‘Peter Pan’, One Of The First NBC Color Spectaculars
The first president of NBC Television was Pat Weaver. He came from NBC radio and was the man that created ‘Today’, ‘Tonight’, ‘Monitor’ on NBC radio, and “spectaculars”. Many of the spectaculars were done by Fred Coe under ‘The Producers Showcase’ umbrella and were all in color to help promote RCA’s line of color sets. ‘Peter Pan’ had been a Broadway show starring Mary Martin and when it was learned that the show was ending, Weaver decided to do a television version with the same cast. After several months of preparation, ‘Peter Pan’ was presented by ‘The Producers Showcase’ live from NBC’s Brooklyn Studios on March 7, 1955. The show was in color and used 6 RCA TK41s and both studios. Studio 1 was home to interior sets and Studio 2 was where the external scenes were done. The two hour production garnered 65 million viewers, but very few color sets were in use then. Unfortunately, video tape had not been invented yet and there was only a black and white kinescope of the show. The ratings were so good that NBC decided did the whole show again live on January 9, 1956. Again, a huge audience but no color capture of the show for rebroadcast was possible yet. Interest from the public and sponsors to broadcast the show again the next year was there, but without a way to capture it in color, NBC balked. By 1960, color video tape was reliable enough to handle the task, so on December 8 of that year, ‘Peter Pan’ starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard was produced live in Brooklyn for the third time in five years. The video tape with only a few slight edits was re broadcast in 1963, 66, 73, 89 and 1990. Disney now owns the master tape. Thanks to John Bolin for the reminder to cover this ground. Below is a clip from the 1960 show that many of you will recognize. Enjoy! By the way, if you look closely at the photo from the 1956 production, you can see the flying cables on the children.