Sammy is a TV Pioneer

Jose Ferrer (left) played Sammy Glick in a live television broadcast of What Makes Sammy Run? for Philco Television Playhouse.  The 28th episode of the first season, this adaptation was broadcast only once -- on April 10, 1949.  Ten years later, NBC presented a new, color dramatization of What Makes Sammy Run? as part of its weekly Sunday Showcase.  Broadcast in two one-hour segments on September 27 and October 4, 1959, the teleplay by Budd and Stuart Schulberg was directed by Delbert Mann and produced by Robert Alan Arthur.  John Forsythe played Al Manhein, Barbara Rush was Kit Sargent, Dina Merrill was Laurette Harrington and Larry Blyden gave the most acclaimed performance of his career as Sammy Glick.

The "Lost Reel"

Originally presented on color videotape, the 1959 adaptation of What Makes Sammy Run? was rebroadcast the following year after which the tape was, presumably, reused or discarded.  A black & white kinescope of the first hour has long been available for viewing at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York and Los Angeles, but the second half of the broadcast was, for many years, on the Museum's list of "lost treasures."

In 2004, writer/director Robert Armin met with actress Dina Merrill to talk about the broadcast.  When Ms Merrill, a Trustee of the Museum, learned that the second hour (in which she has her strongest scenes) could not be found, she contacted the Museum's curators, who then made locating the missing footage a priority.  At their urging, the Library of Congress, which has a large collection of NBC footage, made a thorough search of its holdings and discovered eight film cans labeled Sunday Showcase which contained a complete kinescope of the entire two-hour broadcast.  

Now freshly restored, the New York branch of the Museum screened the teleplay before a packed house on April 6, 2005, with Dina Merrill and Budd Schulberg in attendance.  This is the first time the film has been viewed publicly since 1960.  Also in the audience were Ervin Drake, who was inspired to create the musical version of What Makes Sammy Run? after seeing this television production, and actress Monique Van Vooren, who played the blonde bombshell, Zizi Molnari (a new name for a character based on the novel's Rita Royce). 

photo by Lee Salem/MTR   

A New York Times article detailed the
history of the "lost" footage.

The Los Angeles branch of the Museum of Television and Radio presented its own screening of the restored drama one month later on May 9th, again with Budd Schulberg in attendance.  Dina Merrill was also present, along with her co-star Barbara Rush and director Delbert Mann (shown together left at the reception). Below is a copy of the Museum's  program information for the screening, several reviews of the original broadcast and a cast list.

Newly Found and Newly Restored
What Makes Sammy Run?
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Screening introduced by
Dina Merrill and Budd Schulberg

Budd Schulberg's scathing tale of a preternaturally driven hustler who bulldozes his way to the top of the Hollywood food chain caused a sensation when it was published in 1941, and no studio dared bring it to the screen—which made it perfect for television. An abridged adaptation with José Ferrer in the title role aired in the late forties; however, it is the 1959 production, cowritten by Schulberg (with his brother Stuart) and directed by Delbert Mann for the prestigious anthology series Sunday Showcase, that remains the definitive version. Starring John Forsythe, Barbara Rush, Dina Merrill, and—in the performance of his career as Sammy Glick—Larry Blyden, the complete two-part broadcast has long been considered one of television's "lost" treasures. Now fully restored by the Museum with the assistance of the Library of Congress, it will be presented in its entirety for the first time in nearly half a century.

Presented in coordination with
The Writers Guild of America, East.


Daily Variety October 6, 1959

What gave "Sammy" its best moments -- and what carried the play throughout -- was the brilliant performance of Larry Blyden. To etch what is largely a one-dimensional character through a range of shadings, to give it coloration and life and just enough of a hint of humanity, is no easy task, yet Blyden did it memorably.  John Forsythe, as Al Manheim, the decent epitome of what Sammy is not, was excellent in soft, contrasty style to Blyden's dynamism.  Dina Merrill was excellent as the bitchy high society gal who outruns Sammy.

New York Times September 28, 1959

The title role of Sammy Glick is being played by Larry Blyden; he is doing a most superior job.  His interpretation has the requisite drive and ruthlessness; at the same time it is consistently persuasive.  And in the adaptation prepared by Mr. Schulberg there is retained much of the meat and substance of the original work.  Delbert Mann, director, unfolded the narrative with many fine and subtle touches that contributed to the characterization of Sammy.  And the supporting company of principals was first-rate:  John Forsythe, as Sammy's first steppingstone, Al; Barbara Rush, as the screen writer who finds Sammy physically attractive and intellectually repelling, and the stunning Dina Merrill, as the banker's daughter who is something of a Sammy in skirts and mink. 

Jack Gould.

Click here to see a 1959 newspaper ad.


Larry Blyden


Sammy Glick

John Forsythe as Al Manheim
Dina Merrill as Laurette Harrington
Barbara Rush as Kit Sargent
Sidney Blackmer as H.L. Harrington
David Opatashu  as Sidney Fineman
Milton Selzer as Julian Blumberg
Norman Fell as Sammy's brother
Horace MacMahon as Mike Crowley
Nelson Olmsted as Ben Osborne
Jay Lawrence as Sheik Romero
William Post Jr. as Lucky Westover
Monique Van Vooren as Zizi Molnari

Earl Wilson