Status of Vacation Playhouse

What the status of Vacation Playhouse, which aired each summer from 1963 to 1967 on CBS? The summer replacement showcased unsold pilots. With the exception of 1965, the series aired on Mondays from 8:30-9PM as a replacement for The Lucy Show. In 1965 it ran from 9:30-10PM on Fridays as a replacement for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. In its last two years on the air the series presented a mix of new pilots and repeats of pilots originally shown during the first three years. In 1966 there were eight new pilots and two repeats; in 1967 five new pilots and four repeats.

Some of the pilots had previously been aired as part of other anthologies. “Graduation Dress,” for example, was broadcast in 1960 on General Electric Theater. Although TV listings at the time noted that these were repeats, for the purpose of this status guide they are considered new episodes of Vacation Playhouse.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive has 13 episodes of Vacation Playhouse in its collection. It also has four additional unsold pilots aired as part of Vacation Playhouse but they’re not listed under that title. The Paley Center for Media has three of the unsold pilots, one of which UCLA doesn’t have. The Library of Congress has one unsold pilot. The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) has two, both of which UCLA also has.

As always, just because these specific archives don’t have every episode of Vacation Playhouse that doesn’t mean the pilots are lost or missing.

Read more about Vacation Playhouse in my article Unsold Pilots on Television, 1956-1966.

Season 1: 1963
# Episode Title Airdate Status
1 “A Love Affair Just for Three” 07/22/1963  
2 “Three Wishes” 07/29/1963 UCLA/WCFTR
3 “Hide and Seek” 08/05/1963 UCLA*
4 “Mickey and the Contessa” 08/12/1963 UCLA
5 “The Big Brain” 08/19/1963  
6 “Swinging Together” 08/26/1963  
7 “All About Barbara” 09/02/1963  
8 “Hooray for Love” 09/09/1963 UCLA*/WCFTR
9 “Come A-Runnin'” 09/16/1963 UCLA*
10 “Maggie Brown” 09/23/1963 UCLA*/Paley
Season 2: 1964
# Episode Title Airdate Status
11 “Hey Teacher” 06/15/1964  
12 “Hurray for Hollywood” 06/22/1964 UCLA*
13 “Papa GI” 06/29/1964  
14 “I and Claudie” 07/06/1964 UCLA*
15 “He’s All Yours” 07/20/1964 LOC
16 “Love Is a Lion’s Roar” 07/27/1964  
17 “At Your Service” 08/03/1964  
18 “Graduation Dress” 08/10/1964  
19 “First Hundred Years” 08/17/1964  
20 “My Darling Judge” 08/31/1964  
21 “The Bean Show” 09/07/1964  
22 “Ivy League” 09/14/1964  
Season 3: 1965
# Episode Title Airdate Status
23 “Sybil” 06/25/1965  
24 “The Dean Jones Show” 07/02/1965  
25 “The Barbara Rush Show” 07/09/1965  
26 “Patrick Stone” 07/16/1965 Paley
27 “Starr, First Baseman” 07/23/1965  
28 “The Brave Duke” 07/30/1965  
29 “Luke and the Tenderfoot, Part 1” 08/06/1965  
30 “Luke and the Tenderfoot, Part 2” 08/13/1965  
31 “Coogan’s Reward” 08/20/1965  
32 “Three on an Island” 08/27/1965 UCLA*
33 “Cap’n Ahab” 09/03/1965  
34 “Down Home” 09/10/1965  
Season 4: 1966
# Episode Title Airdate Status
35 “The Good Old Days” 07/11/1966  
36 “Frank Merriwell” 07/25/1966 UCLA*
37 “Where There’s Smokey” 08/01/1966 UCLA*
38 “My Lucky Penny” 08/08/1966  
39 “The Hoofer”/”The Donald O’Connor Show” 08/15/1966 UCLA*
40 “My Son, the Doctor” 08/22/1966  
41 “The Two of Us” 08/29/1966 UCLA*/Paley
42 “Off We Go” 09/05/1966 UCLA*
Season 5: 1967
# Episode Title Airdate Status
43 “You’re Only Young Twice” 07/03/1967 UCLA*
44 “My Boy Goggle” 07/24/1967 UCLA
45 “Alfred of the Amazon” 07/31/1967  
46 “Heaven Help Us” 08/14/1967  
47 “The Jones Boys” 08/21/1967 UCLA

*These episodes are listed in the UCLA Library Catalog under the series title of Vacation Playhouse.

Revised June 2nd, 2016

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5 Replies to “Status of Vacation Playhouse”

  1. Interesting feature!

    BTW, according to Brooks and Marsh, the Gomer Pyle season consists of dramanic pilots, while the Lucy Show season consists of sitcom pilots.

  2. Judging from the episode summaries I have, it does appear that the 1965 run (on Fridays as a replacement for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) was mostly half-hour dramas/adventure shows, as Brooks and Marsh note. “Coogan’s Reward,” for instance,” was about a war reporter who steals his scoops from other reporters; they trick him into town being bombed. I can’t believe that was a sitcom pilot.

    And “Down Home” was about a man who returns to his home town after two decades and takes over as editor of the paper. A banker who hates him tries to sabotage things. I suppose that could be a sitcom. Or not.

  3. “VACATION PLAYHOUSE” [the 1965 edition aired on Friday nights as “GENERAL FOODS VACATION PLAYHOUSE”, the summer replacement for the sponsor’s “GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.”; the Monday edition was entitled “SUMMER PLAYHOUSE” for that summer only] was part of the “deal” Desilu made with CBS for “THE LUCY SHOW”, as the series served as Lucy’s summer replacement; in fact, announcer Roy Rowan introduced each episode this way- “While Lucy’s on vacation, we bring you….”. The bulk of each season’s batch of unsold pilots were produced by Desilu {and there were a LOT of them}. ‘VACATION PLAYHOUSE” last appeared in 1967, just before Lucy sold Desilu to Gulf & Western (becoming a part of “Paramount
    Television”), and the arrangement for a “summer replacement” ended with the “THE LUCY SHOW” (repeats from earlier seasons were shown instead in the summer of ’68, before “HERE’S LUCY” began).

  4. I know someone who has copies of two episodes of “GENERAL FOODS VACATION PLAYHOUSE” from ’65- and they’re comedy pilots, so Brooks & Marsh aree in error {they probably never saw either series that summer}. It was a mix of comedy AND drama pilots.

  5. “Ivy League”, which originally aired on “SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE” on March 13, 1959 {as a projected series for CBS’ 1959-’60 schedule}, can currently be viewed on YouTube (in three parts).

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