Four Star Productions

Written and Compiled by Nicholas Aczel and Sean Beard

1st Logo

Logo: In the end credits of “Four Star Playhouse,” we fade to the disclaimer “A FOUR STAR” written at the top of the screen. Below it one-by-one appear four stars, stacked and each bearing names to the right:


Below them appears the word “PRODUCTION, INC” and in smaller text the copyright info.

Who are they?: The people named in the logo are the producers of “Four Star Playhouse,” who double-duty as recurring lead players in the show.

FX: Just the appearing of the stars and words.

Cheesy Factor: The logo is very simply animated.

Music: Plays over the “Four Star Playhouse” end theme, composed by Leon Klatzkin.

Availability: Intact on all episodes of “Four Star Playhouse,” as the logo is part of the end credits. Select episodes were given VHS release by Marathon Music and Video during the 90s.

Scare Factor: Low, depends strictly on your feeling regarding the “Four Star Playhouse” theme music, but it would get much worse with the follow-up logo…..

2nd Logo

Nickname: “The Banner”

Logo: On a space background, we see four big stars with shadows extending down and meeting at a vanishing point. From the vanishing point, a shady banner with the words “FOUR STAR” in a majestic font zoom up to just below the stars.

Variation: On Four Star shows produced in color during the period, the logo was seen in blue-tone.

FX: The “FOUR STAR” banner zooming up.

Cheesy Factor: The zooming of the banner is quite rough, but if anything is especially cheesy, its got to be those gaudy shadows used on the stars, which are just waaaay too tacky.

Music: A booming fanfare composed by Rudy Schrager, usually accompanied with an announcer saying “FILMED BY FOUR STAR!” or “THIS HAS BEEN A FOUR STAR PRODUCTION!” Later in its existence, it was replaced with another fanfare composed by Joseph Mullendore. As the logo approached the end of its run in the mid-1960s, it was replaced with a more patriotic fanfare, composed by Herschel Burke Gilbert.

Availability: Not sure, the logo was seen on many TV westerns during the late 50s and early 60s (chief among them “The Rifleman,” Sam Peckinpaugh’s “The Westerner” and 1965-67 episodes of “The Big Valley”) as well as “Burke’s Law,” “Honey West” and 1965-66 episodes of “The Smothers Brothers Show,” but these shows have not been seen much in syndication since New World Entertainment bought the company in late 1987. It remains to be seen whether now-owner News Corporation’s editing habits with their Fox TV and MTM logos extends to the Four Star library. The blue-tone variant was most recently seen with PAX’s generic network music when PAX reran “The Big Valley” a couple years ago, but PAX of late no longer reruns the show.

Scare Factor: High, a generally well-liked logo for those who were lucky to see it, but more than a few cannot stand the loud fanfares or the creepy announcer, or hate the rough zoom-up of the banner (ala V of Doom), or the dark background.

3rd Logo

Nicknames: “Diamonds,” “Flying Triangles”

Logo: On a black background, we see a set of ten multicolored diamonds (five on top, five on bottom) stacked together, each composed of a top and bottom triangle (each half a different color). The diamonds split up and fly, and each of the triangles of a particular identical color merge at the bottom ends, forming four stars of the colors from left-to-right: orange, red, white, and yellow. The words “FOUR” and “STAR” uncover from the top and bottom of the stars, respectively, to complete the logo.

FX/Cheesy Factor: The triangle animations, the “FOUR” and “STAR” uncovering.

Music: The same Herschel Burke Gilbert fanfare used as the third music for the 2nd logo.

Availability: Again, not sure for the reasons listed above. This logo was most prominent on 1967-69 episodes of “The Big Valley,” and was seen with PAX’s generic music when the network reran the show recently.

Scare Factor: Median, the catchy music and the flying triangles might make some people jumpy.

4th Logo

Note: The company was renamed Four Star International in late 1968, but this logo didn’t first appear until January 1969.

Nickname: “Four Star ‘70”

Logo: On a metallic blue (in later years, black) background, four thin lines are seen to the left of the screen. On the right, we see the words “FOUR STAR,” in a thin white Old West-style font. Suddenly, four white stars pop into place on the set of lines. After the last star appears, the word "International," in a red Calligraphy-style font, fades in under the company name.
FX: The stars popping into place, the word "International" fading in.
Cheesy Factor: The design is very gaudy even by late-60s standards; the mixing of the two wildly different fonts really doesn't work here. Doubled with the fact that this resembles a number of 45 RPM record labels from earlier in the decade doesn't help matters any with this logo.
Music: A gently tinkling woodwind and hapsichord scale, ending with a single orchestra hit.
Availability: Yet again, not sure for reasons previously listed. Was seen on latter-day "The Big Valley" episodes from the middle of the 1968-69 season onward (recently seen as a PAX-sized variant, go figure) as well as syndicated prints of the game show "Thrill Seekers” and several first-run made-for-TV movies.

Scare Factor: Minimal, the rather sedate jingle more than compensates for the gaudy look of the logo.

5th Logo

Nicknames: “CGI,” “The Filmstrip 4”

Logo: On a black background, we see four large red stars, one-by-one, zoom by from left to right at an angle. As the 4th star appears, the number “4” (in a high-tech font) comes from the right and attaches itself to the star. The background turns purple, and three lines (the first slightly thicker than the others) pass over the logo and settle under, wiping the words “FOUR” and “STAR” to the left and right of the logo, respectively. The logo “shines.”

FX: The star animations, the background turning purple, the line animations, the “shine.”

Cheesy Factor: The CGI is rather dated, looking two-dimensional and utilizing overly simple animation effects.

Music: A rising new-age synth theme.

Availability: Rare, Four Star’s output was coming to a stop by this time; was last seen on 1984-85 episodes of “Mad Movies with the L.A. Connection,” mid-80s prints of the game show “Liar’s Club,” and the 1987 colorized version of “Scrooge” (1951) in syndication.

Scare Factor: Low, this once state-of-the-art logo was a fitting end to a company with a memorable library of logos.

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