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The Joseph Cotten Show

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Title: The Joseph Cotten Show  
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Subject: Joseph Cotten, Norman Lloyd, Phillip Reed, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, Ivan Triesault
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The Joseph Cotten Show

The Joseph Cotten Show
Philip Reed and Paulette Goddard in "The Ghost of Devil's Island", 1957.
Also known as On Trial
Genre Anthology
Directed by John Brahm
Ida Lupino
Robert Stevenson (director)
Nicholas Ray
Presented by Joseph Cotten
Starring Joseph Cotten
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 31
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Fordyce Enterprises Productions
Revue Studios
Distributor Studios USA Television
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 14, 1956 (1956-09-14) – September 13, 1957 (1957-09-13)

The Joseph Cotten Show (also known as On Trial) is an American anthology series series hosted by and occasionally starring Joseph Cotten. The series, which first aired on NBC, aired 31 episodes from September 14, 1956, to September 13, 1957.[1] Four other new episodes were broadcast on CBS in Summer 1959.

Episode overview

Cotten appeared in different roles in fifteen episodes, including the title character in the series premiere, "The Trial of Edward Pritchard", the story of a physician of questionable background in Glasgow, Scotland, who is accused of having poisoned his wife and mother-in-law and who claimed to have been a personal friend of the Italian revolutionary Garibaldi.[2]

Virginia Gregg starred twice in historical roles, first as Mary Surratt, the woman hanged in the conspiracy case stemming from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, in the 1956 episode "The Mary Surratt Case", directed by Ida Lupino. Cotten appeared with Gregg in the role of Robert Westwood.[3] Gregg also portrayed Frances Adeline Miller Seward, wife of United States Secretary of State William Henry Seward, who was stabbed the same night that Lincoln was murdered. Cotten played Seward in this 1957 episode entitled "The Freeman Case". This episode is not about the attack on Seward but about a legal case that the attorney Seward handled on behalf of the African American Willie Freeman, who was found guilty but insane of the murders of a white farm family. The prosecutor in the trial was John Van Buren, son of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.[4]

In the first episode of 1957, "The Trial of Colonel Blood", Second Duke of Buckingham. Henry Daniell portrayed King Charles II.[5]

The series also aired a Victorian-era mystery "The Tichborne Claimant", with Gladys Cooper portraying the Roman Catholic Lady Tichborne, who seeks the whereabouts of her son, Roger Cooper, who disappeared at sea. In her search, Lady Tichborne encounters the Protestant Thomas Castro of Australia, played by Robert Middleton.[6]

Notable guest stars

Production notes

The series was filmed in Los Angeles in conjunction with Fordyce Productions and Revue Studios, later Universal Television.[7]

In its full season, The Joseph Cotten Show aired at 9 p.m. Friday opposite CBS's Crusader and then, at mid-season, the sitcom, Mr. Adams and Eve, starring Howard Duff and Ida Lupino. ABC aired Jan Murray's Treasure Hunt quiz show in the same time slot.[8]


  1. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 618
  2. ^ "On Trial: The Trial of Edward Pritchard".  
  3. ^ "On Trial: The Trial of Mary Surratt". IMDB. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ "On Trial: The Freeman Case". IMDB. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  5. ^ "On Trial: The Trial of Colonel Blood". IMDB. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  6. ^ "On Trial: The Tichborne Claimant". IMDB. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Joseph Cotten Show"Company credits for .  
  8. ^ McNeil, Total Television, appendix

External links

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