Although I try to write about all aspects of obscure television, there are a few areas that I’m particularly interested in. For example, I’ve been researching Mary Kay and Johnny off and on for years. I’m also very interested in Kyle McDonnell’s television work in the late 1940s, the various programs hosted by Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburg, and Audrey Hepburn’s television appearances in the 1950s.
I’ve put together the following list of television programs, specials and specific episodes that I would personally like to see or just know more about. With the exception of Mary Kay and Johnny, which has one extant episode, to the best of my knowledge none of these programs are known to exist. That doesn’t necessarily mean copies don’t exist and I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong. In some cases, I’ve indicated whether audio recordings, photographs and scripts for the programs have survived. Note that all episode counts are taken from television listings in The New York Times.
If you have any information about any of these programs, please contact me.
Thrills and Chills Everywhere (NBC/DuMont, 1941-1946?)
Doug Allen hosted this half-hour program, also known as Thrills and Chills, that presented “adventure” films from around the world and the explorers who made them. It aired on WNBT in New York City from 1941 to 1942 before moving to the experimental DuMont station in that city, W2XWV, where it may have remained until 1946. Read more about the program here and here.
Hour Glass (NBC, 1946-1947)
Television’s first regularly scheduled variety show, sponsored by Standard Brands. It ran for 44 episodes between May of 1946 and February of 1947. The Library of Congress has audio from a number of episodes, including the premiere, but no video is known to exist.
Mary Kay and Johnny (Dumont/NBC/CBS, 1947-1950)
Television’s first sitcom. Each episode ran for 15 minutes. Approximately 150 episodes were broadcast between November of 1947 and March of 1950 (from mid-June to early August of 1949 it aired daily on NBC). The Paley Center for Media has one episode from June of 1949. Photographs and scripts exist.
Girl About Town (NBC, 1948-1949)
Kyle McDonnell hosted this live musical/variety series, which was broadcast from September of 1948 to June of 1949. Each of the 43 episodes ran 20 minutes. Some or all may have featured filmed segments of McDonnell at New York City nightclubs. It may also have been called The Kyle McDonnell Show or About the Town. Other regulars included Earl Wrightson and the Norman Paris Trio.
Preview (CBS, 1949)
Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburg hosted this half-hour program in which they were the “editors” of a “living magazine,” reporting the news, presenting musical acts and interviewing guests like Kirk Douglas, John Huston, Jackie Gleason and Harold Lloyd. A total of 31 episodes were produced.
Stars Over Hollywood – “Grady Everett for the People” (NBC, September 13th, 1950)
This was the first television script Rod Serling ever sold. UCLA’s Film & Television Archive has two other episodes of Stars Over Hollywood. No copy of the script is known to exist.
The Margaret Arlen Program – Monday, December 4th, 1951 Broadcast (WCBS-TV, New York City)
This morning talk show ran on WCBW-TV from November of 1950 to April of 1956. According to The New York Times, Audrey Hepburn — who was starring in Gigi at the Fulton Theatre on Broadway at the time — was Margaret Arlen’s guest on Monday, December 4th, 1951. It was likely her first television appearance.
Stage 7 – “The Secret Weapon of 117” (Syndicated, March 1956)
Also known as “The Secret Defense of 117” and “The Defense of 117,” this was Gene Roddenberry’s first attempt at science-fiction on television. Stage 7 was a syndicated anthology series that was repackaged as Chevron Theater on the West Coast and Don Ameche Presents the Drewryâ€™s Play of the Week in the Midwest (read more here). Copies of the script may exist.
Esther Williams’ Aqua Spectacle (NBC, September 29th, 1956)
Broadcast as an installment of NBC’s irregularly scheduled Saturday Color Carnival. Also known as “The Esther Williams Aqua Spectacle of 1957.” Sponsored by Oldsmobile. In addition to Esther Williams, this ninety-minute color special featured Peter Lawford, Arnold Stang, Fran Allison and Don Adams. Both UCLA’s Film & Television Archive and The Paley Center for Media have copies of a second NBC color special, “Esther Williams at Cypress Gardens,” which was aired in 1960.
Last Updated November 6th, 2010