|The Loretta Young Show|
|Also known as||Letter to Loretta|
|Directed by||Laslo Benedek, Richard Carlson, Richard Donner, Robert Florey, Norman Foster, Rudolph Maté, Richard Morris, John Newland, Tay Garnett, Jeffrey Hayden, Don Weis|
|Presented by||Loretta Young|
|Theme music composer||Harry Lubin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||165|
|Running time||30 minutes (including commercials)|
|Production companies||Lewislor Films (1953–58)|
Toreto Enterprises (1958–61)
|Original release||September 2, 1953 –|
June 4, 1961
The Loretta Young Show (originally known as Letter to Loretta) is an American anthology drama television series broadcast on Sunday nights from September 2, 1953, to June 4, 1961, on NBC for a total of 165 episodes. The series was hosted by actress Loretta Young, who also played the lead in various episodes.
The Loretta Young Show was sponsored by Procter & Gamble for its first six seasons, from 1953 to 1959. After a dispute with her sponsor, Young found other sponsors to sustain her program: The Toni Company (1959-1961), Philip Morris (1959-1960), and Warner-Lambert's Listerine (1960-1961).
The program began with the premise that each drama was an answer to a question asked in her fan mail; the program's original title was Letter to Loretta. The title was changed to The Loretta Young Show during the first season (as of February 14, 1954), and the "letter" concept was dropped altogether at the end of the second season. At this time, Young's health, which had deteriorated due to a heavy production schedule during the second season, required a number of guest hosts and guest stars; her first appearance in the 1955–56 season was for the Christmas show.
From this point on, Young appeared in only about half of each season's shows as an actress and merely functioned as the program hostess for the remainder. She became known for swirling around in her gowns during her entrance through a door at the start of the show, a convention parodied by many comedians, including Ernie Kovacs.
Young was quoted as saying
After the audience had seen me well-groomed, I can wear horrible clothes, ugly make-up, or even a false nose during the show without anyone wondering whether I've aged overnight or something.
This program, minus Young's introductions and summarized conclusions (Young insisted on their deletion due to her concern that the dresses she wore in those segments would "date" the program), was rerun in daytime by NBC as The Loretta Young Theatre from October 1960 to December 1964, and then appeared, again without the introductions and conclusions, in syndication through the 1970s. In 1992, selected episodes of the original series (with Young's opening and closing segments intact), authorized by Young herself and chosen from her personal collection of 16 mm film prints, were released on home video, and eventually shown on cable television.
During the series' eight-year run, the series was popular with audiences and critics, and it finished in 28th place in the Nielsen ratings in the spring of 1955. It finished its last season far behind its competition, Candid Camera on CBS, and was thereby cancelled. In 1954, Billboard voted it the third-best network filmed drama series.
|1||1953–1954||Sunday, 10:00pm||Not in the Top 30|
|3||1955–1956||Not in the Top 30|
|6||1958–1959||Not in the Top 30|
In 1959, the series won a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show. Loretta Young earned three Best Actress Primetime Emmy Awards in 1955, 1957 and 1959. Norbert Brodine claimed an Emmy for Best Cinematography in 1957. Young also earned Emmy nominations in 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1961, while Brodine was nominated in 1955, 1956 and 1958 as well. Other Emmy nominations were for Best New Program in 1954, Best Dramatic Series – Less Than One Hour in 1959, Best Direction for Robert Florey in 1955, Best Teleplay Writing – Half Hour or Less for Richard Morris in 1957 and Best Art Direction in a Television Film for Frank Paul Sylos in 1959.
The Directors Guild of America nominated Robert Florey in 1955 and Norman Foster in 1957 for their work on the series.
The New Loretta Young Show ran for one season on CBS from September 24, 1962, to March 18, 1963, under the alternating sponsorship of Lever Brothers and The Toni Company. The show was an episodic comedy/drama, with Young playing the role of Christine Massey, a widow raising seven children in suburban Connecticut. Her romantic interest was Paul Belzer; the two characters were married in the 26th and final episode. Running against the popular series Ben Casey, the New Loretta Young Show received poor ratings and was not renewed for a second season.
Young introduced and closed each episode as herself, as she had done with The Loretta Young Show. Episodes of The New Loretta Young Show are sometimes included in certain syndicated packages of The Loretta Young Show, with the new series title removed and the original Loretta Young Show theme and titles edited in.
The show was a source of a contract dispute and court case involving Portland Mason. At the age of 13, Mason had been cast in the role of "Marnie" but was dismissed before the pilot episode was even shot, ostensibly over leaving the studio lot for lunch (apparently with the express verbal permission of the producer). Prior to leaving the lot, Mason had become upset at repeated rejections by the production staff of her wardrobe, which by the terms of her contract she was required to supply herself. Because of Mason's frustration, her mother felt it would be a good idea for Mason to eat lunch at home and regain her composure.
As all this was happening, Loretta Young and the show producers decided if Mason was not back by a certain time, she would be replaced by Celia Kaye that very afternoon—however, they did not convey that decision to Mason or her guardians, and Mason showed up "late". After Mason was replaced by Kaye, the Mason family and Lyl Productions (Loretta Young's company) sued each other for breach of contract, with both the trial and subsequent appeal finding in favour of the Mason family.