Archive for the ‘"Kraft Television Theatre"’ Category

Remembering TV Producer (and Archive Interviewer) Henry Colman

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The Archive is very saddened to hear of the death of noted television producer Henry Colman, who passed away on Wednesday, November 7th at the age of 89. Not only was Henry an Archive interviewee, but he was also one of the Archive’s main interviewers — having completed over 33 oral history interviews for the Archive of American Television’s collection. We will miss his warmth and enthusiasm.

Henry began his career in television just as it was beginning — as a production coordinator on a local musical show, Easy Does It. In 1951, he became an assistant to the director on Kraft Television Theatre and then worked on other programs including Robert Montgomery Presents and Colgate Comedy Hour. He then became a television executive, overseeing the pilot of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and working on programs such as Green Acres and Hawaii Five-0. He later worked on the development of The Love Boat, where he became line producer, and went on to produce the series Hotel. Beginning in 1987, he produced a number of TV movies including Body of Evidence, Parent Trap III and The Rape of Dr. Willis.

Below are some selections from his 2001 Archive interview:

On the genesis of The Love Boat:

On his advice to aspiring producers:

On being an interviewer for the Archive of American Television:

On how he’d like to be remembered:

I’d like to be remembered as being generous and kind and with enough talent that I got the job done, and did it well.

Henry himself was interviewed for the Archive on March 16, 2001.

As a tribute to his work and love for the Archive of American Television, donations in his memory are being accepted. (Email for more information.)

TV’s First Anthology Drama Turns 65: Happy Anniversary, Kraft Television Theatre!

Monday, May 7th, 2012

It was the first of the Golden Age, classic anthology dramas. Kraft Television Theatre was born out of Television Theatre, the 1946 monthly showcase of plays courtesy of WNBT, NBC’s New York station. Once the monthly program proved a success, NBC found a regular sponsor for the show and officially launched television’s first live weekly, hour-long dramatic series, Kraft Television Theatre on May 7, 1947.

The program was so successful on Wednesday evenings that a Thursday installment was added for a two-year run on ABC. Between the NBC and ABC versions, there were a total of 650 shows produced – the series missed only three live telecasts in its eleven year run, due to coverage of political conventions.

Fred Coe directed several of the early episodes, and went on to produce several Golden Age favorites including Playhouse 90 and Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse. Sidney Lumet directed 1958’s two-part production of “All the King’s Men:”

E.G. Marshall starred in several productions, including a memorable 1950 “Macbeth” and Jack Klugman not only acted in the series, but also wrote 1958’s “Code of the Corner:”

Noteworthy writers tapped for the series included Truman Capote, Rod Serling (who penned 1955’s “Patterns” starring Ed Begley, Sr.) JP Miller, and Horton Foote, whose play “Only the Heart” was performed on Kraft Television Theatre in 1948:

Part of the magic, and the difficulty of the productions stemmed from the fact that they were live. The blocking and staging had to be precise, and if someone flubbed a line or missed a cue, there were no retakes. Makeup artist Dick Smith recalls the challenges of aging a character on live television, specifically, Nancy Marchand’s “Queen Elizabeth” in the 1951 production “Of Famous Memory:”

Kraft loved the show because cheese sales skyrocketed – a 1947 study by ad agency J. Walter Thompson showed that McLaren’s Imperial Cheese, which was advertised solely on Kraft Television Theatre, was regularly selling out at grocery stores. RCA (parent company of NBC) loved the show because quality programming was a draw for people to buy television sets, which RCA manufactured.

Kraft Television Theatre finally came to the end of its eleven-year-run in 1958, as serialized dramas and sitcoms with continuing storylines became the fashion. The show was briefly reconfigured as Kraft Mystery Theatre in April 1958 and went off the air for good five months later in September. Though the program was not shot on film, kinescopes remain of several of the most lauded productions, including “Patterns,” and the Titanic tale, “A Night to Remember.”

- by Adrienne Faillace