Thriller (U.S. TV series)

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Thriller Title.png
Genre Anthology
Created by Hubbell Robinson
Directed by John Brahm
Jules Bricken
Herschel Daugherty
Paul Henreid
Douglas Heyes
Arthur Hiller
Mitchell Leisen
Ida Lupino
Gerald Mayer
John Newland
Ted Post
Presented by Boris Karloff
Starring Various
Composer(s) Stanley Wilson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 67
Executive producer(s) Hubbell Robinson
Producer(s) William Frye
Fletcher Markle
Maxwell Shane
Running time 49 min. (Season 1)
50 min. (Season 2)
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black and white 4:3
Audio format Mono
Original run September 13, 1960 – April 30, 1962

Thriller (a.k.a. Boris Karloff's Thriller) is an American anthology television series that aired during the 1960–61 and 1961–62 seasons on NBC. The show featured host Boris Karloff introducing a mix of macabre horror tales and suspense thrillers.[1] Reruns currently air on the MeTV television network.


Thriller was created by Hubbell Robinson for MCA's Revue Studios. It was produced by Fletcher Markle, William Frye, and Maxwell Shane. Among the many writers for the series were Robert Hardy Andrews, and Robert Bloch, who adapted a number of his own stories, notably "The Weird Tailor."

In addition to serving as the host of the series, Karloff starred in five episodes: "The Prediction," "The Premature Burial," "The Last of the Somervilles," "Dialogues With Death," and "The Incredible Doctor Markesan."

Other actors included Leslie Nielsen in the show's first episode "The Twisted Image," Rip Torn in "The Purple Room," William Shatner in two episodes, "The Hungry Glass" and "The Grim Reaper," Constance Ford in two episodes, Mary Tyler Moore in two episodes and Edward Andrews in three episodes. Child actress Beverly Washburn appeared in "Parasite Mansion"; Joan Tompkins appeared in "The Cheaters" and "Mr. George." Elizabeth Montgomery, Tom Poston, and John Carradine starred in the episode "Masquerade." Ed Nelson starred in four episodes: "The Fatal Impulse," "The Cheaters," "A Good Imagination," and "Dialogues With Death."

Other performers included: George Grizzard, Natalie Trundy, Bethel Leslie, Patricia Medina, Patricia Barry, Richard Anderson, Richard Chamberlain, Elisha Cook, Conrad Nagel, Russell Johnson, Diana Millay, Philip Carey, Kathleen Crowley, Susan Oliver, Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., J. Pat O'Malley, Henry Daniell, Robert Vaughn, Marlo Thomas, John Ireland, Jeanette Nolan, Virginia Gregg, Hazel Scott, Lloyd Bochner, Scott Marlowe, Judson Pratt, Mary Astor, Marion Ross, MacDonald Carey, Natalie Schafer, Phyllis Thaxter, Estelle Winwood, Antoinette Bower, Jo Van Fleet, Jane Greer, Dick York, Jocelyn Brando, Richard Carlson, William Windom, George Kennedy, Cloris Leachman, Monte Markham, and Patricia Breslin.


No = Overall episode number
Ep = Episode number within the season

Thriller ran for two seasons starting in 1960.

Season 1: 1960–1961[edit]

The show premiered on September 13, 1960 with the episode "The Twisted Image."

No Ep Title Directed by Written by Original air date
01 01 "The Twisted Image" Arthur Hiller James P. Cavanagh September 13, 1960 (1960-09-13)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Leslie Nielsen, and George Grizzard 
02 02 "Child's Play" Arthur Hiller Robert Dozier September 20, 1960 (1960-09-20)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Frank Overton and Bethel Leslie 
03 03 "Worse Than Murder" Mitchell Leisen Mel Goldberg September 27, 1960 (1960-09-27)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Constance Ford, and John Baragrey 
04 04 "The Mark of the Hand" Paul Henreid Eric Peters October 4, 1960 (1960-10-04)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mona Freeman, and Jessie Royce Landis 
05 05 "Rose's Last Summer" Arthur Hiller Marie Baumer October 11, 1960 (1960-10-11)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mary Astor, and Lin McCarthy 
06 06 "The Guilty Men" Jules Bricken John Vlahos October 18, 1960 (1960-10-18)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Everett Sloane, and Jay C. Flippen 
07 07 "The Purple Room" Douglas Heyes Douglas Heyes October 25, 1960 (1960-10-25)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Rip Torn, and Patricia Barry 
08 08 "The Watcher" John Brahm Donald S. Sanford November 1, 1960 (1960-11-01)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Martin Gabel, and Stuart Erwin 
09 09 "Girl with a Secret" Mitchell Leisen Charles Beaumont November 15, 1960 (1960-11-15)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Fay Bainter, Cloris Leachman, Monte Markham, and Paul Hartman 
10 10 "The Prediction" John Brahm Donald S. Sanford November 22, 1960 (1960-11-22)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Audrey Dalton and Alexander Davion 
11 11 "The Fatal Impulse" Gerald Mayer Philip MacDonald November 29, 1960 (1960-11-29)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Robert Lansing, Whitney Blake, Mary Tyler Moore 
12 12 "The Big Blackout" Maurice Geraghty Oscar Millard December 6, 1960 (1960-12-06)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Jack Carson, Nan Leslie, and Charles McGraw 
13 13 "Knock Three-One-Two" Herman Hoffman John Kneubuhl December 13, 1960 (1960-12-13)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Joe Maross and Beverly Garland 
14 14 "Man in the Middle" Fletcher Markle Howard Rodman December 20, 1960 (1960-12-20)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mort Sahl, and Werner Klemperer 
15 15 "The Cheaters" John Brahm Donald S. Sanford December 27, 1960 (1960-12-27)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mildred Dunnock, and Harry Townes 
16 16 "The Hungry Glass" Douglas Heyes Douglas Heyes January 3, 1961 (1961-01-03)
Cast: Boris Karloff, William Shatner, and Joanna Heyes 
17 17 "The Poisoner" Herschel Daugherty Robert Hardy Andrews January 10, 1961 (1961-01-10)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Murray Matheson, and Sarah Marshall 
18 18 "Man in the Cage" Gerald Mayer Stuart Jerome January 17, 1961 (1961-01-17)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Philip Carey, and Diana Millay 
19 19 "Choose a Victim" Richard Carlson George Bellak January 24, 1961 (1961-01-24)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Larry Blyden, and Susan Oliver 
20 20 "Hay-Fork and Bill-Hook" Herschel Daugherty Alan Caillou February 7, 1961 (1961-02-07)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Kenneth Haigh, and Audrey Dalton 
21 21 "The Merriweather File" John Brahm John Kneubuhl February 14, 1961 (1961-02-14)
Cast: Boris Karloff, James Gregory, and Bethel Leslie 
22 22 "The Fingers of Fear" Jules Bricken Robert Hardy Andrews February 21, 1961 (1961-02-21)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Nehemiah Persoff, and Robert Middleton 
23 23 "Well of Doom" John Brahm Donald S. Sanford February 28, 1961 (1961-02-28)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ronald Howard, and Henry Daniell 
24 24 "The Ordeal of Dr. Cordell" Laslo Benedek Donald S. Sanford March 7, 1961 (1961-03-07)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Robert Vaughn, and Kathleen Crowley 
25 25 "Trio for Terror" Ida Lupino Wilkie Collins March 14, 1961 (1961-03-14)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Reginald Owen, and John Abbott 
26 26 "Papa Benjamin" Ted Post John Kneubuhl March 21, 1961 (1961-03-21)
Cast: Boris Karloff, John Ireland, and Jeanne Bal 
27 27 "Late Date" Herschel Daugherty Donald S. Sanford April 4, 1961 (1961-04-04)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Larry Pennell, and Edward Platt 
28 28 "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" Ray Milland Barré Lyndon April 11, 1961 (1961-04-11)
Cast: Boris Karloff, John Williams, and Beverly Powers 
29 29 "The Devil's Ticket" Jules Bricken Robert Bloch April 18, 1961 (1961-04-18)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Macdonald Carey, and Patricia Medina 
30 30 "Parasite Mansion" Herschel Daugherty Donald S. Sanford April 25, 1961 (1961-04-25)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Pippa Scott, and Jeanette Nolan 
31 31 "A Good Imagination" John Brahm Robert Bloch May 2, 1961 (1961-05-02)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Edward Andrews, and Patricia Barry 
32 32 "Mr. George" Ida Lupino Donald S. Sanford May 9, 1961 (1961-05-09)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Virginia Gregg, and Howard Freeman 
33 33 "The Terror in Teakwood" Paul Henreid Alan Caillou May 16, 1961 (1961-05-16)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Guy Rolfe, and Hazel Court 
34 34 "The Prisoner in the Mirror" Herschel Daugherty Robert Arthur, Jr. May 23, 1961 (1961-05-23)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Lloyd Bochner, and Henry Daniell 
35 35 "Dark Legacy" John Brahm John Tomerlin May 30, 1961 (1961-05-30)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Harry Townes, and Ilka Windish 
36 36 "Pigeons from Hell" John Newland John Kneubuhl June 6, 1961 (1961-06-06)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Brandon De Wilde, and Crahan Denton 
37 37 "The Grim Reaper" Herschel Daugherty Robert Bloch June 13, 1961 (1961-06-13)
Cast: Boris Karloff, William Shatner, and Natalie Schafer 

Season 2: 1961–1962[edit]

The second season of Thriller started on September 18, 1961 with the episode "What Beckoning Ghost?" and had 30 episodes in the season.

No Ep Title Directed by Written by Original air date
38 01 "What Beckoning Ghost?" Ida Lupino Donald S. Sanford September 18, 1961 (1961-09-18)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Judith Evelyn, and Tom Helmore 
39 02 "Guillotine" Ida Lupino Charles Beaumont September 26, 1961 (1961-09-26)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Robert Middleton, and Danielle De Metz 
40 03 "The Premature Burial" Douglas Heyes William D. Gordon October 2, 1961 (1961-10-02)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Sidney Blackmer, and Scott Marlowe 
41 04 "The Weird Tailor" Herschel Daugherty Robert Bloch October 16, 1961 (1961-10-16)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Henry Jones, and George Macready 
42 05 "God Grante That She Lye Stille" Herschel Daugherty Robert Hardy Andrews October 23, 1961 (1961-10-23)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ronald Howard, and Sarah Marshall 
43 06 "Masquerade" Herschel Daugherty Donald S. Sanford October 30, 1961 (1961-10-30)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Tom Poston 
44 07 "The Last of the Sommervilles" Ida Lupino Ida Lupino November 6, 1961 (1961-11-06)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Peter Walker, Chet Stratton, Phyllis Thaxter, and Martita Hunt 
45 08 "Letter to a Lover" Herschel Daugherty Donald S. Sanford November 13, 1961 (1961-11-13)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ann Todd and Murray Matheson 
46 09 "A Third for Pinochle" Herschel Daugherty Mark Hanna November 20, 1961 (1961-11-20)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Edward Andrews, and Doro Merande 
47 10 "The Closed Cabinet" Ida Lupino Jess Carneol November 27, 1961 (1961-11-27)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Olive Sturgess, and David Frankham 
48 11 "Dialogues with Death" Herschel Daugherty Robert Arthur, Jr. December 4, 1961 (1961-12-04)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Norma Crane, and Ed Nelson 
49 12 "The Return of Andrew Bentley" John Newland Richard Matheson December 11, 1961 (1961-12-11)
Cast: Boris Karloff, John Newland, and Antoinette Bower 
50 13 "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk" John Brahm Donald S. Sanford December 18, 1961 (1961-12-18)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Jo Van Fleet, and John Carradine 
51 14 "Portrait Without a Face" John Newland Jason Wingreen December 25, 1961 (1961-12-25)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Jane Greer, and Robert Webber 
52 15 "An Attractive Family" John Brahm Robert Arthur, Jr. January 1, 1962 (1962-01-01)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Richard Long, and Leo G. Carroll 
53 16 "Waxworks" Herschel Daugherty Robert Bloch January 8, 1962 (1962-01-08)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Oskar Homolka, and Martin Kosleck 
54 17 "La Strega" Ida Lupino Alan Caillou January 15, 1962 (1962-01-15)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ursula Andress, and Alejandro Rey 
55 18 "The Storm" Herschel Daugherty William D. Gordon January 22, 1962 (1962-01-22)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Nancy Kelly, and David McLean 
56 19 "A Wig for Miss Devore" John Brahm August Derleth January 29, 1962 (1962-01-29)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Patricia Barry, and John Baragrey 
57 20 "The Hollow Watcher" William F. Claxton Jay Simms February 12, 1962 (1962-02-12)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Audrey Dalton, and Sean McClory 
58 21 "Cousin Tundifer" John Brahm Boris Sobelman February 19, 1962 (1962-02-19)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Edward Andrews, and Sue Ane Langdon 
59 22 "The Incredible Doktor Markesan" Robert Florey Donald S. Sanford February 26, 1962 (1962-02-26)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Dick York, and Carolyn Kearney 
60 23 "Flowers of Evil" John Brahm Barré Lyndon March 5, 1962 (1962-03-05)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Luciana Paluzzi, and Kevin Hagen 
61 24 "'Til Death Do Us Part" Herschel Daugherty Robert Bloch March 12, 1962 (1962-03-12)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Henry Jones and Jim Davis 
62 25 "The Bride Who Died Twice" Ida Lupino Robert Hardy Andrews March 19, 1962 (1962-03-19)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mala Powers, and Eduardo Ciannelli 
63 26 "Kill My Love" Herschel Daugherty Donald S. Sanford March 26, 1962 (1962-03-26)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Richard Carlson, and Patricia Breslin 
64 27 "Man of Mystery" John Newland Robert Bloch April 2, 1962 (1962-04-02)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mary Tyler Moore. and John Van Dreelen 
65 28 "The Innocent Bystanders" John English Robert Hardy Andrews April 9, 1962 (1962-04-09)
Cast: Boris Karloff, John Anderson, and George Kennedy 
66 29 "The Lethal Ladies" Ida Lupino Boris Sobelman April 16, 1962 (1962-04-16)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Howard Morris, and Rosemary Murphy 
67 30 "The Specialists" Ted Post John Kneubuhl April 30, 1962 (1962-04-30)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Lin McCarthy, and Robert Douglas 

DVD release[edit]

On August 31, 2010, Image Entertainment released Thriller: The complete series on DVD in Region 1 for the first time. The 14-disc set contains all 67 episodes, remastered and uncut, with new commentary tracks + more.[2]


In a brief review of its premiere, Time called it the "hour-long bloodmobile...unpromising"[3]

In Danse Macabre, Stephen King's 1981 history and critique of horror fiction, King suggests that Thriller was the best series of its kind up to that point.[4]

In a review of the anthology's 2010 DVD release, Hollywood Reporter said "Not all the episodes work, and the transfers can be a bit grainy. But when they do — the strong shadows living in the black and white, the awesomely overwrought score by composers Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens (if only they had music like that again), the storytelling not using gore and cheap scares as crutches — the results are genuinely goosebump-inducing."[5]


Gold Key Comics published a comic book version of Thriller, changing the title to Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery after the series ended; the series lasted until the 1980s, long after not only the end of Thriller but also the death of Karloff himself. Dark Horse Comics published an archive reprint of the series beginning in 2009.[6]

McFarland & Company published Alan Warren's This Is a Thriller! - An Episode Guide in 1996, an exhaustive account of the history of the show. Here it was revealed that it was Alfred Hitchcock more than anyone else who was responsible for the demise of the series, after he came aboard on NBC with an expanded one-hour version of his previous Alfred Hitchcock Presents.[7]

Award nominations[edit]

Year Result Award Category Recipient Episode
1961  Nominated  Emmy Award Outstanding Achievement in the
Field of Music for Television
Pete Rugolo &
Jerry Goldsmith
1962 American Cinema Editors Best Edited Television Program Danny B. Landres "Third for Pinochle"
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation


  1. ^ Boris Karloff Rejoice! Image Entertainment is Finally Bringing Us Home Thriller! from
  2. ^ "Image Entertainment". Image Entertainment. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  3. ^ "Television: : The New Shows". Time. September 26, 1960. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  4. ^ King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. Berkley Books, New York,1982. Page 216.
  5. ^ "Boris Karloff back in Thriller: Complete Series". Hollywood Reporter. via Reuters. September 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ This Is A Thriller! - An Episode Guide. McFarland & Company, Inc. 1996. [page needed]

External links[edit]