Martha Wentworth “Terror Tales by the Old Sea Hag” (Liberty, LST 7025, 1959)

Martha Wentworth had a long and varied acting career ’til her death in 1974, and she created the character of the Old Sea Hag specifically for this album (along with writer Robert P. Hamilton). The liner notes tell the story like this:

“…the Old Sea Hag, Mariah Halkins, [comes] from a combination of two unrelated and different personalities. One, a person of unknown age and origin, was encountered by Miss Wentworth on the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts many years ago, the other was drawn from a study of William Shakespeare’s immortal comedies. Her dedication to the plays and poetry of the incomparable bard prompted her to transpose many of his characters into the simpler terms of modern drama. The Old Sea Hag has now become a composite of all the electrifying eccentrics the world over… an ancient woman of the sea whose beginnings are relegated to the frothy oceans of conjecture.”

Falling somewhere between an old radio drama and a one-woman show, the six stories here are heavily loaded with sound effects and are pretty evocative if not always overly terrifying. From “Mariah Halkins’s” dedication on the cover:

” ‘TERROR TALES!’ is dedicated to all who seek a new thrill in entertainment… (And a new thrill in stereo sound). It is for all hosts and hostesses who seek a different pleasure for their guests… (And for themselves). It is dedicated to all persons whose bedrooms are inhabited by friendly ghosts… (And who can’t sleep at night anyway). It is dedicated to the entertainment of people — (To all who savor a frightening story uniquely told). ‘TERROR TALES!’, friend, is dedicated to you!!!”

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