I Love a Mystery was a radio drama series about three friends who ran a detective agency and traveled the world in search of adventure. Distinguished by the high octane scripting of Carlton E. Morse, the program was the polar opposite of Morse's other success, the long-running One Man's Family.
The central characters, Jack Packard, Doc Long and Reggie York, met as mercenary soldiers fighting the Japanese in China. Later, they met again in San Francisco, where they decided to form the A-1 Detective Agency. Their motto was "No job too tough, no adventure too baffling." The agency served as a plot device to involve the trio in a wide variety of stories. These straddled the genres of mystery, adventure and supernatural horror, and the plotlines often took them to exotic locales. Over the years, Jack was played by Michael Raffetto, Russell Thorson, Jay Novello and John McIntire. Doc was played by Barton Yarborough and Jim Boles. Reggie was portrayed by Walter Paterson and Tony Randall.
Sponsored by Fleischmann's Yeast, I Love a Mystery first aired on the NBC West Coast network from January 16 to September 29, 1939, weekdays at 3:15pm Pacific time, and then moved to the full NBC network from October 2, 1939 to March 29, 1940, airing weeknights at 7:15pm. In 1940, it expanded to 30-minute episodes from April 4 to June 27 on NBC Thursdays at 8:30pm. Continuing on the Blue Network from September 30 1940 to June 29, 1942, it was heard Mondays and Wednesdays at 8pm. Procter & Gamble (for Oxydol and Ivory Soap) replaced Fleishmann's Yeast as the sponsor in the series broadcast by CBS from March 22, 1943
to December 29, 1944 with 15-minute episodes heard weeknights at 7pm.
After a four-year lapse, Jack, Reggie and Doc returned in 1948 with a title change to I Love Adventure, broadcast on ABC from from April 25 to July 18, 1948. It followed the post-war adventures of the trio who worked for the Twenty-One Old Men of Gramercy Park, an extra-governmental organization of some power. I Love Adventure ran for 13 episodes.
A year later, I Love a Mystery was revived on the Mutual Broadcasting System, and the production relocated from Hollywood to New York. This series began October 3, 1949 and continued until December 26, 1952 with 15-minute episodes heard weeknights at 7pm during 1949-50 and then 10:15pm from 1950 to 1952.
Story situations and characters
Tough, charismatic group leader Jack is usually the first to figure solutions to the mysteries. Jack has more of an edge than the typical radio hero of the period. He distrusts the attractive women who always seem to show up, and he professes to dislike women in general. The series' writer claimed that Jack's problems with women had to do with his youth. He had gotten a girl pregnant and had to leave his home town in shame. This was only a back story detail and was never made explicit on the show. Doc and Reggie are slightly less edgy characters. The Texas-born Doc is a hard-fighting, boastful, high-spirited character who provides comic relief. Reggie, an Englishman noted for his great strength, however, usually shied away from the fairer sex.
Morse, regarded as one of the best writers in radio, took delight in creating vividly imagined settings for the show and elaborate, often bizarre plots. In a medium whose heroes tended to be serious and strait-laced, he created three who were wonderfully reckless and exuberant. Jack, Doc and Reggie were more interested in the thrill of adventure than in righting wrongs. When they collected a fee, their only goal was to spend it as quickly as possible.
Actor Peter Lorre once sent Morse a letter threatening legal action because a character named Michael in two of the serials, sounded like Lorre. Morse dropped the character from the series days after. The serial "The Temple of the Vampires" was the first serial to cause concerned parents to write letters to the network. When Walter Patterson committed suicide, the character of Reggie was written out of the series, but he was mentioned by name two years later.
Valse Triste by Jean Sibelius was the program's theme music. There were several film adaptations of I Love a Mystery by Morse, but none had the success of the radio series. Surviving recordings of the show are rare.
Despite the popularity of the program, few series have survived in a listenable state. The few that have survived are "Bury Your Dead, Arizona", "Temple of Vampires", "Battle of the Century", "The Thing That Cries in the Night", "The Hermit of San Felipe Atabapo" and "The Million Dollar Curse". However, several episodes of these serials are missing, providing plot holes.