Question: Do you know the name of the first-ever made-for-TV movie?


Answer: Like all "first" questions, this one is thorny. Generally speaking, the first two made-for-TV movies are considered to have been The Killers and The Hanged Man, both of which date from 1964 and were made by MCA-Universal under the aegis of superagent-turned-media-mogul Lew Wasserman. Wasserman, who shepherded Universal into the world of television production and distribution, saw an opportunity to leverage one of the company's assets — a huge library of old movies — by remaking them for TV. The Killers was a remake of a 1946 film starring Burt Lancaster and based on Ernest Hemingway's short story, which was also titled The KillersThe Hanged Man was a remake of Ride the Pink Horse (1947). Though made for TV, The Killers was deemed too violent for home viewing and instead opened in theaters, so that would seem to make The Hanged Man the first feature both made for and broadcast on TV. However — and there's always a "however" — some TV historians call High Tor (1956) the first-ever made-for-television feature. It was a musical adaptation of a 1937 play by Maxwell Anderson that was aired as part of a short-lived CBS anthology series called Ford Star Jubilee and starred Bing Crosby as a man who refuses to sell a valuable property overlooking the Hudson River (the titular "High Tor") to unscrupulous real-estate developers. A young Julie Andrews plays the fetching ghost of a long-dead Dutch woman who helps him sort out his problems. Apparently Crosby didn't feel comfortable with live TV and so the production was filmed (in color, no less, at a time when few people had color televisions) and then broadcast.