Wednesday, February 18, 2009


In the earliest days of the CBS television network, the viewers made it very clear to the programmers that they wanted a lot more of Moore, and when they got it, Moore was never enough.

Garry Moore, the affable host, personality and entertainer was one of the young medium's first, best reasons to buy ... and watch ... a television set. CBS-TV was all the better off for having him appear on their air.

It isn't always easy to explain why. Especially to those who are too young to have seen his prolific body of work on the small screen. He could carry a tune , but wasn't a singer. Moore could deliver a funny monologue and enact an impression or two, but wasn't a stand-up comedian or an impressionist. The crew-cut, bow-tied Moore never performed a dramatic role of note. He would chat-up guests, but never conducted incisive interviews.

All of that said, people loved to watch Garry Moore on television.

Born as Thomas Garrison Morfit on 1/31/1915 in Baltimore,Maryland, his ease behind a microphone at WBAL radio demonstrated an engaging, comfortable, conversational style that would propel him to stardom in a world of traditional,dulcet, stentorian announcers.CBS radio gave him a daily radio show, broadcast from Los Angeles in 1949.

It was an instant success.

As the 1950's arrived and with the rapid advent of network television, the genial host debuted in The Garry Moore Show, produced LIVE from New York and running for thirty minutes, three nights per week on CBS-TV's, primetime line-up. It was a video victory for the young performer and for the even younger CBS television network.

That show was moved to run five days per week in the afternoon on CBS daytime in the fall of 1950 and continued until the summer of 1958. The audience was large and loyal.The sponsors were lined-up to buy commercial time on the show, which generated millions of dollars per year for the CBS network.

In 1958, Moore and CBS-TV decided that Garry Moore was ready for a triumphant return to primetime. They launched The Garry Moore Show, surrounding the gregarious host with announcer/sidekick Durward Kirby, actress Marion Lorne and a then unknown comedienne, named Carol Burnett, in a comedy, variety format. The show ,while airing in black and white, was mounted with rich, elegant production values. The program had a sparkling array of guest stars over the years and a formidable writing staff, which ,at one point, included comic auteur,Woody Allen.

Moore starred in this variety program while also serving as host of CBS-TV's long running, game show, I've Got A Secret, and appearing as a guest on several TV and radio programs. The show ran until 1964. In the 1966, fall season, Moore came back to CBS-TV in a revamped, comedy-variety format,but was unable to take down NBC-TV's hit, Western drama,Bonanza. He was replaced by the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Moore later hosted a syndicated revival of the CBS-TV game show, To Tell The Truth. He did continue to do specials and guest appearances until he passed away from emphysema in 1993.He was 78 years old.

It always strikes me that, like CBS's Arthur Godfrey and NBC's Dave Garroway, because so much of Garry Moore's work was LIVE and un-preserved on videotape, few young people know his name, regard his reputation, or appreciate the impact of his protean work.

Below are six clips which comprise a 1963 episode of The Garry Moore Show on CBS-TV with guests including a young and electrifying Barbra Streisand, Enjoy!!!!!

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