Saturday 31 January 2009

Catholic Heritage in Popular Culture

A staple of modern popular culture is the television game show. This video shows an early example of the genre, What's My Line. The original show What's My Line ran from 1950 to 1967. The premise was that the panel attempts to guess the avocation of the guests through a series of questions - or in the final round, attempts to guess the mystery celebrity guest while blind-folded, as in this clip.

The mystery guest in this clip is Bishop, as he then was, Fulton Sheen, a staple of popular American Catholic Culture for decades. Archbishop Sheen, whose cause for canonisation began in 2002, was best known for television shows that essentially took the form of illustrated sermons. He presented The Catholic Hour on radio from 1930 to 1950, and, on television, Life is Worth Living from 1951 to 1955 and later The Fulton Sheen Program from 1961 to 1968.

From a Catholic heritage point-of-view, the most interesting element of this clip from What's My Line is not the presence of Bishop Sheen, however illustrative, but the reaction of the panel as he leaves.

Those familiar with the show will also notice that, uniquely, both the ladies, Arlene Francis and Dorothy Kilgallen, stand to take leave of this guest, but the real 'gravy moment' is the gesture of panelist and journalist (and Catholic) Dorothy Kilgallen towards 'uncle Fultie.' Take a look and you'll see how Catholic culture inhabited the public sphere in the days when men were men and Popes were Pius.


Anonymous said...

I love Bishop Fulton Sheen! Thanks for those links. I'm working my way through them every day. It's like there's a retreat and everybody's invited!!!

Veronica Lane said...

Very interesting post.