CBSRMT Episode Information Next Episode


The Thirty-Sixth Man


A storekeeper is selected to be the next 'Lahmed Vovnik'. This is a notion rooted within the more mystical beliefs of Hebrew legends declaring that there are only 36 people who are fit to inhabit this world. The devil sets out to influence this Thirty Sixth Man.



Air Dates

  • First Run - November 14, 1974
  • Repeat - January 3, 1975
  • Repeat - July 22, 1979





139     20

45 Responses to Episode 0174

Nice story but the premise is so odd..and that's not even including the idea that a wife could ever understand her husband!


Why was the wife such a horrible shrew, until the very end when a man fixed her? (And why are all the handful of good people men?) Oh, right. Sam Dann wrote this. That explains it.


The very best episode of the series. I still remember it to this day, and why I cherished it so much. Ross Martin was, and still is, under-rated as an actor.


This episode was about a guy with REAL problems: no money, dead end job, and a nagging wife (the latter being the most stressful). Harry had a chance to make a wish on anything in the world--anything that was selfish--and he wished that his wife would understand him. Wouldn't we all wish that our spouses would understand us. I felt bad for Harry in this episode; he was such a nice guy and was married to an ogre of a wife. The episode was standard Mystery Theater.

Davy Joe

There must be 36 saintly men in the world or it will be destroyed. Satan tries to change the newest one. Based on a Yiddish legend of the Lamed Wufniks, 36 people whose purity of heart dissuades an angry God from destroying the world.


I thought this was interesting too. I'm not sure whether this episode depicts correct Jewish doctrine or not. Hopefully someone familiar with Judaism can help to clarify whether this is accurate or is something of a legend. From a Christian perpective, and believing that the Messiah has already come, the New Testament tells us in Romans, Chapter 3, "For it is written, There is none righteous, not even one", that "all have sinned and come short of God's glory", and that our redemption comes only through faith in Christ. "For it is written" in verse 10 is generally thought to point to Psalms 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3 where the Psalmist seems to say the same about the righteousness of man. I'm not trying to preach to anyone, but telling what the New Testament says about the possibility of man's righteousness, and the provision for our justification, and how that relates to Old Testament teaching. It was an enjoyable episode, though, and makes you think a little.

James Franco

Thanks for the references, those are great. For this episode, I gathered that this is more about Hebrew/Jewish mysticism, not necessarily anything related specifically to the Torah. Maybe more like "folklore" perhaps. Well, anyway...this was all new to me and I enjoyed learning.

Mark Herras

RMT had featured a number of obnoxious wives and something about the wife in this episode has always made me wish she was struck by a bolt of lightning. I love the variety of RMT and fact that the writers were able to maintain a high level of quality despite churning out a number of shows.

Kat Azana

I've always loved this episode! The gentle, self-effacing demeanor of the lead is endearing. And the silly bungling behavior of the dark forces is hillarious. With all deference to Wadenjulie, I don't think it's legitimate to critique Jewish understandings using the NEW testament, anymore than it would be to critique Christian faith using only the Koran. Or put another way, it's precisely as legitimate.


I love Harry....Awesome episode...There's hope after all :)


Last year I watched the tv series "Touch." It reminded me of this CMT episode a lot! The writers seemed to have drawn from this story, at least in part.

Susie Q.

Although I have listened to "The 36th Man" before, I will listen again and post my comments in a day or two. I may get to it today but it is unlikely with today's schedule that I will be able to do any listening.

Philip V.

The reason I say that is that this whole program makes sense to me and is easy to understand. Some programs are somewhat confusing and I find myself listening to passages over and over to try and understand what is happening. That is not the case here. To me, The 36th Man is a very creative and unique story. Sometimes I listen to these programs while I am working on projects around the house. At times I find my mind wandering and starting to think about other things. Again, not the case here. This program is riveting and it is nearly impossible to think of anything else while listening. The acting is superb and this comes together as the complete package to me. I would say that this is one of the best CBSRMT programs that I have ever heard and if I were introducing someone to the program, this would be one of the first programs I would play for them. The pace is constant throughout the program and it reaches a fantastic conclusion. An epic in the world of CBSRMT!


“The CBS Radio Mystery Theater Presents”.....The 36th Man. I like everything about this episode. The story of Harry as a Lahmed Vovnik, written by Sam Dann , is interesting enough. It is unique. There are fun elements, such as the various efforts to tempt Harry who will not be provoked to do something through promises or persuasion but only to do for the betterment of people. There is the heavy consequences of Harry’s failure.....Our demise. His attitude and direction are simple, yet profound...Help people. I found myself liking Harry quite early on, and even envying his ability to be so good. But, I know it is a story, and this alleviates the guilt, and allows for the fun. What is brilliant about this, and many CBSRMT episodes, are the curve balls thrown in the end. The curve ball here of course is Harry’s anger. This anger isn’t just tossed in to add drama. It is, as revealed when his anger and the storm subside, something Harry has had but not acted on. True, he is a thoroughly decent fellow. But he is a fellow, and fellows are human. They are all vulnerable to temptation. He isn’t a shallow character, who finds goodness only because that is all he can do. He turns out to be quite complex. He has made a choice to do so, I think, and it has been a burden. He can’t carry this forever, and he indeed, ultimately, needs his wife’s “ Understanding”. The goodness he has provided has no doubt taught him the value of this action. But being a human, and frustrated and wore down by his wife’s dissatisfaction, we see how even Harry can get ugly. The storm erupts in Harry...and the world. This, interesting enough, is needed before the wife realizes what a wonderful person she is married to. All of her wants turn out to not be worth changing Harry. She now understands the value of Harry, and really as a consequence learns what counts in life. It is a great moment, and Ross Martin at this time highlights a splendid performance. I THINK THE STORY OFFERS A VALUABLE LESSON, THROUGH EXAMPLE AND WITH LISTENING PLEASURE...All of this from a 48 min radio show demonstrates the “why” I love OTR.


This was an excellent episode. The content was deep and thoughtful. It was well acted, well scripted, and well directed. The good versus evil is the most recurring theme through the series, and this was one of the best representation of that theme. Sam Dann was probably the strongest of the writers that Himan Brown had on staff. His stuff could frighten and intrigue like no others. An excellent episode.

Nate Panambers

While many episodes are good, this one never has a dull moment. I burn some in audio format and keep in a binder for repeat listenings.......this one now too!

Dave B.

741114 - The 36th Man Set in the early 1900’s, this tale is based on a Hebrew legend which states that the earth is protected by the lives of 36 human beings whose lives are virtuous. Harry Cohen appears to be a poor businessman and this wife, Ruth, is frustrated by his childlike kindness which prohibits them from getting ahead. When approached by an elderly man, during a torrential rainstorm, Harry accepts the burden of being one of the 36 unblemished souls. He is tempted several times by the Prince of Darkness, his mistress Lilly, and by his wife, but Harry accepts his burden and assumes the role of the 36th man. This program was interesting in that I actually heard myself say, “Oh, wow” when I realized that the 36th man had the responsibility to find his replacement. The story was well written and coherent with just enough characters to make it interesting. The acting was excellent and E.G. Marshall is in rare form with interesting bridges between acts. For the history buffs, Sam Dan weaves the advent of the airplane, the onset of World War I and a silent cameo by Sigmund Freud into the story. Overall, this is a very good story which is firmly grounded in an interesting and thought provoking Hebrew legend.

Kimberly Clarrise

The storm erupts in Harry...and the world. This, interesting enough, is needed before the wife realizes what a wonderful person she is married to. All of her wants turn out to not be worth changing Harry. She now understands the value of Harry, and really as a consequence learns what counts in life. It is a great moment. Yes, I agree this was a good moment in the program. But, would she have come to that realization had he not wished for it? For the history buffs, Sam Dan weaves the advent of the airplane, the onset of World War I and a silent cameo by Sigmund Freud into the story. As the story was set in the first part of the 20th century, this was interesting. Of course, we now know the historical significance of those things but that was an interesting spin to put on it with the devil seeing airplanes as instruments to be used to drop bombs.

Lyndon B.

Hmmm. I think "what" converted her was more important than the fact that her "understanding" was what he wished for. For the story to hold up, and for the meaning to be maintined, she would have to truly change because of the humanity with her. I think his "storm", his falling and uglyness, brought her to change. If supernatural influence is being exercised here, it is in creating the circumstance to bring out his storm, rather than waving a wand over her, to create the change. Her change came about because of the change in Harry......rather than because ( at least directly ) he wished it and it was done for him. Otherwise, his excellent humanity is cheapened and shown to be rather insignificant. Now, were forces woking to make Harry rage direct or indirect.......they seem indirect. We accept as a premise that they exist. But, they rely on Harry, and Harry has a choice. Remember the old man pleading with Harry not to change. He knows Harry is capable of change. This capacity to change is the crux...and fortunately when he does change he gets what he needs, his wife's understaning. With the understanding, the stregnth to go on. If this were to be artificialy created, then I think the story suffers. For it diminishes Harry, and all of us, as people with choices.

N. Osborn

What a wonderful episode! Although my 'repetoire' is very limited to under 20 shows, this easily jumps to the top of my list. All of the elements were first rate - the writing and the acting is a real treat, beautifully directed and it easily sustained my interest from beginning to end. Our hero is instantly likable, and not only because he is such a darn good guy and is full of noble deeds, but his manner and spirit are so upbeat and infectuous. As I was listening, a thought crossed my mind several times, why would someone like our hero be married to such a woman? Not that she was the most despicable person ever born, but definitely a bit of the nag and not always easy on our hero. Ah, but the pay-off when she "understands" during his outburst and his almost "fall from grace" -- she saves him and I realized like in many relationships, the two of them as a team are yin and yang, they are who they are by their union, counter balancing the other and in a way, keeping each other in tow. By the end of the show, their relationship is now redefined -- and although it will be very new for the both of them, I'd wager a much stronger relationship for both. (I'm sure their yin and yang will be fine)! The act two section made me laugh a little (my musical roots are showing) --- it reminded me of "Damn Yankees". In that show, the devil brings to his aid the temptress Lola, who tries seducing our hero only to fail. What struck me funny as well was the prince of darnkess/devil in "The 36th Man" was also played a bit tongue in cheek ala "Damn Yankees" and the similarity of the names of the tempresses of both shows, Lilly and Lola ("Damn Yankees"). From this point on, I could imagine Ray Walston and Gwen Verdon in those two roles!!! Wonderful show!


....and an interesting first post it was. I didn't think of the Damn Yankees twist but I can certainly see the connection now that you've put it on the table.


I just read all the posts here -- fun! I must admit all of the comments regarding the husband and wife are more on the money than my own! I guess we're all in agreement that this a terrific episode. I guess the only thing unanswered for me (small point) is why the author chose to set the story not in the present but early on in the century. I enjoy stories set in different time periods, past and future, but wasn't quite sure why the choice was made here. Was it anything more than the "Prince of Darkness"'s references to airplanes and bombs? I don't know why, but I was half-waiting for some sort of pay off during the show. Oh, I didn't mention before, I love the whole conceit of the Earth being protected and allowed to continue by 36 virtuous men. That got me hook, line and sinker.

Ingrid P.

Why does the story take place in the past? It can provide a reference to us in the here and now of the "evil" forces at work. The Devil in the story relates to us how the future will have planes and bombs that will be beyond what has been seen. Bigger and better distruction. I also suspect that by creating a past-tense story we have a place of more believable innocence. Harry is more believable there.

Roland Abot

i was very happy to hear Ross Martin on cbsrmt. he is one of my favorite actors from the 60s. the idea of the last guy finding his own replacement before he died reminded me of an episode of the ty series the night stalker. i also liked the turn of the century setting. the actress who played Lola sounded familiar too. i was glued to this show. i enjoyed it.

J. Roswell

I remember the Night Stalker very well and recently the BRAVO channel showed several episodes. Darren McGavin was great!

Justin Ralph

darren mcgavin is another one of my favorites. i like the way played the unwilling hero. i also liked him in christmas story. a classic!


It is never to late to add my two cents, right? Ah, the power of the internet. Great episode! I think this episode appeals to me now more than it would have as a child--the relationship aspect would have not interested me. I like the ying/yan interpretation of the importance of the wife. It did make me wonder that such a nice guy would have such a nag as a wife. Then, realize that is the way of life. Nothing is perfect! Thanks for the suggestion and the chance to see others ideas about the show from a while back.


I like this one. I really enjoy these plots based on folklore, great literature and/or religious writings. I loved the main character, Ross Martin is great and I wish he'd been in more CBSRMT episodes. Found much humor with the devil and his seductive sidekick, and, as urged, couldn't stand the wife. Reminded me of someone I once lived with. I'm glad she came around, that was a fortuitous wish he made for her to understand him better.


Reading other's comments I am seeing Darren McGavin's name. I don't have the episode here with me at work, but I'm pretty sure it was Ross Martin and that's who is listed on mousetrap. But I do like McGavin's work and the Christmas Story. You know, I could swear I've heard McGavin on CBSRMT but his name doesn't surface in the mousetrap database.... Why am I thinking I have so recently heard his voice, and on an RMT episode? ..... :?:

Antonel Ross

The mastermind behind the whole Nightstalker concept was Richard Matheson who wrote about a dozen Twilight Zones and some incredible books including What Dreams May Come, I Am Legend, Duel, and The Incredible Shrinking Man. He is Stephen King's idol and that alone makes him impressive.

Jeremy Bushong

I assumed Stephen King was Stephen King's idol. (sarcasm)


This was a very good episode. It's nice to listen to a few Jewish-based stories. I'm not sure about the Satan reference. Satan is not an actual being in the Jewish belief, although a "Satan" is mentioned a few times in conservative prayer books. Instead, there is a belief or reference to yetzer hara or evil inclination. I have always thought that the 36 protect us from yetzer hara - our desire to do wrong. Please listen to this episode. Also, if you have never seen it, watch Men in Black. The movie is a large wink to the 36. (In my opinion)


Love CBSRMT and really loved this episode! I'm a big Ross Martin fan which drew me to this particular episode, and I really enjoyed his performance and the story as a whole for all the reasons already mentioned by previous commenters. I've been hoping to find episodes of his radio show, "The Ross Martin Show" but haven't been successful, so if anyone knows where to find those I would appreciate a tip. :)


I liked this episode with the exception of the ending - when would a wife really understand their husband? That would be like expecting the husband to understand their wife. I'm only joking and I enjoyed the story all the way through. I really liked it at the end when he was talking about changing and his voice changed as well - I could almost picture Ross Martin's face changing as I listened. Leading by example is always the best, not the "do as I say, not as I do" mantra many people use.


I love Dryden as the devil!


This is my most favorite RMT story! Even if the new testament says that none are righteous I recall Noah & Job as OT examples of what is meant by this Hebrew legend! What we do affects those around us! What Adam & Eve did affected all of us! Can we assume our choices also affect the world around us?


This was a really good morality tale, well written well acted episode. So interesting that yesterday's episode was the "Luck Sisters", another morality tale that is the exact opposite of this one. To what extent can people be corrupted- Mystery Theater explores this theme on many occasions, very well. Very interesting too how the episodes chooses to explore the Jewish concept of 'Lamed Vavnik', the minimum number of 36 good people in every generation who keep the world in existence. This is a term that has fallen out of use today, people used to refer to a good person by saying, "He's a real Lamed Vavnik!", the term was also used sarcastically sometimes to refer sardonically to an insincere do-gooder, like, "Oooooh, he's a Reeeal Lamed Vavnik (Rolls eyes)".


One of the best CBSRMT episodes and one of my favorites! I truly enjoy the way the Devil and Lilith are portrayed and I love the humor as they try to seduce Harry, who seems to be incorruptible. Lilith is so funny reacting to Harry when her loose woman act fails to seduce him, LOL! Harry is sickeningly sweet, almost to the point of being nauseating and annoying, but at the same time I can't help but like him. I even like his wife, who is cranky and bitter, but that's because she feels so frustrated by her idealistic husband, who doesn't have any 'real world' smarts. They make her very human and I can actually understand why she would be upset with him a lot of the time when I imagine what it would be like to live in grinding poverty with someone like him. Still, I feel sorry for him because of the way she nags and criticizes him all the time. No matter how nasty she gets, he always tries to make her happy and she doesn't seem to appreciate him, no matter how hard he tries to please her. But in the end when he changes and becomes meaner and more ambitious, she realizes that she really loves him the way he was before and she doesn't want him to be anything other than the sweet, giving man she married. This is a very touching moment and the acting is superb - and not overdone either, which is also a plus. It was an especially nice touch when the storm stops and she says she loves him. It's all perfect timing and the sound effects are used to skillfully enhance the drama and create a very moving scene. The ending always brings tears to my eyes.


One of the best


Wonderfully and spiritually done. Very well written and the audio preservation here is really clean, making it that much more enjoyable.


Shopkeeper Harry Cohen is looked upon with suspicion when he announces that the Lahmed Vovniks have chosen him to take the place of their dying 36th member. Old Jewish legend says that only when there are 36 active Lahmed Vovniks can this sinful world be saved. To prevent Harry’s admission to the group, Satan moves quickly, presenting the kind and humble shopkeeper with a series of worldly temptations.


Such a sweet story!


Okay in my top10! Wonderful episode! Loved the storyline of Satan and his minions just really missing the mark when it comes to a godly man! Then Harry becomes angry, and his whining complaining wife kicks his wish into gear! I love it, Harry is such a sweet guy! Oh to be married to someone so kind and thoughtful! Some things are better than all the riches in the world! Did someone mention Night Stalker?! Great show that was!


Hello, The mini-bio of the man in the photo does not correspond to Robert H. Harris. I have been a fan of his for dozens of years. I don't know which one is in the episode, but the man in the photo has a deep, gruff, almost boxer's or wrestler's voice. Here is the true bio of the man in the photo: Born July 15, 1911 in New York City, New York, USA Died November 30, 1981 in Los Angeles, California, USA (heart attack) Birth Name Jacob Harry Hurwitz Mini Bio (1) Robert H. Harris was born on July 15, 1911 in New York City, New York, USA. He was an actor, known for Valley of the Dolls (1967), Bundle of Joy (1956) and How to Make a Monster (1958). He was married to Viola Harris and Louise Lewis. He died on November 30, 1981 in Los Angeles, California, USA. Thank You.

Phillip G. Owens

A fantastic story. After listening to it last night, I have thought about it often today. That is the definition of a good story.


Leave a comment