Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today in Arthur Godfrey History

Arthur Godfrey was chugging along, folksy darling of the airwaves.  He had seamlessly switched from radio to TV and was the only person to ever to have "two top-rated programs run simultaneously in prime time for an extended period.  Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts aired on Mondays and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends on Wednesdays for eight-and-a-half seasons."  Talent Scouts trotted out new entertainers, had them perform and then the audience rated them via an applause meter.  Sound familiar?  Only there hasn't been an Arthur Godfrey equivalent on American Idol because this guy was adored.  He wouldn't even endorse a sponsor's product if he didn't like it.  So folksy. Among the talents scouted:  Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Leslie Uggams and Patsy Cline. These people had careers. His variety show employed a stable of regulars including Pat Boone, the McGuire Sisters and Julius LaRosa.  Guess what?  On this date in 1953, Godfrey fired Julius LaRosa on air.  It's not like he thought they weren't broadcasting or that the mikes were off, he just got mad and fired the guy.  Said the singer lacked humility. Oh, how the mighty fell.  As you can guess this had an adverse effect on his career and he ended his days no longer adored. Current reality TV relies on contestants being berated at every turn.  Arthur Godfrey. Ahead of his time or just a guy who lost it on TV? 

Source: Gale Biography in Context
Graphic Source:  NASA

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