Los Angeles (THR) -- For the Museum of Television & Radio, it's an archeological discovery rivaling anything ever turned up by Louis Leakey or Margaret Mead.
After nearly 30 years of searching, the museum has obtained a complete recording of CBS' landmark 1954 drama "Twelve Angry Men," which earned Emmy Awards for writer Reginald Rose and director Franklin Schaffner and a best actor trophy for Robert Cummings.
As part of the "Twelve Angry Men" acquisition, the museum also has acquired five hours of historic radio news coverage of the famed 1935 Lindbergh baby murder trial of Bruno Hauptmann. The radio coverage and commentary on the legendary trial for New York-area station WHN was anchored by Samuel Leibowitz, a famed defense attorney of the day, whose children owned copies of his broadcasts as well as the "Twelve Angry Men" kinescope.
CBS had provided the MT&R with a kinescope recording of the first half of the hourlong "Twelve Angry Men" broadcast, but the complete live production had long been considered lost.
Museum officials were alerted to the existence of the recording by filmmaker Joseph Consentino, who is working on a documentary about Leibowitz and found them in the archives maintained by his children, Robert Leibowitz and Marjorie Leibowitz Finch, who have donated the recordings to the museum.
The museum has remastered the recordings and plans to showcase them in special presentations at its New York and Beverly Hills outposts from May 23-July 6.
"The complete broadcast of the original television production of 'Twelve Angry Men' has been among the most important lost programs that the museum has been searching for since we opened our doors in 1976," MT&R president Robert Batscha said. "The Lindbergh trial coverage offers unique insight into the judicial system in America at that time and will serve as a valuable document for historians and scholars."
"Twelve Angry Men" ranks among the legendary telecasts from the golden age of live TV drama in the 1950s. The teleplay about the deliberations of a jury in a racially charged case aired Sept. 20, 1954, on CBS' anthology program "Studio One." Rose adapted his TV script for the Oscar-nominated 1957 feature directed by Sidney Lumet.
According to the museum, Samuel Leibowitz requested and received a commercial-free kinescope copy of "Twelve Angry Men" from CBS shortly after it aired because of his interest in legal issues. In addition to Cummings, the original production starred Edward Arnold, John Beal, Walter Abel, Bart Burns, Norman Fell, Paul Hartman, Lee Philips, Joseph Sweeney, Franchot Tone, George Voskovec and Will West.