Phil's Old Radios Stars In A Movie!

In late summer, 1999, I was contacted by a production company making a TV movie for CBS. Starring John Ritter and Marg Helgenberger, the plot would involve one of the characters researching old radio parts—specifically, selenium rectifiers—on the Internet. My website would appear on screen as the source of the crucial information. It sounded like fun, so I signed a release form and gave permission to use my site in the movie.

The movie, titled "Lethal Vows," was broadcast on CBS television on October 14, 1999. It has since been rebroadcast on cable TV many times, and can still be purchased on DVD.

Below are a few scenes from the movie, showing how Phil's Old Radios website played a critical role in solving a murder.

At his wife's funeral, John Ritter is confronted by ex-wife Marg Helgenberger. She is suspicious about the circumstances of his wife's death.

John lies about an investigation into the cause of death, claiming that no poisons or suspicious substances were found during the autopsy.


Marg searches the garage for clues.

Uh-oh, what's this . . . a pile of old radios? (John is a doctor, not a radio buff.)


This radio happens to fall off the pile. Something about it looks familiar.

A few years after the movie appeared, I bought a radio just like this one, a Philips BX135U.

Under the radio is a peculiar looking orange part.
"Where have I seen one of these before?"
Marg will later learn that the peculiar orange part is a selenium rectifier, used in radio power supplies during the 1950s.

Later that night, Marg has a flashback. She remembers a time before their divorce, when she wakened in the middle of the night.

Noticing a light in the garage, she discovered John working quietly at a bench full of radio equipment. Notice the Philips radio sitting on his workbench.

Marg continues to watch as John scrapes material from a piece of a selenium rectifier onto a sheet of paper.
He pours the powdery scrapings into a container.
The container is a bottle of her shampoo!!
A selenium rectifier sitting in front of the bottle leaves no doubt as to the origin of the poison.
John dips her mascara brush into the poisonous powder, then reinserts it in her mascara bottle.
Surprised by a slight noise, John notices Marg. With a guilty look on his face, he asks her if she is feeling all right.
We cut back to Marg's house. Suspicions enflamed, she enlists the help of her teenage daughter to do some research on the Internet.

As every surfer knows, Phil's Old Radios is a great place to look for answers! The producers made some cosmetic changes, simplifying the look of the website's home page at the time.

Ironically, this looks much like our original design, used back in 1995 when the website contained little more than a photo gallery.


"That's the one!" Marg spots the radio which she found in the garage.

Again, here's the little Philips radio.

Since I didn't own such a radio at the time, the movie designers obviously found that photo somewhere else.

"Let's look for a part like this one." Marg holds up the selenium rectifier.
The parts list for the radio includes a blueish tube . . .

. . . and this tube.

(That radio actually uses modern all-glass tubes rather than these much older type tubes, a bit of poetic license on the moviemaker's part.)

"That's it!" Let's see what the caption says.

Marg has identified the radio part as the source of poisonous selenium.

(Notice the Captain Midnight background in this shot—formerly used as a screen background on our home page.)


"Selenium!" Marg makes the connection and becomes convinced that her ex-husband murdered his wife.

Ironically, as you can read in my Philips BX135U article, that radio doesn't actually contain a selenium rectifier. Oh well, that's Hollywood!

Marg races to the police station . . .
Where she accuses John of murder. Justice eventually prevails, thanks to Phil's Old Radios, and John gets what is coming to him.

It was quite a thrill to see my website on television. As far as I know, this is the only radio website ever shown so prominently in a feature movie.

©1995-2024 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved