Hallmark Hall of Fame
is the longest-running and most-honored anthology program in the history of American television. The series debuted on December 24, 1951 on NBC with Amahl and the Night Visitors, an original opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. It was the first time a major corporation developed a television project specifically as a means of promoting its products to the viewing public. Early productions were highly classical in nature, and included Shakespeare's Hamlet, Richard II, Macbeth, and The Tempest. Biographical subjects were very eclectic, ranging from Florence Nightingale to Father Flanagan to Joan of Arc. Popular Broadway plays such as Harvey, Dial M for Murder, and Kiss Me, Kate were made available to a mass audience. After a few decades the series began to offer original material, such as Aunt Mary (1979) and Thursday's Child (1983). American novelist Anne Tyler's works have been a popular source of material for the series. Three of her books - Breathing Lessons, Saint Maybe, and Back When We Were Grownups - have been adapted for the small screen. In total, the series has received seventy-eight Emmy Awards, twenty-four Christopher Awards, eleven Peabody Awards, nine Golden Globes, and four Humanitas Prizes. Not surprisingly, Hall of Fame frequently airs prior to major holidays in order to spur greeting card and related product sales. It also traditionally airs during sweeps, a period in which ratings are used to determine advertising rates. For many decades, the series ran on NBC, but after the network's declining ratings dictated the series could not continue on the Peacock network, it moved from network to network (from PBS to ABC). Today it airs on CBS. Many of the films are perennial Top Ten rated programs.
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