Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse
|Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse|
Series title card
|Also known as||Desilu Playhouse|
|Created by||Desi Arnaz|
|Presented by||Desi Arnaz|
|Narrated by||Betty Furness|
|Theme music composer||John Waldo "Johnny" Green|
|Opening theme||"Westinghouse Logo"|
|Ending theme||"Desilu Playhouse Closing Theme"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||48|
|Executive producer(s)||Bert Granet
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Desilu Productions|
|Original run||October 6, 1958– June 10, 1960|
|Related shows||The Twilight Zone
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse is an American television anthology series produced by Desilu Productions. The show ran on CBS television between 1958 and 1960. Two of its 48 episodes served as pilots for the 1950s television series The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables.
Between 1951 and 1957, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball starred in and produced (via their Desilu production company) the popular I Love Lucy show. In early 1958, Desi Arnaz convinced CBS to purchase Desilu Playhouse with the promise that a bi-monthly Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show (later rebroadcast as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour) would be among the dramas, comedies and musical numbers planned for the show. Westinghouse paid a then-record $12 million to sponsor the show, which resulted in the cancellation of the prestigious anthology series Studio One, also sponsored by Westinghouse.
The show debuted on Monday nights in the 10:00–11:00 pm [Eastern] time slot on October 6, 1958, hosted by Desi Arnaz, with Betty Furness continuing as the Westinghouse spokesperson (as she had been on Studio One). The first show was "Lucy Goes to Mexico," a Lucy-Desi Hour with guest star Maurice Chevalier. The dramatic "Bernadette" (a biography of Saint Bernadette), starring Pier Angeli, premiered in week two. Later shows included comedies, dramas and musicals, and various one-off comedies and dramas starring Lucille Ball in non-"Lucy" character performances.
In October 1959, the show moved to Friday nights from 9:00–10:00 pm [Eastern]. The show lasted only one more year, due to an inability to attract big guest stars, the growing popularity of westerns and police shows (it was opposite ABC's highly-rated 77 Sunset Strip that season), and the Arnaz-Ball divorce in 1960. Just prior to their marital breakup, Ball and Arnaz, along with Vivian Vance, William Frawley, and Keith Thibodeaux, filmed the last Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show entitled "Lucy Meets The Moustache" featuring guest stars Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams. This last installment of the "I Love Lucy" format and characters was broadcast on April 1, 1960. The final telecast of The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, "Murder is a Private Affair", aired on June 10, 1960.
In the fall of 1958, "The Time Element," starring William Bendix, aired to positive reviews. Written by Rod Serling, the show's popularity gave Serling the leverage to convince CBS to give the go-ahead to Serling's concept for a science fiction/fantasy anthology series (which was what Serling had in mind when writing the "The Time Element") that he called The Twilight Zone which debuted in the fall of 1959.
In February 1959, Desilu Playhouse aired a two-part drama called "The Untouchables". Paul Monash adapted the 1947 memoirs of treasury agent Eliot Ness, played by Robert Stack. After CBS passed on the idea to produce a weekly version, The Untouchables became a hit series on ABC and ran for four seasons (1959–1963).
Music for the show was composed by John Waldo "Johnny" Green. The show opened with "Westinghouse Logo" and closed with "Desilu Playhouse Closing Theme" during the end credits.
Notable crew members
Several notable people contributed to one or more episodes of the show, including (in alphabetical order):
- Desi Arnaz
- Lucille Ball
- Martin Balsam
- Richard Benedict
- John Beradino
- Neville Brand
- Rory Calhoun
- Wally Cassell
- Pat Crowley
- Frank DeKova
- Abel Fernandez
- William Frawley
- Betty Furness
- Bruce Gordon
- Jean Hagen
- Donald Harron
- Richard Keith
- Barton MacLane
- Joe Mantell
- Sid Melton
- Martin Milner
- George Murphy
- Barbara Nichols
- Hugh O'Brian
- Roger Perry
- Paul Picerni
- Aldo Ray
- Joe De Santis
- Karen Sharpe
- Mickey Simpson
- Red Skelton
- Robert Stack
- Barry Sullivan
- Carol Thurston
- Vivian Vance
- Bill Williams
- Walter Winchell
- James Westerfield
- Jack Weston
- Jesse White
- Ed Wynn
- Keenan Wynn
Westinghouse would buy CBS in 1995, and rename itself after its prime asset in 1997.
- Anderson, Christopher. Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1994. ISBN 0-292-70457-7
- Andrew, Bart. The "I Love Lucy" Book. New York: Doubleday, 1985. ISBN 0-385-19033-6
- Sanders, Coyness Steven, and Tom Gilbert. Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. New York: William Morrow, 1993. ISBN 0-688-13514-5
- "Westinghouse-Desilu Playhouse". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Westinghouse-Desilu Playhouse". Television Heaven. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Desilu Playhouse (dramatic anthology, host Desi Arnaz)". Classic U.S. TV Series Theme Music. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Full cast and crew for "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse"". The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 1 January 2009.
- Document Number: H1000089528 Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2010. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2010
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse.|
- Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse at the Internet Movie Database
- Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse at TV.com
- Desilu Playhouse "Silent Thunder" Complete 52min episode from 16mm film - aired Nov. 24, 1958