NBC Sunday Showcase

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Barbara Rush, John Forsythe and Larry Blyden in a scene from What Makes Sammy Run? on NBC Sunday Showcase (September 27 and October 4, 1959). Samm2.jpg
Barbara Rush, John Forsythe and Larry Blyden in a scene from What Makes Sammy Run? on NBC Sunday Showcase (September 27 and October 4, 1959).

NBC Sunday Showcase was a series of hour-long specials telecast in color on NBC during the 1959-60 season. The flexible anthology format varied weekly from comedies and science fiction to musicals and historical dramas. The recent introduction of videotape made repeats possible, and two 1959 dramas (Murder and the Android and What Makes Sammy Run?) had repeats in 1960. [1]


On the heels of his Broadway hits The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees , Richard Adler composed the opening Sunday Showcase theme music, titled "Sunday Drive" (a.k.a. "Sunday Showcase Theme").

<i>The Pajama Game</i> Musical

The Pajama Game is a musical based on the 1953 novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell. The book is by George Abbott and Richard Bissell; the music and lyrics are by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story deals with labor troubles in a pajama factory, where workers' demands for a seven-and-a-half cent raise are going unheeded. In the midst of this ordeal, love blossoms between Babe, the grievance committee head, and Sid, the new factory superintendent.

<i>Damn Yankees</i> Musical play

Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. It is based on Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

Richard Adler was an American lyricist, writer, composer and producer of several Broadway shows.


For the September 20, 1959 premiere, John Frankenheimer directed S. Lee Pogostin's People Kill People Sometimes with Zina Bethune, Geraldine Page, Jason Robards and George C. Scott.

John Frankenheimer film director

John Michael Frankenheimer was an American film and television director known for social dramas and action/suspense films. Among his credits were Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), The Train (1965), Seconds (1966), Grand Prix (1966), French Connection II (1975), Black Sunday (1977), and Ronin (1998).

Zina Bethune Actress, dancer, choreographer

Zina Bianca Bethune was an American actress, dancer, and choreographer.

Geraldine Page American actress

Geraldine Sue Page was an American actress. She earned acclaim for her work on Broadway as well as in major Hollywood films and television productions, garnering an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes, one BAFTA Award, and four nominations for the Tony Award.

During the next two weeks, Larry Blyden had the title role in an adaptation of Budd Schulberg's 1941 novel What Makes Sammy Run? . The two-parter was directed by Delbert Mann with music by Irwin Bazelon. [2] The lost reel of this production was found in 2004:

Larry Blyden American game show host

Ivan Lawrence Blieden, known as Larry Blyden, was an American actor, stage producer and director, and game show host. He made his Broadway stage debut in 1948 and went on to appear in numerous productions on and off Broadway. In 1972, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in the revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum which he also produced. That same year, he became the host of the syndicated revival version of What's My Line?

Budd Schulberg American novelist and screenwriter

Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, and his 1957 screenplay for A Face in the Crowd.

Originally presented on color videotape, the 1959 adaptation of What Makes Sammy Run? was rebroadcast the following year after which the tape was, presumably, reused or discarded. A black and white kinescope of the first hour has long been available for viewing at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York and Los Angeles, but the second half of the broadcast was, for many years, on the Museum's list of "lost treasures." In 2004, writer/director Robert Armin met with actress Dina Merrill to talk about the broadcast. When Ms Merrill, a Trustee of the Museum, learned that the second hour (in which she has her strongest scenes) could not be found, she contacted the Museum's curators, who then made locating the missing footage a priority. At their urging, the Library of Congress, which has a large collection of NBC footage, made a thorough search of its holdings and discovered eight film cans labeled Sunday Showcase which contained a complete kinescope of the entire two-hour broadcast. Now freshly restored, the New York branch of the Museum screened the teleplay before a packed house on April 6, 2005, with Dina Merrill and Budd Schulberg in attendance. This is the first time the film has been viewed publicly since 1960. [1]

On October 11, 1959, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes, Bob Hope, Mary Martin and Eleanor Roosevelt were seen in A Tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt on Her Diamond Jubilee.

Joan Crawford 20th-century American actress

Joan Crawford was an American film and television actress who began her career as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting as a chorus girl on Broadway. Crawford then signed a motion picture contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925; her career would span decades, studios and controversies. In 1999 The American Film Institute ranked Crawford tenth on its list of the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.

Helen Hayes American actress

Helen Hayes MacArthur was an American actress whose career spanned 80 years. She eventually received the nickname "First Lady of American Theatre" and was one of 15 people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. Hayes also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, from President Ronald Reagan in 1986. In 1988, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Bob Hope American comedian, actor, singer and dancer

Leslie Townes Hope, KBE, KC*SG, KSS, known professionally as Bob Hope, was a British-born American stand-up comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author. With a career that spanned nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films, with 54 feature films with Hope as star, including a series of seven "Road" musical comedy movies with Bing Crosby as Hope's top-billed partner.

Science fiction

For the October 18 telecast of Murder and the Android, Alfred Bester scripted a teleplay adaptation of his cyber-crime story "Fondly Fahrenheit," first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (August 1954). [3] The science fiction tale of a rampaging robot took place in the year 2359 amid futuristic sets designed by Ted Cooper. Produced by Robert Alan Aurthur with a cast of Kevin McCarthy, Rip Torn, Suzanne Pleshette and Telly Savalas, the drama was reviewed by radio-television critic John Crosby in his syndicated column:

Alfred Bester American science fiction author

Alfred Bester was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books. He is best remembered for his science fiction, including The Demolished Man, winner of the inaugural Hugo Award in 1953.

<i>The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction</i> digest magazine

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a U.S. fantasy and science fiction magazine first published in 1949 by Fantasy House, a subsidiary of Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Press. Editors Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas had approached Spivak in the mid-1940s about creating a fantasy companion to Spivak's existing mystery title, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The first issue was titled The Magazine of Fantasy, but the decision was quickly made to include science fiction as well as fantasy, and the title was changed correspondingly with the second issue. F&SF was quite different in presentation from the existing science fiction magazines of the day, most of which were in pulp format: it had no interior illustrations, no letter column, and text in a single column format, which in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley "set F&SF apart, giving it the air and authority of a superior magazine".

Robert Alan Aurthur was an American screenwriter, film director, and film producer.

Despite the fact that the androids refer contemptuously to human beings as people who suffer from glandular disorders called emotions, Torn wants very much to suffer from these disorders himself. Eventually, he does. I have no intention of unraveling the whole plot which was not so much complicated as psychologically dense. If I understand him correctly, Mr. Bester is trying to say that having androids to free us of mundane preoccupations like work is by no means good for us. His humans are pretty close to being bums. [4]
Julie Harris and Maximilian Schell in Alfred Bester's Turn the Key Deftly on NBC Sunday Showcase March 5, 1960. Besterdeftly.jpg
Julie Harris and Maximilian Schell in Alfred Bester's Turn the Key Deftly on NBC Sunday Showcase March 5, 1960.

Murder and the Android was nominated for a 1960 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and was given a repeat on September 5, 1960, the Labor Day weekend in which that Hugo Award was presented (to The Twilight Zone ) at the World Science Fiction Convention in Pittsburgh. Bester returned to Sunday Showcase March 5, 1960 with an original teleplay, Turn the Key Deftly. Set in a traveling circus, this mystery starred Julie Harris, Maximilian Schell and Francis Lederer.

Awards presentation

On November 29, 1959, Sunday Showcase presented The 2nd Annual Grammy Awards with a stellar line-up of presenters and recipients that included Count Basie, Meredith Willson, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Van Cliburn and Stan Freberg. [5]

In June 1960, Sidney Lumet directed Reginald Rose's two-part The Sacco-Vanzetti Story. nominated for four Emmy Awards.

An episode of Sunday Showcase is available on a DVD from Shokus Video.

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<i>What Makes Sammy Run?</i> book by Budd Schulberg

What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) is a novel by Budd Schulberg inspired by the life of his father, early Hollywood mogul B. P. Schulberg. It is a rags to riches story chronicling the rise and fall of Sammy Glick, a Jewish boy born in New York's Lower East Side who, very early in his life, makes up his mind to escape the ghetto and climb the ladder of success by deception and betrayal. It was later made into a long-running Broadway musical.

Wiping, also known as junking, is a colloquial term of art for action taken by radio and television production and broadcasting companies, in which old audiotapes, videotapes, and telerecordings (kinescopes), are erased, reused, or destroyed. Although the practice was once very common, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, wiping is now practiced much less frequently.


Kinescope, shortened to kine, also known as telerecording in Britain, is a recording of a television program on motion picture film, directly through a lens focused on the screen of a video monitor. The process was pioneered during the 1940s for the preservation, re-broadcasting and sale of television programmes before the use of commercial broadcast-quality videotape became prevalent for these purposes.

The year 1959 in television involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events during that year.

Paddy Chayefsky American playwright, screenwriter and novelist

Sidney Aaron "Paddy" Chayefsky was an American playwright, screenwriter and novelist. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay.

<i>The Bell Telephone Hour</i> television series

The Bell Telephone Hour is a concert series which began April 29, 1940, on NBC Radio and was heard on NBC until June 30, 1958. Sponsored by Bell Telephone as the name implies, it showcased the best in classical and Broadway music, reaching eight to nine million listeners each week. It continued on television from 1959 to 1968. Throughout the program's run on both radio and television, the studio orchestra on the program was conducted by Donald Voorhees.

George Clayton Johnson American writer

George Clayton Johnson was an American science fiction writer, best known for co-writing with William F. Nolan the novel Logan's Run, the basis for the MGM 1976 film. He was also known for his television scripts for The Twilight Zone, and the first telecast episode of Star Trek, entitled "The Man Trap". He also wrote the story on which the 1960 and 2001 films Ocean's Eleven were based.

<i>Hullabaloo</i> (TV series) television series

Hullabaloo is an American musical variety series that ran on NBC from January 12, 1965 through April 11, 1966. Similar to Shindig! it ran in prime time in contrast to ABC's American Bandstand.

<i>Playhouse 90</i> television series

Playhouse 90 was an American television anthology drama series that aired on CBS from 1956 to 1960 for a total of 133 episodes. The show was produced at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California. Since live anthology drama series of the mid-1950s usually were hour-long shows, the title highlighted the network's intention to present something unusual: a weekly series of hour-and-a-half-long dramas rather than 60-minute plays.

<i>Studio One</i> (U.S. TV series) television program (1948-1958)

Studio One is an American radio anthology drama series that was also adapted to television. It was created in 1947 by Canadian director Fletcher Markle, who came to CBS from the CBC. It aired under several variant titles: Studio One in Hollywood, Studio One Summer Theatre, Westinghouse Studio One and Westinghouse Summer Theatre.

<i>The Colgate Comedy Hour</i> television program

The Colgate Comedy Hour was an American comedy-musical variety series that aired live on the NBC network from 1950 to 1955. The show featured many notable comedians and entertainers of the era as guest stars.

<i>Alcoa Theatre</i> American anthology TV series

Alcoa Theatre is a half-hour American anthology series telecast on NBC at 9:30 pm on Monday nights from September 30, 1957–May 23, 1960. The program also aired under the title Turn of Fate, with the stories depicting the difficulties faced by individuals who are suddenly thrust into unexpected and perilous dangers. Alcoa Theatre was syndicated together with Goodyear Theatre as Award Theatre.

<i>Producers Showcase</i> television series

Producers' Showcase is an American anthology television series that was telecast live during the 1950s in compatible color by NBC. With top talent, the 90-minute episodes, covering a wide variety of genres, aired under the title every fourth Monday at 8 pm ET for three seasons, beginning October 18, 1954. The final episode, the last of 37, was broadcast May 27, 1957.

The Jazz Singer is a videotaped adaptation, starring Jerry Lewis, of Samson Raphaelson's play of the same name. It was broadcast on October 13, 1959, as the second episode of the American television anthology series on NBC, Ford Startime.

<i>Hong Kong</i> (TV series) ABC adventure/drama series

Hong Kong is a 26-episode adventure/drama series which aired on ABC television during the 1960–1961 season and helped to catapult Australian actor Rod Taylor into a major film star, primarily in the 1960s, beginning with his role in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. The series was a production of 20th Century Fox Television, and the final credit of each episode stated: "Filmed by Twentieth Century Fox Television Inc. at its Hollywood studios and in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong".

<i>The Loretta Young Show</i> television series

The Loretta Young Show is an American anthology drama television series broadcast on Sunday nights from September 2, 1953, to June 4, 1961, on NBC for a total of 165 episodes. The series was hosted by actress Loretta Young, who also played the lead in various episodes.

<i>DuPont Show of the Month</i> television series

DuPont Show of the Month was a 90-minute television anthology series that aired monthly on CBS from 1957 to 1961. The DuPont Company also sponsored a weekly half-hour anthology drama series hosted by June Allyson, The DuPont Show with June Allyson (1959–61).

Murder and the Android was a television movie based on Fondly Fahrenheit, a 1954 story by Alfred Bester. It was broadcast on November 8, 1959 as a NBC Sunday Showcase production. The film was produced by Robert Alan Aurthur, directed by Alex Segal, and starred Kevin McCarthy, Rip Torn, Vladimir Sokoloff, Suzanne Pleshette and Sono Osato.


  1. 1 2 "Sammy Glick on Television"
  2. Berger, Joseph. "Back to '59: Sammy Is Running Again." The New York Times, April 6, 2005.
  3. Contento, William. Mystery Short Fiction: 1990-2006.
  4. Crosby, John. "Television Going Way, Way Out." November 11, 1959.
  5. IMDb (Though IMDb refers to the episode as "The 1st Annual Grammy Awards", the episode's date is that of the 2nd Annual Grammy Awards; the inaugural Grammy Award ceremony was held earlier in 1959.)