Unsolved Mysteries: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Unsolved Mysteries
New logo for unsolved mysteries.jpg
Current logo
Format Crime, drama, mystery
Starring Robert Stack (1987–2003)
Dennis Farina (2008–)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 14
No. of episodes 553 (plus 7 specials)
Running time 44 minutes
Original channel NBC (1987–1997)
CBS (1997–1999)
Lifetime (2001–2002)
Spike (2008–)
Original airing January 20, 1987 – present

Unsolved Mysteries is an American television program, hosted by Robert Stack, from 1987 until his death in 2003, and later by Dennis Farina, starting in 2008. It was broadcast first as specials in 1987, then as a regular series on NBC (1988–1997), CBS (1997–1999), Lifetime (2001–2002), and Spike (2008–).



Unsolved Mysteries uses a documentary format profiling real-life mysteries[1] and features reenactments of unsolved crimes, missing persons, conspiracy theories and unexplained paranormal phenomena (alien abductions, ghosts, UFOs, and "secret history" theories).

The concept of Unsolved Mysteries was created upon a series of three specials produced by John Cosgrove and Terry-Dunn Meurer that they pitched to NBC in 1985 and were shown in 1986 called "Missing... Have You Seen This Person?". The success of the three programs led to Cosgrove and Meurer to broaden the program to include mysteries of all kinds. The pilot of "Unsolved Mysteries" was a special that aired on NBC on January 20, 1987 with Raymond Burr as host/narrator to a rousing success. Six more specials aired with the next two being hosted by Karl Malden and the final four by Robert Stack for the remaining 1987–1988 season.

In 1988, the show became a weekly run series on NBC. The show would lose some its popularity after the 1994–1995 season. Until 1997, The show was hosted by Stack and–during its brief CBS run–co-hosted by Virginia Madsen. Later episodes featured journalist Keely Shaye Smith and television host Lu Hanessian as correspondents in the show's telecenter, from where they provided information on updated stories. Due to failing health, Stack quit hosting the show in 2002 and died a year later. In 2008, Spike revived the series, and it is now hosted by Dennis Farina. The show was known for its eerie theme song and background music composed by Gary Remal Malkin, as well as Stack's unmistakable voice and presence, which became synonymous with the show. The show was known to be very frightening especially during show reruns during the late night hours. In 2008, the theme and music used was changed to an up-beat rock music much to dismay of loyal fans.


Unsolved Mysteries features segments in documentary film style, with actors portraying the victims, perpetrators and witnesses. In most cases, however, victim's family members and police officials are also featured in interview segments that are interspersed throughout the dramatizations. In the earlier episodes, the following message was related to the audience at the beginning of the program:

"This program is about unsolved mysteries. Whenever possible, the actual family members and police officials have participated in recreating the events. What you are about to see is not a news broadcast."

For special episodes, like Mysteries of the Psychic Mind or Mysteries of the Afterlife, the message is:

"This program is about unsolved mysteries. The re-enactments and special effects are actual eyewitness accounts. What you are about to see is not a news broadcast."

Each episode of Unsolved Mysteries usually features three or four segments, each involving a different story. The show's host offers voice over narration for each segment, and appears on-screen to begin and end segments and to offer segues.

While the show was in production, viewers are invited to telephone or write letters. In the new broadcast, the program asks viewers to submit tips through their website or via a toll-free number (800-876-5353) if they have information that might help solve a mystery featured on the show.

Unsolved Mysteries segments, all of which involve actual events, generally fall into one of four categories:

Viewers are given updates on success stories, where suspects were brought to justice and loved ones reunited.

Filming Style

Unsolved Mysteries was shot on medium to high-standard motion picture film from 1987 to 1991. From late 1991 onward the show was filmed with the filmizing process. The segments were shot on videotape and later edited and processed to make it look like it was shot on film.

Cameos and Re-Enactors


With the exception of Burr, Malden and Stack were the only hosts to wear trench coats during their hosting reign. After Stack took over full-time when the program became a weekly run series, he would at various times wear a business suit, a darker trench coat, or outdoor wear depending on the season and/or scenary.

Broadcast history

Former host Robert Stack.

NBC (1987–1997)

The show aired on NBC from 1987 – 1997. It was originally hosted by actor Raymond Burr as a television special. Karl Malden also hosted the show before Robert Stack took over full-time. Unsolved Mysteries was also one of the few prime-time shows of its era to appeal to fans of the supernatural and used effective special effects to enhance tales of the unexplained.

In 1992, NBC aired a short-lived spin-off series called Final Appeal: From the Files of Unsolved Mysteries, with Robert Stack as host also. The premise of this series was to try to give the unjustly accused a final appeal for help. The series was canceled after only a few episodes due to poor ratings.

CBS (1997–1999)

By 1997, however, the show started to lose its audience, and NBC canceled the show. Ratings declined when the program moved from its original Wednesday evening to Friday evening beginning in the Fall 1994 season. When CBS canceled its Block Party line-up with shows such as Family Matters, and Step By Step, CBS moved the show to its 8:00 p.m timeslot. In early 1999, Stack was joined by actress Virginia Madsen for hosting duties in hope to regain ground on the ratings, but to no avail (in later cable reruns, segments originally narrated by Madsen were re-dubbed with Stack's voice). After two years, CBS removed the show from its Friday night lineup.

Lifetime (2001–2002)

Unsolved Mysteries slowly faded, but in 2001, the program regained some popularity with a somewhat new audience, when it was revived on the Lifetime Television cable television network, where new episodes aired sporadically until 2002, usually on weekdays between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. After Stack's death in 2003, old episodes still run in syndication on several television networks (notably Lifetime) in the U.S., Canada, and Australia; but as of August 14, 2006, Unsolved Mysteries switched to airing on Lifetime Real Women, which is mostly on digital cable. In 2007, the show was yanked entirely from the schedule.

During some shows, callers gave tips to the telecenter. When the show aired on NBC and CBS, the number was displayed on the bottom of the screen. When it moved to Lifetime, the number was removed and an address was put in place. Lifetime kept the telecenter segments in the broadcast, despite the fact that this would not make sense to a viewer who had tuned in after the show was taken off NBC and CBS.

Spike TV (2008–)

According to Broadcasting & Cable, in 2007, HBO Distribution announced plans to bring back Unsolved Mysteries when the cable channel Lifetime contract expired in 2008. The show featured a new set, new logo, new music, recaps on old cases, as well as new cases, and a new host, actor, Dennis Farina. The show debuted on Spike on October 13, 2008.[2]

Initially, Spike's airing schedule for the show was sporadic. Some weeks the channel would air a marathon during the daytime hours (11AM-3PM), similar to Lifetime's schedule for the show. But other times the show replaced with a CSI marathon and would only air during late night hours (12AM-4AM).

U.S. television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Unsolved Mysteries.

Note: U.S. network television seasons generally start in late September and end in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Season TV Season Rank Viewers
1 1987–1988 #17 15,729,600
2 1988–1989 #11 16,578,000
3 1989–1990 #16 14,709,800
4 1990–1991 #13 15,196,500
5 1991–1992 #21 13,220,200

DVD releases

First Look Studios released six theme-based DVD sets in Region 1 in 2004/2005. The sets were re-released on June 21, 2005 with a lower suggested retail price. On March 21, 2006, a compilation set called The Best of Unsolved Mysteries was released, which contained selected segments from each of the earlier DVD sets along with some previously unreleased-on-DVD content. A special boxed set featuring the first six sets along with the new content from the Best of collection was also produced.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Volume 1: UFOs 26 September 7, 2004
Volume 2: Ghosts 34 September 14, 2004
Volume 3: Miracles 33 October 26, 2004
Volume 4: Bizarre Murders 32 January 25, 2005
Volume 5: Psychics 28 January 25, 2005
Volume 6: Strange Legends 27 February 15, 2005


External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address