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 . 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 .
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'” . (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 . 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” . 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.
4 Adams, Val. “News and Notes Gathered from the Studios.” New York Times. 16 Aug. 1953: X9.
Gallery Booklet © 1953 NBC Television
Published February 18th, 2010
Last Updated May 7th, 2018