Hallmark Hall of Fame

Don Hall with Emmy, 1982

It’s the most-honored program in the history of television. Born in the era of fully sponsored television programming, the Hallmark Hall of Fame has stood the test of time and has been largely responsible for elevating the Hallmark brand to the status of an American icon.

“Our brand is one of our most valuable assets,” says Brad Moore, president of Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions. “We can point to many factors that have gone into the strength of our brand – but Hallmark Hall of Fame and its role in reinforcing messages of quality and caring may be the single most important force in giving our brand the power it enjoys.”

Or as Chairman Donald J. Hall, son of founder J.C. Hall whose vision gave birth to the series, has stated, “The Hallmark Hall of Fame has had an amazing impact on consumers, our employees, retail partners, business leaders and opinion molders. It continues to work its magic on our image to a degree I cannot fully explain. I am not aware of any such vehicle, in or out of television, available to any other company, with such a positive impact.”

60+ Years, 80 Emmys, Countless Loyal Viewers

Hallmark Hall of Fame awards

The Hallmark Hall of Fame debuted on Christmas Eve 1951, with the world premiere of Amahl and the Night Visitors, an original opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. Viewer response was so positive that encores were televised in April and December 1952.

The next original production, of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was broadcast in April 1953. More people watched Hamlet on television that evening than had cumulatively seen it in all its live performances in the 350 years since it had been written.

Subsequent years brought more Shakespearean fare as well as classic works. More recently the series has offered biographical material, classic children’s stories, works based on popular literature, and even undertaken social issues.

As of 2014, the series has earned 80 Emmys, nine Golden Globes, 11 Peabody Awards, 28 Christopher Awards, and four Humanitas Prizes. It’s no wonder it is one of the few television productions that attracts actors who usually appear in motion pictures.

Not to be Missed

What matters most to Hallmark is the ongoing positive response of consumers. Hallmark Hall of Fame is “event TV” for families who plan an evening around it and who claim to enjoy the commercials as much as the program.

The aura extends to cast members who cherish the series’ reputation even as they strengthen it with their involvement. Emmy-winner John Lithgow, who appeared in Redwood Curtain in 1995, has expressed sentiments typical of industry luminaries: “The common thread that links Hallmark Hall of Fame pieces together is they deal with human emotions. They have a high opinion of the intelligence of American television viewers… and reach out to people's emotions. There's a lot of television that does that, but Hallmark does it as a matter of policy and tradition. And they really do it well.”

Fun Fact

From the mid-1930s through the 1950s, J.C. Hall approved every single Hallmark card, giving his official thumbs up by writing "OK JC" on the back.