Kraft Television Theatre – “The Discoverers” (02/06/1957)

Shatner plays a doctor for the very first (but not the very last) time!

From 1947-1958, the anthology program Kraft Television Theatre aired more than 650 original or adapted comedies and dramas. According to Wikipedia, the show “was broadcast live from Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, currently the home of Saturday Night Live.” The actors, directors and writers whose work was featured reads like a veritable who’s who of Golden Age television, and included folks like Paul Newman, Rod Steiger, George C. Scott, James Dean, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Lumet and Rod Serling. In fact, Serling’s “Patterns” was first broadcast on Kraft Television Theatre and remains not only the script that brought Serling stardom but also one of the best-remembered episodes of the show’s illustrious 11-year run.

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Omnibus – “Oedipus, the King” (01/06/1957)

Well, this is a bit confusing.

On Sunday, January 6th 1957, the Tyrone Guthrie directed motion picture version of Oedipus Rex (starring Douglas Campbell and featuring William Shatner) debuted in Canada (one night before it would make it’s NYC debut.) On that very same night, the ABC anthology television show Omnibus aired a live version of the play, evidently billed as “Oedipus, the King” and also evidently starring Christopher Plummer as the titular character. The play also still (naturally) featured William Shatner.

As with many productions during this “hazy” period of Shatnerica, I was a bit confused by this for quite a long time.

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Oedipus Rex (01/06/1957)

Shatner’s second motion picture is…underwhelming.

In 1950, when Shatner was most likely a junior at McGill University in Montreal, he appeared in his very first motion picture The Butler’s Night Off. In that film, he played one of the “crooks,” a very small role with only a few lines. Seven years later he would appear in his second motion picture, this time a filmed version of the classic Sophocles play Oedipus Rex. Once again however, and actually even more so than The Butler’s Night Off, this was the very opposite of a starring or featured role.

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