July 7, 2021

At Home with Earl Wrightson

I'm on vacation this week, a fact which should interest absolutely none of you, but eventually vacations end, and you find yourself back home. And speaking of home (how's that for a segue?), here's a look at the 15-minute weekly music program At Home with Earl Wrightson. From the description:

At Home was a 15 minute program hosted by singer Earl Wrightson that aired under different titles on ABC and CBS from 1948 to 1951.

True, that's about as bare-bones a description as you could ask for, but then, there's not much more to say. Earl Wrightson hosts from a cozy living room-type of set, sings a couple of songs (with a pleasing baritone voice), and introduces a guest who also sings a song or two; then they do a duet, and that's it. Simple, but effective.

Earl Wrightson was a singer and actor from the 1940s through 1980; he was never an A-lister (his only starring role on Broadway was a short-lived bomb), but he was a familiar face on television and in summer stock (frequently performing with his "intimate" friend, Lois Hunt), and recorded dozens of records during his long career. Earl's performance as host on At Home is comfortable and smooth.

The 15-minute television program, usually a soap opera or musical variety show, was a staple of television's first two decades. At Home, like most of the quarter-hour non-soapers*, shared the half-hour with the 15-minute network news. Eventually, networks turned that time over to their local affiliates, signaling the end of these shows; the last regularly scheduled 15-minute network programs were, I think, the soap operas The Guiding Light and Search for Tomorrow, which didn't expand to a half-hour until September of 1968. 

*Eddie Fisher, Dinah Shore, Andy Williams, and Perry Como were among those who hosted such shows through the years.

Today's program is from the show's run on CBS; it originally aired on January 18, 1950, and Earl's guest is the popular singer Marguerite Piazza. The bandleader is Norman Paris, who would later serve the same function on I've Got a Secret.


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