Steve Allen's Meeting of Minds Appreciation Page A tribute to one of the finest and most innovative television shows ever created.
After 18 years of work, in 1977 Steve Allen, that multi-topic entertainment genius who hosted the Tonight Show before Johnny Carson, aired the first episode of a television show titled Meeting of Minds. It was produced for PBS and consisted of 24, one-hour shows aired over a four-year period. In concept the show was familiar: a round table discussion with a host, Steve Allen playing himself, and four famous guests.
Two things marked it as being truly original. First, the guests weren't people selected from the present but the most famous personalities in history such as Queen Cleopatra of Egypt
President Theodore Roosevelt
... just to name a few.
Second, wherever possible what each guest said was taken from quotes of those people consistent within the context of the topic under discussion. When this wasn't possible, what he or she would have said was inferred from the history of their actions.
Each guest was given the opportunity to present a brief biography and then questioned about those aspects of his or her life that made them a memorable figure. The guests also discoursed on their views of contemporary issues. The program was entertaining, funny and thought provoking: in short the very best example of what television could and should be. It was an immediate success and won many prestigious awards including an Emmy and the Peabody Award.
The following is a list of the guests appearing in the shows:
Shows 1 and 2: Theodore Roosevelt, Cleopatra, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Paine
Shows 3 and 4: Ulysses S. Grant, Marie Antoinette, Thomas More, Karl Marx
Shows 5 and 6: Charles Darwin, Emily Dickinson, Galileo, Attila the Hun
Shows 7 and 8: Frederick Douglass, Empress Tz'u-hsi, Cesare Beccaria, Francois de Sade
Shows 9 and 10: Martin Luther, Voltaire, Plato, Florence Nightingale
Shows 11 and 12: Francis Bacon, Socrates, Emiliano Zapata, Susan B. Anthony
Season Three: (Season 3 introduced a change to the episode numbering system.)
Shows 301 and 302: St. Augustine of Hippo, Empress Theodora, Thomas Jefferson, Bertrand Russell
Shows 303 and 304: Aristotle, Niccolo Machiavelli, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sun Yat-sen
Shows 305 and 306: Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romeo, Othello, the Lady of the Sonnets
Season Four: (The forth season only had three guests per episode.)
Shows 401 and 402: Margaret Sanger, Adam Smith, Mahatma Gandhi
Shows 403 and 404: Niccolo Paganini, William Blake, Leonardo da Vinci
Shows 405 and 406: Catherine the Great, Oliver Cromwell, Daniel O'Connell
Note: Most of the female characters were played by Steve Allen's wife, Jane Meadows.
Regrettably, only two of the original 24 episodes are commercially available. They can be purchased in VHS format from www.steveallen.com. (Shows 303 and 304)
Extensive, repeated Internet searches have failed to turn up any other episodes. Even Ebay came up blank, though occasionally copies of the scripts are available. I managed to locate copies of shows 1, 2, 303, 304, 305 and 306 through the Los Angeles Library system in southern California. Attempts to borrow copies from other libraries outside of the LA system failed because they do not permit videotape loans... which comes to the true purpose of this webpage.
A visitor to this page informed me that there is a chance that steveallenonline.com may be considering releasing the entire series. This would make an enjoyable and important addition to anyone's video library. I encourage everyone visiting this page to email steveallenonline at firstname.lastname@example.org and inform them that you are interested in purchasing a complete set of the series. If enough people write in it will encourage them to release the videos as soon as possible.
I used this email to inform them that I was interested in purchasing the complete series and within a few days received an email stating that my name and email address had been added to a contact list and that they would inform me when the series was released. I interpret this as confirmation that that they really are working on a complete series release.
Thank you for visiting this page. I sincerely hope you enjoyed it.
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