Biographical / Historical
Wisdom was a half-hour television series on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) which aired from 1957 to 1965. The program consisted of interviews with distinguished guests in the fields of arts, sciences and politics. These interviews were conducted by a knowledgeable expert, usually known to the guest. Wisdom was a direct result of NBC's newly formed Special Projects division, which was headed by Henry Salomon.
Earlier, between 1952 and 1956, NBC had broadcast half-hour interviews with many brilliant people for a series called, at times Conversations with Elder Wise Men, and at other times Conversations with Distinguished Persons. These highly respected programs premiered on May 18, 1952, and were rebroadcast in 1957 as part of the new series Wisdom, which premiered on September 15, 1957. The series opened with an interview with Pablo Picasso. New interviews were filmed to complete the series resulting in over 40 interviews with such prominent people as David Ben Gurion, Bertrand Russell, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nadia Boulanger, Eamon De Valera, Robert Frost, and Margaret Mead. These interviews were rebroadcast between 1961 and 1962. In 1965, four programs that had been intended for earlier broadcast were aired occasionally on Sunday afternoons.
In 1958, TV Guidedescribed the series as "a large and imposing asset to the public affairs side of the television ledger."
In 1957, Robert D. Graff was the producer, director, and sometimes acted as interviewer. Graff, who joined NBC in 1951, produced and directed many specials for NBC, including F.D.R., Winston Churchill—The Valiant Years, Assignment: Southeast Asia, and Assignment: India. By 1959, the programs were produced by Donald Hyatt, a well known documentary producer (Victory at Sea) and James Nelson, manager of NBC-TV's Special Projects division and assistant to NBC Television President Sylvester L. (Pat) Weaver. Other producers for the series were Robert Emmett Ginna, Jr., Ben Park, Caroline Burke, and Romney Wheeler.
Two books were published from the materials generated for the preparation of the series. The first, Wisdom: Conversations with the Elder Wise Men of Our Daywas published in 1958 and later, Wisdom For Our Time, published in 1961, both by W. W. Norton & Co., and edited by James Nelson.