History of the Major Television Networks CBS Part 2

About the history of CBS, highlights in its history and some of their major personalities and stars including Hitchcock, Lucille Ball, Ed Sullivan, and Edward R. Murrow.



Highlights in History: To read a list of CBS personalities and hit programs is to realize how deeply into the American psyche radio and television go, how much they have added to (or leeched from) our culture, and how they have formed permanent images in our minds.

Comedians: Suave George Burns and his harebrained wife, Gracie; ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his irrepressible dummy, Charlie McCarthy; stingy Jack Benny; Red Skelton with his myriad personalities; Lucille Ball, who logged an impressive 495 shows; Jackie Gleason of the Lost Soul, Reginald Van Gleason, and The Honeymooners; Dick Van Dyke, who with Mary Tyler Moore starred on an award-winning long-running situation comedy; Mary Tyler Moore, on her own in a Minneapolis newsroom, and all the spinoffs from that program--Rhoda and Phyllis; the crusading Smothers Brothers; All in the Family, which introduced bigotry and the flushing toilet as humor to prime-time television ...

Soap Operas: Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns...

Drama: Alfred Hitchcock; Gunsmoke (starring James Arness, who only reluctantly took the part and ended up making an estimated $20 million from it); Playhouse 90; The Waltons...

And ... stiff-necked moralist Ed Sullivan, whose variety show lasted from 1948 to 1971. He introduced the Beatles to national audiences in America.

Edward R. Murrow, beginning his broadcasts with the famous "This--is London," courageously and dramatically covered the 12-day London blitz, some of it from rooftops amid the sound of falling bombs. (Coverage of the war by others on the excellent CBS news team was just as impressive, if not always as dramatic.)

Murrow went on, after the war, to fight the anticommunist repression of the early 1950s. To See It Now, he brought the story of Milo Radulovich, who had been kicked out of the air force reserve because of the political leanings of others in his family. Though CBS allowed him and producer Fred Friendly to air the program, the network refused to advertise it. Murrow and Friendly used their own money ($1,500) to take out an ad in The New York Times. In 1954 they took on Red-baiter Sen. Joseph McCarthy himself in a three-hour documentary (which again they advertised with their own money). In that documentary and in the following two shows, McCarthy hanged himself with his vitriolic attacks. Example: "Murrow is a symbol, the leader and the cleverest of the jackal pack which is always found at the throat of anyone who dares to expose individual Communists and traitors."

In 1957 Nikita Khrushchev appeared on Face the Nation in what Time called "the season's most extraordinary hour of broadcasting."

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