Pioneers of Television: Season 1, Episode 3

Variety (Jan 16, 2008)

TV Episode55 min.Documentary | History
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Variety shows were the mainstay of early American TV with stars such as Milton Berle, Red Skelton and Sid Caesar dominating the airwaves. Ed Sullivan was a mainstay of television with his Sunday night show presenting everything from acrobats to stand-up comedians to scenes from Broadway plays. Arthur Godfrey at one point had two hit TV shows on the air and his folksy charm seemed to be just what America wanted at the time. His firing of popular singer Julius LaRosa on live TV changed the public's perception of him. Singers hosting their own variety show became popular with Pat Boone, and Andy Williams both hosting very popular shows. Perry Como was so popular that his show trounced The Honeymoonersin the ratings and six years later did the same against The Dick Van Dyke Show. Sid Caesar's _"Your Show of Shows" (1950)_ made sketch comedy a staple of the variety hour, something that carried on for several decades with show like _"The Carol Burnett Show" (1967)_. Variety shows didn't avoid controversial issues. _"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (1967) never hesitated to comment on the major issues of the day and was canceled due to political pressure. Variety shows also played a important role in providing opportunity to African-America artists with Pat Boone booking Harry Belafonte over his sponsors objections. When it was unable to find a sponsor for a show hosted by Nat 'King' Cole, NBC paid for it themselves. By the 1970's it all came together when comedian Flip Wilson hosted one of the most popular shows on American TV. Written By garykmcd  Less

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