Thursday, September 3, 2009


Sometimes , in television and in comedy , as in mathematics, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That's the only way , I suspect,to account for the strange case of the 1956-1957, NBC-TV, B&W, sitcom STANLEY.

Start with a versatile and vibrant cast that is replete with comedic talent, headed by nightclub, stand-up star Buddy Hackett,the wildly expressive Paul Lynde and a young woman who would become video royalty, Carol Burnett. SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE'S Don Pardo was the announcer,who reminded us that, according to sponsor Pall Mall cigarettes, smoking is fun! Ernest Chappell was the voice of the commercials, which seem surreal from a 21st century vantage point.

Next, support the actors manifold theatrical skills with scripts from people who wrote for Sid Caesar's vaunted YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS on NBC-TV. The STANLEY writing team truly included some of the 20th century's most inventive, comedy minds.Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Danny Simon and Lucille Kallen authored scripts that infused the show with high voltage , big city, comic sensibilities.

And guiding it all was the reigning monarch of television comedy, video visionary Max Liebman. He was the network impresario who had discovered and mentored Sid Caesar, Imogene Cocoa and Carl Reiner.

His imprimatur was the hallmark of quality television.

On paper, STANLEY was a classic in the making.

On NBC-TV, Monday nights at 8:30pm, opposite CBS-TV's, Eisenhower-era equivalent of AMERICAN IDOL, the top rated, ARTHUR GODFREY'S TALENT SCOUTS, it was a one season wonder. A sitcom that never cultivated an audience that was commensurate in measure to the talents of the cast and production team.

The Brooklyn born Hackett played Stanley Peck, who runs the newsstand in the lobby of New York's, fictitious, Sussex-Fenton Hotel. Carol Burnett was cast as his girlfriend and Paul Lynde was the ubiquitous voice of hotel owner, Horace Fenton.

Here is a unique opportunity to judge for yourself. The four You Tube clips below constitute one full episode of Stanley. Enjoy!!!!!

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