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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Golden Age Of Television. 2.

The fifties, as exciting a time as it was for television, was NOT it's Golden Age.
It was just too flawed.
Although he started in the late forties, the fifties essentially turned Milton Berle into Mister Television.
For far too long.
Early on, it was simply a matter of "Look! He's moving!"
This graduated into "Look! He's moving! In a dress!.
Berle was mostly less than funny.
Combine this with his hammy mawkishness, and it was clear that he was not an asset to the Golden Age Legacy.

There were some great game shows in the fifties, like "What's My Line?", where the panelists dressed up in tuxedos, and the women wore evening gowns.
Except maybe when Berle showed up in a dress.

Or "I've Got A Secret", slightly less formal, but far more fun and more charming, primarily because of it's host, Garry Moore.

But then came the Quiz Show Scandals, which almost put a permanent end to all Quiz Shows.
A truly ugly time.

The fifties gave us Pinky Lee.

The fifties gave us fuzzy black-and-white pictures on the TV screens.

The fifties gave us Fuzzy Knight (Remember "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion"?)
The fifties gave us "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion"

The fifties introduced the concept of "Least objectionable programming"
And that decision usually fell to the head of the household.
Because most of us only had one set.
It brought us together, but not necessarily in a good way.

The fifties gave us Bert Parks.

The fifties gave us "My Llttle Margie".

But worse than anything, the fifties gave us the Blacklist.
It was pervasive, and certainly lowered the standards of what we were able to see, aside from ruining careers and lives.

So I think I've made the case for why the fifties was NOT the Golden Age of Televison.

But I believe that there has been one, and I'll make the case for it next time.


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  1. As usual, you make some very good points.

    I watched "My Little Margie" when I was a kid.

    Years later, I tried to watch it again when one of the cable stations reran it.

    Oh. My. God.

    Given all the weird, at least borderline sadistic tricks that Margie and Vern used to play on each other, I once thought it would have been interesting to see Gale Storm and Charlie Farrell in a production of Strindberg's "The Father"....

    Thanks also for the mention of Garry Moore, a master of his craft who seems to have been unjustly forgotten.

    Did you know that Joseph Papp was the stage manager for "I've Got a Secret"?

    According to the late Judy Crichton, who worked on the show, CBS once said that Papp would have to go because of his politics.

    Moore said, "If Joe goes, I go."

    "It was the only time I saw CBS back down from the blacklist," Crichton said in an interview with

  2. I did know about Joseph Papp. He even showed up on camera occasionally.
    I was a huge fan of "I've Got a Secret".

  3. They used to show I've Got a Secret on GSN. I thought regular panelist Henry Morgan was a hoot. I've never seen him on anything else. According to Wikipedia, other than Secret, he was basically a radio star.

  4. Henry Morgan was indeed a hoot.
    His radio show was quite funny, and available at Old Time Radio.
    You might want to Google it.
    He was also in a couple of movies that I know of: "Murder Inc.", where he played a straight role as an FBI man, and "So This Is New York", a very droll movie in which he was very droll.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."