Playhouse 90

CBS (ended 1960)




  • Season 1 Episode 1: Forbidden Area

  • "Forbidden Area" was a carefully plotted Russian sneak attack on the United States, with its initial step the grounding of Strategic Air Command bombers. The suspenseful build-up to the detection of the plot was at times harrowing. Rod Sterling's script, in maintaining, suspense and pace, was as faithful a dramatization as television possibly could offer of the Pat Frank novel.

    The significant aspect of "Forbidden Area" however, is the fact that it could not have been dramatized as convincingly in 60 minutes of TV time as in the 90 minutes it received on "Playhouse 90." The TV drama maintained two parallel storylines: Of the Russian spy posing as an Air Force enlisted man at a bomber base and of the high level Washington Intelligence group which was supposed to spark command decisions.

    Two storylines are not necessarily better than one. But before the advent of 90 minute TV drama the stories have generally been confined to one line of development and often a truncated line at that. "Playhouse 90" also freely and judiciously interspliced film into its "Forbidden Area" production to give, both depth and width to the story. Many first-rate live TV drama producers shun filmed sequences, as if it's a form of cheating. Last Thursday's production indicated it was not, at least in the case of a drama involving the air and the sea.

  • Season 1 Episode 2: Requiem For A Heavyweight

  • This play, like several individual episodes of Playhouse 90, was later turned into a feature film.

  • Season 1 Episode 12: The Family Nobody Wanted

  • Carl & Helen Doss appeared on a 1954 episode of You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx, and spoke about their experience and the children.

  • James Olson who played Carl Doss in the made for TV movie, phoned his father in Hebron, Illinois, where Carl once preached and asked his father if he remembered him. His father replied, "That crazy guy", his father shouted "he's the one who adopted all those kids".

  • Season 1 Episode 13: Massacre at Sand Creek

  • One of the most controversial incidents in Colorado's robust past was the Massacre at Sand Creek in 1864, when the U.S. cavalry efficiently wiped out up to 800 unsuspecting Cheyenne men, women and children. The Cheyennes under Chief Black Kettle had camped at Sand Creek, near Fort Lyon, Colo., under a friendly officer's promise of protection. But the regional cavalry commander, Colonel J.M. Chivington, was a man dedicated to eradicating Indians, and his order to the troops was "Kill all, little and big." Chivington's raiders took no prisoners and carried 100 Indian scalps back to show off in a Denver theater. The massacre fired the Plains Indians to renewed warfare against the white man and shocked the East.

  • Season 1 Episode 14: Snowshoes. A Comedy of Pe...

  • Review on Snowshoes: "There are these racetrack types down and out in Miami and they get a race horse and then somebody thinks of Bridey Murphy and a hypnotist makes the horse think he's Man o' War, or does he? and then ... Well, that was the way it went. Trendex gave Snowshoes a high rating, which ought to make Playhouse 90, its sponsors and its network worry."

  • Season 1 Episode 15: The Ninth Day

  • Piper Laurie received rave reviews for her portrayal of the young girl, Ruth.

  • Season 1 Episode 17: The Star Wagon

  • Maxwell Anderson's 1937 play is mentioned in a book by Paul J. Nahin titled "Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics and Science Fiction" as being one of the first mentions of time travel.

  • Season 1 Episode 22: The Blackwell Story

  • Turned down by every university, Elizabeth gets accepted by New York State's Geneva College of Medicine, but only because the admissions people mistook "E. Blackwell" for a man. When the mistake was revealed, Elizabeth was very nearly sent packing until one member of the board of directors intervened on her behalf.

  • Season 1 Episode 23: Invitation to a Gunfighter

  • As a professional gunfighter who takes over the town that has hired him to do a job of murder, Gilbert Roland did what little anyone could to make "Invitation to a Gunfight" credible and made it fun to watch. Roland, plays a heavy with a broad-shouldered, slim-hipped swaggerer that oozes assurance with weapons and women, a model of nonchalant menace and graceful arrogance. When he was finally shot down, Roland fell with flair, demonstrated with a striking crooked sprawl that even playing a dead man he looks better than a lot of TV actors do alive.

  • Anne Bancroft, with the help of Richard Basehart who provided her with a copy of Gibson's play entitled, "Two for the Seesaw", studied the role and entered the audition with a veteran's grasp of the character. She immediately won over both the playwright and the producer. She then met with the director, Arthur Penn, who was so impressed he immediately cast her in another "Playhouse 90" he was about to direct, entitled "Invitation to a Gunfighter."

  • Season 1 Episode 24: The Last Tycoon

  • Philco Television Playhouse adapted "The Last Tycoon" for live dramatization on October 16, 1949.

  • Edmund Wilson took over the reworking and it was published on October 1941 as "The Last Tycoon: An Unfinished Novel", in a volume with The Great Gatsby and five of Fitzgerald's most important short stories.

  • When F. Scott Fitzgerald (b. 1896) died of a heart attack at age forty-four, on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, he left behind a novel-in-progress about the motion picture industry. There were a few titles such as "Stahr: The Romance" and "The Love of the Last Tycoon".

  • Season 1 Episode 25: The Hostess with the Mostest

  • This was the first Playhouse 90 episode to win an unprecedented six EMMY awards.

  • The real Perle Mesta makes an appearance in the closing segment.

  • In recognition of her social achievements, Perle Mesta is appointed Minister to Luxembourg by President Harry Truman.

  • Perle Mesta, had earlier served as the inspiration for the 1950 Irving Berlin Broadway musical "Call Me Madam".

  • Season 1 Episode 26: Charley's Aunt

  • "Charley's Aunt" was also made into a 1952 musical version called "Where's Charley?" starring Ray Bolger.

  • Also made into a 1941 "Charley's Aunt" film starring Jack Benny, Kay Francis, Anne Baxter and Edmund Gwenn.

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Classics, 50s