Saturday, October 9, 2010
HAM & CHEESE ON TV - MILTON BERLE'S KRAFT MUSIC HALL - NBC-TV - CIRCA 3/18/59 & 1/21/59
It's hard to imagine how many words have been written and spoken about comic-virtuoso and video icon, Milton Berle, since that warm, June night in 1948 , when the former vaudeville star stepped through the curtain ,under the scorching lights of studio 6-B and into the homes of those fortunate few who could afford home receivers to become Mr. Television.
There was only one Uncle Milty.
You know the legend: That his Tuesday night NBC-TV show, THE TEXACO STAR THEATER, often had 80 to 90 per cent of all available viewers watching. That during his commercials,big city water departments could see changes in pressure as all of those viewers flushed their toilets and got back to see what Berle would do next. He was the first verifiable television star, predating video victories by Lucy, Gleason,Godfrey and ,even, Howdy Doody.
He was the king of television from 1948 to 1953.
As the competition grew, ratings diminished and as his style of slapstick comedy wore thin, Texaco cancelled its sponsorship. Buick sped in to underwrite Uncle Milty in a one hour, weekly, musical/comedy review on NBC, airing Tuesday at 8pm.But,after 3 seasons, THE BUICK-BERLE SHOW came to an abrupt stop in 1955.The Peacock Network had Berle under a 30 year , exclusive contract, so it installed him in a more traditional variety show in 1956,that lasted only one season.
But, there was a Kraft Recipe for TV success , waiting in the wings at NBC in Burbank.Here it is:Take one part Ham (Uncle Milty) and America's biggest Cheese factory(Kraft Foods).Next, add guest stars, topical monologues,contemporary music and bake under hot studio lights.
What they got was the two seasons of THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL STARRING MILTON BERLE that aired in 1958 and 1959 on NBC-TV. In the end, Berle couldn't find a new audience for his more mature style of humor. He was cancelled and Kraft, in turn, began a long association with another NBC luminary, Perry Como.
Berle next did a bowling show for NBC. It lasted only one year.
Here , below, are three clips that are derived from the high octane,high jinks that Milton Berle delivered every time the red light went on.Enjoy!!!!!