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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Old Ones Are Hard to Kill
Plot:
An old lady rents a room to a sick boarder. She runs into problems with his strange deathbed confession.
Episode:
0001
Air Dates:
First Run - January 6, 1974
Repeat - March 1, 1974
Repeat - December 2, 1978
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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53 Responses to Episode 0001


Agnes Moorehead is best known for portraying the disapproving mother-in-law Endora on "Bewitched." Crime drama, no supernatural element.

This is a great episode.

Love Agnes Moorehead. Really good episode.

I listened to these in 1980 or so when I was 15 or 16 on KNX1070 Los Angles in Mission Viejo, Califonia 30 plus years ago...

Not a bad story, but the coughing/hacking got irritating after a while.

The First Lady of Suspense. I wish she had lived, because she would have surely participated in at least a couple hundred episodes of CBSRMT over the course of its run.

Love this episode

CBS-RMT's premiere episode starred Agnes Moorehead as a 77-year-old woman whose border, while dying of pneumonia, confesses to her that he killed a man rather than another one who was found guilty and imprisoned. She doesn't want to hear what he's saying and doesn't call the police because she doesn't want to get involved, but of course she tries to be a detective herself and gets wound up with all sorts of nefarious characters. Moorehead's character might be as annoying as the one she portrayed in "Sorry, Wrong Number," but I give her credit. She was only a month or so from dying herself when she did the role. An added bonus was a WDAF (Kansas City) newscast before the show in which there was some Watergate stuff and a sports report about the upcoming Super Bowl between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. And man, was it cold in KC that night - below zero!

Probably not one of my favorite episodes. Agree that the coughing, while central to the story, was kind of hard to get through. The WDAF stuff was a nice bonus, as was the Himan Brown spot identifying this as the CBSRMT debut. I discovered these shows near the end of the run, so it's great to hear the early ones.

The coughing didn't bother me. I thought it was central to the storyline to show how sick her border was.

Just a good episode, but that is because I listened to so many of them before I heard the maiden episode "The Old Ones are Hard to Kill." This was a solidly acted story. It amazes me that this was the first of 1,399 episodes.

I agree with Davy Joe - well-put. This was a great debut episode and Agnes Moorehead was her usual superb self!

My favorite Agnes Moorehead was still the Twilight Zone she did in '61. It was called "the invaders" and she played an older, "farm wife" type that had a little problem with aliens on the roof. To pull off an entire half hour without any dialog and still keep people GLUED to the screen is one hell of an accomplishment.

Agnes Moorehead was a true gem of a person I hear. My husband and I are going back and watching all the Bewitched episodes on DVD. We are on the 4th season. I have never seen them all in order. I remember as a kid watching them as reruns on TV and thought how nasty Endora was. Now as an adult watching them, I have totally fallen in love with her. She was an amazing actress and I see her personality shine in these episodes. Wished she would have lived longer so we could have had more great stuff from her.

This takes me back to staying up late listening to the radio to fall asleep. Now if I could find those old dr. Demento shows from California.

Well acted although the solution to the mystery can be seen coming pretty early on. All in all a solid episode.

Mrs. Camby has a tenant that admits to murder on his deathbed. Another tenant rents out the room and mysteriously dies of the same ailment. Not exactly the story line but can't give away the story.

And so we come to the very first episode of the series. The tale is rather simple -- an old woman who lives by herself discovers a secret from a man who lived in her house before he died in his bed. At a loss of what to do, she keeps the secret she holds to herself -- until she discovers a new tenant in her house isn't what he seems. ___ The pilot program for the series starts out with a resounding bang. Very suspenseful even thou it had an obvious twist to it.

Agnes Moorehead is the lead in this, the inaugural play of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. An old woman rents a room to a man who confesses to murder on his deathbed. She does some minor detective work and talks about her ideas to her next tenant. The man, Stewart Windfield, may not be completely innocent and doesn't seem to have the woman's best interest in mind.

This was a great episode to kick off the series! (Unfortunately the news of the day in the ABC broadcast included a plane crash in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.) CBSRMT "feels" like a Sunday evening show so it was appropriate that the series would start on a Sunday night. This episode was easy to listen to, very believable and has you wondering how you would react if you found yourself witness to a strange deathbed confession. No moral to the story, other than in E.G.'s epilog that mentions "there is no wisdom and strength like old wisdom and strength." Great acting by Agnes Moorehead.

Charming as a first episode, but with the sinister quality that denotes the series. So-so recording.

Elderly Aida Canby gets more than she bargained for when she decides to take on a boader! Shortly after coming to stay, the boarder comes down with a serious illness and in the last moments of life, confesses to a murder. Aida cannot leave well enough alone and decides to investigate the murder further, unaware that she is putting herself in grave danger. The episode boasts a wonderful performance by Agnes Moorehead which lifts this story out of the ordinary. Genre: Suspense

I'm not going to offer a critique of the episode here, but I just wanted to express my appreciation to the folks who run this site. This was my introduction to Radio Theater and I have enjoyed not only the CBSRMT but other features from the Golden Age for the last 35 years. I listened to these stories almost every night with my father from about 1977 to his death in 1980. He was a disabled WWII vet and when he found these on KCBS @9:00 p.m. nightly it brought great joy to him to relive the 'good 'ol days' and to pass on the 'theater of the mind' to his son. I encourage everyone who visits this site to appreciate what went into the daily production of an hour-long radio episode for 1399 times and for just basic pay for the actors. I can't think of any television program that can top that! Oh, don't forget to donate to the site. Making these episodes available to us to listen to and to download for the future for free is a real labor of love and should be rewarded. Happy Holidays!

Mr Fisher, that is fine comment and sentiment. I am glad you posted it.

For me, Agnes Morehead was first famous for playing Margot Lane, girlfriend of Lamont Cranston, "wealthy man about town". Anyone my age or older will know who Lamont Cranston was famous for being.....

An old woman takes on a border who is ill. As he dies, he makes a strange deathbed confession that gets her into trouble.

An old woman takes on a border who is ill. As he dies, he makes a strange deathbed confession that gets her into trouble. It was the first show, and they were tinkering with EG's role in the show, but all the elements are there.

Well, if I'm going to get into this, might as well start at the beginning. First episode seeme to me to typify all those that came after it. It could just have well as been written and broadcast long after the show had guaranteed its place in radio history. What happenes when you cross Robert Columbo and Angela Landsbury? You get this episode's main character. A elderly little thing who is a little naive, a little stubborn, and very persistent. Mix in an unfortunate bird-loving lodger who makes a deathbed confession to his landlady. He is replaced by a gentleman with less honorable intentions, sent to 'keep the old lady quiet'. A fun little twist at the end explains the mystery illness.

Wished all these episodes will find a new generation of listeners.

One of my favorite episodes. Big fan of Agnes Morehead. Trivia question: How many episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater did Miss Morehead perform in?

Listening to this episode and Stewart's reaction to Mrs. Camby's cooking, I'm curious about her chicken and dumpling recipe.

Enjoyed this episode. Agnes Moorehead one of my favorites also. I like the way it was done at the end you didnt know if Stewart or Mrs Camby went down the stairs. Agnes Moorehead did a superb job and its an amusing mystery story. However, Leon Janney's character; Stuart Winfield; coughed too much in ACT 3. Other than that, it was a splendid Pilot episode for CBSRMT. Check this episode out, everyone! Very Suspenseful.

I've heard other people complain about the coughing, but I marveled over the fact that he (Janney)could actually make himself sound so sick.

What a great way to premiere a mystery show on CBS Radio, with the First Lady of "Suspense" herself. And she did a great job.

Enjoyed this episode for the mystery! I must say I will be on the lookout for those symptoms around birds

Only 2 episodes. Ep.0001-The Old Ones Are Hard To Kill & Ep.0021-The Ring Of Truth Now if you were talking about Suspense, that would be a different kettle of fish. The Suspense radio play that she is well known for is, "Sorry, Wrong Number."

Love Agnes Moorehead. I actually was watching her and Vincent Price in The Bat this morning.

Stuart sounded like the father from the Patty Duke show. (William Schallert) There were a few actors that had his sound. I do remember the excessive coughing too.. I really enjoyed it though.

One of my Favs! I suppose it is to some degree because it was number 1. Can you imagine hearing this the first time it aired? I would have been hooked right then! :) I rate this episode 4 out of 5 Birds! Thanks for choosing this one and everyone should listen!

Thanks for doing this! This was a big thing i looked forward to when I was growing up in the mid to late seventies!

This is a fine episode and with such a great actress as Agnes Morehead. The CBS Radio Mystery Theater was terrific and thank you for putting them on this site. The old time radio shows are great and make you use your imagination.

"The Old Ones Are Hard to Kill" was a great inaugural episode! Though her character is a tired old woman, Moorehead is sincere and charming in the role. Her narration through speaking to herself really works well. I disagree with complaints that Janney's coughing is overboard and annoying. It's actually masterful and contributes to the need for the listener to believe how weak the boarder has become, which is important in the last act. The woman's condemnation of a man because "he took the Lord's name in vain" is delightful, and harkens me back to an era of values that has been lost today. Writer Henry Slesar's story fills the hour well and never drags. Slesar's ability to define characters well through dialogue is evident in "Old Ones" and becomes a hallmark of his masterful writing in subsequent stories. You can listen to a great example of this character development in one of my top three favorite episodes of all time, "Murder Preferred" (#1103). Throughout the CBSRMT series, my greatest enjoyment comes when the writing is such that we clearly understand the motives of a character and what makes them tick. Even more masterful is when a writer (and of course the actor) accomplishes this while at the same time making the listener genuinely care about the character. This is one of the keys to great writing, great acting, and a great radio drama. I give the CBSRMT premier 4 stars out of 5. JUROR #4

I had downloaded all the episodes years ago and listened to most of them on my drive to/from work as it was 30-40 minutes each way for quite a while. I remember listening to some of them when I was young and we were driving somewhere at night and would listen on my clock radio as well when I remembered to listen. Still fun to listen to and this is one that I remember clearly, although not all episodes are memorable. In general a good episode I think.

Today is the 40th anniversary of this first episode which was January 6, 1974. I listened to CBS RMT on 580 A.M. WIBW radio in Topeka, Kansas. These episodes came on from 10 to 11 most evenings. I was 14 when these episodes started. Ironically, the temperature that night of the first episode was around 0 degrees outside just like tonight will be. What is strange is my son and only child was born 20 years later on January 6, 1994. He is 20 today. I am 54 and still enjoy listening to these episodes.

Mr. Heiland....How neat of you to post about today being the 40th Anniv of the CBSRMT, and that you listened on WIBW 580. I remembered today was the 40th Anniv myself, so I checked for something online commemorating it. Way cool about your son's B-day on Jan 6!! I also listened on 580 WIBW (lived near Emporia, KS), and remembered it starting at about 10:30 p.m., my bedtime. I loved the CBSRMT, the creepy sounds and stories could make a young 11 year old boy squirm sometimes...lol. Sometimes I heard it on other A.M. stations at different times. My very favorite was Dracula, 1st broadcast on May 2, 1974. I just posted on that episode. That wonderful spring night became quite creepy...lol. Long live the memories of the CBSRMT and congratulations for it being remembered 40 years later. My 70's radio memories are highlighted by the great work of the CBSRMT. Here's to the next 40 years.......pleasant dreams???

Mr. Heiland's post brought back memories for me as well. I wouldn't have noticed that it was the 40th anniversary if I hadn't seen it. I remember listening to that broadcast, as well. I was 10 years old. I took my dad's radio from the kitchen and stayed up past my 9 o'clock bedtime without my parents' permission just to hear the new radio show that I had heard advertised on the local CBS affiliate in my hometown of Eugene, OR. I eventually used my allowance to buy my own radio and I remained a loyal listener until the local affiliate stopped carrying the show in 1976. I forgot about the show until the Summer 1982 when I happened to come across it while driving home to Eugene from a summer job in Pullman, WA. It sure brought back great memories. I'm so glad that this web site is here. I play episodes in my office at work and it makes the day go much faster. I get to hear replays of some of my old favorites as well as hear some great episodes for the first time. As Bill said, "[H]ere's to the next 40 years....

Agnes Moorehead always does great terror and suspense. Her characters are such adorable and intelligent old ladies that I can't help feeling distressed when they are threatened such as in 'The Old Ones Are Hard to Kill' or 'Sorry, Wrong Number'. I always wish I could be there to rescue them. I have been a fan of these shows since childhood and they kept me awake many nights. I would always make sure to be in bed by the time E.G. Marshall came on to introduce the episode.

The very first CBS Radio Mystery Theater drama starred the great Agnes Moorehead,who,of course,was a veteran of the Golden Age of radio,often on "Suspense",and one of the most famous shows,"Sorry,Wrong Number"(Written by Lucille Fletcher). "The Old Ones are Hard to Kill" was written by Henry Slesar.According to the book 'Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers',edited by Lesley Henderson,the original short story was first published in 'Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine' in January,1965.

A great introduction to CBS Radio Mystery Theater. I love Agnes Morehead

One of the best cbsrmt episodes! ;) :).

I have to comment. My goodness, what an incredible talent Agnes Moorehead was. She does not get enough credit, honestly. I've listened to hundreds of RMTs, and this is my absolute favorite solely because of how vividly Agnes Moorehead brought the character of Mrs. Canby to life. Actually, all of the characters here are just so incredibly alive in this production. If I were to try and turn anyone on to old time radio drama, this would be the thing to have them listen to. The visualizations here are remarkable. The struggle towards the stairs is truly disturbing, as the listener really can't be certain that Mrs. Canby won't be killed. Such a likeable protagonist -- you just can't bear the thought of such a horrible end for her. Bravo to this episode and Agnes Moorehead.

We used to listen to these programs on the radio while driving home from my grandparents house think on Sunday evenings in Metro Detroit. I don't recall which radio station we heard them on. We always enjoyed the shows though. How great to run across them online so I can listen to them again. I am definitely checking out more episodes.

Agnes Moorehead was also the first Margot Lane, to Orson Welles' Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.

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