Thriller (American TV series)

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Thriller Title.png
Title card
GenreAnthology, horror, thriller
Created byHubbell Robinson
Directed byJohn Brahm
Jules Bricken
Herschel Daugherty
Paul Henreid
Douglas Heyes
Arthur Hiller
Mitchell Leisen
Ida Lupino
Gerald Mayer
John Newland
Ted Post
Presented byBoris Karloff
Theme music composerPete Rugolo
ComposersJerry Goldsmith
Stanley Wilson
Pete Rugolo
Morton Stevens
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes67
Executive producerHubbell Robinson
ProducersWilliam Frye
Fletcher Markle
Maxwell Shane
Running time49 min. (Season 1)
50 min. (Season 2)
Production companiesHubbell Robinson Productions
Revue Studios
DistributorMCA TV
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack and white 4:3
Audio formatMono
Original releaseSeptember 13, 1960 (1960-09-13) –
April 30, 1962 (1962-04-30)

Thriller (also known as Boris Karloff's Thriller and Boris Karloff Presents) 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]


Boris Karloff in Thriller (1960)

Thriller was created by Hubbell Robinson for MCA's Revue Studios. Though remembered primarily as a series that emphasized gothic horror, under producer Fletcher Markle Thriller was initially a series oriented towards suspense and crime drama, in the manner of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Markle was let go after having completed eight episodes, and replaced by Maxwell Shane. Shane continued in the crime drama mold, though he began to add trappings of gothic horror to a few stories, but he too was replaced after having completed a further nine episodes. The rest of the first season and all of the second was produced by William Frye, who firmly moved Thriller into the format for which it would be most well-remembered, although non-horror crime and mystery stories would still be featured from time to time throughout the show's run.

Among the many writers for the series were Donald S. Sanford, Robert Hardy Andrews, and Robert Bloch, who adapted a number of his own stories, notably "The Weird Tailor". Authors whose works were frequently adapted included August Derleth, Charlotte Armstrong and Cornell Woolrich.

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

Other actors included Leslie Nielsen in the show's first episode "The Twisted Image", William Shatner in two episodes, "The Hungry Glass" and "The Grim Reaper", Constance Ford in two episodes, Mary Tyler Moore in two episodes, Henry Daniell in five 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 in "Masquerade". Carradine also starred in "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk", co-starring Bruce Dern and Jo Van Fleet; Ed Nelson starred in four episodes: "The Fatal Impulse", "The Cheaters", "A Good Imagination", and "Dialogues With Death".

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

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.[2]

Alfred Hitchcock hastened the demise of the series after he came aboard on NBC with The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an expanded one-hour version of his previous half-hour series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitchcock apparently did not want two similar one-hour shows on at the same time.[3]

In a review of the anthology's 2010 DVD release, The 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."[4]


Due to a number of TV stations that pre-empted Thriller in favor of local programs, Thriller only ran for two seasons starting September 1960. A few minutes into each episode, Boris Karloff introduces the title of the episode, the "major players" (actors) in that episode, and states that "as sure as my name is Boris Karloff, this is a thriller!" Karloff also appeared as an actor in five episodes over the duration of the series.

Season 1 (1960–61)[edit]

The show premiered on September 13, 1960 with the episode "The Twisted Image". It had 37 episodes in the first season (in addition to serving as the host of the series, Karloff starred in one episode in the first season: "The Prediction").

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"The Twisted Image"Arthur HillerTeleplay by : James P. Cavanagh
Based on a novel by: William O'Farrell
September 13, 1960 (1960-09-13)

Alan Patterson (Leslie Nielsen) is a businessman who meets a couple of mentally disturbed people, Merle Jenkins (George Grizzard), and Lily Hanson (Natalie Trundy), whose envy of him and his life becomes obsessive. This, along with the next five episodes in broadcast order, was produced by Fletcher Markle.

Also starring: Judy Patterson (Dianne Foster), Louise Jenkins (Constance Ford), Marge (Virginia Christine), Mrs. Rudley (Carol Kelly), Bill Purdy (Ray Montgomery), Burt (Mickey Simpson), Sue (Pamela Duncan), and Leticia Patterson (Judy Whitney).
22"Child's Play"Arthur HillerRobert DozierSeptember 20, 1960 (1960-09-20)
Hank Hattering (Tom Nolan) is a little boy who lives his life in the fantasy world of his daydreams, fighting a made-up enemy, while his parents, Bart (Frank Overton) and Gale (Bethel Leslie), argue over custody of him as they separate.
33"Worse Than Murder"Mitchell LeisenStory by : Evelyn Berckman
Teleplay by : Mel Goldberg
September 27, 1960 (1960-09-27)

Connie Walworth (Constance Ford) is a widow who is shocked to learn that her late husband's Uncle Archer did not leave a will, and thus left no inheritance for her. She learns from their family lawyer, Mr. Sinclair (Jay Jostyn) that her mother-in-law, Myra (Harriet MacGibbon) will receive everything by default. Connie blackmails Myra to ensure she gets a cut of the money.

Also starring: Dr. Ralph Mitchell (John Baragrey), Anne Walworth (Christine White), Ray (Dan Tobin), Emma Snyder (Jocelyn Brando), Bessie (Erma Robinson), and Sarah Gedney (Mary Young).
44"The Mark of the Hand"Paul HenreidTeleplay by : Eric Peters
Based on the novel by: Charlotte Armstrong
October 4, 1960 (1960-10-04)

A little girl, Tessa Kilburn (Terry Burnham), shoots a man, Charles Mowry (Charles Cooper), to death at her family's vacation house. Everyone runs in and tries to figure out why she did it, but she says that her muteness has a purpose. It turns out that her father Douglas' (Shepperd Strudwick) fiancée, Sylvia Walsh (Mona Freeman), cooked up a scheme with Charles and his brother Paul (Berry Kroeger) to get Douglas' money. Charles threatens to expose them, and Sylvia shoots him, and frames Tessa for the murder.

Also starring: Lt. Gordon (Judson Pratt), Betty Follett (Rachel Ames), Mrs. Kilburn (Jessie Royce Landis), and Dr. Emil Berland (Jon Lormer).
55"Rose's Last Summer"Arthur HillerTeleplay by : Marie Baumer
Based on the novel by: Margaret Millar.
October 11, 1960 (1960-10-11)

An actress, Rose French (Mary Astor), gets thrown out of a bar and nearly hit by a car, and is arrested. Frank Clyde (Lin McCarthy) runs a rehabilitation center for alcoholics and helped Rose in the past. Frank and her landlord, Annie Cushman (Loie Bridge), are surprised to learn she is going to La Mesa, California, to take a job as a housekeeper. Shortly after, they learn that Rose was found dead in the garden of a stranger's home, and it turns out that the job was actually a really unusual acting job.

Also starring: Hailey Dolloway (Jack Livesay), Ethel (Dorothy Green), Willet Goodfield (Arbie Albright), Capt. Greer (Robert Osterloh), and Mrs. Horace Goodfield (Mary Astor).
66"The Guilty Men"Jules BrickenJohn VlahosOctober 18, 1960 (1960-10-18)

Three boys who grew up in a bad neighborhood try to become successful adults, but they get mixed up with the Mafia. Lou Adams (Everett Sloane) is a consigliere, Cesar Romano (Frank Silvera) is a crime syndicate boss, Tony Romano (John Marley) is a respected doctor.

Also starring: Harry Gans (Jay C. Flippen), Martha Adams (Anne Barton), Anna Romano (Argentina Brunetti), Johhny Longo (Anthony Caruso), and Hymie (Ralph Neff).
77"The Purple Room"Douglas HeyesDouglas HeyesOctober 25, 1960 (1960-10-25)

Duncan Corey (Rip Torn) is set to inherit his brother's valuable land and the house on the property, with the stipulation that he has to spend the night there and live there for one year. If he fails to follow those rules, the inheritance will go to his cousins, Rachel (Patricia Barry), and Oliver Judson (Richard Anderson). First episode, in broadcast order, produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Mr. Ridgewater (Alan Napier), Sheriff Wiley (Ray Teal), and Caroline Van Ransom (Joanna Hayes).
88"The Watcher"John BrahmTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on the novel by: Dolores Hitchens
November 1, 1960 (1960-11-01)

In a resort town being plagued by a serial murderer, Mr. Freitag (Martin Gabel), a lonely school teacher, sits in a boat, the "Suzie-Tee", and is struggling to drown a woman by pushing her head under water as she tries to fight to save herself. The incident is eventually classified as an accident, but there are skeptics that make a push to probe deeper. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Beth Pettit (Olive Sturgess), Larry Carter (Richard Chamberlain), Uncle Florian (Stuart Erwin), Al Matthews (James Westerfield), Mrs. Edith Petit (Irene Harvey) Eunice Appleby (Claire Carleton), Vida Tomlinson (Gloria Clark), Sheriff Phil Archer (Alan Baxter).
99"Girl with a Secret"Mitchell LeisenTeleplay by : Charles Beaumont
Based on the novel by: Charlotte Armstrong
November 15, 1960 (1960-11-15)

Alice Page (Myrna Fahey) is a newlywed, going to meet her husband, Anthony's (Rhodes Reason), family for the first time. She learns several unsettling things about her new husband and family. Produced by Fletcher Markle.

Geraldine Redfern (Fay Bainter), Uncle Gregory Stafford (Paul Hartman), Aunt Hortense Stafford (Anne Seymour), Beatrice Stafford (Cloris Leachman), Mrs. Peele (Ellen Corby), Ellen (Esther Dale), Herb Innes (James Seay), Bluecher (Rex Holman), and Carolik (Victor Buono).
1010"The Prediction"John BrahmDonald S. SanfordNovember 22, 1960 (1960-11-22)

Clayton Mace (Boris Karloff) is a fake mentalist who puts on shows where he claims to see the future from a disco ball inside of a crystal ball. One night, he predicts that a boxer, Tommy Tims, is going to die in a fight, which turns out to be true. He tried to leave to warn the manager and Tommy about what he saw to warn them, but he is restrained by a couple of men, and Roscoe Burton (Alan Caillou) says he will go warn them on his behalf. Roscoe lied and never went to warn them; instead, he makes a bet on the fight based on his knowing of the death, which causes outrage when everyone thinks Clayton orchestrated it. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Norrine Burton (Audrey Dalton), Grant Dudely (Alexander Davion), Gus Kostopulos (Abraham Sofaer), Gunner Gogan (Murvyn Vye), Charlie (Richard Peel), Harcourt (Seymour Green) and Helen Tate (Iris Bristow).
1111"The Fatal Impulse"Gerald MayerTeleplay by : Philip MacDonald
Based on the short story by: John D. MacDonald
November 29, 1960 (1960-11-29)

Harry Elser (Elisha Cook Jr.) is a mentally disturbed man who plots an assassination of a candidate for Mayor, Walker Wylie (Conrad Nagel). Under the guise of being a maintenance man, Harry gets into Walker's office. Harry was placing a bomb in Walker's desk, but he is busted, but gets away before he can be stopped. He hides in a closet, and when the coast is clear, he gets on a crowded elevator and puts the bomb in a woman, Jane Kimball's (Whitney Blake) purse. Harry is hit by a truck, but he tells the police about the bomb before he dies. The police race against the clock to get it, before it goes off at 11pm. First episode, in broadcast order, produced by Maxwell Shane.

Lieutenant Brian Rome (Robert Lansing), Sgt. George Dumont (Steve Brodie), Marjorie Dalquiss (Elaine Edwards), Robert Larrimore (Lance Fuller), Mr. Dalquiss (Harry Bartell), Carolyn (Alice Backes), Mary Snyder (Mary Tyler Moore), Brundage (Ed Nelson), Agnes Kimball (Ernestine Barrier), Martha Bailey (Ella Ethridge), and Sgt. Hannigan (Fred Graham).
1212"The Big Blackout"Maurice GeraghtyTeleplay by : Oscar Millard
Based on the novel by: Don Tracy
December 6, 1960 (1960-12-06)

A group of thugs are looking for Bill Logan, with orders to assassinate him when they find him. In a case of mistaken identity, they target a recovering alcoholic, Burt Lewis (Jack Carson), who fits the description of Bill Logan. As the story unravels, not all is what it seems, and Burt does not know whom to trust. Produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also starring: Sheriff Cliff Wrights (Charles McGraw), Midge Lewis (Nan Leslie), Ethel Bankstrom (Jeanne Cooper), Doc Mulloy (George Mitchell), Paul Hawkins (Paul Newlan), Nurse Sue (Jean Engstrom), Deputy Broot (Don Wilbanks), Nick Fisher (Robert Carricart), Charlie Pringle (Chubby Johnson), Louie Ramirez (Raoul De Leon), Eddie (Gil Perkins), George Adams (Sol Gorss).
1313"Knock Three-One-Two"Herman HoffmanTeleplay by : John Kneubuhl
Based on the novel by: Fredric Brown
December 13, 1960 (1960-12-13)

Ray Kenton (Joe Maross) is deep in gambling debt, and only has 24 hours to pay it off, or he will be killed. Ray's wife, Ruth (Beverly Garland) has a savings account, but refuses to give Ray the money, because she is tired of his gambling. Elsewhere, a serial murderer, dubbed the "Silk Stocking Strangler" (Meade Martin), has just left another victim, and later, Ray gets him to help get the money from Ruth by plotting her murder. Produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also starring: George Mikos (Charles Aidman), Benny (Warren Oates), Joe Bedell (David Alpert), Charlie (Norman Leavitt), Lt. Tracy (Will White), and Police Captain (Clancy Cooper).
1414"Man in the Middle"Fletcher MarkleTeleplay by : Howard Rodman
Based on a novel by: Charlotte Armstrong
December 20, 1960 (1960-12-20)

Television writer Sam Lynch (Mort Sahl) overhears two men, Mr. Clark (Werner Klemperer) and 'Baby' Hoffman (Julian Burton), plotting the kidnapping and possibly the murder of a socialite, Kay Salisbury (Sue Randall), for a ransom demand of $100,000 from her father, Charles (Frank Albertson). Sam tries to mind his own business, as if he never heard anything, but it's too late— Mr. Clark already saw him, and he gets dragged into the plot. Final episode, in broadcast order, produced by Fletcher Markle.

Also starring: Alan Dulaine (Fred Beir), Martha Salisbury (Grace Albertson), Eddie Cowan (Ashley Cowan) Buddy (Fred Sherman), Alex (Anthony Jochim),Detective 1 (Burt Remsen) Detective 2 (Jack Maan) Fred (Pitt Herbert) and, Basal (Gordon Richards).
1515"The Cheaters"John BrahmTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on a story by: Robert Bloch
December 27, 1960 (1960-12-27)

Dirk Van Prinn (Henry Daniell) invents spectacles, emblazoned with the word "Veritas" (Latin for "truth"), and the glasses are meant to show the wearer the truth about themselves and others. Horrified at what he sees, Val hangs himself. Years later, while conducting a salvage mission at Dirk's old house, a man finds the spectacles, and they cause death and destruction in his life. The spectacles continue to pass from person to person, a veritable curse in the eye of the beholder, until an afflicted person destroys them. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Joe Henshaw (Paul Newlan), Maggie Newlan (Linda Watkins), Charlie (Ed Nelson), Miriam Olcott (Mildred Dunnock), Sebastian Grimm (Harry Townes), Ellen Grimm (Joan Tompkins), Edward Dean (Jack Weston), Olive Dean (Barbara Eiler), Clarence Kramer (Dayton Lummis), Mrs. Ames (Molly Glessing), Burgin (Alan Carney), Judge Pfluger (Grandon Rhodes), and Thorgenson (Ralph Clanton).
1616"The Hungry Glass"Douglas HeyesTeleplay by : Douglas Heyes
Based on the short story by: Robert Bloch
January 3, 1961 (1961-01-03)

Gil Thrasher (William Shatner), and his wife, Marcia (Joanna Heyes), are escorted to their new home, a mansion in New England, by their realtor, Adam Talmadge (Russell Johnson), and his wife, Liz (Elizabeth Allen). The house was formerly occupied by an old woman, Laura Bellman (Ottola Nesmith), whose husband Jonah built the house for her in the 1860s. When she was young, Laura (Donna Douglas) became obsessed with admiring her reflection in a room in the attic that was full of mirrors, eventually falling through one to her death as an old woman. The Thrashers see Laura, and other ghosts in the mirrors now, trying to lure them to similar fates. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Obed (Clem Bevans), and Mr. Cabot (Pitt Herbert).
1717"The Poisoner"Herschel DaughertyRobert Hardy AndrewsJanuary 10, 1961 (1961-01-10)

Thomas Edward Griffith (Murray Matheson) lies his way into marrying way out of his league to a wealthy socialite, Frances Abercrombie (Sarah Marshall). Thomas later learns Frances lied too, and she married him for money, as well. To Thomas' dismay, his in-laws move in and he quickly stirs up a remedy to be rid of them all. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Mrs. Abercrombie (Brenda Forbes), Helen Abercrombie (Jennifer Raine), Proctor (David Frankham), George Griffith (Maurice Dallimore), Charles Larimore (Sam Edwards), Sir John Herbert (Seymour Green), and Lord Danforth (Keith Hitchcock).
1818"Man in the Cage"Gerald MayerStory by : John Holbrook Vance
Teleplay by : Maxwell Shane and Stuart Jerome
January 17, 1961 (1961-01-17)

Noel Hudson (Guy Stockwell) becomes entangled in a Tangierian drug smuggling scheme and is forced at gunpoint by some evil men to smuggle heroin. Noel manages to take the heroin and make a break for it, but when he completely goes missing, his elder brother, Darryl (Philip Carey), begins a frantic search for him. Produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also starring: Ellen McKinstry (Diana Millay), Slip-Slip (Barry Gordon), Inspector Le Boude (Eduardo Ciannelli), Allah El Kazim (Al Ruscio), Arthur Upshaw (Theodore Marcuse), Jean Duval (Than Wyenn), Duff McKinstry (Jonathan Kidd), Ali Atouf (Naji Gabbay), Mrs. Barrister (Lilyan Chauvin), Burdett (Russ Bender), Phil Barrister (Robert J. Stevenson), T-Bone (Arlette Clark), and Gilali (Pedro Regas).
1919"Choose a Victim"Richard CarlsonGeorge BellakJanuary 24, 1961 (1961-01-24)

Edith Landers (Susan Oliver) is a wealthy women whose life is controlled by her domineering Uncle Phillip (Vaughn Taylor). Edith meets a charming con artist, Ralphie Teal (Larry Blyden). Ralphie falls in love with Edith, but soon finds the tables have turned, as a murder plot unfolds. Produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also starring: Detective Hazlett (Guy Mitchell), Fay (Tracey Roberts), Detective Sid Benajain (Henry Corden), Sam (Billy Barty), and Larry Kirt (Henry Hunter).
2020"Hay-Fork and Bill-Hook"Herschel DaughertyAlan CaillouFebruary 7, 1961 (1961-02-07)

A detective inspector, Harry Roberts (Kenneth Haigh), for the Scotland Yard is summoned to Dark Falls, Wales to investigate the murder of a man by a hay-fork and a bill-hook. When another murder occurs, superstitious locals shift their focus to Harry's wife, Nesta (Audrey Dalton), believing she is a witch. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Constable Evans (Alan Napier), Sir Wilfred (Alan Caillou), Mother Evans (Doris Lloyd), Thomas Watson (Lumsden Hare), and Mr. Jonas (Ronald Long).
2121"The Merriweather File"John BrahmTeleplay by : John Kneubuhl
Based on the novel by: Lionel White
February 14, 1961 (1961-02-14)

An intruder breaks into the home of Ann Merriweather (Bethel Leslie), and fails his attempt to kill her. She goes to her neighbor and attorney, Howard Yates (James Gregory) for help with the invasion, and so he can represent her husband, Charles (Ross Elliott), who is charged with murder when a dead body is found in the trunk of his car, whom Charles claims to know nothing about. Produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also Starring: Lt. Giddeon (Edward Binns), Virginia Grant (K.T. Stevens), and I.L. Gluckman (Bernard Fein).
2222"The Fingers of Fear"Jules BrickenTeleplay by : Robert Hardy Andrews
Based on the short story by: Philip MacDonald
February 21, 1961 (1961-02-21)

Lt. Jim Wagner (Nehemiah Persoff) is investigating a series of child murders committed by a killer referred to in the press as the "Mad Dog". The likeness of the killer fits that of a local dishwasher, Ohrback (Robert Middleton), and they eventually find enough evidence and witnesses to arrest him. The investigation shifts to a new suspect, Mr. Merriman (Thayer Roberts) when Ohrback's blood does not match a sample at the crime scene, and evidence of the broken leg of a rare Italian doll is found. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Sid (H.M. Wynant), Sgt. Spivak (Kevin Hagen), Mr. Zimmer (Dick Wessel), Dr. Lascoe (Robert J. Stevenson), Officer Pat Dutton (Sam Gilman), Commissioner Putnam (Ted de Corsia), Mr. Carter (Richard Travis), Mary Wagner (Jan Brooks), Mr. Martinez (Rodolfo Hoyos Jr.), Mrs. Carlisle (Angela Greene), Mrs. Salerno (Nina Varela), Doris Carlisle (Morgan Brittany), and Joan Wilson (Terry Burnham).
2323"Well of Doom"John BrahmTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on the short story by: John Clemons
February 28, 1961 (1961-02-28)

Robert Penrose (Ronald Howard) is headed to the English countryside for his bachelor party with his butler, Jeremy Teal (Torin Thatcher). While en route, they are accosted by a fiendish pair, Master Styx (Richard Kiel) and Squire Moloch (Henry Daniell), at gunpoint, and Robert offers to sign over .5 million pounds to them. At an estate in the moors, Robert learns some disturbing information about his father. Produced by William Frye.

Also starring: Cyril (Billy Beck), and Miss Price (Molly Glessing).
2424"The Ordeal of Dr. Cordell"Laslo BenedekDonald S. SanfordMarch 7, 1961 (1961-03-07)

Dr. Frank Cordell (Robert Vaughn) is conducting chemical experiments in his laboratory when he stumbles on to a strange gas that turns him into a violent homicidal maniac. The race is on to counteract the effects and keep him from killing again. Produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also starring: Dr. Lois Walker (Kathleen Crowley), Dr. Brauner (Robert Ellenstein), Lt. Boutaric (Russ Conway), Susan Baker (Marlo Thomas), and Mrs. Heath (Helen Brown).
2525"Trio for Terror"Ida LupinoTeleplay by : Barré Lyndon
after stories by: Nelson Bond, Wilkie Collins, August Derleth
March 14, 1961 (1961-03-14)

The Extra Passenger: Simon (Richard Lupino) plots the death of his wealthy Uncle Julian (Terence de Marney), who unbeknownst to him is a warlock.
A Terribly Strange Bed: Collins (Robin Hughes) wins big at the roulette table in a casino and he is convinced by The Hussar (Reginald Owen) to spend the night there, where he is nearly crushed by the canopy of the bed.
The Mask of Medusa: The police are on a manhunt for the "Latent Strangler", Shanner (Michael Pate). He hides out in a wax museum, where he meets the owner, Kriss Milo (John Abbott), who shows him all around his exhibit of killers who turned into figures after looking at the mask of medusa.

Also starring: Major Domo (Peter Brocco), Katie (Iris Bristol), and Ashton (Frances Bethencourt).
Produced by William Frye.
2626"Papa Benjamin"Ted PostTeleplay by : John Kneubuhl
Based on a short story by: Cornell Woolrich
March 21, 1961 (1961-03-21)

Bandleader Eddie Wilson (John Ireland) attempts to revive his career by using voodoo music, but after a boost, things take a turn for the worse. Final episode, in broadcast order, produced by Maxwell Shane.

Also starring: Judy Wilson (Jeanne Bal), Jerry Roberts (Robert H. Harris), Tommy Statts (Henry Scott), Insp. Daniels (Peter Forster), and Papa Benjamin (Jester Hairston).
2727"Late Date"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on a short story by: Cornell Woolrich
April 4, 1961 (1961-04-04)

Larry Weeks (Larry Pennell) arrives home to a surprise visit from his brother, James (Edward Platt). James' cheating wife has been strangled to death. Larry helps James frame her lover, Sid (Steve Mitchell), for the murder. This episode was produced by William Frye, as are all Thriller episodes from this point forward.

Also starring: Helen (Jody Fair), Gordon (Chris Seitz), Sgt. Crowell (Stuart Randall), Art Brinkenhoff (Stuffy Singer), and Judy Singer (Judy Crowder).
2828"Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper"Ray MillandTeleplay by : Barré Lyndon
Based on a short story by: Robert Bloch
April 11, 1961 (1961-04-11)

In modern day (1960s) New York, a series of murders have occurred that fit the M.O. of Jack the Ripper from 70 years prior. A Scotland Yard psychologist, Sir Guy (John Williams) is an expert on the Ripper, and believes the current murders were done by the original killer, and who he claims had received immortality through blood sacrifice. Capt. Pete Jago (Edmon Ryan) and police psychologist Dr. John Carmody (Donald Woods) are investigating on case, and are skeptical of Guy's claims.

Also starring: Rowena (Ottola Nesmith), Hymie Kralik (Adam Williams), and Arlene (Nancy Valentine).
2929"The Devil's Ticket"Jules BrickenTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on his short story
April 18, 1961 (1961-04-18)

Hector Vane (MacDonald Carey) is an artist who lives with his wife, Marie (Joan Tetzel) in a dump of an apartment. Low on funds, he goes to a pawnshop owned by a miser, Mr. Spengler (Robert Cornthwaite), but is now run by a mysterious pawnbroker (John Emery), who offers Hector three months of fame and fortune in exchange for his soul. If Hector paints a portrait of a human soul before the 90 days are up, he can get his soul back, but trouble ensues.

Also starring: Nadja (Patricia Medina), and Dr. Frank (Hayden Rorke).
3030"Parasite Mansion"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on a short story by: Mary Elizabeth Counselman
April 25, 1961 (1961-04-25)
On a stormy night in the South, Marcia Elizabeth Hunter (Pippa Scott) takes a detour when the road is closed, and crashes her car when she has a blowout and passes out. She wakes up in a bed in a mansion, rescued by Victor Harrod (James Griffith), and Granny (Jeanette Nolan), and is held captive their strange shut-in family with a disturbing secret. When she tries to leave, she is shot at by a young boy, Rennie (Tom Nolan). Lollie (Beverly Washburn), a young girl in the house, is afflicted with a family curse.
3131"A Good Imagination"John BrahmTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on his short story
May 2, 1961 (1961-05-02)

Frank Logan (Edward Andrews) is fed up with his wife Louise's (Patricia Berry) numerous affairs, and plots to kill off all of her lovers one by one.

Also starring: George Parker (Ed Nelson), Randy Hagen (William Allyn), Joe Thorp (Ken Lynch), Arnold Chase (Britt Lomond), and Celia Perry (Mary Grace Canfield).
3232"Mr. George"Ida LupinoTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on a short story by: Stephen Grendon
May 9, 1961 (1961-05-09)

A lonely child, Priscilla (Gina Gillespie) misses her guardian, Mr. George (Les Tremayne), who died. Mr. George remains present for her like a guardian angel. Priscilla has inherited property and a large sum of money that her three greedy Leggett cousins, Edna (Virginia Gregg), Jared (Howard Freeman), and Adelaide (Lillian Bronson), are after. The cousins plot an accidental death for Priscilla, but Mr. George's voice and guidance from beyond steers Priscilla away from peril.

Also starring: Laura Craig (Joan Tompkins) and Mrs. Noonan (Ruth Perrott).
3333"The Terror in Teakwood"Paul HenreidTeleplay by : Alan Caillou
Based on a short story by: Harold Lawlor
May 16, 1961 (1961-05-16)

A concert pianist, Vladimir Vicek (Guy Rolfe), obsessively covets the skills of a rival, Carnowitz. When Carnowitz dies, Vladimir and an associate, Gafke (Reggie Nalder), desecrate his grave to steal his large hands, in order to play a concerto specifically made for someone with large hands.

Also starring: Leonie (Hazel Court), Jerry Welch (Charles Aidman), Papa Glockstein (Vladimir Sokoloff), and Sylvia Slattery (Linda Watkins).
3434"Prisoner in the Mirror"Herschel DaughertyRobert Arthur, Jr.May 23, 1961 (1961-05-23)

Professor Harry Langham (Lloyd Bochner) is writing his thesis on 18th-century magician/sorcerer, Count Cagliostro (Henry Daniell), and goes to France to buy a mirror the Cagliostro once owned that has its glass painted over. Cagliostro is supernaturally trapped in the mirror and wants to use Harry's body to live again.

Also starring: Kay Forrest (Marion Ross), Fred Forrest (Jack Mullaney), Yvette Dulaine (Patricia Michon), Marquis Robert de Chanteney (David Frankham), Prof. Thibault (Peter Brocco), Laura (Pamela Curran), Police Sgt. Burke (Walter Reed), Marie Blanchard (Erika Peters), Monsieur Armand (Louis Mercier), and De Chanteney's mother (Frieda Inescort).
3535"Dark Legacy"John BrahmJohn TomerlinMay 30, 1961 (1961-05-30)

A magician, Mario Asparos (Harry Townes), uses a book he inherited from his dead uncle, Radan, to invoke a demon, despite his wife Monika (Ilka Windish) and his friend Toby Wolfe (Henry Silva) trying to stop him.

Also starring: Pinchot (Alan Napier), Lars Eisenhart (Richard Hale), Mrs. Edith Pringle (Doris Lloyd), and Vince Fennaday (Ned Glass).
3636"Pigeons from Hell"John NewlandTeleplay by : John Kneubuhl
Based on the short story by: Robert E. Howard
June 6, 1961 (1961-06-06)

Brothers Timothy (Brandon De Wilde) and Johnny Branner (David Whorf) break down in their car in the Deep South. As they go to look for help, Johnny is caught in a flock of pigeons. They stumble onto the Blassenville plantation, and decide to spend the night there. Johnny becomes entranced by an unseen force and he goes after Timothy with a hatchet. Timothy runs from the house and passes out, and is found by a hunter Jacob Blount (Ken Renard), who summons Sheriff Buckner (Crahan Denton). Timothy explains what he saw, saying he believes Johnny is dead. Buckner takes Timothy back to investigate the house and find a dark and supernatural family secret.

Also starring: Howard (Guy Wilkerson) and Eula Lee Blassenville (Ottola Nesmith). This episode is the first-ever screen adaptation of a work by Robert E. Howard.
3737"The Grim Reaper"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on a short story by: Harold Lawlor
June 13, 1961 (1961-06-13)

Beatrice Graves (Natalie Schafer) causes concern for her nephew, Paul (William Shatner) when she buys an old painting of The Grim Reaper, thought to be connected to the mysterious deaths of its previous owners. Beatrice ignores this concern, but then sees evidence for herself that it may be true.

Also starring: Pierre Radin (Henry Daniell), Dorothy Lyndon (Elizabeth Allen), Gerald Keller (Scott Merrill), Toinette (Fifi D'Orsay), Sgt. Bernstein (Paul Newlan), and Mr. Phillips (Robert Cornthwaite).

Season 2 (1961–62)[edit]

The second season of Thriller started on September 18, 1961 with the episode "What Beckoning Ghost?" and had 30 episodes in the season (in addition to serving as the host of the series, Karloff starred in four episodes in the 2nd season: "The Premature Burial," "The Last of the Sommervilles," "Dialogues With Death," and "The Incredible Doctor Markesan").

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
381"What Beckoning Ghost?"Ida LupinoStory and Teleplay: Donald S. Sanford
Based on the magazine story by: Harold Lawlor
September 18, 1961 (1961-09-18)

A wealthy, aging, concert pianist, Mildred Adler Beaumont (Judith Evelyn) has a vision of herself in a coffin, with organ music in the background. She is unable to convince her husband, Eric (Tom Helmore), and her sister Lydia Adler (Adele Mara) of what she has seen, and uncovers a sinister plot against her.

Also starring: The Detective (Frank Wilcox)
392"Guillotine"Ida LupinoTeleplay by : Charles Beaumont
Based on the short story by: Cornell Woolrich
September 25, 1961 (1961-09-25)

In 1875 France, Robert Lamont (Alejandro Rey) is convicted of murder and is set for execution by the guillotine, but he has discovered a loophole that could help him avoid death if his executioner, Monsieur de Paris (Robert Middleton), were to die before he can be executed. Robert comes up with a plan and enlists his wife, Babette (Danielle De Metz), as an accomplice.

Also starring: Madame LeClerc (Janine Grandel) and Louis (Peter Camlin).
403"The Premature Burial"Douglas HeyesStory by : Douglas Heyes, from the works of Edgar Allan Poe
Teleplay by : William D. Gordon
October 2, 1961 (1961-10-02)

Edward Stapleton (Sidney Blackmer) is a cataleptic millionaire who survives having been buried alive. His loyal long time doctor, Dr. Thorne (Boris Karloff), helps him take precautions to avoid death again. Edward finds himself a scheming bride, Victorine Lafourcade (Patricia Medina), who plans to get him gone gone for good, so she can run off with his money, and her lover, Julian Boucher (Scott Marlowe).

Also starring: Dr. March (William D. Gordon), Housekeeper (Lilian O'Malley), Butler (Pat O'Malley) and Friar (Richard Flato).
414"The Weird Tailor"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on his short story
October 16, 1961 (1961-10-16)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Henry Jones, and George Macready
425"God Grante That She Lye Stille"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Robert Hardy Andrews
Based on the short story by: Lady Cynthia Asquith
October 23, 1961 (1961-10-23)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ronald Howard, and Sarah Marshall
436"Masquerade"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on the short story by: Henry Kuttner
October 30, 1961 (1961-10-30)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Tom Poston
447"The Last of the Sommervilles"Ida LupinoIda Lupino & R.M.H. LupinoNovember 6, 1961 (1961-11-06)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Peter Walker, Chet Stratton, Phyllis Thaxter, and Martita Hunt
458"Letter to a Lover"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on the play by: Sheridan Gibney
November 13, 1961 (1961-11-13)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ann Todd and Murray Matheson
469"A Third for Pinochle"Herschel DaughertyMark Hanna and Boris SobelmanNovember 20, 1961 (1961-11-20)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Edward Andrews, and Doro Merande
4710"The Closed Cabinet"Ida LupinoTeleplay by : Kay Lenard & Jess Carneol
Based on the story published anonymously in the 19th century
November 27, 1961 (1961-11-27)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Olive Sturgess, and David Frankham
4811"Dialogues with Death"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Robert Arthur, Jr.
Based on his own short stories
December 4, 1961 (1961-12-04)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Norma Crane, and Ed Nelson
4912"The Return of Andrew Bentley"John NewlandTeleplay by : Richard Matheson
Based on the short story by: August Derleth and Mark Schorer
December 11, 1961 (1961-12-11)
Cast: Boris Karloff, John Newland, Antoinette Bower, Terence De Marney
5013"The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk"John BrahmTelevision Story and Teleplay: Donald S. Sanford
Based on a short story by: Margaret St. Clair
December 18, 1961 (1961-12-18)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Jo Van Fleet, and John Carradine
5114"Portrait Without a Face"John NewlandJason WingreenDecember 25, 1961 (1961-12-25)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Jane Greer, and Robert Webber
5215"An Attractive Family"John BrahmTeleplay by : Robert Arthur, Jr.
Based on his short story
January 1, 1962 (1962-01-01)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Richard Long, and Leo G. Carroll
5316"Waxworks"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on his short story
January 8, 1962 (1962-01-08)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Oskar Homolka, and Martin Kosleck
5417"La Strega"Ida LupinoAlan CaillouJanuary 15, 1962 (1962-01-15)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Ursula Andress, and Alejandro Rey
5518"The Storm"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : William D. Gordon
Based on the short story by: McKnight Malmar
January 22, 1962 (1962-01-22)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Nancy Kelly, and David McLean
5619"A Wig for Miss Devore"John BrahmTelevision Story and Teleplay: Donald S. Sanford
Based on the short story by: August Derleth
January 29, 1962 (1962-01-29)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Patricia Barry, and John Baragrey
5720"The Hollow Watcher"William F. ClaxtonJay SimmsFebruary 12, 1962 (1962-02-12)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Audrey Dalton, Sean McClory and Warren Oates
5821"Cousin Tundifer"John BrahmBoris SobelmanFebruary 19, 1962 (1962-02-19)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Edward Andrews, and Sue Ane Langdon
5922"The Incredible Doktor Markesan"Robert FloreyTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on the short story by: August Derleth and Mark Schorer
February 26, 1962 (1962-02-26)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Dick York, and Carolyn Kearney
6023"Flowers of Evil"John BrahmTeleplay by : Barré Lyndon
Based on a short story by: Hugh Walpole
March 5, 1962 (1962-03-05)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Luciana Paluzzi, and Kevin Hagen
6124"'Til Death Do Us Part"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on his short story
March 12, 1962 (1962-03-12)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Henry Jones (actor) and Jim Davis
6225"The Bride Who Died Twice"Ida LupinoRobert Hardy AndrewsMarch 19, 1962 (1962-03-19)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mala Powers, and Eduardo Ciannelli
6326"Kill My Love"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by : Donald S. Sanford
Based on the novel by: Kyle Hunt
March 26, 1962 (1962-03-26)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Richard Carlson, and Patricia Breslin
6427"Man of Mystery"John NewlandTeleplay by : Robert Bloch
Based on his short story
April 2, 1962 (1962-04-02)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Mary Tyler Moore and John Van Dreelen
6528"The Innocent Bystanders"John EnglishRobert Hardy AndrewsApril 9, 1962 (1962-04-09)
Cast: Boris Karloff, John Anderson, and George Kennedy
6629"The Lethal Ladies"Ida LupinoTeleplay by : Boris Sobelman
Based on short stories by: Joseph Payne Brennan
April 16, 1962 (1962-04-16)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Howard Morris, and Rosemary Murphy
6730"The Specialists"Ted PostTeleplay by : John Kneubuhl
Based on a novel by: Gordon Ash
April 30, 1962 (1962-04-30)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Lin McCarthy, and Robert Douglas

Musical score[edit]

First soundtrack[edit]

The Original Music of Thriller
The Original Music of Thriller.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Pete Rugolo and His Orchestra
RecordedFebruary 23 and 24, 1961
United Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA
52034/S 2034
ProducerBob Shad
Pete Rugolo chronology
10 Trombones Like 2 Pianos
The Original Music of Thriller
Ten Trumpets and 2 Guitars

Each episode of the first season featured a specially composed score; the main theme and majority of writing was by Pete Rugolo, with additional compositions by Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens. In 1961, The Original Music of Thriller, composed, arranged and conducted by Rugolo, was released on Bob Shad's Time label.[5]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Pete Rugolo.

  1. "Theme from "Thriller"" – 1:33
  2. "The Hungry Glass" – 4:14
  3. "Voodoo Man" – 2:55
  4. "The Guilty Men" – 3:06
  5. "Girl With a Secret" – 2:24
  6. "The Purple Room" – 2:40
  7. "Twisted Image" – 1:47
  8. "Rose's Last Summer" – 2:42
  9. "Worse Than Murder" – 2:04
  10. "Child's Play" – 2:13
  11. "Finger of Fear" – 3:31
  12. "The Man in the Middle" – 2:55


Second soundtrack[edit]

After a creative change during the first season, Rugolo was one of the crew to be removed (although his theme music was retained). Goldsmith and Stevens replaced him, scoring the rest of the run between them.

The British label Tadlow Music released two albums featuring several of Goldsmith's scores, re-recorded by City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Nic Raine.

First Tadlow CD released in 2017:

  1. The Grim Reaper – Prologue (1:49)
  2. The Grim Reaper – Suite (7:22)
  3. The Grim Reaper – End Titles (1:20)
  4. Hay-Fork And Bill-Hook – Prologue (2:30)
  5. Hay-Fork And Bill-Hook – Suite (6:15)
  6. Hay-Fork And Bill-Hook – Finale (1:27)
  7. Well Of Doom – Prologue (1:37)
  8. Well Of Doom – Suite (8:42)
  9. Well Of Doom – Reunited (0:55)
  10. Mr. George – Prologue (1:29)
  11. Mr. George – Suite (7:06)
  12. Mr. George – The Swing (0:53)
  13. The Poisoner – Prologue (1:06)
  14. The Poisoner – Suite (8:22)
  15. The Poisoner – End Titles (0:57)
  16. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper – Prologue (2:38)
  17. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper – Suite (6:51)
  18. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper – “Not John, Jack” (0:26)
  19. End Titles – Suite (8:24)

Second Tadlow CD released in 2018:

  1. GOD GRANTE THAT SHE LYE STILLE – Prologue / Roll Call (1:46)
  2. GOD GRANTE THAT SHE LYE STILLE – Suite (13:53) Silly Dog / The Search / Apparition / Locked Doors / Historical Records / I’ve Won
  3. THE BRIDE WHO DIED TWICE – Prologue / Roll Call (3:14)
  4. THE BRIDE WHO DIED TWICE – Suite (6:46) Consuelo / Respect / Bad News / Wedding Guests / Shot
  5. LATE DATE – Prologue / Roll Call (2:09)
  6. LATE DATE – Suite (8:58) Aftermath / “It Was You” / The Plant / Confession
  7. THE WEIRD TAILOR – Prologue / Roll Call (2:05)
  8. THE WEIRD TAILOR – Suite (10:03) Finest Material / “Leave Me Alone” / Late Work / Delivery / The Freezer / “Not So Idle Hans”
  9. MASQUERADE – Prologue / Roll Call (1:53)
  10. MASQUERADE – Suite (10:38) Up the Stairs / Every Man for Himself / Spoil Sports! / Honeymooners / The Cellar / Escape / Coffin Made for Two
  11. TERROR IN TEAKWOOD – Prologue / Roll Call (2:18)
  12. TERROR IN TEAKWOOD – Suite (5:09) The Box / Ground Plaster Cast / Fist Fight
  13. TERROR IN TEAKWOOD – Nocturne for Violin and Piano (4:30) Composed by Caesar Giovaninni Violin: Lucie Svehlova / Piano: Jaromir Klepac

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

Comic book[edit]

Gold Key Comics published a comic book version of Thriller, beginning in October 1962.[6]

The title changed to Boris Karloff: Tales of Mystery after the TV series ended; the comic book series lasted until the very end of 1979, long after the death of Karloff himself. Dark Horse Comics published an archive reprint of the series beginning in 2009.[7]

Home media[edit]

On August 31, 2010, Image Entertainment released Thriller: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 14-disc set contains all 67 episodes, remastered and uncut, with new commentary tracks and separated music tracks.[8]


  1. ^ Boris Karloff Rejoice! Image Entertainment is Finally Bringing Us Home Thriller! from
  2. ^ King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. Berkley Books, New York, 1982. p. 216
  3. ^ Warren, Alan (1996). This Is A Thriller! – An Episode Guide. McFarland & Company, Inc.
  4. ^ "Boris Karloff back in Thriller: Complete Series". The Hollywood Reporter. via Reuters. September 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-17.
  5. ^ Discography of the Time Label accessed October 6, 2016
  6. ^ Wells, John (2015). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960–64. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 978-1605490458.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Image Entertainment". Image Entertainment. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2011-10-03.

External links[edit]