The "Campbell Playhouse" was an American radio drama series that aired from 1938 to 1940, known for its high production values and adaptation of literary classics, popular novels, and Broadway...

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The "Campbell Playhouse" was an American radio drama series that aired from 1938 to 1940, known for its high production values and adaptation of literary classics, popular novels, and Broadway hits. The show was a direct successor to "The Mercury Theatre on the Air," both of which were directed by Orson Welles and produced by John Houseman.

Initially, "The Mercury Theatre on the Air" had no sponsor, but following the enormous success and public attention from the infamous 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, the Campbell Soup Company offered sponsorship, thus renaming the show to "The Campbell Playhouse." This sponsorship allowed the series to continue and afforded it a larger budget.

Orson Welles served as the show's host, director, and star, bringing to life a wide range of characters and stories. The series was known for its ambitious adaptations, which included works by Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, and many others. Notable episodes included adaptations of "A Christmas Carol," "The Count of Monte Cristo," and "Jane Eyre," among others. The show often featured guest stars from Hollywood and Broadway, adding to its allure and quality.

The format of the program typically involved a brief introduction by Welles, followed by the play adaptation, and often concluded with a discussion between Welles and one of the stars of the evening's episode, sometimes including comments on the story or performances.

Despite its quality and star power, "The Campbell Playhouse" struggled with maintaining a large audience, partly due to competition from other radio programs and the changing tastes of the American public. In 1940, after two seasons, Orson Welles left the show, which marked the end of "The Campbell Playhouse." However, its legacy as a pioneering and artistically ambitious radio drama series remains significant in the history of American radio and the career of Orson Welles.

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