Crime Classics

Crime Classics

This true crime show was of a more historical nature and featured cases from various countries and time periods (though a significant portion were from English speaking countries during the last few centuries). The writers make use of producer Elliott Lewis' extensive library of newspapers and other records of the past to provide script material. Mood was a major factor, and this would be emphasized by having the attitudes, mannerisms, and music of the particular time period. The show ran 1953-1954 and was hosted by Lou Merrill as Thomas Hyland, whose narration lent a darkly humorous tone to the proceedings.

Ali Pasha: A Turkish Delight

The Alsop Family: How It Diminished and Grew Again

In England in 1673, a highwayman and his son are doing well in their life of crime. However, his other son, who is not in the family business due to being a total wuss, has recently gotten married and his bride is overly curious about how his family earns their money.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

The killing of the first U.S. President to be assassinated is examined, as is its oddities, like why a known alcoholic was assigned as his bodyguard and why the papers reported the attempt before it actually happened.

The Assassination of Leon Trotsky

The Axe and the Drute Family: How They Fared

In Pennsylvania at the close of the Eighteenth Century, a couple are disgruntled about the fact that the father of the wife leaves her a measly cut of the inheritance in his will. If her brothers were killed in an innocuous way, she could get the whole fortune. But this proves difficult as they end up possessing luck that borders on the absurd.

Billy Bonnie, Blood Letter: Also Known As "The Kid"

The career of the youthful outlaw of great renown is recounted, starting with his first killing where he knifed a man for making his mother cry.

Blackbeard's Fourteenth Wife: Why She Was No Good for Him

The notorious pirate Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, marries a girl in Nassau who drives him to his greatest fame, as well as to his ultimate doom.

The Bloody, Bloody Banks of Fall River

In 1892, young Lizzie Borden finally snaps under the constant abuse from her obnoxious stepmother and proceeds to inspire a famous rhyme.

The Boorn Brothers and the Hangman: A Study in Nip and Tuck

In Vermont in 1812, a woman is concerned about her eccentric husband and the crazy ideas he’s teaching their son, so she convinces her brothers to do away with him discretely.

Bunny Baumler: His Close Brush with Fame

In Nuremberg in 1820, the resident Village Idiot is sick of being a laughingstock and takes credit for the brutal murder of a beer hall owner and his family.

Cesare Borgia: His Most Difficult Murder

The Checkered Life and Sudden Death of Colonel James Fisk, Junior

In New York City in 1872, a married businessman who has been getting acquainted with a young widow finds out that she’s been doing the same with his best friend. The whole sordid affair escalates into increasingly nasty reprisals.

Coyle and Richardson: Why They Hung in a Swinging Breeze

In 1736, unscrupulous seamen Coyle and Richardson travel between the Old World and New World committing crimes ranging from muggings to mutiny.

The Crime of Bathsheba Spooner, the First Woman to be Tried for Murder in the U.S.

In Massachusetts during the American Revolution, Bathsheba Spooner tires of her much older husband. So she hires two British deserters to knock him off. Audition episode.

The Death of a Baltimore Birdie and Friend

In contemporary Baltimore, a punch drunk boxer and his shifty manager latch onto a thirty-five year old widow in hopes of obtaining the cash and jewels she keeps in her safe.

The Death of a Picture Hanger

In 1882, renowned outlaw Jesse James finally meets his end in a rather ignominious manner.

The Final Day of General Ketchum and How He Died

In 1871, a retired general goes to Baltimore to meet a woman who owes him $2600. Funny how he gets a sudden and acute attack of something or other shortly after accepting a drink from her.

Francisco Pizarro: His Heart on a Golden Knife

The General's Daughter, the Czar's Lieutenant, and the Linen Closet: A Russian Tragedy

In St. Petersburg during the reign of Czar Paul I, a servant bearing a grudge against his master’s daughter reports to him that she has been seeing a man even though she is already betrothed to another.

Good Evening, My Name is Jack the Ripper

The Good Ship Jane: Why She Became Flotsam

In 1821, the new cabin boy of a schooner gets involved with the unsavory elements of the crew and helps knock off the officers and make off with the cargo.

The Hangman and William Palmer: Who Won?

In 1854, a young doctor uses murder to pay for his gambling on horses and has an older senile doctor sign the phony death certificates for him.

How Supan Got the Hook Outside Bombay

In India in 1856, two brothers get to squabbling about who gets the inheritance now that their father is dead since he didn’t bother to write a will. It’s only a matter of time before they both get the idea of knocking off the other.

If a Body Need a Body, Just Call Burke and Hare

In the 1820s, the supply of executed criminals just can't meet the demand for dissecting corpses from Edinburgh's medical schools. So enterprising cobblers Burke and Hare earn extra cash by smothering lower-class nobodies who won't be missed.

The Incredible History of John Shepard

In London in 1722, a young thief makes his way through his life of crime with his ability to charm the ladies and his possession of an unbelievable amount of gall.

The Incredible Trial of Laura D. Fair

James Evans, Fireman: How He Extinguished a Human Torch

In Manchester in 1826, a fireman falls in love with an indentured servant, but her master refuses to let him pay off her indenture. So he seeks alternative means for getting what he desires.

Jean Baptiste Troppmann: Killer of Many

John and Judith, Their Crime, and Why They Didn't Get to Enjoy It

In 17th Century England, a man poisons his wife so that he can marry his housemaid. But just before she dies, a busybody neighbor barges in and is now blackmailing the not so happy couple into poverty.

John Hayes: His Head and How They Were Parted

In 18th Century England, a young woman stuck in an arranged marriage convinces her husband to join the army so she can go see other men. When he makes a surprise visit, she has her paramours lob his head off and toss it into the Thames.

The Killing Story of William Corder and the Farmer's Daughter

The Lethal Habit of Marquise de Brinvilliers

In France during the reign of Louis XIV, the lover of a Marquise is sentenced to three years in the Bastille by her magistrate father for his naughty ways. During this time, he learns much about poisons from his alchemist cellmate and, after his term is over, the lovers put their newly acquired knowledge to use.

Madeline Smith, Maid or Murderess: Which?

In 19th Century Glasgow, a young socialite who has been courted by a Frenchman her parents disapprove of starts seeing a wealthier man who her parents like and is finding her former paramour to be more than a tad pesky.

Note: This case was also adapted on The Black Museum under the title The White Boxes.

Mr. Clarke's Skeleton in Mr. Aram's Closet: The Noise It Made

Mr. Jonathon Jewett: How, Most Peculiarly, He Cheated the Hangman

Mr. Thrower's Hammer

New Hampshire, the Tiger, and Brad Ferguson: What Happened Then

Old Sixtoes: How He Stopped Construction on the B.B.C. and I.

In India in 1880, an elderly native spent most of his fortune to obtain his young wife and is now a rail worker. Little does he realize that one of his co-workers is her paramour and they’re plotting his demise.

Raschi Among the Crocodiles, and the Prank He Played

Robby-Boy Balfour: How He Wrecked a Big Prison's Reputation

Roger Nems: How He, Though Dead, Won the Game

The Seven Layered Arsenic Cake of Madame Lafarge

The Shockingly Peaceful Passing of Thomas Edwin Bartlett, Greengrocer

In 1885, a middle-aged grocer marries a sixteen year old girl who is still attending school. His clueless nature prevents him from noticing the amount of time she spends with a teacher who is much younger and better looking than he is.

The Shrapnelled Body of Charles Drew, Senior

In 1739, a young man kills his wealthy father when he’s told that he has been disinherited due to his associating with the local riff raff. He then runs off to London when his plan for keeping his nose clean goes awry.

The Terrible Deed of John White Webster, and His Crime That Shocked the Nation

In 1849, a Harvard medical professor murders a colleague who got pushy about some money owed and is now trying to locate a good hiding place for the body where no one will look.

The Torment of Henrietta Robinson, and Why She Killed

In Quebec in the 1840s, a young woman with a bizarre attachment to a doll ends up throwing it in the river, causing her mind to snap as a result.

The Triangle on the Round Table

Twenty-Three Knives Against Caesar

In 44 B.C., a group of Roman Senators decide to kill Julius Caesar, who is getting a bit too ambitious for his own good.

Widow McGee and the Three Gypsies: A Vermont Fandango

In 1850, a gypsy from a tribe which had emigrated to Vermont falls in love with a young widow. But this goes against the oath he took for keeping the tribal blood pure, so his fellow oathtakers see to it that he pays for his wayward behavior.

The Younger Brothers: Why Some of Them Grew No Older

Former Quantrill Raider Cole Younger and his brothers lead a life of outlawry in Missouri after the Civil War.

Your Loving Son, Nero

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