The Edsel Show was an hour-long television special broadcast live on CBS in the United States on October 13, 1957, intended to promote Ford Motor Company's new Edsel cars. It was a milestone in the long career of entertainer Bing Crosby and is notable as the first CBS entertainment program to be recorded on videotape for rebroadcast in the western part of the country following a live performance for the east coast.[1]

The Edsel Show
Written byBill Morrow
Directed bySeymour Berns
StarringBing Crosby
Frank Sinatra
Rosemary Clooney
Louis Armstrong
Lindsay Crosby
The Four Preps
Bob Hope
Narrated byWarren Hull
Ending theme"On the Sunny Side of the Street"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerBill Morrow
Camera setupMultiple
Running time58 minutes
Production companyGonzaga University
Original release
ReleaseOctober 13, 1957 (1957-10-13)

Crosby arranged for this ‘live’ program to be ‘produced’ by his alma mater Gonzaga University in order that the profits, estimated at $250,000, could go to them in a tax efficient way. The program won the Look Magazine TV Award for ‘Best Musical Show’ [2] and was nominated for an Emmy as the “Best Single Program of the Year”.[3]



The Edsel Show starred Bing Crosby and featured Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Armstrong, and Lindsay Crosby, Bing's son, performing with the Four Preps. It also featured an appearance by a "mystery guest", comedian Bob Hope. The show was directed by Seymour Berns, and was written and produced by Bill Morrow. The Orchestra was directed by Toots Camarata. Musical supervision by Buddy Cole with additional arrangements by John Scott Trotter.[4]

During the show's opening musical number, "Now You Has Jazz", Crosby introduces each member of the Armstrong band prior to a brief solo from all. In order: Edmond Hall on clarinet, Trummy Young on trombone, Billy Kyle on piano, Squire Gersh on double bass, and Barrett Deems on drums. Crosby and Armstrong and his band had performed the same song in the 1956 motion picture High Society.

CBS pre-empted its regular-Ford sponsored hour in the Sunday 8pm EST slot, The Ed Sullivan Show, for one evening only. One of the 1957-58 television season's most successful outings, its popularity did not transfer to sales in the Edsel line of automobiles.[5]

Following his three decades as a highly successful recording artist, Academy Award-winning film actor and highly rated weekly network radio star, this special has been credited as Bing Crosby's true breakthrough into the medium of television.[6] It set the pattern for his many television specials to come; in its wake he signed a lucrative contract with ABC under which he would produce two specials per year.





Variety magazine was impressed. “The Edsel Show, a special kick-off for Ford’s new line of cars on tv, was a smooth, fast ride all the way. In fact, without even seeming to try, it shaped up as one of video’s top musical offerings, in the same class as the Mary Martin-Ethel Merman layout several years ago, on the ‘Ford Jubilee’ show. This time, it was the tandem of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, two savvy pros who were at the top of their form. For Crosby, it was his best tv showing to date and for those who remember live radio way back when, Der Bingle generated the same easy charm that was responsible for his long-time run on the AM kilocycles...Crosby’s number with Armstrong and his combo on ‘Now You Has Jazz’ was a crackerjack getaway."[7]

The show had a Trendex rating of 40.8. A Trendex rating represents the percentage of TV homes in fifteen major cities, including New York, that are tuned to the program specified. Trendex telephoned 1,000 homes during each half-hour period.[4]



The show was performed at CBS Television City in the afternoon in California and broadcast live in the eastern part of the country. A videotape was made of the performance and was played back three hours later for western audiences. As videotape was a new technology, CBS made a film-based kinescope of the show and played it back alongside the videotape, so that the broadcast could switch to the kinescope if problems were encountered with the tape; there were none.

Videotape was a technology that had interested Crosby for several years. His company, Bing Crosby Enterprises, had investigated several technologies, ultimately investing in Ampex, the first company to demonstrate a practical broadcast-quality videotape system when it unveiled the first 2" Quadruplex videotape machine in 1956. Crosby's interest as a performer was to avoid repeated live performances of the same show for west coast broadcast, the routine on early live network radio. Videotape use on a regular basis was first introduced on the CBS News series Douglas Edwards and the News in November 1956. Today, with no known tape copies of those telecasts in the CBS library or tapes of any programming prior to the fall of 1957, The Edsel Show is believed to be the earliest surviving videotaped television broadcast.


In her autobiography, Girl Singer, Doubleday, 1999, Rosemary Clooney recalled an incident that happened the afternoon of The Edsel Show's telecast:

The show was built around the newest Ford offering, the 1958 Edsel. A new vista of motoring pleasure, unlike any other car you've ever seen. The only Edsel I ever saw was one they gave me to drive while I was rehearsing. I came out of the CBS Building, up those little steps to the street where my purple Edsel was waiting, like the Normandie in drydock. Mr. Ford was right behind me, heading for his Edsel. I opened the door of my car and the handle came off. I turned to him, holding it out to him. "About your car . . ."[8]

See also



  1. ^ "The Edsel Show" (website). On November 30, 1956, CBS played a delayed broadcast of Douglas Edwards and the News from New York to the Pacific Time Zone. Ampex Corporation, Ampex Chronology Archived 2007-07-03 at the Wayback Machine. On December 24, 1956, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, based in New York, became the first entertainment program to be videotaped for rebroadcast in the Pacific Time Zone. Val Adams, "C.B.S. Shows Off Tape-Recorded TV", The New York Times, December 21, 1956, p. 43. "TV Quietly Going to Tape Recording", Billboard, March 16, 1957, p. 3. On January 22, 1957, nine months before The Edsel Show, the NBC game show Truth or Consequences, produced in Hollywood, became the first program to be broadcast in all time zones from a prerecorded videotape. "Daily N.B.C. Show Will Be on Tape", The New York Times, January 18, 1957, p. 31.
  2. ^ a b Pairpoint, Lionel. "The Chronological Bing Crosby on Television". BING magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  3. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Macfarlane, Malcolm. "Bing Crosby - Day by Day". BING magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Foreman, Joel (1997). The Other Fifties: Interrogating Midcentury American Icons. University of Illinois Press. p. 38. ISBN 0-252-06574-3.
  6. ^ "On Television (1948-1977)". Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Variety". October 16, 1957. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Clooney, Rosemary; Barthel, Joan (2001-10-09). Girl Singer: An Autobiography. Broadway. p. 161. ISBN 0-7679-0555-5.