1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 9 (USA)
Bandleader Sammy Kaye first brought his swing-and-sway music to television in 1949, with two specials. He later appeared in several series during the 1950s, on various networks.
Kaye’s most famous trademark was his “So You Want to Lead a Band” audience-participation routine, which he had used for years in personal appearances and on radio, and it was also featured in most of his TV series.
In it, Kaye chose half a dozen members of the studio audience to try their hands at band-leading. The band did exactly what the ‘leader’ indicated with their baton, sometimes to hilarious effect. The best bandleader was chosen by audience applause and awarded a prize.
Kaye also provided straight entertainment with his orchestra, vocalists, and guests, and often led a community sing-a-long. He ended each show with an inspirational poem.
The various Sammy Kaye series, though essentially similar in format, went under a number of titles over the years. The 1950 edition was called So You Want to Lead a Band. In 1951-1952 it was The Sammy Kaye Variety Show, in 1953 The Sammy Kaye Show, and in 1954-1955 So You Want to Lead a Band.
The 1958 series was first called Sammy Kaye’s Music from Manhattan (the sponsor was Manhattan shirts), then in January 1959 switched to The Sammy Kaye Show and in April 1959 to Music from Manhattan. You would never have known the difference by watching them.