1 9 4 6 (USA)
4 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 4 9 – 1 9 5 2 (USA)
148 x 30 minute episodes
Starting life as an extremely popular American radio series that began on WENR Chicago in 1934, Lights Out was an early example of a network series devoted mostly to horror, suspense and the supernatural.
The series eventually made the transition to television in 1946, with NBC broadcasting the show nationally from 12 July 1949.
Episodes were recorded live and the disembodied head of a narrator (Jack LaRue at first and later, Frank Gallop) opened and closed the show. Productions were entirely studio-bound so much of the eerie atmosphere had to be achieved by imaginative lighting and use of shadows.
The series pioneered a number of special effects techniques. It was the first TV show to utilise the split-screen method showing both sides of a telephone conversation between a frantic wife and her condemned husband, the “first-person” or subjective camera approach was used effectively on the show, and numerous special effects produced men walking through walls, vanishing spirits and – in one memorable case – an amorphous shadow playing a lead role.
A cavalcade of guest stars included Eva Marie Saint, William Bendix, June Lockhart, John Forsythe, Burgess Meredith, Nina Foch, Vincent Price, Raymond Massey, Leslie Nielsen, Grace Kelly, Yvonne DeCarlo, Jane Seymour, Basil Rathbone, Eli Wallach, Eddie Albert, Arlene Francis, J. Pat O’Malley, Robert Stack, Jack Palance, George Reeves, Ed Begley, Alice Ghostley and Boris Karloff.
Lights Out eventually found itself airing opposite Here’s Lucy on CBS and unfortunately just couldn’t compete. The lights went out for good on 29 September 1952.
There was an unsuccessful attempt to revive the series in 1972 which progressed no further than a pilot episode from NBC, ‘When Widows Weep’.
Jack La Rue