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The Campbell Playhouse (1938-40) was a CBS radio drama series directed by and starring Orson Welles. Produced by John Houseman, it was a sponsored continuation of the Mercury Theatre on the Air.
As a direct result of the front-page headlines Welles generated with his Halloween, 1938 production War of the Worlds production, Campbell's Soup signed on as his sponsor. The Campbell Playhouse began December 9, 1938, offering 60-minute adaptations of classic plays and novels, plus some adaptations of popular motion pictures.
The same creative staff stayed on, but the show had a different flavor under sponsorship. This was partially due to a guest star policy which relegated the Mercury Players to supporting roles. There was a growing schism between Welles, still reaping the rewards of his Halloween night notoriety, and Houseman, who became more like an employee than a partner. The primary writer, as during the unsponsored run, was Howard Koch.
Productions included Rebecca (featuring an interview with Daphne du Maurier), A Christmas Carol (broadcast once with Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge, and once with Orson Welles himself in the role), a non-musical version of Show Boat (with Margaret Sullavan as Magnolia, Orson Welles as Cap'n Andy, Helen Morgan as Julie, and authoress Edna Ferber herself as Parthy), A Farewell to Arms (with Katharine Hepburn), Mutiny on the Bounty, Arrowsmith (with Helen Hayes), Les Miserables (with Walter Huston), Our Town, Ah, Wilderness, Dodsworth, Lost Horizon (with Ronald Colman), Dinner at Eight (with Hedda Hopper and Lucille Ball) and Huckleberry Finn (with Jackie Cooper).
When Welles left the series in 1940 to begin his film work, Houseman stayed as producer for the final season, and the focus shifted to more obscure fare, still with casts drawn from the ranks of film actors. The writer during this final season was Wyllis Cooper (he and Campbell announcer Ernest Chappell would go on to create Quiet, Please) .
The final broadcast of The Campbell Playhouse was on June 13, 1941.