1953: Orson Welles Performs 'King Lear' on CBS
On this day in 1953, Orson Welles made his television debut in the live Omnibus production of King Lear.
The actor/director, then 38, co-starred with Beatrice Straight (who would later win a Best Supporting Actress for the 1976 film, Network) and Natasha Parry, who's perhaps best remembered as Lady Capulet in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. Additional performers included Arnold Moss, Bramwell Fletcher, Alan Badel and Micheál MacLiammóir.
The episode was directed by British stage director Peter Brook, who condensed the play by eliminating the Edgar-Edmund subplot.
Hosted by Alastair Cooke, Omnibus showcased a range of offerings, including operas, dramatic plays, literary readings, documentary-style films and ballet and symphony performances. During its run, a range of esteemed actors appeared on the CBS cultural series, including Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, yul Brenner, Walter Slezak, Anne Bancroft, Mel Ferrer, Helen Hayes, Claude Rains, E.G. Marshall, John Cassavetes, Susan Strasberg, Peter Ustinov and George C. Scott.
Here's a clip from Welles' Omnibus performance; the entire staging is available for purchase or download.