They are trying to resurrect American Idol. Good luck with that. I saw the first episode, and instead of focusing on talent, they do touchy, feel-good background stuff about the performers. It’s not who the best singer is, it’s who has the best, most politically correct sob story. They’ll have to get along without me for however long the show lasts – I’ll give it one season.
But before there was American Idol, before there was America’s Got Talent, before there was You Think You Can Dance, Boomers recall the original talent show – Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour.
The Original Amateur Hour was a radio program, which aired from 1934 to 1945. Ted Mack brought the show to New York television in 1948.
Mack would spin a wheel at the beginning of each broadcast to determine the order of each act’s appearance. As Boomers may recall, it was “Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows.”
Soon, the show gained market strength outside of New York, and Ted Mack became a household name.
There were acts of all descriptions – jugglers, dancers, baton twirlers – you name it. At the end of the show, whoever received the most phone calls or post card votes would be invited back. Three-time winners of the show were eligible for the grand prize – a $2,000 scholarship, whether you wanted to go to college or not.
Back in the early days of TV, we would watch anything, but Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour was quality entertainment.
Mack kept the pace of the show moving. He had to because it was only a half hour until 1956 when ABC expanded it to an hour.
Largely, the show’s winners were quickly forgotten, but with a few exceptions – Gladys Knight, Pat Boone, Ann Margaret, Tanya Tucker, Raul Julia, Teresa Brewer, Irene Cara and The Rock and Roll Trio to name a few.
The show lasted on radio until 1952 and until 1970 on television, where it ran on all four major networks, ending as a CBS staple on Sunday afternoon.
After the Original Amateur Hour ended its broadcast run, Ted Mack became a lecturer at colleges and served as host of various local amateur shows.
Imagine mailing a post card (they cost 2c back then) to vote for your favorite performer? Boomers remember, and most of us would rather watch just one show on The Original Amateur Hour than an entire season of American Idol.