CBSRMT Episode Information Next Episode

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

Actors

Writer

Listen

Rating

450


79 Responses to Episode 0001

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

Andy

This is a great episode.

Mr Writing III

Love Agnes Moorehead. Really good episode.

Rose

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...

Brian

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

Ron

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.

MCLowe

Love this episode

Bruce

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!

Tony

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.

Jim

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

Marie

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.

Davy Joe

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

Bentley

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.

Big Dave

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.

Karen

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.

Omnipresent

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

John Curran

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.

Charlie

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.

Evan

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.

Chris

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

Geronimo

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.

Rocco

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

Zoren

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

Bridgette Jonesboro

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!

Milt Fisher

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

Bentley

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.

Jermane Vasquez

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.

Joshua

I'm so glad that I found this site. I have vague, but precious memories of listening to RMT in my childhood. On family road trips we often tuned in. What a great flash back. It's nice to dim the lights, listen to the programme and conjure up my own images of the story line.

Royce

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.....

Larry Howell

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

Greg Doran

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?

Kimberly

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."

Russell

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

Kimberly

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.

Larry

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.

Kimberly

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.

Dixon

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

Russell

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

Jacob

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.

Chris

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!

Chris

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

Ronald

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.

Jerry

"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

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.

Alec

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.

Don Heiland,Jr

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???

bill

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....

Susan

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.

James Matthews

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.

Robert Kent

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

Mandy

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

Donald L Wilkey

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.

Dan Williams

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.

Ramifam

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

Stuart

Ramifam: that would be "WWJ news radio 95". And yes it was on sunday night. Same station I listened to, from up north( dirt bikin) all the way home (Flushing). I just listened to all 1399 episodes again for the 2nd time. Well the ones you can hear. I love this site and will go through all 1399 again, sometime, soon.

Randy McLeod

Excellent episode! I almost didn't listen to it because of the 3-star rating, and so many episodes have mediocre ratings. Who rated these?? Most of the comments, here, say great things about this episode! I'm not paying any attention to the ratings, anymore. Thank goodness I gave this one a try because it starred Agnes Moorehead. Now, I know the star ratings are ridiculous and should be ignored. Going by them gives the impression CBSRMT wasn't a very good show! Any chance of getting rid of them???

Ronald Gary

Agnes Morehead has the most amazing voice. Thoroughly enjoyed this episode.

Gina Schackel

Use to have a clock radio that was on a stained wood barrel that served as a night stand in my room as a kid. Use to listen to the rock stations around Los Angeles most of the time. Would listen to KNXT in Los Angeles later in the night to listen to CBS RMT. It was some great stuff. Brings back memories. Some buried treasure here. The squeaky door and "This is EG Marshall" and that sound of dread. Great stuff. Feels like tuning into a time machine. For me it's the late 70's(that's when I started listening to RMT) and early 80's again with these commercials.

Anthony

lol The room is $35 a week :) Loved listening to this under the blankets as a child on an old AM radio. You had to really use your imagination. tim

Tim

CBSMT plays best at night as everyone knows and the miles just evaporate. We get a kick out of hearing episodes where actors play multiple characters which Leon Janney marvelously performed in this one. The coughing did not bother us as we realized they were setting up the story. Nice twist on the end as so many of these productions had. Like the Twilight Zone, part of the fun was figuring out the twist and resolution to a story. A very big part of the success of the CBSMT was the usage of sound effects and musical cues which were just superb, exceptionally masterful.

BullBob709

mark well I remember listing to these stories when I was 7 yrs old on a small am trasirer radio and a ear phone in my ear and my mom getting mad at me about claiming she could hear the radio when the ear I had the earphone in was buried in the pillow and she was waiting up for my dad to get home and 5 days a week at 11 pm at night on a Detroit radio station WWJ 950 am when I was supposed to be sleeping one of my favorite story was a about a man and his trench coat that he was desperate to get back

Mark

This are complete works of art! Now...turn on todays programing on television. You may need a bag before attempting this.

Dan the Man

I discovered this program during the 70's while living in Detroit..my husband worked at Ford Motor Company and he and the kids went to bed by 8:30 or so. I finished laundry, cleaning and stuff from the time they went to sleep until about 11:00. (I thought I discovered a gem. I was right!) Every night at 11:07, e.g. marshell would come on and my pulse would quicken..and there I would be..listening in the dark..just sure no one else knew about this treasure. LOL..(I was willing to give up precious sleep time for this program!!) Since I have rediscovered this program online, I will admit that I still turn it on at 11:07..and sure enough..the years fall away..and it's 1977 again. and I fall asleep..happy..(I no longer have the same chores any more, but I am still awake at 11:00!!) Thank you!

Peggy-mom of 9!

I'm revisiting the series for the umpteenth time! Dear Agnes...

Bitterbill

i love the radio programs when i was young i use to listen to them when i laid down to bed i would grab my radio and then listen to the great stories

ralph

Not a late night went by without me listening to the Radio Mystery Theater Broadcast with my flashlight and bedcovers to protect me while completing homework. I'm 13 years old all over again, listening to this episode. That's about 41 years ago! The episodes are still spooky!

Still Spooked!

I loved Agnes Moorehead..and the twilight zone episode of her vs. alien was FANTASTIC. Not one word was uttered, but she nailed it. This one "The old ones are hard to kill" is one of my "Top 10" that I go to just when I want company.

Peggy Converse

I was 9 when this episode aired in Dayton Ohio I see most of the rest of the country was listening too. An earlier post said the CBRMT came on at 11:07 it was same time it aired in Dayton also. I love these shows raised my three daughters listening to these when we went camping in Oregon and they are letting their children listen to them also. It was a great time to be a kid. My old AM clock radio has since been replacec with technology but these shows are great no matter what era it is!

Scott

So great to find these again. I used to listen to them every night in 1976. I had to get up for school the next morning so I forced myself to stay awake as not to miss the episode. Another friend at school also listened to them and we would talk about them the next day. Radio is amazing.Unlike TV you have to use your imagination.

anne marie

I was nine years old growing up in the Albany NY area when CBSRMT started and I accidentally found it while tuning my old am radio and locking onto a station in NYC, which only came through late at nights. It wasn't aired locally and the signal would drift in and out during the show but I was completely addicted. Lucky my parents didn't know that I was staying up that late or there would have been trouble.

brian

I was 9 years old and tucked a battery powered AM radio under my pillow and listened to the Mystery Theater for years while living on West Wood St in Decatur, Illinois. What a treasure to find this site 40+years later. I can't wait to listen to every single one of them. What a treasure !

Kim

Hello fellow CBS Mystery Theater listeners! Wow! I thought this was lost forever! Back in '74,I also listened to this radio show with a transistor radio tucked under my pillow at nights so my parents couldn't hear. I was looking for this for years on the net,but I forgot it was E.G.Marshall who narrated the show. I had been looking it up under Orsen Welles name,because I remember hearing his name as a kid. Today I totally found this accidentally by looking up what was popular back in 1974,for nostalgia purposes. The Game of Life,Stratego and this came up! Yeah! Wish Millenials could get turned on to the mystery of storytelling fused with your own imagination.Incredbible!

David Kersul

I love the shows. Father used to tell me to keep it down. The radio was up and I enjoyed every single episodes

Geary

AWESOME! I remember the mystery theatre from when I was a teenager! I love it so much I just can't express it! I'm so glad you keep this going! Just don't get great acting like this anymore! Thank you, Jim Bowman, Logansport, IN.

Jim bowman

Like many of you I can remember crawling into bed on Sunday nights in the mid seventies and listening to CBSRMT before going to sleep. I have to thank my dad for turning me on to such a great show! I have no clue why a random Google search brought me here...but I'm glad it did.

Mark

As an avid reader of suspense and thriller fiction, I love listening to these stories when my eyes are not up to the task. Thank you CBS!

Frank Reid

The CBS RMT is one of the most treasured memories of my adolescence. Every night at 11:07 on good ole' WGL in Fort Wayne, IN. The greatest Christmas present of all time was an AM/FM/Cassette combo that allowed me to record the episodes without using a radio and microphone set-up. Tell you kids (or grand kids)about this site and share the joy!

Headshrinker

Think of the irony here regarding the incredible Agnes Moorehead. Several people have commented on the classic Twilight Zone story, "The Invaders" in which she was the only actor and had no lines of dialogue, yet here she is in a radio drama in which there is nothing but dialogue! And is absolutely terrific in both. That takes a special kind of talent and she had it. Considering some of the roles she had, she must have considered playing Endorra on "Bewitched" as an absolute lark. I know she and Dick York, the original Darren, struck up a great friendship and she was extremely upset when he had to leave because of his problems with his back.

Lee

My first cbsrmt in the 70s comes with a story. My parents bought an ancient radio that hardly worked, it was more a centerpiece for the living room. I would turn the dial millimeters at a time, hoping to lock in a frequency. Eventually, I did! It was a supernatural mystery reminiscent of programs of a bygone era and I was certain our old radio had pulled up an old mystery show. For a teen with an active imagination, this was straight out of Twilight Zone. Eventually I learned the truth, but I'll never forget the magic of that night, listening rapt to every word and not wanting it to end. Now in my 50s, my wife and I are avid online gamers, occasionally glancing at the TV. Having re-found this show, we both prefer it over network/cable/***flix programming while we play.

Xander


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