The radio debut of Dunninger the Mentalist in September 1943 created quite a sensation - never before had there been anything like it broadcast on the radio.
The star of the series was Joseph Dunninger, also known as The Amazing Dunninger, and he was one of the most famous and proficient mentalists of all time, a pioneer performer of magic on radio and television, who used his apparent extra-sensory perception to read people's minds.
Born in New York City, as a child his abilities were already being recognised, when he began performing on the vaudeville circuit as Master Joseph Dunninger, Child Magician.
He performed for many famous people throughout the years, but some of the more notable are Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Houdini, and the author of The Shadow, Walter Gibson, who supposedly was so inspired by Dunninger's performances he added some of the qualities to the character in his novels.
As radio became more popular, Joseph Dunninger was given his own radio show, Dunninger the Mentalist, which The Blue Network began broadcasting on September 12th 1943. It was an immediate success, but with that came the non-believers...
The Blue Network sold the program at the end of the year, and the first Kemtone Hour program was premiered on January 5th 1944, but it had a slight change to the format. With this latest series, three well respected celebrity guest panelists (or judges) were added to the mix to try and counter the sceptics. These included a New York Supreme Court judge, politicians, editors, actors, entertainers and military men and women, who all took part in the show, and swore by it's authenticity.
To dispel any rumors of deceipt, Dunninger even offered a $10,000 award to anyone who could prove that he used accomplices or "stooges" in his shows. No-one ever claimed the prize.
Joseph Dunninger's career spanned seven decades, and he wrote several books about his talents, some of which you can still pick up on Amazon.com.
Why not listen to the first couple of shows on RUSC yourself. I'd love to know what you think? Do you believe there was trickery involved?
Happy listening my friends,