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O'Toole from Moscow


o'toole from moscow ccm
Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
(L-R) Chandler Bates, Jack Steiner, Lucas Prizant, Frankie Chuter, Matt Fox, Anne Serling, Austin James Cleri, Cameron Nalley and Dustin Parsons

91.7 WVXU and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music joined forces, led by our Media Beat blogger John Kiesewetter, to coproduce and present the radio adaptation of O'Toole From Moscow, a Rod Serling comedy about confusion between Russians and the Cincinnati Reds at the height of the "Red Scare."

CCM students recorded the radio play, which was directed by Richard Hess, CCM professor of acting and directing, in Cincinnati Public Radio's Corbett Studio. Rod Serling’s daughter, Anne Serling, came to town and serves as the play’s narrator. 

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John Kiesewetter interview with Anne Serling

Rod Serling's "O'Toole From Moscow" aired only once, in a live one-hour television broadcast on "NBC Matinee Theatre" at 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, 1955. It was not filmed or recorded. Chuck Connors – best known as TV's "The Rifleman" (1958-63) after a brief career with the Chicago Cubs (1951) – starred as the Russian security officer who ended up playing outfield for the Cincinnati Reds. The cast also included John Banner (later known as Sergeant Schultz on "Hogan's Heroes") and Baseball Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher as the Reds manager.

Serling knew a lot about Cincinnati and the Reds. He started his career at Cincinnati's WLW TV/Radio in 1950, after graduating from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He lived in Cincinnati until fall of 1954, the year Reds slugger Ted Kluszewski led the Major Leagues with 49 home runs and 141 runs batted in.

In Serling's script, a Russian consulate staffer named Mushnick is being sent back from New York to Moscow for re-education because of his high absenteeism due to attending Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field. So Mushnick and a muscular naive Russian security officer named Joseph Bishofsky hop a train and go west as far as their money will take them – to Cincinnati.

Bishofsky panics in Cincinnati and goes to the Reds office and turns himself in to a bewildered general manager. Mushnick bursts in to explain that Joseph – whom he calls "Joseph O'Toole" – is an outfielder wanting a tryout. The Reds give O'Toole a shot, and he ends up being a better slugger than Kluszewski – until the Russians find him.

"O'Toole From Moscow" is a production of Cincinnati Public Radio in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Matt Fox
Jack Steiner
Lucas Prizant
Chandler Bates
Frankie Chuter
Cameron Nalley
Dustin Parsons
Austin James Cleri

Narrator: Anne Serling

Director: Richard Hess
Dialect and Vocal Coach: Sammi Grant
Executive Producer: Richard Eiswerth
Producer: John Kiesewetter, who also adapted the script for radio.
Recording Engineer: Josh Elstro

Special Thanks to Reds organist John Schutte.