I was driving around yesterday listening to the radio. A talk show. It was reported that today is an anniversary date for Milton Berle’s first TV show. Sixty years, I think.
Milton Berle brings me way back. There may be some too young to have heard of him.
Berle hit the TV screen in 1948. I was 13 years old!
His show was on NBC. It was called the Texaco Star Theater.
Berle was an instantaneous TV success! The show ran 7 years. Nielsen ratings were as much as 80 per cent. Can you imagine if a show had such a Nielsen rating today!
Berle was the utimate comedian. He became known as Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television. A very big hit!
I read somewhere that the sale of TV sets doubled the first year Berle was on television. Over 2,000,000 sets were sold. That’s how big he was! That’s the impact he had on the American public!
I like to recall TV sets back in those days. TV was relatively new. My Father had one of the first TV sets. The screen was all of 3″ x 4″. Eye strain!
Recalling Milton Berle caused me to recall two other TV shows which also impacted the viewing public. Especially my generation!
The Mickey Mouse Club and Howdy Doody.
Mickey Mouse started in 1955. Howdy Doody earlier in 1947. Mickey Mouse I started watching in college. Howdy Doody as a grammar school student in 1947.
Both were cult shows. Followers galore!
I was in college in the mid 1950s. Mickey Mouse went on at 5 and Howdy Doody at 6. Each floor of the dorm had a wreck room. With a TV set. We all crowded into the wreck room at 5 for the 2 shows. Monday through Friday. And we sang along with the theme songs for both shows.
Mickey Mouse had the Mickey Mouse March. The music slowed at the end of the song with the verse “…it’s time to say goodbye.”
Howdy Doody had its own song also. “It’s Howdy Doody Time!”
Howdy Doody was a marionette or puppet. What ever way you might want to describe him. His counterpart was Buffalo Bob Smith. And who could forget Clarabedll the Clown!
Howdy Doody had 48 freckles. One for each of the States. There were only 48 States back then!
Picture again 30 or more young male college students in that wreck room every evening. Tomorrow’s leaders. Watching the Mickey Mouse Club and Howdy Doody! And joining along in the singing of the theme songs!
Only in America!