Long before becoming the short-lived The Milton Berle Show, it was Texaco Star Theater – a comedy-variety show. Initially broadcast on radio (1938-1949), the branded variety extravaganza aired on television from 1948 to 1956.
It was Texaco Star Theater that garnered Berle the nickname “Mr. Television”. The show was an instant hit, ruling the Tuesday night 8pm to 9pm slot for several years, and landing Emmy Awards for Best Kinescope Show and Most Outstanding Kinescoped Personality (Berle).
The show was credited for driving American TV set sales, as more and more people just had to see what would happen next. In the 1950-1951 season it ranked as the #1 show on television, and grabbed the #2 slot the following season, before steadily losing its traction.
Sponsorship changed to Buick in 1953 (Buick-Berle Show), and, in 1955 the car maker dropped out. Ratings plummeted as Berle struggled to find new ideas. Though a beloved TV personality, Berle’s two subsequent attempts at shows failed.
Nonetheless, Texaco Star Theater was one of the first successful attempts of American TV broadcasting.
Take a look at the opening number, featuring a quartet of Texaco singers:
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