Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Hitchcock Project-Sarett Rudley Part Seven: The Diamond Necklace [4.20] and Wrapup

by Jack Seabrook

Claude Rains as Andrew Thurgood
Sarett Rudley's final teleplay for Alfred Hitchcock Presents was "The Diamond Necklace," which aired on CBS on Sunday, February 22, 1959. Unlike the other episodes she wrote, this one was an original teleplay, not based on anyone else's work, and it ends with an unexpectedly modern, feminist twist!

Andrew Thurgood represents the third generation of Thurgoods to serve as loyal employees at Maynard & Co. Jewelers; he has been employed for 37 years and looks forward to retirement in three years. One Monday morning, he is called into the office of young George Maynard, the latest in his family to own and run the store, and told that the venerable institution will be renovated along modern lines--three stories high, with a ramp going up and display cases from which customers may select their own jewels. Unfortunately, Andrew, the aging and loyal employee, does not fit the new look of the store, and his boss informs him that he will be retiring early--in five days, as a matter of fact.

Betsy von Furstenberg as Thelma Thurgood
pretending to be Mrs. Rudell

In the week that follows, Thurgood sells jewelry to his regular customers at a rapid clip, impressing Maynard with his devotion and skill. Come Friday, when Maynard suggests that Thurgood leave early, the salesman refuses, and his boss goes out to lunch. Just then, a fashionable young woman in a full-length fur coat and a large hat asks Thurgood to show her an expensive diamond necklace, telling him that she wants her husband to buy it for her to celebrate their anniversary. The necklace costs $181,500 and the woman asks Thurgood to bring it to her home, where her husband, psychiatrist Dr. Anton Rudell, has his office.

Alan Hewitt as George Maynard
Thurgood does as he is told, visiting Mrs. Rudell at her home and handling her the necklace, which she takes into another room. When Dr. Rudell emerges and Thurgood informs him of the impending purchase, the doctor angrily summons his wife Jessica, who looks nothing like the woman who has disappeared with the valuable piece of jewelry! Back at Maynard's, Thurgood is distraught, but his employer is sanguine, since the necklace is insured. Maynard comments that the theft was "'obviously done by a master criminal'" and it seems that there have been two prior thefts in the 117 years that the store has been open.

Stephen Bekassy as Dr. Rudell
Thurgood goes home and meets his daughter, who is revealed to have been the thief! They congratulate each other on a job well done, and Thurgood tells her that he is following in the family tradition of robbing Maynard's just once in his career, as did his father and his grandfather. Unfortunately, Thelma cannot follow in the family tradition, due to her gender, lamenting that "'I can't help being a girl.'" George Maynard unexpectedly appears at the door and, though Andrew fears that his former employer has discovered his deception, the boss is only there to hand Andrew his bonus and gold watch, two valuable items he forgot to take in his distress.

Andrew introduces Maynard to his daughter Thelma and is surprised when the store owner invites her to report to work on Monday morning, "'breaking a Maynard rule.'" Maynard remarks with pride that "'the Thurgood tradition will go on.'"

Selmer Jackson as Henry
Herschel Daugherty directs "The Diamond Necklace" smoothly, keeping the action moving swiftly from start to finish. Claude Rains gives another marvelous performance as Thurgood, his personality a mix of pride and subservience, at once both the loyal employee and the third in a series of familial thieves. Rains is completely believable as the jewelry salesman, while Betsy von Furstenberg, as his daughter, is less convincing in her portrayal of a young woman pretending to be a wealthy wife with a foreign accent. Alan Hewitt plays George Maynard, who has inherited a jewelry store and who at first seems callous in dismissing his long-time employee. At the end, however, he displays an unanticipatedly modern attitude when he asks Thelma to be the store's first female employee. With this surprise twist, Rudley gives the story a feminist flavor that is in line with several of the female characters in her earlier teleplays.

Herschel Daugherty (1910-1993) directed 27 episodes of the Hitchcock TV show and 16 episodes of Thriller in a career that lasted from 1952 to 1975, almost exclusively on TV. Among the other episodes he directed are "Summer Shade" and "The Star Juror."

Dorothea Lord as
Mrs. Rudell

Born in London, Claude Rains (1889-1967) was the son of a stage actor. He emigrated to America in 1913 but went back to Europe to fight for England in WWI. After the war ended, he acted on the London stage before returning to the United States, where he began working on Broadway in 1926. A film career followed, from 1933 to 1965, and his many great films included The Invisible Man (1933), The Wolf Man (1941), Casablanca (1942), and Hitchcock's Notorious (1946). He was in five episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Horse Player." He won a Tony in 1951 for Darkness at Noon and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Betsy von Furstenberg (1931-2015) was born Countess Elizabeth Caroline Maria Agatha Felicitas Therese von Furstenberg-Herdringer in Germany and moved to New York City as a child to study ballet. A teen model, she acted on Broadway from 1951 to 1976 and on screen, mostly on TV, from 1951 to 1983. She was in one other episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The role of George Maynard is played by Alan Hewitt (1915-1986), who was on Broadway from 1935 to 1957 and on screen from 1954 to 1978. He was in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "Invitation to an Accident."

In smaller roles:
  • Stephen Bekassy (1907-1995) as Dr. Rudell; born Bekassy Istvan in Hungary, his film career lasted from 1930 to 1937 in that country, then from 1945 to 1964 in the U.S. This was his only appearance on the Hitchcock show.
  • Selmer Jackson (1888-1971) as Henry, the security guard; he often played small, uncredited roles in film or on TV from 1921 to 1963. He appeared in Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) and was in six episodes of the Hitchcock show; his last credited role was in "Starring the Defense."
  • Peter Walker (1927- ) as one of the young jewelry store clerks; he was on screen from 1952 to 2000, appeared on The Twilight Zone and Thriller, and was seen in two other episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "Invitation to an Accident," with Alan Hewitt.
  • Norman DuPont (1927-2021) as the other jewelry store clerk; his screen career lasted from 1952 to 1976, and then he spent many years managing hotels. This was his only appearance on the Hitchcock show.
  • Dorothea Lord (1920-2000) as the real Mrs. Rudell; she had a short career on TV, from 1958 to 1962, but managed to appear in seven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "No Pain."
Peter Walker and Norman DuPont as the clerks

Watch "The Diamond Necklace" online here or order the DVD here. Read the GenreSnaps review here.


"The Diamond Necklace." Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 4, episode 20, CBS, 22 Feb. 1959.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001. IMDb,

"Norman E. Dupont Obituary: Honolulu Star." Advertiser,

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation,

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Sarett Rudley on Alfred Hitchcock Presents: An Overview and Episode Guide

Sarett Rudley wrote nine teleplays for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, starting with her adaptation of "The Baby Sitter," toward the end of season one, where she changes the main character's motivation and expands the story unsuccessfully. Of her five scripts for season two, the first, "Mr. Blanchard's Secret," is the weakest; like "The Baby Sitter," there is an over-reliance on voiceover narration and, despite having Hitchcock behind the camera, the episode is a talky failure.

"My Brother, Richard" isn't much better; this adaptation of a radio play sets up interesting parallels between the two men at its center yet fails to deliver satisfying dramatic action. "The Cream of the Jest," adapted from a short story by Fredric Brown, is better than the episodes that preceded it, yet once again Rudley's changes to the story's ending are not as good as the source. Another unsatisfying ending mars "The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater," a show that mixes murder and humor and features a terrific cast.

Rudley finally found her feet with "A Man Greatly Beloved," adapting an A.A. Milne short story and opening it up to take it in a different and entertaining direction. "The Young One" is based on an unpublished story by Phillip S. Goodman and Sandy Sax, so it's not possible to compare the source with what ends up on the small screen, but Rudley's script is strong and, buoyed by Robert Altman's direction and Carol Lynley's excellent performance, the episode is a success. "Bull in a China Shop" is one of Rudley's best half hours, as she improves on C.B. Gilford's short story, mixing murder and humor in a story so effective that Gilford used aspects of it when he revised his own short story as a stage play.

Finally, "The Diamond Necklace," Rudley's sole contribution to the show's fourth season and her last script to be broadcast, is an original effort that features theft but no murder, with a light touch and a satisfying ending. Sarett Rudley may not have written the best group of episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but she wrote some good ones and, along with Marian Cockrell, she was one of the few women to write multiple scripts for the series in the latter half of the 1950s.


Episode title-"The Baby Sitter" [1.32]

Broadcast date-6 May 1956
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "The Baby Sitter" by Emily Neff
First print appearance-Cosmopolitan, May 1953
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"The Baby Sitter"

Episode title-"Mr. Blanchard's Secret" [2.13]
Broadcast date-23 Dec. 1956
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "Mr. Blanchard's Secret" by Emily Neff
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, June 1978
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"Mr. Blanchard's Secret"

Episode title-"My Brother, Richard" [2.17]
Broadcast date-20 Jan. 1957
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "Turnabout" by Jay Bennett
First print appearance-none; broadcast on radio on Suspense on 24 Jan. 1960
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"My Brother, Richard"

Episode title-"The Cream of the Jest" [2.24]
Broadcast date-10 March 1957
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "Last Curtain" by Fredric Brown
First print appearance-New Detective, July 1949
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"The Cream of the Jest"

Episode title-"The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater" [2.30]                                                                          
Broadcast date-21 April 1957
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater" by A.A. Milne
First print appearance-Cosmopolitan, April 1949
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater"

Episode title-"A Man Greatly Beloved" [2.33]
Broadcast date-12 May 1957
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "Greatly Beloved" by A.A. Milne
First print appearance-Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1950
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"A Man Greatly Beloved"

Episode title-"The Young One" [3.9]
Broadcast date-1 Dec. 1957
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on an unpublished story by Phillip S. Goodman and Sandy Sax
First print appearance-none
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"The Young One"

Episode title-"Bull in a China Shop" [3.26]
Broadcast date-30 March 1958
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on "Bull in a China Shop" by C.B. Gilford
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Sept. 1957
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"Bull in a China Shop"

Episode title-"The Diamond Necklace" [4.20]
Broadcast date-22 Feb. 1959
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

"The Diamond Necklace"

Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "None Are So Blind" here!

Listen to Annie and Kathryn discuss "Dead Weight" here!

In two weeks: Our coverage of Victor Wolfson begins with "The Perfect Murder," starring Hurd Hatfield and Mildred Natwick!

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