September 29, 2018

Tales of Tomorrow & Sergei Prokofiev

In the early fifties my family bought a TV from Montgomery Wards and I remember watching television on Guy Place.     

The living room would be jammed with the whole family, mom, Lucy, Ben, etc (links below). The adults would have the couch and chairs while us kids would sit on the floor. I was VERY near-sighted so I would sit directly under the TV which had a 16-inch screen; this was eNORmous for that time. 

1950-1959 Airline (Wards
(05WG-3039C)  16" console  

I have terrific memories of the shows we watched: I Love Lucy (of course), The Twilight Zone, etc. But my VERY first memory of watching was, Tales of Tomorrow. This show is forever burned in my memory.   
I recall the intro theme for the show vividly! It would raise the hairs on the back of my neck and what few hairs I had on my arms; it was years before I discovered who the composer was.

The theme music was written by the Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev, for his 1938 ballet in four acts, Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64. The very short piece of music opens the segment, Montagues And Capulets (links below).      

Sergei Prokofiev - New York, 1918 

Tales of Tomorrow was an American anthology science fiction series that was performed and broadcast live, mistakes and all as hysterically related by lighting designer, Imero Fiorentino (link below). It had a cheesy electronic organ accompaniment at times (common for the period). It was aired on the ABC network from 1951 to 1953.  

The series covered stories such as Frankenstein, starring Lon Chaney, Jr., 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea starring Thomas Mitchell as Captain Nemo, and many other stories featuring a fantastic array of performers: Boris Karloff, Brian Keith, Lee J. Cobb, Veronica Lake, Rod Steiger, Bruce Cabot, Franchot Tone, Gene Lockhart, Walter Abel, Cloris Leachman, Leslie Nielsen, Paul Newman and many others (complete list @ link below).   

Tales of Tomorrow had many similarities to the later Twilight Zone which also covered one of the same stories (What You Need). In total it ran for eighty-five 30-minute episodes. It was called “the best science-fiction fare on TV today” by Paul Fairman, editor of If.

If magazine

The idea for this science fiction television series was developed by Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahamson, together with the membership of the Science Fiction League of America. The original title was planned as Tomorrow is Yours. A deal was struck with photographer Richard Gordon and writer George Foley, giving the producers of the show first choice of any of the 2,000 short stories and 13 novels by the various members of the League.        

Tales of Tomorrow was the first dramatized showcase for several authors, Arthur C. Clarke; etc. Other early science fiction writers whose work was reflected in the series included Fredric Brown (The Last Man on Earth and Age of Peril), Philip Wylie (Blunder) who with Edwin Balmer wrote When Worlds Collide, C. M. Kornbluth (The Little Black Bag) and Stanley G. Weinbaum (The Miraculous Serum). The show was intended for adults; at the time, most science fiction productions were targeted to children. The producers wanted to blend mystery and science fiction, and emphasize fast pacing and suspense.

Tales of Tomorrow episodes, with ads included, were recorded on Kinescope which can be seen on YouTube (links below).              

Viewfinder links:      
Sergei Prokofiev
Bernard E. Simonson, Jr.       
Christine K. Simonson         
Lucy Cadena-Jazzux         
The Twilight Zone        
Net links:      
IMDb ~ full cast & writing credits             
Academy of Television ~ Lighting Director Imero Fiorentino interview   
Sci-Fi Wire ~ Remembering the first sci-fi anthology series    
YouTube links:      
Tales of Tomorrow  
              ~ intro theme music 
Sergei Prokofiev ~ Romeo And Juliet - Montagues And Capulets
              ~ The Crystal Egg ( H.G. Wells )  
              ~ What you need (1952)      
Tales of Tomorrow episodes                         


"Stuff happens!"
              ~ Imero Fiorentino 

To the family and especially Lucy!

Styrous® ~ Saturday, September 29, 2018      


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