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The Philco Television Playhouse is an American television anthology series that was broadcast live on NBC from 1948 to 1955. Produced by Fred Coe, the series was sponsored by Philco. It was one of the most respected dramatic shows of the Golden Age of Television, winning a 1954 Peabody Award and receiving eight Emmy nominations between 1951 and 1956.

The Philco Television Playhouse
GenreAnthology drama
Directed byFred Coe
Vincent J. Donehue
Gordon Duff
Herbert Hirschman
Delbert Mann
Robert Mulligan
Arthur Penn
Ira Skutch
Composer(s)Morris Mamorsky
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes251
Production
Producer(s)Fred Coe
Gordon Duff
Ira Skutch
Running time46–50 minutes
Release
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseOctober 3, 1948 (1948-10-03) –
October 2, 1955 (1955-10-02)
Chronology
Related showsGoodyear Television Playhouse
The Alcoa Hour

Contents

Season overview and highlightsEdit

For the first season, Philco entered into a partnership with the Actors’ Equity Association to produce adaptations of Broadway plays and musicals with Bert Lytell, silent film era actor and Honorary Life President of Equity, as host.[1] The first episode was Dinner at Eight by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Ronald Wayne Rodman, in his book Tuning in: American Narrative Television Music, noted, "Despite ensuing complications over the legalities of broadcasting copyrighted plays on television and several legal battles that ensued, the show flourished."[2] The title of the show was briefly changed to Repertory Theatre and Arena Theatre during part of the first season, but then reverted to The Philco Television Playhouse.

The second season consisted mostly of adaptations of popular novels from the Book of the Month Club. During later seasons, both original stories and adaptations were used.

Beginning in October 1951, Philco shared sponsorship of the program with Goodyear, with the title alternating between Philco Television Playhouse and Goodyear Television Playhouse to reflect that week's sponsor.[3] (Reference sources sometimes refer to the alternating programs collectively as the Philco/Goodyear Television Playhouse or the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, although neither are actual program titles.)

In the sixth season, Cathleen Nesbitt and Maureen Stapleton starred in Chayefsky's The Mother (April 4, 1954). This is one of the rare teleplays from television's Golden Age to be restaged on TV decades later, a Great Performances production on October 24, 1994, with Anne Bancroft and Joan Cusack.

A short seventh season began September 19, 1954, with E. G. Marshall and Eva Marie Saint in Chayefsky's Middle of the Night, a play which moved to Broadway 15 months later and was filmed under the same title by Columbia Pictures in 1959.

A single source suggests that Philco Television Playhouse continued into 1956,[4] although most other sources agree that the final production came on October 2, 1955.[5][6][7] This was Robert Alan Aurthur's A Man Is Ten Feet Tall, co-starring Don Murray and Sidney Poitier, which was adapted and expanded into the 1957 MGM feature film, Edge of the City, with Poitier recreating his original role and John Cassavetes in Murray's part.

On October 16, 1955, Alcoa took over sponsorship from Philco and The Alcoa Hour alternated with Goodyear Television Playhouse for two more seasons.

Cast and writersEdit

Among the many performers on the Philco Television Playhouse were Dennis Cross, Lillian Gish, Janet De Gore, Melvyn Douglas, Grace Kelly, Jack Klugman, Cloris Leachman, Walter Matthau, Steve McQueen, Paul Muni, ZaSu Pitts, Eva Marie Saint, Everett Sloane, Kim Stanley, Eli Wallach and Joanne Woodward. Many of these actors were making their first television appearance; one was Jose Ferrer, who recreated his stage performance in a one-hour television condensation of Cyrano de Bergerac a full year before the 1950 film version, for which Ferrer won an Oscar, was released. Another was Paul Muni, who starred in the 1948 presentation Counsellor-at Law.

The series launched the television writing careers of Robert Alan Aurthur, Paddy Chayefsky, Sumner Locke Elliott, Horton Foote, Tad Mosel, William Templeton, Arnold Schulman, and Gore Vidal. Its most famous drama was Chayefsky's Marty (May 24, 1953), which starred Rod Steiger and was later made into a movie that won an Academy Award for Ernest Borgnine.

U.S. television ratingsEdit

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Philco Television Playhouse on NBC.

Season TV season Ranking Viewers (in millions)
3rd 1950–1951 #3 4.620
4th 1951–1952 #12 6.181
5th 1952–1953 #17 7.609
6th 1953–1954 #19 8.450
7th 1954–1955 #

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Result Award Category Recipient
1954 Winner Peabody Award
1951 Nominated Emmy Award Best Dramatic Show
1952 Nominated Emmy Award Best Dramatic Show
1953 Nominated Emmy Award Best Dramatic Show
1954 Nominated Emmy Award Best Dramatic Show
1955 Nominated Emmy Award Best Written Dramatic Material Paddy Chayefsky
Nominated Emmy Award Best Dramatic Show
Nominated Emmy Award Best Actress in a Single Performance Eva Marie Saint (For episode "Middle of the Night")
1956 Nominated Emmy Award Best Original Teleplay Writing Robert Alan Aurthur (For episode "A Man Is Ten Feet Tall")

In popular cultureEdit

In 2006, the NBC series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip referenced The Philco Television Playhouse as The Philco Comedy Hour, a comedy show that aired on the fictional NBS network. Eli Wallach made a guest appearance on Studio 60, playing a former show writer who was blacklisted in the 1950s.

EpisodesEdit

Season 1 (1948-49)Edit

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date
11"Dinner at Eight"October 3, 1948 (1948-10-03)
22"Rebecca"October 10, 1948 (1948-10-10)[8]
33"Counselor-at-Law"October 17, 1948 (1948-10-17)[8]
44"Angel in the Wings"October 24, 1948 (1948-10-24)[8]
55"Street Scene"October 31, 1948 (1948-10-31)[8]
66"This Thing Called Love"November 7, 1948 (1948-11-07)[8]
77"Camille"November 14, 1948 (1948-11-14)[8]:245-246
88"An Inspector Calls"November 21, 1948 (1948-11-21)[8]:246
99"I Like It Here"November 28, 1948 (1948-11-28)[8]:246
1010"Suspect"December 5, 1948 (1948-12-05)[8]:246
1111"Parlor Story"December 12, 1948 (1948-12-12)[8]:246
1212"A Christmas Carol"December 19, 1948 (1948-12-19)
1313"The Old Lady Shows Her Medals"December 26, 1948 (1948-12-26)
1414"Ramshackle Inn"January 2, 1949 (1949-01-02)
1515"Cyrano de Bergerac"January 9, 1949 (1949-01-09)
1616"Papa Is All"January 16, 1949 (1949-01-16)
1717"Pride and Prejudice"January 23, 1949 (1949-01-23)
1818"Dark Hammock"January 30, 1949 (1949-01-30)
1919"The Late Christopher Bean"February 6, 1949 (1949-02-06)
2020"The Story of Mary Surratt"February 13, 1949 (1949-02-13)[8]:249
2121"Twelfth Night"February 20, 1949 (1949-02-20)[8]:249
2222"St. Helena"February 27, 1949 (1949-02-27)[8]:249
2323"The Druid Circle"March 6, 1949 (1949-03-06)
2424"Quality Street"March 13, 1949 (1949-03-13)
2525"Dinner at Antoine's"March 20, 1949 (1949-03-20)
2626"Becky Sharp"March 27, 1949 (1949-03-27)
2727"And Never Been Kissed"April 3, 1949 (1949-04-03)
2828"What Makes Sammy Run?"April 10, 1949 (1949-04-10)
2929"Mr. Mergenthwirker's Lobblies"April 17, 1949 (1949-04-17)
3030"Burlesque"April 24, 1949 (1949-04-24)
3131"Macbeth"May 1, 1949 (1949-05-01)
3232"Romeo and Juliet"May 15, 1949 (1949-05-15)
3333"This Time, Next Year"June 5, 1949 (1949-06-05)
3434"It Pays To Advertise"June 12, 1949 (1949-06-12)
3535"Summer Formal"June 19, 1949 (1949-06-19)
3636"Jenny Kissed Me"June 26, 1949 (1949-06-26)
3737"Dark of the Moon"July 3, 1949 (1949-07-03)
3838"For Love or Money"July 10, 1949 (1949-07-10)
3939"The Five Lives of Richard Gordon"July 17, 1949 (1949-07-17)
4040"You Touched Me!"July 24, 1949 (1949-07-24)
4141"The Fourth Wall"July 31, 1949 (1949-07-31)
4242"Enter Madame"August 7, 1949 (1949-08-07)
4343"A Murder Has Been Arranged"August 14, 1949 (1949-08-14)
4444"Pretty Little Parlor"August 21, 1949 (1949-08-21)
4545"Three Concerned Moon"August 28, 1949 (1949-08-28)

Season 2 (1949-50)Edit

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date
461"What Every Woman Knows"September 4, 1949 (1949-09-04)
472"Pride's Castle"September 11, 1949 (1949-09-11)
483"The Little Sister"September 18, 1949 (1949-09-18)
494"The Lonely"September 25, 1949 (1949-09-25)
505"The Queen Bee"October 2, 1949 (1949-10-02)
516"Something's Got To Give"October 9, 1949 (1949-10-09)
527"The Last Tycoon"October 16, 1949 (1949-10-16)[8]:262
538"Because of the Lockwoods"October 23, 1949 (1949-10-23)[8]:262
549"Damion's Daughter"October 30, 1949 (1949-10-30)[8]:263
5510"The House of the Seven Gables"November 6, 1949 (1949-11-06)[8]:263
5611"The Promise"November 13, 1949 (1949-11-13)[8]:264
5712"Medical Meeting"November 20, 1949 (1949-11-20)[8]:264
5813"The Wonderful Mrs. Ingram"November 27, 1949 (1949-11-27)[8]:265
5914"Mist on the Water's"December 4, 1949 (1949-12-04)[8]:265
6015"The Beautiful Bequest"December 11, 1949 (1949-12-11)[8]:266
6116"The Strange Christmas Dinner"December 18, 1949 (1949-12-18)[8]:266
6217"In Beauty Like the Night"December 25, 1949 (1949-12-25)[8]:267
6318"Little Boy Lost"January 1, 1950 (1950-01-01)[8]:267
6419"Bethel Merriday"January 8, 1950 (1950-01-08)[8]:268
6520"Murder at the Stork Club"January 15, 1950 (1950-01-15)[8]:268
6621"The Marriages"January 22, 1950 (1950-01-22)
6722"Uncle Dynamite"January 29, 1950 (1950-01-29)
6823"The Sudden Guest"February 5, 1950 (1950-02-05)
6924"Ann Rutledge"February 12, 1950 (1950-02-12)
7025"Letter to Mr Priest"February 19, 1950 (1950-02-19)
7126"Hometown"February 26, 1950 (1950-02-26)
7227"The Life of Vincent Van Gogh"March 5, 1950 (1950-03-05)
7328"The Uncertain Molly Collicutt"March 12, 1950 (1950-03-12)
7429"The Trial of Steve Kent"March 19, 1950 (1950-03-19)
7530"The Second Oldest Profession"March 26, 1950 (1950-03-26)
7631"Nocturne"April 2, 1950 (1950-04-02)
7732"Dirty Eddie"April 9, 1950 (1950-04-09)
7833"The End Is Known"April 16, 1950 (1950-04-16)
7934"The Man in the Black Hat"April 23, 1950 (1950-04-23)
8035"The American"April 30, 1950 (1950-04-30)
8136"The Feast"May 7, 1950 (1950-05-07)
8237"Brat Farrar"May 14, 1950 (1950-05-14)
8338"The Charmed Circle"May 21, 1950 (1950-05-21)
8439"Semmelweis"May 28, 1950 (1950-05-28)
8540"Sense and Sensibility"June 4, 1950 (1950-06-04)
8641"The Bump on Brannigan's Head"June 11, 1950 (1950-06-11)
8742"Anything Can Happen"June 18, 1950 (1950-06-18)
8843"Hear My Heart Speak"June 25, 1950 (1950-06-25)
8944"The Reluctant Landlord"July 2, 1950 (1950-07-02)
9045"The Tentacles"July 9, 1950 (1950-07-09)

Season 3 (1950-51)Edit

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date
911"High Tor"September 10, 1950 (1950-09-10)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Television Strides Forward with the Premiere of the Philco Television Playhouse". The Billboard. Littleford & Littleford. October 2, 1948. p. 9. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  2. ^ Rodman, Ronald Wayne (2010). Tuning in: American Narrative Television Music. Oxford University Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780195340242. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  3. ^ Kraszewski, Jon (2011). The New Entrepreneurs: An Institutional History of Television Anthology Writers. Wesleyan University Press. p. 181. ISBN 9780819571038. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  4. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 831.
  5. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  6. ^ Castleman, Harry & Podrazik, Walter J. (1984). The TV Schedule Book. New York: McGraw-Hill Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0070102781.
  7. ^ "Philco Television Playhouse". CTVA-The Classic TV Archive. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Hawes, William (2001). Live Television Drama, 1946-1951. McFarland. p. 245. ISBN 9781476608495. Retrieved 8 October 2016.

External linksEdit