'Lost' version of The Glass Menagerie to screen on TCM Dec. 8_lowres

Shirley Booth and Hal Holbrook in a long-thought-lost TV version of The Glass Menagerie.

A 1966 telecast of Tennessee Williams' classic play The Glass Menagerie - starring Shirley Booth and Hal Holbrook and long thought lost by film scholars - will air tomorrow night on Turner Classic Movies at 7 p.m. Central time, 50 years to the day after it originally was shown. (To see an image from the production, click here.)

The New Yorker's Michael Schulman explains the process by which the telecast was rediscovered (and restored):

On December 8, 1966, CBS Playhouse broadcast a television production of Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie,” starring Shirley Booth as the Southern belle turned frenetic matron Amanda Wingfield. Hal Holbrook and Barbara Loden played her children, Tom and Laura, respectively, with Pat Hingle as the Gentleman Caller. The day after it aired, Jack Gould, of the Times, called it “an evening of superb theater. . . . The delicate delineation of the loneliness of the frustrated Wingfield family was brought to television with lean beauty and eloquence.” (Booth, fresh off the sitcom “Hazel,” was praised as “appropriately intrusive as the perennial Mrs. Fix-it.”) Then, somehow or another, it was lost to time.

[jump] It's

a fascinating story

that involves the discovery of random takes of the show located in the archives of the University of Southern California, along with a bootleg audio copy of the broadcast, which provided context and music for the restoration overseen by Jane Klain of the Paley Center for Media.

Klain contacted the head of programming at Turner Classic Movies, who just happened to have a slot open on December 8th - fifty years to the day after the original telecast. (Tracking down who owned the rights and getting all the lawyers to sign off was a whole other headache, one that was resolved just last Tuesday.) And so, this Thursday, at 8 p.m., “The Glass Menagerie” starring Shirley Booth will air for the second time in half a century; the Paley Center will also keep a copy.