"The Phil Silvers Show"
on the far right is Broadcast Pioneers member Harry Harris
Running for four seasons, "The Phil Silvers Show" (originally titled, "You'll Never Get Rich") was a hit on CBS-TV. It was cancelled while still at the top. It has been reported that 22 regular cast member salaries was just too big of a drain on the network and so they pulled the plug in order to get it into syndication while the show was "still hot" and the going price high.
Broadcast Pioneers member Harry Harris, a TV columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer was given a cameo appearance on the show. This was often done for major market columnists so that they would write about their experiences on the program and thus generate publicity for the series.
Harry was in the episode called, "Bilko and the Beast," which aired on Tuesday, March 27, 1956. He said that he wore "corporal stripes, a phony regimental patch, blank dogtags and strictly non-regulation blue socks." The program was filmed at the DuMont studios, 205 East 67th Street in New York City. Only the first season was shot at this location. Later they had their own sound stage at CBS at 221 West 26th Street in New York. The last season was shot in Hollywood.
The show is shot chronologically. Nat Hiken, the program's creator told Harris: About every eight minutes, we have to take a break for about four minutes while the three cameras change film magazines. Other than that, we never turn the cameras off, even when they're being rolled from one set to the next. It takes about an hour to film a half-hour show."
Rehearsal for this episode started on Monday, February 20th. There were major script revisions and finally a dress rehearsal on Friday morning. At 2:45 pm that afternoon, the studio audience of 350 arrived. There were 74 people working on the show, 71 men and 3 women. The series' announcer did the warm-up. At 4 pm, the film started to roll. An hour later, it was finished.
If you look for Harris if you're lucky enough to see the show, he's in the scene in the restaurant. Films of the series do exist today, unlike many shows that were aired live.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Written, compiled and researched by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
Photo originally donated by Harry Harris' family
© 2009, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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