1 9 5 6 – 1 9 5 7 (USA)
14 x 60 minute episodes
This live variety show from NBC aired on alternate Sunday afternoons and starred Ray Bolger as an entrepreneur assisting those who wanted to be in show business while he toured Washington Square in New York City (there were sets for the park, the surrounding streets and the Washington Square Playhouse).
Among the people he met were vocalist Elaine Stritch – who operated the Greenwich Village Inn – and two singing acts appearing at the Inn: Rusty Draper and The Three Flames.
Also seen were dancers Mata and Hari, who ran a dancing school with the help of tap dancer Sammy Daniels, and starlet Jo Wilder who acted with guests in a dramatic skit each week.
Rounding out the regular cast was Mama Rosa (played by Danziga Ilitsch for the first two shows, then by singer Kay Armen), a widow with six children who wanted to be an opera star, and Arnold Stang voicing a turtle puppet.
The New York-based production had all the essential ingredients for a hit variety series – top stars (Bert Lahr, Bolger’s co-star in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz, was the show’s debut guest), elaborate sets, and an enjoyable pace.
Other guests throughout the run of the show included Bill Haley, Sammy Davis Jr, Charles Laughton, Milton Berle, Vincent Price, Stanley Holloway, Bea Arthur and Benny Goodman.
But the biweekly Sunday scheduling limited its audience, and although NBC gave it a second chance with prime-time specials airing in May and June 1957, the network decided to drop it shortly afterwards.
The Three Flames
Mata and Hari
The Bil and Cora Baird Puppets
The Danny Daniels Singers
The Charles Sanford Orchestra