The history of American television is finally written. The shows your grandparents chose as their favorites during the dawn of network television inspired the series of today. The genesis of genres began with The Laytons; Barney Blake, Police Reporter; Off the Record; The Dennis James Carnival; Meet the Press; The Original Amateur Hour; Texaco Star Theater; Toast of the Town ; Candid Camera; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts; Hopalong Cassidy; Mama; The Lone Ranger; The Life of Riley.
Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, Jack Carter, Jackie Gleason, Gertrude Berg, Jack Lemmon, Boris Karloff, Mike Wallace, and Perry Como stand out among the stars of groundbreaking series that premiered in the 1940s. Each are categorized along with descriptions of most episodes of the Top 300 comedies, dramas, variety shows, and game shows.
Classic television series. The roots of today’s reboots.
About the author: Richard Irvin’s other works include Forgotten Laughs: An Episode Guide to 150 TV Sitcoms You Probably Never Saw, and Spinning Laughter: Profiles of 111 Proposed Spin-offs and Sequels that Never Became a Series.
is an amazing work of television search and scholarship, tracking shows
from the dark ages of television that few people have seen or ever
heard of. Irvin is the consumate researcher and goes into astonishing
detail on each show. But this is far from a dry, boring reference
book..it's hours of fascinating reading, it's also a time capsule
offering a glimpse into the cultural, historical, technological issues
of the day...and an intriguing foreshadow of what was to come in
television's future. It's full of cool trivia -- for example, in the
sitcom Mama (1949-1956),
Dick Van Patten played the eldest son, but when he had to miss a few
episodes James Dean stepped in to play the character in his place. And
guest stars in the sitcom included Paul Newman and Jack Lemmon. One of
my favorite discoveries in the book is a series called Off The Record,
which ran for two episodes in September 1948. It starred Zero Mostel as
a millionaire DJ broadcasting a radio show from his lavish Manhattan
penthouse apartment. Mostel walked off the show when the producer failed
to deliver a promised live audience to fill the theater where the
sitcom was filmed. Another intriguing show is the dark drama anthology Mr. Black,
which aired for a just few weeks in the fall of 1949, and was written
entirely by novelist and prolific television writer Bill Ballinger. Mr.
Black was the Devil's emissary on earth and he took particular delight
in pitting people against one another and seeing just how much death and
misery he could cause. So little is known about the show that there's
some dispute over who actually starred in it. I know I say this a lot,
especially about Irvin's books, but this is a must-have for any
television reference collection."- Lee Goldberg