The Colgate Comedy Hour (TV Series 1950–1955) Poster


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Not the first color broadcast
Walloon28 September 2003
An earlier comment claims that an episode in November 1953 was the first color television broadcast ever. That is not so. The Federal Communications Commission, on Oct. 10, 1950, approved a color television system developed by CBS that was not compatible with existing black and white television sets. However, a court challenge by RCA, which was developing its own color system that was compatible with black and white sets, tied up the inauguration of the CBS color system until a decision for CBS by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1951.

Finally, on June 25, 1951, CBS broadcast a one-hour program in color, called "Premiere", featuring Ed Sullivan and other CBS stars, and carried it on a five-station East Coast CBS-TV hookup.

The episode of "The Colgate Comedy Hour" broadcast in color in November 1953 was actually the network debut of the rival RCA color television system. In December 1953, the FCC formally reversed its earlier decision and approved the RCA system as the color standard for American television.
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First TV show in colour
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre9 December 2002
'Colgate Comedy Hour' was a first-rate comedy-variety series, performed live from New York City and featuring some of the biggest names in American show business at the time. The series was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive, a 'health and beauty aids' company which had established a healthy presence in the sponsorship of entertainment since the early days of radio. In the 1940s, Al Jolson had starred in a weekly radio show sponsored by Colgate Tooth Powder, but he mistakenly kept identifying the sponsor as 'Colgate Toothpaste': a different product altogether, which was sponsoring a different radio show at the time.

Apart from its excellent entertainment value, the Colgate Comedy Hour is also important for a technological reason. The episode broadcast live on 22 November, 1953, hosted by Donald O'Connor, was the very first colour tv broadcast. Prior to this, all colour tv transmissions had been closed-circuit only.
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First Color Show?
jpd1-19 October 2005
Recently, Gloria O'Connor (Donald's widow) told me that she thought the Nov. 22, 1953 Colgate Comedy Hour was the first color telecast of the newly-approved color system. Evidently it was part of a test. Many old-timers have insisted that the Jan 1 Rose Bowl Parade was the first color telecast. Can anyone shed some light on the Colgate Comedy Hour? I met Joyce Smith, one of the original dancers, at an NBC Reunion and she also believed that the show was telecast in color. It would be a good thing to straighten this out for the history books. In addition, Joyce said the Comedy hour originated at the original 'El Capitan' theater on Vine Street.
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I've seen the two Abbott and Costello episodes
rdg171 May 2005
Not all Colgate Comedy Hour episodes originated from New York. In fact, when it began, production originated from New York and was kine-scoped for West Coast broadcast. Beginning with the second season, production was divided between Hollywood and New York, with the majority of episodes originating from Southern California. The show started in New York and ended in L.A. The first Los Angeles-based episode of the show aired late in September 1951. All of the Los Angeles-based Colgate Comedy Hour episodes seem to have been filmed instead of aired live, as I have seen with a December 1952 Abbott and Costello-hosted episode. Fred Waring was the final host of the series, and on Christmas Day 1955. The first Colgate Comedy Hour to originate from outside New York or Los Angeles was from Philadelphia in 1951 not Las Vegas or Miami in 1954. No sooner did the show end did Los Angeles overtake Chicago as an important center for TV production, as it remains 50 years later.
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Martin and Lewis
Izzy15 February 2017
This comedy duo were the perfect example of 1950s pop culture comedy and showed the importance of connecting with an audience.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were and are still regarded as the greatest comedy team in the history of show business. From 1945-1955, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis transformed and reinforced a lively form of comedy and created a unique chemistry that people were completely devoured by. They created this electrifying mix of two opposites and worked off each other brilliantly, it was new and fresh and it worked. They took the world by storm and entertained anyone who watched. Jerry's outlandish and eccentric slapstick style coupled with Dean's slick, suave and smooth charisma and charm made for one of the most prolific and enchanting duos in comedy history.

They were brought into the public mainly by their own rotating series "The Colgate Comedy Hour" which showcased their individual talents and made them even more known to the wider public. Their relationship sparked a partnership that would last a decade to the day and in that decade, they created innovative and entertaining comedy that people then were very surprised by, pushing the limits of what people expected on live television. Their routine focused on Jerry being a dumb-witted imbecile and Dean being the cool-headed and sensible adult which made for a funny yet balanced humour and selflessness of the comedians that would go on to be the centre of the majority of their sketches on "The Colgate Comedy Hour".

They made television history as they were the first comedy team to really make such a financial impact and gather such popularity on television. Their form of comedy was very physical and 'in your face', making for funny and bizarre moments of unprofessionalism making the audience more comfortable and relaxed in their presence, showing a sense of rough and uncultivated humour especially with their constant breaking of character adding a sense of realism and heart beneath it all. No one could really fully explain why Marin and Lewis worked so well but they did a tremendous job of creating humour. You could not even call it fourth wall breaking because really there was no wall to break, it was all very transparent and real, dynamic and had elements childish maturity and mature childishness.

Not only did their comedy warm the hearts of millions but it made a lot of money for studios as they made a total of 16 films as a duo and they all made a lot of money showing how much profit this sort of pairing could make. Profit became such a large part of film production and it became a leading decision making factor, if the film was unlikely to make money then it would most likely be scrapped rather than considering the creative integrity of it, the indie film movement is later introduced in new Hollywood a lot more.

The lovable and honest ideas of their sketches made it easier to laugh at them especially with how funny it was, filled with perfect timing and fresh jokes and recurring ones alike made their work one of a kind and it wasn't only till later that people appreciated their comedy and were now seen as kings of comedy. They transformed comedy on the big screen and created a sense of partnership and connection with the viewer, people that others could laugh at, a very important part of modern comedy today but not as witty or physical. They were important figureheads for comedic duos to come after them, they were very influential and their work is still relevant and funny today showing how ahead of their time and in tune with the world they were to be able to keep their comedy fresh 75 years later. Duos like Martin and Lewis were very important as they showed relevance and light heartedness in a period of political unrest and not to mention WW2 which had just ended. They were a place of relief and happiness and made a lot of people appreciate laughter on television in the 1950s.

Jerry Lewis sums up their partnership very well in their interview on Person to Person with Edward R. Murrow in 1954 as quote: 'We knew that Dean was the good looking guy and I was the goof and it would make for a good combination, but at the same time I think that the affection that Dean and I show in our work and the potentness involved in our performance that so many older people feel that Dean is more or less a boss or the authority and I am the underdog and so many people in life go through this everyday that they can laugh and chuckle at reality'
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Martin and Lewis together again!
Petri Pelkonen21 August 2017
The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950-1955) was a show that had the biggest comedians and entertainers as guest hosts. It featured of music, fun and gags. Last night I heard that the comedy legend Jerry Lewis has died at the age of 91. I took the news with a heavy heart since I've been a big time JL fan for many, many years. That was the reason I wanted to find something from the net with Mr. Lewis. And I found an episode of this show from 1955. There he teams with his old partner Dean Martin. They still have the chemistry left here, and it is a true joy to watch them perform 'Side by Side' together. And Jerry is his funny self when he makes Dino's pool playing impossible. How sad that they're both gone now. I hadn't seen this show before, but plan to see much more of it in the future.
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a true classic
Truman-115 January 2009
I've been lucky enough to see five episodes of this golden age of TV pioneer. The high powered talent was only part of a top notch production. Two of those shows featured Abbott and Costello, who can be seen doing their "Who's on First?" routine and interacting with horror film legend Boris Karloff. The other three are Martin and Lewis shows, and actually made me laugh out loud more than a half century later, their work was that good. In fact, what's obvious from those shows is that there's a lot of ad-libbing going on, and the two seem like they're absolutely having the times of their life. If you find that DVD (the sleeve advertised two shows but actually contains three, all with original commercials, I found it for a dollar at a Dollar General about a buried treasure!) look for the bit part where Jerry teases two NBC studio cameramen. A true gem. And fans of old TV commercials won't be let down, either, by the catchy jingles and nice animation for Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive soap and shave cream, Halo shampoo or Fab detergent.
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From what I have seen it's good.
Daniel Richardson11 February 2008
I own a DVD that is entitled "The Abbott & Costello Show". But it's actually two episodes of "The Colgate Comedy Hour". From what I have seen it looked like a good show. But again I have only seen two shows. Both shows were hosted by Abbott & Costello and they were hilarious. It featured many different skits and bits including the "Two Tens For a Five". And of course it had everyone's favorite "Who's on First?". I really enjoyed the quick banter between the two. I heard the best Abbott & Costello routines are the ones preformed in front of a live audience. Costello was great at ad-libbing and it shows here. I have only seen a couple of the Martin & Lewis movies and they were good. So I'm guessing the ones hosted by them were good too. I really recommend this to anyone who likes comedy and especially anyone who hasn't seen the "Who's on First?" bit. It's classic stuff.
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