UCLA Screening Archive Television Treasures

As part of its year-long 50th anniversary celebration, the UCLA Film & Television Archive has put together an “Archive Television Treasures” program that will run from May 29th through June 24th. Included will be more than a dozen episodes of network shows like Armstrong Circle Theatre, East Side/West Side, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Mister Peepers, plus syndicated Play of the Week and local Los Angeles shows Help Thy Neighbor and Queen for a Day.

Here’s a description of the program:

UCLA Film & Television Archive continues its year-long 50th Anniversary commemoration with a curated selection of television treasures. Television materials were among the first items to enter UCLA’s moving image collections, and today UCLA Film & Television Archive holds one of the largest archival television collections in the U.S., with over 100,000 holdings documenting the entire course of American broadcast history, from the late 1940s to the present. Embedded in this vast repository of 35mm prints, 16mm kinescopes and 2″ video reels, are many rare, and, in some cases, unjustly forgotten titles, as well as popular programs and important landmarks of the medium. Ranging from groundbreaking situation comedies to uncompromising social dramas, from variety to musical theater, and from vintage anthology programs to early iterations of the “reality” genre, these selections also include early glimpses of (then) newly emerging stars, such as Anne Bancroft, Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and provide high-profile showcases for beloved entertainers at the height of their fame, including Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore. Please join us for an extended look back at some of the most interesting, entertaining and illuminating television programs of the 20th century drawn from the Archive’s holdings.

And here’s a complete list of the screenings:

Friday, May 29
7:30 p.m.
NBC, 6/21/1955
Talent Associates. Producer: Robert Costello. Director: Paul Bogart. Teleplay by Douglas Taylor. With: John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Richard Morse, Joseph Sweeney.

Married for 35 years, John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands made cinema history as collaborators in a number of landmark films, including A Woman Under the Influence (1974). The famed couple enjoyed their first joint screen appearance in this charming early television play concerning an engaged small town girl (Rowlands) and a handsome man (Cassavetes) she meets unexpectedly at a fair.

NBC, 9/19/1955
Producer: Fred Coe. Director: Delbert Mann. Based on the play by Thornton Wilder. Written for television by David Shaw. With: Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Saint, Paul Newman, Shelley Fabares.

Thornton Wilder’s beloved drama is adapted here by Tony Award-winner David Shaw (Redhead) and helmed by Academy Award-winner Delbert Mann [Marty (1955)]. Led by a stellar cast including Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Saint and then-newcomer Paul Newman, the teleplay features songs written especially for the television production by the Academy Award-winning team of James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.

IN PERSON: Gena Rowlands, Eva Marie Saint, Illeana Douglas (moderator).

Saturday, May 30
7:30 p.m.
KCOP, Los Angeles, 10/9/52
Commodore Productions. Producer: Walter White Jr. Director: Rudy Behlmer. Host: Hal Styles

Hal Styles, “television’s friendly counselor, the first do-gooder of the airwaves,” hosts this locally-broadcast show in which people relate their problems and then ask home viewers to phone in with pledges of help. Here, a widow with teenage sons who is having trouble making ends meet offers to sell one of her eyes, and an aspiring Native American singer, convinced that racial prejudice is hindering his career, asks for assistance.

KHJ, Los Angeles, 7/4/55
A Mutual Radio Network production. Host: Adolphe Menjou.
Once each year, Queen for a Day became King for a Day as five men vied for the crown and a host of prizes. Actor Adolphe Menjou fills in for vacationing regular host Jack Bailey and is congratulated by one contestant for his public anti-Communist stance. Broadcast live from the Don Lee Studios in Los Angeles and simulcast on both radio and television.

THIS IS YOUR LIFE: “Arries Ann Ward”
NBC, 2/27/57
Ralph Edwards Productions. Producer: Axel Gruenberg. Director: Richard Gottlieb. Host: Ralph Edwards.

One of America’s most popular and fondly remembered programs, This is Your Life (1952-61), with effervescent host Ralph Edwards, offered tributes to hundreds of notable people both famous and little-known, every week from 1952 until 1961. In this fascinating episode the show’s subject is a 95-year-old woman, born into slavery in 1862.

NBC, 12/4/57
Ralph Edwards Productions. Host: Art Baker.
Bob Barker takes viewers from the Truth or Consequences set to Art Baker standing on a street corner in Minneapolis, where local grocer Ronald Eskew and his family are given a “planned miracle.” As a reward for their long-standing and unselfish community service efforts, their small store and their entire lives are given complete makeovers. This program was the pilot for a short-lived series (just six episodes) that ran on NBC in early 1958.

Sunday, June 7
7 p.m.
NBC, 5/15/52
NBC. Producer: Fred Coe. Director: James Sheldon. Writer: David Swift. With: Wally Cox, Norma Crane, Joseph Foley, Leonard Elliott, Betty Sinclair, David Tyrell.

In this pilot episode (possibly unaired), Mr. Peepers (Wally Cox) arrives at Jefferson Jr. High School six months early and is mistaken for a student. Walter Matthau, under the name David Tyrell, appears briefly as gym teacher Mr. Burr.

MISTER PEEPERS: “Train Trip to Chicago”
NBC, 4/19/53
NBC. Producer: Fred Coe. Director: Hal Keith. Writer: Jim Fritzell, Everett Greenbaum. With: Wally Cox, Marion Lorne, Tony Randall, Patricia Benoit, Georgeann Johnson.

In one of series creator David Swift’s and writer Everett Greenbaum’s favorite episodes, Mr. Peepers’ best friend, history teacher Harvey “Wes” Weskit (Tony Randall), is nervous about his upcoming marriage to his fiancée Marge, as he, Mr. Peepers, Mrs. Gurney (Marion Lorne), and Nancy Remington (Patricia Benoit) take the train to Chicago for the wedding.

THE GOLDBERGS: “The Mother-In-Law”
CBS, Oct. 1949
Producer: Worthington Miner. Director: Walter Hart. Writer: Gertrude Berg. With: Gertrude Berg, Philip Loeb, Eli Mintz, Larry Robinson, Arline McQuade, Betty Walker.

In this episode, 18-year-old Anne Bancroft (billed as Betty Walker) guests as a young, recently married woman at odds with her mother-in-law as Molly Goldberg (Gertrude Berg) concocts an unusual plan to make things right between the two women.

DuMont, 10/12/54
Producer: Cherney Berg. Director: Martin Magner. Writer: Gertrude Berg. With: Gertrude Berg, Robert H. Harris, Eili Mintz, Arlene McQuade, Tom Taylor, Michael Rosenberg, Dora Weissman.

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the Goldbergs attend synagogue for the solemn Kol Nidre services. However, Uncle David (Eli Mintz) is upset because his son is absent.

Saturday, June 13
7:30 p.m.
NBC, 10/29/1957
NBC. Executive Producer: Carlos Gastel. Producer: Bob Henry. Director: Bob Henry. Announcer: Vince Pelletier. Host: Nat “King” Cole. With: Johnny Mercer, The Cheerleaders.

One of the most popular entertainers of his generation, Nat “King” Cole sold millions of records and played to packed audiences across the globe. In this pioneering effort, Cole would break television’s unspoken color barrier as one of the first African Americans to host a network TV show. This stellar episode of the landmark variety series features the sublime talents of Cole and his guest, fellow musical legend, Johnny Mercer.

NBC, 4/5/1959
A Henry Jaffe Production in association with NBC. Producer: Bob Finkel. Director: Dean Whitmore, Bob Finkel. Writer: Johnny Bradford, Ray Brenner, Leo Townsend. Host: Dinah Shore. With: Louis Prima, Keely Smith, José Greco, Sam Butera and the Witnesses.

One of the most beloved television icons of her era, Dinah Shore brought her considerable Southern-styled charm and vocal talents to this multi-Emmy Award winning variety show that ran for seven successful seasons on NBC. In this broadcast, Dinah reminisces about her TV career and welcomes show-stopping entertainers Louis Prima and Keely Smith and their musical group, Sam Butera and The Witnesses.

CBS, 10/8/1959
Producer: Perry Lafferty. Director: Norman Jewison. Writer: Selma Diamond, Jay Burton, Goodman Ace, George Foster. Guest Host: Rock Hudson. With: Tallulah Bankhead, Sammy Davis, Jr., Mort Sahl, Esther Williams.

In a perfect mélange of the television variety show genre and high camp, The Big Party explores a tantalizing premise—what if movie idol Rock Hudson phoned his pal Tallulah Bankhead for her advice in throwing a bash for their celebrity friends? The charmingly offbeat results defy expectations, with an eclectic all-star line-up of party guests including Sammy Davis Jr., Esther Williams and comedian Mort Sahl.

Friday, June 19
7:30 p.m.
PLAY OF THE WEEK: “Black Monday”
Syndicated, 1/16/1961
Talent Associates. Executive Producer: Worthington Miner. Producer: David Susskind. Director: Ralph Nelson. An original play by: Reginald Rose. With: Pat Hingle, Robert Redford, Ruby Dee, Ivan Dixon, Ossie Davis, Edward Asner, Charles Grodin.

In this first original television play produced for the ambitious anthology series, Play of the Week (1959-61), Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Reginald Rose (12 Angry Men) unflinchingly tackles the issue of integration. As an African American child enters a white school in the Deep South for the first time, the tense drama unfolds from three different perspectives, including that of a Black family.

CBS, 11/4/1963
Talent Associates. Executive Producer: Arnold Perl. Director: Tom Gries. Writer: Arnold Perl. With: George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Diana Sands.

In this controversial episode of the critically acclaimed, short-lived East Side/West Side television series, the issues of racism and Black poverty are uncompromisingly addressed when an African American couple’s infant is attacked by a rat in her crib in their Harlem tenement. Some Southern stations refused to air the episode, which went on to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama.

Wednesday, June 24
7:30 p.m.
NBC, 11/20/1958
Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions/Milberg Productions. Executive Producer: Mildred Freed Alberg. Producer: George Schaefer. Director: George Schaefer. Writer: Sam Spewack, Bella Spewack. With: Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Julie Wilson, Bill Hayes, Harvey Lembeck, Jack Klugman.

Featuring Cole Porter’s timeless songs, this Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of the hit musical Kiss Me, Kate was hailed by Variety as “high voltage entertainment, fashioned with skill and artistry.” The telecast stars Alfred Drake and Patricia Morrison reprising the roles they originated on Broadway in 1948, with Harvey Lembeck and Jack Klugman bringing expert comic relief as the play’s winning pair of offbeat gangsters.

NBC, 8/27/1955
Producer: Jack Rayel. Director: George Schaefer. Book by S.J. Perelman and Ogden Nash. Adapted for television by: George Schaefer, John Gerstad. With: Janet Blair, Russell Nype, George Gaynes, Laurel Shelby.

Just prior to this live television production, staged from NBC’s Brooklyn studios, Emmy Award-winning director George Shaefer and cast ran two weeks of stage performances of the show to enthusiastic audiences at the Dallas State Fair. The result here is a thoroughly polished, electric telecast which includes several numbers from the original Broadway production which were excluded from the 1948 film version of the play.

IN PERSON: Miles Kreuger, Institute of the American Musical.

All of the screenings will take place at the Billy Wilder Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the box office.

One Reply to “UCLA Screening Archive Television Treasures”

  1. If you dont live in LA and dont want to make a long drive to see Mr Peepers The Programme will be comimg on REtro TV some point later this year. Over the past couple fo months they have indicated they have bought the rigths to show a number of unnusual TV shows that I ahve never seen.

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