1953 Gallery Promotional Booklet

Gallery was a proposed hour-long NBC anthology series for the 1953-1954 season, to be produced by Worthington Miner. This 26-page booklet offers a glimpse at what the series could have been.

Worthington Miner, producer/director/writer, might rightfully be called the father of “golden age” television drama or perhaps the pioneer of TV production in general. His work in TV began in 1941 at CBS with programs like Men at Work and CBS Television Quiz. He was responsible for The Toast of the Town (later known as The Ed Sullivan Show) and produced Studio One, The Goldbergs and Mr. I.Magination. After he left CBS in 1952 for NBC, however, his incredible career stalled. He produced The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Medic and Frontier for NBC but none were successful. He later produced The Play of the Week for New York City’s independent station WNTA (the program was also shown in syndication) before retiring from TV.

This exhibit presents a 26-page promotional booklet from NBC Television presumably intended to sell Gallery to potential sponsors. It is dated July 28th, 1953. The booklet goes to great lengths to point out the strength of Worthington Miner’s past TV productions, both their strong ratings and critical accolades. The booklet calls Gallery “a good commercial property” and “a show that will make viewers feel that they mustn’t miss it.” It also notes that the proposed Sunday evening time slot is an attractive one. And it reveals the names and authors of fourteen programs–comedy, adventure, drama and musical–that have been “tentatively lined up for the coming season.” An appendix offers brief descriptions of each of these programs.

During the summer of 1953, shortly after leaving CBS for NBC, Miner developed a new hour-long anthology series for his new network and came close to getting it on the air. Titled Gallery, the series would have aired on Sundays from 5-6PM, alternating with Hallmark Hall of Fame (then sometimes known as Hallmark Playhouse), which would expand to an hour. A July 12th, 1953 article in The New York Times, discussing The United States Steel Hour, noted that all three networks were “bidding like mad for the program” but only ABC had room for it on its schedule [1]. NBC had pitched the 5-6PM Sunday hour for The United States Steel Hour, due to a lack of “choice weekday night periods,” but then Hallmark Cards decided to expand Hallmark Hall of Fame [2].

The article doesn’t explain why NBC couldn’t air Hallmark Hall of Fame and The United States Steel Hour, given that both were alternating. It only notes that “N.B.C. is considering a new Worthington Miner dramatic series for the ‘other’ week at that time period'” [3]. (CBS had even more problems than NBC and would have to convince multiple sponsors to switch time slots.) ABC ultimately premiered The United States Steel Hour at 9:30PM on Tuesday, October 27th, 1953. The series would stay there until June of 1955 when it moved to CBS.

Back at NBC, Val Adams reported on August 16th that Hallmark Cards had “decided to present the program each week, rather than alternate week,” thus bumping Gallery [4]. But the network was keeping Worthington Miner’s “one-hour drama program on deck to be used if and when the network finds a time period” [5]. It never did. Hallmark Hall of Fame would continue as a weekly series through the 1954-1955 season; thereafter it was broadcast on a more-or-less monthly basis. Interestingly, neither of these articles mentioned Gallery by name.

Would Gallery have been a critical and popular success for Worthington Miner and NBC? It’s impossible to say. Based on the audience statistics found in the booklet, it would have been in a solid time slot, one that Hallmark Hall of Fame decided to claim for itself on a weekly basis. And Miner certainly had a solid track record.

Works Cited:
1 Lohman, Sidney. “News of TV and Radio: Youth Will Have Its Say–Fall Probabilities.” New York Times. 12 Jul. 1953: X11.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Adams, Val. “News and Notes Gathered from the Studios.” New York Times. 16 Aug. 1953: X9.
5 Ibid.

Gallery Booklet © 1953 NBC Television

Published February 18th, 2010
Last Updated May 7th, 2018

5 Replies to “1953 Gallery Promotional Booklet”

  1. The failure to sell “GALLERY” was a turning point for “Tony” Miner (as he was known by his friends and those in the industry). He began to lose ground at NBC, and, besides “MEDIC”, ended up producing a filmed Western anthology for the network, “FRONTIER”, on Sunday nights at 7:30pm(et). It just couldn’t compete against CBS’ powerhouse combo of “THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM” and “PRIVATE SECRETARY”, and went off after one season, in 1956. This was during the period when “Pat” Weaver was moved out of the network, and other executives preferred playing “big money games” in prime-time (like “THE BIG SURPRISE”), with live anthlogy series losing ground. His experience as a member of “Unit 4”, the production outfit that was responsible for “THE KAISER ALUMINUM HOUR” in 1956-’57, was devastating. Henry Kaiser didn’t care for the program’s “realistic” plays, and interferred in the show’s creative process, causing Miner to quit. Kaiser cancelled the show at the end of the season to sponsor “MAVERICK” on ABC in the fall of 1957 {Kaiser said somethng like this to the remaining “Unit 4” producers in early 1957- “No one is watching your goddamn depressing dramas, and what’s more, they’re not Americana-oriented. They’re downright offensive!”/”To offend no one is to stimulate no one.”/”The only thing I care about is stimulating sales of MY aluminum. You’re not doing it, so you’re fired!!!”}.

    Miner’s last hurrah was “THE PLAY OF THE WEEK” (1959-’61), a syndicated series of taped “prestiege” dramas that he was proud to have been associated with. NO sponsor ever interferred with the series’ production.

    I suspect, IF it had become a series, “GALLERY” would have been cancelled after a single season.

  2. It wasn’t the first time Henry J. Kaiser issued an ultimatum: When Kaiser agreed to sponsor “MAVERICK” in 1957, it was only for half-sponsorship, and Kaiser threatened to pull out if the show’s ratings were poor by the end of the year. Fortunately for ABC and Kaiser, “MAVERICK” became a hit against Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan. I suspect it was because the James Garner western parody wasn’t (in Kaiser’s words) “goddamn depressing.” But I guess it didn’t sell a lot of Kaiser Quilted Foil either.

  3. I don’t know if Kaiser actually mentioned the words “goddamn depressing”- I merely suggested he COULD have used them when firing “Unit 4” from “THE KAISER ALUMINUM HOUR”. Apparently, he was convinced to sponsor “MAVERICK” because it wasn’t “depressing”, and it was exactly the kind of “Americana-oriented” program he wanted to sustain [although there WAS a sly amount of satire involved, as “Bret Maverick” was a Western “card sharp” and “hustler”, who often looked out more for himself than the people he became involved with]. Even though “MAVERICK” was a success in its inital seasons, sales of Kaiser Aluminum Foil were “mediocre”…until Stan Freberg created the “Clark Smathers” ad campaign for them in 1958 (the story behind those ads were recalled by Stan in his autobiography, “It Only Hurts When I Laugh”). The Kaiser executives who hired Freberg didn’t tell Henry Kaiser about the new approach to selling Kaiser Foil until AFTER the first commercial appeared [he was up in Canada on a hunting trip when it aired on “MAVERICK”]- initially, he was outraged that his favorite advertsing icons, “The Kaiser Kid” and “Quilty the Horse”, were replaced by an animated salesman who hit grocers on the head with a mallet for not stocking enough Kaiser Foil. Sales, however, dramatically improved to the point where he begrudgingly accepted them.

  4. Interesting that one of the scripts mentioned in this promo piece is “I Led 3 Lives” by Herbert Philbrick. This would be turned into a Ziv syndicated series from 1953 to 1956 and is based on the experiences of an advertising exec that infiltrated the Communist Party in the 1940s on behalf of the FBI. Gene Roddenberry was one of the writers on the series.

    I wonder if Philbrick’s deal with Ziv came about after “Gallery” didn’t get off the ground.

    It also mentions “Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. The book was turned into a hit play in 1955, which led to the 20th Century Fox film later in the decade. Was Anne Frank the subject of any live anthology series in the 50s before the Broadway play opened?

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