Home TV by Decade TV Shows - 1950s Nat King Cole Show, The

Nat King Cole Show, The


1 9 5 6 – 1 9 5 7 (USA)

This NBC series (the first TV variety show hosted by an African-American) began as a modest 15-minute show, but soon expanded to 30 minutes thanks to Nat King Cole‘s unique talent.

Cole’s blend of personality and musicality was perfect for the intimate experience of TV viewing.

natkingcoleshow3Unfortunately, despite the positive audience response, national sponsors feared that 1956 was not the ideal time for an African American to be beamed into living rooms and refused to put their money towards keeping the show on the air.

Local sponsors were slightly more generous (and forward-thinking) but the production was never able to overcome the financial barriers, and the show ended a little more than a year after it first hit the small screen.

Cole recovered from the failure of the TV show and went on to perform on other people’s shows, as well as in films and on stages around the world until his death in 1965.