The show originally aired without a sponsor, but NBC agreed to pay for initial production costs; it was assumed that once the show actually aired and advertisers were able to see its sophistication, a national sponsor would emerge. None did; many national companies did not want to upset their customers in the South, who did not want to see a black man on TV shown in anything other than a subservient position. Although NBC agreed to continue footing the bill for the show until a sponsor could be found, star Nat 'King' Cole pulled the plug on it himself in its second season. In the 1956 season, the show had a 15-minute running time. It was expanded to a 30-minute segment in 1957. Said Cole of the doomed series, "Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark." See more »
I had never known about The Nat King Cole Show until I tripped across this gem on BET Jazz. I was absolutely floored to hear Nat King Cole's piano performance on one of the shows! I already knew he was the greatest and smoothest of singers. That he also had the ability to play really fine piano was a revelation. He was technically flawless, and clearly enjoying himself.
The show also featured guest stars, some of them who became famous and remain so today, and some who were "up and coming" but have since faded. Regardless of fame, the quality of performance throughout is truly wonderful. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into this production.
I was so sorry to hear of the show's demise after a short run. The reason is particularly distasteful (ie, its being ahead of its time for having a black man in more than a subservient role). This must have been a real disappointment to Mr. Cole and his fellow black performers, arrangers, composers, etc. I can only imagine how it must have been for them, to live under that cloud of discrimination.
Nat, you are still the greatest, after all these years. "You'll never know how much I care!"
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