This Is Your Life (1952–1961)

TV Series  |   |  Biography, Family, Reality-TV
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Each week, an unsuspecting celebrity would be lured by some ruse to a location near the studio. The celebrity would then be surprised with the news that they are to be the featured guest. ... See full summary »


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Title: This Is Your Life (1952–1961)

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Previous Episode

Thursday, August 24, 1961
Unnamed Episode dated 24 August 1961
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2   1   Unknown  
1961   1960   1959   1958   … See all »
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

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Complete series cast summary:
 Himself - Host / ... (52 episodes, 1952-1961)


Each week, an unsuspecting celebrity would be lured by some ruse to a location near the studio. The celebrity would then be surprised with the news that they are to be the featured guest. Next, the celebrity was escorted into the studio, and one by one, people who were significant in the guest's life would be brought out to offer anecdotes. At the end of the show, family members and friends would surround the guest, who would then be presented with gifts. These usually included jewelry, a scrapbook of memories, a home 16 mm projector and a camera. Written by Thomas McWilliams <>

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Release Date:

1 October 1952 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Actress Ann Sheridan's biography was canceled because she found out in advance what was being planned. See more »


Spoofed in Father Knows Best: A Medal for Margaret (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

Stands the test of time
24 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I'm afraid the only thing I remember about the original "This is your life" is the parodies by Bob and Ray. That left me thinking of the series as more of a cliché, and I suspect with the distance of time, others may also be left with the wrong impression of the show.

I had the opportunity to watch some of the originals on the "This is your life, the ultimate collection" three DVD set. They are very well done. It is apparent that Ralph Edwards worked to avoid falling into a rigid formula. There are many twists used in the way he lured the subjects onto the show.

But more important, the material of the show is shaped by the lives of the subjects, rather than a formula. The researchers find lots of interesting details that tell the true story of the person, rather than the PR image or public persona. For example, we learn that Bud Abbott did some generous philanthropy to help city kids, and some of those kids appeared on the show. It is all done in a way that has emotional impact, without being cloying or manipulative; Abbott seemed truly embarrassed this personal side of his life was coming out. And it is good journalism, digging for the telling details, rather than the mindless, superficial interviews we too often see on network shows these days.

What makes this collection especially interesting is that they are an invaluable historical document. Many of the subjects are dead by now (though not all -- Dick Clark and Shirley Jones are still with us) but more important, the acquaintances who appeared in the shows from the 1950s and even the 1970s are mostly long gone.

The one disappointment of the collection is that there are not more non-celebrities. The main non-celebrity included is Hanna Bloch Kohner, who survived many years in a concentration camp, a program done in 1953, perhaps the first to feature a Holocaust survivor's story on national television.

These shows stand the test of time, and are still interesting today. They would be a great addition to any public or school library.

Ralph Edwards also deserves to be remembered. He played an important role in the early days of television - very, very early. I came across a schedule for the very first week of broadcasting back in the early 1940s for what, as I recall, was to become the NBC television network. Ralph Edwards was listed as the host of the show Truth or Consequences

  • something that does not show up anywhere on IMDb. Now that's a

pioneer! The network's broadcasting was, of course, suspended by WWII.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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