As the centennial year of Nat King Cole comes to a close, the Paley Center salutes the legendary entertainer with some of his most memorable television shows. Cole was a true trailblazer in television, being the first African-American star to host a variety series on a major network. The Paley Center salutes one of America’s transcendent vocalists and pianists by screening two rare international concerts, along with three episodes from Cole’s pioneering series on NBC. Join us for a special introduction by renowned jazz critic Will Friedwald, famed jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli, among others on February 22. Details and RSVP below.

FREE Admission
Saturday & Sunday, February 22 & 23; 12:00 to 6:00 pm

Also, don't miss: Chuck Berry: Brown Eyed Handsome Man: Preview Screening and Discussion on Thursday, February 27 at 6:00 pm. RSVP here.

 

VISIT PALEY

The Paley Center for Media in New York
25 West 52 Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

GETTING HERE

 

Weekend Screenings

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22

Special Introduction—1:00 pm

A Tribute to the Unforgettable Nat King Cole

In Person:
Will Friedwald, Jazz Critic
John Pizzarelli, Jazz Guitarist
Additional guests to be announced.

The Paley Center kicks off the Nat King Cole weekend screenings with a panel of musical experts to discuss Cole’s legacy and television career.

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2:00 pm

An Evening with Nat King Cole    

One of the few Nat "King" Cole concerts ever recorded and arguably the best, this program was all but forgotten in a vault for more than thirty years since its original broadcast in 1961 by the British Broadcasting Company. With its honest simplicity, An Evening with Nat King Cole showcases Nat's ability to touch an audience with his smooth style and gentle grace as seemingly effortless as they are heartfelt. Songs included “Day In Day Out,” “Here's That Rainy Day,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer,” “It's Only a Paper Moon,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Ramblin' Rose,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Unforgettable.” (1961; 48 min.)

2:55 pm

Nat King Cole on Mobil Limb

Nat King Cole was the first African-American entertainer to be showcased in an Australian variety series. Here the popular Australian host Bobby Limb welcomes Nat for a series of songs and skits. Songs include “Too Young,” “Where or When,” “To the Ends of the Earth,” and “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.”  (1963; 64 min.)

 

4:00 pm

The Nat King Cole Show (Premiere) 

In this premiere of his groundbreaking series, Cole opens the program with "Somebody Loves Me," followed by "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" from the new stage musical My Fair Lady. He is joined by the Boataneers for "Tea For Two," then playing an impressive piano solo. Finally, Cole sings a "memory song": his trademark 1951 piece "Unforgettable." (1956; 15 min.)

 

4:20 pm

The Nat King Cole Show: With Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle

Here Cole welcomes one of jazz’s greatest vocalists Ella Fitzgerald along with producer supreme Nelson Riddle. Highlights include: Cole and the Cheerleaders performing the “Beer Barrel Polka”; Cole performing “All the Way”; Fitzgerald performing “The Lady is a Tramp” and “Perdido”; Fitzgerald performing “Dancing on the Ceiling,” accompanied by a sand-dance; Cole and Fitzgerald performing “Too Close for Comfort”; and Cole performing “Unforgettable” and “It’s Just About that Time Again.” (1957; 26 min.)

 

5:00 pm

The Nat King Cole Show (Finale)

In this final program Cole opens with "When You're Smiling" and then, acknowledging the series' conclusion, sings "The Party's Over." Guest Billy Eckstine sings "If I Can Help Somebody," and Cole presents him with a special award for his charitable work for the Tuberculosis Association. Cole also performs his classic number, "The Christmas Song." He closes the program by highlighting some of his upcoming personal appearances, and the names of all of the show's past guests are listed as Cole thanks the performers and viewers. (1957; 27 min.)

 

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23

 

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12:15 pm

The Nat King Cole Show (Premiere) (1956; 15 min.)

 

12:35 pm

The Nat King Cole Show: With Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle (1957; 26 min.)

 

1:05 pm

The Nat King Cole Show (Finale) (1957; 27 min.)

 

2:00 pm

An Evening with Nat King Cole (1961; 48 min.)

 

2:55 pm

Nat King Cole on Mobil Limb (1963; 64 min.)

 

4:00 pm

The Nat King Cole Show (Premiere) (1956; 15 min.)

 

4:20 pm

The Nat King Cole Show: With Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle (1957; 26 min.)

 

5:00 pm

The Nat King Cole Show (Finale) (1957; 27 min.)