Cavalcade of America documented historical events using stories of individual courage, initiative and achievement, often with feel-good dramatizations of the human spirit's triumph against all odds. This was consistent with DuPont's overall conservative philosophy and legacy as an American company dating back to 1802. The company's motto, "Maker of better things for better living through chemistry," was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation.
The show started as part of a successful campaign to reinvigorate DuPont. In the early 1930s, the Nye Committee investigations concluded that DuPont had made a fortune profiteering in World War I. The company stood accused of encouraging an arms race between WWI enemies, after being heavily subsidized by the Allies to increase black powder production. The negative effects of the investigation left the company demoralized, directionless and with a tarnished corporate image in the middle of the Great Depression.
DuPont's products were primarily not for public consumption, so there was no purpose in promoting them through advertising. As a solution to DuPont's troubles, Roy Durstine, then creative director of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, proposed the creation of Cavalcade of America using the company motto. This was to be an important element in the successful re-branding of DuPont as an American legacy engaged in making products for the well-being of Americans and humanity in general.
Ironically, DuPont's image problems lead the company to promote some pacifist and socialist ideals. DuPont stipulated several topics would be taboo on the show such as gunfire of any kind, which attracted writers such as Norman Rosten and Arthur Miller, who had signed the Oxford Pledge while at University of Michigan. For scripts the program was also able to attract such prominent writers as Maxwell Anderson,Stephen Vincent Benét, Carl Sandburg and Robert Sherwood. Although Yale University historian Frank Monaghan signed on as an advisor to ensure historically accuracy of the scripts, listeners were quick to point out that trains did not use air brakes in 1860 and Washington's troops could not have sung "Tannenbaum" while crossing the Delaware since it was written two months after that event.
On May 15, 1940 DuPont made nylon women's hosiery available to the public and began an advertising blitz. The day was designated "N-day" by DuPont's marketeers, and an entire episode of Cavalcade of America was markedly different: DuPont selected a "typical" housewife to interview G. P. Hoff, Director of Research of DuPont's Nylon Division. In the rigged interview, Hoff expounded at length on the virtues of nylon. Eager to purchase nylon hose, thousands of women waited in lines for department stores to open the following morning. 750,000 nylons had been manufactured for N-Day, but all were sold on the first day they went on sale.
In the 1950s, DuPont switched its advertising strategy from radio to television, and Cavalcade of Americabecame a television series. Over five seasons, 133 episodes were aired between 1952 and 1957. During a six-month period, the TV and radio series overlapped. The show was telecast on both NBC (1952–53) and ABC (1953–57). It was renamed DuPont Cavalcade Theater in August 1955, and it was known as DuPont Theater during its last year. In the 1957 fall season it was replaced by The DuPont Show of the Month, a 90-minute live dramatization of popular novels and short stories or abridged versions of films and plays. That series ran until 1961. In one of the episodes Hal Stalmaster portrayed a youthful Bob Richards, the Olympic athlete. [Source: Wikipedia]