Discovering a “Lost” Treasure of American Culture: The Anthology Dramas of “The Golden Age of Television”

Discovering a “Lost” Treasure of American Culture: The Anthology Dramas of “The Golden Age of Television”: Hundreds of those 1950s episodes are NOT Lost, by James Perloff.

Please take the time to read this engaging, informative, and most illuminating article on a seemingly lost facet of American culture. There was a substantial vigorous intellectual debate in the 1950s of the staid Eisenhower Era regarding High Culture versus Mass Culture among various sectors of society. This was particularly focused on how these various cultural milieus affected the new technological means of presenting entertainment, news and information — television. There was very explicit class distinctions or biases found in this debate, with the reigning intellectual elite putting forth arguments challenging middlebrow and/or lower class culture (Spike Jones, Ernie Kovacs, The HoneymoonersMilton Berle, and I Love Lucy versus OmnibusPlayhouse 90 and Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples’ Concerts). Remember this was also the time of the demonization of comic books and the emergence of Rock and Roll challenging conventional musical genres.

 “Nevertheless, with that financial support, America saw a surge in quality drama that has perhaps never been equaled in the nation’s history. Much of television was performed in New York at the time, and many gifted Broadway actors were recruited—a few of whom later became film stars in their own right. And some of the biggest names of the day—Bette Davis, James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, James Mason, Ingrid Bergman, Jack Lemmon, Dorothy Malone, and numerous others—acted on television, which might surprise some of their fans who thought their screen careers were confined to Hollywood motion pictures.”


10:34 am on November 23, 2021

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