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Nelson Olmsted Collection

Known as the network's resident storyteller, Nelson Olmsted got his start making dramatized Edgar Allen Poe radio shows.

44 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 19 hours, 10 min)
available in the following formats:

1 MP3 CD
or
21 Audio CDs


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Play a sample episode from July 25, 1946:

"Nelson Olmsted Playhouse"



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About this Old Time Radio Show

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2017 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Nelson Olmsted and pipeNo matter how much we compare radio drama with television and movies, all three of them are essentially ways to tell stories. Film has the spectacle and glamor, TV may be the most profitable, and the stories we hear over the radio may be the most personal because so much of the action takes place in our own imagination. Focusing on the differences between the three mediums tends to obscure the fact that the most important element is the story.

Considering that storytelling was the network's stock-in-trade, it seems a little surprising that someone could become NBC's resident storyteller, but that is the role that Nelson Olmstead carved out for himself. It is even more surprising that Olmstead found his greatest success in radio just as television was entering its own golden age.

Leroy Nelson Olmstead, Jr, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1914, and grew up in Texas. While attending the University of Texas at Austin, he became friends with classmates Walter Cronkite and Eli Wallach. He also met and eventually married Alma Holloway. The friends all held acting as a common interest and became involved in amateur productions at the University and in community theater around Austin. While many of his friends made their way to New York to take up the struggle of journeyman actors, Olmstead found a job with WBAP Ft Worth. He began working as an announcer but wanted to get back into acting. Although radio drama is relatively inexpensive, there was no budget for even that. He developed the most inexpensive dramas he could, taking stories from literature and reading them on the air.

Olmstead was always a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe, calling him "that great dramatist who never wrote a play". What developed was a 30-minute late night horror program titled Black Night (1937-39). The station received fan mail for the program from as far away as the upper Midwest, and since WBAP was a Red Network affiliate, it was only a matter of time before NBC took notice.

Nelson OlmstedIn 1938, Olmstead began working from NBC's Radio City in New York. In addition to Black Night, he was assigned to The World's Greatest Short Stories. His early stint at NBC was interrupted by a two-year hitch in the Army who sent him to Italy where he kept doing essentially the same thing for AFRS. There have been a number of "one-man-shows" during the Old Time Radio Period, but Olmstead's work is unique in that he truly let the stories speak for themselves. Most actors would create a whole different voice for each character in a story but Olmstead kept to simple changes in inflection and timbre. His style is best described as "an expressive monotone".

A Halloween tradition has grown in some areas during the days leading up to the spooky holiday of dusting off the LP version of Olmstead's most popular radio achievement, Sleep No More. The program aired in 1956-57, and probably would have lasted longer if the network had still been interested in radio success rather than making programming for the shiny box that had begun glowing in living rooms across America. Sleep No More was popular enough that Vanguard Records cut a master from the magnetic tape recordings of the program, and released the album at least three times.

Nelson Olmstead made a few television appearances before creating Sleep No More, including the TV version of Lights Out, The Schlitz Playhouse, Tales of Tomorrow, and Kraft Theatre. He appeared in cinema in a few small character roles, including the photographer in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). He died at the age of 78 at a nursing home in Torrance, California, from complications due to a stroke on April 8, 1992.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2017 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:
  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    44 recordings on 1 MP3 CD for just $5.00
    total playtime 19 hours, 10 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      44 shows - total playtime 19 hours 10 minutes
      1. American Gallery Afrs 000000 02 Man Nobody Liked.mp3
      2. American Novels 470808 Luck Of Roaring Camp.mp3
      3. Authors Playhouse 410305 Elementals.mp3
      4. Cavalcade Of America 521216 Barbed Wire Christmas.mp3
      5. Chase 530111 Professor Calvin And Voice.mp3
      6. Chase 530621 Monster.mp3
      7. Crime And Peter Chambers 540622 Cafe Tropical Bruce Eldridge.mp3
      8. Dimension X 510114 Martian Death March.mp3
      9. Inheritance 541114 Nancy Hanks.mp3
      10. Lights Out 460824 008 Signal Man.mp3
      11. My Son Jeep 530201 02 Afrs Jeep Has Measles.mp3
      12. Nelson Olmsted Playhouse 460725 Elementals.mp3
      13. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 400807 Lone Journey.mp3
      14. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470806 Mrs Sabin.mp3
      15. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470813 Souvenir.mp3
      16. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470820 Night.mp3
      17. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470925 Car We Had To Push.mp3
      18. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 471014 Seed Of Destruction.mp3
      19. Radio City Playhouse 481115 15 First And Last.mp3
      20. Sleep No More 561121 Conquerors Isle.mp3
      21. Sleep No More 561128 Mr Mergenthwirkers Lobblies August Heat.mp3
      22. Sleep No More 561205 Over Hill And Man In Black Hat.mp3
      23. Sleep No More 561212 Three Oclock.mp3
      24. Sleep No More 561219 Storm.mp3
      25. Sleep No More 561226 Death Of Olivia Bicai Fishhead.mp3
      26. Sleep No More 570123 10 I Am Waiting Browdean Farm.mp3
      27. Sleep No More 570130 11 Jilting Of Granny Weatherall Escape.mp3
      28. Sleep No More 570206 Banquos Chair And Coward.mp3
      29. Sleep No More 570227 To Build Fire And 3 Skeleton Key.mp3
      30. Sleep No More 570306 14 Thus I Refute Beelzy Bookshop.mp3
      31. Sleep No More 570313 15 Escape Of Mr Trimm.mp3
      32. Sleep No More 570320 16 Woman In Grey Suspicious Gift.mp3
      33. Sleep No More 570403 18 Bet Clerks Quest.mp3
      34. Sleep No More 570410 19 Passenger To Bali.mp3
      35. Sleep No More 570417 Homecoming And Aunt Cassie.mp3
      36. Sleep No More 570424 Evening Strange Orchid.mp3
      37. Story For Tonight 070647 Semi Dramatized Stories.mp3
      38. Story For Tonight 072747 Semi Dramtzd Stories Soul Trapper.mp3
      39. Story For Tonight 470627 Miracle Man.mp3
      40. X Minus One 550605 Perigis Wonderful Dolls.mp3
      41. X Minus One 570627 100 Category Inventor.mp3
      42. X Minus One 570829 Volpla.mp3
      43. X Minus One 571031 Lulu.mp3
      44. You Are There 491127 82 Tom Thumb.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    44 recordings on 1 MP3 Collection Download for just $5.00
    total playtime 19 hours, 10 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      44 shows - total playtime 19 hours 10 minutes
      1. American Gallery Afrs 000000 02 Man Nobody Liked.mp3
      2. American Novels 470808 Luck Of Roaring Camp.mp3
      3. Authors Playhouse 410305 Elementals.mp3
      4. Cavalcade Of America 521216 Barbed Wire Christmas.mp3
      5. Chase 530111 Professor Calvin And Voice.mp3
      6. Chase 530621 Monster.mp3
      7. Crime And Peter Chambers 540622 Cafe Tropical Bruce Eldridge.mp3
      8. Dimension X 510114 Martian Death March.mp3
      9. Inheritance 541114 Nancy Hanks.mp3
      10. Lights Out 460824 008 Signal Man.mp3
      11. My Son Jeep 530201 02 Afrs Jeep Has Measles.mp3
      12. Nelson Olmsted Playhouse 460725 Elementals.mp3
      13. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 400807 Lone Journey.mp3
      14. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470806 Mrs Sabin.mp3
      15. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470813 Souvenir.mp3
      16. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470820 Night.mp3
      17. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470925 Car We Had To Push.mp3
      18. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 471014 Seed Of Destruction.mp3
      19. Radio City Playhouse 481115 15 First And Last.mp3
      20. Sleep No More 561121 Conquerors Isle.mp3
      21. Sleep No More 561128 Mr Mergenthwirkers Lobblies August Heat.mp3
      22. Sleep No More 561205 Over Hill And Man In Black Hat.mp3
      23. Sleep No More 561212 Three Oclock.mp3
      24. Sleep No More 561219 Storm.mp3
      25. Sleep No More 561226 Death Of Olivia Bicai Fishhead.mp3
      26. Sleep No More 570123 10 I Am Waiting Browdean Farm.mp3
      27. Sleep No More 570130 11 Jilting Of Granny Weatherall Escape.mp3
      28. Sleep No More 570206 Banquos Chair And Coward.mp3
      29. Sleep No More 570227 To Build Fire And 3 Skeleton Key.mp3
      30. Sleep No More 570306 14 Thus I Refute Beelzy Bookshop.mp3
      31. Sleep No More 570313 15 Escape Of Mr Trimm.mp3
      32. Sleep No More 570320 16 Woman In Grey Suspicious Gift.mp3
      33. Sleep No More 570403 18 Bet Clerks Quest.mp3
      34. Sleep No More 570410 19 Passenger To Bali.mp3
      35. Sleep No More 570417 Homecoming And Aunt Cassie.mp3
      36. Sleep No More 570424 Evening Strange Orchid.mp3
      37. Story For Tonight 070647 Semi Dramatized Stories.mp3
      38. Story For Tonight 072747 Semi Dramtzd Stories Soul Trapper.mp3
      39. Story For Tonight 470627 Miracle Man.mp3
      40. X Minus One 550605 Perigis Wonderful Dolls.mp3
      41. X Minus One 570627 100 Category Inventor.mp3
      42. X Minus One 570829 Volpla.mp3
      43. X Minus One 571031 Lulu.mp3
      44. You Are There 491127 82 Tom Thumb.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    44 recordings on 21 Audio CDs
    total playtime 19 hours, 10 min

    Nelson Olmsted Disc A001

    1. Story For Tonight 070647 Semi Dramatized Stories
    2. Story For Tonight 072747 Semi Dramtzd Stories Soul Trapper

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A002

    1. American Gallery Afrs 000000 02 Man Nobody Liked
    2. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 400807 Lone Journey

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A003

    1. Authors Playhouse 410305 Elementals
    2. Nelson Olmsted Playhouse 460725 Elementals

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Nelson Olmsted Disc A004

    1. Lights Out 460824 008 Signal Man
    2. Story For Tonight 470627 Miracle Man

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A005

    1. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470806 Mrs Sabin
    2. American Novels 470808 Luck Of Roaring Camp
    3. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470813 Souvenir

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A006

    1. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470820 Night
    2. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 470925 Car We Had To Push
    3. Nelson Olmsteds Short Stories 471014 Seed Of Destruction

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A007

    1. Radio City Playhouse 481115 15 First And Last
    2. You Are There 491127 82 Tom Thumb

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A008

    1. Dimension X 510114 Martian Death March
    2. Cavalcade Of America 521216 Barbed Wire Christmas

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A009

    1. Chase 530111 Professor Calvin And Voice
    2. My Son Jeep 530201 02 Afrs Jeep Has Measles

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Nelson Olmsted Disc A010

    1. Chase 530621 Monster
    2. Crime And Peter Chambers 540622 Cafe Tropical Bruce Eldridge

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A011

    1. Inheritance 541114 Nancy Hanks
    2. X Minus One 550605 Perigis Wonderful Dolls

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Nelson Olmsted Disc A012

    1. Sleep No More 561121 Conquerors Isle
    2. Sleep No More 561128 Mr Mergenthwirkers Lobblies August Heat

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Nelson Olmsted Disc A013

    1. Sleep No More 561205 Over Hill And Man In Black Hat
    2. Sleep No More 561212 Three Oclock

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Nelson Olmsted Disc A014

    1. Sleep No More 561219 Storm
    2. Sleep No More 561226 Death Of Olivia Bicai Fishhead

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A015

    1. Sleep No More 570123 10 I Am Waiting Browdean Farm
    2. Sleep No More 570130 11 Jilting Of Granny Weatherall Escape

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A016

    1. Sleep No More 570206 Banquos Chair And Coward
    2. Sleep No More 570227 To Build Fire And 3 Skeleton Key

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A017

    1. Sleep No More 570306 14 Thus I Refute Beelzy Bookshop
    2. Sleep No More 570313 15 Escape Of Mr Trimm

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A018

    1. Sleep No More 570320 16 Woman In Grey Suspicious Gift
    2. Sleep No More 570403 18 Bet Clerks Quest

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A019

    1. Sleep No More 570410 19 Passenger To Bali
    2. Sleep No More 570417 Homecoming And Aunt Cassie

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    Nelson Olmsted Disc A020

    1. Sleep No More 570424 Evening Strange Orchid
    2. X Minus One 570627 100 Category Inventor
    3. X Minus One 570829 Volpla

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Nelson Olmsted Disc A021

    1. X Minus One 571031 Lulu

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