1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 7 (USA)
Robert Montgomery Presents – occasionally entitled The Lucky Strike Theatre – debuted on the NBC network on 30 January 1950.
The one-hour series was hosted by Hollywood actor-director-producer Robert Montgomery – the first major Hollywood star to enthusiastically enter the field of television – and became one of the best-remembered big-budget live dramatic series of TV’s golden age.
At first, it presented adaptations of classic motion pictures, such as Rebecca, A Star Is Born and Dark Victory, all of which were done within the first few months. Later, original TV plays and adaptations of stage plays, books, and short stories were used due to copyright rules which prevented the kinescoping of any production based on a motion picture – these could be telecast on a live basis only.
Notable dramas included: ‘Victoria Regina’ with Helen Hayes; `After All These Years’ with Claudette Colbert; ‘The Burtons’ with Kathleen and June Lockhart; ‘Onions in the Stew’ with Constance Bennett; ‘Sunset Boulevard’ with Mary Astor and Darren McGavin; ‘Bella Fleace Gave a Party’ with Fay Bainter and J Pat O’Malley; ‘The Lost Weekend’ with Montgomery as star; and ‘The Great Gatsby’ with Montgomery, Phyllis Kirk and John Newland.
Montgomery also assembled a repertory company of players – including his daughter Elizabeth, who would later star in the comedy series Bewitched and several television dramatic movies – who would act in summer-stock type productions.
Some of the productions were truly spectacular for live television, such as a drama built around the destruction of the great dirigible Hindenburg, followed by interviews with some of the actual survivors.
The show was broadcast in colour in the later years of its run until it closed on 24 Jane 1957.