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Talent Patrol began as a military talent show, sponsored by the United States Army over the 88 stations of the ABC network as an aid to recruiting.
All the contestants were GIs, performing a wide variety of nonmilitary skills – impersonations, folk singing, playing musical instruments, trampoline acts, and even hula dancing. Army bands provided the musical accompaniment.
Winners got a night on the town with a pretty actress. Even the runners-up came out ahead, however, with national TV exposure, not to mention a five-day pass to go to New York and rehearse for the show.
In mid-1954 the show became more of a straight variety spot, featuring army professional talent as well as celebrity guests, and the title was changed to Soldier Parade.
Steve Allen was the original host of the series, replaced “temporarily” by Bud Collyer after only three months and permanently by Arlene Francis (pictured above) in June 1953.
When the show expanded to a full hour in June 1955, singer Richard Hayes – in the army himself at the time – joined Miss Francis in the capacity of cohost.
Steve Allen (1953)
Bud Collyer (1953)
Arlene Francis (1953-1955)
Richard Hayes (1955)