1947 - 1949
Ernest Chappel (1903 - 1983) was the narrator/ host of Quiet Please.
Earnest Chappel was the host and main character for Quiet Please. The cast was usually just one or two other people. The sound effects were often sparse. The music was an organ and sometimes, apiano. Although the resources may seem meager when listed here, the results were stunning. Chappel would tell his tales in first person, usually in flashback. And what tales they were! The writer/ director was Wyllis Cooper, the same genius who created Lights Out years before and moved to Hollywood to try his hand as a film script writer. He left his old show to Arch Olober, who went on to become famous with the series while Cooper toiled away in obscurity writing screenplays. In 1947, he returned to his radio roots to produce Quiet Please (Dunning, 559). Chappel was the perfect choice for the weekly lead. There was nothing special about his voice. Although he had been a successful quiz show host on Are You A Genius?, he didn't exaggerate or project like many other actors of the time did. In fact, that's one of the noticeable differences about this series. Nobody sounds like they are acting at all, they just sound like regular people caught up in very unusual or terrifying situations. Cooper insisted on actors sounding natural, and along with his detailed dialog and surreal narratives, he proved what a remarkable medium radio could be on a small budget. After all, Cooper and Chappel did what they did without big bucks or big name actors. Instead, all they had was the imagination of one person and the acting talent of another.
Wyllis Cooper was the Author/ Director
The plots themselves weren't that sensational when reduced to a sentence or two. "Let The Lilies Consider" involved flowers that could think. "A Red And White Guidon" was a story about a small group of cavalry men. "Shadow Of The Wings" told the tale of a girl dying who thinks she sees an angel. These rather unexciting concepts became engrossing stories when told by Chappel, especially with the creepy organ music playing in the background. Chappel sounded just as bewildered as anyone by how unbelievable the events he witnessed were. His apologies and insecurities helped convince us that maybe it could happen. If anything, he seemed even more confused than we were because these strange things were happening to him!
"The Thing on the Fourble Board" is one of radio horror's greatest gems. Chappel relates a story about being a roughneck oil driller. His crew drills a hole into the prehistoric earth that unleashes an invisible creature, one that kills the workers until only Chappel remains. The creature becomes visible when paint is tossed on it, revealing a human/ insect combination that so unhinges the narrator that he... well, I wouldn't want to spoil it by saying more. After all, no one could relay the story better than the collective talents of Chappel and Copper. Suffice it to say, the episode is commonly on many OTR fan's top ten list of best radio horror shows.
There would probably have been more Quite Please episodes on that esteemed list, but unfortunately, only a dozen episodes survived to modern times. At least, that was the the general belief all the way up until sometime in the 1980s. But then I heard a rumor that Chappel's widow found a box of disks under the bed that turned out to be original transcriptions of the show. It sounded like another urban myth, too good to be true, yet still I hoped that maybe it was accurate. Since then, a total of 89 episodes have surfaced, and I have yet to hear one I didn't like. Keep in mind, however, that I'm saving some of them to hear for very special occasions, so there may be a clunker or two I haven't heard yet. The only downside to the ones I have heard so far is that the sound quality fluctuates a lot. Even so, it's a great discovery for OTR horror.
"The Thing of the Fourrble Board" was an audience favorite of Quiet Please. Art from Tune In For Terror © 1992
The Standard Intro:
Chappel: "Quiet please.... Quiet please..."
(Piano Music: 2nd Movement from Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor. Music fades into background.)
Announcer: "The Mutual Broadcasting System presents Quiet Please, which is written and directed by Willis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappel. Quiet Please for tonight is called, 'Clarissa.'"
An Opening Narration:
Chappel: "No, he was dead before the fire started, I've told you that a dozen times! No, I can't prove it, of course not. You'll just have to believe me, take my word for it. I can't prove he was dead, you can't prove he wasn't! Anyway, what difference does it make... now? I'm sorry, I, I can't hear you very well. Yes, well, alright..
"It was an old black shell of a house. A house that has lived too long. A house where the floors groaned in pain at night and windows shuttered at the gentlest touch of the wind. The door latches suddenly gave up their grip and let the night come snipping into the house to paw at your eyes and wake you to the other silences that lay around you. It was never warm there. In the winter old Heinz kept a fire going in the fireplace in the old sitting room, but the logs were scrawny and the draft was bad. And the flames seemed to grudge us their warmth so that we shivered all through the day. We were glad when night came and we could escape to the meager comfort of the drafty bedrooms. And in the summer, there was a dampness about the place. An unhealthy clamminess drifted from the walls and stirred uneasily among the ancient smells of decay that clung to the place..."
An Ending Narration:
Chappel: "I lifted him to the bed. I bent over him, I listened for his heart. There was no sound. Heinz was dead. Yes, just as I told you before, he died, there in my room, yes. What? Oh, yes. In the little half light, I found the kerosene lamp and I lit it. I took the key from the floor where he dropped it. No, I found the room very easily. It was at the far end of the hall. I called, 'Clarissa?... Clarissa?!'... and there was no answer. So I unlocked the door. And holding the light above my head I walked over to the bed. And there, lying on the bed, dressed in a pinafore that might have come out of a ten-year-old drawing of Alice in Wonderland, clutching a little woolly lamb to her breast... there lay a tiny, old, old woman with long white hair braided into pig tails... Clarissa. And I knew why I hadn't heard the little song for two days. And so when the lamp fell out of my hand and the flames started licking around the dry-as-dust draperies, and the fragile old oaken boards in the floor, I turned and went out of the house. (VOICE CRACKS.) For what else was there to do? The house had lived too long, and so had the father and daughter who dwelt there..."
(Piano Music: 2nd Movement form Franck's Symphony in D Minor. Music fades into background.)
Announcer: "Quiet Please for tonight was called Clarissa. The man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappel. (Reads credits.) And now a word from our writer/ director, Wyllis Cooper."
Cooper: "The characters in tonight's Quiet Please are neither living nor dead. They enjoy neither of these interesting conditions because they are solely the invention of my own imagination intended to represent nobody at all. Quiet Please for next week is called '13 and 8.'"
The Standard Closing:
Chappel: "and so until next week at this same time, I'm quietly yours, Ernest Chappel."
Hear dozens of Quiet Please here for FREE!
(Courtesy of Quiet Please.org - a wonderful site devoted to the series! After hearing and getting hooked on this show, you'll want to talk about it in their forums.)
Some Suggested Samples!
(Courtesy of Quiet Please.org)
The Thing on the Fourble Board - An oil worker tells the tale of a strange being brought up from the depths of the Earth.
My Son John - A man is offered the chance to bring his dead son back to life.
Whence Came You? - Ancient remains of an Egyptian city are unearthed, and dark secrets that should have remained buried come to the surface.
Clarissa - A man shares a house with another man who has a daughter that he seems to keep hidden.
Read OTR Plot Spot synopis of various episodes from Quiet Please: http://www.otrplotspot.com/Quiet%20Please.htm
Bonus Quiet Please Related Links:
On-line script to "The Thing on the Fourble Board" episode.
On-Line script to "Whence Came You" episode.
A May 1949 Writer's Digest article on Wyllis Cooper.
Chronology of Wyllis Cooper's life.
Master page to many more scripts by Wyllis Cooper.
A website devoted to Quiet Please devotees.
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