Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Collier Hour

The Collier Hour is considered to be the first dramatic anthology. In it's later years it became more of a variety show, but in it's inception it was an original. It was created to cross-promote Colliers magazine, which at the time was fighting with the Saturday Evening Post. Today both magazines are out of circulation, the show is long gone and nobody remembers anything except that Norman Rockwell painted some magazine covers.

The Collier Hour was carried on the NBC Blue Network beginning in 1927. It carried not just dramas, but more akin to what woudl now be called a "thriller." It's best known program was probably Fu Manchu. Directed by Colonel Thomas T. Davis, the series was created and produced by Malcolm LaPrade with music under the supervision of his brother, Ernest LaPrade.

Collier's Weekly was a magazine published from 1888 to 1957. It's name was shortened late in it's run to just Collier's. It was named for Peter Collier, it's founder. In the late 1890s it's circulation was around a quarter million magazines. the magazine was ensconced in the idea of investigative journalism. I wish we had journalism like this today. Colliers was donig hard news, they covered women's sufferage, meat inspection, Nazi concentration camps, food and drug standards, child labor laws. By 1912 they were selling a million magazines a week.

So when they launched the radio show it was instantly hot. they began by adapting stories and serials from the magazine. They tied it in by running the program the Wednesday night before publication. This turned out to be a bit of a buzz kill so they changed it to Sundays. In 1929 they expanded the program into a true variety hour: news, sports and comedy. Guests on the series had included George M. Cohan, John D. Rockefeller and Helen Keller among hundreds of others.

The program was pulled in 1932. In 1953 the magazine changed formats from a weekly to a monthly. In 1957 the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company closed it down. The Post outlasted them, declining precipitously thru the 40s, 50s and 60s. It was scuttled in 1969.