How “The Petrified Forest” (Producers’ Showcase) Was Recovered

Tales of Recovery examines how specific television programs once thought missing or lost have been recovered. Often, these recoveries were not well-publicized or took place so long ago that they themselves have been forgotten.

This ninety-minute installment of NBC’s prestigious anthology series was Humphrey Bogart’s only foray into television, aside from appearances on The Jack Benny Program, Toast of the Town and Person to Person. Bogart originated the role of Duke Mantee on Broadway in 1935 and returned for the 1936 film adaptation. Twenty years later, joined by wife Lauran Bacall and Henry Fonda, Bogart starred in a live, color version of “The Petrified Forest” for Producers’ Showcase. It aired from 8-9:30PM on Monday, May 30th, 1955.

The only surviving copy of the broadcast, a black-and-white kinescope, was found in the personal collection of Lauren Bacall in October 1986 after the executive director of the Museum of Broadcasting (now the Paley Center for Media, formerly the Museum of Television & Radio) discussed it with her at a dinner party [1]. It was included in the 4th Annual Television Festival in Los Angeles in March 1987, introduced by the man who directed it three decades earlier: Delbert Mann [2].

Unfortunately, “The Petrified Forest” has never been made available commercially. It can be viewed at UCLA’s Film & Television Archive, the Library of Congress or the Paley Center for Media.

Sources:

1 “Broadcasting Museum Seeks TV’s Self-History.” New York Times. 25 Jan. 1987: 43.
2 Champlin, Charles. “Sharing the Riches of TV.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Feb. 1987: 1.

Last Revised February 19th, 2016

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