Leon Trotsky was the host of the deeply unpopular weekly ABC variety show The Veri-Sharp Ice Pick Company Presents: It's Communism! with Leon Trotsky (1945-1955).
Accompanied by his lovable orangutan co-host J. Fred Marx, Trotsky would spend most of every show angrily berating his bewildered guests about the failings of the capitalist system and the woeful failure of Communism to live up to its true potential. The show also featured the Agricultural Collective Dancers, a troupe of full-figured beauties dressed as various pieces of farm equipment, who would perform elaborate interpretive dance numbers about the epic love between the Soviet people and their vast fields of grain. As was the custom at the time, each show opened with a three-minute segment in which Trotsky, through visibly clenched teeth, extolled the virtues of his sponsor's product, "The People's Pick in the War on Cold." The program's most popular regular segment was "That Bastard Stalin," in which Trotsky attacked a large portrait of his longtime enemy and former ice-dancing rival Joseph Stalin with a butcher knife while swearing profusely in Russian.
Amid a tide of strong anti-Communist sentiment, the program quickly descended from "unpopular" to "universally loathed." By the second season, its filming had been moved to a secret location after threats were made against Trotsky's life, and ABC affiliates in the heartland were being looted and burned by angry mobs at the rate of one each week. Nonetheless, the ratings were huge, and ABC's desperation for any sort of programming that kept people tuning in helped to ensure the program's decade-long run.
It's Communism! made television history as the first TV show to feature a performance from a young Elvis Presley, whose manager had inadvertently confused the show with The Grand Ole Opry. Though most of the program's guests were subsequently subject to hate mail, public stonings, and subpoenas from the House Un-American Activities Committee, Elvis managed to escape with his reputation intact. This was largely thanks to Trotsky's insistence that Elvis be filmed only from the waist down; he famously proclaimed, "That boy, he has the fertile hips of a true proletariat."
It's Communism! ended suddenly and dramatically in 1955, when J. Fred Marx stabbed Trotsky to death on-air with one of his sponsor's own ice picks. Trotsky's final words, broadcast live to an audience of millions, were "To hell with you and your triple Lutz, Joe!" Declassified CIA records later revealed that J. Fred Marx was most likely a KGB sleeper agent, possibly under the control of notorious Pottsylvanian "handlers" Boris Badenov and Natasha Nogoodnik.
In a triumphant return to television, Trotsky appeared playing Terry Jones on a 3rd season episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The episode, titled "The Cycling Tour," involved Trotsky's character running through the woods at night looking for his friend Lenin, avoiding French autograph hounds, and addressing his followers assembled at a clambake in Moscow accompanied by a beautiful white feather boa that he put to very good use in the song-and-dance routine.