On June 16, 1957, Americans watching Sunday night television tuned in to ABC at 9:00 PM for “The Amateur Hour“, hosted by Ted Mack. “The Amateur Hour” originated as a radio broadcast in 1934 and moved to television in 1948. Each show began by spinning a wheel to determine the performance order of the guest talent. The voiceover phrase, “Round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows,” was part of the ritual. Singers, musicians, jugglers, tap dancers, baton twirlers, and other acts would perform and the audience would vote by postcard or telephone for their favorites. Winners appeared again on the next show and three-time winners were eligible for the annual championship, with scholarship money at stake.
A few contestants became quite famous: Frank Sinatra appeared with The Hoboken Four during the radio era; Pat Boone and Gladys Knight were discovered (although controversy surrounded Pat’s amateur status); and Ann-Margret (1958) and Irene Cara (1967) launched their careers from “The Amateur Hour.”
The show was remarkably long-lived. Its last broadcast, episode number 1651, took place in September of 1970.
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