The estate of beloved crooner Nat King Cole is giving fans a very special Valentine's week treat - episodes of the singer's 1950s variety show will be posted online for downloading.
Performances by Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mercer, Mel Torme and Peggy Lee, among others, from The Nat King Cole Show will be made available via iTunes.
The episodes have been remastered for the first time from the original black-and-white kinescopes, which sets them apart from a DVD release of highlights from the series released in 2002 without the co-operation of Cole's family.
Cole's widow, Maria Hawkins Cole, 88, has made the rare television shows available after saving the shows to preserve the legacy of her late husband, who died in 1965.
She says, "I knew these TV shows were too important to have something happen to them, so that's why I held on to them all these years. I'm so excited that they will be seen exactly the way they were first seen back in 1956 and 1957. And Nat never looked or sounded better in those shows."
When The Nat King Cole Show premiered in November 1956, Cole became the first African-American to host and star in a television variety show.