1 9 5 1 – Present (USA)
A television staple for over 60 years, The Hallmark Hall of Fame has been seen on all three major US networks.
Originally a once-a-week half-hour show called The Hallmark Playhouse, it first aired on the NBC network on 6 January 1952. From 1955 until the present, The Hallmark Hall of Fame has been seen as a series of specials, appearing four to eight times a year throughout the 1960s and two to three times a year thereafter.
The series – which has been sponsored by the Hallmark Greeting Card company for the many years it has been on the air – originally featured Sarah Churchill (daughter of the former British prime minister) as its host and occasional star.
Mildred Freed Alberg produced the series for many seasons. She was succeeded by George Schaefer.
During its first three years, live adaptations of such celebrated plays as Hamlet, Moby Dick, Alice In Wonderland and Macbeth were featured.
After 1955, the series presented outstanding productions of such classics as The Taming Of The Shrew, The Green Pastures, Hans Brinker, A Doll’s House, and The Tempest.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the show presented Victoria Regina, Little Moon of Alban, The Fantasticks, The Man Who Came To Dinner, Brief Encounter and Return Engagement to name just a few.
Hallmark Hall of Fame ran exclusively on NBC from 1951 until 1979. The parting was a mutual one for NBC and Hallmark – NBC was disappointed with the low ratings the specials routinely received, and Hallmark was disappointed with poor time slots allotted to it.
With the promise of better time slots, Hallmark Hall of Fame moved to CBS for the 1979-80 season. Despite a brief switch to PBS in 1981, the show continues to air twice a year on CBS.
In the 1988-89 season, Hallmark Hall of Fame made its appearance on ABC for the first time, thereby having appeared on all three of the major television networks, as well as PBS. In the 1980s and 1990s, the series presented productions of Casey Stengel, Promise, Foxfire, O, Pioneers!, Sarah, Plain and Tall, The Piano Lesson and many other outstanding productions.