Golden Age Of Television Drew Large
From The Local Neighborhood
The first thing you need to know is that there
wasn't much of it. Mostly, in the afternoons and evenings.
The second thing you need to know is that...it was black and white.
Actually, it was various shades of gray. Dithered, sort of.
And, ladies, just think of it, No Remote Control!!!!!!!
The Beginning Of Television
We were enthralled. This beat the heck
outta radio. You became very popular, very quickly if your family had a
Our view of the world around us would forever
be shaped by the images on the television.
The Fifties is known as the Golden Age of Television
in large part because of the variety shows which dominated the early part
of the decade. Variety was to the early Fifties what the Western was to
the late Fifties.
Television variety shows of the period were
just vaudeville on T.V. Most of the performers had honed their comedic
skills on vaudeville stages, and the shows were structured like vaudeville
revues. And, like vaudeville - these were live performances.
Because these programs spotlighted talent from
many sources, they were the ideal springboard for fresh new faces - a place
where the legends of the past gave birth to the stars of the future. Texaco
Star Theatre ('51). Call him Mr. Television or Uncle Miltie - there's
only one Milton Berle. The show opened with these guys dressed like service
station attendants singing "Oh, we're the men from Texaco, we work from
Maine to Mexico." Berle's trademark "shtick" was appearing in drag. This
show ultimately was revamped into the Buick-Berle Show, a toned down and
less successful program.
Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour ('48)
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts ('50) CBS'sanswer
to Ted Mack's Show. New talent would be discovered by "scouts" and although
some were already unknown pros, many got their break here. Among them:
Connie Francis, Al Martino, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, the Diamonds,
Patsy Cline, Roy Clark and Steve Lawrence. But, nobody's perfect. Elvis
Presley and Buddy Holly failed to impress in their auditions and didn't
get on the show.
Your Show of Shows ('50)
Sid Caesar and Imogene Coco were the stars. Carl
Reiner, a regular, would use his experience with Caesar as material for
The Dick Van Dyke Show. The writing staff included young talents such as
Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart (M.A.S.H.).
"Dream Along With Me"... The Perry
Como Show ('50)
Perry Como, Mr. Nice Guy, with the mellow, easy
manner, enjoyed his biggest TV success in '55, when the show moved from
CBS to NBC.
The Colgate Comedy Hour ('50)
Every big name in comedy or music appeared on
this show which presented rotating hosts. Although thought of now as separate
acts, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin were a very hot pair until personality
conflicts broke them up in 1956. Other alternating hosts included Abbott
and Costello, Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope, Donald O'Connor, Eddie Cantor and
Your Hit Parade ('50)
Hosts Andre Baruch and Del Sharbutt showcased
a wide array of enormously talented performers including: Eileen Wilson,
Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins, Sue Bennett, June Valli, Russell Arms,
Gisele MacKenzie, Tommy Leonetti, Jill Corey, Alan Copeland, Virginia Gibson,
The Red Skelton Show ('51)
(Red created numerous characters which he used
in recurring skits. Among these - Freddie the Freeloader and Clem Kadiddlehopper).
The Jack Benny Show ('51)
Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone (Benny's wife). Don
Wilson, Dennis Day and Eddie Anderson as Rochester.
People Are Funny ('53) Art Linkletter.
He did a wonderful bit with children called Kids
Say the Darndest Things which has now been recreated by Bill Cosby.
The George Gobel Show ('54)
The producer/writer Hal Kantor would eventually
be the Executive Producer of All in the Family.