Mr. District Attorney

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Mr. District Attorney
Mr. District Attorney cast 1947.jpg
The cast in 1947. From left: Len Doyle (Harrington), Jay Jostyn (the District Attorney), and Vicki Vola (Edith Miller)
GenreCrime drama
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited States
SyndicatesNBC Blue
StarringVicki Vola
Dwight Weist
Raymond Edward Johnson
Jay Jostyn
AnnouncerEd Herlihy
Mark Hawley
Fred Uttal
Created byEd Byron
Written byBob Shaw
Directed byEd Byron
Produced byPhillips H. Lord

Mr. District Attorney is a radio crime drama produced by Samuel Bischoff that aired on NBC and ABC from April 3, 1939 to June 13, 1952 (and in transcribed syndication through 1953). The series focused on a crusading district attorney initially known only as Mister District Attorney or Chief, and was later translated to television. On television the attorney's name was Paul Garrett, and the radio version adopted the name in its final years when David Brian played the role. A key figure in the dramas was secretary Edith Miller.


Created, written, and directed by former law student Ed Byron, the series was inspired by the early years of New York governor Thomas E. Dewey.[1] Dewey's public war against racketeering led to his election as governor. Phillips H. Lord, creator of Gang Busters, helped to develop the concept and coined the title. Byron lent an air of accuracy and immediacy to his scripts through close study of crime statistics, a library of criminology texts, following the newspapers and even visiting rough bars to gain tips, background and color from crooks and police.[2]

Produced throughout its run in New York City, the series began as a 15-minute serial, becoming a half-hour, self-contained series three months later as a summer replacement for The Bob Hope Show on June 27, 1939.[3] During 1942, Mr. District Attorney began battling Nazis, leading to conflicts with the FBI when the scripts reflected life too closely.[2]

The program was sponsored by Bristol-Myers.[4]

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Mr. District Attorney – The nameless title role was played by several actors throughout the series:
  • Voice of the Law – The show's signature was the opening announcer known as the Voice of the Law, who defined the creed and duties of Mr. District Attorney. The role was played by Maurice Franklin and also Jay Jostyn prior to taking the lead role.
  • Edith Miller – The district attorney's faithful secretary, played throughout the series run by Vicki Vola.
  • Miss Rand – The D.A.'s receptionist was played by Eleanor Silver and Arlene Francis.[1]
  • Len Harrington – The D.A.'s chief investigator, a former cop, was played by Walter Kinsella, who had been heard in various police roles during the early years, and by Len Doyle from 1940 onward.
  • Other supporting players and guests on the series included such noted actors as Paul Stewart and Frank Lovejoy.
  • Harry Salter conducted the music.[7]


In three films released by Republic Pictures in the early 1940s, the district attorney was named P. Cadwallader Jones and was assisted by journalist Terry Parker. Different actors portrayed them in each film. The trilogy consisted of Mr. District Attorney (1941) starring Dennis O'Keefe with Florence Rice and Peter Lorre, Mr. District Attorney in the Carter Case (1941) starring James Ellison and Virginia Gilmore and Secrets of the Underground (1942) starring John Hubbard and Virginia Grey.

A fourth film again titled Mr. District Attorney was released by Columbia Pictures in 1947. O'Keefe returned as the lead, now named Steve Bennett.


David Brian in the title role, 1954.

Near the end of the radio run, the series was transferred to television. The first incarnation ran on ABC from October 1, 1951 through June 23, 1952 on alternate Mondays, first with The Amazing Mr. Malone and then Out of the Fog. The radio cast reprised their roles, with Jay Jostyn as Mr. District Attorney, Vicki Vola as Miss Miller and Len Doyle as Harrington.

Season 1 (1951–52)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"The Case of the Homecoming"Wes McKeeUnknownOctober 1, 1951 (1951-10-01)
22"The Case of the Bindle Boy"UnknownUnknownOctober 15, 1951 (1951-10-15)
33"The Case of the Cop-Killer"UnknownRobert J. ShawOctober 29, 1951 (1951-10-29)
44"The Case of the Bird Brain"UnknownUnknownNovember 12, 1951 (1951-11-12)
55"The Case of the Dangerous Clown"UnknownUnknownNovember 26, 1951 (1951-11-26)
66"The Case of the Silent Victim"UnknownUnknownDecember 10, 1951 (1951-12-10)
77"The Case of the Crooked Finger"UnknownUnknownDecember 24, 1951 (1951-12-24)
88"The Case of the Big Day"UnknownUnknownJanuary 7, 1952 (1952-01-07)
99"The Case of the Three Ravens"Edward ByronUnknownJanuary 21, 1952 (1952-01-21)
1010"The Case of All But Two"UnknownUnknownFebruary 4, 1952 (1952-02-04)
1111"The Case of the Rain-Check"UnknownUnknownFebruary 18, 1952 (1952-02-18)
1212"The Case of the Powder Keg"UnknownUnknownMarch 3, 1952 (1952-03-03)
1313"The Case of the Golden Square"UnknownUnknownMarch 17, 1952 (1952-03-17)
1414"The Case of the Beetle"UnknownUnknownMarch 31, 1952 (1952-03-31)
1515"The Case of the Grand Old Man"UnknownUnknownApril 14, 1952 (1952-04-14)
1616"The Case of the Bag-Man"UnknownUnknownApril 28, 1952 (1952-04-28)
1717"The Case of the Promise"UnknownUnknownMay 12, 1952 (1952-05-12)
1818"The Case of the Junk Man"UnknownRobert J. ShawMay 26, 1952 (1952-05-26)
1919"The Case of the Empty House"UnknownRobert J. ShawJune 9, 1952 (1952-06-09)
2020"The Case of the High Note"UnknownUnknownJune 23, 1952 (1952-06-23)

1954 Revival[edit]

In 1954, the show was revived in syndication by Ziv Television Programs, which had also handled the 1952–1953 radio syndication. David Brian reprised his role from that series but the D. A. was named Paul Garrett. Jackie Loughery played Miss Miller.[8]

Season 1 (1954)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"Fire Insurance"Herbert L. StrockTeleplay by : Richard G. Taylor1954 (1954)
22"Hit and Run"Leon BensonTeleplay by : Stuart Jerome1954 (1954)
33"Numbers"Leon BensonTeleplay by : Ellis Marcus1954 (1954)
44"Wife Killer"TBDTeleplay by : Gene Roddenberry1954 (1954)
55"The Art Forger"TBDTeleplay by : Ellis Marcus1954 (1954)
66"Bad Cop"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
77"Blow-Up"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
88"College Story"TBDTeleplay by : Frank Moss and Lee Berg1954 (1954)
99"Court Escape"TBDTeleplay by : Gene Roddenberry1954 (1954)
1010"Court Room"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1111"D.A. Killer"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1212"Gambling"TBDTeleplay by : Gene Roddenberry1954 (1954)
1313"Hi-Jack"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1414"Juvenile Gang"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1515"Narcotics"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1616"No Parole"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1717"Planned Murder"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
1818"Police Academy"TBDTeleplay by : Gene Roddenberry1954 (1954)
1919"Pollution"TBDTeleplay by : Jack Rock1954 (1954)
2020"Protection"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
2121"Reconciliation"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
2222"Rehearsed Robbery"TBDTeleplay by : Hendrik Vollaerts1954 (1954)
2323"Roy Ruby"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
2424"Safe Cracking"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
2525"State Politician"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
2626"The Jewel Racket"TBDTBD1954 (1954)
2727TBATBDTBD1954 (1954)
2828TBATBDTBD1954 (1954)
2929TBATBDTBD1954 (1954)
3030TBATBDTBD1954 (1954)
3131TBATBDTBD1954 (1954)

Season 2 (1955)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
321"Man on the Edge"Lambert HillyerTeleplay by : Ellis Marcus1955 (1955)
332"Auto Racket"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
343"The Kid"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
354"Animal Poisoner"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
365"Cameraman"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
376"Cave-In"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
387"Courtroom#2"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
398"Courtroom#3"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
409"Crime School"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4110"Executer"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4211"Hidden Witness"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4312"Kidnaped"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4413"Legit Business"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4514"Lost Case"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4615"Mob Rule"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
4716"Patrol Boat"TBDTeleplay by : Gene Roddenberry1955 (1955)
4817"Police Brutality"TBDTeleplay by : Gene Roddenberry1955 (1955)
4918"Posed Pictures"TBDTeleplay by : Kalman Phillips1955 (1955)
5019"Prisoners At Home"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
5120"Professional Killer"TBDTeleplay by : Jack Rock1955 (1955)
5221"Re-Model"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
5322"The Search"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
5423"Usary"TBDTBD1955 (1955)
5524TBATBDTBD1955 (1955)
5625TBATBDTBD1955 (1955)
5726TBATBDTBD1955 (1955)

Comic books[edit]

DC Comics published a Mr. District Attorney comic-book series that ran for 67 issues (January–February 1948 to January–February 1959).[9][10] In 1941, the Whitman Publishing Company published a Big Little Book, Mr. District Attorney on the Job,[11] that included a flip book.[12]


  1. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924–1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4. p. 233.
  2. ^ a b Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 464–65. ISBN 978-0195076783.
  3. ^ "Bob Hope Replaced". The Circleville Herald. Circleville, Ohio. The Circleville Herald. June 19, 1939. p. 3. Retrieved July 13, 2015 – via open access
  4. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920–1960, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. p. 453.
  5. ^ "Mr. District Attorney". The Circleville Herald. Circleville, Ohio. The Circleville Herald. July 10, 1939. p. 8. Retrieved December 23, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ 1970 Tony Randall interview for "Those Were the Days", 11:00,
  7. ^ Grunwald, Edgar A., Ed. (1940). Variety Radio Directory 1940–1941. Variety, Inc. p. 316
  8. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television: the Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. London: Penguin Books. p. 558. ISBN 978-0140249163.
  9. ^ Mr. District Attorney at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Widener, Mike (September 17, 2010). "Lawyers in Comics: Mr. District Attorney". Lillian Goldman Law Library. Archived from the original on May 15, 2016.
  11. ^ "Mr. District Attorney on the Job". Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  12. ^ Ross E. Davies. "The Popular Prosecutor: Mr. District Attorney and the Television Stars of American Law". Retrieved 2018-06-29.

External links[edit]