Variety Shows Dominate Television Programming (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Early television producers transferred vaudeville acts to American television screens, in the process producing a number of the most popular variety programs.
Summary of Event
Television variety shows, vaudeville-inspired mixtures of comedy, song, and any entertainment fad of the day, evolved both from live vaudeville and from radio. Radio’s first professional variety show came in October, 1929, as the Fleischmann Yeast program, hosted by crooner Rudy Vallee and featuring guest stars from the vaudeville world. The almost unvarying formula for the variety show included a popular star as host, guests from all reaches of the world of show business, and a band.
Popular from the start, radio variety shows included everything from The National Barn Dance and The Grand Ole Opry to newspaperman host Ed Sullivan presenting new talent in the manner of impresario Florenz Ziegfeld of Broadway. Comics, beginning with Eddie Cantor, seemed to develop the variety shows with the highest ratings through the 1930’s and 1940’s. Radio added innovations that would be carried over--along with the basics of the formula--to television. For example, Ed Wynn’s radio variety program introduced studio audiences that would provide live reactions over the air.
Such was the state of affairs in the late 1940’s, as the new medium of television required hours of programs to fill air...
(The entire section is 2041 words.)
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