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The Dead House


In a visit with the evening caretaker of a morgue in a town in Germany, Twain hears a morbid story of how a man exacted revenge on the people who murdered his family.



Air Dates

  • First Run - December 29, 1978
  • Repeat - July 10, 1979





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12 Responses to Episode 0937

MARK TWAIN SERIES: CBS Radio Mystery Theater produced a total of eleven adaptations from Mark Twain's works for the show; nine were written by Sam Dann with Ian Martin writing only two. [0119] The Real Printer's Devil [0408] Tom Sawyer, Detective [0409] Is He Living or Is He Dead? [0410] The Belated Russian Passport [0411] A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court [0412] The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg [0413] The Stolen White Elephant [0414] The Mysterious Stranger [0937] The Dead House [0984] A Curious Experience [1002] The Goddess Caper** The show always tried to kick off each new year of their Anniversary (in early January) with a weeklong series written by the same author, and so Sam Dann wrote episodes 408 through 414 to launch the start of their third season. **1002 was based on “The Legend of the Capitoline Venus”

Mark Main

This is a most excellent story. Well acted, and well adapted. Highly recommended!


(Semi spoiler) This is not a Mark Twain story that you want to listen to to be uplifted by (i.e. the Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn tales.) In this last show of the fine 1978 season, Robert Dryden plays a middle-aged Twain who was in Munich, Germany on some kind of (U.S. government?) business. He speaks in slightly halted German (listening to Dryden playing Missourian Twain speaking this language was a treat as the man made the whole character sound quite authentic) and meets up with a woman who wants him to meet her dying lodger. Curiously, in this nation a third of a world away from where Samuel Clemens was then living (Connecticut) the man he meets asks him if he knows where Marianna, Arkansas is, and says that the two were "neighbors" of sorts (with only about 350 miles separating them "as the crow flies") when Twain was in Missouri. The dying man, between wheezes, wants to make sure that Twain will return to the Mississippi River which ran by both of their former hometowns, as he has a special favor to ask as a dying man. The tale he tells is quite sad, and eventually involves a "dead house", where corpses awaiting burial have a ring put on their finger which is tied to a bell to ring in the event they should somehow re-awaken. Very powerful double entendre in the story title.

Matthew Meatre

YEAH! What a great classic!

Papa Don

Thanks for this one - I had no idea than Clemens had written it.

Christine Moya

Yes, this is drawn from a single chapter in "Life on the Mississippi". Twain wrote the book in late-middle age, when he was well known. The overall structure of the book is a tavelogue from the high reachs of the Mississippi all the way to New Orleans. In a sense, Twain is on a trip of nostalgia. But the book can (and does) serve just as well today as a guidebook to anyone who wants to trace the course of the river. (I've done it.) The chapter which has this tale is one of the many asides/digressions that he indulges in. You perhaps wouldn't know it from this story, but the book is also full of the wit and humor which is such a defining characteristic of most of Twain's work. Highly recommended!!

Dawn Elliot

I think this takes place in Marianna, Arkansas, county see of Lee County, which was at one point I believe the poorest county in the Mississippi Delta area of that state.


This was the first NPR Rebroadcast I ever heard. Top Notch all the way. A truly virtuoso performance by Bob Dryden. I think it's easy to under appreciate his performances as he is such a natural talent seamlessly transitioning from one character to another and creating so many powerful voices and invoking so many different images it's hard to believe it's just one actor. The ending to this tale has one of the all time best twists in the series (Thank You Mark Twain). The final confrontation between the two antagonists is absolutely chilling-- as is the mental image created by the not-yet-dead man struggling in his bandages. Very well done! Great Selection!!! Until Next Time.....................................

Lourd D.

I love the fact that this episode largely consisted of one character telling a story, which was very absorbing. A well constructed story. Mark Twain is in some ways the quintessential American celebrity/artist and it is interesting to see how often Twain pops up in books, films, radio dramas, Disney exhibits, etc. I can't think of another writer who occupies the same place in American culture, except for possibly Hemingway.

Mr. LeMay

A good story all the way through, very enjoyable; and the acting is very good as well.


This is by far one of the TOP TEN very best CBSRMT episodes! An exceptional adaptation of a Mark Twain tale! Also, this story has one of the greatest "twists" at the end, that no listener would EVER guess? Sit back, listen and ENJOY!!!

Eric Templeton

Thanks Mark Twain. Thanks CBSRMT. Lastly, thanks to those who bring this series to us. People don’t know what they’re missing if they’ve never listened to radio drama.


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