1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
854 x 60 minute episodes
Kate Smith – a 235-pound vocalist whose contralto made her one of the most popular American singers of the first half of the 20th century – had been one of US radio’s most durable stars when she made her debut on television on 25 September 1950 in The Kate Smith Hour for NBC.
The late afternoon show featured Kate’s songs and pleasant chatting, with news analysis by Kate’s manager Ted Collins.
“The Private Lives of Ethel and Albert” was a 15-minute segment with Peg Lynch and Al Bunce (which later spun off as the nighttime TV series Ethel and Albert), Dorothy Daye narrated a fashion segment, and also seen at various times were ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson, singer Jeff Clark, the Katydids female singing quartet, the Kateds dance trio, and the Showtimers singing trio (the latter two threesomes each consisted of two males and one female).
Other segments popping up for periods on the show included a travelogue with dance and music featuring folk singer Oscar Brand as a “wandering minstrel”; interviews with “Sons and Daughters of Favourite Show People”; “The Story Princess,” with Alene Dalton; “Talent Showcase,” a half-hour weekly segment with unknown professional acts making their TV debuts and competing to win $500; “Tales of Morpheus,” half-hour dramatisations of people’s dreams with John Newland as the eerie narrator Morpheus; and “The World of Mr Sweeney,” a 10-minute weekly spot with Charles Ruggles, Glenn Walken, and Helen Wagner (which became a daytime series in 1954 under the same name).
In 1952, the show also featured a weekly 15-minute dramatic section entitled “The House in the Garden” revolving around the Olcott family and based on Fairmeadows USA.
Smith added an evening show to her schedule on 19 September 1951 with The Kate Smith Evening Hour.
The series completed four seasons before finally leaving the air on 18 June 1954.
In her later years, Smith suffered terribly from diabetes, undergoing a leg amputation and a mastectomy. She died of respiratory arrest at Raleigh Community Hospital on 17 June 1986, aged 79.