Monday, November 30, 2009

This week in Television History: December 2009 PART I

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at

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.

December 5, 1952
The Abbott and Costello Show debuts
. They made only 52 episodes, but the show appeared in reruns for decades.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello teamed up in the early 1930s to form a vaudeville comedy act. The team soon became one of vaudeville's biggest successes. In 1940, they launched their own radio program, which ran until 1949.
They made their first film in 1940, One Night in the Tropics, followed by the hit Buck Privates (1941). The pair made more than 30 films together, including a series of horror-movie spoofs, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955).

December 6, 1948
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts debuts.

The show discovered numerous stars, including Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Steve Lawrence, Connie Francis, and Patsy Cline. Elvis Presley flunked his audition for the show in 1955. The show ran for a decade and was canceled in July 1958.

December 6, 1964
Rudolph the Red–Nosed Reindeer the long-running Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass first aired on the NBC television network.

The show was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour.
The special is based on the song by Johnny Marks, which was in turn taken from the 1939 poem of the same title written by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May. Since 1972, the special has aired over CBS, which unveiled a high-definition, digitally remastered version in 2005. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas season. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special, and one of only four 1960s Christmas specials still being telecast (the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman). And again, as with the Charlie Brown special, Rudolph has now been shown more than thirty-one times on CBS, although in this case, CBS was not Rudolph 's original network.

December 6, 1998
Comedian and actor Bill Cosby receives Kennedy Center Honors.
Cosby was born in Philadelphia in 1937. He dropped out of high school and joined the navy in 1956, later getting his high school degree by correspondence. In 1960, he entered Temple University on a football scholarship, but by the following year he had become more interested in comedy and began performing regularly in a Greenwich Village nightclub. He went on to pursue a career in show business and was cast in 1965 as the partner of a white undercover agent in I Spy, which ran until 1968. The first TV show to portray a natural working relationship between white and black colleagues, I Spy co-starred Robert Culp.
Cosby starred in numerous other TV shows throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including The Bill Cosby Show, from 1969 to 1971, a situation comedy in which Cosby played a high school coach, and The New Bill Cosby Show, a variety show that lasted only one season (1972-73). Meanwhile, Cosby released a series of hit comedy recordings, winning eight Grammies, and earned a doctorate in education. In 1972, he launched an animated cartoon series called Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which ran until 1984. In the 1970s and '80s, he made many appearances on children's TV shows, including The Electric Company and Sesame Street.
In 1984, The Cosby Show debuted, a series featuring obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, his attorney wife, and their houseful of children. Rejected by ABC and NBC when Cosby pitched a similar concept based on a blue-collar family, NBC agreed to try the show once Cosby made the main characters an affluent family. The show, which ran until 1992, became one of the most popular programs on television. From 1994 to 1995, Cosby starred in The Cosby Mysteries, playing a forensic expert, and launched Cosby, about downsized airline worker Clinton Lucas, in 1996. Cosby also starred in several movies, including Leonard, Part 6 (1987), which he produced, and Ghost Dad (1990), but his movies generally failed to make a splash at the box office.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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