The earliest and most famous of television’s live dramatic anthologies, Kraft Television Theatre ushered in the “Golden Age of Television” in the United States. The hour-long series, sponsored by Kraft Foods, premiered Wednesday, May 7th, 1947 on NBC. It aired continuously with no summer breaks for the next eleven and a half years. The final episode aired Wednesday, October 1st, 1958.
Despite its fame and longevity, Kraft Television Theatre is mostly forgotten today. Only a handful of episodes have been released on VHS or DVD, including Rod Serling’s award-winning “Patterns” from 1955.
My Status Guides
It’s unknown how many episodes of Kraft Television Theatre exist today. It’s also hard to say exactly how many episodes NBC broadcast between 1947 and 1958. My research suggests 586 episodes. From October 1953 to to January 1955, ABC aired a separate dramatic anthology series also sponsored by Kraft and also called Kraft Television Theatre, on ABC. Together, the two anthologies produced an estimated 651 episodes.
The big television archives/museums in the United States hold hundreds of episodes in their collections. The Library of Congress has close to 200 episodes; The Museum of Broadcast Communications has roughly 100; the Paley Center for Media has around 70; and the UCLA Film & Television Archive has 45.
I’ve put together status guides for the first six seasons of NBC’s Kraft Television Theatre:
Completed Status Guides
|Season 1||1947-1948||71||May 16th, 2009|
|Season 2||1948-1949||52||September 26th, 2009|
|Season 3||1949-1950||53||January 9th, 2010|
|Season 4||1950-1951||50||February 7th, 2010|
|Season 5||1951-1952||53||March 30th, 2010|
|Season 6||1952-1953||47||October 25th, 2010|
Of the 326 episodes that aired during the first six seasons, only 65 are known to exist in their entirety. Just five complete episodes from the first season exist, plus excerpts from two others.
Status guides for the remaining seasons, plus the ABC series, will be completed eventually.
Revised May 6th, 2017