Playhouse 90 (1956–1961)
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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




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 ... Masseur (as Mike Ross)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Claudette Colbert ... Self - 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


Did You Know?


Gossip columnist Elwell (Whit Bissell) is also a character in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Both productions are from material by Ernest Lehman. See more »


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

User Reviews

An amazing show....
27 August 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This is one of the teleplays included on the three DVD set from Criterion. All the plays were performed live and it's amazing how good the production values were considering they were put on week after week! Among the films in the set are some amazingly good television events--ones that went on to have expensive Hollywood remakes and in some cases they won Oscars! Such great productions as "Marty", "Requiem for a Heavyweight" and "Days of Wine and Roses" all began first on television--and in some cases this TV version is superior! The basic story idea for "The Comedian" is very, very reminiscent of several other exceptional films from the 1950s. In many ways, it's like José Ferrer's "The Great Man" (1956), Andy Griffith's "A Face in the Crowd" (1957) as well as part of the wonderful film "A Thousand Clowns" (1965) in that all three involve a megalomaniac and downright vicious beloved star--one that America just doesn't know for the jerk he really is.

These stories were all were inspired by a real-life event. In the early 1950s, Arthur Godfrey was one of the most trusted and beloved TV personalities--mostly because he came off as so sweet and down to earth. However, in 1953, his anger got the best of him and he actually fired one of his acts ON AIR! And, in subsequent years, his hellish nature became apparent...and his popularity dwindled to nothing. No doubt writer Rod Serling was inspired, at least in part, by Godfrey's example.

The comedian from the title is a character played by Mickey Rooney--a huge TV star who has a mean streak a mile wide and takes it out on everyone behind the scenes. He browbeats everyone--but particularly takes it out on his meek brother (Mel Tormé) who is his own personal whipping boy! Mel's wife (Kim Hunter) pressures him to quit--to be a man and stop taking the mistreatment, but his self-esteem is so low that he can't make himself do what he needs to do. In addition to Tormé, a lot of Rooney's wrath is directed to his writer (Edmund O'Brien). Something has to not only these men but everyone who works with Rooney can't stand him and his boorish ways.

Overall, it's a very good show--and it's amazing to watch these people doing the show live. However, I must also say that I prefer the films I listed above--they were a bit more subtle and enjoyable--particularly "The Great Man". Still, it's well worth seeing...and an amazing show.

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Release Date:

14 February 1957 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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