Alfred Hitchcock had throughout the years earned his heart-stopping credentials through feature films like: "The Lady Vanishes", "Spellbound", "Notorious", "Strangers on a Train", "Rear Window" and "Dial 'M' for Murder". In 1955, Hitchcock brought his macabre sense of horror and humour to the small screen in form of a black and white anthology series entitled "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".

The series premiered on CBS on Sunday, October 2, 1955 at 9:30 PM. Viewers were greeted with the stout, imminently recognisable silhouette of the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock with the "Funeral March of a Marionette" theme music gently unwinding in the background. Hitchock then introduced, just the first, of many morbid, frightening tales of horror and suspense he had on offer.

These stories always had intricate, unpredictable endings which implied that the villain of the piece got away with it. However, only right at the end, when the viewers were gripped with intolerable suspense, would Hitchock masterfully reveal the unfortunate conclusion of the piece.

Alfred Hitchcock directed approximately 20 out of the 266 half-hour episodes made, including the unforgettable debut episode, "Revenge," in which a traumatized woman leads her husband to take vengeance on the man who assaulted her. As an anthology series, the show also had plenty of room for celebrity guest spots, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents had recognizable faces both from years past, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and from up-and-comers like Robert Redford and Katharine Ross. Some made multiple appearances over the years, like Phyllis Thaxter (eight), Robert H. Harris (eight) and Vertigo co-star Barbara Bel Geddes (four).

Due to it's staggering success, the show was expanded to an hour in 1962, and the title was changed to "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour." There were 93 black-and-white episodes made.

The final new Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes aired in 1988, but the doom-laden pull of the Master of Suspense continues more than 20 years after his death as many of the chilling episodes are still periodically aired across the world.

Sources: GFM project. January 2003 January 2003

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