Suspense – Sorry, Wrong Number
“Sorry, Wrong Number” was the Suspense radio play that not only gave the series its biggest success, but it also became “radio’s most famous play.” This story was presented eight times between 1943 and 1960, and it created a phenomenon of its own by provoking tremendous listener response. The radio play was written by Lucille Fletcher and, aside from “The Hitchhiker,” it is her best known work. “Sorry, Wrong Number” was the only Suspense story to be made into a film.
Lucille Fletcher had an exceptional flair for writing terror for radio, and nothing demonstrated that more than “Sorry,Wrong Number.” The collection of episodes written by Fletcher and presented on Suspense includes “The Hitchhiker,” “Fugue in C Minor,” “Dark Journey,” “The Thing in the Window,” “The Diary of Safronia Winters,” “The Furnished Floor,” and “The Night Man.”
In the sixty or so years since “Sorry, Wrong Number” was first presented on radio, it has made the transition to film, television, novel, and play. In recent years, it has made its way on to the internet via old time radio websites and YouTube videos.
However, to fully appreciate Fletcher’s unique style of conjuring up suspense, one must listen to the story as it was presented on radio.
All eight versions of “Sorry, Wrong Number” starred Agnes Moorehead in the lead role of Mrs. Elbert Stevenson.
The first time this story was presented was on May 25, 1943. In the East Coast version, there was a flubbed line at the end that made the end of the story confusing. The performance done for the West Coast has the correct ending. William Spier directed.
The second performance was on August 21, 1943.
In response to listener requests, the story was presented again on February 24, 1944. William Spier directed.
Again, due to requests from the public, Suspense presented this story again on September 6, 1945.
“Sorry, Wrong Number” was presented on Suspense for the fifth time in 1948 to coincide with the release of the film.
The sixth version of this episode was presented on September 15, 1952, but there is no known recording of that episode at this time.
In 1957, William N. Robson brought “Sorry, Wrong Number” back to Suspense. As he states in his introduction, he felt that great radio plays, like great stage plays, should be revived from time to time.
Suspense presented this story for the last time on Valentine’s Day in 1960.