"Television is only a good business if they abide by a code. The mores, the standards in their community are going to do them in if they get too reckless."
About This Interview
In his four-and-a-half hour Archive interview, John Conte (1915-2006) talks about his early professional career as an announcer for network radio on such programs as "The Screen Guild Theater" and "Burns and Allen." As the "Singing M. C." on radio's "Maxwell House Coffee Time," Conte describes his role as a straight man for the comedy of Frank Morgan. He talks about his brief appearance in movies as an actor, notably in the Abbott and Costello film Lost in a Harem, before his entrance into the service in World War II. Conte details his work after the war as an actor and singer on Broadway and in "live" television. Among the series in which he appeared were Studio One, The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre, and Musical Comedy Time. Conte describes his work as a regular on Van Camp's Little Show, which through his association became known as John Conte's Little Show. This music show featured Conte and various musical guests and regulars. Conte also discusses in detail the Matinee Theatre anthology series, an ambitious undertaking that offered a different "live" production every afternoon for three straight years (1955-58). Conte appeared as the host on every show (and occasionally appeared as an actor on the series). Conte describes his appearances on four productions of Max Liebman Presents, elaborate musical specials on NBC. He talks about his numerous other appearances in television series as a regular and as a guest actor, including numerous appearances on Perry Mason. He describes in detail, the creation of the Palm Springs television station KMIR-TV, an NBC affiliate, and his 30-year service as its president, general manager, and owner. Morrie Gelman conducted the interview on July 27, 1999 in Malibu, CA.