Sunday, January 22, 2017

Classic TV: Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1963)

NBC found the definition of anthology by matching comedy icon Bob Hope with Chrysler. The end result saw Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre run for 4 seasons (1963-7), although Hope would continue with a series of specials every year even after the series ended.

The benchmark of Hope's NBC run, of course, were his annual Christmas shows for US armed forces overseas. The Chrysler Theatre, meanwhile, offered a mix of comedy, drama, and adventure, pausing every few weeks for Hope to headline one of his comedy specials.

In the summer of 1972, NBC repackaged Chrysler Theatre and their other 60's anthologies under new titles, and with new hosts, including Art Fleming (Jeopardy!), Jack Kelly ($ale of the Century, ex-Maverick), and Peter Marshall (Hollywood Squares). Unfortunately, those repackaged shows have been lost.

Let's take you back to October 1966 for one of the Hope comedy specials. "Murder at NBC" featured an all-star team of comics, including Don Adams (Get Smart), Jimmy Durante, Wally Cox (Hollywood Squares, Underdog), Bill Dana, Jack Carter, and, two years away from getting their own show, Dan Rowan & Dick Martin.

Takes ya back, doesn't it, commercials and all?

I remember growing up watching the post-Chrysler Theatre Hope specials, and laughing myself silly at the monologues. Today, many of those specials are now available on DVD through Time-Life, with the requisite infomercial running periodically (check listings).

No rating. Never saw the Chrysler Theatre.

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