper gives a talk on "Continuity Writers as the Continuity
Editors See Them" before members of the Matrix club at 75 East Wacker Drive in
10-08-35 Cooper is the president of a photography club. According to Camera
magazine: "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." The club's vice-president is LIGHTS OUT director
BETTY AND BOB 1935-1936
In October 1935 and April 1936, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cooper writes
this 15-minute, 5-day-a-week NBC soap opera.
REAL SILK HOSIERY PROGRAM
In a 1936 letter, Cooper lists this as one of the NBC series he worked on.
UNKNOWN SERIES 1935
In October 1935, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cooper not only writes
BETTY AND BOB, FLYING TIME, and LIGHTS OUT, but also "journeys to Des
Moines [Iowa] each Sunday to produce a show there."
1936-1939 - In May 1936, Cooper moves to Hollywood, CA and works as a
screenwriter for various movie studios, including Twentieth Century-Fox,
Universal and Paramount.
Initially, he continues to write radio scripts for production in Chicago but
in June 1936, the Chicago Tribune reports that his two series (LIGHTS OUT
and FLYING TIME) have been taken over by other writers (respectively, Arch
Oboler and William Murphy). Motion pictures (with release dates) for which
Cooper received an onscreen credit:
07-27-37 THINK FAST, MR. MOTO (additional dialogue)
12-24-37 THANK YOU, MR. MOTO (screenplay)
06-24-38 MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE (story)
01-13-39 SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (screenplay)
01-??-40 THE PHANTOM CREEPS (story for 12-chapter Bela Lugosi serial)
According to the American Film Institute, Cooper does uncredited work on three
Twentieth Century-Fox musicals: "Pigskin Parade" ('36, contributes to
"screenplay construction"), "Wild and Woolly" ('37, contributing writer) and
"She Had to Eat" ('37, contributing writer, although his material may not have
been used in the finished film).
Other scripts Cooper is reported to have worked on: at least one Shirley
Temple vehicle for Fox ('36); "Woman with Wings," an airplane thriller by
stunt pilot Genevieve Haugan, for Fox (fall '36); a Universal horror film for
Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi entitled "Friday, the 13th," about "a genial
chap who commits a murder every Friday, the 13th." (spring '39); an adaptation
of an old Universal story property, "The Electric Man" (April '39); a sequel
to "Dr. Cyclops" to be called "Phantom City" for Paramount (late summer '39).
11-11-36 - Actor Hugh Studebaker reads Cooper's poem "Unknown Soldier" for a
WGN Armistice Day broadcast.
May 1937 - Variety reports that Twentieth Century-Fox picks up the yearly
option on Cooper's writer's contract.
06-02-37 - Chicago Tribune reports that Cooper rents the California home of
actress Barabara Luddy.
08-29-37 - An hour-and-a-half long Mutual Broadcasting System special from
Chicago's WGN includes Cooper's tribute "To the Unknown Soldier" presented
once again by Hugh Studebaker.
September 1937 - Twentieth Century-Fox releases Cooper from his film contract,
allowing him to write for radio's HOLLYWOOD HOTEL series which featured gossip
columnist Louella Parsons of the Hearst syndicate. Variety reports in October:
"Deal was arranged only after Louella Parsons had persuaded [Fox mogul] 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
HOLLYWOOD HOTEL 1937-1938
Cooper contributes writing to this hour-long CBS variety program sponsored by
Campbell Soups which ran from 10-05-34 to 12-02-38. He joins the show in the
fall of 1937, reportedly at the request of producer Fred Ibbett, who had
worked with him in Chicago. Cooper writes short adaptations of Hollywood films
("collaborating with Addison Simmons" on the scripts, according to Variety). A
May 1938 newspaper column item indicates that Cooper would share scripting
duties with newly-hired producer, Brewster Morgan.
Variety reports that the film adaptation for the 09-09-38 season premiere is
by "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." The
series ends on 12-02-38 and is replaced by "The Campbell Playhouse" starring
NBC vs. WILLIS COOPER
November 1937 - Cooper's 1935 management contract with the NBC Artist Bureau
expires. Under the terms of the contract, the network takes a ten percent
commission on his earnings. Upon leaving NBC in May 1936, Cooper refuses to
surrender the commission.
December 1937 - NBC files suit against Cooper "to recover damages for alleged
unpaid commissions due" the Artist Bureau. Cooper claims he was mismanaged and
that the network hadn't earned the money.
March 1939 - Trial takes place in California.
August 1939 - Judge finds in favor of NBC and Cooper is ordered to pay $1,710
to the network -- ten percent of his earnings from May 1936 to November 1937.
In late '39 or very early '40, Cooper moves east. He works for Philadelphia
advertising agency Ward Wheelock and keeps apartments in New York City. Around
this time, he also changes the spelling of his first name (from "Willis" to
"Wyllis") allegedly in order "to please his wife's numerological
01-18-40 - NYT reports Cooper's address as 71 Washington Sq. So.
04-05-40 - NYT reports Cooper's address as "a penthouse" in 242 E 72nd St
07-17-40 - NYT reports Cooper's address as 242 E 72nd St
CAMPBELL'S SHORT SHORT STORY 1940
Cooper writes scripts for this fifteen-minute three-times-a-week CBS daytime
anthology series sponsored by Campbell Soups. The series begins in January
1940, is canceled in December, and is immediately replaced by a spin-off,
Cooper's serial CHARLIE AND JESSIE.
YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW 1940-1941
Cooper writes this weekly half hour WJZ-NBC training camp drama about life in
America's peacetime civilian army -- "The first radio serial about
conscription..." "a fictionalized treatment of the draft forces" "a continued
dramatization of serial characters whose predicaments are often humorous" --
from 11-11-40 to circa 03-31-41. Originally to be called THIS MAN'S ARMY.
Premieres on Armistice Day. Airs Mondays at 9 p.m. eastern. Actor Edmund Lowe
plays the lead in four consecutive episodes starting 12-30. Cooper leaves the
series when called to Chicago to work on a program called WHAT'S YOUR IDEA?
Surviving episodes at the Library of Congress:
11-11-40 A comedy about Army life...starring Donald Briggs and Ray Appleby.
11-18-40 A program about military life and army camps.
12-23-40 A program about Christmas in the army.
02-10-41 Captain Donald Preston tells all about his anti-tank corps.
THE CAMPBELL PLAYHOUSE 1940-1941
After the departure of host Orson Welles, Cooper contributes writing to the
third and final season (11-29-40 to 06-13-41) of this CBS anthology series
sponsored by Campbell Soups. The series, formerly an hour long, is shortened
to a half hour and airs Fridays from 9:30 p.m. to 10. Two episodes from this
third season survive at the Library of Congress, one of which -- a 01-31-41
adaptation of Libbie Block's story "Mrs. Fane Comes of Age" -- has a script by
CHARLIE AND JESSIE 1940-1941
Cooper writes this fifteen minute, three-times-a-week CBS comedy serial from
12-16-40 to 01-17-41. Sponsored by Campbell Soups. The Washington Post says
the series is about "a newly-married and entirely irresponsible couple who, as
the author Wyllis Cooper expresses it, were married in a madhouse and walked
down the aisle festooned with haywire. Charlie is a young and earnest
advertising man, but a fairly frantic husband. Jessie is an enthusiastic, but
somewhat scatterbrained wife." Based on a well-received script Cooper wrote
for SHORT SHORT STORY.
BEHIND THE MIKE 1941
03-09 On this NBC program, veteran announcer Graham McNamee interviews Cooper
about "how horror yarns are concocted for radio" ...
WHAT'S YOUR IDEA? (Early 1941)
Variety reports that Cooper is "called from New York on a temporary doctoring
job" for this Chicago-based audience participation show. Contestants compete
to see who can come up with the best idea for a radio program. The top three
suggestions are dramatized each week. "In addition to the $100 prize, the
winners are assured that if the program idea is sold to a sponsor the winners
get that money, too." Sponsored by the Mars candy company's latest product,
April 1941 - According to articles in Variety and Broadcasting, Cooper takes
job as "radio exec," supervising the growing radio department at the Grant
Advertising Agency in Chicago (responsible for WHAT'S YOUR IDEA?). But, before
the end of the month, he resigns and returns to New York.
GOOD NEIGHBORS 1941
Cooper writes this weekly NBC propaganda series about Latin America which runs
from 05-22 to 10-16, Thursdays, 10:30 P.M. to 11. Featuring NBC Concert
Orchestras (led by Dr. Frank Black, H. Leopold Spitalny, and others), a troupe
of twenty actors, and speeches by appropriate Latin American diplomats.
On the NYT radio page, the program is at first listed as "Good Neighbors" but,
increasingly, the title is changed to "Salute to _____" with the name of that
week's country filling the blank.
05-22 Premiere - hosted by Milton Cross
05-29 Peru; Don Manuel de Freyre y Santander, Peruvian Ambassador to U.S.
06-05 Argentina; Don Felipe de Espil, Argentine Ambassador to U.S.
06-12 Mexico; Don Francisco Castillo Najero, Mexican Ambassador to U.S.
06-19 Ecuador; Sixto Duran Ballen, Consul General in New York
06-26 Brazil; Fernando Sabota de Madeiros, of Brazilian Embassy
07-03 Venezuela; Don Arturo Lares, Venezuelan Charge d'Affaires
07-10 Colombia; Dr. Gabriel Turbay, Colombian Ambassador to U.S.
07-17 Panama; Julio Briceno, Counselor Panama Embassy
07-24 Chile; Don Rodolfo Michels, Chilean Ambassador to U.S.
07-31 Cuba; Aurelio F. Concheso, Cuban Ambassador to U.S.
08-07 Guatemala; Enrique Lopez-Herrarte, Guatemalan Charge d'Affaires
08-14 Uruguay; No diplomat listed. Concert Orchestra; Soloists.
08-21 El Salvador; Don Hector D. Castro, Minister; Rosita Arguello, Soprano.
08-28 Dominican Republic; Dr. Julio Vega Battle, Charge d'Affaires
09-04 Bolivia; Carlos Dorado, First Secretary of Bolivian Legation
09-11 Nicaragua; Don Leon de Bayle, Nicaraguan Minister
09-18 Honduras; Dr. Julian R. Caceras, Honduran Minister
09-26 Costa Rica; Don Luis Fernandez, Costa Rican Minister
10-02 Paraguay; William W. White, Paraguayan Consul General
10-09 Haiti; Elie Garcia, Secretary Haitian Legation
10-16 Henry Wallace, U.S. Vice President; Niles Trammell, president of NBC;
Dr. Manuel de Freyre y Santander, Ambassador of Peru; Albert Spalding,
violinist; Emma Otero, Cuban soprano; Dr. Frank Black conducts the NBC
Symphony Orchestra in 'a program of music of the Americas, including the
"Symphonie Espagnole" of Edouard Lalo, the aria from "Il Guany" and Ernesto
Lecuona's "Malaguena." Also broadcast was a synthesis of the works of
Archibald MacLeish, librarian of Congress, and Walt Whitman.'
SPIRIT OF '41 / SPIRIT OF '42
From mid-1941 to early 1942, Cooper travels widely while contributing to this
weekly half-hour CBS documentary-propaganda series about national defense and
war preparations which premieres 06-29-41. Cooper leaves the series around
March '42 to work on THE ARMY HOUR. With the 12-28-41 broadcast, title changes
to SPIRIT OF '42
08-21-41 - NYT reports that "radio writer" Cooper leases two apartments at 28
East Seventy-third Street.
09-09-41 - NYT gives Cooper's address as 38 E 73rd St. The same column lists
Donald Briggs (presumably the actor) at 28 E 73rd St.
An item in the September 1941 Dansville (NY) Breeze explains why Cooper needs
"two apartments in the same building" -- one is "where the Coopers will live"
and the other is for Cooper's "exclusive use--an office to pound out scripts
and a big dark room where he can pursue in peace his hobby of photography."
11-24-41 New York Evening Post's "Photography" column reports that Cooper's
"still life and architectural subjects" are on display at the Academy Art
Shop, 989 Lexington Avenue.
THE ARMY HOUR 1942-1943
Made a consultant to the Secretary of War, Cooper produces, directs and writes
this weekly news and variety propaganda series which runs from 04-05-42 to
circa 11-11-45. Cooper is "retained full-time by the Army as writer-producer
during the first year of The Army Hour." The series was conceived by Col.
Edward Montague Kirby of the War Department's Radio Division.
'The Army Hour was an attempt to bring the reality of the war home to the
American people through the power and immediacy of radio. As Kirby saw it, the
show would "let the Army drop the stuffed-shirt approach ... instead, go
directly to the people with its own radio program, supplied by the men who
were doing the fighting." It was carried by NBC, which alone among the
networks reacted favorably to the Army's proposal. They eventually spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on the show. Highlights included
interviews with both top brass and returning combat veterans, as well as some
of the most descriptive battlefield reporting of the war. The program did not
sugarcoat the war, and showed the Army at its darkest moments as well as in
victory. An early broadcast featuring the terse translation of the last Morse
code message from the besieged soldiers of Corregidor had no equal for drama
on the airwaves.' --Transmitter Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2000 (Library of
'Most of the government radio propaganda series [of World War II] ran as
regular sustaining programs. The series that gathered the largest audiences,
This is War!, was an exception, since it was broadcast over all networks
simultaneously during prime time -- a privilege that was usually reserved only
for FDR's fireside chats. The other show that beat the odds based on its own
appeal was The Army Hour, which aired on Sunday afternoons over NBC and ran
throughout the war, attracting several million listeners every week.' --Gerd
Horten, Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World
War II (University of Chicago, 2002)
'More than 3,000,000 American radio-equipped homes, or 39 per cent of those
having sets in operation during the Army Hour's sixty minutes, are tuned into
this program, the government estimates. ... From the beginning, the program
has represented something like a triumph of radio technique. Indeed, so
smoothly are the complex "remote-pickups" handled that probably only a small
minority of listeners appreciate the engineering and organizational problems
that are surmounted by the Army working in collaboration with the National
Broadcasting Company.' -- NYT, 04-04-43
'In every move to assemble an "Army Hour" program is the hand of Wyllis
Cooper, civilian War Department consultant who writes, directs and supervises
details of the actual production. The only writing he doesn't do is for
scripts of speakers overseas, which are prepared by Public Relations Officers
at the scene.' -- Washington Post, 10-11-42
Conductor Jack Joy (left) and Cooper working on the Army Hour in 1942.
April 1943 - Leaves THE ARMY HOUR to become NBC Director of Program
MEN AT SEA - Summer 1943
Cooper is announced as director of this NBC series about "the activities of
the recruitment and manning organization and training organization of the War
Shipping Administration, and the shipbuilding activities of the U. S. Maritime
August 1943 - According to Broadcasting, Cooper is among network executives
who meet with "with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. to discuss
the importance of and plans for the Third War Loan."
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN RODEO TELECAST - October 25, 1943
Using only one cameraman, Cooper directs this live 75-minute-long broadcast
for WNBT, NBC's New York television outlet.
ARTHUR HOPKINS PRESENTS 1944
Cooper writes the scripts for the first five episodes of this dramatic
anthology program hosted by the distinguished Broadway producer Arthur
Hopkins. The sustained NBC series consists of hour-long adaptations of
01 04-19 OUR TOWN
02 04-26 REDEMPTION
03 05-03 A SUCCESSFUL CALAMITY
04 05-10 THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
05 05-17 ANNA CHRISTIE
05-15-44 - Cooper resigns as NBC Director of Program Development to join the
radio department of New York's Compton Advertising, Inc.
01-11-45 - Cooper, still with the Compton agency, is among the speakers at the
monthly meeting of the American Television Society at the Museum of Modern
Art, attended by several hundred members and guests. "Various phases of the
video art were discussed" according to the NYT.
LIGHTS OUT! (1945 summer revival) [a.k.a. FANTASIES FROM LIGHTS OUT!]
This NBC revival of Cooper's 1930s LIGHTS OUT! scripts is broadcast from New
York. Because it aired early in the evening, "only those Cooper scripts which
stressed fantasy rather than horror" are used.
01 07-14 THE SAFE CRACKERS
02 07-21 REUNION AFTER DEATH (recording survives)
03 07-28 THE ROCKET SHIP (survives at Library of Congress)
04 08-04 LADY FROM THE LAKE
05 08-11 DID THE MURDER HAPPEN?
06 08-25 MAN IN THE MIDDLE (Armed Forces Radio version survives)
07 09-01 LIGHTS OUT
HOUR OF MYSTERY 1946
According to a page on GoogleBooks, Cooper appears to be listed among the
writers of U. S. Steel's HOUR OF MYSTERY series, the 1946 summer replacement
for the same sponsor's THEATRE GUILD ON THE AIR, which features weekly hour-
long adaptations of famous mystery novels.
LIGHTS OUT (1946 NBC TV series)
Based on the radio show that Cooper created in 1934. NBC broadcast four TV
episodes in 1946, then revived the series in 1949. For the premiere episode,
producer-director Frederick Coe uses a Cooper script. The story, about a
psychopath who murders his wife in their apartment on a hot summer evening, is
narrated and photographed entirely from the point of view of the unseen
06-30-46 FIRST PERSON SINGULAR - with Carl Frank, Mary Wilsey, Eva Condon,
Russell Morrison, Bob Lieb, Gene O'Donnell, Vaughn Taylor, W. O. McWatters,
Thomas Healphy, Paul Keyes, Bob Davis, Harold Grou, Bill Woodson, announcer.
Producer: Fred Coe; Tech. Director: Bill States; Writer: Wyllis Cooper; Sets:
Bob Wade; 25 Mins.; Sun. (30) 8:45 p.m.; Sustaining; WNBT-NBC, N.Y.-- credits
LIGHTS OUT! (1946 summer revival)
Cooper scripts from 1934-1936 are used for this eight episode NBC revival
(produced and directed by Albert Crews and originating in Chicago), including
the premiere episode (described by Variety as 'a sort of modern version of the
"Wandering Jew" theme' complete with '[r]eligious background, philosophical
discussion, and dream diagnosis...'), as well as:
02 07-13 THE COFFIN IN STUDIO B
03 07-20 THE HAUNTED CELL
04 07-27 BATTLE OF THE MAGICIANS
05 08-03 THE REVENGE OF INDIA
06 08-10 THE GHOST ON THE NEWSREEL NEGATIVE
07 08-17 THE DILLINGER COMPLEX (lost or not available)
An eighth episode, an adaptation of Dickens' THE SIGNAL MAN, is not by Cooper.
November 1946 - Compton agency eliminates its television department and
Cooper, "head of the television department, will resign from agency to do
freelance writing." By December 1946, Cooper joins the Washington, D.C.-based
agency Wheeler and Healy "as a regular staff member in the capacity of
Director of Radio, Motion Picture and Television."
CRIME CLUB 1947
Cooper writes at least one script for this Mutual series sponsored by
Doubleday, the publishers of Crime Club mystery books.
04-24 THE TOPAZ FLOWER - with Raymond Edward Johnson; adapted from the 1939
novel The Case of the Topaz Flower, by Charlotte Murray Russell.
QUIET, PLEASE! 1947-1949
Cooper creates, writes and directs this weekly half hour fantasy anthology
series for Mutual and ABC. 105 episodes from 06-8-47 to 06-25-49. With Ernest
Quiet Please Log
LIGHTS OUT! (1947 summer revival)
This last radio revival of Cooper's signature program stars Boris Karloff
and airs on ABC from Hollywood, sponsored by Eversharp which cancels it
after three episodes. Variety reports: "The sponsor is committed to the
show's owner, Wyllis Cooper, for the contractual period, but is understood to
have worked out a compromise payoff covering the cost of the scripts." Cooper
is doing QUIET, PLEASE! in New York at this time so he probably does not
participate directly. Variety describes this revival as "a minimum budget
production, using old scripts originally written by Cooper when the series was
launched a decade ago as a late-evening sustainer out of Chicago ..." The one
complete circulating episode features a script credited to Cooper and Paul
07-16 DEATH ROBBERY with Boris Karloff, Tom Collins, Lurene Tuttle
07-30 THE RING with Boris Karloff (an incomplete version survives)
02-04-48 - Variety features a full page advertisement for "Quiet, Please!" (on
p. 35), announcing the series' switch to Mondays, calling it "radio's most
talked about program," and quoting from reviews by a half dozen critics: Sid
Weiss of Radio Daily ("one of the few adult-thinking shows on the air"), Paul
Dennis of the New York Post ("better than Benzedrine"), Paul Ackerman of
Billboard Magazine, Ben Gross of the Daily News, and unnamed writers for
Variety and Newsweek. The ad also quotes John Crosby's syndicated Radio in
Review critique ("PURE RADIO ... handled with extreme skill") in its entirety.
The ad also mentions a December 1947 drama award that the series won from the
American Schools and Colleges Association and that the program's "personal and
package representative" is Ted Lloyd, Inc. of 610 Fifth Avenue in New York
ANTA-NBC TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE (TV series)
Apparently, a version of Cooper's 1946 LIGHTS OUT TV script airs on this
dramatic anthology. The series is a collaboration of the American National
Theater and Academy and the National Broadcasting Company.
02-15-48 FIRST PERSON SINGULAR
ROLL CALL - July 1948
NYT reports that Cooper 'has been signed to prepare the script for the Army's
radio show, "Roll Call," heard at 8 P.M. Thursdays on NBC.' The series
premieres 07-01-48. Burgess Meredith hosts. Billboard reports that series is
canceled before the end of the month.
RADIO CITY PLAYHOUSE 1948
One of Cooper's 1930s LIGHTS OUT scripts airs on this NBC dramatic
12-20-48 THREE MEN - On the first Christmas Eve after World War I, three
Allied officers on leave (an Australian, a Frenchman, and an American) meet in
a railway compartment in France and, although they are all strangers to one
another, they each have the odd feeling that they have met somewhere
before..... Cast: Ian Martin (Australian officer); Bill Lipton; Maurice Ellis;
Grant Richards; Joe McQuade.
WE, THE PEOPLE 1949
In January, Cooper is announced as taking over the writing of this CBS series
which combines "celebrity interviews with human interest stories" and is
simulcast on TV and radio. The TV version of one of his scripts survives at
the Thousand Oaks Library in California.
VOLUME ONE (1949 TV series)
Cooper writes and produces this half-hour ABC anthology from 06-16-49 to 07-
21-49. Lasting only six episodes, the series begins airing just as QUIET,
PLEASE! ends its radio run. One source claims that the TV series was
originally intended to be called QUIET, PLEASE! but that this was changed at
the last minute. Cooper appears at the beginning of each episode to introduce
the story. Variety reviews the premiere episode under the title "Vol. 1, No.
1" -- subsequent episodes are "Vol. 1, No. 2" and "Vol. 1, No. 3" and so on.
NYT TV listings title the programs "Volume One, Number One" and so on. For the
premiere episode, Alex Segal directs and organist Albert Buhrman provides the
06-16-49 - No. 1 - THE BELL HOP STORY - After committing murder and bank
robbery, a man and woman check into a hotel, only to find the gun and the
stolen money have vanished from their bags and that they are mysteriously
trapped in their room by a puckish bellhop. This three-character drama is
viewed entirely from a stationary camera behind what is supposed to be the
hotel room mirror. Jack Lescoulie and Nancy Sheridan play the couple. Frank
Thomas, Jr. is the bellhop. Apparently, this was performed by the same cast on
Cooper's ESCAPE series in January 1950.
No. 2 Anne Seymour, Donald Briggs, Sid Cassel
No. 3 Herb Sheldon, Edgar Stehli, Alice Reinheart
No. 4 Nancy Sheridan, James Monks
No. 5 Vicki Vola, Marie Kenney, William A. Lee
No. 6 Happy Felton, Abby Lewis, Alex Segal (kinescope survives at UCLA: "A
scientist who has invented a time machine attempts to outsmart the greedy
businessman who commissioned the invention, but both are foiled by a very
ESCAPE (1950 TV series)
Cooper produces, directs and contributes scripts for this brief CBS TV series
(01-05 to 03-30) which is based on the famous radio anthology series of the
same name. Air dates, episode titles and cast from the New York Times and
01-05 RUGGED JOURNEY w/ Charita Bauer, Richard MacMurray, Charles Egleston,
Lawrence Fletcher - A New York reporter travels with a transport tycoon to the
Arctic where he revives a wartime romance with an Eskimo girl. Script by
Howard Rodman, based on the short story by Franklin Gregory.
1-19 THE DIAMOND LENS
1-26 THE BELL HOP STORY w/ Nancy Sheridan, Frank Thomas & Jack Lescoulie
2-02 THE OLD CASTLE w/ Jabez Grey, Bruno Wick, Sarah Fussell, and Others
2-09 WHAPPERKNOCKER SONG w/ Peggy Wagner, Ralph Riggs and Lee Marvin
2-16 THE GREAT FOG w/ Florida Friedus, Howard Wierum and Others
2-23 THE MYTH MAKERS w/ Fran Carlon, Dan Margan, Tommy Rettig and Dave Ballard
3-02 THE COVENANT w/ Pat Peardon, Kim Stanley and Others
3-09 THE TROUBLE WITH GRANDFATHER w/ Clock Ryder, Kathryn Grill, Others
3-16 HOMECOMING w/ William A. Lee, Marie Kenny and Vicki Vola
3-23 THE SOUND MACHINE w/ Jack Lescoulie and Others
3-30 REST IN PEACE w/ Oliver Thorndyke and Clock Ryder
STAGE 13 (1950 TV series)
Cooper produces, directs and writes some of the scripts of this CBS TV
anthology series. The title refers to "a superstitious number no sound stage
would use." Apparently, Cooper appears at the beginning of each episode to
introduce the story.
04-19 NOW YOU KNOW - Patrons disappear from a Third Avenue saloon "after
acquiring an undefined key to the universe." Script by Draper Lewis from a
story by Philip Macdonald. With Alan Bunce, Peter Capell.
04-26 THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES - Nancy Sheridan, James Monks
05-03 MIDSUMMER'S EVE - Story concerns a young couple visiting Stonehenge who
"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."
With Pat O'Malley, Richard MacMurray, Emily Barnes
05-10 NEVER MURDER YOUR GRANDFATHER - Leslie Nielsen, Barbara Bolton, Robert
05-17 PERMISSION TO KILL - Alice Reinheart, Daniel Morgan
05-24 THE LAST MAN - Vinton Hayworth ('as a power mad dictator who finds
himself the "Last Man" on earth'), Cathleen Cordell
05-31 NOW YOU SEE HIM - Dennis Harrison
06-07 THE PAY-OFF - Adelaide Klein, Elaine Ward; Script by Wells Robinson
about "two miserly spinster sisters whose avarice proves their undoing..." a
"prize-winning play in the CBS Awards competition for original drama scripts
by collegiate writers ..."
06-14 Broadcast pre-empted when engineers' union goes on strike
06-21 YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED - James Monks, Jane White (her TV debut)
06-28 NO MORE WISHES - Donald Briggs, Lucille Patton, Phil Sterling
06-11-50 - The Associated Press reports that Cooper will lecture at the
International Radio Festival, a summer radio and television workshop held from
July 5 to August 15 at Adelphi College, Garden City, New York.
July 1950 - Cooper's CBS-TV contract is "cancelled by mutual consent,"
according to Billboard.
WE, THE PEOPLE 1950
In July, Cooper starts to write and direct the NBC radio version of this long-
running program, introducing a new format featuring weekly half-hour dramas on
topical Cold War themes, i.e., propaganda. The sponsor, Gulf Oil, cancels an
intended August 25 episode about "the hypothetical atom-bombing of Cincinnati"
after the network feels the too-realistic script might result in a "War of the
Worlds"-style panic broadcast.
RADIO FREE EUROPE (1951-?)
According to his NYT obit, Cooper writes scripts for the CIA's psychological
In March 1951, Cooper is reported to be writing scripts for "TV and film
features" of Sax Rohmer's fictional villain Fu Manchu -- to be produced by
Herbert Bayard Swope Jr., producer of NBC-TV's LIGHTS OUT. A TV script
survives at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
PHILIP MORRIS PLAYHOUSE 1951
At least one Cooper script airs on this CBS radio series, a half hour dramatic
anthology sponsored by the cigarette manufacturer.
04-19-51 - HOMECOMING - Chester Morris in a "story of a GI recovering from
At least one Cooper script airs on this sustaining NBC radio series featuring
04-21-51 WHAT DO THEY THINK OF US - "A program promoted as surveying the
satellite countries of Eastern Europe under Communist domination, but in
reality, propaganda for Radio Free Europe. Bryna Raeburn, Ross Martin, Ivor
Francis." --from radiogoldindex.com. Library of Congress calls this episode
WHAT EUROPE THINKS OF AMERICA.
LIGHTS OUT (TV series)
After Fred Coe produces and directs four episodes of LIGHTS OUT for NBC-TV
in 1946, the series is revived on 07-19-49 and runs until September 1952.
In April 1951, Cooper is signed by producer Herbert B. Swope, Jr. "to script
one show a month for the video version. ... Cooper will write either an
original story or adapt one of his radio scripts."
05-21-51 DEAD MAN'S COAT - directed by Laurence Schwab, Jr., with Basil
Rathbone, William Post, Jr., Norman Rose, Haywood Hale Broun, Harvey Hays and
Pat Donovan. This episode survives and seems to have been adapted from one of
Cooper's 1930s radio scripts.
06-11-51 PIT OF THE DEAD - directed by William Corrigan, with John Dall,
Beatrice Kraft, Joseph Buloff.
WHITEHALL 1212 (1951-1952 radio series)
Cooper writes and directs these radio dramatizations of Scotland Yard cases
with an all-British cast. Series is originally announced as "This Is Scotland
Yard." 44 mostly untitled episodes from 11-18-51 to 09-28-52. Produced by
Collie Small and Jack Goldstein. With Horace Braham frequently playing the
leading role as various investigators and Harvey Hayes in a recurring role as
Chief Superintendant John Davidson of Scotland Yard's "Black Museum."
STUDIO ONE (TV series)
Cooper writes at least one script for this CBS drama anthology:
05-11-53 KING COFFIN - An adaptation of Conrad Aiken's novel, directed by
Franklin J. Schaffner with Ruth Ford and Zachary Scott
LIGHT UNTO MY FEET (TV series)
Cooper writes at least one script for this CBS drama and discussion program
dealing with religious issues. He adapts "Push-Button Christmas," a story by
the Reverend Robert W. Scott, "illustrating what Christmas commercialization
might lead to by A. D. 2000 ..."
Dies 22 June 1955 - High Bridge, New Jersey, USA.
According to researcher Martin Grams, Cooper dies "at Hunterdon Medical
Center, Raritan Township, New Jersey ... of a stroke."
Buried in Lower Valley Cemetery, a "relatively small" Presbyterian church yard
located on Route 513 in Califon, New Jersey.