|Four Star Playhouse|
|Created by||Four Star International|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of episodes||129|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company||Four Star International|
|Original release||September 25, 1952 –|
July 26, 1956
Four Star Playhouse is an American television anthology series that ran from 1952 to 1956. Four Star Playhouse was owned by Four Star International. Its episodes ranged anywhere from surreal mysteries, such as "The Man on the Train", to light comedies, such as "The Lost Silk Hat". The original premise was that Charles Boyer, Ida Lupino, David Niven, and Dick Powell would take turns starring in episodes. However, several other performers took the lead from time to time, including Ronald Colman and Joan Fontaine.
The show was sponsored in its first bi-weekly season by The Singer Company. Bristol-Myers became an alternate sponsor when it became a weekly series in the fall of 1953 (both sponsors' names alternated as part of the show's title in its initial broadcasts).
While it never made the Nielsen Top 30, the ratings were sufficient to keep it on the air for four seasons. In 1954, Billboard voted it the second best filmed network television drama series.
While Charles Boyer, Ida Lupino, David Niven, and Dick Powell are the four main stars of the series, many other actors have appeared in different roles in more than one episode, including:
Blake Edwards was among the writers and directors who contributed to the series, making his debut as a director on the program in 1952.Edwards created the recurring character (eight episodes) of illegal gambling house operator Willie Dante for Dick Powell to play on this series. The character was later revamped and spun off in his own series starring Howard Duff, then-husband of Lupino.
The pilot for Meet McGraw , starring Frank Lovejoy, aired here (under that title, February 25, 1954), as did another episode in which Lovejoy recreated his role of Chicago newspaper reporter Randy Stone, from the radio drama Nightbeat (titled "Search in the Night", November 5, 1953).
William Blake Crump, better known by his stage name, Blake Edwards, was an American filmmaker.
Richard Ewing Powell was an American actor, musician, producer, director and studio head. Though he came to stardom as a musical comedy performer, he showed versatility, and successfully transformed into a hardboiled leading man starring in projects of a more dramatic nature. He was the first actor to portray the private detective Philip Marlowe on screen.
Ida Lupino was an English-American actress, singer, director, and producer. Throughout her 48-year career, she made acting appearances in 59 films and directed 8 others, working primarily in the United States, where she became a citizen in 1948.
Night Beat, sometimes spelled Nightbeat, is an NBC radio drama series that aired February 6, 1950–September 25, 1952, sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and Wheaties.
Louis Charles Hayward was a Johannesburg-born, British-American actor.
Frank Andrew Lovejoy Jr. was an American actor in radio, film, and television. He is perhaps best remembered for appearing in the film noir The Hitch-Hiker and for starring in the radio drama Night Beat.
Howard Green Duff was an American actor.
Scott Brady was an American film and television actor best known for his roles in western films and as a ubiquitous television presence. He is best known for his role in Shotgun Slade (1959-1961).
Sally Forrest, was an American film, stage and TV actress of the 1940s and 1950s. She studied dance from a young age and shortly out of high school was signed to a contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Jeff Richards was an American minor league baseball player with the Portland Beavers, who later became an actor. He was sometimes credited as Dick Taylor and Richard Taylor.
An anthology series is a radio, television, or film series that spans through different genres, and presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode, season, segment or short. These usually have a different cast in each episode, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.
Four Star Television, also called Four Star International, was an American television production company. Founded in 1952 as Four Star Productions by prominent Hollywood actors Dick Powell, David Niven, Charles Boyer, and Joel McCrea, it was inspired by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz founding Desilu Productions a year earlier. McCrea left soon after its founding to continue in films, television and radio, and was replaced by Ida Lupino as the fourth star—although Lupino did not own stock in the company.
Robert Marion Gist was an American actor and film director.
Ford Theatre, spelled Ford Theater for the radio version and known as The Ford Television Theatre for the TV version, is a radio and television anthology series broadcast in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. At various times the television series appeared on all three major television networks, while the radio version was broadcast on two separate networks and on two separate coasts. Ford Theatre was named for its sponsor, the Ford Motor Company, which had an earlier success with its concert music series, The Ford Sunday Evening Hour (1934–42).
Screen Directors Playhouse is an American radio and television anthology series which brought leading Hollywood actors to the NBC microphones beginning in 1949. The radio program broadcast adaptations of films, with original directors of the films sometimes involved in the productions, although their participation was usually limited to introducing the radio adaptations and taking a brief "curtain call" with the cast and host at the end of the program. During the 1955–56 season, the series was seen on television, focusing on original teleplays and several adaptations of famous short stories.
For the NBC western anthology, see Frontier .
Jean Willes was an American film and television actress. She appeared in approximately 65 films in her 38-year career.
Joan Taylor was an American television and film actress.
Dante is an NBC adventure/drama television series starring Howard Duff as Willie Dante, a former gambler who operates Dante's Inferno, a San Francisco, California, nightclub. Alan Mowbray co-starred as Stewart Styles, the Maitre d'; Tom D'Andrea as Biff, the bartender and Dante's "man Friday", and Mort Mills as police Lieutenant Bob Malone.
Francis M. Gerstle was an American actor, well known for his performances in a series of science-fiction films.