The 1950s is known as The Golden Age of Television because in those early days of the medium, the programming veered more toward high culture, with stage dramas and orchestra performances coming through the airwaves along with vaudeville-type shows and the earliest sitcoms and dramas.

It was in this era that a group of Boston nuns decided that television might be just the medium for them. In its Aug. 19, 1955 issue LIFE wrote about how these nuns were learning the new technology, hoping it would be a tool for education:

Twenty lively nuns overran a studio full of cameras, lights, microphones and monitors last week and became wise in the worldly ways of television. Parochial school teachers, they were learning the technical tricks of the TV trade from working professionals and expecting that they will regularly receive and produce educational telecasts for their schools. On WIHS-TV, set up by the Boston archdiocese as a closed circuit, they worked in front of and behind the cameras, staged commercials they wrote, tossed cues, directed skits, and combined all their talents in a convent-cast version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

LIFE photographer Grey Villet was there to capture the spectacle, and it makes for some delightful pictures. Not too long ago a professor at UC-Davis wrote a serious academic paper on the topic of why nuns are so funny. But Villet’s pictures, especially the ones of the nuns are acting out a Snow White skit, capture perfectly the memorable juxtapositions than can result when these holy women immerse themselves in the modern world.

The nuns’ ambitious for their productions were obviously narrow, with their focus on teaching. But the scenes of the nuns in front of the camera call to mind that the most most famous nun ever on television was The Flying Nun, a sitcom starring Sally Field that ran from 1967 to 1970, when the Golden Age of Television had given way to a world of popular entertainment..

A group of nuns learning how to make television programming at a Boston TV station, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Nuns learned about making educational programming at a Boston TV station, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Three nuns in praying position while in front of the TV cameras on a TV set where they were making educational television, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A nun acted out a makeshift TV commercial, featuring a joke about the pocket size of nuns’ habits, during a workshop at a Boston TV studio, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A group of nuns learning how to make television programming at a Boston TV station, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A group of nuns learning how to make television programming at a Boston TV station, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A group of nuns learning how to make television programming at a Boston TV station, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Nuns learned about making educational programming at a Boston television station, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A TV workshop for nuns including filming a skit based on Snow White, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A TV workshop for nuns including filming a skit based on Snow White, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A TV workshop for nuns including filming a skit based on Snow White, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A TV workshop for nuns including filming a skit based on Snow White, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

A TV workshop for nuns including filming a skit based on Snow White, 1955.

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

View of five nuns, each with a paper makes that depicts one of the Seven Dwarfs, as they perform under a boom microphone, August 13, 1955

Grey Villet/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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