One in this educational public affairs series that traces the origins and development of the American musical theater and examines the careers and contributions of the creative artists who have made the musical a native American art form. In an informal workshop setting, New York City high school students meet the composers, lyricists, and performers who have shaped the American musical and question them about their work. This edition focuses on the career of Robert Preston, and his performance in the current Broadway musical, "Ben Franklin in Paris." Host Earl Wrightson introduces Preston by saying that "Greater love hath no man for his art than to part with his hair to play a part" in reference to the fact that Preston shaved his head to star as Benjamin Franklin. Preston then discusses the following topics: the surprising similarity between Ben Franklin and Harold Hill, his character in "The Music Man"; his interest in acting beginning at the age of ten; playing Shakespearean roles in a repertory company; working at odd jobs while trying to break into acting at the Pasadena Playhouse; his early movie roles playing "the heavy"; his first Broadway parts in comedies; and the fact that he considers himself an actor, not a musical comedy star. Wrightson then introduces Ulla Sallert, a leading musical comedy star in Scandinavia, who plays the role of the "Countess" in "Ben Franklin in Paris." She sings a snippet of "My Fair Lady" in Swedish, after which the conductor of "Ben Franklin in Paris," Don Pippin, is introduced, and she recreates her audition for him. Sallert then performs two numbers, "Look for Small Pleasures" and "How Laughable it Is," from the musical. Next, Preston explains his preference for working on the stage over the movies and the fact that movies are more fun for directors than for actors. After Preston explores the musical's use of Ben Franklin's famous quotes, the CBS Orchestra plays the musical number "Half the Battle" from the show to close the program.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The Marc Haas and Helen Hotze Haas Foundation, 1998.


  • DATE: November 28, 1964 Saturday 3:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:28:45
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:54030
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Biography
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965


  • Ethel Burns … Producer
  • Bill Bryan … Director
  • Mark Sandrich … Composer
  • Sidney Michaels … Lyricist
  • Don Pippin … Conductor
  • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
  • Earl Wrightson … Host
  • Robert Preston … Guest
  • Ulla Sallert … Singer, Guest
  • Benjamin Franklin
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