||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (May 2011)|
The Whistler is an American radio mystery drama which ran from May 16, 1942 until September 22, 1955. It was sponsored by the Signal Oil Company: "That whistle is your signal for the Signal Oil program, The Whistler." The program was adapted into a film noir series by Columbia Pictures in 1944.
Characters and story 
I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes... I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak.
|Opening to The Whistler|
Each episode of The Whistler began with the sound of footsteps and a person whistling. (The Saint radio series with Vincent Price used a similar opening.) The haunting signature theme tune was composed by Wilbur Hatch and featured Dorothy Roberts whistling with an orchestra.
The stories followed a formula in which a person's criminal acts were typically undone either by an overlooked but important detail or by their own stupidity. On rare occasions a curious twist of fate caused the story to end happily for the episode's protagonist. Ironic twist endings were a key feature of each episode. The Whistler himself narrated, often commenting directly upon the action in the manner of a Greek chorus, taunting the criminal from an omniscient perspective.
Bill Forman had the title role of host and narrator. Others who portrayed the Whistler at various times were Gale Gordon, Joseph Kearns, Marvin Miller (announcer for The Whistler and The Bickersons and later the actor who portrayed Michael Anthony on TV's The Millionaire), Bill Johnstone (who had the title role on radio's The Shadow from 1938 to 1943) and Everett Clarke. Cast members included Betty Lou Gerson, Hans Conried, Joseph Kearns, Cathy Lewis, Elliott Lewis, Gerald Mohr, Lurene Tuttle and Jack Webb.
Writer-producer J. Donald Wilson established the tone of the show during its first two years, and he was followed in 1944 by producer-director George Allen. Other directors included Sterling Tracy and Sherman Marks with final scripts by Joel Malone and Harold Swanton. Of the 692 episodes, over 200 no longer exist. In 1946, a local Chicago version of The Whistler with local actors aired Sundays on WBBM, sponsored by Meister Brau beer.
Films and Television 
The Whistler was adapted into a film noir series of eight films by Columbia Pictures. The "Voice of the Whistler" was provided by an uncredited Otto Forrest. In the first seven films, veteran actor Richard Dix played the main character in the story -- a different character in each film. In the eighth film, made after Dix's retirement, Michael Duane played the main character.
- The Whistler (1944) (Directed by William Castle)
- The Mark of the Whistler (1944) (Directed by William Castle and based on Cornell Woolrich's story, "Dormant Account")
- The Power of the Whistler (1945)
- Voice of the Whistler (1945) (Directed by William Castle)
- Mysterious Intruder (1946) (Directed by William Castle)
- The Secret of the Whistler (1946)
- The Thirteenth Hour (1947)
- The Return of the Whistler (1948)
A syndicated TV version of The Whistler was produced and aired for a brief period in the 1950's.
See also 
- Dunning, John. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8.
- Nachman, Gerald. Raised on Radio. University of California Press, 2000. ISBN 0-520-22303-9.
- Pitts, Michael R. Famous Movie Detectives II. Rowman & Littlefield, 1991. ISBN 0-8108-2345-4.
- Renzi, Thomas C. Cornell Woolrich: From Pulp Noir to Film Noir. McFarland Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-7864-2351-X.
- Van Neste, Dan. " The Whistler: Stepping Into the Shadows -- A Columbia Film Series". BearManor Media, 2011. ISBN 1-59393-402-5.
- Wilt, David E. Hardboiled in Hollywood. Popular Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87972-525-7.
- Dunning (1998), 720.
- Dunning (1998), 513.
- Dunning (1998), 209.