|The Joseph Cotten Show|
|Also known as||On Trial|
|Directed by||John Brahm|
Robert Stevenson (director)
|Presented by||Joseph Cotten|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||31|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production||Fordyce Enterprises Productions|
|Distributor||Studios USA Television|
|Original release||September 14, 1956 -|
September 13, 1957
The Joseph Cotten Show (also known as On Trial) is an American anthology series hosted by and occasionally starring Joseph Cotten. The series, which first aired on NBC, aired 31 episodes from September 14, 1956, to September 13, 1957. Four other new episodes were broadcast on CBS in Summer 1959.
Cotten appeared in different roles in fifteen episodes, including the title character in the series premiere, "The Trial of Edward Pritchard", the story of a physician of questionable background in Glasgow, Scotland, who is accused of having poisoned his wife and mother-in-law and who claims to have been a personal friend of the Italian revolutionary Garibaldi.
Virginia Gregg starred twice in historical roles, first as Mary Surratt, the woman hanged in the conspiracy case stemming from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, in the 1956 episode "The Mary Surratt Case", directed by Ida Lupino. Cotten appeared with Gregg in the role of Robert Westwood. Gregg also portrayed Frances Adeline Miller Seward, wife of United States Secretary of State William Henry Seward, who was stabbed the same night that Lincoln was murdered. Cotten played Seward in this 1957 episode entitled "The Freeman Case". This episode is not about the attack on Seward but about a legal case that the attorney Seward handled on behalf of the African American Willie Freeman, who was found guilty but insane of the murders of a white farm family. The prosecutor in the trial was John Van Buren, son of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.
In the first episode of 1957, "The Trial of Colonel Blood", Michael Wilding guest starred in the title role of Thomas Blood, the Irish-born colonel who in 1671 tried to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Norman Lloyd, a director of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, portrayed the Second Duke of Buckingham. Henry Daniell portrayed King Charles II.
The series also aired a Victorian-era mystery "The Tichborne Claimant", with Gladys Cooper portraying the Roman Catholic Lady Tichborne, who seeks the whereabouts of her son, Roger Tichborne, who disappeared at sea. In her search, Lady Tichborne encounters the Protestant Thomas Castro of Australia, played by Robert Middleton.
In its full season, The Joseph Cotten Show aired at 9 p.m. Friday opposite CBS's Crusader and then, at mid-season, the sitcom, Mr. Adams and Eve, starring Howard Duff and Ida Lupino. ABC aired Jan Murray's Treasure Hunt quiz show in the same time slot.