The Colgate Comedy Hour
Season 5 - 1954-1955

Starting with the 1954-55 season, Colgate's ad agency Ted Bates took over production supervision from NBC. While it wasn't unusual at the time for ad agencies to produce TV shows, Ted Bates had little experience in the field. The timing couldn't have been worse. Eddie Cantor, Donald O'Connor, and Jimmy Durante all defected to their own shows at the start of the season, and Bob Hope hadn't appeared on The Comedy Hour since June 1953.

To fill the void, the show started scheduling a variety of special events, including musicals like Revenge With Music, Let's Face It, and Roberta, ice skating, an air show - even an appearance by the entire New York Giants baseball team! Singer Gordon MacRae (billed as "your singing host") became the closest thing to a regular host, heading up 12 of the season's 29 episodes. But despite new content, the quality and ratings sagged. In its February 23, 1955 issue, Variety observed, "Ted Bates agency and NBC have been unable to lift the Comedy Hour from a low groove of mediocrity."

In an effort to show off color television (and sell color sets made by NBC's parent company RCA), the network began pre-empting The Comedy Hour once a month to show glitzy musicals, most produced by Max Liebman and starring Judy Holliday. It was great for owners of color TV sets, but it didn't help The Comedy Hour's declining ratings.

Host & Guests
Host: Eddie Fisher
Guests: Peggy Lee, Louis Armstrong, Mischa Elman, The Vagabonds, ballet stars Maria Tallchief and Frederic Franklin, Rocky Marciano, Al Weill (Rocky's manager), Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra
Note: Louis performs "The Whiffenpoof Song" and duets with Eddie on "Birth of the Blues." Due to Jerry Lewis's illness, he and Dean Martin were unable to open the new season. This episode originated from the Hollywood Bowl.

"Lou Walters' Latin Quarter Revue: Made in France"
Guests: Johnnie Ray, Joe E. Lewis, Jane Morgan, The Seven Ashtons, Art Maner, The Debonairs, Al Goodman and his Orchestra, Leo Durocher and the New York Giants, Look's "All America" baseball team with Russ Hodges, Jim Dudley, Al Lopez, Johnny Antonelli, Bobby Avila, Yogi Berra, Chico Carrasquel, Al Dark, Bob Lemon, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Minnie Minoso, Robin Roberts, Al Rosen, Duke Snider, Virgil Trucks, Mickey Vernon
Note: The "All America" team was featured in the then-current issue of Look magazine.

Guests: Phil Harris, Dinah Shore, William Bendix, Tom D'Andrea and Hal March, The Charlivel Trio
Note: TV Guide called this the 150th Comedy Hour show.
Pre-empted by "Sunday in Town" starring Judy Holliday, Steve Allen, Dick Shawn
"Friar's Frolics"
Host: Milton Berle
Guests: Janis Paige, Mitzi Green, Smith and Dale, Georgie Price, Joel Grey, Beau Jenkins, Marilyn Ross, Al Goodman and his Orchestra
Note: This was the annual revue of the Friars' Club, celebrating their 50th anniversary.
"Revenge With Music"
Guests: Anna Maria Alberghetti, Ray Middleton, Ilona Massey, Harpo Marx, Jerry Colonna, Edward Everett Horton
Note: This is an adaptation of the Howard Dietz-Arthur Schwartz Broadway show. Songs include If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You and You and the Night and the Music. Variety commented, "Despite the presence of three name comics in the extra-large cast, of a smooth production with engaging dance numbers, and of a score with standout tunes as good now as then, show was a flop because of its creaky book."
Host: Terry Moore
Guests: Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney, Connee Boswell, Don Cornell, The Minevitch Harmonia Rascals with Johnny Puleo, Giselle and Francois Szony, Al Goodman and his Orchestra
Pre-empted by "Fanfare" starring Judy Holliday, Steve Allen, Dick Shawn, Jacques Tati, Frank Sinatra
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Dorothy Kirsten, Larry Storch, Gene Sheldon, The Will Mastin Trio starring Sammy Davis Jr., Josanne Mariani, Carmen Dragon and his Orchestra
Note: This was MacRae's first turn as a Comedy Hour host and Mariani's first American TV appearance.
"Let's Face It"
Guests: Bert Lahr, Vivian Blaine, Gene Nelson, Betty Furness, Jimmy Gleason, Virginia Gibson, Ann Staunton, Robert Strauss, Gloria Jean, Pat Horn, Barry Kelley, Larry Blake, Leith Stevens and his Orchestra
Announcer: Wendell Niles
Note: This was an adaptation of the Cole Porter Broadway musical. Songs include "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "You Are To Me Everything." Originally part of the cast, Joan Blondell had to bow out due to illness and was replaced by Ann Staunton. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis appear at the end of the show to promote the Muscular Dystrophy Drive for Thanksgiving and to plug their upcoming show on December 19. This show originated from Hollywood.
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Gale Storm, Jack Carter, Gene Sheldon, Debra Paget
Pre-empted by "Spotlight" starring Sonja Henie, Jack Buchanan, Jeannie Carson, Pat Carroll, Jimmy Durante
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Tony Curtis, Gloria De Haven, Gene Nelson, Paul Gilbert, Mara Corday, in person and on film in a preview of So This Is Paris, plus Gene Sheldon, Notre Dame Coach Terry Brennan, the 1955 Rose Bowl Queen, special guests Jeff Chandler and Rock Hudson, Carmen Dragon and his Orchestra
Hosts: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Guests: Vera Miles, Milton Frome, Margery Maud, Hanke Mann, Sylvia Hickle, Marvin Middlebird, The Nick Castle Dancers, plus special guest "Phil Abrams" (Jack Benny), Dick Stabile and his Orchestra
Announcer: George Putnam
Note: Jack Benny's cameo was in repayment for Martin and Lewis appearing on his show on May 23, 1954.
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"Hollywood Ice Revue"
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Gundi Busch, Andra McLaughlin, Freddie Trenkler, The Bruises, Jimmy Grogan, Skippy Baxter, Bobby Blake, a company of 200
Note: This episode originated from Chicago Stadium. Skating star Barbara Ann Scott was to have been the headliner but cancelled due to illness.

Pre-empted by "Good Times" starring Judy Holliday, Steve Allen, Dick Shawn, Bambi Lynn, Rod Alexander, the Ritz Brothers
Host: Bob Hope
Guests: William Holden, Hedda Hopper, Margaret Whiting, Robert Strauss, Jerry Colonna, Anita Ekberg, Brenda Marshall, The Nick Castle Dancers, The U.S. Air Force Crew Chiefs
Note: This show, Bob Hope's last for the Colgate Comedy Hour, was filmed at Thule Air Base in Greenland and Goose Air Base in Labrador. Brenda Marshall was William Holden's wife.
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Patti Page, Jack Carter, The Vagabonds, The Lecuona Cuban Boys with Nelle Castell, Gene Sheldon, Aquaclowns, Cypress Gardens Aqua-Maids, Carmen Dragon and his Orchestra
Note: This episode originated from the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney, Ronny Graham, Joyce Bryant, The DeMarco Sisters, The Mayo Brothers, 1955 Maid of Cotton De Lois Faulkner; special guests Franchot Tone, Gloria Vanderbilt in Irwin Shaw's In the French Style
Pre-empted by "Variety" starring Kitty Kallen, Perry Como, Herb Shriner, Buddy Hackett, Pat Carroll
Guests: Spike Jones and The City Slickers, Nat King Cole, Paul Gilbert, Bobby Van, Helen Grayco, Senor Wences, Sue Allen, Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra; plus John Halvorson and Gil Lee covering a jai alai game from Tijuana, Mexico
Announcer: Wendell Niles
Note: This episode has no real host, with the guests introducing each other. The show originates from three locations: Spike Jones, The City Slickers, and Helen Grayco from San Diego, the jai alai game from Tijuana, and the rest of the cast from Hollywood.
Hosts: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Guests: Micki Marlo; The Four Step Brothers; Franklin Pangborn; Wick, Bird and Kaylick; Dick Stabile and his Orchestra
Note: Dean and Jerry team up with The Step Brothers for some hoofing, and Micki sings "St. Louis Blues."
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Gene Sheldon, The New Orleans Jazz Saints, street dancers Skeets and Pete, Carmen Dragon and his Orchestra
Note: This episode originated from the French Quarter in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Locations seen are the Court of the Two Sisters, Absinthe House, the Court of the Maison de Ville, Antoine's restaurant, and a parade down Bourbon Street.
Pre-empted by "Big Time" starring Milton Berle, Martha Raye, Ray Bolger
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: The Wiere Brothers, Ronny Graham, Jaye P. Morgan, Mrs. America of 1954 Wanda Jennings, Ship's Commander John W. Anderson, The Gabor Sisters: Zsa Zsa, Eva, Magda, and mother Jolie, Carmen Dragon and his Orchestra
Note: Gordon sings "I've Got You Under My Skin," while Jaye P. belts out "Takin' a Chance on Love." This episode originated from aboard the luxury liner S.S. United States, docked in the Hudson River.
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Debra Paget, middleweight champion Carl "Bobo" Olson, acrobats The Dassis
Note: Gordon sings "It's Almost Like Being in Love" and "You Go To My Head."
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Bert Lahr, Caterina Valente, Kaye Ballard, Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace, The Marquis Family Chimps
Note: In Caterina's first American appearance, she sings "Malaguena" and "The Breeze and I." Also on the bill is a re-enactment by Cornel and Jean of a scene from The Big Combo.
Pre-empted by "All-Star Salute to Showbiz" with Fred Allen, Pat Carroll, Jimmy Durante, Buddy Hackett, Judy Holliday, Leontyne Price, Cesar Romero, Dinah Shore, Helen Hayes
Guests: Tennessee Ernie Ford, Phil Harris, Kitty Kallen, Dave Brubeck, Harry Mimmo
Guests: Gordon MacRae, Nina Foch, Jack Carter, Lucille Norman, Luba Malina, Reginald Denny, Agnes Moorehead, Fritz Feld
Note: This is an adaptation of the 1933 Broadway show by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach. Songs include "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "You're Devastating," and "The Touch of Your Hand." According to Variety, "A lot of time and talent was wasted."
Host: Gordon MacRae
Guests: Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Ronny Graham, Leigh Snowden, Sue Carson, The Treniers; plus Piper Laurie, Mamie Van Doren in a scene from Ain't Misbehavin'.
Pre-empted by "Kaleidoscope" starring Judy Holliday, Dick Shawn, Bambi Lynn, Rod Alexander, Frank Sinatra
Host: Liberace
Guest: George Liberace and his Orchestra
Note: This episode originated from the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.
Hosts: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Guests: Ray Malone, Dick Stabile and his Orchestra, cameos by Jimmy Durante, George Raft, and Tony Curtis
Announcer: Wendell Niles
Note: Dean and Jerry spoof their competition Ed Sullivan and show the audience what life was like before they were stars.
Hosts: Gordon MacRae, Rhonda Fleming
Guests: Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, dancers The Clark Brothers, singer Jana Mason, Carmen Dragon and his Orchestra; special Air Force units in action, The Singing Sergeants of the Air Force, The Thunderbirds Air Force precision jet flying unit, The Frogmen Navy underwater demolition unit, The Marine Heliteam helicopter combat unit, the 6th Army bagpipe band The Presidians
Note: This episode originated from March Air Force Base in Riverside, California, home of the 15th Air Force Strategic Air Command. The occasion was the official opening of Armed Forces Week, and President Eisenhower provides a few brief introductory remarks. Rhonda is noticeably flustered when technical difficulties prevent her from contacting one of the Air Force jets. Gordon sings "Blue Skies," "Maņana," and "Bella Notte," while Jana performs "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Your Lips Tell Me No No, But There's Yes Yes In Your Eyes." In their last appearance on The Comedy Hour, Abbott and Costello do a military sketch, marred by host MacRae's almost forgetting to bring out the comedy duo at the end of the show for their final bow.
Pre-empted by "Promenade" starring Judy Holliday, Janet Blair, Herb Shriner, Kay Starr, Bambi Lynn, Rod Alexander
"Highlights of Broadway 1955"
Host: Eddie Fisher
Note: Fisher was slated to take this revue, featuring highlights from Damn Yankees, Palace, Fanny, Monte Proser's La Vie, and House of Flowers, to Monte Prosper's New York night club La Vie.
Hosts: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Guests: Sonny King, Buddy Rich, Peggie Castle, Paula Voss, The Ebonaires, Dick Stabile and his Orchestra
Announcer: Wendell Niles
Note: This episode features a clip from the forthcoming Martin and Lewis film You're Never Too Young.
      Replaced for the summer by The Colgate Variety Hour
Copyright 2005 by Jim Davidson. All Rights Reserved.