Formally introduced on September 4, 1957—“E Day,” as it was called—the Edsel received one of the grandest consumer product rollouts in history. The Ford Motor Company pumped out a media blizzard of print, sound, television, and film properties to promote the bold new car line, but arguably, the most memorable element of the campaign came on October 13 with The Edsel Show. A CBS Television variety special hosted by Bing Crosby, the one-hour extravaganza starred the biggest entertainment personalities of the day, including Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Armstrong, and Bob Hope. The Edsel may have been a flop, but The Edsel Show is celebrated as one of the great moments in the Golden Age of Television.
The Edsel Show is historically significant from another angle—as the oldest example of videotape in existence. (Host Bing Crosby was an investor in the early technology.) For the surviving videotape we can thank Kris Trexler, an Emmy-winning Hollywood production guy who also happens to be a car enthusiast and an Edsel man. Kris tracked down and preserved the sole remaining copy of the show. For the story of the videotape, Kris’s car collection, and some fascinating TV history, be sure to visit his website, King of the Road.
If you enjoy classic musical variety, you’ll definitely want to watch Kris’s complete, unabridged version of The Edsel Show on Youtube. You’ll appreciate the quality of the recording, which is far superior to the clunky kinescope technology of the period, and to see Sinatra, Clooney, Satchmo, and company performing together is a gift in itself. But because cars are what we do at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we’ve snipped one of the extended-length Edsel commercials from the videotape (with Kris’s permission, of course) to share here. In this clip, all four Edsel models for 1958 are given the star treatment: Ranger, Pacer, Corsair, and the top-of-the-line Citation, with flowery exposition by announcer Warren Hull. And now, a word from our sponsor.