Texaco Star Theater - Title Changes

Title Changes

Texaco dropped its sponsorship of the show and Buick became the new sponsor in 1953, prompting the show's name change to The Buick-Berle Show. Two years later, it became, simply, The Milton Berle Show, its title until its run ended at last in June 1956. By then, Berle and his audience had probably burned out on each other, and Buick had even dropped sponsorship of the show at the beginning of the 1955–1956 season (opting to sponsor Jackie Gleason's half-hour filmed edition of The Honeymooners), after ratings fell dramatically during the 1954–1955 as well (the higher ratings of his 1955–56 competition, The Phil Silvers Show on CBS, didn't help Berle, either); though Berle would remain one of the nation's beloved entertainers, overall, the show that made him a superstar was clearly spent for steam and fresh ideas, and two subsequent attempts at television comebacks hosting his own show lasted barely a year each. (Berle did, however, contribute his part to the making of a rock and roll legend: in his final season, he opened his stage to Elvis Presley amid the beginning of his international popularity.)

Part of the problem was variety shows becoming costlier to produce, compared to the Texaco days when, among other factors, name guest stars didn't mind the low appearance fees they got for appearing, because they could bank the exposure they got from even one appearance on the Berle show; or, with Fred Allen and Ed Wynn in its earlier radio incarnations.

But part of the problem was Berle himself: with competition crowding him more and more as the years went on, as more television performers and creators found their camera legs, and brought new or at least more polished ideas to the air, Berle tried refining his camera persona and evolving from the freewheeling, manic style he cultivated so successfully in the Texaco years. The net result: the balance between excess and decorum now weighted more toward decorum, which wasn't exactly what Berle represented at the height of his popularity. He began losing many of his former fans, who preferred when he kept things more unpredictable, and it would be years before his kind of manic balance would find a television home again.

Read more about this topic:  Texaco Star Theater

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