Designer: Lynne Day
Company: Ashton Drake
In the winter of ‘55, That Joyous Season made audiences a little misty the whole world over. Set in the middle ‘40s, it was the heartwarming story of a young widow (Gene) who gets a new lease on life after bringing a 12-year-old war orphan from a European orphanage to America.
Their victories (learning each other’s languages, the widow teaching her young charge etiquette, the first glimmer of trust between them) and the obstacles thrown in their way (unfeeling immigration officials, snobbish society acquaintances, and cruel schoolmates) found their way into the hearts of audiences who still vividly remembered the War.
The climax of the film was at a holiday party thrown by the widow. All of the city’s elite had been invited, including the mayor. The widow, dressed in elegant emerald, had started toward the staircase to greet her guests. But the sounds of sniffling behind a bedroom door stopped her. Peeping in, she saw the girl kneeling by the bedside: “Please, Sinter Klaas, let me stay in America. I love The Pretty Lady so much...”
Tears in her eyes, the widow scooped up the girl and took her to the top of the staircase. The crowd, hushed, looked up, just as the widow said, “Dear friends, I’d like to have you meet—my daughter.”
Three years later, much to the viewing public’s delight, NBS aired That Joyous Season as a Holiday Special, hosted by Gene Marshall (wearing the same emerald dress)—and her now-teenaged co-star!