Incredible But True

1950 - 1951

Ken Nordine not only hosted Incredible But True, he voiced countless commercials and created Word Jazz.

Incredible, But True was a series that recreated urban legend type stories in radio drama form, complete with cast, organ music, and sound effects. The short radio dramas would tell of some sort of unexplained phenomena that was mysterious and yet, true (supposedly). The host /narrator was Ken Nordine (who later become famous narrating the surreal spoken word series, Word Jazz). The syndicated series was produced by "Unusual Features Syndicate" and ran from 1950 to 1951 on Mutual (OTRR Group). There were 15 minute and 3-minute versions of the show syndicated, and both used the same host. Although information on Incredible But True is somewhat sparse, there are 80 different three-minute episodes in circulation and most are in excellent condition.

What made the series unintentionally funny was its determination to build up the mystery and excitement in every story, even if it happened to be a rather routine event. For example, if an airplane lands off course in the desert and the pilot's footprints eventually disappear in the sand, the only possible explanation is supernatural. "Yes, those were the last traces of the missing airmen," the narrator sternly warns. "Now, it has been suggested they were carried off by hostile Bedouins who carefully brushed away their trail. But such an explanation is inadequate, in view of the fact that a search was carried out by plane, armored cars, and tribal patrols for four days and nights. And no renewal of the trail was ever found. Where they had gone remains the secret of the desert. A secret incredible but true!" (Followed by a dramatic organ sting).

Now, I'm no expert on deserts, but isn't it at least possible that a wind storm blew the tracks away and covered the corpses after they died of heatstroke? And couldn't the search parties have passed over evidence by searching half the time in the dark of night? (I'm just asking.)

Or how about this mystery: A woman disappears in New York City. Could it be foul play? No, that would be too obvious. Her disappearance is somehow connected to the arrival of a swan. The narrator observes with sinister smugness, "Dorothy Arnold's disappearance has never been explained. Nor has anyone ever been able to explain the presence of the swan on the lake in Central Park. All that can be said is that the two events occurred at the same time and at the same place. This is a fact that leads one to certain inescapable and astonishing conclusions. A fact... incredible but true!" (Another organ sting.)

And what "certain inescapable conclusions" are we supposed to arrive at? That the missing woman turned into a bird? (Come to think of it, that would be fowl play after all.) That same story is hyped by the announcer as "One of the most remarkable occurrences in all the annals of the incredible." It makes you wonder what would rate as less remarkable. (The mystery of the missing sock?) I can think of only one other program that tried as hard to hype the horror and squeeze every possible drop of fear out of similar fluff pieces, and that would be Monster Chiller Horror Theater with Count Floyd on SCTV!

So, if it's real chills you're after, this is one graveyard you can pass without whistling. But if you enjoy campy horror that takes itself way too seriously, you'll find this to be a fun place to picnic.

A Typical Intro:

Announcer: "Contrary to popular belief, and to the conceptions of writers of horror stories, strange and mysterious events do not require strange and mysterious settings. One of the most remarkable occurrences in all the annals of the incredible took place on the teaming streets of New York City. It was there that the girl named Dorothy Arnold was last seen... in human form."

An Opening Narration:

Host: "Missing persons have long been a daily phenomenon in this largest city in the world. Consequently, the chief of the missing persons bureau of New York City looked upon it as a matter of routine when on December 13, 1910, a middle aged man, in great agitation came bustling into the room."

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Hear " Footsteps in the Sand" - A military plane disappears over the desert. They find the landed plane, which seems to be in perfect working order, but the crew has vanished without a trace.

"The Lady Upstairs" - An apparent case of spontaneous combustion is showcased.

"Dragon Of Buren County" - A skeptical doctor examines a young man who can set anything on fire, simply by breathing on it."

"Premonition" - A man seems to suddenly know when his brother is in danger-- and when he dies.

"Naked Man Of Newbury" - The man who discovered King Tut's Tomb becomes mortally ill at the same time a strange man visits his estate, fulfilling a curse to those who disturb the ancient Egyptian King.

"Beware My Son" - A mother dies after having a horrible dream about the fate of her son-- a dream that comes true many years later.

"Death of a Monster" - A professor of Paleontology is confronted with evidence of a creature that can't possibly exist... or can it?

"The Lady and the Lake" - A happily married woman vanished, at the same moment a very odd occurrence happens on the Lake.

Hear 80 different three minute shows (courtesy of

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