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Timeless TV

'Studio One' Set: Drama, Drama, Drama

November 26, 2008 10:19 AM

Priceless Dept.: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television has brought out a six-disc DVD anthology of the 1950s "Studio One" dramas—and it's a stunner.

The classic CBS series, if you're not familiar with it, presented a different live drama each week from 1948-58 (and was known as "Westinghouse Presents Studio One" during its run). As were several other live drama anthologies of the time, it was a proving ground for a number of future movie stars, among them Jack Lemmon, Eva Marie Saint, Sal Mineo, Lee Remick and Leslie Nielsen, to name just a few.

There are 17 dramas in the collection, which ranges chronologically from "The Medium" in 1948 to "The Arena" in 1956 and includes the famously rediscovered 1954 "Twelve Angry Men" production that inspired the 1957 motion picture and was for years feared lost.

For the most part, it's rich and fascinating stuff, well-chosen material that's intelligently scripted (imagine that!) and beautifully performed.

Who knew recordings of so many of the original live performances survived? Sure, they're kinescopes (copies filmed off of TV monitors during the broadcast) and are of varying degrees of visual quality, but these dramas nonetheless make a great collection to own, even in the high-def era. And the Betty Furness appliance commercials included with them are a quaint bonus.


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Comments (2)


I do hope the collection includes the episode of "Studio One" on which Furness was not doing the refrigerator ad one night, but another actress. This was the incident incorrectly reported in perpetuity by Kermit "Mr. Blooper" Schaefer right up until his death in his numerous books about blunders on TV and radio. It took Furness years to find the kinescope evidence, but once she did, she showed it to a national TV audience via sat feed on Dick Clark's "TV's Censored Bloopers" special. Clark, who was heir apparent to Schaefer and mentioned him weekly on the "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and "Censored" specials with a simple title paying him homage, believed Schaefer was right, and Furness continued to protest whenever Clark brought the incident up in her presence. He had to eat crow once the segment--complete with the evidence--aired. Schaefer's version involved actress June Adler struggling with the door, the camera rolling in for a closeup of her while stagehands pried off the door, and left it on the floor propped next to the fridge as the camera was moved back to its position. That's not how it happened. Yes, the camera rolled in for the closeup, but the stagehands were looking for the plug for the refrigerator. The door was electrically powered for ease of opening, and the plug got kicked out during the course of putting on a play set on a battleship in WWII. Furness was helping her dad, George, a PR exec at Westinghouse, entertain clients at his place, hence her absence that night. The kinescope of the ad was on file at the successor to Westinghouse Electric, White-Westinghouse, and, apparently, nowhere else.

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