Status of Kraft Television Theatre, Season 1

NBC’s pioneering dramatic anthology Kraft Television Theatre aired for approximately 585 episodes between May 1947 to October 1958. The series ran year-round with no summer breaks, meaning it didn’t have traditional seasons. When I first published this status guide in May 2009, I arbitrarily decided to break the series into “seasons” running from May to May, with the first season starting in May 1947 and ending in May 1948. I later decided to align my status guides with episode lists and guides available online, like those found at TV.com, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and the Classic TV Archive (CTVA). These sources all have the first season starting in May 1947 and ending in September 1948.

Kraft Television Theatre premiered on Wednesday, May 7th, 1947. It originally aired from 7:30-8:30PM but in January 1948 shifted to the 9-10PM time slot. It’s unclear how many episodes were broadcast during the 1947-1948 season. Either 70 or 71 episodes were aired, depending on whether or not the series was pre-empted on a certain date. Keep reading to learn more.

Murder Without Crime (September 1947)

I initially assumed Kraft Television Theatre didn’t air on September 17th, 1947 because it wasn’t included in TV listings published in The New York Times for that date. According to those listings, WNBT–NBC’s flagship station in New York City–aired a football game between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams at 8:30PM. A cooking show called In the Kitchen (also known as In the Kelvinator Kitchen) moved forward an hour to 7:30PM ET, bumping Kraft Television Theatre.

However, the book Live Television Drama, 1946-1951 indicates an episode titled “Murder Without Crime” aired on September 17th, 1947. It is also included in both the TV.com and CTVA episode guides. TV.com provides an episode summary while CTVA has cast information.

At one point, I considered the possibility that Kraft Television Theatre was only pre-empted locally in New York City but aired on other stations. However, that seems inconceivable for several reason. First, the series was broadcast live from WNBT and there’s no chance NBC and Kraft would agree to produce an episode of Kraft Television Theatre but not air it in New York City.

More importantly, it’s not known whether Kraft Television Theatre was seen outside of New York City in September 1947. At that time, NBC’s limited Eastern Network consisted of WNBT and three other stations: WNBW in Washington, D.C. WRGB in Schenectady, NY; and WPTZ in Philadelphia, PA. Information on early network programming is sketchy at best and I’ve been unable to confirm when NBC started relaying Kraft Television Theatre to other stations.

Therefore, it’s my belief that Kraft Television Theatre did air on WNBT and other NBC stations on September 17th from 7:30-8:30PM as usual. The TV listings published in The New York Times were incorrect.

Political Pre-Emptions (July 1948)

NBC did pre-empt the series on Wednesday, June 23rd, 1948 for live coverage of the Republican National Convention. The network also planned to broadcast the Joe Louis-Joe Walcott fight that night but the bout was postponed.

Coverage of the Democratic National Convention aired on July 14th, 1948 and most sources, including Live Television Drama, indicate NBC once again pre-empted Kraft Television Theatre. However, TV listings in The New York Times show an abbreviated episode titled “Poor Aubrey” airing from 8-8:45PM followed by convention coverage. Listings in other papers have the episode airing for a full hour from 8-9PM followed by convention coverage.

As if that isn’t confusing enough, Live Television Drama, TV.com, and CTVA–plus TV listings published in numerous newspapers–all have an episode titled “Poor Aubrey” airing on August 25th, 1948. Although it seems unlikely NBC and Kraft would stage a second version of the story only weeks after it first aired, there is no contemporary evidence to confirm NBC pre-empted Kraft Television Theatre on July 14th, 1948. Could another episode have been substituted at the last minute and “Poor Aubrey” delayed until August? Or did Kraft Television Theatre really restage “Poor Aubrey” just six weeks after it first aired?

Hopefully, further research will shed additional light on this matter.

Surviving Episodes

Assuming “Poor Aubrey” or some other episode did air on July 14th, 1948, NBC broadcast a total of 71 episodes of Kraft Television Theatre during the 1947-1948 season. Of those 71 episodes, only five survive in their entirety. Excerpts from three other episodes also exist, the earliest of which is from the June 24th, 1947 episode (“I Like It Here”). Three minutes from this episode a part of the Hubert Chain Collection held by the Library of Congress, as is a two-minute silent excerpt from the February 25th, 1948 episode (“Alison’s House”).

The earliest surviving complete episode is “No Way Out,” which aired on March 17th, 1948. The Library of Congress has this episode and three others from the 1947-1948 season. The Paley Center for Media has two episodes from the 1947-1948 season, one of which the Library of Congress also has.

Keep in mind that just because the big television archives/museums only have certain episodes in their collections doesn’t mean additional episodes of Kraft Television Theatre from the 1947-1948 season aren’t out there somewhere.

Season 1: 1947-1948
# Episode Title Airdate Status
1 “Double Door” 05/07/1947  
2 “Merton of the Movies” 05/14/1947  
3 “A Doctor in Spite of Himself” 05/21/1947  
4 “Her Master’s Voice” 05/28/1947  
5 “The Barker” 06/04/1947  
6 “There’s Always Juliet” 06/11/1947  
7 “The Doll’s House” 06/18/1947  
8 “I Like It Here” [Excerpts Only] 06/25/1947 LOC*
9 “You and I” 07/02/1947  
10 “To the Ladies” 07/09/1947  
11 “Consider Lily” 07/16/1947  
12 “Papa Is All” 07/23/1947  
13 “Interference” 07/30/1947  
14 “The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife” 08/06/1947  
15 “Laburnum Grove” 08/13/1947  
16 “The First Year” 08/20/1947  
17 “Yes and No” 08/27/1947  
18 “Mr Pim Passes By” 09/03/1947  
19 “Craig’s Wife” 09/10/1947  
20 “Murder Without Crime” 09/17/1947  
21 “Suspect” 09/24/1947  
22 “Payment Deferred” 10/01/1947  
23 “January Thaw” 10/08/1947  
24 “Therese” 10/15/1947  
25 “The Man Who Changed His Name” 10/22/1947  
26 “Blind Alley” 10/29/1947  
27 “On Stage” 11/05/1947  
28 “Ladies in Retirement” 11/12/1947  
29 “But Not Goodbye” 11/19/1947  
30 “The Curtain Rises” 11/26/1947  
31 “Parlor Story” 12/03/1947  
32 “Importance of Being Earnest” 12/10/1947  
33 “Holiday” 12/17/1947  
34 “Reverie, and the Desert Shall” 12/24/1947  
35 “Respectively Yours” 12/31/1947  
36 “The Truth About Blayds” 01/07/1948  
37 “Alternating Current” 01/14/1948  
38 “Only the Heart” 01/21/1948  
39 “Criminal Code” 01/28/1948  
40 “Outward Bound” 02/04/1948  
41 “Spring Green” 02/11/1948  
42 “Apple of My Eye” 02/18/1948  
43 “Allison’s House” [Excerpts Only] 02/25/1948 LOC**
44 “Counsellor-at-Law” 03/03/1948  
45 “The Wind is Ninety” 03/10/1948  
46 “No Way Out” 03/17/1948 LOC
47 “Captain Applejack” 03/24/1948 LOC
48 “She Stoops to Conquer” 03/31/1948 LOC/Paley
49 “June Moon” 04/07/1948  
50 “Barchester Towers” 04/14/1948  
51 “The Silver Cord” 04/21/1948 LOC
52 “Louder, Please” 04/28/1948  
53 “The Royal Family” 05/05/1948 Paley
54 “Broken Dishes” 05/12/1948  
55 “Minick” 05/19/1948  
56 “Riddle Me This” 05/26/1948  
57 “The Torchbearers” 06/02/1948  
58 “The Fourth Wall” 06/09/1948  
59 “Applesauce” 06/16/1948  
PRE-EMPTED: Republican National Convention 06/23/1948  
60 “Foolish Notion” 06/30/1948  
61 “The Show-Off” 07/07/1948  
62 “Poor Aubrey” [?] 07/14/1948  
63 “Berkeley Square” 07/21/1948  
64 “Green Cars Go East” 07/28/1948  
65 “Theatre” 08/04/1948  
66 “The Tenth Man” 08/11/1948  
67 “The White Headed Boy” 08/18/1948  
68 “Poor Aubrey” 08/25/1948  
69 “Icebound” 09/01/1948  
70 “Poor Little Me” 09/08/1948  
71 “Lady Frederick” 09/15/1948  

*The Library of Congress has a three-minute excerpt from “I Like It Here,” part of the Hubert Chain Collection.
**The Library of Congress has a silent two-minute excerpt from “Allison’s House,” part of the Hubert Chain Collection.

Revised April 10th, 2019

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