Fireside Theatre

NBC (ended 1955)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 7 : Ep 43

    An Argument With Death

    Aired 6/28/55

  • S 7 : Ep 42

    A Ring for Nell

    Aired 6/21/55

  • S 7 : Ep 41

    The Man Who Liked to Kill

    Aired 6/14/55

  • S 7 : Ep 40

    Murderer's Wife

    Aired 6/7/55

  • S 7 : Ep 39

    The 99th Day

    Aired 5/31/55

  • Cast & Crew
  • Gene Raymond

    Host (1953-1955)

  • Frank Wisbar

    Host (1952-1953)

  • Angela Lansbury

    Brenda Jarvis

  • Peter Graves

  • Carolyn Jones

  • show Description
  • Fireside Theatre was the first successful filmed drama series on television at a time when everything else on the networks was being produced live. The first brief "season" was one of experimentation, with shows of every type being tried, from brief filmed and live dramas to ballet to Broadway reviews. By the second season (the first full season), the series had settled on filmed episodes, generally fifteen minutes in length, that were paired together to fill a half-hour program. The subjects were primarily dramas, with mysteries and a few comedies thrown in. By the next season, the series was concentrating on full half-hour dramas. Since the West Coast was not yet connected to the national coaxial cables, Fireside Theatre was one of the networks' first series to originate from Hollywood. Many episodes were filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in California. The driving force behind the program was a one-man-band named Frank Wisbar. His "Frank Wisbar Productions" produced most of the series and was able to keep costs down because Wisbar often produced, wrote, directed and hosted the episodes himself. Whenever possible, he adapted public domain stories as scripts. Through mid-1951, the weekly cost of producing the series was a paltry $17,000. During the series' final two seasons, actor Gene Raymond was hired as host and starred as a performer in numerous episodes. Fireside was a top ten ratings hit for most of its run, airing in the cushy time slot following TV's biggest hit, Texaco Star Theater starring Milton Berle. By 1955, the ratings had begun to sag and the sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, decided to overhaul the program to such a degree that it became a totally new series. Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre is the program it became. Beginning in 1951, the 50-plus segments produced for the 1949-1950 season were repackaged as Royal Playhouse and sold into syndication. Other later episodes were syndicated under various titles including TV Theater and Theatre Time. They also turned up on the networks during the 1950s packaged together with reruns of other programs to air as a summer filler series with new titles.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • jaynashvil

    User Score: 1824


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Notes (39)

    • This telecast was given a poor review by Sam Chase in the 5/7/1949 edition of Billboard magazine. He called the program "abysmal", with "bad camera work", jokes that were "prehistoric", and "indifferent" direction. Chase said the songs had "poorish" music and felt the acting was the worst part of the show though "it's difficult to single out any one feature worse than the others." The closing sketch was "putrid".

    • Geraldine Fitzgerald appeared in The Stronger; Richard Greene starred in A Terribly Strange Bed.

    • A Terribly Strange Bed is adapted from writer Wilkie Collins' story of the same title, first published in Household Words in 1852.

    • This episode was repeated on the network 11/7/1950.

    • The Terribly Strange Bed is based on a short story written by Wilkie Collins and published in Charles Dickens' magazine Household Words in 1852.

    • This episode was repeated on the network 9/12/1950.

    • This episode is repeated on the network 5/2/1950.

    • This episode was repeated on the network 6/12/1951.

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  • Fan Reviews (1)
  • Fireside Theatre was a pioneer filmed series of half-hour stories for television, produced on a low budget for an emerging market - and it retains its power to entertain those who believe an interesting story should be told swiftly and simply.

    By LeCarpentier, Aug 06, 2009