The Ford Show (also known as The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford and The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show) is an American variety program, starring singer and folk humorist Tennessee Ernie Ford, which aired on NBC on Thursday evenings from October 4, 1956 to June 29, 1961. The show was actually named for sponsor Ford Motor Company. Beginning in September 1958, the show began to be telecast in color.
Ford first gained attention as the host of Hometown Jamboree in Los Angeles. In 1954, he hosted a brief revival of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge, a quiz show on NBC. His subsequent The Ford Show was frequently among the Top 20 programs, finishing in the Nielsen ratings at #19 for the 1956-1957 season, #14 in 1957-1958, #20 in 1958-1959, #14 in 1959-1960 and #24 in 1960-1961. It's also one of the first places that showed Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts characters in animated form, which, like the later specials, was directed by Bill Melendez.
Despite the objection of studio bosses, Ford closed all but 18 of the 121 episodes of his program with a hymn or other spiritual song. It became one of the most popular segments of his show. Once in 1959 Gisele MacKenzie became the only guest star to close the Ford program with a hymn.
Ford often used the country refrain, "Bless your pea-pickin' hearts!" In the first season, the choral group called "The Voices of Walter Schumann" served as backup. After Schumann's death, the group was made more contemporary, renamed "The Top Twenty," and performed in the four later seasons of The Ford Show.
The Ford Show was produced and directed by Bud Yorkin. Norman Lear was also a writer on The Ford Show.