American television was all set to launch in the late 1930s, but its progress was interrupted by the start of World War II. Finally, by the end of the 1940s, NBC and CBS began broadcasting. They offered viewers a wide variety of programs: situation comedies, vaudeville-style revues, and most impressively, live original dramas. But by the end of the 1950s, the era of live TV “theater” was over. This presentation will look at the forces that made this “golden age” such an intriguing chapter in TV history and why it was so short-lived.