Tales of Lost TV: The Girl in the Bathing Suit

During the 1950s and into the 1960s it wasn’t uncommon for dramatic anthology programs to consist entirely or partially of rebroadcasts of episodes from earlier dramatic anthology programs. As an example, take the case of “The Girl in the Bathing Suit,” which was originally broadcast in late November of 1955 as an episode of Studio 57. Studio 57 was one of the very last programs to air over the DuMont network; the final summer repeat was broadcast on Tuesday, September 6th, 1955. The show then went into first-run syndication, which is why there isn’t an exact air date for “The Girl in the Bathing Suit” (it appears to have been shown throughout the week of Sunday, November 27th, 1955).

The episode starred Judith Evelyn, John Baragrey and Sally Brophy (as Sallie Brophy). From what I’ve been able to piece together based on brief summaries, the titular girl in the bathing suit stopped to take a swim and returned to find her car and clothing missing. She meets a stranger who initially seems helpful but then tries to hold her captive. Finally, she overhears a phone conversation about her body being found in the twisted wreckage of her car. In other words, it wasn’t a particularly cheerful story.

After its initial broadcast, “The Girl in the Bathing Suit” was seen on Friday, September 14th, 1956 as an episode of Undercurrent on CBS, a summer replacement for The Lineup. A dramatic anthology series, Undercurrent was broadcast during the summers of 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958. Initially, it presented original dramas but eventually began airing rebroadcasts of earlier anthologies, including Studio 57 and The Web.

“The Girl in the Bathing Suit” was later broadcast as an installment of Thirty Minute Theater in September of 1958, Silver Screen Theater in March of 1960 and Regal Theater in April of 1961. I don’t know much at all about any of these programs. They may have been packages of various anthology series sold to individual stations rather than nationally syndicated programs.

I can’t find any trace of “The Girl in the Bathing Suit” at any of the big museums/archives. UCLA’s Film & Television Archive does have several episodes of Studio 57 in its collection but they are from 1957 or 1958. I believe quite a few episodes of the series are in the hands of private collectors, including some from its first season on DuMont.

The episode may not be truly lost, however. According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright was renewed in 1983 by Universal City Studios, again in 2002 by Universal City Studios, and most recently in 2004 by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Vivendi Universal Entertainment. Does that necessarily mean the episode still exists or is it just a title on a document somewhere?

Revised March 31st, 2016


6 Comments

  • Jeff Wildman says:

    It’s possible that this Universal-produced show may now be in the UCLA archive. Universal has recently handed over a large donation of their material to UCLA, however it will probably be quite some time before it is ever catalogued.

  • DuMont says:

    Just reading your post made me all sentimental about the era of dramatic anthologies that have completely disappeared from broadcast television.

    I have my fingers crossed that the romantic comedy anthology ‘Love Bites’ will do well once it preems on NBC sometime during the 2010-11 season…good Nielsens could spark a revival and prompt the other nets to greenlight anthology concepts.

  • pB says:

    The last anthology series I can remember being syndicated was Love America Style and it was editted down to an half hour.

    I think that’s the reason they don’t get greenlit by the networks anymore.

  • DuMont says:

    ‘Twilight Zone’ is considered to be a scifi anthology, and it is still successfully being broadcast in syndication as well as getting off-network cablecast encoring on SYFY.

    I’ve also seen ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ and ‘Night Gallery’ popping up in syndication, which perhaps suggests that scifi anthologies have good shelf life in a distributor library.

    What have really had a rough road in syndie since the ’60s/’70s have been the dramatic anthologies. I really wish that PBS would open up an hour to show the best of televisions dramatic anthologys.

    One of the more interesting dramatic anthologies that never got a fair run in syndication was NBC’s ‘Police Story’, which spawned a number of spinoffs for the Peacock.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    MCA-TV (through its “Revue Productions” subsidiary), produced hundreds of “anthology” episodes which were originally sponsored by various advertisers [“STARS OVER HOLLYWOOD”, “GRUEN GUILD THEATER”, “GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER”, “JANE WYMAN’S FIRESIDE THEATER” and “STUDIO 57”, to name but a few, in the ’50s alone], which were usually “repackaged” under different titles for network and syndicated rebrodacasts, right through the mid-’60s.

  • Joseph says:

    Given that the final season of “Studio 57” was in first-run syndication, plenty of prints were probably made for each episode, which could mean that a copy of it might exist somewhere.

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