Ronald Reagan General Electric Theater Episodes Restored

The Associated Press is reporting that the 208 episodes of General Electric Theater hosted by Ronald Reagan have been restored and will be presented to Nancy Reagan today as part of the actor-turned-politician’s 100th birthday celebration. From The New York Times:

The 1954-1962 “General Electric Theater” tapes, most believed to be damaged or lost, were recently uncovered in the General Electric/NBC Universal archives. They were restored to broadcast quality for use in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

[…]

“The opportunity to represent GE back in the 1950s, and the encouragement he received from the employees he met along the way, really launched Ronnie’s career in public service,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement released Wednesday. ”I know he would be honored by this tribute.”

GE CEO Jeff Immelt plans to deliver the tapes to Mrs. Reagan at the library Wednesday evening. General Electric is sponsoring the Ronald Reagan Centennial festivities with $15 million.

In addition to the episodes of General Electric Theater, GE is helping to renovate the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; it will eventually feature a new General Electric Theater that “will focus on Reagan’s career in radio, television and film.” The Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, a two-year event, will culminate in February of 2011. Reagan was born February 6th, 1911. Here‘s a press release announcing GE’s sponsorship of the celebration.

General Electric Theater premiered on CBS on Sunday, February 1st, 1953. It wasn’t until September 26th, 1954 that Reagan began his stint as host, which would last until the series went off the air in September of 1962 (the final new episode was broadcast on June 3rd, 1962). According to TV.com and the Internet Movie Database a total of 300 episodes were broadcast during its nearly ten years on the air.

The program’s entry in the Museum of Broadcast Communication’s Encyclopedia of TV (1st edition) puts the number at just 200, which can’t be right given that 208 featured Reagan as host. Regardless of how many episodes were produced, one would hope that those not involving Reagan have or will also be restored and perhaps eventually made available to researchers and other interested parties.


4 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Ronald Reagan became the permanent host (and spokesman for the sponsor) of “GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER” in early 1954. Keep in mind that the series initially mixed live AND filmed episodes through 1957, after which it became an all-filmed series. If the report of every episode Reagan hosted being preserved is true, that means the “live” (kinescoped) episodes were also preserved as well! I’d also like to see the original pilot episode of “BACHELOR FATHER” as it was presented on “GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER” {“A New Girl in His Life”} in May 1957….

  • Garrett Goulet says:

    According to Witkopedia, Ronald Reagan became the permanant host of “General Electric Theater” on 9/26/’54.

  • Dianne Seay says:

    About 1956 GE showed on t.v. a Christmas movie where a poor farmer died and several years later the mother died two days before Christmas. There were 6 kids, the oldest about 15 promised his Mom while lying on her death bed that he would find good homes for the kids. He went round pulling the kids in a sleigh and giving them away to goods home. The family farms were few, far and between. No family wanted all the kids, they would take one or two. One kid was left to give away. From afar in the dark, snowy night on Christmas Eve, he saw a house lit up and saw smoke coming out of the chimney and that was where the toddler was given away. The story ended with him pulling the sleigh alone.

    I am trying hard to find this story or the movie or to see if anyone else remembers it.

  • Dianne Seay says:

    Does anyone know who I can contact regarding this movie?

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