Q & A: The Pied Piper of Hamelin; Amanda Randolph

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

It seems that each day, using “DuMont TV” as a search criteria on YouTube brings more and more interesting video from the dawn of television, but I’m seeing some conflicting info and wondered if you might have the means to sort it out.

Both the YouTube and IMDB descriptions of the now-public domain movie “The Pied Piper Of Hamelin” lists it as having been produced as a film in color by DuMont, but that its first airing was in 1957 on NBC. I could conceive of a scenario where this is the case, e.g. in the early 50’s DuMont embarks in lavish plans for a color network debut, including a fairly highly-budgeted color family film, but collapses before it can premiere one; the movie, completed, languishes for a few years until a competing network finally scoops it up, hoping to have something to counter-program against “The Wizard Of Oz”.

Do you think that’s the case here, or is it a case of the Internet propagating a falsehood?

All evidence points to this being a case of misinformation. The earliest mention of the special that I have found comes from a June 19th, 1957 article in The Los Angeles Times in which Walter Ames reported that Van Johnson had been signed to star in Hal Stanley’s production of “The Pied Pier of Hamelin” replacing Perry Como, who wanted to spend time with his family. Ames also reported that shooting would begin on August 19th with a projected air date of November 12th [1]. It was actually shown on Tuesday, November 26th, 1957.

Thus, it appears there is no way DuMont could have been involved. The network had all but folded by 1955 before going off the air for good in August 1956. I suppose it could have originally been conceived as a DuMont production, but that seems unlikely.

I’ve read from two published sources that Amanda Randolph, a black actress in the 1950’s actually hosted a daily television talk show on the old Dumont Television Network. If this is so, she predates Oprah! I’ve search high and low for evidence of this, to no avail! Have you heard any thing? Thank you!
Steve

Amanda, a daily fifteen-minute series starring Amanda Randolph, premiered on Monday, November 1st, 1948 on WABD (the DuMont affiliate) in New York City. I’m not sure if other DuMont stations also aired the series, which ran from 9:45-10AM and followed fifteen minutes of news, but I don’t think it did. The Billboard reported on October 30th, 1948 that Amanda was part of WABD’s round-the-clock schedule beginning November 1st [2].

According to The New York Times, Randolph was an “actress, singer and genial back-fence philosopher” [3]. Amanda ran until sometime in 1949. No episodes are known to exist.

Works Cited:

1 Ames, Walter. “America’s Prettiest Speaking Voice Lost in Leo’s Roar.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Jun. 1957: A8.
2 “WABD Shaping Day Line for 24-Hour Sked.” The Billboard. 30 Oct. 1948: 13.
3 “Radio and Television.” New York Times. 25 Oct., 1948: 46.


4 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    DuMont NEVER telecast any color programs during the period they operated as a television network (they didn’t have the technology nor the funding to do so). By the time “The Pied Piper Of Hamlin” aired on NBC in November 1957, the ONLY program they were distributing [via syndication to a few stations] was “BOXING FROM ST. NICHOLAS ARENA”, which ended in August 1958 when DuMont became Metropolitan Broadcasting (later Metromedia), concentrating on operating WNEW-TV {formerly WABD}.

  • Sean Carolan says:

    Thanks for doing the research on a DuMont color production (or the lack of same – it seemed unlikely.) I’ve seen color test patterns for DuMont, but never an actual production and I doubted that this was a possibility. Still, there remains the task of getting IMDB and YouTube to clean up the mis-info…

  • Sean Carolan says:

    Incidentally, the entire film is up at The Internet Archive – which unfortunately propagates IMDB’s bad info. Here’s the link:

    http://www.archive.org/details/The_Pied_Piper_of_Hamelin

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Hal Stanley produced and owned the rights to the special, which he reissued theatrically overseas in 1958, and “domestically” by 1961 (albeit with slight re-editing, eliminating those portions that faded in and out for the original commercial “interludes”, and new opening/closing titles). For some reason, he let the copyright lapse by 1986, and the “feature” version been a staple of “public domain” videocassettes and “dollar DVD”s ever since…as well as the Internet Archive. Thanks, Sean!

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