CBS’ ‘Stars in the Eye’

(Above: At ‘Stars in the Eye’ s after-party, l. to r., George Burns, CBS founder William Paley, Gracie Allen, Mary Livingston, Jack Benny. Credit: CBS Photo Archive)

A month ago today, word surfaced that CBS had found a buyer, reportedly at $700 million, for its iconic Television City studios in Los Angeles.

Sixty-six years ago today, CBS launched Television City, which it built at 1% of that price ($7 million), with a one-hour star-studded special.

Called Stars in the Eye in reference to the year-old CBS eye logo, the show should be of particular interest to I Love Lucy fans…and political junkies. The Lucy cast appears in rare footage with Jack Benny. And California Governor Earl Warren, soon to be Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, makes what may well be his only acting appearance — playing himself in a skit with Gracie Allen, aka “Mrs. George Burns”!

Here’s the November 15, 1952 special in its entirety:

CBS used “Stars in the Eye” to help promote some its then-current LA-based series. Leading off the show, we recognized Amos ‘n Andy, whose controversial show wouldn’t make it past the 1952-1953 season. And, of course, we knew I Love Lucy, Jack Benny and Burns and Allen, appearing separately.

But we couldn’t identify three other series, all launched that fall, until CBS kindly did so for us in the closing credits: the very-short lived Life with Luigi; Meet Millie , which would run for four seasons; and My Friend Irma, which would run for two and was also the very first series broadcast from Television City:

 

In the succeeding 66 years, CBS Television City has housed countless shows, both in-house for CBS and for outside producers. Current inhabitants include The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Price is Right and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

 

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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