Unsolved Mysteries: Show History

Broadcast History:

First Telecast: September 14, 1988 (as a regular NBC series)
Last Telecast: August 13, 1999 (as a regular CBS series)

Sep 1988-Sep 1994, NBC Wed 8:00-9:00
Sep 1994, NBC Sun 7:00-8:00
Oct 1994-Sep 1997, NBC Fri 8:00-9:00
Apr 1998-May 1998, CBS Fri 9:00-10:00
Jul 1998-Aug 1998, CBS Fri 9:00-10:00
Apr 1999-Aug 1999, CBS Fri 9:00-10:00
Jul 2001-Sep 2002, Lifetime Mon-Fri 8:00-9:00
Oct 2008-present, Spike TV and Lifetime - Various Times (175 repackaged episodes)


Robert Stack
Virginia Madsen (1999)

Dennis Farina (2008-present)


Keely Shaye Smith (1995-1997)


Main Title Theme by Michael Boyd and Gary Remal Malkin
Lifetime Theme and Music by Gary Remal Malkin and Dan Alvarez

Order the Theme on CD:

Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 7: Cable Ready

  • Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 7: Cable Ready

    The long original Unsolved Mysteries theme can be found on this cd (a total of 65 tv themes), click below for information on how to purchase it:


    Series Summary:

    This unassuming documentary series was one of the most popular reality programs of the late 1980s and the inspiration for dozens of network and syndicated imitators. It began with a single special on the night of January 20, 1987, in which host Raymond Burr looked at four real-life mysteries: a Wyoming man found dead under mysterious circumstances three years after he disappeared from home; a 72-year-old Detroit woman who claimed to be the Siamese twin of a member of the Dodge auto family, separated at birth and put up for adoption, and now heir to the family fortune; the professional murder of a Tulsa executive at his country club; and two especially dangerous bank robbers who were then at large.

    The special was so successful that six more were produced during 1987 and early 1988, the first two hosted by Karl Malden and the rest by Robert Stack.

    Then in the fall of 1988, Unsolved Mysteries became a weekly series. In addition to investigating baffling crimes, the series reunited missing persons, sought the heirs to unclaimed fortunes, and looked into persistent legends and even UFO sightings. Reenactments were routinely used, and the stories were produced as mini-dramas, usually three or four in an hour. In one episode the producers staged an elaborate re-creation of the famous 1962 escape attempt from Alcatraz prison, to determine if the escapees, who were never found, might have survived the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay. (They probably didn't.)

    An 800 number was provided for viewers to call in clues, and by the end of the eighth season the show claimed to have been responsible for 87 reunions, the capture of 140 fugitives, and the solving of 250 cases (updated 2001: approximately 40% of the fugitives profiled on the series since its premiere have been apprehended; in addition, the show has been responsible for 93 reunions and has solved nearly 300 cases to date). About forty percent of all wanted fugitives who were profiled were captured. Viewers might have wondered if there were enough cases to keep Unsolved Mysteries and all its imitators going. "If you read the F.B.I. Uniform Crime Report," said producer John Cosgrove, "I think there are 6,000 unsolved murders every year. There's certainly not a lack of cases to choose from."

    CBS aired an Unsolved Mysteries special two months after its NBC cancellation, and brought the series back for two short runs the following spring and summer. When it surfaced again in Spring 1999, Virginia Madsen had been added as Stack's cohost.

    In 2001 and 2002 Lifetime, which had been airing reruns of Unsolved Mysteries for many years, produced dozens of new stories, which were intermixed with the older stories to create "partially new" episodes; in addition, updates were added describing recent developments in some of the unsolved cases. Robert Stack, by then in his eighties, returned with his trench coat and sepulchral voice to do new introductions, which looked and sounded little different from those he had done more than a decade earlier.

    In October 2008, the show began airing on Spike TV with entirely new graphics, special effects, music and title sequences, along with new narration and host stand-ups by Dennis Farina. They will broadcast 175 episodes.

    Series summary from The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present

    The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present

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