Telephone Time: Season 1, Episode 9

The Man Who Believed in Fairy Tales (3 Jun. 1956)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
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Cast

Episode credited cast:
John Nesbitt ...
Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Schliemann's Russian assistent
Herbert Deans
Fred Essler
Ramsay Hill
...
Walter Kingsford ...
Schliemann's father
Robert Middleton ...
John Mylong
Dan Seymour
Michael Taylor ...
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Drama

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3 June 1956 (USA)  »

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(Western Electric Recording)

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Still another interesting sounding story - about a great archaeological find
26 September 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The cast in this episode is a really high power character actor cast: John Abbott, Walter Kingsford, Dan Seymour, Kathleen Hughes, and Robert Middleton. And again, while I can't judge the production the story is good enough to make me wish I could see it.

THE MAN WHO BELIEVED IN FAIRY TALES was one of the most fascinating, successful, and controversial figures in the history of archeology. He was Heinrich Schleimann. A very determined man, he worked hard, first in his native Germany but later in the U.S. in San Francisco, during the gold rush. Actually he was quite level headed - he did not go panning for gold, but was a merchant selling goods to everyone. In a short time Schliemann was a millionaire, and by wise investments became a multi-millionaire. This allowed him to pursue his dream.

The "Fairy Tale" of the title was the story of the Trojan War. Largely self taught, Schliemann mastered several foreign languages including ancient Greek. He studied the stories of Homer's ILIAD and ODDESSEY, and made some uncommon assumptions. Most scholars felt they were simply that - stories or myths of the Greeks that Homer collected and wrote down. But Schliemann had traveled about Europe and Greece, and knew some of the locations were real ones. So he started studying what would be the possible location of the lost city of Troy. He found it at a place in Asia Minor (then part of the Ottoman Empire) called Hissarlik. Going there with his wife, Schliemann used his money to get permission from the local authorities to excavate there. They saw nothing really against it (they thought he was nuts). So he proceeded to work for years.

Now here comes the controversy - as we understand archeology today, the practitioners are very methodical in their work, writing down what they do and where things are located - diagrams and photos are used, because everything has something to tell about the site. Now Schliemann did keep voluminous notebooks and memos and a diary, but he was not trained like a modern archaeologist. He was willing to just dig and dig and see if he hit anything substantial.

As it turned out he did - Hisserlik indeed turned out to be the site of a great walled city (now generally assumed to be Troy). But he also noted several cities one on top of another at the spot. Which was Homer's Troy - the Troy of King Priam and Paris and Hector? To this day modern archaeologists are not sure, although one of the layered cities does appear to show signs of scorching - suggesting a great fire burned it. Another problem is that Schliemann claimed he found a fortune in gold jewelry (he photographed Mrs. Schliemann wearing it all) at the site, and called it Priam's treasure. But his detractors (many moved by jealousy) claimed he may have bought the gold in Athens and planted it at the site to add a bit more reality to the claim. Modern scholars would love to study the jewelry, but during World War II it vanished when the Soviet army entered German territory.

Schliemann's Troy find made him one of the great names in archeology, and later discoveries at Mycanae (where the Greek King Agamemnon ruled) help cap it. Whatever his methods he died a famous man in 1890.

So this too would have been a very interesting story to watch. Robert Middleton played Schliemann - interesting role for Middleton, who actually did not look like the archaeologist (Paul Lukas looked more like him). I hope the show still exists.


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