The Red Skelton Hour: Production History
Every Tuesday night, from 1954 to 1970 most of America was watching Red Skelton on CBS…I know my family did. The show as mostly done at Television City, but at some point in the late 50s, Red moved the show out of TVC.
Red was a very smart guy and very well paid by CBS for his show,even when it was at TVC. He was one of the first and few independent producers and for a few years, did his show at his own facility on the old Charlie Chaplin lot in Hollywood where KTLA and others also had studios.
Skelton had become fascinated with the way he looked on color television but frustrated with CBS because they did so few color broadcasts. When TVC opened in ’52, it was all black and white but on September 7, 1954, “Life with Father” was colorcast from Studio 43C with RCA TK40 cameras.
A second studio, Studio 41, was converted in 1956 with TK-41’s. By the early 60’s, CBS colorcasting had decreased to only a few shows per year. The last studio 43 production with RCA equipment was the in late 1964 taping of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Even though TVC had color, they weren’t broadcasting in color much.
Thinking that if he delivered the show in color it would help, he bought his own equipment from RCA and Ampex and began selling CBS his color video tapes. On the days they were not taping the Red Skelton Show, the theory was they would rent out the 3 production units for color production there in Los Angeles and make big dollars on that too. That did not work out, but Red still won on the deal.
CBS wanted more control of the Red Skelton Show, and the amount of money they paid for it, so around 1962, they made a deal with Skelton that moved him back to CBS Television City. As part of the deal, CBS bought RED-EO Video’s production buses and used the units for studio and remote work for a year or so before the whole 3 unit ensemble was sold to KTLA in late 1964. KTLA put the cameras in their studios, but still did remote work with them too.
This is Red back at Television City in 1965.