Fri, 11/07/2008

"Studio One" Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

Studio One, one of the first and most successful of the live dramatic anthologies of early television, celebrates its 60th anniversary today.

The first Studio One was a presentation of the McKnight Malmar suspenser "The Storm," starring Margaret Sullavan and Dean Jagger (airing November 7, 1948). The show was produced and directed by Worthington C. Miner, who is credited as one of the most significant creative forces in American television's early years.

During the Archive of American Television and Koch Entertainment's panel discussion last night (to launch the debut of "The Archive of American Television Presents" DVD series) at the Television Academy, actress Gloria Stroock reiterated Miner's contribution to both television and Studio One:

"The driving force, as I remember in Studio One, was Worthington Miner, whom we called 'Tony' Miner, all of us. Even though there were other directors and producers he was really the [main] force... It was a magical time. There was so much trust. I never read for anything. They just would call and say 'are you available?' and they'd say 'we have something for you.' And the parts were wonderful."

In their review of "The Storm," Variety gave the show an "A for effort" but admitted it was off to a rocky start. However, before long, the series ranked as the preeminent TV drama, particularly when it aired its eight production, an adaptation of "Julius Caesar," starring William Post Jr. and directed by Paul Nickell. The New York Times' Jack Gould called it "spectacular television" and wrote in his review that CBS "has a real obligation to present a repeat performance" of the show... which they did with Studio One's twelfth show, airing two months later. (Studio One wasn't through with "Julius Caesar" though, and a third version was aired on August 1, 1955, starring Theodore Bikel-- this presentation can be found on the new DVD.)

Studio One would feature some of the legendary stars of old-- Paul Lukas, Franchot Tone, and Burgess Meredith, while providing a venue for some of the newest up-and-comers: Jack Lemmon, Sal Mineo, and Grace Kelly. Among the notable writers whose work was featured on Studio One included: Rod Serling (including "The Arena"), Gore Vidal ("Dark Possession"), Reginald Rose ("Twelve Angry Men"), and Arthur Hailey ("No Deadly Medicine")

Studio One won the Emmy Award for Best Drama series in 1951, and the 1954 presentation of "Twelve Angry Men" won for director Franklin J. Schaffner, star Robert Cummings, and writer Reginald Rose.

Pictured left to right: Archive Director Karen Herman, Barbara Rush, Jack Klugman, Jayne Meadows, Gloria Stroock, Dick Van Patten, and Koch President Michael Rosenberg. At the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, November 6, 2008.