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A Portrait of Death


A man suddenly achieves the power to become a great painter. But all his subjects seem to meet their ends quite as suddenly. His step brother starts to worry as the man plans to paint his wife in his next session.



Air Dates

  • First Run - April 18, 1974
  • Repeat - July 10, 1974





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22 Responses to Episode 0077

This is a very interesting variant on the theme in that this guy UNKNOWINGLY sells his soul to the Devil, the result of an off-hand figure of speech. Very enjoyable episode. Demon summoning. This is one of the episodes whose recording include the contemporary news report. I always listen to these to get updates on Watergate, and so forth. This one had a blurb about local athlete Bruce Jenner. Jenner, of course, will become very famous in two years when he wins the gold medal in the Olympic Decathlon.


And he wants to be classified as a she in a few decades.


If I were Otis, I would be really worried about just what I inadvertantly did with my soul. Sheesh!


The art may be draining but the intrigue is sustaining.


A painter sells his soul to become a master and it appears his wish has come true, except that all the people for whom he has painted portraits all die. When his love interest's brother, a policeman, starts looking in to his past, he worries for his sibling.

Anna Labanon

Great story. A man who can kill those whom he paints. If this were a modern day, Hollywood production, the United States would have kidnapped this painter and forced him to paint portraits of enemies of America. Subsequently, those enemies would die. I am rambling--my point is that radio shows of the seventies were unique in their simplicity. Otis gave up painting for the love of his wife and others. 4 stars. Also, you gotta love the beginning of this episode where the news brief details the Watergate scandal, the Patty Hearst case, Kansas City school teachers' salary disputes and a short about a little known local boy named Bruce Jenner who at one point in time was the world's greatest athlete and not some schlep married to mama-Kardashien.


Good story about a bad painter. As with others, I really enjoyed hearing about the Watergate scandal as it was happening as well as about Bruce Jenner. I found it interesting in this story that the "just the facts" police officer was more open to something supernatural than anyone else - others may have alluded to it but never went there directly (and for that they thought him mad). I also thought it interesting that part of the "curse" (not that it's said as much) is that neither the painter nor the model seems to be aware of the transformation.


Aside from the episode, I enjoyed the Watergate and Patty Hearst news.

Joe Mama

I remember listening to American Information Radio and hearing these very stories--about Hearst, Watergate, etc.--and hearing them again takes me right back.

Dave A.

I think it's funny that I have to agree with a guy named "Joe Mama"... That's the best you can do? Anyways, the story had a decent concept, but has major holes in it. How can all of the other characters ignore the connection between the finished paintings and their subjects' time of death. His studio would be swarming with homicide investigators until they found something.. The pre-CBSRMT news reports were great.


What is interesting to me is that many episodes with the CBS news broadcast at the beginning include news about Watergate. I was only 10 when Nixon resigned, but was already a junkie and have read nearly every book published on the subject since. Hearing the events as they are happening is just too good to be true.


We must be the same age! My family was on summer vacation. We heard that he had resigned while driving somewhere on the East Coast in the August heat.

Christine K Brouwer

I'm a fan of any version with newscasts since I am a historian and these help supplement my collection of news radio broadcasts. I especially find it interesting when sometimes the newscast is not CBS News at the top of the hour and reflects how in some markets the Mystery Theater did not air on a CBS station due to conflicts. In New York for instance, WCBS, which was an all-news station refused to make room for the program (unlike all-news WBBM in Chicago and KNX in Los Angeles) so the program aired on WOR which for most of the 70s aired Mutual newscasts (hence why many of the WOR recordings have the commentaries by Fulton Lewis, III. These commentaries are rare pieces of radio history themself) I have also found newscasts from ABC Information Radio (ABC at that point had split its radio network into four services aimed at different types of stations; Information, Entertainment, Contemporary and FM) on WDAF-Kansas City recordings from the first months of the Mystery Theater and even in one instance amazingly, an NBC News on The Hour from KFAB-Omaha.


The news items before the show are of particular note and a snapshot of 1974. The subpoena for tapes in the investigation of the Watergate break-in is mentioned. Also the bank robbery by Patricia Hearst occurred just days before. But at the 6:16 mark, the winner of a decathlon in Kansas City and mentioned: Bruce Jenner.

Christine K Brouwer

In fact I have an old audio cassette somewhere that has a news report on it from just after the Tylenol scare (I believe it's from WJML in Petoskey, Michigan). I had been recording a record album on our stereo at the time.Well the turntable turned off once it was done.Then my mom came home when I was gone and turned on the radio.Well the tape player started up once again and ran out the remaining tape.Hence I captured the news report for the day.As you can tell it's an old recording and they are deteriorating so it wouldn't be the best sounding any longer.


I actually liked Goldie Locks and her sugar free diet 7up. There a few diet sodas that actually do taste as good as their regular counterparts. I thought Goldie sounded kind of cute. A little to cheerful, but still kind of cute.


The Consumer Information Catalog commercial where the guy breaks the window to please his wife is another good commercial.


The news items before the show are of particular note. The subpoena for tapes in the investigation of the Watergate break-in is mentioned. Also the bank robbery by Patricia Hearst of occurred just days before. But at the 6:16 mark, the winner of a decathlon in Kansas City and mentioned: Bruce Jenner. Yes, that Bruce Jenner. Who knew, am I right?


Great episode, a twist on the Picture of Dorian Gray. Very captivating, love the characters, especially Burt. Hey someone who can solve the obvious with a brain who of course is accused of being crazy! Really enjoyed the news of the day, a snapshot of the past. Enjoyed the commercials too. Especially learning about voting, all people should be educated on this process. Thanks for those!


I love to sing and dance to the commercials, seems every product made in the 70s had a song to celebrate it with. I remember growing up back then and really loved jumping in bed, setting my radio to WJW am, my parents station and listening to these broadcasts. They do stand up to the test of time well.


My favorite thing about listening to these programs is, they include the old commercials both local to certain areas, and national. I especially love the Budweiser spots. I'm not and never have been a beer drinker, but Budweiser had about the catchiest advertisement tune in advertising history! It brings back some fond memories of my childhood! I was alive when these first came out and it takes me back to 1974 and beyond! That's what I most love about listening to these.

Brian Neal

Why do all these people leaving comments even waste the time to listen to the story? just skip the story and go the commercials and then go to the end and hear the news of the time.


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