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. In this edition, host Jim Morske discusses the stars of the musical theater's early days. He begins with the theater owner B.F. Keith, who later joined by partner E.F. Albee, developed vaudeville into a circuit format where complete variety shows traveled around the country to different theaters. After the CBS Orchestra plays a medley of Harry von Tilzer tunes to recreate the music of the times, Morske mentions Gus Edwards and his act "School Boys and Girls" from which many future headliners were launched. Eileen Barton then sings the song that gave vaudeville star Eva Tanguay the nickname of "The I Don't Care Girl." Next, Morske introduces former vaudevillian William Gaxton, who relates how his career began; describes "furniture actors" and "cuff shooters;" recounts how B.F. Keith hired a man to impersonate himself, and how Will Rogers developed his comic technique; gives his opinions as to why vaudeville died; and recalls the spectacular shows of the period including those of Florenz Ziegfeld. Barton follows this by singing "Shine on Harvest Moon" made famous by Nora Bayes, Lillian Lorraine's signature "Up, Up, Up in My Aeroplane," and Fanny Brice's popular "My Man." After Gaxton recalls an anecdote about Sarah Bernhardt appearing in "The Ziegfeld Follies," the orchestra closes the show with "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

Cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the GRAMMY Foundation.


  • DATE: December 27, 1959 Sunday 12:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:29:32
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:55218
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Music, popular (songs, etc.)
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965


  • Ned Cramer … Producer
  • Ethel Burns … Associate Producer, For the Board of Education
  • Neal Finn … Director
  • Alfredo Antonini … Conductor
  • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
  • Jim Morske … Host
  • Eileen Barton … Singer
  • William Gaxton … Guest
  • E.F. Albee
  • Nora Bayes
  • Sarah Bernhardt
  • Fanny Brice
  • Gus Edwards
  • B.F. Keith
  • Lillian Lorraine
  • Eva Tanguay
  • von Tilzer, Harry
  • Florenz Ziegfeld