Monday, March 01, 2010

This week in Television History: March 2010 Part I

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 9pm ET, 6pm PT (immediately following STU'S SHOW) on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (9pm ET, 6pm PT)on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at We are also on Share-a-Vision Radio ( Friday at 7pm PT and ET, either before or after the DUSTY RECORDS show, depending on where you live.

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.

March 2, 1944
For the first time, the Academy Awards are presented as part of a televised variety show.

Jack Benny served as master of ceremonies for the event, which was held at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. Due to lack of network interest, the show was only broadcast locally, on two Los Angeles TV stations. Winners included Best Film Going My Way, whose male lead, Bing Crosby, won Best Actor. Ingrid Bergman won Best Actress for her performance in Gaslight.

March 4, 1996
Minnie Pearl dies.

A longtime fixture of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, comedian Minnie Pearl dies on this day. Pearl was famous for her comic monologues about hillbilly life, and was featured on the long-running syndicated show Hee Haw from 1970 to 1990.

March 6, 1947
Hour Glass, the first regularly scheduled network variety hour, airs its last episode. The most ambitious television program to date, Hour Glass helped prove that television could provide high-quality entertainment as well as novelty programming.
Although commercial television had existed since 1941, World War II temporarily halted the growth of the medium. When Hour Glass premiered in 1946 on NBC, the network consisted of only three stations, in New York, Philadelphia, and Schenectady, and only a few thousand people owned television sets.
Hour Glass was the first hour-long entertainment series produced for network television, and it was hailed as the most ambitious production of its time. The series, well funded by sponsor Standard Brands, featured elaborate sets and respected performers like Peggy Lee and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen--previous television efforts had usually featured second-rate vaudeville performers. At first, the sponsor's live commercials ran between two and four minutes but were later shortened. The show was the first to feature a regular weekly host--Helen Parrish, who was succeeded by Eddie Mayehoff.
Hour Glass raised interest in regularly scheduled entertainment programming, and several other network series began to follow suit in 1946. However, it was more than a year after Hour Glass went off the air before another company agreed to sponsor a big-budget variety show. That show was Texaco Star Theater, featuring host Milton Berle. The show launched the "vaudeo" era in television history, where variety shows featuring successful vaudeville acts made TV stars out of performers like Eddie Cantor, Ed Sullivan, Bob Hope, and Abbott and Costello.

March 7, 1955
The first Broadway play to be televised in color, featuring the original cast, airs in 1955.

The play was Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin.

March 7, 1960
Jack Paar returns to The Tonight Show.
A month after walking off The Tonight Show to protest censorship, host Jack Paar returns to the show. Paar, who had been hosting the show since July 1957, shortly after host Steve Allen left, was protesting NBC's censorship of a joke about a "water closet," which the network deemed inappropriate.

Paar joined The Tonight Show as host in 1957 after Steve Allen retired from the popular late-night program. The witty, often emotional Paar was a master of the interview as well as comic sketches. Regulars on his show included Hugh Downs, bandleader Jose Melis, Tedi Thurman, and Dody Goodman. Florence Henderson, Betty White, and Buddy Hackett also appeared frequently. The mostly humorous show also included serious moments: Paar railed against the Cuban dictatorship under Batista and praised Castro's revolution. He also did some telecasts from the Berlin Wall.
Paar permanently left The Tonight Show in 1962, and the show was hosted by a series of substitutes until Johnny Carson took over later that year.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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