Janet Blair and Sid Caesar (1956)
|Directed by||Clark Jones|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Original run||September 27, 1954– May 25, 1957|
|Preceded by||Your Show of Shows|
Caesar's Hour is a live, hour-long American sketch comedy television program that aired on NBC from 1954 until 1957. The program starred, among others, Sid Caesar, Nanette Fabray, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Janet Blair and Milt Kamen, and featured a number of cameo roles by famous entertainers such as Joan Crawford and Peggy Lee.
Widely considered a continuation of Caesar's earlier program, Your Show of Shows, Caesar's Hour included most of the same writers and actors, with the notable addition of Larry Gelbart (who would go on to co-create M*A*S*H with Gene Reynolds) in the latter show. Nanette Fabray replaced Imogene Coca, who opted to star in her own TV series in 1954, The Imogene Coca Show. The writing staff of the show was reunited in 1996 for an event at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles called Caesar's Hour Revisited, excerpts of which were broadcast on PBS under the title Caesar's Writers.
The full two-hour special was available on VHS as a pledge premium from PBS. It was released on DVD for the first time on December 12, 2011. The reunion featured Caesar with Mel Tolkin (head writer), Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller, Aaron Ruben and Gary Belkin. The moderator and researcher was Bob Claster.
Caesar's Hour expanded on the format of Your Show of Shows with many sketches running a half-hour or more, including musical parodies such as "There's No Business" and "Towers Trot," and genre parodies such as "Bullets over Broadway" (a gangster movie takeoff) and "Aggravation Boulevard" (with Caesar as a Rudolph Valentino/John Gilbert character who fails to make the transition from silents to talkies). Many of the sketches are centered on a domineering star who flames out, prefiguring Caesar's post-series personal and career troubles.
From July to September 1956, NBC ran The Ernie Kovacs Show as a summer replacement series for Caesar's Hour.
As with Your Show of Shows, most of the original kinescopes of Caesar's Hour were destroyed by NBC, so few episodes remain. Many fragments from the series survive at the UCLA Film and Television Archive in Los Angeles, California and The Paley Center for Media in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, California.
- "Comic Legend Larry Gelbart's Last In-Depth Interview"
- "Caesar's Writers | About"
- Jay Weiser, “Caesar’s Hour,” Dissent, Summer 1983.