Tuesday, June 02, 2009

This week in Television History: June PART I

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As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

June 5, 1954
Your Show of Shows final episode

The comic variety show featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca launched in 1950. Other featured performers were Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Nanette Fabray, Bill Hayes, Judy Johnson, The Hamilton Trio and the soprano Marguerite Piazza. The show was created by Sylvester Weaver and directed by Max Liebman. Writers for the show included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin, and Carl Reiner. For three of its four years, it ranked as one of the Top 20 most highly rated shows. In 1952, the program won the Best Show Emmy Award.

June 7, 1955
The $64,000 Question premieres

The show was a spin-off of radio game show The $64 Question and spun off The $64,000 Challenge. The show started with contestants answering a question worth $64, with each subsequent question worth double the amount of the previous one. The show was an instant hit, knocking I Love Lucy out of first place in the ratings. Rumors of rigging plagued this and other big-money game shows in the mid-1950s causing The $64,000 Question and The $64,000 Challenge to be yanked off the air within three months of the quiz show scandal's eruption. Challenge went first, in September 1958, with Question was killed in November, 1958.

June 15, 1969
First Hee Haw episode

Hee Haw started on CBS as a summer 1969 replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Although the program ran for only two years, it was a hit with audiences and was in the Top 20 when CBS dropped it, deciding the show's hick country focus wasn't appropriate for the network's image. Hosted by country singers Roy Clark and Buck Owens, the program featured top country musicians and wacky stunts, jokes, and hijinks. The show went into syndication after the network dropped it, becoming highly successful and running until 1992. The show was inspired by Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the major difference being that Hee Haw was far less topical, and was centered around country music. The show was equally well-known for its voluptuous, scantily-clad women in stereotypical farmer's daughter outfits.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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