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Programming for the NTSC Color System
[Selected: 1951 –1955]

Copyright 2006

Ed Reitan

[V1.00 (Revision 07) 2006-11-29]

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[pix]

 

Peter Pan with Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard - a milestone of early color television! 
The show attracted a record audience of 65-million.

 

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Here are examples of color programming from the first years of shows in NTSC color.  The list starts in 1951 when experimental color shows were first made public to viewers in the New York City area.  These color shows became increasingly available to East Coast network affiliates as AT&T expanded its color network.  The first coast-to-coast color availability was with the January 1, 1954 Rose Parade Colorcast from Pasadena.

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Table of Contents:

 

Pre-1954 NTSC Color Programming

1951 Experimental Color Shows

1952 Experimental Color Shows

1953 Experimental and first Network Color Shows

1954 Color Shows (selected)

1955 Color Shows (selected)

Color Hours on NBC for 1954 and 1955 during October, November and December

Increase in Total NBC Color Show Programming during Years 1954 – 1960

Final Comments

 

 

Pre-1954 NTSC Color Programming

 

Following the conclusion in May 1950 of the color television hearing before the FCC, RCA continued the field-testing of its color system using experimental color equipment in the NBC studio in Washington, D.C.  Between May 26, 1950 and October 19, 1951, 115 hr. & 26 min. of color programs and 441 hr. & 57 min. of color test transmissions (slides, bars) originated from KG2XDE (WNBW).

 

Starting January 1951 further development of the RCA Color System was transitioned to New York City with its better access to programming and RCA/NBC engineers.  A Program Department was formed in March 1951 and a Color Studio was assembled at Radio City in Studio 3H.

 

Experimental closed circuit color tests (bars, slides, and live camera) first originated from Studio 3H starting on April 18, 1951 to the Studio 3H 4th floor Viewing Room.  On May 21, 1951, live color pickups first originated from a single camera Mobile Unit.  During 1951 through 1953 these private color tests were sent via video cable lines to color receiver demonstration theaters (Johnny Victor Center, and Colonial Theaters), to technical & executive viewing areas in the RCA building (including Room 608), and to engineers in Princeton and Camden, N.J.

 

A significant closed circuit color test occurred with the color origination of the Saturday, October 18, 1952 Columbia-Pennsylvania football game.  Microwave Radio links connected Baker Field and Radio City for viewing on tri-color monitors in Studio 3H.  The color mobile unit had two color cameras - one with an Electra Zoom lens and the other with a normal lens turret lens set.  Changes of neutral density filters were made at the cameras to accommodate light conditions as they dimmed during the late afternoon autumn game. 

 

Between April 18, 1951 and June 11, 1953 there were 260 hours & 31 minutes of closed circuit color field tests.

 

The first live experimental test "over-the-air" transmission originated from NBC New York Channel 4 facilities, KE2XJV (WNBT), on July 9, 1951.  This show consisted of a live program from 3H and an outdoor pickup from the mobile unit from Palisades Park, N.J.  ("Artist, Models, Birds, Howdy Doody and MU (mobile unit) Palisades" - from the log).

 

Colorcasts over KE2XJV continued during 1951, 1952, and 1953 as the RCA Color System evolved from the RCA dot-sequential color signal through several NTSC versions.  The majority of these colorcasts were done in the early morning after normal operations of NBC's WNBT.

 

The first colorcast from the Colonial Theater occurred on March 19, 1953. The Colonial Theater studio would continue as the only origination point for NBC network colorcasts until the opening of the Brooklyn Color Studio in September 1954. Studio 3H would continue to be used only for experimental purposes until it was remodeled and renamed Studio 3K.

 

Between May 2, 1951 and May 26, 1953 there were 323 hours & 52 minutes of technical test transmissions over KE2XJV. Between July 5, 1951 and May 26, 1953 there were 40 hours & 14 minutes of experimental color program transmissions over KE2XJV.

 

Return to table of contents

 

 

1951 Experimental Color Shows

 

Monday - Friday

July 9-13, 1951

NBC

Nanette Fabray introducing Ray Malone, Howdy Doody, Rene Paul , Ima Sumac, Palisades Park pickup with Buster Crabbe’s Water Ballet

From Studio 3H.  Announced to test compatibility by public reception in b&w – more likely was done to defuse and confuse the public about regular CBS field sequential non-compatible colorcasts that had just started June 25, 1951.  With the RCA System we can SEE the color program in black and white on my set – with the CBS System we only see gibberish!”

Tuesday - Friday

October 9-13, October 15-19,
 1951

[3 times per day]

NBC

"It’s a World of Color" demonstration program with Ben Grauer, “Models” with ‘Miss Color TV’ Marie Windsor (Dube), “It’s a World of Color” with Nanette Fabray, “Cuban Number”, “Vienna Number” with Art & Gail, Nanette in “Texas Number”, and remote Palisades Park Pick-up of Scotch flag bearers

From Studio 3H.  Public Viewing of Color Television in Center Theater.  Tested public assessment of color quality.

 

Ben Grauer: “Features Dorothy Keller, Earl Barton, the Cliff Dwellers, Gail Manners, Norwood Smith, George Burton and his Love Birds, with David Terry as Musical Director , and starring lovely Nanette Fabray!”

 

See Kodachrome stills from the “Models” and “Texas” numbers as originally photographed at Studio 3H by Gene Rudolph in 1951.

-

Dec. 10, 1951 thru Dec. 1952

NBC

Used the first NTSC Standard Specification of Nov. 21, 1951 for Colorcasts. 3.89 MHz Subcarrier.

Previous colorcasts in 1951 had used RCA “Symmetrical Sampling” (a quadrature modulation version of dot-sequential).

 

Return to table of contents

 

 

1952 Experimental Color Shows

 

Saturday

Jan. 12, 1952

 

Series of 31 Saturday Morning programs

Jon Gnagy as Master of Ceremonies

Wednesday, Friday,  Tuesday

 

July 9, 11, 15

1952

 

July 9: Song by Connie Russell, a lecture by Norman Brokenshire, and ballet, “Serenata”.

July 11: Song and Dance by Ray Malone, lecture by Norman Brokenshire, and S&D by Ray Molone and Chris Karner.

July 15: Connie Russell, N. Brokenshire; Gerri Gale and Harry Jaeger.

Audience Survey to evaluate “preferred” frequency between sound carrier  (4.5045 MHz) and color carrier (3.898125 Mhz), using non-technical observers at RCA Labs and home viewers. [Exhibit 4, Appendix C and D, RCA Petition, p.190 and p.196.]

 

This eventually led to leaving the separation at 4.5 MHz, and instead reducing the horizontal line rate from 15,750 to 15,734.

 

Sept. 16-19, & 24-26 & 30, 1953

 

Various, Roy Marshall, Anita Ellis, Norman Brokenshire, pantomime, Connie Russell, Jack Cassidy, Mira, Cliff Norton, Kuka-Fran-& Ollie

Audience Survey to evaluate color subcarrier frequency (3.58, 3.75, and 3.89 MHz.).  Appendix E and F, RCA Petition, p. 207 and p. 210.] No clean-cut answer from first non-technical RCA, lower subcarrier from second home viewers.

Saturday

October 18,
 1952

NBC

College Football Game: "Columbia vs. Pennsylvania"

Closed circuit back to Radio City only.

Thursday

Nov. 13, 1952

NBC

First test transmissions of Orange-Cyan Wideband (“OCW”) Modulation method with 3.58 MHz Subcarrier.

Variety – Announcer, dancer, Girl Trio, Singer, Dog, Farming Tools

New encoder installed in Studio 3H. 

The OCW technique would lead to the NTSC wideband I and narrowband Q modulation concept.

 

 

1953 Experimental and first Network Color Shows

 

During 1953 NTSC standards were stabilized and came to a final definition.  Colorcasting from NBC was generally only in the New York area.  The first Network shows in color appeared at the end of 1953.  The “Colgate Comedy Hour with Donald O’Connor” is credited as the first “commercial” color program.  It is not known how widely it was seen outside of New York City in color, as burst was not reliably maintained on the network lines and few affiliate transmitters were properly equipped before the major RCA/AT&T effort to do so  for the January 1, 1954 Rose Parade.

(Notes: Times shown are Eastern Time unless noted as Pacific, Items in italics are additions by Steven Dhuey)

 

 

Jan. 8, 1953

NBC

Orange-Cyan Wideband (“OCW”) Modulation with 3.57 MHz Subcarrier.

Offset Sound Carrier.  Announcer, Master of Ceremonies, and New England color slides.

 

Jan. 27, 1953

NBC

“Modified NTSC Specification of February 2, 1953” implemented with 3.57 MHz Subcarrier.

Change of line rate to allow 4.5 MHz. Sound Carrier.  Variety – Dancers, Singer, Comedian, Announcer.

 

March 19,

1953

NBC

“Kukla, Fran & Ollie”

First over-the-air Colorcast from the new Colonial Theater studio: “Puppets and announcer” in NBC log.

 

June 2-5

1953
3 times per day

NBC

Musical numbers with Nanette Fabray, “That Makes Paris, Paree”, ventriloquist performance

Test of public reaction to RCA Color Television, closed circuit to Center Theater Lounge. [Exhibit 2, RCA Petition, p. 43].  Model 3A Receivers.  Of 763 enjoyable, 50% say color is excellent.

Sunday

Aug. 30
 1953

5:00 P.M EST.

NBC

Kukla, Fran, and Ollie: "St. George and the Dragon"

First publicly announced experimental colorcast) With Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops

 

Oct. 8 1953

1:00 P.M.

 

CBS

“Eye Opener”

Ed Sullivan, Carmen Miranda, Gwen Verdon, Nancy Crompton, Polly Bergen, Kajar the magician; pick-up from Central Park featured Gene Autry, Jack Mahoney, Dick West

First CBS Disclosure of its “Chromacoder” Process (field sequential cameras with conversion to NTSC)

Variety. Color demonstration for the press held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to introduce the Chromacoder camera, Colortron tri-color kinescope, and CBS RX-89 color receiver.

Thursday

Oct. 15
 1953

FCC

Official Final Demonstration by the NTSC to the FCC

Viewed at Waldorf-Astoria on receivers provided by 13 Manufacturers

 

NBC

Using NBC VHF Transmitter - Ch. 4

Nanette Fabray, Hit Parade Dancers
from NBC Colonial Theater

 

CBS

Using CBS VHF Transmitter - Ch. 2

Views of New York City from Chrysler Bldg. and art works at the Museum of Modern Art

 

Du-
Mont

Using DuMont UHF Transmitter

Kodachrome NTSC Slides

Saturday

Oct. 31
1953

5:30 P.M.

NBC

“Carmen”

Vera Bryner, Robert Rounseville, Warren Galjour

First color opera

Reviewed by Jack Gould, N.Y. Times, viewing a loaned Emerson color receiver in his home.

Tuesday

Nov. 3
1953

9:30, 11:00  A.M. PST

NBC

First transcontinental demonstration of NTSC color television.  The show, featuring Nanette Fabray and Ben Grauer, survives as an audio NBC transcription (provided by Gene Rudolph, to be digitized).

A live show from the NBC Colonial Theater studio in New York was sent closed-circuit via radio relay to an NBC studio in Burbank, California, in the first transcontinental color TV demonstration of NTSC Color.  The show was viewed by 900 advertising executives and celebrities on RCA Model 5 receivers at NBC’s Burbank Studio.  As the show was closed circuit and not transmitted by any station, it was not viewed by the public.

Monday

Nov. 16
 1953

NBC

“Bob Hope Show” Rehearsal with Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, Janis Page

Closed circuit dress rehearsal for the Nov. 17 telecast.  “The show that did not go on” – Gene Rudolph.   This colorcast was cancelled because of Hope’s unhappiness with the cramped Colonial Theater.  He had the entire program and sets moved overnight to a black and white theater and “the show went on” from there (such was the power of Hope) - as told by Gene Rudolph, NBC, retired.  Hope would continue through the early 1960’s not liking color (or its added expense), and would only do his shows in black and white.

Sunday

Nov. 22
 1953

8:00 P.M.

NBC

“Colgate Comedy Hour”

with Donald O’Connor, Ralph Bellamy, Dorothy Dandridge, Corinne Calvet, Sidney Miller

(First commercial NTSC Color program – this program survives as a B&W kinescope recording)

Friday

Nov. 27
 1953

5:30 P.M.

CBS

“The New Revue”

with Mike Wallace

Color confirmed by Variety. 

All sustaining

Friday

Dec. 4
 1953

5:30 P.M.

CBS

“The New Revue”

with Mike Wallace

Color not confirmed.

Friday

Dec. 11
 1953

5:30 P.M.

CBS

“The New Revue”

with Mike Wallace

Color not confirmed.

Thursday

Dec. 17
1953

FCC

FCC Approves the NTSC Color Standards

The First Day of FCC approved NTSC Color!

NBC

First Color with NBC Color Chimes Logo

5:32:17 P.M.

CBS

First Live CBS Color "The New Review"

6:15 P.M. with guest Rocky Marciano

(Using the CBS Chromacoder camera system)

NBC

First Live NBC Color Program

6:30 P.M. Pat Weaver from Colonial Theater, Jimmy Durante, David Sarnoff from b/w film.  A B&W kinescope recording survives at the Sarnoff Library.

Friday

Nov. 18
 1953

5:30 P.M.

CBS

“The New Revue”

with Mike Wallace

Color confirmed by Variety.

Sunday

Dec. 20
 1953

5:00 P.M.

NBC

“Amahl and the Night Visitors”

Menotti’s Christmas Opera

Tuesday

Dec. 22
 1953

8:00 P.M.

NBC

“Season's Greetings”

with Basil Rathbone, Ezio Pinza, Harpo Marx, Eddie Albert, Jane Kean, Betty Kean, Paul Winchell, Andre Eglevsky, Maria Tallchief, Robert Shaw Chorale

Christmas Variety

Thursday

Dec. 24
 1953

9:00 P.M.

NBC

“Dragnet” [film]
"The Big Little Jesus"

First color film series episode (from 16 mm – a RCA 35 mm film chain was not yet developed)

 

Return to table of contents

 

 

1954 Color Shows (selected)

The first Coast-to-Coast color programming began with the “Tournament of Roses Parade” on January 1. 1954.  A number of receiver manufacturers built small-screen prototype and pre-production color receivers to show this colorcast to their dealers and affiliates on New Year’s Day across the country.  These manufacturers were identified by newspapers as including Admiral, General Electric, Hallicrafters, Hoffman, Pacific-Mercury, RCA, and Raytheon.

 

The era of "Color Spectaculars" began in 1954.  The spectacular concept devised by NBC president Pat (Sylvester) Weaver was the perfect "Big Event" programming to publicize color television.  Spectaculars were presented once or twice a month as anthologies such as NBC's "Max Liebman Presents", "Producer's Showcase", "Maurice Evans Presents" - aka "Hallmark Hall of Fame", "Sunday Spectacular", "Saturday Color Carnival" and CBS's "The Best of Broadway", "Ford Star Jubilee", and "Shower of Stars".   Alternating the colorization of individual episodes of a series allowed experimentation with different show types. These and the monthly Spectaculars allowed the efficient use of the few color studios instead of committing those few color stages to a weekly series.

 

Friday

Jan. 1
1954

11:30 A M. EST

NBC

“Rose Parade”

host: Don Ameche

 

First coast-to-coast color program, live, from Pasadena, California.

sponsor: F.W. Woolworth.

(TV Guide: "Telecast in color")

(Reviewed in N.Y. Times)

Saturday

Jan. 2
1954

5:30 P.M.

CBS

“The New Review”

(Reviewed in N.Y. Times)

Saturday

Jan. 9
1954

8:30 P.M.

NBC

“Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour”

 

Monday

Jan. 11
1954

3:00 P.M.

NBC

“Kate Smith Show”

The TV Guide of January 8 said this show would be in color but although not mentioned in January 11 listings.  It was likely in color.

Friday

Jan. 15
1954

Theatre NT

“Informercial for the new fabric Pellon”

Jane Pickens, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jinx Falkenburg, Maggi McNellis

 

Closed circuit transmission by Theatre Network Television, viewed at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York; part of Press Week of the New York Dress Institute.

Friday

Jan. 15
1954

5:30 P.M.

CBS

“The New Review”

 (TV Guide: "Shown in color")

Saturday

Jan. 16
1954

10:30 P.M.

NBC

“Your Hit Parade”

with Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins, Gisele Mackenzie

 

Tuesday

Jan. 19 1954

7:30 P.M.

NBC

“The Dinah Shore Show”

Excerpt survives as the earliest known color kinescope recording

Thursday

Jan. 21 1954

7:30 P.M.

NBC

“The Dinah Shore Show”

Color not confirmed.

Friday

Jan. 29
1954

1:45P.M.

NBC

“Jinx Falkenburg Diary”

With Texas McCrary, Ethel Waters, Dennis Day, Cliff Arquette

Friday

Jan. 29
1954

5:30P.M.

CBS

“The New Revue”

 

Sunday

Jan. 31
1954

4:30P.M.

NBC

“Zoo Parade”

With Marlin Perkins

From Colonial Theatre, N.Y.  First time show was produced outside its Chicago home

Monday thru Friday

Feb.1 -5
1954

5:30P.M.

NBC

“Howdy Doody”

Daily: Feb. 1, Feb. 2, Feb. 3, Feb. 4, Feb. 5.

Tuesday

Feb. 9
1954

10:00 P.M.

NBC

“Judge for Yourself”

with Fred Allen

Audience participation, panel, variety show

Friday

Feb. 12
1954

5:30 P.M.

NBC

“The New Revue”

with Mike Wallace, Maria Tallchief, Janis Paige

 

Sunday

Feb. 14
1954

6:00 P.M.

NBC

“Meet the Press”

with Senator John F. Kennedy

 

Tuesday

Feb. 16
1954

5:45 P.M.

NBC

“Camel News Caravan”

with John Cameron Swayze

(The first newscast in color)

Saturday

Feb. 20
1954

10:30 P.M.

NBC

“Your Hit Parade”

with Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins, Gisele Mackenzie

 

Friday

Mar. 19
1954

NBC

Boxing Match

(Madison Square Garden)

Wednesday

Mar. 31
1954

NBC

“Home” [color insert]

11:00 AM [cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C]

Wednesday

Mar. 31
1954

NBC

“Coke Time with Eddie Fisher”

7:30 PM EST.  Survives as a color kinescope recording

Friday

April 2
1954

NBC

“Today” [color insert]

["Remote pickup"]

Friday

April 2
1954

CBS

“New Review”

5:30 EST.  First “COLOR” bumper in TV Guide.

Sunday

April 4
1954

NBC

“Paul Winchell Show”

7:00 PM EST.  (one half hour)

Friday

April 9
1954

CBS

“New Review”

5:30 EST

Friday

April 16
1954

CBS

“New Review”

5:30 EST [with Mike Wallace]

Sunday

April 18
1954

NBC

“Easter Parade”

12N EST [w/ Tex & Jinx]

Friday

May 21
1954

NBC

Ding Dong School

10:00 AM [with Miss Francis]

Friday

May 21
1954

CBS

“New Review”

5:30 EST

Friday

May 21
1954

CBS

News

9:45 EST

Monday

May 31
1954

NBC

“Bride and Groom”

12N EST

Wednesday

June 16
1954

NBC

Golf Tournament

[Baltusrol]

Thursday

June 17
1954

NBC

“Home” Show

11:00A EST

Friday

June 25
1954

NBC

"Mrs. USA"

(first network 35-mm color film insert)

Thursday

July 8
1954

NBC

“The Marriage” with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn

10:00P EST (First  Network Color Series) [sit-com]

Thursday

July 15

NBC

“The Marriage”

10:00P EST

Thursday

July 22

NBC

“The Marriage”

10:00P EST

Thursday

July 29

NBC

“The Marriage”

10:00P EST

Thursday

Aug. 5

NBC

“The Marriage”

10:00P EST

Wednesday

Aug. 11

NBC

“Military Demonstration of Color Television”

Use of color and black-and-white TV in military combat was demonstrated for the first time by RCA-NBC in cooperation with the Army Signal Corps at Fort Meade, Md.

Thursday

Aug. 12

NBC

“The Marriage”

10:00P EST

Thursday

Aug. 19

NBC

“The Marriage”

10:00P EST

Sunday

Aug. ?
1954

CBS

“Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town”

Single Show - See "Life Magazine" spread
w/ Janice Page, John Raitt, Ertha Kitt

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday

Sept. 7
1954

CBS

“Life with Father”

10:00P EST [first West Coast CBS Color Show (from Television City) – NBC did not have a West Coast Color Studio until 1955]

Wednesday

Sept. 8
1954

CBS

“Love of Life”

12:15P EST

Sunday

Sept. 12
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents
“Satins and Spurs”

7:30P EST, 4:40 PST [Betty Hutton] (first color spectacular, 90 minutes)
w/ Betty Hutton, Kevin McCarthy, Genevieve

Wednesday.

Sept. 15
1954

CBS

Best of Broadway:

“The Royal Family”

10:00P EST

w/ (George Kaufman) w/ Fredric March, Charles Cobern, Claudette Colbert, Helen Hayes

Sunday

Sept. 19
1954

CBS

“What's My Line?”

10:00P EST, (a single colorized show)

Saturday

Sept. 25
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Lady in the Dark”

w/ Ann Southern; Moss Hart Producer.

Thursday

Sept. 30
1954

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

w/ Betty Grable, Harry James, Mario Lanza

[from Television City, Hollywood]

Monday

Oct. 4
1954

CBS

“Gary Moore”

10:00-10:30A EST, Single Show

Monday

Oct. 4
1954

CBS

"Burns and Allen"

8:00-8:30P EST  [Color Film] Single Show (slightly faded, this film survives as a 35mm print as of 2005 – B & A had only this single color show)

Saturday

Oct. 10
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Sunday in Town”

7:30-9:00P EST w/ Judy Holliday, Steve Allen

Wednesday

Oct. 13
1954

CBS

Best of Broadway

10:00-11:00P EST

Thursday

Oct. 14
1954

NBC

“Ford Theater”

9:30-10:00P EST [film] (first regular sponsored color series)

Monday

Oct. 18
1954

CBS

“Bob Crosby Show”

3:30-4:00P EST from Television City, Hollywood

Monday

Oct. 18
1954

NBC

Producers' Showcase “Tonight at 8:30

8:00-9:30P EST w/ Ginger Rogers, Estelle Winwood, Noel Coward, Prod: Otto Preminger)

Monday

Oct. 18
1954

CBS

Studio One:
"Boy Who Changed the World"

10:00-11:00P EST [Story of Thomas A. Edison]

Thursday

Oct. 21
1954

NBC

“Ford Theater” aka “TV Theater”

9:30-10:00P EST [regular film]

Saturday

Oct. 23
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Follies of Suzy”

9:00-10:30P EST w/ Steve Allen, Dick Shawn, Paul Whiteman, Jeanmarie]

Saturday

Oct. 23
1954

CBS

“Two for the Money”

9:00-9:30P EST

Monday

Oct. 25
1954

CBS

“December Bride”

9:30-10:00P EST

Thursday

Oct. 28
1954

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

8:30-9:30P EST w/ Edgar Bergen, Sherrie North, Gene Nelson (announced Color) [only a b&w kine was shown on the West Coast] [from Television City]

Thursday

Oct. 28
1954

NBC

“Ford Theater”

9:30-10:00P EST

Friday

Oct. 29

CBS

“Mama”

8:00-8:30P EST

Sunday

Oct. 31
1954

NBC

“The Abduction from the Seraglio”

NBC Opera

Sunday

Oct. 31
1954

NBC

“Macbeth”

4:00-6:00P EST (initially scheduled, may have been delayed until November 28, 1954 - to be verified)

Monday

Nov. 1
1954

CBS

“Godfrey’s Talent Scouts”

8:30-9:00P EST

Thursday

Nov. 4
1954

CBS

“Art Linkletter's House Party”

2:30-3:00P EST
[from Television City]

Friday

Nov. 5
1954

CBS

“Art Linkletter's House Party”

2:30-3:00P EST
[from Television City]

Friday

Nov. 5
1954

CBS

“Perry Como Show”

7:45P EST

Saturday

Nov. 7
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Fanfare”

w/ Frank Sinatra, Judy Holliday, Steve Allen, Jacques Tati  (Hollywood segment in B& W)

Tuesday

Nov. 9
1954

CBS

“Jo Stafford Show”

7:45P EST

Wednesday

Nov. 10
1954

CBS

Best of Broadway:

Panama Hattie” (Cole Porter)

10:00P EST

w/ Ethel Merman

Sun.

Nov. 14
1954

CBS

“You Are There”

6:30P EST

Monday

Nov. 15
1954

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“State of the
Union

8:00P EST w/ Margaret Sullavan, Joseph Cotton, Nina Foch, Ray Walston

Wednesday

Nov. 17
1954

NBC

“Home”

11:00A EST  [Dave Garroway]

Wednesday

Nov. 17
1954

CBS

“Love of Life”

12:15P EST

Thursday

Nov. 18
1954

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

w/ Betty Grable, Harry James, Ed Wynn (First TV Auto Show)

Saturday

Nov. 20
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Best Foot Forward”

w/ Jeannie Carson, Robert Cummings, Marilyn Maxwell

Sunday

Nov. 28
1954

NBC

“Macbeth”

"Hallmark Hall of Fame" (B&W)
with Maurice Evans, Judith Anderson

Saturday

Dec. 5
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Spotlight”

w/ Sonja Henie, Jack Buchanan, Jimmy Durante

Tuesday

Dec. 8
1954

CBS

Best of Broadway:

The Philadelphia Story”

10:00P EST

w/ Dorothy McGuire, Mary Astor

Monday

Dec. 13
1954

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Dateline”

Overseas Press Club Bldg. Dedication (B&W?)
w/ John Daly, Bob Hope, Richard Rogers, Perry Como

Saturday

Dec. 18
1954

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Babes in Toyland”

w/ Dennis Day, Wally Cox, Dave Garroway

Thursday

Dec. 23
1954

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

“A Christmas Carol”

w/ Fredrick March, Basil Rathbone

(music: Bernard Herrman) FILM

Saturday

Dec. 26
1954

CBS

Omnibus:

“The Merry Widow”

 

 

Return to table of contents

 

 

1955 Color Shows (selected)

 

Saturday

Jan. 2
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Good Times”

w/ Judy Holliday, Steve Allen

Tuesday

Jan 5
1955

NBC

"Norby"

"First series filmed in color"
with David Wayne

(January 5 - April 6, 1955, Sponsored by Eastman Kodak)

Tuesday

Jan 5
1955

CBS

Best of Broadway:

“Arsenic and Old Lace”

w/ Helen Hayes, Billie Burke, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Orson Bean

Sunday

Jan. 10
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Yellow Jack”

w/ Broderick Crawford, Raymond Massey, Rod Steiger

Friday

Jan. 15
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Naughty Marietta

w/ Alfred Drake, Patrice Munsel, John Conte

Thursday

Jan. 20
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

“Show Stoppers”

w/ Ethel Merman, Red Skelton, Bobby Van

Saturday

Jan. 30
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Variety”

w/ Perry Como, Buddy Hackett, Herb Shriner, Kitty Kallen

Tuesday

Feb. 2
1955

CBS

Best of Broadway:

“The Show Off”

w/ Jackie Gleason, Thelma Ritter

Monday

Feb. 7
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“The Women”

w/ Shelley Winters, Paulette Goddard, Ruth Hussey, Mary Astor

Thursday

Feb. 17
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

 

Sunday

Feb. 27
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents
“Big Time”

w/ Milton Berle, Martha Raye, Ray Bolger

Wednesday

Mar. 2
1955

CBS

Best of Broadway:

“The Guardsman”

w/ Claudette Colbert, Franchot Tone

Monday

Mar. 7
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
"Peter Pan"

First full-length Broadway production shown on TV ($400K production, shown at 4:30 P.M. in LA)  w/ Mary Martin, Cyril Richard

Saturday

Mar. 12
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents Connecticut Yankee”

w/ Eddie Albert, Janet Blair, Boris Karloff

Thursday

Mar. 17
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

“Burlesque”

w/ Dan Dailey, Marilyn Maxwell, Joan Blondell, Jack Oakie

Sunday

Mar. 27
1955

NBC

"Entertainment 55"

(dedication of NBC Color City Studios in Burbank)
w/ Helen Hayes, Dinah Shore, Fred Allen, Judy Holliday

Monday

Apr. 4
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
Reunion in Vienna

(5:00 PM in LA) w/ Greer Garson (TV debut), Peter Lorre, Brian Ahern

Wednesday

Apr. 6
1955

CBS

Best of Broadway:

“Stage Door”

w/ Diana Lynn, Rhonda Fleming, Elsa Lanchester

Saturday

Apr. 9
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “The Merry Widow”

w/ Eddie Albert, Janet Blair, Boris Karloff

Thursday

Apr. 14
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

Show Stoppers

w/ Ethel Merman, Red Skelton, Peter Lind Hayes

Sunday

Apr. 24
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Kaleidoscope”

w/ Robert Cummings

Monday

May 2
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Darkness at
Noon

w/ Lee J. Cobb, David Wayne, Ruth Roman

Wednesday

May 4
1955

CBS

Best of Broadway:

“Broadway”

(George Abbott) w/ Joseph Cotton, Keenan Wynn, Gene Nelson, Piper Laurie, Dir: Fanklin Schaffner, Prod: Felix Johnson

Saturday

May  7
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Desert Song”

w/ Nelson Eddy, Gale Sherwood, John Conte

Thursday

May  12
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

High Pitch”

(Musical) w/ Marguerite Piazza, Tony Martin, William Frawley, Vivian Vance

Saturday

May 22
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Promenade”

w/ Tyrone Power, Judy Holliday, Janet Blair, Herb Shriner

Monday

May 30
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“The
Petrified Forest

(first drama from Color City, Burbank)
w/ Bogart & Bacall, Henry Fonda

Saturday

June 4
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “The Chocolate Soldier”

w/ Rise Stevens, Eddie Albert

Thursday

June 9

1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

“Review of the Season”

w/ Edgar Bergen, Dan Dailey, Grable, Martin

Monday

June 27
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Wide, Wide, World”

(probably B&W)
w/ Dave Garroway

Saturday

July 2
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Allen in Movieland”

(B&W?) w/ Steve Allen, Tony Curtis, Jeff Chandler, Mamie Van Dorren, Piper Laurie

Monday

July 25
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“The Fourposter”

w/ Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy

Saturday

July 30
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Svengali and the Blonde”

(B&W?) w/ Carol Channing, Basil Rathbone, Ethel Barrymore

Monday

Aug. 1
1955

NBC

"Home"

Regular 15-minute color segments introduced on a daily basis

Monday

Aug. 22
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“The King and Mrs. Candle”

w/ Cyril Richard

Saturday

Aug. 27
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “One Touch of Venus”

(B&W?) w/ Janet Blair, Russell Nype

Sunday

Sept. 11
1955

NBC

"Sunday Spectacular"
"The Skin of Our Teeth"

w/ Helen Hayes, Mary Martin, George Abbott

Monday

Sept. 12
1955

NBC

"Howdy Doody" debut

Monday through Friday, 5:30 to 6:00 PM (EST) from NBC's new color studio 3-K in Radio City

Saturday

Sept. 17
1955

NBC

Milton Berle Show debut

Berle is first leading television star to be presented in color on a regular basis.

(series of 13 shows from Burbank)

Monday

Sept. 19
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Our Town”

w/ Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Frank Sinatra

Saturday

Sept. 27-24?
1955

NBC

First NTSC Color College Football Game

Georgia Tech. vs. Miami at Atlanta

Saturday

Sept. 24
1955

CBS

Ford Star Jubilee

“Judy Garland”

(6:30 LA) w/ David Wayne (Garland TV Debut)

[from CBS Television City, Hollywood]

Wednesday

Sept. 28
1955

NBC

First Color World Series

Dodgers vs. Yankees

Saturday

Oct. 1
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Heidi”

w/ Natalie Wood, Wally Cox, Jeannie Carson

Thursday

Oct. 6
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

“Time Out for Ginger”

w/ Jack Benny, E.E. Horton, Gary Crosby

Saturday

Oct. 15
1955

NBC

College Football

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Monday

Oct. 17
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Cyrano DeBergerac”

w/ Jose Ferrer, Claire Bloom, Christopher Plummer

Saturday

Oct. 22
1955

CBS

Ford Star Jubilee

“Together with Music”

(5:30 LA) w/ Mary Martin, Noel Coward

Sunday

Oct. 23
1955

NBC

Hallmark Hall of Fame
"
Alice in Wonderland"

(First Color Hallmark)
w/ Eva La Gallienne, Elsa Lanchester, Reginald Gardiner

Saturday

Oct. 29
1955

NBC

College Football

Iowa vs. Michigan

Monday

Oct. 31
1955

NBC

"Matinee Theater" debuts

Daily live hour-long mid-afternoon dramatic show from Burbank 3:00 to 4:00 PM (EST)

Thursday

Nov. 3
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

w/ J. Benny, Gracie Allen, Marilyn Miller, Frankie Lane, Gary Crosby

Saturday

Nov. 5
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “The Great Waltz”

w/ Bert Lahr, Patrice Munsell 6:00 in LA

Monday

Nov. 14
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
“Dateline II”

from Overseas Press Club Bldg. (B&W)
w/ William Holden, Milton Berle, Greer Garson, Peggy Lee, Robert Frost

Saturday

Nov. 19
1955

CBS

Ford Star Jubilee

“Caine Mutiny Court-Martial”

(6:30 Sat) w/ Lloyd Noland, Barry Sullivan

Sunday

Nov. 20
1955

NBC

Hallmark Hall of Fame
"The Devil's Disciple"

w/ Maurice Evans, Teresa Wright, Ralph Bellamy (G.B. Shaw)  [aka: “Maurice Evens Presents”]

Saturday

Nov. 26
1955

NBC

College Football

Army vs. Navy

Saturday

Nov. 5
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Dearest Enemy”

(Rogers and Hart) w/ Cornelia Otis Skinner, Robert Sterling, Anne Jeffries, Cyril Richard

Sunday

Dec. 11
1955

NBC

Hallmark Hall of Fame
"Dream Girl"

Comedy w/ Vivian Blaine, Hal March, Evelyn Varden [aka: “Maurice Evens Presents”]

Monday

Dec. 12
1955

NBC

Producers' Showcase
"Sleeping Beauty”

first color full-length ballet
Sadler Wells' Ballet with Fonteyn

Thursday

Dec. 15
1955

CBS

“Shower of Stars”

“A Christmas Carol”

w/ Fredric March (repeated from 1954)

Saturday

Dec. 17
1955

CBS

Ford Star Jubilee

“I Hear America Singing”

w/ Eddie Fisher, Ella, Red Skelton, Nat King Cole, Debbie Reynolds

Saturday

Dec. 24
1955

NBC

Max Liebman Presents “Babes in Toyland”

[Restaged] w/ Dennis Day, Wally Cox, Dave Garroway

 

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Growth of Color Hours on NBC for 1954 and 1955 during October, November and December:

 

 

1954

1955

 

 

 

October

7 hours

37 hours

 

 

 

November

8 1/2 hours

41 hours

 

 

 

December

9 hours

38 hours

 

 

 

 

The above is for all live studio programming including "Spectaculars" and does not include outside pickups for World Series, Football Games and mobile unit inserts for "Wide Wide World", "Today", "Home", and "Tonight".  [Source: "RCA Radio Age", October 1955]

 

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Increase in Total NBC Color Show Programming during Years 1954 - 1960:

                                            

 

Total Color Hours by Year on NBC

1954

68 hours*

1955

216 hours

1956

486 hours

1957

647 hours

1958

668 hours

1959

724 hours

1960

1,034 hours

(*46 hours were in color on CBS in 1954)

 

Source: "RCA Electronic Age", "Special Report on Color TV - Five Years of Progress", ca. 1959,
 

 

“By 1962, about 68 percent of NBC’s total evening programming was in color, and, in 1966, NBC became the first full-color network in the US.”  CBS’s 1954 figures, and the 1959 and 1960 figures, are from “His Master’s voice in America”, General Electric, 1991.

 

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Final Comments:

 

It is wonderful to note the rich content and high-caliber of performers in the color television programming of the "Spectacular Era".  I would challenge readers to make their own judgment of how this compares to this early era of high definition programming. 

 

It is also interesting that not only NBC, but also CBS, did significant color programming during the 1954 to 1957 era.  Of course, this did not continue.  As color receiver sales slumped during the late 1950's, CBS virtually abandoned colorcasts.  Color programming on CBS was only an occasional special such as "High Adventure with Lowell Thomas" or the Christmas "Red Skelton Show" (as Red often demanded).  By the early 1960s color on CBS dwindled to almost nothing.  During the entire Fall 1963 – Spring 1964 season, there was only one CBS network colorcast ("Elizabeth Taylor in London" on 10/6/63). The CBS Eye had reverted to being in just plain old black and white.

 

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