Over the four season run of The Phil Silvers Show a total of 144 episodes were produced. Firstly there was the pilot show, filmed in August of 1955. It was never broadcast on air but was used to help sell the series to the CBS Network. A total of 142 regular episodes were broadcast and in January of 1959, during the fourth season, a live show called The Phil Silvers Pontiac Special: Keep In Step was also screened.

 

Pilot Show                                                          New Recruits                                                      Pontiac Special

 

Rehearsals for the show took place in the Nola Studios situated above New York's famous Lindy's Delicatessen. Both cast and crew would usually spend Tuesdays and Wednesdays on intensive read throughs followed by a full rehearsal and blocking, which would allow the director to determine camera shots and both props and set requirements. Cast and crew would usually break for the traditional coffee and cheesecake at Lindy's.

 

On Thursdays the production transferred to the DuMont Studios on 67th Street, New York for full dress rehearsal and final blocking. It was also here that the scripts would be polished, trimmed, or new material added as required.

 

On Fridays, following a final dress rehearsal with the actors. The crew and technicians would begin the process of preparing the studio for filming. This would include the set-up of all cameras, lighting and sound equipment. Then a small audience was ushered in and seated. Initially the audience would consist of tourists, by-standers and passers-by, but as the word spread about how good  the show was, major stars of the day such as Milton Berle, Jack Benny and Cary Grant began to grace the hallowed bleachers! Following a brief introduction and warm-up, usually given by Phil Silvers, filming would normally commence at around 3.00pm and due to the intense rehearsals beforehand filming would normally last around an hour. The scenes were filmed in chronological order as both Nat Hiken and Phil Silvers felt this helped maintain both the natural comic rhythm and flow of both the performances and the material.

 

Due to the hectic nature of the rehearsal and filming schedules and the toll it was taking on both Phil Silvers and Nat Hiken, this process was abandoned at the end of Season Two in favour of a new filming schedule. The first major difference was that the show was now filmed without a live audience, scenes were now filmed out of sequence which allowed for tighter editing and thus reducing the strain of constant performing on Phil Silvers. The whole filming process was now spread over the whole day, again allowing the actors and in particular Phil Silvers who, as the star of the show, was required in almost every scene, to rest and recuperate. Nat Hiken too was finding the strain of working on the show was simply too much and having brought in Leonard Stern as his successor, he stepped down as series head at the end of season two.

 

As a result of rising production costs and the fact that CBS felt they could make money by selling the show as a syndication package, the show was eventually cancelled in 1959. The final episode Weekend Colonel was broadcast on June 19, 1959.

 

Phil Silvers and Nat Hiken continued their relationship with CBS by collaborating on a series of four musical comedy specials - The Ballad Of Louie The Louse, The Slowest Gun In The West, Just Polly & Me and Summer In New York - all of which utilised many of the orginal cast and crew from The Phil Silvers Show.