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America in Color

America in Color

  • Premiered: 
    July 2, 2017
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Smithsonian
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
  • Tags: United States

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Plot Synopsis

AMERICA IN COLOR is a documentary series that presents many of these iconic moments in U.S. history as never before seen -- in color. From Prohibition and the Jazz Age to the moon landing and the birth of rock and roll, many of the most significant events of the 20th century have only been experienced in the black-and-white footage available at the time, but after using artistry and cutting-edge colorization technology, these moving and still images have been transformed into color for the first time.

Narrated by Liev Schreiber, the five-episode first season takes viewers on a journey through American history, including footage of illegal drinking in speakeasies during the 1920s, rare home movies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, scenes of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Elvis Presley's television debut on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW, and the Nixon-Kennedy debate. Using revolutionary methods in footage restoration and colorization, AMERICA IN COLOR accurately restores and colorizes archival black-and-white visuals from the early part of the 20th century up through the '60s. Filmmakers meticulously researched original colors to confirm the correct tones from each era and used source materials from obscure archives and forgotten family vaults, spending over 6,000 hours scouring archives and tracking down over 27 miles of film. The five episodes include 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

The sophomore season of AMERICA IN COLOR premiered on Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 8pm ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel, with a new narrator: Eric Meyers. Building on the decade-by-decade approach of Season 1, Season 2 captures the country's explosive transformation: the men and women who drove it, its impact on the land and society at large, and the birth of a mass culture that we still recognize today. From the Golden Age of Hollywood to the Wild West and organized crime, the new season explores some of the most significant moments in American history, now in color for the first time. Plus, Season 2 dives even deeper into historical archives, private collections and home movies, digitizing over 23 miles of footage, in search of the people, places and moments -- big and small -- that helped define the 20th century. Through rare imagery of the birth of American traditions like the Girl Scouts and the first Indianapolis 500 to in-game footage of the infamous 1919 Black Sox World Series and even the legendary Rockefeller family's own home movies, the series continues to use startlingly detailed restoration and colorization to bridge the decades and present history as it was lived -- in color.

The six-episode new third season of AMERICA IN COLOR premiered on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 8pm ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel. The season opener, "Coming to America," sees millions of immigrants arriving in search of the American dream from the turn of the century through the 1960s. Very rare footage shows world-renowned physicist Albert Einstein in Germany and traces his journey from Nazi-era Germany to American citizenship. Never-before-seen home movies capture the early days and hard-won success of a Russian Jewish family who settled in Maine. Other home movies track a young Mexican-American family living in Texas in the 1920s. And for the first time in color, the episode shows a child of Italian immigrants who rose to fame, young Frank Sinatra, giving a tour of his home and making pizza.
On Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 8pm ET/PT, Smithsonian Channel premiered "Small Town Life" the Season 3 finale of AMERICA IN COLOR. At the turn of the 20th century, two-thirds of Americans live in small towns, but by the 1960s, only a third remain. Some are lured to cities by the promise of opportunity and money, while others move there to escape racism and intolerance. Through it all, the myth of these quaint, harmonious communities continues to burn powerfully in the minds of many. This is the story of small town America, from soap box derbies and Will Rogers' charm to postwar poverty and the Great Migration, presented in color.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Arrow Media