Archive for the ‘"Playhouse 90"’ Category

Actress Suzanne Pleshette has died – Archive Interview Online

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

We’re sad to report that Archive interviewee Suzanne Pleshette, the actress best known for her role as Emily Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show, died last night (Saturday, January 19th) at the age of 70. She was interviewed in February, 2006 and the interview is now available online.


Click here for her full San Jose Mercury News obituary.

Click here to view a special TV Land Online video featuring Archive interviews with Suzanne Pleshette & Bob Newhart talking about The Bob Newhart Show.

Academy of Television Arts & Sciences online Suzanne Pleshette obituary.

Click here to access Suzanne Pleshette’s Archive interview.

Interview description:
In her 5-part oral history interview, actress Suzanne Pleshette talks about her early years as an actress in film (The Geisha Boy), television (Playhouse 90, One Step Beyond), and Broadway (“The Miracle Worker”). She discusses her friendship with Alfred Hitchcock that began on the feature film The Birds. She spoke candidly and in detail about her television work, including The Bob Newhart Show, in which she played Newhart’s wife “Emily Hartley,” including her surprise re-appearance in the series finale of Newhart. She talks about several of her other appearances on television including Columbo, Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean (in which she played the title role), and 8 Simple Rules and recounted, with honesty, the personalities of many of the people she worked with throughout her career.

"Playhouse 90" Producer Martin Manulis has Died — His Full Archive Interview is Online

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Martin Manulis, one of the legendary producers who exemplified the “Golden Age” of television by seeking and nurturing both on-camera and behind-the scenes talent, died Friday at the age of 92. The Archive of American Television interviewed him in 1997, and in subsequent years, he was a great champion of the Archive — donating his time to assist in the compilation of a comprehensive credits list for Playhouse 90.

Among the classic teleplays he produced during his 3 seasons at the helm of Playhouse 90 were:

  • “The Miracle Worker,” directed by Arthur Penn, written by William Gibson and starring Teresa Wright, Patty McCormack and Burl Ives
  • “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” written by Rod Serling, directed by Ralph Nelson and starring Jack Palance, Ed Wynn, Keenan Wynn and Kim Hunter
  • “The Comedian,” written by Rod Serling, directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Mickey Rooney
  • “The Days of Wine and Roses,” directed by John Frankenheimer, written by JP Miller and starring Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie

Click here to access Martin Manulis’ 11-Part Archive Interview.

Click here to access Martin Manulis’ L.A. Times Obituary

Click here to access an excellent piece about the legacy of Playhouse 90 by Variety’s Cynthia Littleton

Interview description:
Martin Manulis was interviewed for five hours in Los Angeles, CA. Manulis talked about the “Golden Age of Television,” and the challenges of producing live television anthologies, (beginning with Climax), especially his greatest contribution to television, the critically acclaimed anthology, Playhouse 90. Manulis recalled celebrated teleplays like “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” and “The Miracle Worker.” He also talked about working with Jack Palance, Ed Wynn, Jack Lemmon, Claudette Colbert, Rod Serling, Tad Mosel and JP Miller. He also spoke of his later work producing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and such miniseries as “Space.” B-roll consisted of dozens of publicity photos taken for Playhouse 90. The interview was conducted by Morrie Gelman on June 17, 1997.

Director Robert Butler’s Archive Interview is Now Online!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007


Director Robert Butler was responsible for creating the look and feel for many classic television series in a career that spanned five decades. His full Archive of American Television interview is now available online, including detailed accounts of directing the first episodes of Batman, Moonlighting (pilot telefilm) and Hill Street Blues.

Click here to access Robert Butler’s entire five-hour interview.

Interview description:
Butler began by describing his early years breaking into the business as an usher at CBS. He described his experiences in various behind-the-scenes capacities on such classic “live” anthology series as Climax! and Playhouse 90. He described his first break in television directing on the comedy/drama series Hennesey. He detailed his many and varied assignments in series television in the 1960s on such series as The Detectives, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, The Defenders, The Fugitive, Hogan’s Heroes, The Twilight Zone, Batman, and Star Trek. Butler described his work in the 1970s on television movies (such as Columbo MOWs and James Dean) and feature films. He extensively described his groundbreaking work on the look of Hill Street Blues, for which he directed several of the initial episodes (including the pilot). He talked about his later work on such series as Remington Steele, Moonlighting (the telefilm pilot), Out on a Limb, Midnight Caller (which he also executive-produced), Sisters, and Lois & Clark. The interview was conducted by Stephen J. Abramson on January 14, 2004.

Prolific Writer David Shaw Dies — Archive Interview Online

Monday, July 30th, 2007

David Shaw has died at the age of 90. Shaw was one of the most prolific writers during television’s “Golden Age,” nominated for an Emmy Award for his adaptation of “Our Town” for Producers Showcase. He was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on August 31, 2004.

Writer David Shaw’s five-part interview is available for viewing on Google Video. Click here to access David Shaw’s entire interview.

In part 2 of his interview, David Shaw talks about his work as a writer on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, one of the key dramatic anthology series of the “Golden Age,” for which he wrote the most teleplays of any single writer.

From Part 3:

Q: There was a term called “kitchen sink” dramas. What did that refer to?

A: It referred to many of the Philcos that are family dramas. With family problems. They weren’t shoot ‘em ups, they weren’t crime, they weren’t sexy. They were just family dramas…. They’re not too far away from soap operas, really. But they’re easy to produce and didn’t call for big sets or lavish outdoor production.

Q: What is the legacy of Philco-Goodyear Playhouse?

A: I think that it was the beginning of good drama on television.

Q: How important do you think [Philco-Goodyear Playhouse producer Fred] Coe was to what is referred to as the “Golden Age of Television”?

A: How important? He was it! Fred was it. There was nobody like him.

Interview Description:
Shaw discussed his prolific career as a television writer that began in 1949 for the ABC “live” dramatic anthology series Actors Studio. He spoke in great detail about his work on the series Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, for which he contributed the most teleplays of any writer. For Philco-Goodyear, Shaw commented on several of his individual teleplays and talked about working with legendary producer Fred Coe. Shaw described knowing and working with other such figures of the “Golden Age of Television Drama,” as director Delbert Mann, writer Paddy Chayefsky, and actress Eva Marie Saint. Shaw discussed several series for which he served as a story editor including Mr. Peepers and The Defenders. He described his teleplays for Producer’s Showcase (including his Emmy-nominated adaptation of “Our Town”) and the six shows he wrote for Playhouse 90.

Casting Executive Ethel Winant’s Interview is Now Online

Sunday, July 1st, 2007


Casting Executive Ethel Winant’s interview is now online. Ms. Winant discusses her early years casting for live anthologies, her role as one of the first female network executives, and her experiences as a network casting executive for CBS and NBC.

Click here to access Ethel Winant’s entire 7-part interview.

Here are some excerpts:

From Part 4

Q You were one of the first female network executives. What was it like to be the only woman at the top?

I’d been the only woman for so long that I never thought about it. I mean there were things that you gotta do. Like, in the executive dining room there was a bathroom which had no door, no lock. So, for years,when I went to go to the bathroom, I would go outside, take the elevator, go down and go to the lady’s room. And, finally, I just said, well, I’m not going do this anymore. I figured out that if I took my shoes off and left my shoes outside the door that these guys, because they would all go in together, that they would know that I was in the bathroom. They wouldn’t walk in. I was always the only woman. For years, and years and years.

From Part 7

What advice would you give someone who’s starting out as a casting director?

It’s hard now, I think it’s harder to be a good casting director now because the world is so much bigger. I used to have this really simple advice which was to watch a lot of television, watch a lot of movies, start making lists for yourself and every time you see somebody that you like, write their name down. If you watch a television show, if you watch a movie, if every time you go to a play, keep lists, keep cards, do all that. It’s really what it’s about — seeing as many people as you can, going to as many plays, workshops as you can. I don’t think there’s any way to learn it.


Interview description:

In her 7-part oral history interview, Ethel Winant (1922-2003) discusses her start in television as a volunteer for Studio One, produced by Worthington Minor. Winant talks about her shift into casting and her job with David Susskind’s Talent Associates. Winant speaks about her experience as one of the first, high-ranking female executives in television, working for CBS and NBC as well as her encounters with the Blacklist. Winant’s fondest memories in television focus on her work as a casting director for Playhouse 90, and the talented people she worked with: John Houseman, John Frankenheimer, Martin Manulis, Fred Coe and Hubbell Robinson. Additionally she talks about casting such classics as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Shogun. The interview was conducted on August 7, 1996 by Sunny Parich.

Ron Howard’s Archive of American Television Interview Is Now Online

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007


Ron Howard’s interview, the Archive’s 500th, is now available for viewing online. Fittingly, Howard’s career spans a fifty-year history of television from his first roles as a child actor in such ’50s shows as Playhouse 90 and The Red Skelton Show to his role as narrator and executive producer of Arrested Development.

To many, Howard will forever be known to television audiences as “Opie Taylor” on The Andy Griffith Show and “Richie Cunningham” on Happy Days. His discussion of these series is a significant part of his three-hour interview.

Here are the links to the interview segments:

Interview description:
Howard recalled his early years growing up in Burbank, the son of actor parents, and his own start at age 3, using a dialogue scene from “Mr. Roberts” as his audition piece. He reminisced about some of his earliest acting on television including the “live” anthology drama Playhouse 90 and his recurring role as part of the gang on Dennis the Menace. He then talked about his appearance with Bert Lahr on an episode of G. E. Theatre, in which host Ronald Reagan made special note of Howard’s performance, which also caught the eye of producer Sheldon Leonard, who cast him on the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show. He spoke in great detail about playing “Opie Taylor” on The Andy Griffith Show, describing his work with Andy Griffith and the show’s ensemble and discussing moments from the series’ production. He talked about learning how to write from signing autographs, using memories of his dog’s death to create the emotions necessary for the classic “Opie the Birdman” episode, and truly having to “act” when eating “ice cream” (actually cold mashed potatoes). He briefly described some television roles he appeared in in the early ‘70s before taking on the role of “Richie Cunningham” on Happy Days. He spoke candidly about the shift in the series focus onto the break-out “Fonzie” character, recited some of the series numerous catchphrases, and discussed memorable series episodes (including “The Howdy Doody Show” and the now infamous jump-the-shark episode “Hollywood”). He detailed his transition to behind-the-cameras as a director of low-budget features and television movies (including Cotton Candy and Skyward), before becoming one of Hollywood’s A-list producer-directors. He lastly discussed his work as executive-producer and voice-over narrator on the Emmy-Award-winning sitcom Arrested Development. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on October 18, 2006.

David Shaw’s Archive Interview Is Now Online!

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Writer David Shaw’s five-part interview is now available for viewing on Google Video. Shaw was one of the most prolific writers during television’s “Golden Age.”

In part 2 of his interview, David Shaw talks about his work as a writer on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, one of the key dramatic anthology series of the “Golden Age,” for which he wrote the most teleplays of any single writer.

From Part 3:

Q: There was a term called “kitchen sink” dramas. What did that refer to?

A: It referred to many of the Philcos that are family dramas. With family problems. They weren’t shoot ‘em ups, they weren’t crime, they weren’t sexy. They were just family dramas…. They’re not too far away from soap operas, really. But they’re easy to produce and didn’t call for big sets or lavish outdoor production.

Q: What is the legacy of Philco-Goodyear Playhouse?

A: I think that it was the beginning of good drama on television.

Q: How important do you think [Philco-Goodyear Playhouse producer Fred] Coe was to what is referred to as the “Golden Age of Television”?

A: How important? He was it! Fred was it. There was nobody like him.

Interview Description:

Shaw discussed his prolific career as a television writer that began in 1949 for the ABC “live” dramatic anthology series Actors Studio. He spoke in great detail about his work on the series Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, for which he contributed the most teleplays of any writer. For Philco-Goodyear, Shaw commented on several of his individual teleplays and talked about working with legendary producer Fred Coe. Shaw described knowing and working with other such figures of the “Golden Age of Television Drama,” as director Delbert Mann, writer Paddy Chayefsky, and actress Eva Marie Saint. Shaw discussed several series for which he served as a story editor including Mr. Peepers and The Defenders. He described his teleplays for Producer’s Showcase (including his Emmy-nominated adaptation of “Our Town”) and the six shows he wrote for Playhouse 90. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on August 31, 2004.

Click here to access David Shaw’s entire interview.

"Playhouse 90" Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary!

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

In American television in the 1940s and 50s, one of the staple genres of the day was the “live” dramatic anthology series. Productions within these series featured the writing of such luminaries as Paddy Chayefsky, Rod Serling, and Horton Foote and defined what has been termed the “golden age of television.” Among the anthology series were Kraft Television Theater, Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, Studio One, The U.S. Steel Hour, and Playhouse 90. As described by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh in The Complete Directory of Prime Time and Cable TV Shows: “of all the fine dramatic-anthology series to grace television in the 1950s, Playhouse 90 was the most ambitious and remains the standard against which all the others are judged.” The series premiered on October 4, 1956 with Rod Serling’s “Forbidden Area.”

Among the most well-known productions that originated on Playhouse 90 were: Rod Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker,” Rod Serling’s “The Comedian,” JP Miller’s “Days of Wine and Roses,” Abby Mann’s “Judgment at Nuremberg, and David Shaw & Bo Goldman’s “The Tunnel” as well as Horton Foote’s adaptations of William Faulkner’s “Old Man” and “Tomorrow.”


Legendary director John Frankenheimer made his name while directing for Playhouse 90. This is part 8 of his interview, in which he talks about his work on this series. Click here to view the entire 13-part interview.

The Archive of American Television interviewed many of the series’ most significant talents. In addition to John Frankenheimer, the Archive interviewed Martin Manulis (series creator and original producer), Robert Butler (assistant director), Horton Foote (writer), Albert Heschong (art director), Arthur Hiller (director), Kim Hunter (actress), Ernest Kinoy (writer), Angela Lansbury (actress), Jack Lemmon (actor), Abby Mann (writer), Delbert Mann (director), Bob Markell (set designer/associate producer), E. G. Marshall (actor), JP Miller (writer), Ricardo Montalban (actor), Rita Moreno (actress), Tad Mosel (writer), Hugh O’Brian (actor), Arthur Penn (director), Del Reisman (story editor), Rita Riggs (costumes), Cliff Robertson (actor), Mickey Rooney (actor), William Shatner (actor), David Shaw (writer), Fred Steiner (composer), George Takei (actor), and Ethel Winant (casting director).

"Twilight Zone" and "Playhouse 90" Story Editor Del Reisman’s Archive Interview is now online

Friday, August 4th, 2006


This video is Part 8 of Del Reisman’s 12-part interview. In this segment, he talks about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Click here to access the interview.

“I always knew when [Rod] came to the Twilight Zone offices because I’d hear the Coca-Cola machine going… he had a coke in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He needed neither of them. I mean, he was tremendously energetic on his own.”

Del Reisman’s six-hour Archive of American Television Interview is now available for viewing on EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG

Interview Description:

Reisman begins by looking back on his early years growing up as a “studio brat” observing his mother at work as a secretary at Universal Studios in the 1930s. He describes his entry in television as a reader on the anthology series Four Star Playhouse. He details his most prolific period in television as an associate producer/ story editor on such television series as: the “live,” daily color anthology Matinee Theater, the prestigious ninety-minute anthology Playhouse 90, the classic filmed anthology The Twilight Zone, the popular crime series The Untouchables, the western series Rawhide, and the drama The Man and the City. He discusses his work as story consultant on the nighttime soap opera Peyton Place, for which he wrote the cliffhanging final episode (the series was canceled without a finale). He also talks about his later work as a freelance writer of such 1970s series as The Streets of San Francisco and Little House on the Prairie. Finally, Reisman describes his long service to the Writers Guild of America, west for which he ultimately served as President from 1991-93. Other subjects discussed include the Hollywood blacklist and the McCarthy era, as well as Reisman’s work (at the WGA) to restore the credits of blacklisted writers of feature films made in the 1950s-60s. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on October 28, 2003.

See Cliff Robertson In-Person

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Actor Cliff Robertson will appear in person on Wednesday, August 9, for UCLA Film & Television Archive’s 13th Festival of Preservation, in Los Angeles, CA.

Robertson will appear for a screening of two classic television dramas that aired as a part of the series The U.S. Steel Hour, one of the longest running and most prestigious of early television anthologies. The shows to be presented are: “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon” (which originally aired on February 22, 1961) and “Man on the Mountaintop” (which originally aired on November 15, 1961). This is a free screening. General information about this and the entire festival can be found at www.cinema.ucla.edu.

Also, check out Cliff Robertson’s Archive of American Television interivew — now online!

This video is Part 2 of Cliff Robertson’s 5-part interview. In this segment, he speaks in-depth about his work in early “live” television. Click here to access all segments. (Remember, if you’d like to watch the interview in the order in which it was conducted, select the parts in order (1,2,3…).)

Archive of American Television Interview description:

Robertson begins by talking about his training at the Actors Studio and his early career on the New York stage. He talks about working in anthology series during the “live” television era of the 1950s. He discusses his role as mentally disabled “Charlie Gordon” in both television (The U.S. Steel Hour’s “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon”) and film (Charly, which earned him an Oscar for Best Actor). He speaks in great detail about his work with director John Frankenheimer on the Playhouse 90 show “The Days of Wine and Roses.” Robertson talks about being personally selected by President John F. Kennedy to play him in the feature film PT109. He describes his two appearances on the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone and speaks about series creator Rod Serling. Robertson discusses his blacklisting by the industry following “Hollywoodgate,” in which he accused Columbia Pictures head David Begelman of forging a check. Robertson speaks about several of his television movie appearances as well as such television series as Rod Brown and the Rocket Rangers and Batman. The interview was conducted by Stephen J. Abramson on March 1, 2005.