Dear Incredible Inman: Some of us were talking the other night about how profanity on TV was unheard of in the 1950s. Then someone mentioned stars occasional letting a word slip out on the air. Do you know of any instances of this? – Curious, Cincinnati
Dear Curious: Well, Arthur Godfrey got into trouble for letting a mild curse word slip on his CBS show in 1949.
And then in 1956, Noel Coward’s play “Blithe Spirit” was presented on the CBS anthology series “Ford Star Jubilee.” The script included several utterances of “damn” and “hell,” and when viewers complained, Coward said, “People who object to the profanity in ‘Blithe Spirit’ are crackpots, and Mr. Ford should be happy if even one of them doesn’t buy his car. They would be a menace on the highway.”
And later that same year, during a live performance of a play called “Tragedy in a Temporary Town” on the NBC series “The Alcoa Hour,” star Lloyd Bridges got carried away during one scene and called a group of extras “g—d— stinking pigs.”