Dick Powell, a Hollywood veteran for twenty years in 1952, longed to produce and direct. While he did
have some opportunities to do so, such as RKO Radio Pictures' The Conqueror (1956) with John Wayne, Powell saw greater opportunities
offered by the then-infant medium of television. Powell came up with an idea for an anthology series, with a rotation of established
stars every week, four stars in all. The stars would own the studio and the program, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had done successfully
with the Desilu studio. Powell had intended for the program to feature himself, Charles Boyer, Joel McCrea and Rosalind Russell, but
Russell and McCrea backed out and David Niven came on board as the "third star". The fourth star would be a guest star at first.
CBS liked the idea and Four Star Playhouse made its debut in fall of 1952. While it only ran alternate weeks during its first season
(the program it alternated with was the television version of Amos 'n' Andy), it was successful enough to be renewed and became a weekly
program beginning with the second season and until the end of its run in 1956. Actress/director Ida Lupino was brought on board as
the pro forma fourth star, though unlike Powell, Boyer, and Niven, she owned no stock in the company.