Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About

The Philco Television Playhouse was one of the most distinguished of the many "live" anthology dramas which aired during the so-called "golden age" of television. The first episode of the Philco program was broadcast over NBC on Sunday evening 3 October 1948 between 9:00 and 10:00 P.M. It remained on the air for just over seven seasons until 1955. At the beginning of its fourth season in 1951, The Philco Television Playhouse acquired an alternating sponsor, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. From 1951 until it went off the air, the program shared its Sunday night slot with The Goodyear Theatre.

For a short period between 28 August 1955 and 12 February 1956, The Philco Television Playhouse alternated with The Alcoa Hour in addition to The Goodyear Theatre. Following the end of The Philco Television Playhouse in 1955, The Alcoa Hour and The Goodyear Theatre continued in alternation with broadcasts of one hour live dramas until 29 September 1957.

Under the guidance of producer Fred Coe (who also served as one of the program's several directors), The Philco Television Playhouse became known for its high-quality adaptations of plays, short stories, and novels. It was also the first anthology drama to encourage the writing of original plays exclusively for television.

During its first season, The Philco Television Playhouse emphasized adaptations. The first broadcast was a television version of "Dinner at Eight," a play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Directed by Coe, the production starred Peggy Wood, Dennis King, Judson Laire, Mary Boland, and Vicki Cummings.

Although it continued to utilize adaptations of plays and novels, The Philco Television Playhouse began to air original scripts toward the end of the first season. These became more important in subsequent seasons. A number of young writers, including Paddy Chayefsky, Horton FooteTad Mosel, Alan Arthur, Arnold Schulman, and Gore Vidal began their careers writing teleplays for the program.

Chayefsky wrote several scripts for Philco/Goodyear. Among them were "Holiday Song" (Goodyear 14 September 1952), "The Bachelor Party" (Philco 11 October 1953), "The Mother" (Philco 4 April 1954), "Middle of the Night" (Philco 19 September 1954) and "The Catered Affair" (Goodyear 22 May 1955). "The Bachelor Party," "Middle of the Night," and "The Catered Affair" were later made into feature films.

Chayefsky's most famous Philco script was "Marty," aired on 24 May 1953. Directed by Delbert Mann, the production starred Rod Steiger as in the title role. It became the most renowned production from the "golden age" of television anthologies and marked a turning point for television drama because of the considerable amount of critical attention paid by the press.

According to Delbert Mann, "Marty" was inspired by the ballroom of the Abbey Hotel on the corner of 53rd Street and 7th Avenue in New York. A meeting place for single people during the evening hours, the ballroom was the site of Philco Television Playhouse rehearsals during the day. Chayefsky had originally planned to have the main character be a woman but then changed the role into that of the lonely butcher, Marty. The story is a simple one, focused on character and emotion rather than excessive dramatic action. After many unsuccessful attempts to find a girl, Marty visits the ballroom one evening and meets a homely young teacher. Against the objections of his mother and his bachelor friends, Marty finally stands up for himself and calls the young lady back for a date.

Mann believed that Rod Steiger gave the best performance of his life in the role of Marty and Steiger became so moved by the story that he wept openly on the set. Mann's last direction to Steiger before air was to "hold back the tears." Mann also directed the 1956 film version of "Marty" which won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. Ernest Borgnine won Best Actor for his portrayal of Marty.

Other important productions broadcast on The Philco Television Playhouse were Gore Vidal's "Visit to a Small Planet," (Goodyear 8 May 1955) which later became a Broadway play and a feature film, Vidal's "The Death of Billy the Kid" (Philco 24 July 1955) which became the 1958 film The Left-Handed Gun. and Horton Foote's "A Trip to Bountiful" later staged on Broadway in the 1950s and reshot as a film in the 1980s. Actress Geraldine Paige won an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in the film.

Fred Coe, a graduate of the Yale Drama School, was active as a director and producer for The Philco Television Playhouse for six years. Coe and other staff directors including Gordon Duff, Delbert Mann, Vincent Donehue, and Arthur Penn shared directing responsibilities on a rotating basis. Usually, they worked three weeks ahead with one show in preparation, one in rehearsal, and one on the studio floor ready for telecasting.

During its long tenure, The Philco Television Playhouse became a breeding ground for an entire generation of young directors, actors, and writers who later became famous in motion pictures and on Broadway. The program won a Peabody Award in 1954 for its "superior standards and achievements." Some of the best known actors who appeared on the series were Joanne Woodward, Steve McQueen, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly, Kim Stanley, Jack Klugman, and Walter Mathau.

 -Henry B. Aldridge

HOST (1948-1949)

Bert Lytell

PRODUCERS

Fred Coe, Gordon Duff, Garry Simpson

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

NBC

October 1948-October 1955   Sunday 9:00-10:00

FURTHER READING

Hawes, William. The American Television Drama: The Experimental Years. University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1986.

Kindem, Gorham, editor. The Live Television Generation of Hollywood Film Directors: Interviews with Seven Directors. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1994.

MacDonald, J. Fred. One Nation Under Television: The Rise and Decline of Network TV. New York: Pantheon, 1990.

Saalbach, Louis Carl. Jack Gould: Social Critic of the Television Medium. (Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Michigan, 1980.)

Skutch, Ira. Ira Skutch: I Remember Television: A Memoir. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1989.

Stemple, Tom. Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing. New York: Continuum, 1992.

Sturcken, Frank. Live Television: The Golden Age of 1946-1958 in New York. Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland & Co., 1990.

Wicking, Christopher, and Tise Vahimagi. The American Vein: Directors and Directions in Television. New York: Dutton, 1979.

Wilk, Max. The Golden Age of Television: Notes From the Survivors. New York: Dell, 1977.

Highlights
Jeffrey Hayden on being hired for The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's 1954-55 season
00:35
Delbert Mann on Fred Coe bringing him on as an alternating and then full-time director on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:26
Maxine Stuart on appearing on Philco Television Playhouse
03:52
Shelley Berman on the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and working in live television
Who talked about this show

Milton Berle

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Milton Berle on complimenting Rod Steiger on his performance in "Marty"
02:40

Shelley Berman

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Shelley Berman on the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and working in live television

Michael Dann

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Michael Dann on production of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:10

Horton Foote

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Horton Foote on writing "The Trip to Bountiful" starring Lillian Gish for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and producer Fred Coe
07:29
Horton Foote on the studios and equipment used for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:46
Horton Foote on a typical production day for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:36
Horton Foote on writing various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:44
Horton Foote on continuing to work on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse and on the waning of his relationship with producer Fred Coe
05:37
Horton Foote on the cast of his Philco-Goodyear Playhouse teleplay "The Dancers" and on not rewriting parts for actors
02:45
Horton Foote on the process of bringing Philco-Goodyear Playhouse's "The Trip to Bountiful" to Broadway
02:08

Jeffrey Hayden

View Interview
Jeffrey Hayden on being hired for The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's 1954-55 season
00:35
Jeffrey Hayden on the writers who worked on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
00:30
Jeffrey Hayden on working with producer Gordon Duff on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:00
Jeffrey Hayden on memorable Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse shows "Thunder of Silence" and "Run Like A Thief" (and his difficulties with James Dean on the latter)
03:26

Arthur Hiller

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Arthur Hiller on directing the guest stars of Naked City and on directing other anthology shows like Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
08:57

Lamont Johnson

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Lamont Johnson on his early television work as an actor
02:37

William Klages

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William Klages on NBC wanting to copy Playhouse 90
03:29

Stewart MacGregory

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Stewart MacGregory on being stage coordinator for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
06:59

Delbert Mann

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Delbert Mann on Fred Coe bringing him on as an alternating and then full-time director on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:26
Delbert Mann on the panicked atmosphere of early live television
03:07
Delbert Mann on sponsor and network involvement on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse; on Fred Coe as a boss
09:58
Delbert Mann on how many episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse he'd direct each year; on the show's regular directors
03:33
Delbert Mann on weekly preparations for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
07:00
Delbert Mann on a typical production week on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, contd.
02:32
Delbert Mann on sponsor interference on Tad Mosel's "The Haven" production on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse; on working with Paddy Chayefsky
04:21
Delbert Mann on the response to Paddy Chayefsky's production "Marty" on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:17
Delbert Mann on Paddy Chayefsky's inspiration for writing "Marty"; on casting and critical response
06:01
Delbert Mann on returning to Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse after winning the Academy Award for Marty
00:37
Delbert Mann on "The Rabbit Trap" on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
00:51
Delbert Mann on fighting blacklisting on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse  and the end of the program
06:34
Delbert Mann on the film and TV versions of "Marty"
01:00
Delbert Mann on a picture from "The Last Tycoon" - his first show on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:14
Delbert Mann on a picture from the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production "Marty" 
01:09

E. G. Marshall

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E.G. Marshall on appearing on the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse productions of "The Bachelor Party" and "Middle of the Night
03:41
E.G. Marshall on appearing on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:56

JP Miller

View Interview
JP Miller on writing his first teleplay for Philco-Goodyear Televisoin Playhouse
02:42
JP Miller on writing for live television on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse; working with producer Fred Coe
16:32
JP Miller on writing the Goodyear Television Playhouse teleplay "The Rabbit Trap"
08:05

Tad Mosel

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Tad Mosel on writing "The Haven" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse produced by Fred Coe and on Coe's contribution to television 
05:24
Tad Mosel on writing "The Haven" for Fred Coe's Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:26
Tad Mosel on the sponsors of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:08
Tad Mosel on the process of writing "The Haven" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:33
Tad Mosel on the first scripts he wrote that were produced for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
04:40
Tad Mosel on writing "Other People's Houses" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
06:53
Tad Mosel on working with various directors on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse including Arthur Penn and Delbert Mann
02:46
Tad Mosel on his involvement in production with shows like "The Haven" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:09
Tad Mosel on casting Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:01
Tad Mosel on writing "The Morning Face" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and "The Play Room" for Playhouse 90
04:41
Tad Mosel on writing "The Lawn Party" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:46
Tad Mosel on writing "Guilty is the Stranger" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
04:16
Tad Mosel on writing "My Lost Saints" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
06:15

Arthur Penn

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Arthur Penn on First Person, an NBC dramatic anthology summer replacement, produced by Fred Coe, leading to a job directing Philco Playhouse for Coe
Arthur Penn on directing Philco from the control room; the atmosphere on a live television show
Arthur Penn on "The Lawn Party" show on Philco, written by Tad Mosel; describing the talents of Mosel
Arthur Penn on the writing process on Philco and Fred Coe's involvement on the show

Don Pike

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Don Pike on working as a technical director in live television and working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
08:57
Don Pike on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe 
05:54
Don Pike on the technical aspects of putting on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
08:57

Tom Poston

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Tom Poston on appearing on the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "Cyrano de Bergerac"
00:52

John Rich

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John Rich on working with producer/director Fred Coe on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:06

Cliff Robertson

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Cliff Robertson on his work on Philco Television Playhouse  
00:20

William Shatner

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William Shatner on appearing in the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "All Summer Long"
04:37

David Shaw

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David Shaw on writing for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:25
David Shaw on working for producer Fred Coe and with writer Paddy Chayefsky on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
06:05
David Shaw on the production of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and writing the musical "Redhead" for Gwen Verdon
02:46
David Shaw on writing "The Huntress" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse starring Judy Holliday
01:27
David Shaw on the process of writing scripts for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:18
David Shaw on the producer's relationship with the sponsor on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:07
David Shaw on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse going live on-air
02:50
David Shaw on various episodes of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse he wrote and working with director Delbert Mann on the show
04:06
David Shaw on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse productions of "Rescue" and "The Lantern Copy"
04:48
David Shaw on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of "Double Jeopardy"
02:15
David Shaw on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse productions of "The Recluse," "Nothing to Sneeze At," and "The New Process"
07:39
David Shaw on the directors and actors of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
02:22
David Shaw on "Kitchen Sink Dramas" and leaving Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:33

Jack Shea

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Jack Shea on working on live anthology dramas like Philco Television Playhouse
01:03
Jack Shea on his admiration for Delbert Mann, who he worked with when he started out as a stage manager on Philco Television Playhouse
00:46

James Sheldon

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James Sheldon on directing a teleplay for Philco-Goodyear Playhouse: "A Softness in the Wind" and the challenges of being a director in the early years of television
05:20

Garry Simpson

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Garry Simpson on directing Melvyn Douglas on an episode of Philco Television Playhouse
00:59

Dick Smith

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Dick Smith on his work on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
00:08

Maxine Stuart

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Maxine Stuart on appearing on Philco Television Playhouse
03:52

Max Wilk

View Interview
Writer Max Wilk on seeing "Marty" on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, and the effect it had on him
02:21
Writer Max Wilk on convincing actor Oscar Karlweis to stay with the Philco production "The Man Who Bought a Town"
02:55

Ethel Winant

View Interview
Ethel Winant on the kind of talent that was drawn to shows like Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
04:51

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