On October 13, 1957, CBS aired a live (on the East Coast) broadcast of The Edsel Show, essentially a one hour “infomercial” promoting the recently released-but-doomed new Ford Motor Company brand. The broadcast is now primarily famous not for the car, and not for the impressive list of musical talent involved, but for the fact that it is the oldest surviving television show on videotape (made for the three-hour air delay on the West Coast).
Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra hosted the star-studded evening which included musical performances by Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, “mystery guest” Bob Hope, and the Norman Luboff Choir. The Edsel Show, a one-time special, replaced CBS’s usual Sunday night powerhouse, The Ed Sullivan Show. “Edsel: The Show”, as opposed to “Edsel: The Car”, was ironically one of the year’s most successful and popular broadcasts. The show served as Bing Crosby’s television breakthrough, after which he signed a two-special-a-year, highly-compensated contract with ABC.
Rosemary Clooney reported in her autobiography, Girl Singer, an amusing (or embarrassing) moment on the day of the show. “The only Edsel I ever saw was one they gave me to drive while I was rehearsing. I came out of the CBS Building, up those little steps to the street where my purple Edsel was waiting, like the Normandie in drydock. Mr. Ford was right behind me, heading for his Edsel. I opened the door of my car and the handle came off. I turned to him, holding it out to him. “About your car . . . .”