The television debut came on January 18, 1948 on the DuMont Television Network with Mack as the host. The regular staff for the television show included Lou Goldberg (aka Lewis Graham); Lloyd Marx, musical director; accompanist Dotty Marx, his wife; Jack Hoins, writer/producer; and Marguerite (Dwyer) Scheid, talent scout. The show regularly traveled to other cities across the United States and made at least two trips to Europe for the USO. In the early 1950s, the show went to Washington, D.C. for a memorable benefit featuring contestants from Congress and the Truman administration.
The series is one of only six shows—the others were The Arthur Murray Party; Down You Go; The Ernie Kovacs Show; Pantomime Quiz; and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet—to appear on all four TV networks during the Golden Age of Television. The series was broadcast weekly, on early Sunday evenings, on DuMont until September 25, 1949, then moved to NBC Television in October 1949 where it remained until September 1952. NBC then hosted it from April 1953 to September 1954.
The show moved to ABC (October 1955 to June 1957), then returned to NBC (July 1957 to October 1958). It then ran from May 1959 to October 1959 on CBS, before returning to ABC for a last prime-time run from March 1960 to September 26, 1960. Even then the show wasn’t finished—it ran for another decade as a late-Sunday-afternoon feature on CBS, beginning on October 2, 1960.
Many long-running CBS shows were canceled in 1970–71 because they attracted viewers of an advanced age. However, Ted Mack beat CBS to the punch and terminated the Original Amateur Hour of his own volition. The final show was broadcast on September 27, 1970.
The fact this exact format was truly timeless may have been proven in 1992. That year, Albert Fisher revived the program (as The New Original Amateur Hour) on cable television’s Family Channel (now ABC Family), hosted by weatherman Willard Scott. This revival lasted one season, in spite of its popularity and high ratings, and also featured the debut of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. The show also revived the practice of counting the number of episodes, with the first being show number 1,652 and the last, show number 1,664.