Kraft Television Theatre: How Many Episodes Survive?

The earliest and most famous of television’s live dramatic anthologies, Kraft Television Theatre ushered in the “Golden Age of Television” in the United States. The hour-long series, sponsored by Kraft Foods, premiered Wednesday, May 7th, 1947 on NBC. It aired continuously with no summer breaks for the next eleven and a half years. The final episode aired Wednesday, October 1st, 1958.

Despite its fame and longevity, Kraft Television Theatre is mostly forgotten today. Only a handful of episodes have been released on VHS or DVD, including Rod Serling’s award-winning “Patterns” from 1955.

My Status Guides

It’s unknown how many episodes of Kraft Television Theatre exist today. It’s also hard to say exactly how many episodes NBC broadcast between 1947 and 1958. My research suggests 586 episodes. From October 1953 to to January 1955, ABC aired a separate dramatic anthology series also sponsored by Kraft and also called Kraft Television Theatre, on ABC. Together, the two anthologies produced an estimated 651 episodes.

The big television archives/museums in the United States hold hundreds of episodes in their collections. The Library of Congress has close to 200 episodes; The Museum of Broadcast Communications has roughly 100; the Paley Center for Media has around 70; and the UCLA Film & Television Archive has 45.

I’ve put together status guides for the first six seasons of NBC’s Kraft Television Theatre:

Completed Status Guides

Season Air Dates Episodes Published
Season 1 1947-1948 71 May 16th, 2009
Season 2 1948-1949 52 September 26th, 2009
Season 3 1949-1950 53 January 9th, 2010
Season 4 1950-1951 50 February 7th, 2010
Season 5 1951-1952 53 March 30th, 2010
Season 6 1952-1953 47 October 25th, 2010

Of the 326 episodes that aired during the first six seasons, only 65 are known to exist in their entirety. Just five complete episodes from the first season exist, plus excerpts from two others.

Status guides for the remaining seasons, plus the ABC series, will be completed eventually.

Revised May 6th, 2017


5 Comments

  • Michael Alden says:

    Check University of Wisconsin. That’s where the majority of the Susskind collection was donated. They have a lot of episodes of this show.

  • RGJ says:

    Michael, from what I’ve been able to find at the University of Wisconsin website, 21 episodes broadcast between 1957 and 1958 were donated in 1991 by the Susskind Estate as part of the larger David Susskind Papers collection. Here‘s the finding aid.

  • Matt says:

    Does anyone know if the 1953 version of A Christmas Carol from the Kraft Television Theatre (#1.11) can be obtained anywhere?

  • R Paul Kerston says:

    I feel indebted for this service as I was born a few years later than I’m searching: (August, 1954). I own a working script (from my mother’s files) which was used for episode # 179 (“The Great Broxopp”) – and it is heavily annoted with typed letters to the network executives to arrange rehearsal space and deal with costuming needs, in addition to timing notes on dress rehearsals etc; as well as I have a script for # 225 (“Ashes in the Wind”) both of which are in what is called Season Four… I have these because my mother (Marena Skibo) was a production assistant working for J Walter Thompson who worked directly with Producer Stanley Quinn on this show (I also have his letter of recommendation for her as she left). I would dearly love to see any ‘kinnies’ made / existing for the episodes that my mom worked on. I think she was there from August, 1950 until August, 1951 for sure… not sure after that. I may have a few other clues to the era but probalby not on this show… as both of my folks were involved in the early 1950s in live TV, in NYC: My mom, Marena Skibo and her husband, my dad, Alan Paul Rhone.

  • Charles Di Domenico says:

    LOOKING FOR INFO ABOUT KRAFT TELEVISION TBE
    TER BROADCAST IN MID 1950’s LIKELY TITLED. “LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING,” A TEENAGE LOVE STORY USING POPULAR SONG OF SAME TITLE AS MOTIF AND BACKGROUND. INTERESTED IN CAST LIST,, ESP TWO LEADS. BELLIEVE FEMALE LEAD PLAYED BY RONIE DENGRL , ( MISSPELLED POSSIBLY)

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