Heartbeat Theater (1956 - 1985) was the last live, regularly scheduled radio drama produced in Hollywood. The first one was produced in December of 1955 and released in March, 1956. I think Preston Foster was in the first one. Raymond Burr did some, Greer Garson--everyone's done a 'Heartbeat' at one time or another. All sorts of famous people appeared on the show.
The Salvation Army saved "Heartbeat" in 1977 with its plan to update sound effects and dramatize social issues. After the 1977 transformation, Hills' new "Heartbeat Theater" wallowed in prostitution, incest and homosexuality with the regularity of a 1980s TV sitcom. At one point, Hills had to discourage an overenthusiastic would-be TV writer from submitting "Heartbeat" plays with a Kojak-like Salvation Army captain climaxing final acts by chasing down villains in a squad car.
The final show, featuring Daws Butler and hosted by "Days of Our Lives" soap-opera doctor MacDonald Carey, was taped Oct. 10, 1985 at Studio House in Hollywood, just after producers George Galbraith and Don Hills got word that the Salvation Army had written them out of their 1985 budget.
Hills, who cranked out 52 morality tales a year for the show, said the Salvation Army spent half its annual media budget on keeping the half-hour drama alive for the 500 U.S. radio stations on the "Heartbeat" distribution list.
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