Today television drama consists mainly of formulaic series and TV movies filmed in Hollywood. During the 1950s, however, there was a Golden Age of Television - live electronic theater based in New York and broadcast to living rooms across the country. This book is the first biography of the man who did the most to make that Golden Age possible: Fred Coe (1914-1979).
Coe, the greatest producer of this era, was the mastermind of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, the best of a crop of live New York dramatic anthologies that included Studio One, Kraft Television Theatre, and Robert Montgomery Presents. Born in a small town in the Mississippi Delta and raised in Nashville, Coe went on to nourish such impressive talents as writers Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, Tad Mosel, and JP Miller, directors Delbert Mann and Arthur Penn, and countless major actors.
Among the enduring live dramas he produced are "The Days of Wine and Roses" (for Playhouse 90), "Marty," and "The Trip to Bountiful" (for Philco-Goodyear); Mary Martin's acclaimed Peter Pan; and the situation comedy Mr. Peepers. Coe later made several films and became an important producer on Broadway, with The Miracle Worker, Pulitzer prize-winning All the Way Home, and A Thousand Clowns (which he also directed) to his credit.
To a large extent, though, the rise and fall of Fred Coe parallels the rise of live television drama in the late 1940s and its fall at the end of the 1950s. Jon Krampner's lively book brings the postwar New York era to life along with a gallery of memorable characters. He provides the most sustained look yet at the causes of the growth, efflorescence, and decline of a remarkable period in American television history.