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VINTAGE 1950s: 15 Minute Television Shows of the 1950s by Will Zeilinger

June 3, 2019 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , ,

15 Minute Shows

Throughout the 1950s, short local television programs popped up all over the airwaves. The majority were only fifteen to thirty minutes in length. Some of the programs were musical, comedy, or children’s radio programs that were ported over to the TV screen.

 

As in the transition from silent movies to talkies, moving from radio to television wasn’t always easy. The talent sometimes did not possess “screen appeal.” Unless a program was sponsored by a large corporation, the cost to produce a program was prohibitive. Studio time, talent and crew were all expenses that had to be worked into the budget, so most early television programs were limited to fifteen minutes in length.

 

Who knows? Maybe that was the seed for Andy Warhol’s famous statement, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

 

Here are a few of the fifteen minute programs I discovered:

 

 

Through Wendy’s Window

(1948–1950), began as a short cartoon-sketch program, it evolved into a longer interview series. It starred Wendy BarrieDave DavisMorey AmsterdamRusty Arden

 

 

 

 

The Cliff Edwards Show

(1949– ) Television pioneer Cliff Edwards,also known as “Ukelele Ike,” hosted and began with his own radio program in the 1930s. He brought his musical talents to the new tiny screen in 1949. You may have heard his voice in many cartoons. Remember Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio?

 

 

 

The Gabby Hayes Show

(1950–1954) was a western television series that showed clips from old westerns, or told tall tales for a primarily children’s audience. The star and Roy Rogers sidekick, George “Gabby” Hayes hosted the show that ran on NBC at 5:15 p.m. Eastern for fifteen minutes.

 

 

 

The Hazel Scott Show

(1950– ) Classical pianist turned jazz pianist Hazel Scott hosted the music series. She was the first African-American woman to host her own TV show. It starred Hazel Scott, and featured Gloria Lucas.

 

 

 

The Jaye P. Morgan Show

(1956– ) Her first big hit song, “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” in 1951. She made her debut as a regular vocalist on Stop the Music (1949). She was a consistent guest performer on all the best variety showcases, including Perry Como and Ed Sullivan‘s shows, and managed to hostess her own variety program, The Jaye P. Morgan Show, accompanied by her singing siblings “The Morgan Brothers” (Duke, Bob, Charlie and Dick.)

 

 

 

The Spade Cooley Show

(1957– ) Beginning in June 1948, Cooley began hosting a variety show on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, California. It was broadcast from the Santa Monica Pier Ballroom. The show became a mainstay of television in the area, and won local Emmy awards in 1952 and 1953. Some notable guests included Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore.

 

 

Other well-known stars had their own short television programs as well, including Dinah Shore, Patti Page, Jonathan Winters, Walter Winchell, Jo Stafford. Tony Martin and, Vaughn Monroe.

 

Gradually, the most popular programs grew in length to thirty-minutes and ultimately, to the sixty-minute format we know today.

 


Books by Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn

 

DESERT ICE

Buy now!
DESERT ICE

GAME TOWN

Buy now!
GAME TOWN

SLICK DEAL

Buy now!
SLICK DEAL

SLIVERS OF GLASS

Buy now!
SLIVERS OF GLASS

STRANGE MARKINGS

Buy now!
STRANGE MARKINGS

 


 

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