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Les Misérables (radio series)

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Les Misérables is a seven-part radio series broadcast July 23 – September 3, 1937 (Fridays at 10 p.m. ET), on the Mutual Network.[1][2] Orson Welles adapted Victor Hugo's novel, directed the series and starred as Jean Valjean. The 22-year-old Welles developed the idea of telling stories with first-person narration on the series, which was his first job as a writer-director for radio.[3]:338

Les Misérables
Remastered release of Les Misérables (Smithsonian Historical Performances, 1995)
Genre Drama series
Running time 30 minutes
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
Home station Mutual Broadcasting System
Hosted by Orson Welles
Starring Orson Welles
Martin Gabel
Alice Frost
Virginia Nicolson
Written by Orson Welles (adaptation)
Victor Hugo (novel)
Directed by Orson Welles
Original release July 23, 1937 – September 3, 1937
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 7

Marking the radio debut of the Mercury Theatre, Welles's Les Misérables was described by biographer Simon Callow as "one of his earliest, finest and most serious achievements on radio".[4] The production costarred Martin Gabel as Javert, Alice Frost as Fantine, and Virginia Nicolson, Welles's first wife, as the adult Cosette. The supporting cast included Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane, Betty Garde, Hiram Sherman, Frank Readick, Richard Widmark, Richard Wilson and William Alland.[3]:338


Orson Welles while acting in and directing the Mutual Radio presentation of Les Miserables (1937)
# Date Episode Cast
1 July 23, 1937 "The Bishop" Orson Welles (Jean Valjean), Alan Devitt (Judge), Agnes Moorehead (Old Woman, Madame Magloire), Frank Readick (Bishop of Digne), others[5]:15
2 July 30, 1937 "Javert" Hiram Sherman (Letter Deliverer, Factory Official, Idler who torments Fantine), Betty Garde (Favourite), Alice Frost (Fantine), Agnes Moorehead (Marguerite), Ray Collins (Traveling Dentist, Fauchelevent), Martin Gabel (Inspector Javert), Orson Welles (Jean Valjean [Monsieur Madeleine])[5]:16
3 August 6, 1937 "The Trial" William Johnstone (Bishop of Digne, Prosecutor), Hiram Sherman (Man who announces Javert, Judicial Clerk), Orson Welles (Jean Valjean [Monsieur Madeleine], Champmathieu), Martin Gabel (Inspector Javert), Alice Frost (Fantine), Adelaide Klein (Nun), Ray Collins (Judge), others; Milton Katims, musical director[5]:17
4 August 13, 1937 "Cosette" William Johnstone (Judge, Second Inn Customer), Orson Welles (Jean Valjean), Martin Gabel (Inspector Javert), Ray Collins (Thenardier), Agnes Moorehead (Madame Thenardier) Hiram Sherman (First Inn Customer), Estelle Levy (Cosette)[5]:17
5 August 20, 1937 "The Grave" William Johnstone (Police Officer, Marius Pontmercy), Everett Sloane (Police Lieutenant, Gyribier the Gravedigger), Ray Collins (Fauchelevent), Orson Welles (Jean Valjean), Estelle Levy (Cosette at age eight), Peggy Allen (Prioress), Hiram Sherman (Priest at the Grave), Virginia Nicolson (Older Cosette), Martin Gabel (Inspector Javert)[5]:18
6 August 27, 1937 "The Barricade" Martin Gabel (Inspector Javert), Orson Welles (Jean Valjean), Virginia Nicolson (Cosette), Ray Collins (Police Officer, First Policeman), William Johnstone (Marius Pontmercy), Hiram Sherman (First Revolutionary, Second Policeman), others[5]:19
7 September 3, 1937 "The Final Episode" William Johnstone (Marius Pontmercy, Prosecutor), Orson Welles (Jean Valjean, Prisoner accused of being Jean Valjean), Ray Collins (Judge who sentences Valjean, Judge at Arras), Hiram Sherman ("Guilty!", Police Officer, Third Judge), Frank Readick (Bishop of Digne)[5]:20


  1. ^ Hickerson, Jay (December 1992). The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide to All Circulating Shows. Hamden, Connecticut: Jay Hickerson, Box 4321, Hamden, CT 06514. p. 232.
  2. ^ "Radio Programs Scheduled for this Week". The New York Times. July 25, 1937. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  3. ^ a b Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
  4. ^ Callow, Simon (2006). Orson Welles: Hello Americans. New York: Viking Penguin. p. 160. ISBN 0-670-87256-3.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Dawson, Michael (1995). Les Misérables (Audio CD). Smithsonian Historical Performances. Schiller Park, Illinois: Radio Spirits, Inc. OCLC 32582886.

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