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The Queen of Palmyra


A private eye chases an enigmatic woman who is a self-declared messiah and the reincarnation of a queen of ancient Rome. She is acquainted with a financier whose young nephew takes her to be on a con job.



Air Dates

  • First Run - April 27, 1978
  • Repeat - October 3, 1978





39     9

12 Responses to Episode 0823

A private investigator investigates a woman who claims to be a prophet and the reincarnation of a Roman queen. A financier's nephew thinks she is trying to swindle him.

Judy S.

A rather humorous episode with an engaging blend of the apparent supernatural and confidence tricks. A wealthy elderly gentleman is approached by a woman who claims he is an ancient emperor of Rome and is in grave danger. The man's obese nephew appears to be looking out for his best interest. Fred Gwynn does a fine job in his role as the skeptical private investigator. Worth listening to.

Ianne Jane

I find it odd that Mr. Carlswell's lunch bag contains a cheese sandwich and 3 "rather large" prunes. When this episode aired California prunes were a sponsor. I'm curious if this was a clever product placement or simply coincidence.


I find it odd that Mr. Carlswell's lunch bag contains a cheese sandwich and 3 "rather large" prunes. When this episode aired California prunes was a sponsor. I'm curious if this was a clever product placement or simply coincidence.


This episode shows how con artists are very slick. There are still reports of "psychics" swindling people out of tens of thousands of dollars. But what gets me are the ones that predict the "end of the earth" scenarios. In the mid-1960s my dad was stationed in Ft. Ord, CA, and our house had a view of the Monterey Bay, which I knew was connected to the Pacific Ocean. I was eight years old, and some "psychic" claimed that there was going to be an earthquake and our part of California was going to fall into the ocean. I spent that entire day as a very frightened child. Hence, I have no fondness for the folks who claim that a horrible disaster will befall us all. Fortunately, as an adult I know they are blowing smoke, but they are lower than scum for frightening children.


A very interesting mystery that has the ultimate whodunit. Spoiler alert, I will give the plot away so I urge you STRONGLY to listen to the episode first if you haven't done so, before you read any further. A fat nephew of a rich financier, who goes by the name Fatso, hires a private investigator when con artists are trying to fleece the uncle out of his vast fortune by trying to convince him the world will end and to save his soul he has to turn everything he owns into gold and hand it over to the crooks. Naturally the nephew is very concerned about this. Thus he turns to the PI. Now the crooks are very convincing and would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for the Investigator the nephew hired. Who is the mysterious leader of the culprits ... why the nephew, Fatso! Darn it he would have gotten away with the entire gold if it wasn't for the Private Investigator he himself hired to solve the crime. I was completely fooled by the revelation. Never would have guessed it, which is the hallmark of a good mystery.


Worth a listen for the great acting alone! 3.5 out of 5 stars- very enjoyable.


I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. Sam Dann’s mystery story was entertaining, but also far-fetched. It is entertaining because we have a story about a Private Detective investigating a con-artist that uses names of people from Ancient times to obtain a new life. It is also far-fetched because it’s hard to imagine that a Private Detective would believe a word what these characters have said about themselves. Here we have a con-artist who thinks she’s Queen Zenobia of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, a wealthy old man thinks he’s the Roman Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelian, even the con-artist tried to convince the Private Detective that he’s the Roman Poet Publius. If any of that stuff was true, like if they were actual recreations of historic people, wouldn’t they be speaking in Ancient dialects or wear archaic fashion? Also, they said their world would come to an end on February 14th. What reason to believe that it would end on Valentine’s Day? It’s far-fetched, but I’m just glad that the Private Detective solved the case at the last minute and cleared some things up. With all the pretty lies & ugly truths were told to these characters, the best way to title this mystery tale would be “Who Are You In Truth?” In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall starts with a quote by Henry Louis Mencken. In ACT-1, focus on disputed beliefs of the world coming to an end. In ACT-2, state that the world will end for each of us, but not at the same time. As the plot thickens, a quick history of Lucius Domitius Aurelian and how he’s connected to the story. In ACT-3, Ancient figures are turning up for our main character. After the climax, our Host gives us an adage (a proverb expressing a general truth) about schemes. In his Epilogue, there’s no Resolution. No ending to what happened to our characters further on once the mystery was solved. Only a pensive thought about who we are and who we were. Sound effects of chair leg scraping, unwrapping sandwich bag, door buzzer, pouring water, footsteps, doors, silvery bells tinkling, struggling grunts, and body thud were OK. The music tracks, however, were a nice touch. Some were dramatic, some were mystifying, and some were enchanting. But I will say that the best part in this episode, was the cast: Fred Gwynne (as Charles Fleetwood Carswell), Bryana Raeburn (as Angel Blanche Brady/Zenobia), Jack Grimes (as Fatso/Hubert Ivor MacIlhenny), and Court Benson (as Dudley K. MacIlhenny). These 4 worked great together. As for Fred Gwynne alone, he was perfect to play the Private Detective. Truly, one of the most memorable actors in CBSRMT history. For those that enjoy Private Detective stories, check this one out. As I said before, it’s far-fetched, but the cast made it enjoyable. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


I loved watching Care 54 Where Are You! On Nick @ Nite in the 80s. He was quoted as saying: "Voice work is the kindest thing that can happen to an old actor." (Though wasn't he a judge in "My cousin Vinny", long after the last RMT episode - think it was Mr. Gwynne's final role before he passed.)


I rate this episode ★★★☆☆ for AVERAGE. I’ll review what I enjoyed the most first and then finish off what I disliked. First, I enjoyed the cast: Kevin McCarthy (as William Gillette/Sherlock Holmes), Jada Rowland (as Pamela Watson), Russell Horton (as Jim Watson), and Carol Teitel (as the Tour Guide and Mrs. Hudson). Carol Teitel was terrific in her 2 roles. Jada Rowland is my favorite actress in the CBSRMT series and having her partner up with Russell Horton again, like many episodes before, was delightful. And Kevin McCarthy was entertaining, just like his performance as Sherlock Holmes in previous episodes before this one. Next up, music and sound effects. Dozens of dramatic tunes were used, but no suspenseful or chilling tracks were used to match the feel of being trapped in a castle. Sound effects of car engine running, tires screech, footsteps, tourists murmuring, sliding doors, cat meowing, howling wind, gong, lamp breaking, doors, cane hitting clothing, gun shot, tapping of the phone, drawing the curtains, carriage rolling up, pouring of drinking glasses, and doorbell were very supportive in this tale. Next is our Host and his narrations. E.G. Marshall’s Prologue focused on castles and our story takes place at a castle in New England. In ACT-1, meet Jim & Pamela Watson where one of them is a Sherlock Holmes buff. In ACT-2, knowing so little about William Gillette’s career and we get a sense that some actors like him can go too far to create an illusion of reality. In ACT-3, after the strange turn of events, our Host’s only explanation to the Climax is to mention a quote from a playwright about the 6th sense of the Imagination. In his Epilogue, he recommends CBSRMT listeners to take a tour of the Gillette Castle itself in Connecticut. Good recommendation, but no Resolution explained on what happened to our characters afterwards. And so, it comes down to the final segment: the Script. Elizabeth Pennell has written decent drama mysteries and even did the adaptations of #0605-JANE EYRE and #0643-WUTHERING HEIGHTS. But this story was Fair. So-so, I should say. I was expecting it to be a haunting mystery about a haunted castle with the Sherlock Holmes references. But instead, this story’s turn of events created massive questions to think about. Like, how did the Jim & Pamela Watson hear about this castle? Was Mrs. Hudson going through nightmare problems? Was William Gillette really dead? Was he putting on a show for his guest just so he can play Sherlock Holmes for fun? Did these 2 tourists actually travel back in time? Was the castle actually haunted? Was it really a nightmare? Was anything resolved after Jim & Pamela Watson escaped from the castle? There are so many fill-in-the-blanks in this, the episode’s title should be changed and call it “A Bad Case Of The Jitters” or “Elementary, My Dear Guests.” Tune in to this, if you like. There are better castle stories in the CBSRMT vault. SPECIAL BONUS: This episode has commercials of AMEX travelers checks, Bob Armstrong’s Diamond Center, “The Ritual” novel, CBS-News, First Federal of Gary, Radio Advertising Bureau, Jewel’s Discount Grocery Store, CBS-Sports News in Chicago, CBS-News on Election 1980, Susan Anton for Serta Sleeper Mattresses, and Smokey Bear Program. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


I rate this episode ★★★★★ for EXCELLENT. I'd think that Robert Barr would have been pleased of the adaptation of this by James Agate, Jr. It has intricate clues, it has peculiar motives, and it has a surprising twist in the end. And above all, it has a great detective in this: Eugène Valmont. Robert Barr’s character ranks up with Jacques Futrelle’s Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Another way to title this story would be “A Case Of Interest” or even “The Parisian Detective.” In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall starts it off by comparing one of the characters as a “Scrooge.” In ACT-1, the bloodline of the James Dudley Hills on their fortunes. As the plot thickens, we realize that not all clues were divulged in the first Act alone. In ACT-2, questions pop up. More importantly, they see the evidence clearly, but not recognize it. In ACT-3, quoting Sir Francis Bacon about suspicions and our main detective plays a waiting game. In the end, after discovering where the loot was hiding all along and discovering who else was related to the family, we learned a private post-mortem joke that money would bring out the worst in those with the least character. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall finishes it off with the comparison of the Midas myth - great wealth does not equal great happiness. Outstanding narrations. Sound effects of bells, footsteps, background noise at the police station, phone receiving line, seals, patrons murmuring, paper note, newspapers, doors, dog wincing, phone ringing, paper bills, intercom buzzer, emergency sirens, pulling off wallpaper were terrific. As for the music, great selection of dramatic tunes that moved the story forward. And let us not forget our amazing cast: Norman Rose (as Eugène Valmont), Russell Horton (as James Dudley Hill III and Inspector Graves), and Robert Dryden (as James Dudley Hill, Jr. and Elijah Browning). These 3 worked well together. Norman Rose, performing with a French accent, was very entertaining. This is one mystery story that CBSRMT fans should not pass up on. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. I admire Murray Burnett’s work, particularly his adaptions of the Sherlock Holmes stories. But the story originally from Edith Wharton was better. The novelist’s ghost story had a Narrator without a name. In Murray Burnett’s version, we got a fashion designer that’s interested in the castle while the other male characters act persuasive and vulnerable. I was more interested in the mystery of the dogs and hope that they would play a bigger part to this tale. Other ways to title this would be “Dogs Of Kerfol” or “Strange Vendetta.” In our Host’s Prologue, that I had to find on other OTR websites, E.G. Marshall’s topic is about castles with ghosts. In ACT-1, meet our main character who’s interested in buying a castle. After digging into the story within the story, our Host points out the lifestyle differences of adultery from 2 different time periods. Our main character must’ve seen dogs or ghost dogs. After too many conflicts about pets getting killed in this story, E.G. Marshall mentions ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Was E.G. Marshall trying to advertise this non-profit organization into the episode? In ACT-3, he understands the reaction that our main character felt when reading the history book. When the story was over, E.G. Marshall stated that when he talked about this story to a psychiatrist and what was his take on this? Was E.G. Marshall talking about his personal life on this? Or was this something that Murray Burnett wrote for him? What’s even weirder, is the Epilogue. E.G. Marshall tells the world’s shortest horror story ever. It’s a classic, but it’s irrelevant to this particular story. E.G. Marshall wasn’t off topic with his narrations, but he could’ve saved the ASPCA mentioning, the psychiatrist moment, and the shortest horror story for other episodes. The music was OK, but the tunes for the chilling moments kept on repeating in every Act. Sound effects of birds chirping, bell ring, iron gate squeaking, footsteps, car tires screech, jewelry case, door knocking, howling wind, violin music, and unbolting the door were good. And of course, the sounds of dogs barking were helpful. And finally, our cast: Mercedes McCambridge (as Paula Randall and Anne de Cornault), William Redfield (as Herve de Lanrivain and Andre de Lanrivain), Ian Martin (as Baron Yves de Cornault), and Guy Sorel (as the Judge and the Gypsy). I like this choice of cast members. In fact, this was my favorite part of the episode. All of the actors were great. But it was Mercedes McCambridge, our leading lady, who was superb. Her performance in this reminds me of her performance in Ep. #0318-CARMILLA where she played 2 roles: The Narrator and the Woman who dealt with death. Fans of her would enjoy this episode. Check this one out, but also check out Edith Wharton’s original ghost story. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


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