The Mercury Theatre was an independent repertory company founded in New York City in 1937 by Orson Welles and producer John Houseman, who is best known for his Oscar-winning performance as Professor Charles Kingsfield in the The Paper Chase. After a series of acclaimed stage productions, Welles and his Mercury Theatre were offered their own weekly hour-long radio program over the CBS radio network. Here Welles—along with Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Joseph Cotten, Alice Frost, Martin Gabel, and others—presented powerful adaptations of literary classics with Bernard Herrman as composer and conductor.
Considered by many critics as the finest dramatic hour on radio, The Mercury Theatre on the Air was without a sponsor until a single broadcast changed all that: The War of the Worlds.
Episodes include "Dracula," starring Martin Gabel, Agnes Moorehead, George Coulouris, Ray Collins, and Karl Swenson; "A Tale of Two Cities," starring Martin Gabel, Ray Collins, Edgar Barrier, Frank Readick, and Kenny Delmar; "Abraham Lincoln," starring Orson Welles as Lincoln, plus Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Karl Swenson, Agnes Moorehead, Carl Frank, and William Allen; "The Count of Monte Cristo," starring Orson Welles, Ray Collins, Eustace Wyatt, George Coulouris, and Edgar Barrier; "The Immortal Sherlock Holmes," starring Orson Welles, Ray Collins, Edgar Barrier, Alfred Shirley, William Allen, and Arthur Anderson; "Around the World in Eighty Days," starring Orson Welles, Al Swenson, Arlene Francis, Edgar Barrier, Frank Readick, and Ray Collins.