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Arthur Godfrey and his Friends entertained the audience with many skits and Musical numbers. The show was live, and Godfrey often did away with the script and improvised. He refused to participate in commercials for products he did not believe in. —Pilot TV Network
More Thoughts On An Amazingly Forgotten Radio/TV Personality
The only review here is good, but doesn't go far enough. Arthur Godfrey was an amazingly important radio, and then TV, personality from the end of World War II through about 1960. It was his voice that the world heard over CBS radio in 1945 narrating the funeral of FDR as the procession went forward. His radio show, TALENT SCOUTS, was not intended to provide 'discoveries' for his reputation, but many important stars came out of it. It was a Monday night radio fixture on CBS in the late 1940s, then one of the earliest radio shows to be simulcast on TV. Each show had 3 or 4 entertainers competing against each other; all of them were serious professional entertainers just looking for the big break. They were never amateurs (as was always the case with Major Bowes' and Ted Mack's ORIGINAL AMATEUR HOUR). Around this time, Godfrey also had a 90-minute radio show every morning, from 10am to 11:30am, which I believe also was simulcast for a period of time. It was really the same show that he did for one hour on Wednesday nights and included all (as he called them) "the Little Godfreys". The winner of the TALENT SCOUTS program usually then appeared on the morning show for the next week. A lot of great exposure. My best friend and I attended many of those morning shows during the summer while school was out, and they were delightful. In time, the 8pm Wednesday show (which ARTHUR GODFREY AND HIS FRIENDS is taken from) totally replaced the morning show, as the latter was just too much work for the Godfrey clan, but it took several years for that to happen. Back to TALENT SCOUTS. I recall one particular episode where a very young Black mezzo-soprano sang "O don fatale" from Verdi's DON CARLO. Godfrey was so astounded by her performance that he immediately pulled her out of the competition right on the air. I'm not certain whether or not she then appeared on his morning radio show for the next week, as the winner of each TALENT SCOUTS contest was always determined by the level and length of audience applause, but that 17 or 18 year old singer went on to become arguably the greatest Black American mezzo-soprano of her time - Grace Bumbry! Only Marilyn Horne was greater during that period, but she and Bumbry sang little of the same repertoire. The reviewer mentions that Godfrey Jack Paar and Dave Garroway could be 'mean'. Maybe so, but I do not recall Paar ever being so, and he was my favorite TV performer of my entire life, even down to this day.. But Godfrey certainly could be and there were two movies made in the late 1950s, the protagonist of each reputedly based on Arthur Godfrey - the first was A FACE IN THE CROWD, starring Andy Griffith, which documented a good old boy rising from nothing to become a major TV star while simultaneously developing a somewhat fascistic personality. The other was THE GREAT MAN, which starred Jose Ferrer as a writer investigating a recently-deceased TV star (the Godfrey-inspired character) and learning that he had gone through his career in a most fascistic manner, ruining the lives of so many people with whom he came into contact. The very fact that it was thought by experts that these two films were based on Godfrey says much, none of it good, about this most popular of male stars of the late 1940s and 1950s radio and TV eras. I haven't seen ARTHUR GODFREY AND HIS FRIENDS here, but am giving it a high rating anyway, because it could not be anything other than greatly interesting, based on my hundreds of hours of exposure to these shows, both on TV and in-person.
- Mar 5, 2021
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