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The first of four Arthur Godfrey series’ to air on television, and memorably sponsored by Lipton tea and Lipton soups, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts has often been confused with Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. The two shows were actually very different.
Original Amateur Hour usually presented untried talent and often included unusual acts such as spoon players, whistlers and yodellers.
Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts featured professional and semi-professional performers who were looking for their first big break in show business.
Before each act performed, Arthur Godfrey would interview the “talent scouts” who had “discovered” the act and brought them to the show’s attention.
These ‘scouts’ were usually family members or friends of the performers or people who had heard them perform somewhere and thought them worthy of being featured on Talent Scouts.
After pre-show tryouts, acts were selected that would give viewers the greatest variety of performances on a single show.
Godfrey’s cosy chats with the scouts, and his reaction to the performers after they had finished their act, could often mean the difference between who was judged “best act of the evening” as determined by an audience applause meter at the end of the show – a concept appropriated by Hughie Green for the British talent show, Opportunity Knocks.
Other later-to-be-famous entertainers who got their first major experience on the show included Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis (who played the accordion), Steve Lawrence, Al Martino, Roy Clark, Leslie Uggams and Patsy Cline.
Talent Scouts was the number one rated show on US television in the 1951-1952 season. The following year, Talent Scouts and Arthur Godfrey & His Friends were the number two rated shows, with I Love Lucy ranking first.