Your Hit Parade
About This Show
from the Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television
Your Hit Parade was a weekly network television program that aired from 1950 to 1959. The program enjoyed some popularity but was never as successful as its radio predecessor which began in 1935 and ran for fifteen years before moving to television. Both the radio and television versions featured the most popular songs of the previous week as determined by a national "survey" of record and sheet music sales. The methodology behind this survey was never revealed but most audience members were willing to accept the tabulations without question. Both the TV and radio versions were sponsored by the American Tobacco Company's Lucky Strike cigarettes.
Original cast members for the TV program included Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins and a wholesome array of young fresh-scrubbed "Hit Parade Singers and Dancers." Gisele MacKenzie joined the cast in 1953.
The TV version featured the top seven tunes of the week and several Lucky Strike extras. These extras were older more established popular songs that were very familiar to audiences. The top seven tunes were presented in reverse order not unlike the various popular music count-downs currently heard on radio. The top three songs were presented with an extra flourish and audience members would speculate among themselves as to which tunes would climb to the top three positions and how long they would stay there.
The continuing popularity of certain songs over a multiple-week period had never been a problem for the radio version of the program with its "Top Ten" list. Regular listeners were willing to hear a repeat performance of last week's songs perhaps with a different vocalist than the previous week to provide variation. The television Hit Parade attempted to dramatize each song with innovative skits, elaborate sets, and a large entourage of performers. Creating new skits for longer running popular songs proved much more difficult on television, particularly when we recall such hits from the period as "How Much Is That Doggie In the Window" and "Shrimp Boats Are Coming."
A much more serious problem facing the program was the changing taste in American popular music. Rock 'n' roll was displacing the syrupy ballads that had been the mainstay of popular music during the 1930s and 1940s. The earlier music had a multi-generational appeal and the radio version of Your Hit Parade catered to a family audience. The rock music of the 1950s was clearly targeted to younger listeners and actually thrived on the disdain of its older critics.
Further, much of the popularity of the faster paced rock hits was dependent on complex instrumental arrangements and the unique styling of a particular artist or group. Rock music's first major star, the brooding, sensuous Elvis Presley, was a sharp contrast to the sedate styles of Snooky Lanson and Dorothy Collins. As rock (and Presley) gained In popularity, the ratings for Your Hit Parade plummeted. The cast was changed in 1957, the show temporarily canceled in 1958, but revived under new management with Dorothy Collins and Johnny Desmond in 1953. Despite these changes, the program was simply out of touch with the current musical scene and the last program was broadcast on 24 April 1959.
Andre Baruch (1950-1957)
Del Sharbutt (1957-1958)
Eileen Wilson (1950-1952)
Snooky Lanson (1950-1957)
Dorothy Collins (1950-1957,1958-1959)
Sue Bennett (1951-1952)
June Valli (1952-1953)
Russell Arms (1952-1957)
Gisele MacKenzie (1953-1957)
Tommy Leonetti (1957-1958)
Jill Corey (1957-1958)
Alan Copeland (1957-1958)
Virginia Gibson (1957-1958)
Johnny Desmond (1958-1959)
Kelly Garrett (1974)
Chuck Woolery 11974)
The Hit Paraders (chorus & dancers) (1950-1958) Peter Gennaro Dancers (1958-1959)
Tom Hansen Dancers (1974)
Raymond Scott (1950-1957)
Harry Sosnik (1958-1959)
Milton Delugg (1974)
PRODUCERS Dan Lounsberry, Ted Fetter
July 1955-August 1950 Monday 9:00-9:30
October 1950-June 1958 Saturday 10:30-11:00
October 1958-April 1959 Friday 7:30-8:00
August 1974 Friday 8:00-8:30
Williams, John R. This Was Your Hit Parade. Camden, Maine (np), 1973.
Who Talked About This Show
Video clip: Your Hit Parade (May 2, 1951) partial show