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Long before The Coneheads
When Lorne Michaels used the live television sketch formula invented two decades earlier by
Ernie Kovacs and introduced the world to Saturday Night Live, The Coneheads, The Lubinersm
The Bees, Roseanne Rosanadana, et al Akroyd, Belucci, Curtain, Newman, Radner, s generation
that had been accustomed to "taped before a live audience" wowed at the spontaneous vivacity
of live broadcast television. The generation before grew up on live television comedy shows,
especially when the four then existing networks (ABC, CBS, DuMont, NBC) went at it show
against show on Saturday night.
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The filmed Lucy tied up Monday night ratings, Uncle Miltie competed only with a sermon and two so/so anthologies, and Sullivan owned Sunday night. But ah, so different Saturday night...Jackie Gleason, George Gobel, Ken Murray. Steve Allen, Sid Cesar, Morton Downey, Liberace, Vincent Lopez, and "Your Hit Parade" beamed live from the four networks every Saturday night.
Oldies Television endeavored to capture the essence of the "SNL' of the mid 50's. Ratings lagger Ken Murray paid big bucks to get screen idol Marylin Monroe to bat eye lashes and show a little (very little in those days) cleavage to ensnare male eyeballs. Allen tried unsuccessfully to knock Gleason out of the box with comics Louie Nye and Don Knotts, who would find his fame a few years later in Mayberry with Andy, Opie and Aunt Bee.
Sid Cesar and Imogene Coca (seen together on another Oldies Television channel) were a Saturday night fave with Carl Reiner and Howie Morris, leading into four singers, Rossell Arms, Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lansen (yes that Snooky Lansen) would try and warble the week's top ten songs on "Your Hit Parade" (got rough when Rock & Roll hit the scene, imagine straight shooter Dorothy Palmer trying to sing Lloyd Price's :"Stagger Lee."
No, Saturday Night Live television in the 50's didn't go on til the wee hours of the morning, most stations, even those in New York and LA, went off the air at midnight with "The Star Spangled Banner" and a waving flag,
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