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Colgate Comedy Hour, The

1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 5 (USA)

For five years, NBC’s Colgate Comedy Hour was the only serious threat to Ed Sullivan’s The Toast Of The Town over on CBS in the Sunday 8.00 – 9.00 PM timeslot.

The Colgate Comedy Hour provided the first television appearance for some of the most celebrated stars in show business. It was also the first major TV variety series to originate from Hollywood.

Hosts rotated on a weekly basis between Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Donald O’Connor, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

In addition to ‘traditional’ variety shows hosted by big names, the show occasionally featured full-length television adaptations of well known Broadway musicals such as Anything Goes, which was seen on the show in 1954 starring Frank Sinatra and Ethel Merman.

Also in 1954, the show began to present shows which were telecast from various locations such as the Hollywood Bowl, Pebble Beach, California, Jones Beach Amphitheatre on Long Island and the SS United States.

The entire cost of producing this spectacular and very expensive show was footed by the show’s single sponsor, Colgate toothpaste.

Having a single company sponsor an entire show was a holdover from the old radio days when a certain product would become indelibly associated with a single programme (eg: The Lux Radio TheaterThe Jello Show with Jack Benny, and Johnson’s Wax’s Fibber McGee and Molly).

Colgate eventually decided that the production was not cost-effective and withdrew its sponsorship. NBC cancelled the show in 1955 and all but gave up its competition with Toast Of The Town in the Sunday evening slot for the next 20 years.