Biography (TV series)
|Created by||CBS News|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||60–120 minutes|
The Biography Channel
|Original run||1962 – present|
Biography is a documentary television series. It was originally a half-hour filmed series produced for CBS by David Wolper from 1961 to 1964 and hosted by Mike Wallace. The A&E Network later re-ran it and has produced new episodes since 1987. The older version featured historical figures such as Helen Keller and Mark Twain, or long-dead entertainment figures such as Will Rogers or John Barrymore. The A&E series has placed the emphasis on such people as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Plácido Domingo, Freddie Mercury, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Eric Clapton, Pope John Paul II, Gene Tierney, Selena, Diego Rivera, Mao Zedong and Queen Elizabeth II, and fictional characters like The Phantom, Superman, Hamlet, and Santa Claus. The program ended up profiling enough figures that in 1999, A&E spun it off into an entire network, The Biography Channel.
Initially, most of the episodes featured the life stories of historical figures (like the older version) or present political or social leaders. People such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Enrico Caruso, and Eva Peron were profiled. After a few years, however, the show began producing episodes on figures from pop culture, including Britney Spears, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson. This move away from purely intellectual subject matter has been criticized by some.
At one point, the show aired up to six times weekly in prime time, but cut back to only once a week, usually on Friday nights. A&E canceled Biography after August 2006, making new episodes of the show exclusively available on The Biography Channel. A&E continued airing the series Saturday and Sunday mornings for a while after the cancellation, but later dropped the series entirely.
The 1987 version of Biography has been hosted by Peter Graves, Jack Perkins, Bill Mumy and Harry Smith. Since Smith's departure in 2003, the show has been done in voice-over by Neil Ross. Joan Lunden was a regular guest host.
In popular culture 
The Canadian television comedy series Liocracy was a parody of Biography. That program was originally titled Liography until the producers of Biography threatened an intellectual property infringement lawsuit.