First Lady of Television, The

The nickname of Faye Emerson,  a beautiful, smart woman with wholesome, natural charm who hosted a variety of programs in the golden age of television such as PARIS CAVALCADE OF FASHION/NBC/1948, THE FAYE EMERSON SHOW/CBS/1950-51), FAYE EMERSON’S WONDERFUL TOWN/CBS/1951-52, AUTHOR MEETS THE CRITICS/DUM/1952, FAYE AND SKITCH/NBC/1953-54, and OF ALL THINGS/CBS/1956.

She also appeared as a panelist on WHAT’S IN A WORD/CBS/1954, I’VE GOT A SECRET/CBS/1952-58, MASQUERADE PARTY/NBC/CBS/1952-1960 and as a guest panelist on TO TELL THE TRUTH/CBS/1961.

Beside being able to hold her own in conversation on many topics, the 5′ 4″ Emerson wore stylish gowns designed by Ceil Chapman which revealed varying degrees of cleavage. Cartoons of the time joked at just how much Emerson was showing with characters arguing ‘It’s too high (men) and “it’s too low” (women). Emerson was called both a “Blonde Bombshell” and “The Smartest Woman in Television.” She pioneered TV for women and lead the way for other female celebrities as Dinah Shore and Arlene Dahl.

New York Herald Tribune columnist John Crosby once wrote, “Miss Emerson, I’d be the first to admit, fills a ten-inch screen very adequately, Very adequately.” He continued to say, that “THE FAYE EMERSON SHOW, I assume, is aimed primarily at women, but I know men, including this one, who are helplessly fascinated by it for reasons which never occurred to CBS.”

When Emerson appeared on the quiz chow circuits such as WHAT’S MY LINE, reporters commented on her beauty and smarts with headlines like “New Kind of Glamour Girl Classed as TV Show Brain” and “It isn’t everyday that you see a high IQ in a low-cut

Unfortunately, the bias of the time against an intelligent women reared its ugly head when a letter to Faye’s comments on The Korean Conflict inspired one viewer to write “Better stick to the plunging necklines Faye, Politics is not for little girls.”

Emerson shared her personal views on a five minute segment called “The Women’s Touch” which aired as part of TV program NEWSBEAT featuring Mike Wallace. Over time, however, Emerson’s shining star began to dim as the 1960s approached due in part to her unfettered opinions on politics, feminism and sex education. Thoughts which were just too liberal for the times.

The other reason for her lose of popularity was her image. As TV STAR wrote in 1956, “Someone should call a meeting about her figure –the lady is really getting to be a plump dumpling.” Such remarks also helped “put her in her place” and consequently dismissed her political rhetoric.

Emerson, the former wife (1944-1950) of Elliot Roosevelt, the son of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, eventually left America.

Born July 8, 1917 in Elizabeth, Louisiana, Faye Emerson died in Devya, Spain of stomach cancer on March 9, 1983. According to many published reports. Faye Emerson was the inspiration for the name of the “Emmy” Awards.


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Showbiz Nicknames

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