Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis with Jimmy Durante – Colgate Comedy Hour – PRICELESS
The Colgate Comedy Hour is an American comedy-musical variety series that aired live on the NBC network from 1950 to 1955. The show featured many notable comedians and entertainers of the era as guest stars.
The program evolved from NBC’s first TV variety showcase, Four Star Revue, sponsored by Motorola. The “running gag” sketches were dropped in favor of more performing acts. The weekly show was proposed to be hosted by four comedians in a four-week rotation to provide competition for Ed Sullivan‘s Toast of the Town on CBS. The first episode, starring Hans Conried, Rosemary DeCamp and Dick Foran, was written and produced by the then 22-year-old Peggy Webber, who appeared in over 100 episodes of Dragnet with Jack Webb.
The new format was heavily backed by its sponsor, Colgate-Palmolive, to the tune of $3 million in the first year, and the 8:00 p.m. ET, Sunday evening format show was a spectacular success, particularly for Eddie Cantor and the Martin & Lewis and Abbott & Costello duos. In his autobiography, Jerry Lewis wrote that the show premiered Sunday, September 17, 1950, with Martin & Lewis and was telecast from the Park Theatre off Columbus Circle in New York City.
As theatres are known by different names over history, it is possible that this was the now-demolished International Theatre at 5 Columbus Circle, the broadcast location of another NBC show of the era, Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. In fact, Eddie Cantor hosted the first Colgate Comedy Hour on September 10, 1950.