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The Original Amateur Hour
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TV Series
    (January 18, 1948-September 27, 1970)
    Aired on Dumont (1948-49), NBC (1949-54,1957-58), ABC (1955-57,1960) and CBS (1959,1960-70)
    Based on the popular radio show 'Major Bowes' Amateur Hour' (1934-45)
    Hosted by Ted Mack
    Premise: Unknown talents perform, with the audience voting for their favorites by telephone and postcards
    The show was originally sponsored by Old Gold cigarettes, with Mack's podium designed to look like a pack of cigarettes.
    After 1957, it became a half-hour show but kept the 'Amateur Hour' name.
    There was a mini-scandal over Pat Boone appearing on the show when he had already been on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and thus was not an amateur.
    As the show aged, it did not pick up younger viewers, so its main sponsor in its final years was Geritol.
    An attempt to revive the show on the Family Channel lasted only one season (1992).
    It is one of a few shows to have run on four networks.
    Stars discovered on the show include Gladys Knight, Ann-Margaret and Irene Cara.
    Louis Walcott (later known as Louis Farrakhan) performed as a violinist; if he had won, we might have been spared the whole Nation of Islam deal.
    Mack was referred to as 'the nicest guy in show business.'
    It set the pattern for future talent contests, such as Star Search and American Idol.

Credit: C. Fishel


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