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Dec. 24, 1951 broadcast of the first opera ever written for television. Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera about a crippled shepherd boy who encounters the three kings on their way to pay homage to the newborn Jesus was a perennial holiday favorite for decades. This was a historical broadcast and has the advantages of freshness and spontaneity, not only in the music but in the very act of being on television, which was still relatively new in 1951. For many years, the soundtrack from this very same broadcast was a top-selling LP and compact disc for RCA-Victor, but the broadcast itself hasn’t been seen in 50 years.


BARRY CRAIG--CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR: "DEATH--THE HARD WAY" starring William Gargan. Guest Stars: Patrick O'Neal, Eve Miller, Dan Tobin, Tol Avery. Directed by Blake Edwards. Private eye Barry Craig (William Gargan) is hired by would-be public figure Peter Tilton (Dan Tobin) to pay off the debts owed by his wife (Eve Miller) to a casino, and he goes up against tough owner LaVerne Ellis (Tol Avery) to keep her out. When Mrs. Tilton and her cousin Paul Baker (Patrick O'Neal) turn up injured, their car run off the road, Tilton suspects that Ellis is responsible and is about to make a complaint to the state police and get him closed down, but Craig convinces him let the detective look into it. But someone complains to the police, and Ellis is closed down and vows revenge on Tilton. When Tilton's car is blown up with him in it, Ellis is the prime suspect, but Craig doesn't believe it--he gets Ellis to confront Mrs. Tilton with a blackmail attempt, and gets her to admit the truth, that she and Baker, who are not cousins, set the whole thing up in an elaborate attempt to kill her husband and frame Ellis. Before Craig can get anyone to the police, however, Baker opens fire on them in the darkened casino. Best line--Craig tells a would be strong-arm man, "I'm a bad shot, but you're a big boy."

BRACKEN'S WORLD Volume One (approx 55 min)

Starring Leslie Nielsen, Peter Haskell, Forrest Tucker, Tony Bill, Joe Morton – BRACKEN'S WORLD was a two-season (1969-71) series that attempted to show the drama of life at a major Hollywood studio, two decades too early from a ratings standpoint. Century Studios bore some similarity to 20th Century-Fox, which produced BRACKEN'S WORLD, and the fact that 20th Century-Fox production chief Daryl F. Zanuck's future daughter-in-law Linda Harrison had a role on the show as a starlet didn't make the comparisons any less obvious (Harrison was a real-life contract player at Fox). But that's where the similarities to real-life ended, as the mechanics of movie making were usually glossed over in favor of soap opera histrionics and plot devices copped from the scandal-sheet headlines of the day. The series' title referred to John Bracken, the chief of production of Century Studios, who--during the series' first season--was never seen, but was heard occasionally by telephone. Eleanor Parker played Sylvia Caldwell, Bracken's executive secretary, who represented studio management and the unseen Bracken; Peter Haskell portrayed director Kevin Grant, Elizabeth Allen played Laura Deane, head of the studio's talent development division, Dennis Cole was stuntman-turned-actor David Evans, Steven Oliver the studio's hot young leading man Tom Huston, and Karen Jensen and Laraine Stephens were contract players Rachel Holt and Diane Waring, Linda Harrison was would-be leading actress Paulette Douglas, and Jeanne Cooper (mother of Corbin Bernsen) played Paulette's mother.

"LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT, CHANGE IT OR LOSE IT": The first episode of the series' second season, Leslie Nielsen makes his first appearance as John Bracken, the chief of production for Century Studios. Forrest Tucker plays Jim Grange, a veteran superstar of westerns and other action pictures in the mold of John Wayne, who is coaxed out of retirement by Bracken to appear in a film of the epic novel "The Proud Land," to co-star with young actor/political activist Justin Williman (Tony Bill). Neither actor is anxious to work with the other, and each loathes the other's politics and approach to life, but they are working well until their conflicting acting styles explode on the set and they come to blows--the picture is in danger of being shelved until the two actors make an unintended joint appearance at a veterans hospital, where both hear some unpleasant truths about their politics and the Vietnam War. Robert Shayne appears as Lennie the soundman, and Joe Morton (future star of BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET and co-star of TERMINATOR 2) appears in a small role as one of William’s acting students.


BRACKEN'S WORLD Volume Two (Approx. 60 min)

Starring Dennis Cole, Bettye Ackerman, Don Knight, Laraine Stephens, Zooey Hall, Oliver McGowan, Walter Pidgeon. Special Guest Star: Anne Baxter – "DIFFUSION": Marian Harper (Anne Baxter), a veteran star actress of old Hollywood in the Joan Crawford/Elizabeth Taylor mold, is signed to do a new movie with a first-time director. She's in for a rude awakening, as are the cast and crew--not only won't she accept the new-fangled, more realistic approach to shooting and acting of the late 1960's, but she knows how to shut down a film as well and make life miserable for everyone, including her young co-star (Laraine Stephens). When David Evans (Dennis Cole), Bracken's young assistant, tries to intervene, she treats him as an errand boy--until he shows her that he has the authority to shut down the picture and suspend her from the studio, and is prepared to use it. Then she gets more subtle in her sabotage of the movie, and Evans has to take more serious action to save the movie. Walter Pidgeon appears as himself in a brief cameo.


BRACKEN'S WORLD Volume Three (Approx 60 min)

#570 "Closed Set" – Starring Eleanor Parker, Dennis Cole, John Van Dreelan, Yvonne Wilder, Jeanne Cooper, Steven Oliver, Laraine Stephens, Elizabeth Allen, Phillip Pine.

In this episode, renowned European director Rick Lawrence (John Van Dreelan) arrives at Century to make his new movie, an ambitious drama set in a concentration camp, and promptly alienates everybody with whom he comes in contact, including his assistant (Yvonne Wilder) with his single-minded approach to filmmaking. Among the enemies he makes is Tom Huston (Steven Oliver), who is furious over being passed over for a role in favor of stuntman David Evans (Dennis Cole), and the entire design and production crew over his demands. Filming proceeds at a frenetic pace, until the climactic finale of the movie--and then Lawrence is shot dead during filming, and the police have more than their share of suspects.

BRACKEN'S WORLD Volume Four (Approx 60 min)

#571 "Options" – Starring Linda Harrison, Jeanne Cooper, Robert Colbert, Eleanor Parker, Elizabeth Allen, Peter Haskell, Dennis Cole, Laraine Stephens, Karen Jensen, Stephen Oliver, Warren Berlinger.

Paulette Douglas (Linda Harrison) is dropped by Century Studios during an economy drive, which seems to upset everybody except Paulette. Her mother (Jeanne Cooper) tries to save her contract by fixing her up in a personal relationship with East Coast VP Johnny Churchill (Robert Colbert), which only drives her daughter out of the home they share together. Then the actress takes a long look at herself and realizes just how much she wants to work at Century, and she decides to confront the executives with this realization. Very well played episode featuring a bravura performance by Linda Harrison (best remembered for her work as Nova in the first two PLANET OF THE APES movies), Jeanne Cooper, and future "Young And The Restless" star Robert Colbert. Note: Tom Selleck is credited with a small role in this episode, but he is extremely hard to spot.

BRACKEN'S WORLD Volume Five (Approx 60 min)

#572 "Nude Scene" – Starring Leslie Nielsen, Lois Nettleton, Peter Haskell, Steve Inhat, Craig Stevens, Sandy Kenyon, Elizabeth Allen, Jason Wingreen.

Second season episode (with Leslie Nielsen as John Bracken) in which Century Studios is making its first film to include a nude scene--"A Time For Love" is a serious drama for which Bracken and director Kevin Grant (Peter Haskell) have recruited acclaimed actress Eva Sanders (Lois Nettleton) and leading man Larry Sims (Steve Inhat), neither of whom has ever done a nude scene before, and both of whom have misgivings about it, Eva because of her marriage and the doubts of her husband (Craig Stevens). Bracken and Grant believe in the quality of the script and the honesty of and need for the scene in question, even as those around them, including studio talent development director Laura Deane (Elizabeth Allen) and director George Rennick (Sandy Kenyon), misunderstand the reasons for the scene. The second season opening and closing credits feature a version of the title theme sung by the Lettermen.

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE with Morgan Freeman 1970 (60 min)        

This is from a low-budget made-for-television special called Caught in the Middle, which was filmed in Harlem.

Morgan Freeman in one of his earliest roles. It aired on WCBS-TV in New York on December 16, 1970 and then was never seen again, publicly.


"A Matter of Conscience" – Starring: Arthur George, Doug McClure, Sebastain Cabot.

Guest Stars: Gary Merrill, Bruce Gordon, Josephine Hutchinson – Ernie Stone (Gary Merrill) is paroled after serving 20 years in prison for shooting a man in a robbery. The man's son vows to make him pay in full - the checkmate team moves into action to help salvage both men's lives, and find out who is trying to kill Stone. John Williams wrote the jazz score for this cult favorite series, created by renowned mystery writer Eric Ambler.



"Between Two Guns" – Starring: Anthony George, Doug McClure, Sebastian Cabot

Guest Stars: Jack Warden, Beverly Garland – The Checkmate investigative team is take hostage by vengeful gangster Joe Farrell (Jack Warden), who forces leader Don Corey to act as a courier for his estranged wife (Beverly Garland) and a fortune in stolen cash - with the mob hot on his trail. Their lives are put in danger when one of Farrell's men tries a double-cross against his boss and the mob. John Williams wrote the jazz score for his cult favorite, created by renowned mystery write Eric Ambler. Directed by legendary Republic Pictures serial master John English.



“A Very Rough Sketch” – starring Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure

Guest stars: Keir Dullea, Dina Merrill – Keir Dullea portrays Edward Phillips, a brilliant but deeply disturbed and potentially violent student artist, who has been placed on probation after assaulting Dr. Hiatt (Sebastian Cabot) in a fit of rage. Assigned to the custody of his aunt and uncle, he leads a solitary, hostile existence until he meets an art teacher (Dina Merrill) from the local recreation center, whom he likes. Through his contact with her, he begins to come out of his shell of anger, as an artist and a person, until he discovers that her personal interests lie with another man. Then he begins stalking both of them, and the Checkmate team must swing into action to prevent anyone from being hurt.



Starring Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure

Guest star: Jeffrey Hunter – "Waiting For Jocko": Dr. Carl Hiatt (Sebastian Cabot) is expecting some surprises on his birthday, but not the one he gets--a visit from gun wielding ex-convict Edward Jocko Townshend (Jeffrey Hunter), a borderline psychopath who wants revenge on Hiatt for writing the psychiatric report that got his parole from prison denied, costing him five additional years in prison and the break-up of his marriage. Jocko has had time in those years to read every book in the prison library, and now knows about as much about science, psychology, art, and culture as Hiatt himself. He holds Hiatt hostage and captures his two associates (Anthony George, Doug McClure), and plans to kill all three of them with an elaborate chemical weapon, unless they can convince him otherwise.


Starring Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure

Guest Stars: Mona Freeman, Russell Collins, Judy Sanford – "Don't Believe A Word She Says": A program--inspired by Gaslight--that they probably couldn't make today, because it spends so much time putting a child in jeopardy. The Checkmate team is called in by an anonymous client to investigate the strange goings on at a remote estate, owned by a woman (Mona Freeman) whose two previous husbands have died under mysterious circumstances. Now her 10-year-old daughter (Judy Sanford) claims to be hearing voices telling her to kill herself. With Dr. Hiatt (Sebastian Cabot) masquerading as the new butler and Jed Sills (Doug McClure) working as the chauffeur, they soon learn that the girl is hearing voices--but she's not imagining them, or their message that she should try and kill herself. After preventing her from drowning herself, they realize that someone is trying to get her out of the way, either by driving the girl to suicide or to be declared insane. But what good would that do anybody? Directed by Sidney Lanfield (LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, etc.) and one of the best shows that he ever did.



Starring Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure

Guests: Dana Andrews, Phillip Abbott – "Trial By Midnight": Judge Leland McIntire (Dana Andrews), a renowned criminal court jurist, is teaching a course at a local law school that has got someone upset--ever since he announced he would devote a special series of classes to his most famous case, the Parkman Murder Case, there have been attempts on his life. The Checkmate team moves in to protect him, but to do that, they have to find the reason for the attacks--are they revenge by one of Parkman's relatives or friends, or the real killer hoping to prevent any discovery of evidence that could convict him? Their job is made even tougher by the fact that the class includes at least three people they know about who were involved with the case, a relative, a witness against the condemned man, and a juror who now believes the verdict was wrong.



Starring Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure

Guest stars: Don Taylor, George Petrie – "The Someday Man": When ex-pro-football star Chip Demian (Don Taylor) is attacked at his own health club and a janitor critically injured trying to help him, Demian's nervous business manager (Sandy Kenyon) calls on Checkmate to help find out who is responsible. They quickly learn that Demian isn't owner of the club, but an employee of the partners, allowing them to use his name and celebrity status to sell memberships. He's also a gambler, and deeply in debt to a vicious loan shark (George Petrie), who is getting impatient for his money and wouldn't hesitate to seriously injure Demian, or force him to settle the debt by getting a young college football player friend to throw a key game. The Checkmate team discovers that there's more to Chip's problems than meets the eye, and more people laying for him than he could begin to count.



Starring Anthony George Guest stars: Joan Fontaine, Scott Brady "Voyage Into Fear": Mrs. Lawson (Joan Fontaine) is the wife of a convicted mobster, on the run from her husband after testifying against him. Don Corey (Anthony George) accompanies her on an ocean voyage intended to keep her out of the reach of any paid assassins, and all seems to be going well until he discovers that Mrs. Lawson is a serious alcoholic, and unable to care for herself much of the time, and that at least one man (Scott Brady) aboard ship seems to have an unusual interest in following her. Soon the assaults and murders are mounting up and Corey is having trouble telling all the players, especially since his client can't even help herself.



Starring Doug McClure, Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George

Guest stars: Celeste Holm, Susan Oliver, Philip Pine, Lee Philips – "So Beats My Plastic Heart": The Checkmate team is called in to investigate the mysterious series of murder attempts at an artists' retreat. The owner is a philanthropist (Celeste Holm) who offers free room and board to promising artists, and someone is trying to kill her--but the only possible suspects are the three guests currently staying with her, each one with their own possible hint of a motive, and one of her own relatives. One (Susan Oliver) is a poet connected personally with a former guest who committed suicide when he failed to live up to the promise he'd shown at the retreat; another (Lee Philips) is given to violent behavior when provoked, and their host is provoking him with her demands upon his work; and the third (Philip Pine) is a has-been who hasn't produced any work of value in years, and owes large sums of cash to seemingly everyone in the art world. And then there's her sister-in-law, sister of her late husband, who stands to inherit everything if anything happens to her.

CODE 3 & COUNTERPOINT (approx 60 min)

CODE 3 - Richard Travis (MISSILE TO THE MOON) stars as deputy sheriff Barrett in this low budget syndicated series, which followed a pattern similar to other post-DRAGNET series, its plots developed from actual police files. In this case, the files in question are those of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office. Stacey Harris (a veteran of DRAGNET) plays Fred Munson, a bookkeeper accused of embezzlement who puts his wife in jeopardy by refusing to cooperate with the authorities, until Barrett convinces him that it would be worthwhile to do so.

There isn't much action in this show, but the acting is pretty intense and the drama is serious. And to add to the verisimilitude of the show, Los Angeles County Sheriff Eugene W. Biscaluz (who looks more like a corporate vice president) appears at the end of the show to attest to the quality and care that went into the series.

COUNTERPOINT: THE WITNESS <b>> This syndicated series, which originally ran during the 1952-53 season, was a kind of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS-type anthology, at least for this installment. A two-bit hood decides to try an after-hours heist of a jewelry store, but is spotted by a player from a vaudeville show in a neighboring theater and has to go back to kill the witness.

He sets it up, sneaks past the police and a watchman, sets up his target, and kills him--only to discover that there was no need, and that he could've gotten away clean. The twist is a good one, and coupled with the mix of actual location shooting (the streets and alleys look convincingly dirty and grimy), and the familiar faces in the cast (Lee Marvin, in his first TV appearance, plays a cop, William Schallert is a watchman, and Three Stooges straightman Vernon Dent is a stage door guard), makes this a brilliant and eerie little show, written by Monroe Manning and John Hohn, and produced and directed by Bernard Girard (and produced by Bing Crosby Enterprises). And the presence of the eerie first season SUPERMAN music doesn't hurt.


Albert Schweitzer Breakfast – 30 minutes

Open Heart Surgery -- Live from Bellevue Medical Center 1958 -- 20 minutes


Starring Paul Newman, George Grizzard, Edward Andrews, Philip Abbott – The series debuted on July 3, 1956 with this hour-long dramatic show about draftee Danny Scott (Paul Newman), a top college athlete who has been newly drafted into the army. With the help of his doting mother, he plans on getting out of the army by feigning emotional instability, but it turns out that it really isn’t an act – Danny has serious psychological problems. He is gradually degraded by the act he puts on, but his truly crippling mental problems are revealed as well, even as his fellow soldiers, including his best friend, turn against him.


Rod Serling's PATTERNS was made into a movie about a year after this television version was broadcast, but despite the presence of the same lead actors, the film is a shadow of this TV presentation. Richard Kiley stars as Ed Staples, a newly recruited executive for a large Fortune 500-level company--he finds friendship from his superior, aging, tired vice president Andy Sloan (Ed Begley Sr.), but soon learns that the ambitious, self-centered president Ramsie (Everett Sloan) who hired him did so to use Staples as a wedge to force Andy out of his job, with disastrous results for all concerned. The tension and sheer fineness of the acting is balanced by the spontaneity of a live telecast--which it was. Supporting players include Elizabeth Montgomery in a small but visible role as a secretary.

IT'S A GREAT LIFE (30 min)

Episode of 1954-56 NBC series starring Michael O'Shea as Steve Connors and William Bishop as Denny Davis, a pair of ex-G.I.'s living in California in a furnished apartment in a building owned by Amy Morgan (Francis Bavier, of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW), with Barbara Bates as Kathy. In this episode, Steve and Denny go down to the department store to pick up Kathy's Uncle Earl (James Dunn), who is working as a Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. But one boy (Hugh Corcoran) won't go home, convinced that Earl really is Santa Claus--when they try to find his mother, he slips away and follows them home. When the police become suspicious, the boy explains, and they bring him home, arranging a visit from Santa in the guise of Uncle Earl. But something special happens on the way to the surprise.


MEET MR. LINCOLN (approx 30 min)

A 1959 NBC special narrated by Alexander Scourby, covering Lincoln's early career and rise to the presidency, including large excerpts of his inaugural address and other significant speeches. A huge amount of material is packed into this 30 minutes, the bulk of it concerning the War Between the States. From the declaration of secession by South Carolina in December of 1860, before Lincoln even took office, the narrative follows the political, social, economic, and military significance, the failures of the Union generals, and the near failure of Lincoln's presidency, and its rescue by Grant; the successes of Lee and Jackson, and the ultimate surrender of the Confederacy. Beautifully made and told, with an astonishingly high degree of detail, and very lively.

MEDICAL CENTER (Approx 60 min)

"Captives" starring Chad Everett, James Daly, Jodie Foster, Marcia Rodd, Jerry Orbach Phyllis Rank is one of the top nurses at the University Medical Center, and a rock on which the doctors can rely to be there at all times. When she collapses in a corridor, the staff quickly learns that she's seven months pregnant. The prospect of a new child troubles her irresponsible husband (Jerry Orbach) and delights her daughter Ivy (Jodie Foster)--but when the baby is born two months premature with a serious heart problem, both mother and father reject the child, and then Ivy kidnaps the baby to save it, not knowing that it is seriously ill and will die without immediate medical attention.


MR. AND MRS. NORTH (approx. 30 min)

MR. AND MRS. NORTH - Hans Conried and Katy Jurado guest star in this episode of the 1952-53 series MR. AND MRS. NORTH, based on stories by Frances and Richard Lockridge. Richard Denning plays publisher Jerry North, who finds himself with a jealous wife (Barbara Britton) after he begins working late with a passionate and beautiful author (Katy Jurado, of High Noon fame)--until she turns up dead, and then husband and wife are reconciled as they sift through a list of killers that includes Hans Conried as a frustrated paramour of the dead woman.

THE RAT PATROL: "The Last Harbor Raid" Volume 1 (approx. 30 min)

THE RAT PATROL, created by the late action filmmaker Tom Gries, was one of the last successful World War II series of the 1960's, running for two seasons on ABC. Christopher George starred as Sgt. Troy, commander of an armored jeep unit operating in North Africa, whose specialty was infiltration and stealth attacks on German and other enemy targets. Gary Raymond co-starred as Sgt. Jack Moffit, a British soldier assigned to the unit, with Lawrence Casey and Justin Tarr as the two privates assigned to the pair of jeeps. In episode one, Troy and the Rat Patrol are assigned to destroy a key German supply port supporting Rommel's desert forces with help from the local French fishing fleet. But when their contact is killed and the explosives they were to use captured, the Rat Patrol must make new plans. With help from the charming but larcenous black marketer El Gamil (Stanley Adams), they learn of their contact's daughter (Claudine Longet)--she may be able to get the local fishermen to help, if she can convince them that she's been singing in the German officers' club to help the resistance, and not because she's a traitor.

THE RAT PATROL Volume 2 (approx 60 min)

First Show The Rat Patrol contacts the French woman (Claudine Longet) they need to complete their mission, spiriting her out of the German officers' club right under the noses of the enemy, and she agrees to help--but first she must face a trial by the fishermen who were her father's friends, to determine if she is a traitor or not. Meanwhile, Troy meets with the senior officer (John Anderson) of the Allied P.O.W.s being used by the Germans to keep the port open, and convinces him to stage an uprising and escape at a predetermined time. El Gamil (Stanley Adams) helps the Rat Patrol get a new stock of explosives from a German warehouse, but he is caught by an enemy patrol and executed.

Second Show: After a few near-disasters and the deaths of several of their allies, the Rat Patrol's plan is in motion, and the French fishing fleet is prepared to help the Allied P.O.W.s escape. But the German soldiers prove a tenacious lot, and the escape is nearly thwarted by their quick action. The fire fight extends out onto the beaches and the ocean as the mass escape and the attack on the harbor take place simultaneously. The Rat Patrol must make one more sacrifice of a friend before they can get away with their newly-liberated Allied prisoners.


Vacation Playhouse was an American comedy and drama which was broadcast during the Summer months on CBS from July 22, 1963–August 21, 1967. The series aired fifty episodes. This episode stars Suzy Parker as Sybil the Wood Nymph and Wilfrid Hyde-White as The Leprechaun.



Vacation Playhouse was an American comedy and drama which was broadcast during the Summer months on CBS from July 22, 1963–August 21, 1967. The series aired fifty episodes. This episode stars Pamela Tiffin, Julie Newmar, Monica Moran. 220 West 71st Street NYC 10023

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