Max Wilk

Writer/ Historian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Max Wilk (1920-2011) briefly describes his beginnings as a writer in radio, touring with Irving Berlin's "This Is the Army" during World War II, and his entrance into writing for early television. He talks about writing for such anthology and variety shows as: The Ford Television Theatre (1948-50), The Victor Borge Show (1951), and The Imogene Coca Show (1954-55). Finally, he describes working on the critically-acclaimed and long-running series Mama (for which he wrote from 1952-53), as well as the Emmy Award winning special The Fabulous Fifties (1960), a look at the decade. As a television historian and author of the seminal book The Golden Age of Television: Notes From the Survivors, Wilk also describes the "live" era of television (and the actors, writers, and producers of the day) and the cloud of the 1950s blacklist and how it affected people he knew. Michael Rosen conducted the interview in Westport, Connecticut on November 15, 2000.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"The Golden Age of Television? When television came, it was a revolution and then it ate us all up. All I know is back then, I was asked to do my best, and no one wants that anymore."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Max Wilk on learning to write for television while on Ford Television Theatre, and on working with director Marc Daniels
03:03
Max Wilk on Admiral Broadway Revue producer Max Liebman, and on the career of Sid Caesar
04:17
Max Wilk on Mama star Peggy Wood as "Marta Hansen"
02:24
Max Wilk on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty"
06:34
Max Wilk on writing Car 54, Where Are You? and on his less sucessful shows
01:11
Max Wilk on The Hollywood Blacklist
10:50
Full Interview

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Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his interests as a child, including movies; on radio shows he listened to while growing up, and books he read
On deciding to become a writer and on early plays he wrote; on working at a studio as an office boy and various other early jobs; on doing public relations for the Irving Berlin's movie "This is the Army"

Chapter 2

On his earliest memories of television; on working on the stage play "Small Wonder" and the television show Home on the Range; on the opinion of the television world from the theater world
On going to work writing for Ford Television Theatre; on learning to write for television while on Ford Television Theatre, and on working with director Marc Daniels; on describing Ford Television Theatre
On the experience of doing live television on shows like Ford Television Theatre; on producer Fred Coe, and on the process of writing for shows like Robert Montgomery Presents

Chapter 3

On his father's opinion of him writing for television; on the early reaction of the movie studios to television, and on the stars of the era; on writing "Joy to the World" for Ford Television Theatre, and on the moments before going on-air
On the experience of adapting plays for television for Ford Television Theatre, and on dealing with the time limitations; on actors improvising on live television broadcasts like Ford Television Theatre
On writing various episodes of Ford Television Theatre and on writer Paddy Chayefsky; on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty"

Chapter 4

On writing for 54th Street Revue produced by Max Liebman and on Admiral Broadway Revue; on Admiral Broadway Revue producer Max Liebman, and on the career of Sid Caesar; on Ed Wynn of The Ed Wynn Show
On writing for Starring Boris Karloff, and on working with Karloff; on writing various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and The Victor Borge Show; on writing Mama, and on star Peggy Wood

Chapter 5

On writing The Imogene Coca Show and on NBC Matinee Theater; on the end of the era of live television, and on how technological innovation like videotape helped bring it about; on the phrase "The Golden Age of Television" and on the end of that era and on politics on television in that era
On writing Car 54, Where Are You? and on his less sucessful shows; on The Hollywood Blacklist
On his proudest career achievements; on what he would most like to be known for in television; on wanting to keep working as he gets older
Shows

54th Street Revue

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Max Wilk on writing for 54th Street Revue produced by Max Liebman and on Admiral Broadway Revue
05:38

Admiral Broadway Revue

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Max Wilk on Admiral Broadway Revue producer Max Liebman, and on the career of Sid Caesar
04:17

Car 54, Where Are You?

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Max Wilk on writing Car 54, Where Are You? and on his less sucessful shows
01:11

Ed Wynn Show, The

View Show Page
Max Wilk on Ed Wynn of The Ed Wynn Show
04:41

Ford Television Theatre

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Max Wilk on going to work writing for Ford Television Theatre
01:21
Max Wilk on learning to write for television while on Ford Television Theatre, and on working with director Marc Daniels
03:03
Max Wilk on describing Ford Television Theatre
04:02
Max Wilk on the experience of doing live television on shows like Ford Television Theatre
03:30
Max Wilk on writing "Joy to the World" for Ford Television Theatre, and on the moments before going on-air
04:10
Max Wilk on the experience of adapting plays for television for Ford Television Theatre, and on dealing with the time limitations
02:41
Max Wilk on actors improvising on live television broadcasts like Ford Television Theatre
03:59
Max Wilk on writing various episodes of Ford Television Theatre and on writer Paddy Chayefsky
07:16

Imogene Coca Show, The

View Show Page
Max Wilk on writing The Imogene Coca Show and on NBC Matinee Theater
01:45

Mama

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Max Wilk on writing Mama
04:37
Max Wilk on Mama star Peggy Wood as "Marta Hansen"
02:24

NBC Matinee Theater

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Max Wilk on writing The Imogene Coca Show and on NBC Matinee Theater
01:45

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Max Wilk on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty"
06:34
Max Wilk on writing various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and The Victor Borge Show
05:42

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse: "Marty"

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Max Wilk on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty"
06:34

Robert Montgomery Presents

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Max Wilk on producer Fred Coe, and on the process of writing for shows like Robert Montgomery Presents
06:03

Starring Boris Karloff

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Max Wilk on writing for Starring Boris Karloff, and on working with Karloff
01:30
Topics

Anthology Drama

View Topic
Max Wilk on writing "Joy to the World" for Ford Television Theatre, and on the moments before going on-air
04:10
Max Wilk on actors improvising on live television broadcasts like Ford Television Theatre
03:59

Hollywood Blacklist

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Max Wilk on The Hollywood Blacklist
10:50

Industry Crossroads

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Max Wilk on The Hollywood Blacklist
10:50

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
Max Wilk on writing "Joy to the World" for Ford Television Theatre, and on the moments before going on-air
04:10
Max Wilk on actors improvising on live television broadcasts like Ford Television Theatre
03:59
Max Wilk on the phrase "The Golden Age of Television" and on the end of that era and on politics on television in that era
03:48

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Max Wilk on the end of the era of live television, and on how technological innovation like videotape helped bring it about
06:15

Television Industry

View Topic
Max Wilk on The Hollywood Blacklist
10:50
Professions

Writers

View Profession
Max Wilk on learning to write for television while on Ford Television Theatre, and on working with director Marc Daniels
03:03
Max Wilk on producer Fred Coe, and on the process of writing for shows like Robert Montgomery Presents
06:03
Max Wilk on the experience of adapting plays for television for Ford Television Theatre, and on dealing with the time limitations
02:41
Max Wilk on the experience of adapting plays for television for Ford Television Theatre, and on dealing with the time limitations
02:41
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Max Wilk on writing for Ford Television Theatre
18:06
Max Wilk on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty"
06:34
Max Wilk on writing for Starring Boris Karloff, and on working with Karloff
01:30
Max Wilk on writing various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and The Victor Borge Show
05:42

Comedy Series

View Genre
Max Wilk on writing Mama
07:01
Max Wilk on writing Car 54, Where Are You? and on his less sucessful shows
01:11

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Max Wilk on writing for 54th Street Revue produced by Max Liebman and on Admiral Broadway Revue
09:55
Max Wilk on Ed Wynn of The Ed Wynn Show
04:41
Max Wilk on writing various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and The Victor Borge Show
05:42
People

Victor Borge

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Max Wilk on writing various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and The Victor Borge Show
05:42

Sid Caesar

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Max Wilk on Admiral Broadway Revue producer Max Liebman, and on the career of Sid Caesar
04:17

Paddy Chayefsky

View Person Page
Max Wilk on writing various episodes of Ford Television Theatre and on writer Paddy Chayefsky
07:16
Max Wilk on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty"
06:34

Imogene Coca

View Person Page
xMax Wilk on writing The Imogene Coca Show and on NBC Matinee Theater
01:45

Fred Coe

View Person Page
Max Wilk on producer Fred Coe, and on the process of writing for shows like Robert Montgomery Presents
06:03

Marc Daniels

View Person Page
Max Wilk on learning to write for television while on Ford Television Theatre, and on working with director Marc Daniels
03:03

Boris Karloff

View Person Page
Max Wilk on writing for Starring Boris Karloff, and on working with Karloff
01:30

Max Liebman

View Person Page
Max Wilk on writing for 54th Street Revue produced by Max Liebman and on Admiral Broadway Revue
05:38
Max Wilk on Admiral Broadway Revue producer Max Liebman, and on the career of Sid Caesar
04:17

Peggy Wood

View Person Page
Max Wilk on Mama star Peggy Wood as "Marta Hansen"
02:24

Ed Wynn

View Person Page
Max Wilk on Ed Wynn of The Ed Wynn Show
04:41

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