In December 1948, after more than a decade on radio, principally for CBS, Arthur Godfrey ventured onto primetime TV by simply permitting the televising of his radio hit Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. On TV Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts ran until July 1958 on Monday nights at 8:30 P.M. for a half hour and proved Godfrey's best venue on television. Fans embraced this amateur showcase, and during the 1951-52 TV season it reached number one in the ratings. Next season I Love Lucy vaulted into first place, but thereafter through most of the 1950s Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts regularly finished in TV's primetime top ten.
The formula for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts was simple enough. "Scouts" brought on their discoveries to a converted New York theater to perform before a live studio audience. Most of these "discoveries" were in fact struggling professionals looking for a break, and so the quality of the talent was quite high. At the program's conclusion, the studio audience selected the winner by way of an applause meter.
In his day Godfrey significantly assisted the careers of Pat Boone, Tony Bennett, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Leslie Uggams, Lenny Bruce, Steve Lawrence, Connie Francis, Roy Clark, and Patsy Cline. His "discovery" of Patsy Cline on 21 January 1957 was typical. Her scout, actually her mother Hilda Hensley, presented Patsy who sang her recent recording Walkin' After Midnight. Though this was heralded as a country song, and recorded in Nashville, Godfrey's staff insisted Cline not wear one of her mother's hand crafted cowgirl outfits but appear in a cocktail dress. The audience's ovations stopped the meter at its apex, and for a couple of months thereafter Cline appeared regularly on Godfrey's radio program. In short although Cline had been performing for nearly a decade, and had been recording and appearing on local Washington, D.C. TV for more than two years, it is Godfrey, because of the great ratings and fame Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, who is heralded as making Patsy Cline a star. Yet Godfrey proved fallible. He turned down both Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly!
HOST Arthur Godfrey
ANNOUNCER Tony Marvin
ORCHESTRA Archie Bleyer (1948-1954) Jerry Bresler (1954-1955) Will Roland and Bert Farber (1955-1958)
PROGRAMMING HISTORY CBS December 1948-July 1958 Monday 8:30-9:00