Nat’s TV Show on iTunes!
The classic Nat ‘King’ Cole television show, which aired in 1956 and 1957, has found new life in a surprising place other than broadcast museums and YouTube—the iTunes store. Of 64 episodes that Cole hosted and on which he performed with some of the greatest names in pop and jazz, fewer than three dozen have survived, and iTunes is making about 30 of them available in the coming weeks—four episodes at a time.
The Cole family donated the kinescopes of the show to the Paley Center about ten years ago. The first release of the restored videos includes episodes with Nelson Riddle, Count Basie, and the first guest to appear on the show, violinist Stuff Smith. Episodes can be downloaded and cost $1.99 each.
Despite critical raves and good ratings, the show never had a national sponsor, as advertisers feared the loss of southern customers, typical of the prevailing attitudes toward African-American performers in non-domestic or comedic roles during the mid-1950′s. Click here for an LA Times story about the show’s (and the star’s) struggles.
Here’s a clip from the show, which may or may not wind up in the newly released collection: