The Loretta Young Show

The Loretta Young Show (originally known as Letter to Loretta) is an American anthology drama television series broadcast on Sunday nights from September 2, 1953, to June 4, 1961, on NBC for a total of 165 episodes. The series was hosted by actress Loretta Young, who also played the lead in various episodes.

The Loretta Young Show
The Loretta Young Show video cover
Also known asLetter to Loretta
Directed byLaslo Benedek, Richard Carlson (actor), Richard Donner, Robert Florey, Norman Foster (director), Rudolph Maté, Richard Morris, John Newland, Tay Garnett, Jeffrey Hayden, Don Weis
Presented byLoretta Young
Theme music composerHarry Lubin
Opening theme"Loretta"
Composer(s)Harry Lubin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes165
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time30 minutes (including commercials)
Production company(s)Lewislor Films (195358)
Toreto Enterprises (195861)
DistributorNBC Films
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 2, 1953 (1953-09-02) 
June 4, 1961 (1961-06-04)

Series overview

The Loretta Young Show was sponsored by Procter & Gamble for its first seven seasons, from 1953 to 1960. For its eighth and final season, from 1960 to 1961, the series was sponsored by Warner-Lambert's Listerine.

The program began with the premise that each drama was an answer to a question asked in her fan mail; the program's original title was Letter to Loretta. The title was changed to The Loretta Young Show during the first season (as of February 14, 1954), and the "letter" concept was dropped altogether at the end of the second season. At this time, Young's health, which had deteriorated due to a heavy production schedule during the second season, required that there be a number of guest hosts and guest stars; her first appearance in the 195556 season was for the Christmas show.

From this point on, Young appeared in only about half of each season's shows as an actress and merely functioned as the program hostess for the remainder. She became known for swirling around in her gowns during her entrance through a door at the start of the show, a convention parodied by many comedians, including Ernie Kovacs.[1]

Miss Young was quoted as saying[2]

After the audience had seen me well-groomed, I can wear horrible clothes, ugly make-up, or even a false nose during the show without anyone wondering whether I've aged overnight or something.

This program, minus Young's introductions and summarized conclusions (Young insisted on their deletion due to her concern that the dresses she wore in those segments would "date" the program), was rerun in daytime by NBC as The Loretta Young Theatre from October 1960 to December 1964, and then appeared, again without the introductions and conclusions, in syndication through the 1970s. In 1992, selected episodes of the original series (with Young's opening and closing segments intact), authorized by Young herself and chosen from her personal collection of 16mm film prints, were released on home video, and eventually shown on cable television.

During the series' eight-year run, the series was popular with audiences and critics, and it finished in 28th place in the Nielsen ratings in the spring of 1955.[3] It finished its last season far behind its competition, Candid Camera on CBS, and was thereby canceled. In 1954, Billboard voted it the third best network filmed drama series.[4]

Selected guest stars

Ratings and time slots

Season Time slot Rank Rating
1) 19531954 Sunday at 10:00pm Not in the Top 30
2) 19541955 #28 27.7
3) 19551956 Not in the Top 30
4) 19561957
5) 19571958 #30 26.6
6) 19581959 Not in the Top 30
7) 19591960
8) 19601961


In 1959, the series won a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show. Loretta Young earned three Best Actress Primetime Emmy Awards in 1955, 1957 and 1959. Norbert Brodine claimed an Emmy for Best Cinematography in 1957. Young also earned Emmy nominations in 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1961, while Brodine was nominated in 1955, 1956 and 1958 as well. Other Emmy nominations were for Best New Program in 1954, Best Dramatic Series Less Than One Hour in 1959, Best Direction for Robert Florey in 1955, Best Teleplay Writing Half Hour or Less for Richard Morris in 1957 and Best Art Direction in a Television Film for Frank Paul Sylos in 1959.

The Directors Guild of America nominated Robert Florey in 1955 and Norman Foster in 1957 for their work on the series.

The New Loretta Young Show

The New Loretta Young Show ran for one season from 1962 to 1963, with Young playing the role of Christine Massey in all 26 episodes.

The show was a source of a contract dispute and court case involving Portland Mason. At the age of 13, Mason had been cast in the role of "Marnie" but was dismissed over leaving the studio lot for lunch and missing the start of rehearsals. The Mason family and Lyl Productions sued each other for breach of contract, with both the trial and subsequent appeal finding in favour of the Mason family.[5]

Further reading


  1. "Loretta Young, 1913-2000". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  2. p.207 Bowers, Ronald L. Loretta Young Films in Review April 1969 Vol XX no 4
  3. " TV Ratings > 1950's". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  4. "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 31 July 1954. Retrieved 26 August 2018 via Google Books.
  5. Mason v. Lyl Productions (Supreme Court of California 1968-07-26). Text
Preceded by
no award
Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Drama Series
1955, 1957, 1959
Succeeded by
no award
Preceded by
Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show
Succeeded by
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