August 2014
Tiomkin on TV

Dimitri Tiomkin with Jack Benny, 1961

In a game of Family Feud, if the question was “Name a TV show that composer Dimitri Tiomkin’s name appeared on,” the survey would probably say Rawhide. The composer’s theme for that 1960s show pervades pop culture and is the epitome of a TV Western theme. But there was another side of Tiomkin and television, notably his personal appearances on some of the most popular game and talk shows of the day, from What’s My Line? to Jack Benny and Johnny Carson. Some of these are now widely accessible, thanks to YouTube.

On What’s My Line? (CBS-TV), December 9, 1956, the first contestant is “Mr. X” who’s line is…”Oscar” Winning Composer. That would be Dimitri Tiomkin, who appeared as a guest on episode #340 of the American game show.

VIEW: Tiomkin on “What’s My Line?

For You Bet Your Life, hosted by Groucho Marx, Tiomkin is pitted against a housewife named Mimi Pill on episode #55-04, October 20, 1955.

VIEW: Tiomkin on “You Bet Your Life”

For The Johnny Carson Show, on November 3, 1955, Tiomkin provides “music to wander aimlessly by” in a sketch, “Johnny’s Record Collection.”

VIEW: Tiomkin on “The Johnny Carson Show”

And, finally, Tiomkin appeared as a special guest star in a lengthy comedic sketch, “Jack Writes a Song,” on The Jack Benny Show (CBS-TV) that aired on December 17, 1961.

VIEW: Tiomkin on “The Jack Benny Show”

Trivial Pursuit
Question: Who wrote the “Television Song”?
Answer: Dimitri Tiomkin! The Latin calypso novelty song was penned for a 1950s theater production, The Big Time Review, that never materialized. Here’s a glimpse of the opening, typeset from the original score.

Television Song opening

Other television appearances by Tiomkin

“About Faces” (ABC-TV)
American game show
Dimitri Tiomkin, guest
Aired: September 29, 1960 ; February 15, 1960

“The Christophers” (TV)
Dimitri Tiomkin, guest with Father James G. Keller, Tex Ritter, and others on the spiritual power of music.
“The Power of Music”
Aired: March 22, 1958

“The Colgate Comedy Hour” (NBC-TV)
American variety show
Dimitri Tiomkin, cameo appearance
Eddie Cantor is this week’s host. Songwriter Vincent Youmans is saluted in the finale with fellow composers Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington making cameos.
Season 3, episode #29 [some sources say 30]
Aired: April 12, 1953

“The David Frost Show” (CBS-TV)
Dimitri Tiomkin, guest
Season 4, Episode 106
Aired: 15 February 15, 1972

“The Dick Cavett Show” (ABC-TV)
American talk show
Dimitri Tiomkin, guest
Aired: February 1, 1972

“The Eddie Fisher Show” (NBC-TV)
American variety show
Dimitri Tiomkin, guest
Aired: March 4, 1958

“Lights, Camera, Action!” (NBC-TV)
Host: Walter Woolf King.
Guest judges: Milton Sperling, Dimitri Tiomkin.
Show no. 162.
Aired: March 6, 1950

“77 Sunset Strip” (ABC-TV)
“Honey from the Bee”
Dimitri Tiomkin, cameo appearance.
Season 1, episode #27
Aired: April 10, 1959

Dimitri Tiomkin on "This Is Your Life," 1959

Dimitri Tiomkin on “This Is Your Life,” 1959

“This Is Your Life” (NBC-TV)
Host: Ralph Edwards
Featuring Colonel Serge Obolensky, a Russian expatriate.
Cellist Michael Arens, Dimitri Tiomkin, and columnist Cobina Wright, guests
Aired: March 11, 1959

“Warner Bros. Presents” (ABC-TV)
Gig Young, host
Dimitri Tiomkin, guest
Filmed at the time of GIANT, 1955. Available from Amazon on the GIANT DVD, below, as “Behind the Cameras: A Visit with Dimitri Tiomkin.”
Aired: 1955

Updated: “This Is Your Life” entry and photo added, February 2018.

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