Broadway Open House

NBC (ended 1951)


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Broadway Open House

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Broadway Open House was network television's first attempt at late night programming. The series is often described as TV's "first late night talk show" but this is incorrect. Celebrities did occasionally drop by to chat, but in actuality it was a very informal variety series featuring comedy bits, music and dance numbers. It might best be described as a show that had an hour of live television to fill each night with anything that came to mind being used. Airing live weeknights from New York, the series was two individual shows with different casts and hosts airing in rotation. On Mondays and Wednesdays, comedian Morey Amsterdam hosted. (He was simultaneously starring in his own primetime series, The Morey Amsterdam Show, on Dumont.) Best remembered, though, was the Tuesday/Thursday/Friday show hosted by brash comedian Jerry Lester. Its claim to fame was a buxom blond Lester had hired to read ridiculous poetry she supposedly had written. Actress Jeannie Lewis, renamed Dagmar, soon became the show's lead attraction. According to show biz legend, Lester became extremely jealous of her popularity, eventually adding another beauty (Agathon) to minimize her role on the show. Finally fed up with being upstaged, Lester left the series in May 1951. (Amsterdam had moved on back in November 1950.) With Lester's departure, the series was cut back to just Tuesday/Thursday/Friday programs hosted by Jack Leonard. NBC would abandon late nights until it added Tonight to the network in September 1954. Steve Allen had been hosting it locally in New York since the summer of 1953.moreless