Seventy years ago this past February 13, Family Theater Productions went on the air on the Mutual Broadcasting System with a radio drama called “Flight From Home,” starring Loretta Young and Don Ameche, with host Jimmy Stewart. Here’s a post we put up to mark the birthday on our Facebook page:
The driving force behind it all was Irish-born Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., a Holy Cross priest with deep devotions to Our Lady and to the rosary — and blessed with the Irish gift of persuasion. Using all three, he founded Family Theater Productions, appeared at huge rosary rallies around the world and became one of the Church’s earliest modern-media evangelists.
He also popularized the famous phrases, “The family that prays together stays together,” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”
Visit FatherPeyton.org, which pays tribute to his life.
Today, Catholic Web site Aleteia pays tribute to Father Peyton with a lovely profile that also includes information on his sainthood cause. Here’s a taste (click here for the whole thing):
Without having any background or influence in mass media, Father Peyton went to New York and convinced a woman from the Mutual Broadcasting System that the nation needed a Catholic radio program. The non-Christian woman decided to give Father Peyton a chance on one condition: he needed to enlist the help of Hollywood stars.
Father Peyton nervously called Bing Crosby and somehow, with the help of Our Lady, was able to win him over for the cause. The radio show hit airwaves on May 13, 1945 and featured “Archbishop Spellman of New York, President Harry Truman, Bing Crosby and the parents and sister of the Sullivan family of Iowa leading the Rosary… Father Peyton finished the program with an impassioned plea for families to pray the Rosary together for peace.”
The success of the first show was overwhelming and listeners were asking for more.
Father Peyton then went on a crusade to make his show a regular program, and established Family Theater Productions in 1947 with Hollywood stars eager to support him in his work. His various productions would go on to feature stars such as “Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, Rosalind Russell, Jimmy Stewart, Helen Hayes, Ronald Reagan, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Robert Young, Raymond Burr, Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart, Jack Benny, Loretta Young and Frank Sinatra.”
For a glimpse into the future, get a sample of our upcoming Web series Catholic Central at www.catholiccentral.com.
Image: Family Theater Productions