The Hollywood Palace

In December, 1963, Jerry Lewis‘ first solo foray into a television variety show was in trouble. ABC executives were scrambling to find a replacement for his Saturday night slot and decided to keep the variety without regular host. On January 4th, The Hollywood Palace made it’s debut and for the next six years, it was one of the most watched variety shows on television. Across 192 episodes, literally every major entertainer walked across it’s stage.

ABC kept the venue, redressing and re-naming the former Jerry Lewis Theater as “The Hollywood Palace”. The program was one of the first to make the switch to color when the RCA NTSC compatible system took off in 1965. And over the years, scores of stars hosted.  Bing Crosby tested out his Christmas show format on the program and held the record for the most hosting appearances (31). The off-screen announcer was Dick Tufeld, a voice we remember as that of the robot in the CBS scifi classic Lost In Space.

Over the years the Palace was responsible for the first major television exposure for everyone from  The Rolling Stones to The Jackson 5. the Beatles supplied a first on the program; the American television debut of the music videos for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever“.

In the Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do“, the Wonders perform on “The Hollywood Television Showcase”, an homage to the Palace.

While never a top ten performer, The Hollywood Palace did well enough in the ratings to survive until February 4, 1970. Der Bingle hosted the finale featuring best-of clips from the more than 700 performers who appeared on the program. The Hollywood Palace still exists today, as the Avalon Hollywood Nightclub.

By 1966, color was becoming a staple in prime time. In this segment, The Supremes render “Keep Me Hangin On” the old-school way it should be done:  without lip syncing and backed by Mitchell Ayres and the Hollywood Palace Orchestra.

What acts do you remember seeing on the Hollywood Palace?

Feb 8th, 2012 | Posted in Keener
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