Playhouse 90 (1956–1961)
12 user 6 critic

The Comedian 

Sammy Hogarth, a vaudeville comedian who now has his own TV show, is a ruthless egomaniac who demands instant obedience from his staff and heaps abuse on those in lesser positions than his.... See full summary »


John Frankenheimer


Ernest Lehman (novel), Rod Serling

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Episode credited cast:
Mickey Rooney ... Sammy Hogarth
Kim Hunter ... Julie Hogarth
Edmond O'Brien ... Al Preston
Mel Tormé ... Lester Hogarth
Constance Ford ... Connie
Whit Bissell ... Otis Elwell
King Donovan ... The Director
Eddie Ryder Eddie Ryder ... Jake
H.M. Wynant ... Sonny
Michael Ross Michael Ross ... Masseur (as Mike Ross)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Claudette Colbert ... Herself - Hostess


Sammy Hogarth, a vaudeville comedian who now has his own TV show, is a ruthless egomaniac who demands instant obedience from his staff and heaps abuse on those in lesser positions than his. His most vituperative behavior, however, is reserved for his weak-willed brother, Lester, whom Sammy has hired as his assistant but whom he really uses as his whipping boy. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

14 February 1957 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to a behind the scenes documentary on the production, one day, Jack Benny wandered into a rehearsal of a scene where Mickey Rooney has to belittle costar Mel Tormé. Benny actually tried to break up the "argument", not knowing they were just reciting dialog. See more »


Referenced in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Innovative and surprisingly relevant
2 August 2018 | by audrablumSee all my reviews

This week I watched the episode The Comedian (1957) from the Playhouse 90 television series. A comedic television personality with a Mr. Hyde personality and a god-complex backstage makes life miserable for everyone around him including his manager brother. This episode was amazing in the fact that it was not edit intensive and much of the story was taped live. Surprisingly for the shooting style it remained highly engaging throughout the entire film. Mickey Rooney played the difficult personality of the comedian named Sammy Hogarth, who bullies everyone around him. The interesting thing about this viewing experience is that it seems very relatable. This is a very real personality and those of us who have experienced this can attest that Mickey Rooney's portrayal of Sammy was spot on to this personality type. The sad thing about this show is that it seems like a desperate cry for help from people in the film and television industry. It says that this abuse in the industry is overlooked and no one seems to care. This episode was actually based on a novel by Ernest Lehman and the screenplay was written by the Twilight Zone founder Rod Serling. The screenplay was very strong and I think some of its greatest strengths are that it uses the character of Sammy Hogarth as the abusive, self-inflated boss to tell a very relatable story, not just in film but in many workplaces. The weakness in this script is what I refer to as the leatherface syndrome, which was a prevalent outbreak amongst directors during the golden age of television. Sufferers of this disease would cast actors and write screenplays where old men would hook up with women who could be their granddaughters. The writers and directors minds would delude them into believing that not only would these young, attractive, 20 year old women fall for their grandfathers, but the men they would fall for would look nothing like a George Clooney or Tom Cruise. Thankfully, years later the outbreak subsided and directors and writers were no longer as prone to this disease. The episode was directed by John Frankenheimer, who would later write classics like Reindeer Games (2000). One of the strongest points of directing was the fact that this episode used very little editing (as stated earlier in this review). This appears to have taken quite a bit of contemplation and direction to pull off effectively and a part of me wonders if we still have this level of directing talent today, or if anyone really cares.

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