Television: Bell Ringer

For 26 years on radio and TV, the Bell Telephone Hour played duenna to the world's best music and most of its best contemporary performers, from Pons and Pinza to Toscanini and Tebaldi. The show had all the virtues of the duenna -care, good taste, restraint and fondness for her charges -but also the one vice: it was often pretty dull. Producer Henry Jaffe recalls: "We'd put a performer on a bleak stage in front of a dirty curtain and say, 'Perform!' " Perform they did, often superbly, but Bell began...

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