Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Classic TV: This Is Your Life (1952)

It is one of the grandfathers, if you will, of reality television. Sadly, because this generation's version of reality television is so oversaturated, two attempts at a 21st century revival of This Is Your Life have never gotten past the talking stages.

Life, the brainchild of host-producer Ralph Edwards, launched on radio in 1948, and ran for 4 years before shifting to television in 1952 for a 9 year run, ending in 1961. 10 years later, the series was brought back, with Edwards as host, but this version, which I remember seeing, was only on for a year before being cancelled. Subsequently, a 2nd revival, with actor Joseph Campanella (ex-The Bold Ones, Mannix) as host, also failed to catch on. The reason for that was, the shows were taped, as opposed to the original series being live, and promos on stations in the syndicated network spoiled everything.

But not every guest was actually thrilled to have their story told on the air. There's been reports of Lowell Thomas, Stan Laurel, and others being angered by being, well, ambushed or tricked into appearing.

Let's go back to 1956 for a tribute to comedy legend Lou Costello. Like, who knew he was also a basketball star?




And, from 1971, an excerpt from an episode with Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family):




Edwards also helped launch Thames Television's version of the series in England, with Eammon Andrews eventually becoming host after being the first subject on that series. Here is an episode with boxing legend Muhammad Ali:




The dead air, trust me, killed the vibe.

I only saw the 1971 series, but the overall rating is an A.

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