Hallmark Hall of Fame


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Created by Hallmark Cards to be a showcase around which to market its greeting cards, Hallmark Hall of Fame has become one of the most valued treasures in the history of quality television programming. Hallmark Hall of Fame made its debut on NBC on 24 December 1951, with "Ahmal and the Night Visitors," the first opera commissioned for television, and continued as a weekly series until 1955. The half-hour series was called Hallmark Television Playhouse during its first two years. Sarah Churchill served as the host of the program during this early period.

Beginning in 1955, Hallmark Hall of Fame has been a series of specials (appearing four to eight times a year throughout the 1960s, two to three times a year thereafter). Hallmark Hall of Fame usually aired around holiday times, in order to coincide with the sale of greeting cards. These specials were usually in 90-minute or 120-minute form, and were adaptations of works by major playwrights and authors (e.g., William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, and Rod Serling). Hallmark Hall of Fame specials often featured the leading stage actors and actresses from Great Britain and the United States (e.g., Maurice Evans, Dame Judith Anderson, Alfred Lunt, and Jessica Tandy).

Hallmark Hall of Fame ran exclusively on NBC from 1951 until 1979. The parting was a mutual one for NBC and Hallmark--NBC was disappointed with the low ratings the specials routinely received, and Hallmark was disappointed with poor time slots allotted to it. With the promise of better time periods, Hallmark Hall of Fame moved to CBS for the 1979-80 season. Despite a brief switch to PBS in 1981, Hallmark Hall of Fame continues to air twice a year on CBS. In 1988-89, Hallmark Hall of Fame made its appearance on ABC for the first time, thereby having appeared on all three of the major television networks, as well as PBS.

Hallmark Hall of Fame is one of the most honored programs in the history of television, having won over 50 Emmy awards, including 10 Emmys for best dramatic program of the year -- "Little Moon of Alban" (1958-59), "Macbeth" (1960-61), "Victoria Regina" (1961-62), "The Magnificent Yankee" (1964-65), "Elizabeth the Queen" (1967-68), "Teacher, Teacher" (1968-69), "A Storm in Summer" (1969-70), "Love Is Never Silent" (1985-86), "Promise" (1986-87), and "Caroline?' (1989-90). In addition, Hallmark Cards has won the Trustees Award in 1960-61 and the ATAS Governors Award in 1981-82. Judith Anderson won her first Emmy for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of "Macbeth" in 1954, and would win again for the same role when Hall remade "Macbeth" in 1960-61. Also of note, in 1971, one month after he refused to accept his Academy Award for his portrayal of Patton, George C. Scott accepted his Emmy for his performance in Arthur Miller's "The Price."

Some other notable Hallmark Hall of Fame productions included "Hamlet" (1953) with Maurice Evans, "Moby Dick" (1954) with Victor Jory, "Alice in Wonderland" (1955) with Elsa Lanchester, "Man and Superman" (1956) with Maurice Evans, "Twelfth Night" (1957) with Maurice Evans and Rosemary Harris, "Cyrano de Bergerac" (1962) with Christopher Plummer and Hope Lange, "Inherit the Wind" (1966) with Ed Begley and Melvyn Douglas, "Anastasia" (1967) with Julie Harris, "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1972) with Orson Welles and Lee Remick, "Beauty and the Beast" (1976) with George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere, "The Last Hurrah" (1977) with Carroll O'Connor, "Return Engagement" (1978) with Elizabeth Taylor, "Gideon's Trumpet" (1980) with Henry Fonda, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1981) with Anthony Hopkins, "The Marva Collins Story" (1982) with Cicely Tyson, "My Name Is Bill W." (1989) with James Garner and James Woods, "Decoration Day" (1990) with James Garner and Ruby Dee, and "Sarah, Plain and Tall" (1991) with Glenn Close and Christopher Walken.

-Mitchell Shapiro

FURTHER READING

McNeil, Alex. Total Television: A Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. New York: Penguin Books, 1980; 3rd edition 1991.

O'Neil, Thomas. The Emmys: Star Wars, Showdowns, and the Supreme Test of TV's Best. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.

O'Connell, Mary C. Connections: Reflections on 60 Years of Broadcasting. New York: National Broadcasting Company, 1986.

Highlights
Marian Rees on the guidelines as to what was acceptable in a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation 
03:15
Agnes Nixon on writing for Hallmark Hall of Fame and the challenges of working in live dramas
01:15
Ricardo Montalban on co-starring in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of The Fantasticks (airdate: October 18, 1964)
02:03
Joseph Sargent on directing made-for-television movies for Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:32
Ellen M. Violett on writing "Blind Spot" for The Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:10
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame attracting high caliber actors
01:35
Who talked about this show

James Arness

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James Arness on his first television appearance, playing William Tell on a Hallmark Hall of Fame live broadcast
00:47

Paul Bogart

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Paul Bogart on directing the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Country Girl"
01:50

Sam Denoff

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Sam Denoff on a Hallmark Hall of Fame special, "The Man Who Came to Dinner"
02:19
Sam Denoff on writing Hallmark Hall of Fame's "The Man Who Came to Dinner"
04:26

Horton Foote

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Horton Foote on the Hallmark Hall of Fame version of his teleplay "Old Man"
01:45

John Forsythe

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John Forsythe on starring in the made-for-television movie "A Bell for Adano" for Hallmark Hall of Fame
01:22

William Froug

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William Froug on Lionel Barrymore hosting the precursor to Hallmark Hall of Fame, Hallmark Radio Fall of Fame
01:49
William Froug on the writers of Hallmark Radio Fall of Fame, the precursor to Hallmark Hall of Fame
00:36

Donald Hall

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Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's production of "Hamlet" and choosing material for the show
04:52
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "Sarah, Plain and Tall"
00:50
Donald Hall on Hallmark getting into television 
01:57
Donald Hall on the early shows that Hallmark sponsored including Amahl and the Night Visitors
08:42
Donald Hall on naming Hallmark Hall of Fame and Hallmark's relationship with NBC
02:34
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's version of "Born Yesterday"
01:02
Donald Hall on his involvement in Hallmark Hall of Fame and his goals regarding the program
02:42
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame producer George Schaefer and other behind the scenes people
07:23
Donald Hall on promoting Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:34
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame leaving NBC for CBS
02:27
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's two presentations of "Macbeth"
01:22
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "Teacher, Teacher"
01:47
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "The Price"
00:46
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "The Promise"
01:02
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "My Name is Bill W."
00:57
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "What the Deaf Man Heard"
00:33
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "Green Pastures"
03:13
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "A Storm in the Summer"
01:12
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's  presentation of "Love is Never Silent"
01:04
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame's  presentation of "The Piano Lesson"
00:45
Donald Hall on Hallmark Hall of Fame attracting high caliber actors
01:35
Donald Hall on his favorite presentations of Hallmark Hall of Fame
01:57
Donald Hall on his father receiving a special Emmy in 1961 for Hallmark Hall of Fame
01:08
Donald Hall on the 50th anniversary of Hallmark Hall of Fame
00:42
Donald Hall on the then-future of Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:34

Robert Halmi, Sr.

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on his association with Hallmark Hall of Fame and Hallmark buying RHI
04:36

Lamont Johnson

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Lamont Johnson on his early television work as an actor
02:37
Lamont Johnson on playing "Ishmael" in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "Moby Dick"
01:02

Don Knotts

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Don Knotts on working with Orson Welles on Hallmark Hall of Fame's "The Man Who Came to Dinner"
01:47

Bob McGrath

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Bob McGrath on one of his first jobs in television, working on the Hallmark Hall of Fame
01:50

Ricardo Montalban

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Ricardo Montalban on co-starring in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of The Fantasticks (airdate: October 18, 1964)
02:03

Agnes Nixon

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Agnes Nixon on writing for Hallmark Hall of Fame and the challenges of working in live dramas
01:15

Hugh O'Brian

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Hugh O'Brian on appearing in Hallmark Hall of Fame productions
01:57

Bill Persky

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Bill Persky on the Hallmark Hall of Fame episode "The Man Who Came To Dinner" with Orson Welles

Tom Poston

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Tom Poston on acting on a production of "The Tempest" on Hallmark Hall of Fame
01:49

Marian Rees

View Interview
Marian Rees on the guidelines as to what was acceptable in a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation 
03:15
Marian Rees on attempting to produce her passion project "Love Is Never Silent" and pitching it to Donald Hall
07:02
Marian Rees on executive producing "Love Is Never Silent" for Hallmark Hall of Fame  and her struggle with the network to cast deaf actors in lead roles
09:26
Marian Rees on executive producing "Love Is Never Silent" for Hallmark Hall of Fame
07:06
Marian Rees on executive producing "Miss Rose White" for Hallmark Hall of Fame
04:27
Marian Rees on executive producing "The Shell Seekers" for Hallmark Hall of Fame
03:15

Maria Riva

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Actress Maria Riva on appearing in Hallmark Hall of Fame: "The Story of Ruth," on Easter Sunday 1954 (April 18) after appearing with Walter Matthau on Broadway in "The Burning Glass" [she misidentifies it as Omnibus  segment "The Abracadabra Kid" which she did with Matthau the previous year]
00:36

Cliff Robertson

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Cliff Robertson on his work on Hallmark Hall of Fame
01:06
Cliff Robertson on his work on a production for Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:10

Joseph Sargent

View Interview
Joseph Sargent on directing made-for-television movies for Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:32
Joseph Sargent on directing the made-for-television movie Love is Never Silent for Hallmark Hall of Fame
08:33

Sid Smith

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Sid Smith on directing "Pinocchio" for Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:27

Noel Taylor

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Costume Designer Noel Taylor on winning the very first ever Emmy Award in the Costume Designer category in 1965 for Hallmark Hall of Fame: "The Magnificent Yankee," along with stars Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne
01:46
Costume Designer Noel Taylor on befriending the stars of Hallmark Hall of Fame: "The Magnificent Yankee"— Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne
00:31

Richard Thomas

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Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10

Ellen M. Violett

View Interview
Ellen M. Violett on writing "Blind Spot" for The Hallmark Hall of Fame
02:10

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