The producers of the show were Martin Manulis, John Houseman, Russell Stoneman, Fred Coe, Arthur Penn, and Hubbell Robinson. The leading director was John Frankenheimer (27 episodes), followed by Franklin Schaffner (19 episodes). Other directors included Sidney Lumet, George Roy Hill, Delbert Mann, and Robert Mulligan.
Frankenheimer began his directing career in live television at CBS. Throughout the 1950s he directed over 140 episodes of shows like Playhouse 90, Climax!, and Danger, including The Comedian, written by Rod Serling and starring Mickey Rooney as a ragingly vicious television comedian.
James "Pappy" Pinckney Miller (December 18, 1919, San Antonio, Texas - November 1, 2001, Flemington, New Jersey) was an American writer whose penname was "JP Miller". He was a leading playwright during the Golden Age of Television, receiving three Emmy nominations. A novelist and screenwriter, he was best known for Days of Wine and Roses, directed by John Frankenheimer for Playhouse 90 (1958) and later a motion picture (1962) directed by Blake Edwards.
Rod Serling adapted it for the debut episode of the American television anthology series Playhouse 90, directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Charlton Heston, Diana Lynn, Vincent Price, Victor Jory and Charles Bickford.
Five years after the movie, the Odets play was adapted for television. John Frankenheimer directed the Playhouse 90 production, telecast live June 13, 1957 on CBS with Kim Stanley in the lead role of Mae D'Amato, E. G. Marshall as Jerry D'Amato and Lloyd Bridges as Earl Pfeiffer. Also in the cast were John Bleifer and Edgar Stehli.
In 1956, with the HUAC's influence subsiding, she co-starred in Rod Serling's Peabody Award-winning teleplay on Playhouse 90, "Requiem for a Heavyweight". The telecast won multiple Emmy Awards, including Best Single Program of the Year. She appeared opposite Mickey Rooney in the 1957 live CBS-TV broadcast of The Comedian, another drama written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer. In 1959, she appeared in Rawhide in "Incident of the Misplaced Indians" as Amelia Spaulding. In 1962, she appeared in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour in the role of Virginia Hunter in the episode "Of Roses and Nightingales and Other Lovely Things". In 1963, Hunter appeared as Anita Anson on the ABC medical drama Breaking Point in the episode "Crack in an Image". In 1965, she appeared twice as Emily Field in the NBC TV medical series Dr. Kildare. In 1967, she appeared in the pilot episode of Mannix. On February 4, 1968, she appeared as Ada Halle in the NBC TV Western series Bonanza in the episode "The Price of Salt".
Now married, and with 4 small children at home, he soon found a steady income working in the new world of live television at CBS. Goldman was mentored by Fred Coe (the "D.W. Griffith of dramatic television") and became part of the twilight of The Golden Age, associate producing and script editing Coe's prestigious Playhouse 90's, Days of Wine and Roses directed by a young John Frankenheimer, The Plot To Kill Stalin starring Eli Wallach, and Horton Foote's Old Man. Goldman went on to himself produce and write for public television on the award-winning NET Playhouse. After working together at NET Burt Lancaster encouraged Goldman to try his hand at screenwriting, which resulted in an early version of Shoot the Moon. The script became Goldman's calling card, and he would soon be "known for some of the best screenplays of the 1970s and 80s".
Anthology series dominated American dramatic programming during the Golden Age of Television, when "every night was opening night; one never knew when a flick of the knob would spark the birth of great theatrical literature". A different story and a different set of characters were presented in each episode. Very rarely the stories were split into several episodes, like 1955 Mr. Lincoln from Omnibus series, which was presented in two parts, or 1959 adaptation of For Whom the Bell Tolls from Playhouse 90 series, which was initially planned by the director John Frankenheimer to consist of three parts, but ultimately was broadcast as two 90-minute installments. The high cost and technical difficulties of staging a new play every week, which would cost as much as—or more than—an episode of a filmed television series, led to the demise of anthology programming by the end of the 1950s. The void was filled with less expensive series like Gunsmoke or Wagon Train, which featured the same characters every week and had higher potential for lucrative rebroadcast and syndication rights. It was the American success in 1969–1970 of the British 26-episode serial The Forsyte Saga (1967) that made TV executives realize that finite multi-episode stories based on novels could be popular and could provide a boost to weekly viewing figures.
Ryan starred in Playhouse 90's production of The Great Gatsby opposite Jeanne Crain, and in the Buick-Electra Playhouse adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro, written by A. E. Hotchner, directed by John Frankenheimer, and co-starring Ann Todd, Mary Astor, and Janice Rule. Ryan's only partial concession to doing an entire television series was his role as Narrator in CBS's 26-episode acclaimed documentary homage to World War One, released in prime time during the 1964-65 season.
As well as appearing in ten episodes of her father's half-hour television programme, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock worked on a few others, including Playhouse 90, which was live, directed by John Frankenheimer. Acting for her father, however, remained the high point of her acting career, which she interrupted to bring up her children. (Hitchcock has a small joke with her first appearance on his show – after saying good night and exiting the screen, he sticks his head back into the picture and remarks: "I thought the little leading lady was rather good, didn't you?")
Hunter received strong critical acclaim for a performance he gave on TV in "Forbidden Area", the debut show of Playhouse 90, written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer.
Another production of the Odets play was directed by John Frankenheimer for Playhouse 90 on June 13, 1957 with Kim Stanley in the lead role.
The story was also featured in a 1956 episode of Playhouse 90 directed by a young John Frankenheimer and made into a 1975 ABC Movie of the Week starring Shirley Jones of The Partridge Family fame.
O'Brien appeared extensively in television, including the 1957 live 90-minute broadcast on Playhouse 90 of The Comedian, a drama written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer in which Mickey Rooney portrayed a television comedian while O'Brien played a writer driven to the brink of insanity.
He was also in "Bomber's Moon" for Playhouse 90 (1958), from a Rod Serling script directed by John Frankenheimer, who said "Bobby's a really fine dramatic actor, but people usually associate him only with comedy. Naturally enough I suppose. Directing an actor like this who feels immediately what the script wants and what the director wants makes you love this business."