The first Christmas television program to become an annual tradition, although it switched cast members every so often. "Amahl" was telecast annually from 1951 through 1966. It was discontinued afterwards and did not appear again on American television until a new production was filmed on location and telecast in 1978.
The one surviving kinescope of this first production was thought to have been lost forever, accidentally destroyed by someone at NBC after it had been screened for an executive, but another copy was discovered at the Museum of Radio and Television, in New York.
In this production, and several others following it, King Balthazar was played by a white singer wearing black makeup. It was not until the 1963 production that "Amahl and the Night Visitors" was staged on television with a real African-American in the role.