Title: Frank Baxter Performance Art Television Collection

Collection Number: 0029

Span Dates: 1953 – 1962

Bulk Dates: 1953 – 1955

Creator: Frank Baxter

Extent: 300+ Reels

Links: Frank Baxter Film Reel List

Subject(s): Frank Baxter , English Professors , USC , University of Southern California , Long Distance Learning Courses , Television Programs , Shakespeare , Renaissance , Science , Educational Programming , Education , Kinescope Recordings , TV Personalities , CBS

Notes: Frank Baxter (1896 – 1982) was a USC English professor and television personality who was an early proponent of distance learning. His televised lectures and educational programs won a Peabody award and seven Emmys. Baxter’s television career began when KNXT, the local CBS station in Los Angeles, offered USC a weekly hour of “public service time.” Baxter filled the time with his Shakespeare on TV course, discussing Shakespeare’s method and doing an in-depth study of individual works. Four hundred thousand people watched the series, 350 actually paid to take the course for USC credit, and another 400 audited it. CBS recognized Baxter’s popularity and recorded the programs on kinescope to be broadcast nationally.
After completing three Shakespeare on TV series, Baxter’s broad range of interests allowed him to expand his television repertoire. Renaissance on TV followed the same lecture structure as Shakespeare on TV. Harvest was a half-hour program on NBC discussing “man’s achievements in art, literature, public affairs and science.” Later, Baxter was able to exercise his acting chops, starring in a series of science specials sponsored by the Bell System and directed by Frank Capra.
The Frank Baxter Performance Art Television Programs Collection includes three of these Bell science programs: “Alphabet Conspiracy,” “Thread of Life,” and “About Time.” Also encompassed in the collection are kinescope recordings of episodes from all three Shakespeare on TV series and the entire Renaissance on TV series. Paperwork includes multiple articles about Frank Baxter, transcripts from some of his televised lectures, newspaper advertisements for Shakespeare on TV, and critical studies of Baxter’s work.

Citation: Frank Baxter Performance Art Television Programs Collection, Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

Location: USC Hefner Archive

Access: Available by appointment or digital access for a fee.