2 movies

Night of 100 Stars

March 8, 1982

The most glittering, expensive, and exhausting videotaping session in television history took place Friday February 19, 1982 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. The event, for which ticket-buyers payed up to $1,000 a seat (tax-deductible as a contribution to the Actors' Fund) was billed as "The Night of 100 Stars" but, actually, around 230 stars took part. And most of the audience of 5,800 had no idea in advance that they were paying to see a TV taping, complete with long waits for set and costume changes, tape rewinding, and the like. Executive producer Alexander Cohen estimated that the 5,800 Radio City Music Hall seats sold out at prices ranging from $25 to $1,000. The show itself cost about $4 million to produce and was expected to yield around $2 million for the new addition to the Actors Fund retirement home in Englewood, N. J. ABC is reputed to have paid more than $5 million for the television rights.

The program was the first so-called "Television Spectacular". Ford presented the show without commercial interruption. It is believed to be the first time that Edward R. Murrow appeared on NBC in a professional capacity. Also, in 1953, it was necessary for Ford to buy time on two networks to ensure maximum coverage of US TV households - at the time, neither CBS nor NBC reached 100% of them. The famed 1953 television special celebrating the Ford Motor Company's 50th anniversary brought together two of the greatest leading ladies Broadway has ever known. The highlight of the program is Merman and Martin’s 13-minute duet medley, where they sing the songs that made them famous, plus much more. On their own, Merman sings “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “Mademoiselle from Armetières” and Martin performs a brilliantly comic routine about changes in fashion over the first half of the 20th century.

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