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Fireside Theater

Fireside Theater
Fireside Theatre Logo
Also known as Jane Wyman Presents
The Jane Wyman Show
Genre Anthology drama
Written by Rod Serling
Blake Edwards
Ray Bradbury
Gene Roddenberry
Cornell Woolrich
Aaron Spelling
Directed by Fred Coe
Blake Edwards
Gordon Duff
Robert Florey
John Ford
Sidney Lanfield
Ozzie Nelson
Robert Stevenson (director)
Jacques Tourneur
Presented by Frank Wisbar (1952-1953)
Gene Raymond (1953-1955)
Jane Wyman (1955-1958)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 268 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Jack Bernhard
John Houseman
John Reinhardt
Frank Wisbar
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 48 mins.
Production company(s)

General Television Enterprises
Hal Roach Studios

Lewman Productions/Revue Studios (1955-58)
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release April 5, 1949 (1949-04-05) – May 22, 1958 (1958-05-22)

Fireside Theater, aka Jane Wyman Presents, is an American anthology drama series that ran on NBC from 1949 to 1958, and was the first successful filmed series on American television. Stories were low budget and often based on public domain stories or written by freelance writers such as Rod Serling. While it was panned by critics, it remained in the top ten most popular shows for most of its run. It predated the other major pioneer of filmed TV in America, I Love Lucy, by two years.


  • Overview 1
  • Episodes 2
  • Reception 3
    • Ratings 3.1
  • References 4
  • External links 5


From 1952 to 1958, the program was presented by a host. This role was first filled by Frank Wisbar (1952–1953), then by Gene Raymond (1953–1955), and finally by the person most associated with the series in the public mind, Jane Wyman (1955–1958). When episodes of this program were rerun on ABC during the summer of 1963, it was under the title Jane Wyman Presents; during the period first-run episodes were hosted by Wyman it was sometimes known as The Jane Wyman Show.

One of Fireside Theatre's most notable offerings was a 1951 condensed version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, featuring Ralph Richardson as Ebenezer Scrooge for the first and only time on American television.[1] He later recreated the role on a spoken word Caedmon Records LP album, with Paul Scofield as narrator. It has since been released on CD.[2]

The otherwise-unrelated comedy troupe The Firesign Theatre based their name on this series. The Doubleday Book Club also ran a playscripts club called The Fireside Theatre.



Fireside Theater became a hit for NBC, always in the Top 30 shows at the end of each TV season. In the 1956-1957 season, its ratings slumped and decreased in the ratings. It was not in the Top 30 Ratings in the 1956-1957 TV season and never again regained its top spot.

Billboard magazine praised an episode titled The Lottery, saying that the cast "all turned in taut, exciting performances to make Lottery a real winner".[3] Unlike most episodes of the series, this episode aired live.

In 1954, Billboard voted it fourth best filmed network drama series, ahead of the more fondly remembered General Electric Theater, however Billboard's list excluded "mystery" shows (which was a separate list topped by Dragnet).[4]


Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Fireside Theater on NBC (Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps).

Season TV season Ranking Viewers (in millions)
2nd 1950–1951 #2 5.365
3rd 1951–1952 #7 6.594
4th 1952–1953 #10 8.282
5th 1953–1954 #9 9.464
6th 1954–1955 #20 9.547
7th 1955–1956 #24 10.121


  1. ^ IMBD:Fireside Theater
  2. ^ Amazon: Fireside Theater.
  3. ^ The Billboard, 1 Sep 1951. Page 3.
  4. ^ The Billboard, 31 Jul 1954. Page 14.

External links

  • at CVTA with episode listFireside Theater
  • Fireside Theater at the Internet Movie Database
  • Fireside Theater at
  • at the Museum of Broadcast CommunicationsFireside Theater

Television series by Universal Television

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