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Burn, Witch, Burn


A woman is sentenced to death for practicing witchcraft. However, Judge Cotton Mather, a notorious Puritan attempts to save the woman's soul by inviting an Episcopalian minister perform an exorcism on her.



Air Dates

  • First Run - December 15, 1975
  • Repeat - May 22, 1976





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11 Responses to Episode 0396

The story of the oppressive puritan times in Salem featuring an accused witch, the judge who has accused and sentenced her, and two men of god, both of whom are strong in their convictions though both are on different sides of the issue.

Yolanda R.

I've always wanted to write a sequel to this story. The characters would have been a lot of fun to follow as they settle in th Rhode Island area. Think of the historical people they would have encountered. It would make a enchanting novel. Except that some of the church history depicted here is a bit off the mark.

Michael W.

Is it my imagination or is Judge Cotton Mather "possessed" by the spirit of the Great Gildersleeve?

John Lingard

A pretty good story of following the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law (with some basic morality thrown in for good measure). Some comments in the story about the views of the different churches would be interesting to follow up on as well.


@Michael W.: that sounds like a cool idea. I've had thoughts myself to write adaptations of some of these CBS Radio Mystery Theater episodes with characters from TV shows I like(Scooby Doo and other similar shows mostly).


They got history wrong right from the start. "Hundreds were arrested and tried" & "Thirty one were hanged or burned." No, just over 150 were accused. Of those, 29 were convicted. Of those 29, only 19 were taken to the gallows and hung, while five died in prison. NO ONE WAS BURNED IN SALEM VILLAGE FOR WITCHCRAFT! - I can sort of overlook that historical faux pas and enjoy the story for what it is.


I rate this episode ★★★★★ for EXCELLENT. Ian Martin's witch story doesn't involve magic spells, but it is "spell-binding." Even though this particular story is fictional, it's still a spine-tingling tale on how people acted during witch trials in the late 17th Century. The title works, but another way to title would be "Enter: Salem Village." Personally, I would call it "A Maiden Or A Witch?" because that's what every male character was focused on; whether to figure out if our only female character was good or evil. The sound effects of the burning fire, howling wind, crowd murmuring, echoing of footsteps, tapping of the jail cell, door knock, horse neighing & galloping, pulling of the leg iron chains, cloth tearing, people murmuring at the Inn, nail filer, and the horse carriage were highly satisfactory in this. And the music tunes they used, were heart-racing especially during the 18-minute mark where CBSRMT used that tune numerous of times on many episodes. Big props to E.G. Marshall for explaining the events of 1692 in Salem Village for his Prologue. In ACT-1, not only he informs the fans about the infamous man who accused women for being witches, but he surprises us after he finishes speaking: the sound of a harrowing scream at the 2-minute 46-second mark. Now THAT is shocking intro! In ACT-2, he goes deep into the story about the Maiden who's finding love while at the brink of death. Romantic, yet dire. In ACT-3, he lets the fans know that our heroes will find happiness, but also inform us that our main character was more than just a religious man. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall gave us a happy Resolution to which he ends it with an "Amen." Now to save the best for last, the cast: Howard Da Silva (as Cotton Mather), Marian Seldes (as Luna Clare), Kirk Peterson (as Gilbert Cayton), William Redfield (as Sir John Jamison & Luna's Uncle), and Court Benson (as the Judge & the Jailer). Kudos to William Redfield and Court Benson for each playing 2 roles. Kirk Peterson was great with his compassionate tone of voice, but it's a shame that he only did 3 episodes for the series. This one, #0362-THE KISS OF DEATH, and #0368-A LIVING CORPSE. I would describe Howard Da Silva's performance as "magisterial" because of the way he was acting in a commanding style. As for our leading actress, Marian Seldes, I would describe her performance as "sensational" because of her delicate voice. This is a Drama-Mystery that cannot be passed up. Go check this episode out. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =^D


A fictitious incident in the life of the Rev. Cotton Mather, generally blamed for the hideously bigoted persecution in 1692 of Salem Village women thought to be witches. Luna Clare, whose grandmother could put people asleep by waving her hands and who was burned at the stake for it, waits in a tiny, cold, jail cell for the same fate. Her crime: In order to save her grandmother, she had allegedly tempted an older man to possess her. Mather tries to make Luna recant, knowing that even if she does, she’ll still die by fire or be stoned to death.


This radio drama was taken directly from a story titled "A Witch-Burning", originally appearing in The Strand Magazine, Volume 38, p. 692. Identical names, Gilbert Caton, Luna Clare etc I was always curious as to the basis of the stories. I wish they had divulged more information so that people could look these things up. The hosts on several occasions mentioned that some of these stories were true stories. But they never gave information as to what actual news stories they were based on. In the case of this specific story, E. G. Marshall stated that it was written by Ian Martin. In fact, the original story was actually written by a Mrs. Baillie Reynolds and was published in 1909 in the above-mentioned Strand Magazine. That information would have actually been interesting to know so people can look up the original story and have read it and compared it to Ian Martin's adaptation for CBS Radio Mystery Theater. Makes me wonder what other CBS Radio Mystery Theater stories were taken from other stories...

Stephen Worrell

A compelling radio drama set in the time of the Salem witch hunts. This episode did not help me fall asleep! The screams. Good acting, excellent sound quality, news on the hours, as well as some light jazz after the news. Thanks again for archiving these radio dramas.

Kathy D

Thanks for the heads up- I frequently drift off when listening and it is startling to be woken up by screams.


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