The Colgate Comedy Hour

NBC (ended 1955)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 6 : Ep 12


    Aired 12/24/55

  • S 6 : Ep 11


    Aired 12/18/55

  • S 6 : Ep 10

    12/11/1955 - Salute to George Abbott

    Aired 11/11/55

  • S 6 : Ep 9


    Aired 11/27/55

  • S 6 : Ep 8


    Aired 11/20/55

  • Cast & Crew
  • Dean Martin


  • Jerry Lewis


  • Bud Abbott


  • Lou Costello


  • Eddie Cantor


  • show Description
  • The Colgate Comedy Hour was a big-budget variety series featuring some of the biggest names in show business. Variety shows hosted by a major comedian were common in the early fifties, but the Colgate show was different in featuring alternating hosts. Some performers, like Phil Silvers or Ray Bolger, would only host once or twice, while the "regular" hosts appeared roughly once a month. At that time, variety meant variety, so the talent featured on Colgate ran the course from opera to vaudeville, from adaptations of Broadway shows to dog acts; and always lots of comedy. During it's entire Sunday night run, its main competition was Toast of the Town on CBS, a program better known to us today asThe Ed Sullivan Show. The series was also one of TV's priciest. According to the 7/9/50 issue of the New York Times, the first season would cost $25,000 weekly in airtime and $50,000 in talent and production charges. The show was broadcast live from New York's International Theatre almost exclusively during the first season. The regular rotation of hosts were: Eddie Cantor, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (the sole surviving original hosts to stay with the series for its entire run), Fred Allen, Bob Hope and his fill-in Bobby Clark. Fred Allen called it quits after just a few telecasts. He didn't like television---and it showed. Once a month, an episode was sponsored by Frigidaire rather than Colgate. On those nights, the title of the series was shortened to The Comedy Hour. Those episodes are included in this listing. Colgate ended its first season as the fifth highest rated series on TV. Season two brought about a move to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood since television had, for the first time, the technology to broadcast live from the West Coast. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello joined the line-up of regular hosts, keeping company with Martin/Lewis, Cantor, Donald O'Connor and the occasional Hope. Jackie Gleason, then starring on DuMont's Cavalcade of Stars , kicked off the season of television's highest-budget series! This season, the series again ranked at number five. Season three found Eddie Cantor out for several months, having had a heart attack hours after his first show of the season. He would return in the spring, but more guests hosts than usual were employed during his recovery. For this season, Colgate ranked as seventh most popular. Jimmy Durante joined Martin/Lewis, Abbott/Costello, Cantor and O'Connor as hosts of the fourth season. The 11/22/1953 telecast was quite historic. It was the first public broadcast using NBC/RCA's new color technology. Several hundred sets were set up around New York for people to view the program. Donald O'Connor had the honor of hosting that week. For the first time in its run, the series didn't take an official "summer break"; the episodes that filled the time slot until the fall premiere are included in this listing. Season five found the series in decline. It dropped in the ratings from tenth to twenty-seventh, while Ed Sullivan's show rose to number five! This coincided with a new production team taking over the show and the departure of most of the series' regular hosts. Instead, big splashy events and musical extravaganzas were scheduled. The public was disinterested and the critics weren't very kind. With falling fortunes, the series found itself pre-empted often for special programs. Again, a summer edition of the series with the revised title The Colgate Variety Hour filled the hot months and those episodes are included here. The end was near for this once-great series. Martin and Lewis did appear twice, but shows were mostly hosted by Robert Paige or Gordon MacCrae. The Colgate Variety Hour ended its run on Christmas night 1955 with a program of holiday music. During this final half-season, the show didn't make it into the top thirty rated shows.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • jaynashvil

    User Score: 5601


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (4)

    • Jerry: (while killing time at end of show) Yes, Colgate. I am a satisfied user, and I say Colgate is the best dentifrice on the market. Not because they are having us on their show, but because they told us to say it.

    • Jerry: (to audience) But seriously, ladies and gentlemen, we're very, very happy to have you folks here tonight because we have a show we think is one of the slowest moving things we've ever done. (begins howling with laughter) The reason I'm laughing is cause I ad-libbed it and I didn't know it was going to be funny.

    • (a big poodle wanders past the camera but doesn't go up to Dean and Jerry as rehearsed) Jerry: (clapping hands, calling the dog) Here, Sweetheart! Come on, darlin'. Come here, sister! Come here doggie! Here baby! You're lousing up the sketch! Hurry up or you don't get paid!

    • (wrestling with the turkey, Dean and Jerry are searching for the prop they need next) Jerry: I think we lost the punchline of the whole sketch. Dean: Where's the wishbone? Jerry: What happened to the wishbone? We lost the wishbone. Listen... (walks to the cameras) You know how accidents happen on shows... (women at the table begin yelling at Dean saying where they think it is) If we didn't find the wishbone, you people would be tuned in until 11:30! It's no joke, if we didn't find the wishbone. You see this sweat dripping down now? (points at his face) This is not spit. We're working! (huge laughter and applause)

    Notes (35)

    • This episode is telecast live from Philadelphia.

    • This episode was NBC's first coast-to-coast telecast from Hollywood. Their first coast-to-coast from New York was the previous evening's installment of 'All Star Review' with Jack Carson.

    • Jack Carson was one of the regular hosts on the 'All Star Revue' at the time he guest-hosted this episode.

    • Bobby Breen and Eddie Cantor go back many years. Breen joined the cast of Cantor's weekly radio show beginning in 1936, becoming a child star.
      Bobby Breen is featured on the cover of The Beatles' LP 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' Look for him on the front row.

    • Guest Reggie Rymal is best remembered today as the paddle-ball playing barker in the 1953 Vincent Price thriller 'House of Wax'. In it's original 3-D effect, the ball seemed to come right off the screen. Now when it's televised without the 3-D process, his segment seems very out of place with the plot of the film.

    • The 4nd Emmy Awards ceremony was held a few days prior to this telecast (2/18/1952) at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. The Colgate Comedy Hour was nominated as Best Variety Show, along with Your Show of Shows, Four Star Revue, The Fred Waring Show and Toast of the Town. The Emmy was awarded to Your Show of Shows. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were also nominated as Best Comedian or Comedienne, along with Herb Shriner, Lucille Ball, Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Jimmy Durante, and the winner, Red Skelton.

    • Donald O'Connor would eventually play 'The Great Stone Face' in 1957's highly-fictionalized 'The Buster Keaton Story'.

    • Donald O'Connor was riding high on the success of his performance in Singin' in the Rain, which had just been released (March 27th in NYC).

    Show More Notes

    Trivia (12)

    • "Barr and Estes" are listed as guests in the opening credits, but only Leonard Barr performs. No mention of "Estes" is made during the rest of the telecast.

    • The regular characters from his radio program, inhabitants of Allen's Alley, were portrayed on-camera as puppets.

    • Goofs: This episode was riddled with performer mistakes. In the sketch set on the subway, one of the Santas starts a joke but forgets the punchline. Bob announces he's been sent out to kill time while the next act sets up behind the curtain.

    • This program was performed live Christmas Eve on the inter-connected NBC network. For the non-connected stations which aired the kinescope a week or two later, Bob filmed an introduction informing viewers about when the show was performed and asks them to get themselves back in the holiday spirit for the program.

    • Frank Gallop appears on stage to give a solemn introduction to the sketch about Jerry and Dean's early days.

    • George Raft appears unannounced after Lou brags about how he'd rough up the tough guy. He punches Lou out with one swing.

    • Goof: When Jerry opens their suitcase in their hotel room, the two stare at the luggage when it opens as expected. Jerry walks to the camera and explains that the clothes were supposed to come flying out of the bag but "unfortunately we ran short on money somewhere and couldn't get a spring." He then manually throws their clothes into the air.

    • In the dressing room sketch, the towel dispenser on the wall refuses to stay closed. After fooling with it for a while, Jerry runs off stage and returns dragging a stage hand to hold it shut for the rest of the sketch.

    Show More Trivia
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