The program "[g]enerally ... featured straight and crime drama," radio historian John Dunning wrote. He noted that one of the directors was William Spier, who "had directed Suspense in its salad days and brought to The Philip Morris Playhouse the same slick production" that was used in Suspense.
Philip Morris Playhouse was broadcast on CBS June 30, 1939 – February 18, 1944, then returned to the air (again on CBS) November 5, 1948 – July 29, 1949. The 1948 edition replaced a giveaway show, Everybody Wins. Its third and final incarnation on radio was a bit more complicated, as explained on The Digital Deli Too website:
The emerging popularity of between three and five other popular playhouse formats of the early 1950s persuaded Philip Morris to resurrect its Philip Morris Playhouse a third time as Phillip Morris Playhouse On Broadway, beginning with its initial CBS run on March 15, 1951. Emphasizing Broadway productions, the subsequent series ran over CBS for twenty-six installments, only to jump to NBC on September 11, 1951. The series ran on NBC for the remainder of 1951, jumping back to CBS on January 13, 1952. CBS aired the remainder of the canon through September 2, 1953.
In 1951, a trade publication reported that the program's annual budget was $1 million.
Philip Morris Playhouse evolved from an earlier radio program, Johnny Presents, which featured both music and a dramatic segment in each episode. That program's name referred to Johnny Roventini (sometimes known as "Little Johnny"), a midget bellhop who made famous the advertising slogan "Call for Philip Morris." In 1939, the segments were separated to create two programs, a musical show featuring Johnny Green on NBC and the drama-oriented Philip Morris Playhouse on CBS.
A newspaper article published when the show resumed in 1948 summarized its format as it replaced a giveaway show, saying, "Instead of a carload full of prizes, the listeners will get big-name Hollywood and Broadway stars in a weekly series based mostly on original scripts of a crime-mystery nature with a strong psychological element."
The program did not have a regular cast, relying instead on guest actors and actresses from week to week. In the words of a 1949 article in Sponsor magazine, "Playhouse uses name stars." Those featured during its time on the air compose a virtual Who's Who of entertainment. Sylvia Sidney, Claude Rains, Eddie Cantor, Tallulah Bankhead, Burgess Meredith, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett, Franchot Tone, Raymond Massey, Pat O'Brien, Brian Donlevy and George Raft are but a sample of the overall list.
With stars changing from week to week, responsibility for the quality and success of Philip Morris Playhouse lay largely in the hands of its director. For most of the program's run, that director was William Spier, who a 1949 magazine article said "is generally rated radio's top-notch creator of suspense-type dramas." Spier's dedication to quality was such that he took a recorder along on a vacation in Europe. After he returned, a magazine article reported, "He's come back with a batch of authentic sound effects for future use, among them the chimes of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the roar of [an English] Channel storm and the characteristic sounds of European trains.
Includes 10 Episodes!
The Philip Morris Playhouse 490311 - The Lady from the Sea.mp3
The Philip Morris Playhouse 490401 - Apology.mp3
The Philip Morris Playhouse 490513 - Four Hours to Kill.mp3
The Philip Morris Playhouse 490729 - The Iron Man.mp3
The Philip Morris Playhouse 510918 - The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse.mp3
The Philip Morris Playhouse 530819 - The Night has a Thousand Eyes.mp3
The Phillip Morris Playhouse 410525 - Dead End .mp3
The Phillip Morris Playhouse 490225 - Leona's Room .mp3
The Phillip Morris Playhouse 500506 - Murder Needs An Artist .mp3
The Phillip Morris Playhouse xxxxxx - The Lady from the Sea .mp3