- Cavalcade of America
Infobox Radio Show
show_name = Cavalcade of America
imagesize = 150px
caption = Musical director Donald Voorhees (1935-41, 1949-53)
runtime = 30 minutes
country = flagicon|United States
language = English
television = NBC (10/01/52-09/02/53)
presenter = Walter Huston (09/18/44-02/12/45)
starring = Numerous Broadway and Hollywood stars
creator = Roy Durstine
director = Kenneth Webb
producer = Arthur Pryor
October 9, 1935
March 31, 1953
num_series = 18
num_episodes = 781
audio_format = Monaural sound
opentheme = "March Theme"
"Glory of America"
"Cavalcade of America" is an
anthology dramaseries that was sponsored by the DuPont Company. It was initially broadcast on radio from 1935 to 1953, and later on television from 1952 to 1957. Originally on CBS the series pioneered the use of anthology drama for company audio advertising.
"Cavalcade of America" documented historical events using stories of individual courage, initiative and achievement, often with feel-good dramatizations of the human spirit's triumph against all odds. This was consistent with DuPont's overall conservative philosophy and legacy as an American company dating back to 1802. The company's motto, "Maker of better things for better living through chemistry," was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation.
The show started as part of a successful campaign to reinvigorate DuPont. In the early 1930s, the
Nye Committeeinvestigations concluded that DuPont had made a fortune profiteeringin World War I. The company stood accused of encouraging an arms racebetween WWI enemies, after being heavily subsidized by the Alliesto increase black powderproduction. The negative effects of the investigation left the company demoralized, directionless and with a tarnished corporate image in the middle of the Great Depression.
DuPont's products were primarily not for public consumption, so there was no purpose in promoting them through advertising. As a solution to DuPont's troubles, Roy Durstine, then creative director of
Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, proposed the creation of "Cavalcade of America" using the company motto. This was to be an important element in the successful re-branding of DuPont as an American legacy engaged in making products for the well-being of Americans and humanity in general.
Ironically, DuPont's image problems lead the company to promote some
pacifistand socialistideals. DuPont stipulated several topics would be taboo on the show such as gunfire of any kind, which attracted writers such as Norman Rosten and Arthur Miller, who had signed the Oxford Pledge while at University of Michigan. For scripts the program was also able to attract such prominent writers as Maxwell Anderson, Stephen Vincent Benét, Carl Sandburgand Robert Sherwood. Although Yale Universityhistorian Frank Monaghan signed on as an advisor to ensure historically accuracy of the scripts, listeners were quick to point out that trains did not use air brakes in 1860 and Washington's troops could not have sung "Tannenbaum" while crossing the Delaware since it was written two months after that event.
May 15, 1940DuPont made nylonwomen's hosieryavailable to the public and began an advertising blitz. The day was designated "N-day" by DuPont's marketeers, and an entire episode of "Cavalcade of America" was markedly different: DuPont selected a "typical" housewife to interview G. P. Hoff, Director of Research of DuPont's Nylon Division. In the rigged interview, Hoff expounded at length on the virtues of nylon. Eager to purchase nylon hose, thousands of women waited in lines for department stores to open the following morning. 750,000 nylons had been manufactured for N-Day, but all were sold on the first day they went on sale.
In the 1950s, DuPont switched its advertising strategy from radio to television, and "Cavalcade of America" became a television series. Over five seasons, 133 episodes were aired between 1952 and 1957. During a six-month period, the TV and radio series overlapped. The show was telecast on both NBC (1952-53) and ABC (1953-57). It was renamed "DuPont Cavalcade Theater" in August 1955, and it was known as "DuPont Theater" during its last year. In the 1957 fall season it was replaced by "The DuPont Show of the Month," a 90-minute live dramatization of popular novels and short stories or abridged versions of films and plays. That series ran until 1961.
During the late 1930s, Dixon Ryan Fox and Arthur Meier Schlesinger edited a series of books based on the series published by Milton Bradley. In 1956, the series was adapted into a book, "Cavalcade of America: The Deeds and Achievements of the Men and Women Who Made Our Country Great", published by Crown. Chapters covered such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln, telegraph organizer Hiram Sibley, engineer James Eads, John Quincy Adams fighting the gag rule and Clara Barton's career that led her to head the American Red Cross.
Martin Grams, Jr.'s "The History of the Cavalcade of America" (Morris Publishing, 1998) features episode guides for both the radio and TV series.
Lux Radio Theater
The Screen Guild Theater
Screen Director's Playhouse
*Theater Guild on the Air
Academy Award Theater
CBS Radio Workshop
General Electric Theater
The Campbell Playhouse
*Mercury Theatre on the Air
*cite web |url=http://www.audio-classics.com/lcavalcade.html |title= Radio Broadcast Log: "Cavalcade Of America" |accessdate=2007-03-10 |work=Audio Classics Archive
*InternetArchiveOTR|id=CavalcadeOfAmerica|title=Cavalcade of America
* [http://www.otr.net/?p=cavl OTR.Network Library, "Cavalcade of America"]
* [http://www.otrsite.com/logs/logc1007.htm Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs: "Cavalcade of America"]
* [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG03/radio/home.html University of Virginia: American Studies: "Cavalcade of America"]
* [http://188.8.131.52/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?v1=4&ti=1,4&Search%5FArg=Cavalcade%20of%20america&SL=None&Search%5FCode=TKEY&CNT=25&&SEQ=20071016153158&SID=1 Photograph archive related to the "Cavalcade of America" at the Hagley Library]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044248/episodes List of COA television episodes at IMDB]
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