|BIOGRAPHY - ROBERT ARTHUR, JR.|
Robert Arthur at work in 1940
Robert Arthur was born on November 10, 1909, at Fort Mills, Corregidor Island, the Philippines, where his father, Robert Arthur, Sr., then a lieutenant in the United States Army, was stationed. His mother was Sarah Fee Arthur, formerly of New Orleans. Arthur's childhood was spent moving, as his father was transferred from army base to army base. Arthur and his younger brother John Arthur, born in 1914, were educated in the public schools of Hull, Massachusetts, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Leavenworth, Kansas, and Hampton, VA. While his father was stationed at Fort Monroe in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Arthur attended Hampton High School, where he was elected President of the Senior Class.
Although he gained entrance to West Point, Arthur decided against following his father into the military, and instead enrolled at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia in the fall of 1926. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where Arthur had lived for some years when his father had been a Professor of Military Science and Tactics in the ROTC program there. Arthur graduated from the University of Michigan in 1930 with a B.A. in English with Distinction. After working as an editor at one of the Munsey Publications, he returned to the University of Michigan where he received his M.A. in Journalism in 1932.
He then moved to New York City, where he lived in Greenwich Village in a walk-up apartment. During this time, he began writing stories for publication in pulp magazines. Between his graduation from Michigan in 1930 and 1940, his stories were published in Wonder Stories, Detective Fiction Weekly, Mystery, The Illustrated Detective Magazine, Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, Amazing Stories, The Shadow, Street & Smith Mystery Reader, Detective Tales, Thrilling Detective, Double Detective, Startling Stories, Collier's, The Phantom Detective, Argosy Weekly, Unknown Worlds, and Black Mask.
In addition, during this time, Arthur worked as a writer and editor for pulp western, fact detective, and screen magazines for Dell Publishing, and was associate editor of Photo-Story, a picture magazine published by Fawcett Publications. More significantly, he conceived and edited Pocket Detective Magazine for Street and Smith, the first pocket-sized, all-fiction magazine, in which several of his stories were published. In February 1938, he was married for the first time to Susan Smith Cleveland, a radio soap opera actress, from whom he was divorced in 1940. In 1940 he met the woman who to become his second wife, Joan Vaczek, in a class on the short story he took from Whit Burnet at Columbia University.
That same year Arthur also took a class at Columbia University in radio writing, in which class he met his future writing partner, David Kogan, with whom he eventually wrote and produced his own radio show, The Mysterious Traveler, which aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1944 until 1953, and which won the Edgar Allen Poe award for Best Mystery Radio Show of the Year in 1952 by the Mystery Writers of America. The Mysterious Traveler also aired as the retitled Adventure into Fear, and from 1948 to 1951 Arthur and Kogan also produced Dark Destiny, a dramatic TV series.
In December of 1946 Arthur and Vaczek were married, and moved to Sharon, Connecticut and later Yorktown Heights, New York, where they had two children Robert Andrew Arthur (b 1948) and Elizabeth Ann Arthur (b. 1953) In 1953, because of Arthur's involvement, and the involvement of his partner David Kogan, in the Radio Writer's Guild, The Mysterious Traveler was abruptly canceled. WOR and the Mutual Broadcasting System, during the McCarthy era, believed that the RWG was leading writers, in the words of Kogan, "down the path to Moscow." Arthur's career as a writer for radio came to an end. Before it ended, however, he wrote and produced over five hundred radio scripts for his two shows as well as for other shows such as The Shadow and Nick Carter. After 1952, Arthur worked as a co-producer for the radio show Mystery Time. He continued, as well, to publish stories in the pulps.
In 1959, after his divorce from Joan Vaczek, Arthur moved to Hollywood where he worked in television. He wrote scripts for The Twilight Zone, and he worked as a story editor and script writer for Alfred Hitchcock's TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1962 he moved back from Hollywood to Cape May, New Jersey where he lived with his father's aunt Margaret Fisher Arthur until his death in 1969. Because of his association with Hitchcock, Arthur was, during this period, approached by Random House to edit a series of literary anthologies which would capitalize on Hitchcock's popularity. Arthur ghost-edited a number of Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthologies which included AHP: Stories For Late At Night, (1961); AHP: Stories My Mother Never Told Me, (1963); AHP: Stories Not For The Nervous, (1965); AHP: Stories That Scared Even Me, (1967); AHP: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do On TV, (1968).
Simultaneously, Arthur was involved in editing a series of anthologies for younger readers, Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful, (1961); Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery, (1962); Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum, (1965); Alfred Hitchcock's Sinister Spies, (1966); and Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbinders in Suspense, (1967). He also edited, under his own name, Davy Jones Haunted Locker, (1965); Spies and More Spies, (1967); and Thrillers and More Thrillers,(1968). Collections of Arthur's own short stories were brought out by Random House as Ghosts and More Ghosts published in 196 and Mystery and More Mystery, published in 1966.
In 1964, Arthur also published the first of a series of mystery books for young readers, originally entitled The Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators series. Later the Hitchcock name was dropped. Before his death, Arthur wrote ten Three Investigators books: The Secret of Terror Castle, The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot, The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy, The Mystery of the Green Ghost, The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure, The Secret of Skeleton Island, The Mystery of the Fiery Eye, The Mystery of the Silver Spider, The Mystery of the Screaming Clock, and The Mystery of the Talking Skull. After Arthur's death, The Three Investigators series was continued by other writers, and before the series was terminated in the United States in the early 1990's, there were a total of forty-three books in the Three Investigators series proper, and eleven books in a spin-off series called Crimebusters. Arthur died in Philadelphia, PA, on May 2, 1969, at the age of fifty-nine.