The Norths lived a normal life in Greenwich Village. Everyday, Mr. North went to work as a book publisher, while Mrs. North stayed home and enjoyed her cats. However, when the bodies started appearing in close proximity to the couple, Mrs. North was determined to uncover the truth and catch the killer. Even if this meant she had to drag Mr. North into the web of intrigue.
Mr. and Mrs. North first appeared in print during the 1930’s. Created and written by Richard Lockridge, the couple first debuted in the New York Sun. Later Lockridge revived the couple in a series of short stories that ran in The New Yorker. Originally, the Norths were just ordinary people dealing with the difficulties of domestic life, until Lockridge joined forces with his wife, Frances. Together, the couple redefined the Norths and transformed them into amateur sleuths. The novel, The Norths Meet Murder published in 1940 was an overnight success.
The success of the novel led to a weekly old time radio series. Sponsored by the Woodbury Soap company, the program premiered as a continuous weekly detective series in December 1942 on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network. Joseph Curtain and Alice Frost played the couple from 1942 to 1953. in 1953, Barbara Britton and Richard Denning assumed the roles of the Norths and continued to portray them until the series ended in 1955. During its long production, the show moved to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) network during July 1947.
The show’s popularity and success was credited to its portrayal of the values that were important to the 1940’s American audience. Although she was a homemaker, Mrs. North was always treated as an equal, but complimentary partner in the marriage. She also conveyed the message that women could be just as intelligent, or more so than their male counterparts. Unlike the male dominated detective series of the time, the Lockridges preferred to let Mrs. North solve the crime. Perhaps, this was a reflection of their own long marriage and their successful careers.
By 1963, the Lockridges had authored a total of 26 Mr. and Mrs. North novels. The death of Frances Lockridge signaled the end of the series. The popularity of the stories also led to a Broadway play that was produced in 1941, a film featuring Gracie Allen as Mrs. North in 1942 and a Mr. & Mrs. North Television Series beginning in 1946. It is said that the 1980’s television show, Hart to Hart was an adaptation of the Mr. and Mrs. North series.
You can enjoy an episode of Mr. and Mrs. North in the Opera Murder at: