OK, so you thought adding ‘rock around the clock’ to the soundtrack of the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’ in 1955 was the moment rock’n’roll music was first associated with juvenile delinquency? Think again, Bill Haley’s 1953 hit ‘crazy, man, crazy’ was included in a short tv-play ‘Glory in the Flower’ which featured none other than James Dean, future ‘Rebel without a Cause’, dancing to the new beat.
On 4 October 1953, ‘Omnibus’ on CBS, a 90-minute review of theatre shows with clips, hosted by Alistair Cooke, was aired and it contained the William Inge tv-play ‘Glory in the Flower’.
Running from 1952–61, ‘Omnibus’, started out as a live show from New York City hosted by Alastair Cooke and featured everything from discussions about science and the arts, to original works by such playwrights as William Saroyan, interviews with celebrated people both inside and outside the arts, and featured performances by many of the most famous actors, singers, and dancers of the day.
One of the medium’s most beloved and eclectic cultural showcases, this Alistair Cooke-hosted series spanned the arts, covering (among other fields) plays, documentaries, operas, Broadway musicals, ballets and symphonies. Included were pieces based on the works of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Shaw, Chekhov, Eliot and Thurber; a production of `King Lear’ starring Orson Welles; a TV-debut appearance by Leonard Bernstein; and Jacques Cousteau’s undersea adventures, his first on network television.
2.01  Omnibus: GLORY IN THE FLOWER
Based on the play by William Inge
Jessica Tandy …. Jackie
Hume Cronyn …… Bartender
Ed Binns ……… Bitter ex-beau
Frank McHugh ….. Nostalgic drunk
James Dean ……. Bronco
The story takes place at a roadhouse in a small town.
2) James Thurber’s “The Little Kitty Stayed Cool” adapted by Tad Mosel starring Carol Channing and Elliott Reid.
3) “The Little Fugitive” A red-headed, six-year-old boy from Brooklyn has $5.00 to spend one afternoon in Coney Island.
This prize-winning film by Ashley, Morris Engle and Ruth Orkin captures an entertaining, human experience.
Alistair Cooke interviews the “star”, Richard Androseo. (12min)
4) “Excerpts from Oklahoma” Alistair Cooke visits Rodgers and Hammerstein’s record-smashing musical.
Selections include “Surrey with the Fringe on the Top” and “The Farmer and the Cowman”. (17min)
*NOTE: “Glory in the Flower” was made into the 1961 film “Splendor in the Grass”.
I don’t remember much of the story, but James Dean plays an angry juvenile delinquent Bronco Evans out on bail after being arrested on a marijuana charge. He’s much more criminal-minded than the James Stark character he would later play in ‘Rebel without a Cause.’ The owner of the cafe in which the teleplay is set throws him out for spiking cokes with alcohol. What’s amazing about this 1953 broadcast is that it begins with the jukebox playing Bill Haley & His Comets’ ‘crazy, man, crazy’, a proto rock ‘n’ roll record that actually did well in the charts at the time–much like Haley’s ‘rock around the clock’ would later kick off the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’. James Dean is the first jitterbugger out on the dancefloor. Of course, nobody knew then who James Dean was, nor did anyone think of ‘crazy, man, crazy’ as being anything but a novelty record because the term rock’n’roll wasn’t used then. It was thanks to Elvis Presley that the ghost of James Dean become the patron saint of rock’n’roll in 1956.
Host Alistair Cooke begins the second season of Omnibus. 1) The first segment of the program is a dramatization of the William Inge play “Glory in the Flower”. The story takes place at a roadhouse in a small town and stars, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Ed Binns, James Dean, Frank McHugh and Mark Rydell. 2) The second segment is the James Thurber story “The Little Kitty Stayed Cool”, starring Carol Channing and Elliott Reid. 3) The third segment is “The Little Fugitive”. The storyof a red-headed, six-year-old boy from Brooklyn who has $5.00 to spend one afternoon in Coney Island. This prize-winning film by Ashley, Morris Engle and Ruth Orkin captures an entertaining, human experience. Alistair Cooke interviews the “star”, Richard Androseo. 4) Excerpts from Oklahoma” Alistair Cooke visits Rodgers and Hammerstein’s record-smashing musical. Selections include “Surrey with the Fringe on the Top” and “The Farmer and the Cowman”.LESS