Among his many accomplishments, Cole was the first African-American performer to host a variety show on network television.The Nat “King” Cole Show aired from 1956 to 1957, but was cancelled because the show could not secure a sustaining sponsor. In a 1958 Ebony magazine article entitled “Why I Quit My TV Show,” Cole describe his frustration:
Here is an episode of The Nat “King” Cole Show from October 1957, just before NBC cancelled the program:
For 13 months I was the Jackie Robinson of television. I was the pioneer, the test case, the Negro first....On my show rode the hopes and tears and dreams of millions of people....Once a week for 64 consecutive weeks I went to bat for these people. I sacrificed and drove myself. I plowed part of my salary back into the show. I turned down $500,000 in dates in order to be on the scene. I did everything I could to make the show a success. And what happened? After a trailblazing year that shattered all the old bugaboos about Negroes on TV, I found myself standing there with the bat on my shoulder. The men who dictate what Americans see and hear didn't want to play ball.