This variety special presents a survey of the 1950s highlighting the social and cultural history of the decade. Henry Fonda is the host and Eric Sevareid offers running commentary and statistics throughout. Highlights include the following: a review of the popular music of the decade using photos and recordings including Robert Preston singing "76 Trombones" (from the musical "The Music Man"), Mary Martin singing "The Sound of Music," Elvis Presley singing "Hound Dog," "Hernando's Hideaway," Perry Como singing "Dream Along with Me," Bill Haley and the Comets' recording of "Rock Around the Clock," Sammy Davis, Jr., with "That Old Black Magic," Peggy Lee singing "Fever," Van Cliburn performing, Tennessee Ernie Ford with "Sixteen Tons," a photo montage of Judy Garland set to "The Man That Got Away," Ethel Merman singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses," among others; in a segment about the use of leisure time, Dick Van Dyke performs a pantomine as a novice who tries to learn the popular dances of the decade such as the mambo, the cha-cha-cha, and rock 'n' roll from a dance instructor (played by Maria Karnilova); Henry Fonda introduces a segment on newsworthy dates in the decade's history which includes footage of the royal wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer of Monaco and voice-over reminiscenses by explorers and submarine captains; comedian Shelley Berman appears in a skit as an exasperated father attempting to reason with his evasive son (played by Flip Mark); Charles and Ray Eames's cartoon of Robert Paul Smith's book "Where Did You Go? 'Out.' What Did You Do? 'Nothing'" depicts the private world of the child; fashion model Suzy Parker stars in a satiric sequence created by Richard Avedon entitled "The Creature" about the new American woman which examines the consumer power of women and their portrayal in the media (as ads come to life); Leora Dana reads a selection from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's bestseller "Gift From the Sea" while images from the Eames's brief film suggested by the book are shown; the New Haven rehearsal for "biggest musical comedy hit in musical theater history," "My Fair Lady," is recreated with Julie Andrews learning a cockney accent from a dialect coach in order to sing "Just You Wait" and Rex Harrison conquering his fear of singing onstage with an orchestra while rehearsing "I'm an Ordinary Man"; Eric Sevareid presents a photo-montage tribute to Charles de Gaulle as the "spirit of France"; Mike Nichols and Elaine May spoof quiz-show scandals and question the truthfulness of politicians; in a segment on significant news events of the decade, Roy Campanella talks about baseball, Roger Bannister reviews breaking the four-minute mile, and Sir Edmund Hillary relives the conquest of Mount Everest; Betty Comden and Adolph Green humorously illustrate how during the 1950s the movies fought back against the popularity of television with cinemascope and English-dubbed foreign films and demonstrate the fanciful gimmick of the future, "Taste-o-vision"; Sevareid discusses the influence of television and presents clips illustrating what Americans watched in the 1950s including footage of a Mary Martin-Ethel Merman medley from the "Ford 50th Anniversary Show," from "See It Now," and major news events; and Jackie Gleason sings "Sid Old Kid" from the curent Broadway musical "Take Me Along" by Bob Merrill which earned Gleason a Tony Award. Fonda recites statistics about American life during the decade and shows photos of those who have died during the 1950s. The program concludes with Fonda and Sevareid's thoughts on America's future and Fonda reading the words of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Includes commercials for General Electric.


  • DATE: January 31, 1960 Sunday 7:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:57:34
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T77:0282
  • GENRE: Specials
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1960
  • COMMERCIALS: TV - Commercials - General Electric major appliances and television


  • Leland Hayward … Producer
  • Marshall Jamison … Producer
  • Beatrice Cunningham … Production Consultant
  • Norman Jewison … Director
  • Dan Smith … Associate Director
  • Dolores Cannata … Animation, Special animation for "Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing" by
  • Richard Avedon … Created by, "The Creature" created by
  • Charles Eames … Created by, "Gift From the Sea" film created by, "Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing" film created by
  • Ray Eames … Created by, "Gift From the Sea" film created by, "Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing" film created by
  • Max Wilk … Writer
  • A. J. Russell … Writer
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh … Writer, "Gift From the Sea" based on the book by
  • Robert Paul Smith … Writer, "Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing" based on the book by
  • Mike Nichols … Writer, "The Creature" written by
  • Alan Jay Lerner … Writer, "My Fair Lady" segment as remembered by
  • George Kleinsinger … Music by, Incidental music by
  • Gerald Alters … Music by, Original music for dance numbers by
  • Elmer Bernstein … Music by, Conductor, "Gift From the Sea" music score composed and conducted by, "Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing" music score composed and conducted by
  • Alfredo Antonini … Conductor, Music conducted by
  • Franz Allers … Conductor, "My Fair Lady" segment conducted by
  • John Lesko … Conductor, "Sid Old Kid" (from "Take Me Along") conducted by
  • Jay Blackton … "Popular Music Montage" music supervised by
  • Danny Daniels … Choreographer, Dances and musical numbers choreographed by
  • Henry Fonda … Host
  • Eric Sevareid … Host
  • Leora Dana … Narrator, "Gift From the Sea" narrated by
  • Julie Andrews … Performer, Singer
  • Shelley Berman … Performer
  • Betty Comden … Performer
  • Jackie Gleason … Performer
  • Adolph Green … Performer
  • Rex Harrison … Performer
  • Elaine May … Performer
  • Mike Nichols … Performer
  • Suzy Parker … Performer
  • Dick Van Dyke … Performer
  • Alfred Dixon … Cast, himself
  • Maria Karnilova … Cast, the Dance Instructress
  • Mark, "Flip" … Cast, Howard
  • William R. Anderson
  • Roger Bannister
  • Roy Campanella
  • Kurt Carlsen
  • Edmund Hillary
  • James Stewart
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