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


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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Interviewees discuss the "Golden Age" of television.

Highlights
Tad Mosel on what the Golden Age of Television means to him 
Angela Lansbury on the experience of doing "live TV" during the "Golden Age of Television," after having been a theater performer.
Ethel Winant on the Golden Age of Television and what represents the best of television
David Pressman on early television's relationship to theater
Sidney Lumet on the end of the Golden Age of Television
Eartha Kitt on being an African-American performer on television in the 1950s
Who talked about this topic

Edward Asner

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Ed Asner on acting in the Studio One episode "The Night America Trembled"

Erik Barnouw

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Erik Barnouw on early television shows and television writers he admired, including Playhouse 90 and Paddy Chayefsky

Dick Berg

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 

Paul Bogart

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Paul Bogart briefly on being a stage manager on Your Show of Shows

William Clotworthy

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William Clotworthy on working on Robert Montgomery Presents
William Clotworthy on the format of General Electric Theater, produced by William Frye

Betty White with Emerson College

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Betty White on being a pioneer on television and appearing on early live local television in Los Angeles

Robert Conrad

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Robert Conrad on the first time he saw television

John Conte

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John Conte on appearing as an actor on live television in the 1950s
John Conte on appearing in various live television productions
John Conte on hosting Matinee Theater

Hal Cooper

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Hal Cooper on his first television jobs creating and directing Your School Reporter, TV Babysitter, and The Magic Cottage for DuMont

Fred de Cordova

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Fred de Cordova on the '50s Golden Age of Television 

Walter Cronkite

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Walter Cronkite on how the news went live in 1950 with no script
Walter Cronkite on replacing Douglas Edwards on the CBS Evening News, at that time the news broadcast was only 15 minutes long
Walter Cronkite on some of the bloopers that happened when filming live television for the program You Are There involving a historical re-creation of the Hindenburg disaster

Hume Cronyn

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Hume Cronyn on directing live television in the '50s
Hume Cronyn on directing Jessica Tandy in "Portrait of a Madonna" for Actors Studio
Hume Cronyn on appearing as John Quincy Adams on Ominbus
Hume Cronyn on appearing in the series The Marriage  with wife Jessica Tandy
Hume Cronyn on appearing in Studio One's  presentation of "A Member of the Family"

Bill Dana

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Bill Dana on breaking in new material on live television

Sam Denoff

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Sam Denoff on observing the early days of live television while working as a page at NBC's Studio 8H where Kraft Television Theater, Robert Montgomery Presents, and other live anthology series were filmed

Richard Donner

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Richard Donner on his experience in live television

David Dortort

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David Dortort on writing for Suspense
David Dortort on adapting William Faulkner's "An Error in Chemistry" for Climax!, produced by Martin Manulis

Charles Dubin

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Charles S. Dubin on directing live television in the 1950s

Dick Van Dyke

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Dick Van Dyke on the early days of television 
Dick Van Dyke recalls the first time he appeared on television

Jamie Farr

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Jamie Farr on Sherwood Schwartz writing for The Red Skelton Show

Norman Felton

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Director Norman Felton on the "Chicago School" of Broadcasting, which included shows Garroway-at-Large and Studs' Place, crediting the philosophy to writers Charlie Andrews and Paul Rhymer
Director Norman Felton on his long association with Robert Montgomery Presents (Part 1)

Imero Fiorentino

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Imero Fiorentino on lighting The U.S. Steel Hour at ABC
Imero Fiorentino on a shadow thrown on the actors from a microphone on live TV, during the first U.S. Steel Hour production "P.O.W." with Richard Kiley
Imero Fiorentino on Paul Whiteman's Goodyear Revue, with Glenn Osser (conducting) and Paul Whiteman and a story about an opera singer who refused to sing the show's finale

Horton Foote

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Horton Foote on his thoughts on the Golden Age of Television

John Forsythe

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John Forsythe on his early experiences on live television including Studio OneSuspense, and The  U.S. Steel Hour

Sonny Fox

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television

John Frankenheimer

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John Frankenheimer on the end of the Golden Age of Television

Larry Gelbart

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Larry Gelbart on the changes in the profession since TV's "Golden Age"
Larry Gelbart on the rigorous work ethic and camraderie of the writers of Caesar's Hour

Jerry Goldsmith

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Jerry Goldsmith on the craft of composing music for live television broadcasts and on the process of composing for television
Jerry Goldsmith on the pressure of composing for live television in the '50s and what he learned in that time

Mary Lynn Gottfried

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Mary Lynn Gottfried on working as a receptionist for The Ed Sullivan Show
Mary Lynn Gottfried on The Ed Sullivan Show

Jeffrey Hayden

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Jeffrey Hayden on directing for "live" TV as similar to directing theater (versus the rushed schedule of filmed TV)

Arthur Hiller

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Arthur Hiller on the schedule for producing NBC Matinee Theater and the excitement of directing for live television
Arthur Hiller on dealing with an athlete who couldn't act appearing on NBC Matinee Theater, and his love of doing "live" television
Arthur Hiller on camera tricks and fast changes he had to make while directing Playhouse 90
Arthur Hiller on the excitement of "live" television

Ron Howard

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Ron Howard on the migration of TV production from New York to Los Angeles in the 1950s, and his father, Rance Howard's, natural gravitation to western roles
Ron Howard on a mistake he made on "live" TV as a child actor on Playhouse 90

Kim Hunter

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Kim Hunter on appearing on various live television broadcasts in the 1950s
Kim Hunter on acting on live television in the 1950s
Kim Hunter on appearing on various Playhouse 90  productions

Lamont Johnson

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Lamont Johnson on directing NBC Matinee Theater

Russell Johnson

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Russell Johnson on enjoying working in live television

Lucille Kallen

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Lucille Kallen on the Golden Age of Television

Ernest Kinoy

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Ernest Kinoy on the Golden Age of Television 

Jeff Kisseloff

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing people about the classic live drama anthology 1950s series for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"

Eartha Kitt

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Eartha Kitt on being an African-American performer on television in the 1950s
Eartha Kitt on acting on the anthology series Omnibus

Jack Klugman

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Jack Klugman on co-starring in the Producers' Showcase production of "The Petrified Forest" with Humphrey Bogart (airdate: May 30, 1955)
Jack Klugman on the Golden Age of Television

Don Knotts

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Don Knotts on a moment in "live" TV in the 1950s when fellow actor Les Damon went up on his lines on soap opera Search for Tomorrow
Don Knotts on the challenges of performing on "live TV" in the 1950s
Don Knotts on TV actors not needing agents during the early days of TV in New York City

Sheila Kuehl

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Sheila Kuehl on playing "Jackie Erwin" on The Stu Erwin Show aka Trouble With Father
Sheila Kuehl on acting in live and filmed television dramas in the 1950s

Perry Lafferty

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Perry Lafferty on the Golden Age of Television

Angela Lansbury

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Angela Lansbury on the experience of doing "live TV" during the "Golden Age of Television," after having been a theater performer.

Jack Larson

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Jack Larson on working on a live drama, where line cuts were made hours before airtime

Piper Laurie

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Piper Laurie on performing in the Playhouse 90 production "The Days of Wine and Roses"

Norman Lear

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Norman Lear on the challenges of working all day and night in the days of live television
Norman Lear on what he sees as the best of television, from the days of Edward R. Murrow and the "golden age" of television

Jack Lemmon

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Jack Lemmon on acting on Kraft Television Theatre  and appearing on live television
Jack Lemmon on working on Studio One 
Jack Lemmon on appearing on Ford Television Theatre's "The Day Lincoln Was Shot"
Jack Lemmon on appearing on the Playhouse 90 production of "Face of a Hero"

Sidney Lumet

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Sidney Lumet on the end of the Golden Age of Television

Stewart MacGregory

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Stewart MacGregory on being stage coordinator for NBC Television starting in 1948
Stewart MacGregory on the atmosphere and logistics of a live television broadcast
Stewart MacGregory on the cameras and other equipment used in the Golden Age of Television 

Nancy Malone

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Nancy Malone on the pressures of working in early, live television

Delbert Mann

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Delbert Mann on directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

Abby Mann

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Abby Mann on being a part of the Golden Age of Television, and how television has changed the world

Bob Markell

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Bob Markell on what represents the Golden Age of Television

E. G. Marshall

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E.G. Marshall on the the classic anthology series of the '50s, and the producers of those shows
E.G. Marshall on acting on live television in the '50s

Jayne Meadows

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Jayne Meadows on the challenges of working in live television
Jayne Meadows on getting a job as a panelist on I've Got a Secret  and meeting Steve Allen
Jayne Meadows on being a panelist on I've Got a Secret
Jayne Meadows on her sister Audrey Meadows as "Alice Kramden" on The Honeymooners
Jayne Meadows on how television has changed since the '50s

Priscilla Morgan

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Priscilla Morgan on the Golden Age of Television

Howard Morris

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Howard Morris on co-starring on Admiral Broadway Revue, Your Show of Shows, and Caesar's Hour, along with Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, and Carl Reiner

Tad Mosel

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Tad Mosel on writing for Ominbus
Tad Mosel on writing for Medallion Theater
Tad Mosel on writing "The Haven" for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse  produced by Fred Coe and on Coe's contribution to television 
Tad Mosel on writing for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Tad Mosel on writing for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Tad Mosel on writing for Studio One
Tad Mosel on writing "The Waiting Place" for Playwrights '56
Tad Mosel on writing for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Tad Mosel on working with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Henry Fonda on Producers' Showcase: "The Petrified Forest"
Tad Mosel on working with Martin Manulis on Playhouse 90
Tad Mosel on writing "The Five Dollar Bill" for Studio One
Tad Mosel on writing for Playhouse 90
Tad Mosel on watching Playhouse 90 and other live dramas of his be performed
Tad Mosel on what the Golden Age of Television means to him 
Tad Mosel on the camaraderie among writers during the Golden Age of Television

Bill Mumy

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Bill Mumy on acting on The Twilight Zone

Nichelle Nichols

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Nichelle Nichols on watching the test pattern on early television

Agnes Nixon

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Agnes Nixon on writing for the Golden Age anthology dramas

Hugh O'Brian

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Hugh O'Brian on the challenges and advantages of working in live television

Carroll O'Connor

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Carroll O'Connor on the role dramatic anthologies played for New York actors during the 1950s-60s

Don Pike

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Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway

David Pressman

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David Pressman on early television's relationship to theater

Frances Reid

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Frances Reid on the challenges of working on live television

Carl Reiner

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Carl Reiner on Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour

Gene Reynolds

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Gene Reynolds on working in live television in the '50s

Maria Riva

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Actress Maria Riva on making costume changes in "live" TV in the 1950s
Maria Riva on how she became a contract player for CBS in the early 1950s, along with actress Mary Sinclair, John Newland, and (possibly) John Forsythe all of whom then worked on such CBS series of the day as Studio One and Danger
Maria Riva on establishing herself as a TV star in the 1950s, and how little TV demanded of acting "talent" in the early days of the medium
Maria Riva on a gaffe that happened on "live" TV in the 1950s when the prop gun that actor Rod Steiger was using didn't fire— prompting him to instead say "bang" (possibly on Lux Video Theater: "Cafe Ami" [their only confirmed co-starring TV show])
Maria Riva on the Golden Age of "live" TV in New York in the 1950s, exemplified by such classic anthology series as Studio One

Cliff Robertson

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Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 live production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on The U.S. Steel Hour's   "The Two Worlds of Charly Gordon" and the feature film "Charly"

Howard Rosenberg

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Howard Rosenberg on how television changed and evolved during the '70s and his thoughts on the Golden Age of Television

Jay Sandrich

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Jay Sandrich on the technical challenges of shooting for both coasts in the 1950s
Jay Sandrich on how the television comedies of the 1950s, such as The Danny Thomas Show (Make Room for Daddy), would have one, strong director

Joseph Sargent

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Joseph Sargent on acting on live television in the '50s

William Schallert

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William Schallert on working on Matinee Theater
William Schallert on working in live TV on Matinee Theater
William Schallert on appearing on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
William Schallert on appearing on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

Ralph Senensky

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Ralph Senensky on working on Playhouse 90

William Shatner

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William Shatner on the experience of doing live dramas in the '50s

David Shaw

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David Shaw on the Golden Age of Television

Jack Shea

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Jack Shea on working on live anthology dramas like Philco Television Playhouse

James Sheldon

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James Sheldon on directing the radio show "We, The People," which was then simulcast on television and radio and became a regular television show
James Sheldon on changes in the television business in the 1950s that led to directors becoming freelancers rather than employees of advertising agencies or networks

Hazel Shermet

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Hazel Shermet on appearing on The Morey Amsterdam Show
Hazel Shermet on appearing on The Fred Allen Show
Hazel Shermet on doing Songs You've Never Heard for WOR

Garry Simpson

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Garry Simpson on broadcast standards for early television
Garry Simpson on directing Jimmy Durante, Ed Wynn, and Jackie Gleason on Four Star Revue

Dick Smith

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Dick Smith on NBC censorship when he had to make Laurence Olivier look like he had leprosy

Aaron Spelling

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Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater

Mary Kay Stearns

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on how Mary Kay and Johnny (one of TV's earliest sitcoms) came about
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television; on sets and locations on Mary Kay and Johnny

Johnny Stearns

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on how Mary Kay and Johnny (one of TV's earliest sitcoms) came about
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television; on sets and locations on Mary Kay and Johnny
Johnny Stearns of Mary Kay and Johnny on the Golden Age of Television

Howard Storm

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Howard Storm on the burlesque sketch "Joe the Bartender" he would do on early comedy-variety shows

Gale Storm

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Gale Storm on how My Little Margie impacted television

Mel Tolkin

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Mel Tolkin on writing for Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on classic sketches from Caesar's Hour featuring Sid Caesar

Robert Vaughn

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Robert Vaughn on "The Troublemakers" on Playhouse 90 with Ben Gazarra, directed by John Frankenheimer

Ellen M. Violett

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Ellen M. Violett on writing Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" for Cameo Theater
Ellen M. Violett on writing "Breakdown" for Suspense
Ellen M. Violett on writing for Omnibus
Ellen M. Violett on writing for Producer's Showcase

Clint Walker

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Clint Walker on the legacy of Cheyenne

Ruth Warrick

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Ruth Warrick on acting in live television

Ethel Winant

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Ethel Winant on the Golden Age of Television and what represents the best of television

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