Mr. District Attorney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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, which 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 D.A., initially known only as "Mister District Attorney," or "Chief", and was later translated to television. On television the D.A. had a name, Paul Garrett, and the radio version picked up this name in the final years when David Brian played the role. A key figure in the dramas was the D.A.'s secretary, Edith Miller (Vicki Vola).


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] It was Dewey's public war against racketeering which 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 going around rough bars to gain tips, background, and color from crooks and police alike.[2] His techniques sometimes enabled Byron to predict major crime waves before the news broke.

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 beginning 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 run, with the breakdown as follows:
  • 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 over the lead role
  • Miss Miller – Edith Miller was the district attorney's faithful secretary, played throughout the 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; 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]


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, airing on alternate Mondays, first with The Amazing Mr. Malone and then Out of the Fog. The current radio cast reprised their roles: Jay Jostyn as Mr. District Attorney, Vicki Vola as Miss Miller, and Len Doyle as Harrington. In 1954, the show was revived in syndication by Ziv Television Programs, who had also handled the 1952–1953 radio syndication. David Brian reprised his role from that series, only now the D. A. had a name, Paul Garrett. Jackie Loughery was Miss Miller.[8]

Comic books[edit]

DC Comics published a Mr. District Attorney comic book series which 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". 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". 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, United Kingdom: 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]