Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Playhouse 90

(This post is part of a series on the 14 Top TV Dramas You’ve Never Seen)

Number 8 in our countdown of The Top TV Dramas You’ve Never Seen, is Playhouse 90.  A product of the Golden Age of Television, Playhouse 90 cemented its reputation as TV’s most distinguished anthology drama series. From 1956 to 1960, Playhouse 90 broadcast 133 90-minute dramas. The series began its broadcasts with live shows, but later switched to videotape. Except for a Christmas episode, they were all shot in black and white.

Each week, Playhouse 90 brought top-notch actors, producers, directors, and scriptwriters into American homes. Actors included Tab Hunter, Vincent Price, Kim Hunter, Nehemiah Persoff, Mary Astor, Rod Taylor, Peter Lorre, James Mason, E.G. Marshall, Jackie Coogan, Cliff Robertson, James Whitmore, Dick York, Sterling Hayden, Werner Klemperer, Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam, Art Carney, Everett Sloane, Jack Klugman, Rip Torn, Boris Karloff, Richard Basehart, Hope Lang, Leslie Nielsen, Darryl Hickman, Robert Vaughn, Burt Reynolds, Harry Guardino, Earl Holliman, Jack Albertson, Buddy Ebsen, June Lockhart, Tony Randall, Lloyd Bridges, Piper Laurie, Lee J. Cobb, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ben Gazzara, Ricardo Montalban, Jack Lord, Dan Blocker, Ann Bancroft, Charlton Heston, Gale Gordon, Eddie Albert, Raymond Burr, Maureen Stapleton, Buster Keaton, Jack Lemmon, Edmund Gwenn, Lee Remick, and John Drew Barrymore.

Plays were adapted form works by Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw, and William Faulkner. Several original stories were written by Rod Serling, including “The Comedian” starring Mickey Rooney as an abrasive, manipulative TV comic and “Requiem for a Heavyweight” starring Jack Palance, which won 6 Emmy Awards in 1956. Several teleplays were subsequently filmed a major motion pictures, including Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight”.

The caliber of acting and writing combined with the outstanding production values made Playhouse 90 one of television’s finest drama shows. You might be able to find some episodes in “Golden Age of Television” collections or online.

YouTube clip  (Rod Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight”)

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