And although I've never been a particular fan of Boone, a few years ago I saw a PBS documentary about his television show, and I was mightily impressed. He was only 23 when The Pat Boone Chevy Show started in 1957 on ABC, not only the youngest person ever to host a network variety show, but undoubtedly younger than most of his guests. He was still a student at Columbia when it started. Yet for all that, the clips from the series show a very mature, poised young man, totally at ease in front of the camera, completely comfortable with his famous guests. As I say, particularly when you compare him to today's celebrities, he cuts a very impressive figure.
It comes as no surprise when you read this week's issue, in which Boone's business savvy is apparent. He's already turned down three series offers, two because they were sponsored by tobacco companies, one because the sponsor was a brewery. Boone, of course, neither smokes or drinks, and he's sensitive to the influence he might have on his young viewers, so it's no surprise that his ABC contract, which will pay him $1 million over five years, gives him approval over sponsors.
He's also sensitive to the debt he owes Arthur Godfrey, on whose show he's been a regular since 1955. So deep is his loyalty to the Old Redhead that he refused guests spots with Steve Allen and Perry Como because the shows would air on networks other than Godfrey's CBS. Even though he wasn't under contract to either Godfrey or CBS, "why should I go on another network and maybe help that show to draw a bigger rating than CBS?" It takes ABC's offer of his own show to pull Boone away from CBS, and though Godfrey publicly praises it, in private he urges Boone to wait, saying he won't be ready for his own show for "another five or six years." With respect, I think Arthur Godfrey was wrong on that one.
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There's a charming profile of the charming French soprano Lily Pons, star of the Metropolitan Opera, and a recent guest on Perry Como's program. "Before a con-zairt, I stay in bed all day. I do not even speak upon the telephone. But for The Perry Como Show I re-harse all week. Eet was a miracle that I am in marvelous voice."
The Met has never really seen a soprano quite like Lily Pons before. The typical sopranos are, in the words of the article, "elephants." Miss Pons, on the other hand, stands 5 feet, ½ inch tall and weighs a mere 109 pounds. " 'I was the first,' she said, indicating a portion of her anatomy sometimes called a midriff, 'to appear from 'ere to 'ere - all nek-keed!" Despite her fame, Lily has no desire to go into television full-time - "Eev I do TV, I can do only TV; no opera, no con-zairt. One cannot do TV and be on hanything else" - but if she did, she envisions a version of Your Hit Parade only with classical music.
It's a pity Lily Pons isn't better remembered today. Even among opera buffs, her fame has faded as the Met has moved away from the repertoire that showed off her high coloratura. But if she had perhaps been born a few years later, when she could have made even more use of television, she might have become as famous as Roberta Peters, the all-time recordholder for appearances with Ed Sullivan. She did the Sullivan show, though, many times, as well as her appearances on The Perry Como Show, Your Show of Shows, The Jimmy Durante Show, Person to Person, What's My Line? and This Is Your Life. There are also the memories of her famed performances at the Met as Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, and here's a clip of her performing another of her standards, "The Bell Song" from Delibes' Lakme.
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One of the hallmarks of the Golden Age is the drama anthology. They were one of the prestige offerings on early television, attracting many actors and actresses who would go on to great fame in movies and television, names like Charlton Heston, James Dean, Elizabeth Montgomery, Charles Bronson and Lee Remick, and the shows spawned directors from John Frankenheimer and Franklin Schaffner to George Roy Hill and Sidney Lumet.
You'll also notice a lot of big names in the shows, though: those, like Robert Montgomery, who've retreated from the big screen and now work in production or hosting, with only occasional forays into acting; or those whose box office presence has faded over time; or those still at the top of their game who've been lured to television by the promise of an exceptional script or, more often, a nice payday and exposure for their next big-screen presentation.
By 1957, the glory days of the live anthology program are themselves beginning to fade; the advent of video tape and the consequent ability to improve the technical quality of the production has contributed to a shift away from live programming in many cases. There's also a feeling among some sponsors that consistent star appeal - having the same leads in the program every week - are more effective vehicles at attracting viewers - and, therefore, selling the sponsor's product. Nonetheless, as you see below, there are still plenty of them on the air. You'll also notice that in many cases, the sponsor's name is part of the title - either obviously, as in the case of Kraft Television Theatre, or more obliquely (meaning that it's not part of the title shown in TV Guide), as with Westinghouse Studio One. Either way, let's see what was on this week, among shows both prominent and little-known.
Saturday's lineup is dominated by sitcoms and variety shows, so we'll kickoff our look at anthologies on Sunday with CBS' long-running G.E. Theater, featuring one of those big names we talked about, Oscar winner Bette Davis, starring as a jilted novelist plotting revenge on the publisher who rejected her book in "With Malice Toward One." That's followed by the droll Alfred Hitchcock Presents, with Casablanca's Captain Louis Renault, Claude Rains, in "The Cream of the Jest."* Finally, The Loretta Young Show (NBC) has Vivica Lindfors (whom we'll see again later in the week) and Herbert Marshall, but not Loretta herself, in "Louise," the story of a woman trying to outrun her memories of World War II. There's also ABC's Omnibus, which isn't strictly speaking a drama anthology but occasionally dips into the genre, as it does tonight with "The Trial of Captain Kidd," starring Victor Jory.
*Fun fact: The Nazi target in Casablanca, freedom fighter Victor Laszlo (the one who escapes with Ingrid Bergman) is played by Paul Henreid, who directed many episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents - not, alas, this one.
Monday night features two of those prestige dramas - Robert Montgomery Presents, on NBC, has "Last Train to Kildevil," a domestic drama starring Martha Scott and David White, while CBS' legendary Studio One offers the Abby Mann*-written drama "A Child Is Waiting," starring Mary Fickett and Pat Hingle. And I don't know - should we count NBC's Voice of Firestone, which is, after all, a musical anthology? It started on radio in 1928 and survived on television until 1963. I say we count it - tenor Brian Sullivan is tonight's guest.
*Fun fact: Abby Mann won an Oscar for the screenplay to Judgment at Nuremberg, and was the creator of the cop drama Kojak.
A trio of programs finish off Tuesday night, starting with NBC's The Jane Wyman Show. The Oscar winner and former wife of G.E. Theater host Ronald Reagan stars in as well as hosts "The Pendulum," which also features Bat Masterson star Gene Barry. That's followed by The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, which ran for only one season despite attracting stars such as Paul Newman, Ralph Bellamy and Kim Hunter. Tonight, Richard Kiley, June Lockhart and Larry Gates are in "The Story of a Crime." Finally, there's ABC's Du Pont Theatre, which began on radio in 1935 as "Cavalcade of America." Tonight's story is "One Day at a Time," the story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, with James Daly as Bill W.
|SOURCE ALL: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
*Perhaps its most famous presentation was Rod Serling's "Patterns," which catapulted Serling to fame.
On Friday Schlitz Playhouse (CBS), another of the half-hour dramas of the genre, gives us Oscar-winner Ray Milland directing and starring in "The Girl in the Grass." It's preceded on CBS by Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, with another Oscar winner, Dean Jagger, starring along with John Derek* in the revenge tale "There Were Four."
*Fun Fact: John Derek is, at the time, married to future Bond girl Ursula Andress. He'll go on to marry Bo Derek and Linda Evans, though not at the same time.
And that's not even all of them. There are other series, such as West Point, The Joseph Cotten Show, Navy Log and Studio 57 (sponsored by Heinz, of course), and shows that function as virtual anthologies because of their concentration on the characters played by guest stars - Gunsmoke, for example, especially in its later years. Not all of them were hits, nor were the prestige shows always good. They were, however, an essential part of early television. Contemporary shows such as True Detective put a spin on the old formula by using an entire season, rather than one episode, to tell the story, then changing the cast entirely for the next season. It would, though, be nice if the public were attracted to prestige dramas once again.
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*It's helpful to recall that in January of 1958, 13% of American households still lacked even one television. In June of 1955, less than two years before this issue of TV Guide was published, that figure was 33%.
Let's take a look at the two pictured at right: the first being strawberries glacé in caramel rings, weighing in (sic) at approximately 400 calories per serving.
Our next recipe is for tiger parfait, approximately 275 calories per serving.
My suggestion: try this out tonight by inviting some friends over to watch a movie from your DVD collection. Serve these to them for dessert, and let us know how things turn out!