Ford Star Jubilee is an American anthology series that originally aired monthly on Saturday nights on CBS at 9:00 P.M., E.S.T. from the fall of 1955 to the fall of 1956 (With a summer hiatus). The series was approximately 90 minutes long, broadcast in black-and-white and color, and was typically telecast live. Ford Star Jubilee was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.
Ford Star Jubilee routinely featured major stars, such as Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Jones, Orson Welles, Julie Andrews (at the time that she was preparing for her starring role in My Fair Lady on Broadway), Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Gordon MacRae, Lillian Gish, Charles Laughton, Jack Lemmon, Raymond Massey, Lauren Bacall, Claudette Colbert, Noël Coward, Nat 'King' Cole, Mary Martin, Eddie Fisher, Ella Fitzgerald, and Red Skelton.
Instead of the usual live performance staged especially for Ford Star Jubilee, the final episode on November 3, 1956 was a special, two-hour presentation of the 1939 MGM theatrical Technicolor film The Wizard of Oz, hosted by Bert Lahr, 10-year-old Liza Minnelli and young Oz expert Justin Schiller. This marked the first time that the film had ever been shown on television, and the only time that one of the film's actual actors (Lahr) as well as one of the children of the film's star (Judy Garland) hosted it. The broadcast was a ratings smash with a Nielsen rating of 33.9 and an audience share of 53%.
Another rare instance of Ford Star Jubilee presenting a filmed, rather than live, program was their 1956 musical version of Maxwell Anderson's High Tor, starring Bing Crosby and Julie Andrews. Music was by Arthur Schwartz, composer of such scores as those for The Band Wagon and Revenge with Music. Crosby, according to sources, had insisted the production be filmed rather than presented live, because he did not feel comfortable acting in a live television musical play. Although it was filmed in color, the musical version of High Tor has never been released on VHS or DVD.
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"The Judy Garland Special"||September 24, 1955|
|2||"Together With Music"||October 22, 1955|
|3||"The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial"||November 19, 1955|
|4||"I Hear America Singing"||December 17, 1955|
|5||"Blithe Spirit"||January 14, 1956|
|6||"The Day Lincoln Was Shot"||February 11, 1956|
|7||"High Tor"||March 10, 1956|
|8||"Twentieth Century"||April 7, 1956|
|9||"This Happy Breed"||May 5, 1956|
|10||"A Bell For Adano"||June 2, 1956|
|11||"You're the Top"||October 6, 1956|
|12||"The Wizard of Oz"||November 3, 1956|
Awards and nominations
|1956||Primetime Emmy Award||Nominated||Best Variety Series|
|Best Single Program of the Year|
|Best Musical Contribution||Mary Martin and Noël Coward (For the song "Camarata" in the episode "Together with Music")|
|Best Actor - Single Performance||Barry Sullivan (For the role of Defense Attorney Greenwald in "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" episode)|
|Won||Best Television Adaptation||Paul Gregory and Franklin J. Schaffner (For "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" episode)|
|Best Director - Live Series||Franklin J. Schaffner (For "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" episode)|
|Best Actor - Single Performance||Lloyd Nolan (For the role of Capt. Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" episode)|
- "Hit Movies on U.S. TV Since 1961". Variety. January 24, 1990. p. 160.
- Other reasons it was filmed: "High Tor will not be telecast live, the usual form for a large-scale show. It will be produced as a color film, which will permit later theatrical exhibition overseas and this will bring additional revenue to its originators." Oscar Godbout, "Hollywood Notes", The New York Times, September 4, 1955, p. X9. It was actually shot in black and white. "Christmas Can Stay — Radio and TV Are for It", The Washington Post, December 11, 1955, p. J3.