"Philco TV Playhouse" Celebrates 60th Anniversary

October 8th, 2008


The Philco TV Playhouse, which ran from 1948-55, establishing itself as one of the shining examples of the best of the dramatic anthologies during the Golden Age of Television, aired its first production on October 3, 1948. That production was an adaptation of the famed "Dinner at Eight," and Variety raved: "It can be hailed as one of tele's major achievements to date, not only in rich, warm-bodied acting, but in the whole concept."

The credit to the success of the series is attributed to legendary producer-director Fred Coe (pictured above with actor Jose Ferrer as "Cyrano"). Coe was known for his cultivation of top writers and directors, many of whom were interviewed by the Archive of American Television in its early efforts to document this period— such as writers Tad Mosel, Horton Foote, JP Miller, David Shaw; and directors: Delbert Mann and Arthur Penn. Other notable Philco writers included Paddy Chayefsky, Robert Alan Arthur, and N. Richard Naish.

Delbert Mann said of Coe in his Archive interview, "he was my guardian, he was my father figure, he was my mentor, my guide, my teacher. Everything I learned about directing I learned from Fred Coe."

Philco would go on to stage many notable shows (and in 1951 would alternate with Goodyear TV Playhouse, which likewise staged quality productions, such as "Marty"). Among Philco's most significant productions were: "An Inspector Calls" with Walter Abel (aired: 11/21/48), "Cyrano de Bergerac" with Jose Ferrer (aired: 1/9/49), "What Makes Sammy Run?" with Jose Ferrer (airdate: 4/10/49), "Macbeth" with Walter Hampden (aired: 5/1/49), "The Trip to Bountiful" with Lillian Gish (aired: 3/1/53), "A Young lady of Property" with Kim Stanley (aired: 4/5/53), "The Rainmaker" with Darren McGavin (aired: 8/16/53), "Othello" with Torin Thather and Walter Matthau (aired: 9/6/53), "The Mother" with Cyril Ritchard (aired: 4/18/54), "Middle of the Night" with Steven Hill and Eva Marie Saint (aired: 9/19/54), "The Death of Billy the Kid" with Paul Newman (aired: 7/24/55), and "A Man Is Ten Feet Tall" with Sidney Poitier (aired 10/2/55).

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