The show began as a highly acclaimed NBC variety series on radio in 1950, hosted by Tallulah Bankhead. The radio version followed much the same format at this television version, but was a much greater success, running two years. It was one of the last successful variety shows on radio.
Producer Nick Vanoff, when producing "The Hollywood Palace" on Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard in 1967, had the show's design team Jim Trittipo and Hub Braden put together a proposal estimate for the theater property undergoing major renovations, which would have been undertaken during the 1967 summer TV show's hiatus. The main stage underground basement area would have been converted into a swimming pool for aquatic staged performances. This would have removed an orchestra basement lounge, dressing rooms and storage rooms. The stage floor would be on tracks to slide backwards, to store behind the cyclorama stage back wall. A second sliding ice rink floor would be on top of the stage floor (rear back wall) storage area, on another set of tracks. A major problem, for utilizing the rear of the building for the two tracking floor storage area, was the backside property, which was owned by the Methodist Church. The Knickerbocker Hotel had been purchased and converted into a Methodist Senior Citizen assisted living residential facility. ABC TV would not make a real estate commitment for the renovation, nor foot the reconstruction costs as projected. Vanoff then instigated a second proposal to move the TV variety series to Culver City Studios, where the expanded variety showcase could include an ice rink and swimming pool. Vanoff aborted the proposal when ABC objected moving the television show out of their Hollywood-Vine Studio. After the series was canceled in January, 1970, Nick Vanoff, involved with real estate, took over the old Columbia Pictures Film Studio located at Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street, renaming the abandoned lot The Sunset Gower Studios. In 1979, Vanoff proposed a variety show to NBC Television, titled "The BIG SHOW" encompassing a swimming pool, an ice rink, a performance three ring stage surrounded by a live studio audience, hosted by rotating two celebrity stars, as a ninety (90) minute in length weekly presentation. NBC jumped on the TV show idea. The opening "premiere" Big Show was a two hour television spectacle, video taped on one of the large old film stages at The Sunset-Gower Studios.