The Alcoa Hour

Last updated

The Alcoa Hour
Laurence Harvey Diane Cilento The Small Servant Alcoa Hour 1955.jpg
Laurence Harvey and Diane Cilento in "The Small Servant", 1955.
Genre Anthology
Directed by Kirk Browning
Norman Felton
Herbert Hirschman
Sidney Lumet
Robert Mulligan
Composer Gian Carlo Menotti
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Producers Herbert Brodkin
Samuel Chotzinoff
Joel Spector
Running time4750 minutes
Original network NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release16 October 1955 (1955-10-16) 
22 September 1957 (1957-09-22)
Related Alcoa Theatre

The Alcoa Hour is an American anthology television series that was aired live on NBC from 1955 to 1957. The series was sponsored by Alcoa.



Like the Philco Television Playhouse and Goodyear Television Playhouse that had preceded it, The Alcoa Hour was a one-hour live dramatic anthology series presenting both original stories and adaptations of popular works. The three series were essentially the same, with the only real difference being the name of the sponsor.

The series alternated weeks in the same time slot with the Goodyear Television Playhouse until both series ended in 1957.

Notable episodes

The series' premiere episode, The Black Wings, marked the American TV debut of Ann Todd. [1]

The show garnered press in February 1956 for actor Lloyd Bridges' emotional performance in an episode titled "Tragedy in a Temporary Town", directed by Sidney Lumet. [2] During the performance, Bridges inadvertently slipped some profanity in while ad-libbing. [3] Although the slip of the lip generated hundreds of complaints, the episode won a Robert E. Sherwood Television Award, with Bridges' slip being defended even by some members of the clergy. [3] [4] [5] The episode, during which an innocent Puerto Rican man is targeted by a mob for a sexual crime, was cited by the Anti-Defamation League as "the best dramatic program of the year dealing with interethnic group relations." [4]

During the second season, one memorable episode was the 23 December 1956, telecast of The Stingiest Man in Town, a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol , starring Basil Rathbone as Scrooge and Martyn Green as Bob Cratchit. It was the only Alcoa Hour production to be granted an original cast album recording. The Stingiest Man in Town was remade in 1978 as a Rankin-Bass animated cartoon, featuring the voice of Walter Matthau as Scrooge.


Series overview

SeasonEpisodesSeason PremiereSeason Finale
1 2416 October 19552 September 1956
2 2816 September 195622 September 1957

Season 1 (1955-56)

No. in
No. in
Title Guest Stars Original air date
11"The Black Wings" Wendell Corey, Robert Flemyng, Ann Todd 16 October 1955 (1955-10-16)
22"The Small Servant" Laurence Harvey, Halliwell Hobbes, Diane Cilento 30 October 1955 (1955-10-30)
33"A Girl Can Tell" Diana Lynn, Natalie Trundy, Carleton Carpenter,
Jack Whiting
13 November 1955 (1955-11-13)
44"Thunder in Washington" Melvyn Douglas, Ed Begley 27 November 1955 (1955-11-27)
55"Undertow" Robert Preston, Teresa Wright, John Kerr, Thomas Mitchell 11 December 1955 (1955-12-11)
66"Amahl and the Night Visitors"Rosemary Kuhlman, David Aiken, Leon Lishner, Andrew McKinley 25 December 1955 (1955-12-25)
77"Man on a Tiger" Melvyn Douglas, Tony Randall, Keenan Wynn 8 January 1956 (1956-01-08)
88"A Patch of Faith" Lee J. Cobb, Theodore Bikel, Lilia Skala 22 January 1956 (1956-01-22)
99"Long After Summer" Robert Preston, Susan Kohner 5 February 1956 (1956-02-05)
1010"Tragedy in Temporary Town" Ed Binns, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Emhardt 19 February 1956 (1956-02-19)
1111"Man on Fire" Tom Ewell, Patricia Barry, Neva Patterson, Ed Begley 4 March 1956 (1956-03-04)
1212"Doll Face" Gene Lyons, Nancy Malone, Glenda Farrell 18 March 1956 (1956-03-18)
1313"Finkle's Contest" David Opatoshu, Hans Conried, Norman Fell 1 April 1956 (1956-04-01)
1414"Even the Weariest River" Lee Grant, Boris Karloff, Christopher Plummer, Jason Robards 15 April 1956 (1956-04-15)
1515"Paris and Mrs. Perlman" Gertrude Berg, Claude Dauphin 29 April 1956 (1956-04-29)
1616"The President" Claude Rains, Mildred Dunnock, Everett Sloane 13 May 1956 (1956-05-13)
1717"The Confidence Man" Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy 27 May 1956 (1956-05-27)
1818"The Magic Horn" Ralph Meeker, Sal Mineo 10 June 1956 (1956-06-10)
1919"The Archangel Harrigan" Darren McGavin, Frank Aletter, Pat Hingle, Janice Rule 24 June 1956 (1956-06-24)
2020"The Piper of St. James" Brenda Forbes, Barry Jones, Patrick O'Neal 8 July 1956 (1956-07-08)
2121"Sister" Gladys Cooper, Cathleen Nesbitt, Vincent Price 22 July 1956 (1956-07-22)
2222"Kiss and Tell" Robin Morgan, Warren Berlinger 5 August 1956 (1956-08-05)
2323"The Big Vote" Ed Begley, Walter Matthau 19 August 1956 (1956-08-19)
2424"The Girl in Chapter One" James Daly, Joanne Woodward 2 September 1956 (1956-09-02)

Season 2 (1956-57)

No. in
No. in
Title Guest Stars Original air date
251"Flight into Danger" Patricia Barry, Macdonald Carey 16 September 1956 (1956-09-16)
262"The Big Wave" Hume Cronyn, Carol Lynley, Rip Torn 30 September 1956 (1956-09-30)
273"Key Largo" Anne Bancroft, Lorne Greene, Victor Jory 14 October 1956 (1956-10-14)
284"Morning's at Seven" Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, David Wayne 4 November 1956 (1956-11-04)
295"Merry Christmas, Mr. Baxter" Margaret Hamilton, Dennis King, John McGiver 2 December 1956 (1956-12-02)
306"Adventure in Diamonds" Gary Merrill, Viveca Lindfors 9 December 1956 (1956-12-09)
317"The Stingiest Man in Town" Basil Rathbone, Vic Damone 23 December 1956 (1956-12-23)
328"A Double Life" Shelley Winters, Nina Foch, Eric Portman 6 January 1957 (1957-01-06)
339"Ride the Wild Mare" Lloyd Bridges, Betty Field, Edward Andrews 20 January 1957 (1957-01-20)
3410"No License to Kill (I)" Hume Cronyn, Eileen Heckart, Carl Betz, Jack Klugman 3 February 1957 (1957-02-03)
3511"The Animal Kingdom" Robert Preston, Joanne Linville 17 February 1957 (1957-02-17)
3612"The Last Train to Pusan" Gary Merrill, Virginia Kaye, Philip Ahn 3 March 1957 (1957-03-03)
3713"The Original Miss Chase" Nanette Fabray, Darren McGavin 17 March 1957 (1957-03-17)
3814"The Big Build-Up" E.G. Marshall, George Peppard, Jason Robards 31 March 1957 (1957-03-31)
3915"Nothing to Lose" Ralph Bellamy, James Whitmore 14 April 1957 (1957-04-14)
4016"Mechanical Manhunt" Sallie Brophy, Richard Kiley 28 April 1957 (1957-04-28)
4117"Protege" Skip Homeier, Betsy Palmer, Ed Wynn 19 May 1957 (1957-05-19)
4218*TBATBA2 June 1957 (1957-06-02)
4319"Mrs. Gilling and the Skyscraper" Helen Hayes, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Jack Klugman 9 June 1957 (1957-06-09)
4420"Awake With Fear" Eddie Bracken, Henry Jones 23 June 1957 (1957-06-23)
4521"Hostages to Fortune" Anne Bancroft, Rip Torn 7 July 1957 (1957-07-07)
4622"He's For Me" Roddy McDowall, Larry Blyden, Elaine Stritch 21 July 1957 (1957-07-21)
4723"Weekend in Vermont" Patricia Barry, Tony Randall 4 August 1957 (1957-08-04)
4824"The Trouble With Women" Audrey Christie, Walter Matthau 11 August 1956 (1956-08-11)
4925"The Littlest Little Leaguer"Jacob Kalich, Peter Lazer, Nehemiah Persoff 25 August 1957 (1957-08-25)
5026"No License to Kill (II)" Eddie Albert, Maureen Stapleton 1 September 1957 (1957-09-01)
5127"14 October 1864"Alan Nixon, James Pritchett, Clu Gulager 15 September 1957 (1957-09-15)
5228"Night" E.G. Marshall, Jason Robards, Franchot Tone 22 September 1957 (1957-09-22)

*No information found for this episode.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lloyd Bridges</span> American film, stage and television actor

Lloyd Vernet Bridges Jr. was an American film, stage and television actor who starred in a number of television series and appeared in more than 150 feature films. He was the father of four children, including the actors Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges. He started his career as a contract performer for Columbia Pictures, appearing in films such as Sahara (1943), A Walk in the Sun (1945), Little Big Horn (1951) and High Noon (1952). On television, he starred in Sea Hunt 1958 to 1961. By the end of his career, he had re-invented himself and demonstrated a comedic talent in such parody films as Airplane! (1980), Hot Shots! (1991), and Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998). Among other honors, Bridges was a two-time Emmy Award nominee. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 1, 1994.

The following is the 1959–60 network television schedule for the three major English language commercial broadcast networks in the United States. The schedule covers primetime hours from September 1959 through March 1960. The schedule is followed by a list per network of returning series, new series, and series cancelled after the 1958–59 season.

Betty Madigan is an American traditional popular singer and actress.

<i>Playhouse 90</i> American 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>The United States Steel Hour</i> Television series

The United States Steel Hour is an anthology series which brought hour long dramas to television from 1953 to 1963. The television series and the radio program that preceded it were both sponsored by the United States Steel Corporation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boris Karloff filmography</span>

Boris Karloff (1887-1969) was an English actor. He became known for his role as Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 Frankenstein, leading to a long career in film, radio, and television.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthology series</span> Broadcast entertainment with self-contained stories and different characters in each episode

An anthology series is a radio, television, video game or film series that spans different genres and presents a different story and a different set of characters in each different 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.

The Philco Television Playhouse is an American television anthology series that was broadcast live on NBC from 1948 to 1955. Produced by Fred Coe, the series was sponsored by Philco. It was one of the most respected dramatic shows of the Golden Age of Television, winning a 1954 Peabody Award and receiving eight Emmy nominations between 1951 and 1956.

<i>Alcoa Theatre</i> American TV series or program

Alcoa Theatre is a half-hour American anthology series telecast on NBC at 9:30 pm on Monday nights from September 30, 1957 to May 23, 1960. The program also aired under the title Turn of Fate. Alcoa Theatre was syndicated together with Goodyear Theatre as Award Theatre.

Goodyear Television Playhouse is an American anthology series that was telecast live on NBC from 1951 to 1957 during the first Golden Age of Television.

<i>Shower of Stars</i> American TV series or program

Shower of Stars is an American variety television series broadcast live in the United States from 1954 to 1958 by CBS. The series was broadcast in color which was a departure from the usual CBS programming practices of the 1950s.

Adaptations of <i>A Christmas Carol</i> Works based on the novel by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol, the popular 1843 novella by Charles Dickens (1812–1870), is one of the British author's best-known works. It is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy miser who hates Christmas, but is transformed into a caring, kindly person through the visitations of four ghosts. The classic work has been dramatised and adapted countless times for virtually every medium and performance genre, and new versions appear regularly.

Goodyear Theatre is a 30-minute dramatic television anthology series telecast on NBC from 1957 to 1960 for a total of 55 episodes. The live show was directed by many notable directors, including Don Taylor, Arthur Hiller and Robert Ellis Miller. It followed Goodyear Television Playhouse (1951).

<i>The Stingiest Man in Town</i> 1978 animated Christmas television special

The Stingiest Man in Town is a 1978 animated Christmas musical television special based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. It was created by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, and features traditional animation rather than the stop motion animation most often used by the company. It was an animated remake of a long-unseen, but quite well received, live-action musical special which had starred Basil Rathbone, Martyn Green, and Vic Damone. The live-action version had been telecast on December 23, 1956, on the NBC anthology series The Alcoa Hour, and was published on DVD in 2011, by VAI. The animated remake first aired December 23, 1978, in the United States on NBC, and was telecast in Japan the next day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Martin Manulis</span> American film, television and theatre producer

Martin Ellyot Manulis was an American television, film, and theatre producer. Manulis was best known for his work in the 1950s producing the CBS Television programs Suspense, Studio One Summer Theatre, Climax!, The Best of Broadway and Playhouse 90. He was the sole producer of the award-winning drama series, Playhouse 90, during its first two seasons from 1956 to 1958.

Roger Overholt Hirson was an American dramatist and screenwriter best known for his books of the Broadway musicals, Pippin, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, and Walking Happy. He contributed extensively for original television anthology series episodes since the 1950s and also wrote the screenplays or stories for several prominent films such as The Bridge at Remagen (1969).

Alcoa Premiere is an American anthology drama series that aired from October 1961 to July 1963 on ABC. The series was hosted by Fred Astaire, who also starred in several of the episodes.

"A Christmas Carol" is the December 23, 1954 episode of the hour-long American television anthology variety series, Shower of Stars. The episode is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella of the same name.

Herbert Brodkin was an American producer and director of film and television.

"Tragedy in a Temporary Town" is a dramatic teleplay written by Reginald Rose. It was originally produced for The Alcoa Hour in the US directed by Sidney Lumet and sparked media attention for its portrayal of race and for Lloyd Bridges ad libbed profanity during its live broadcast. Bridges was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actor for 1957 but did not win.


  1. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present . Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 27. ISBN   0-345-45542-8.
  2. "Actor's Slip of Tongue Keeps TV Viewers Arguing". The Hartford Courant. 9 March 1956. p. 9. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  3. 1 2 "Profanity Ad-libbed by Emotional Actor". The Leader-Post. Associated Press. 20 February 1956. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  4. 1 2 Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television. CRC Press. p. 50. ISBN   978-1-57958-411-5.
  5. Hyatt, Wesley (10 March 2004). A Critical History of Television's The Red Skelton Show, 1951-1971. McFarland. p. 48. ISBN   978-0-7864-1732-2.