1 9 5 2 – 1 9 6 1 (USA)
This Is Your Life originally ran on US radio from 1948 to 1952. The television version premiered on the NBC network on 1 October 1952. Host Ralph Edwards honoured Mrs Laura Marr Stone, a 73-year-old pioneer woman from Kansas on this first telecast.
Announcer Bob Warren and host (and creator) Ralph Edwards went on to surprise a multitude of guests with the words “This is your life”. From big-name actors to people from all walks of life – including survivors of the Holocaust and the Hiroshima bombing – anyone might become the star of their own biographical drama.
Over the course of an hour, relatives, friends, and associates would join the subjects on stage as Edwards narrated their life and times. Those not seen for years made for good – usually tearful – drama.
Most people were surprised at becoming the focus of an episode, but not all enjoyed or even tolerated the attention.
Some were angered, including Lowell Thomas and Stan Laurel, but most enjoyed their time in the spotlight. The one person who would never become the subject of the show – under the threat of mass crew firings – was Edwards himself.
Edwards produced short-lived follow-up series in the 1970s and 80s. Two attempts to revive the show in the 2000s didn’t go into production.
In the UK, Irish presenter Eamonn Andrews hosted a British version of the show from 1955 to 1964 and again from 1969 to 1987. The series continued with host Michael Aspel until 2003, and it was briefly revived again in the UK in 2007 by Trevor McDonald.