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1949: DuMont's 'Cavalcade of Stars' Debuts
June 4, 2012  | By Christy Slewinski
 
On this day in 1949, the DuMont network introduced the variety show, Cavalcade of Stars. Much like its contemporaries, NBC's Texaco Star Theatre and CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show, the live broadcast featured a variety of stage and screen actors performing in skits and vaudeville-style acts, along with the June Taylor Dancers and the Sammy Spear/Charlie Spear Orchestra.

Cavalcade had three hosts in its first two years: Jack Carter, who left the show to join NBC's Saturday Night Revue; comedian Jerry Lester, who went on to host TV's first late-night show, NBC's Broadway Open House; and finally, the star of the failed situation comedy, The Life of Riley, Jackie Gleason.

Gleason created a variety of recurring characters for the show, ranging from The Bachelor — who demonstrated through pantomime his helplessness in completing daily caretaking and household tasks — and playboy millionaire Reginald Van Gleason III to the friendly, chatty Joe the Bartender and "The Loudmouth" Charlie Bratten. In 1951, he introduced a new character: New York City bus driver Ralph Kramden. Titled "The Honeymooners," the Kramden skits featured Cavalcade regulars Art Carney as Kramden's neighbor, Ed Norton and Pert Kelton as Kramden's wife, Alice.


In 1952, CBS lured Gleason away from DuMont, and he took the "The Honeymooners" concept with him to his new series, The Jackie Gleason Show, with Audrey Meadows assuming the role of Alice. In 1955, Gleason transformed it into a stand-alone, half-hour show. It was, in essence, TV's first spin-off.

Upon Gleason's departure from Cavalcade, comedian Larry Storch stepped in as the show's fourth host. But the show's audience diminished, and Cavalcade of Stars was cancelled in September, 1952.



 
 
 
 
 
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