Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Dale Walsh 1

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Dale Walsh 1

I love these two shots Dale sent of him at work with the TK41s. This one is in Fort Worth at the Colonial Country Club shooting golf in 1968. Go ahead Dale…stand on the box if you need to.

Dale is such a veteran cameraman that when he retired from ABC in Hollywood after 45 years, they calculated that he had an extra…get ready…15 years of time! Would that then equal a total of 60 years at ABC?


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Dale Walsh 2

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Dale Walsh 2

Another great shot of Dale on location in Lincoln, Nebraska getting ready for some Corn Husker football in 1969! By the way, I’m almost positive that these two photos were taken by another ABC cameraman…why? Although it would have been nice to see the front of the TK41C camera in both, notice that the human subject, Dale, is precisely centered in each one.


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Let’s Set The Record Straight: NBC and Norelco

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Let’s Set The Record Straight: NBC and Norelco

I thought it was sacrilegious to mention NBC and Norelco in the same breath, but that was before I met Fred Himelfarb. Fred was NBC’s senior camera engineer and was in charge of the NBC Labs at 30 Rock.

Fred came from RCA to NBC with the first TK40s and was the direct link between NBC and RCA. He was the genius that made dozens of modifications and changes that made these cameras so great.

One of the best stories I know about these cameras was told to me by Fred himself in one of only three phone conversations I was able to have with him before he passed suddenly in August of 2009. Due to NBC’s lack of interest in the TK42s and 43s (which is another Fred story discussed in the RCA Archives section of the web site), and with the long lag in the TK44’s development, NBC was actually considering buying 35 Norelcos for their remote trucks. By 1966, Fred had already begun to modify the specifications of Norelco’s camera to suit his high standards in the image it made. Fred even wanted a smaller plumbicon tube size, and got it. Phillips built 6 PC60s to his specs for testing.

When these 6 Norelcos arrived, it so happened that NBC was about to televise the World Series, so…Fred deployed them all to the stadium and invited the Phillips brass to watch from a special hospitality truck that showed only the broadcast feed. After the game, they all commented on how great it looked on TV, and every single Phillips executive said that they were especially impressed by the shot from the outfield. That’s when Fred told them that actually there were 7 cameras there and that the outfield shot came from an RCA TK41C. More improvements were made and the Norelco PC70 was born.

Around 1968, NBC bought 35 of them and they were all assigned to mobile units with none of them ever used in any of the NBC studios. I think they all came with the Varotal lenses. One is seen below at the 30 Rock Christmas Tree Lighting. Note that the new ‘Nebraska’ logo is in place and the small snake logo at the lower corner has been obscured.


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RETIRED!After some 30+ years, this famous Chapman Electra crane is leaving

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RETIRED!

After some 30+ years, this famous Chapman Electra crane is leaving NBC’s Studio 8H. John Pinto, the camera operator on the Electra, since Al Camoin retired, told me that a new Chapman is on the way. During the SNL hiatus, 8H has been filled with many individual audio booths (like during the 08 China games) for Olympics coverage and after the games are over, a new Chapman crane will arrive.

There is a lot more on this historic crane on the main site at this link http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Gallery_Saturday.php

Interestingly, this crane still belongs to Chapman (and is leased) which is why this very crane also worked at ABC on Dick Clark’s $$$ Pyramid Shows. Longtime ABC cameraman Howie Zeidman tells me the shows were taped early in the week and Chapman would pick up the Electra early Monday morning at NBC, deliver it to ABC, and have it back by early Wednesday so SNL rehearsal could begin.

I don’t know where this awesome piece of broadcast history is going to wind up, but I’ll keep you posted!


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This is the great June Foray! June who you say?

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Yes, This is the great June Foray!

June who you say? June Foray, (now 94) is the voice of hundreds of cartoon characters, but best known for her work as the voice of Rocky, Natasha Fatale and Nell Fenwick on ‘The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show’. She’s also Granny in many Looney Tunes shows like Sylvester and Tweety. You name the cartoon, her voice has been in it…even the Twilight Zone.

Here are 2 very good videos. This first one is June and Bill Scott, the voice of Bullwinkle on the WBCN Boston morning show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieOGZtGUjRQ&feature=related

This is also interesting…an interview in her normal voice then, a quite good little taste of Rocky and Bullwinkle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouLW28VAd_I

Congratulations to Dave Fell, Media Manager for WLS TV for guessing the answer first!


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The Roots of the Grand Ole Opry…

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The Roots of the Grand Ole Opry…

This photo from early 1949 shows WBAP in Fort Worth’s ‘Saturday Night Barn Dance’ show on the air with an RCA TK10 working to capture it…horses and all. The television version of ‘Barn Dance’ is actually a spin off of the WBAP radio show at started in 1923.

The radio show was such a hit that others quickly copied the format. Radio station WLS in Chicago (the initials stood for “World’s Largest Store” since it was owned by Sears, Roebuck, & Co.) premiered one of the first copies called ‘National Barn Dance’, in 1924. Other stations followed suit – KWKH of Shreveport, Louisiana, with the ‘Louisiana Hayride’, WWVA of Wheeling, West Virginia, with the ‘Wheeling Jamboree’ and, of course, WSM of Nashville, Tennessee, with the ‘Grand Ole Opry’ which debuted in 1925. WSM TV began broadcasting in 1950 and soon after, The Opry went on the air.


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Perspective Is Everything…

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Perspective Is Everything…

In this photo, the size of the teleprompter just jumps off the page for some reason. Although we’ve all seen them before, it suddenly seems huge, but to everyone’s credit, this cumbersome configuration worked for the talent as well as the camera crews. This is long time ABC cameraman Charlie Henry on the WABC News set with an Ikegami 312E. I think the prompter is a QTV model.


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From South Africa, Dual Cameras Offer “Stereoscopic HD”

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What Do You Think?

This photo from South Africa shows dual Sony cameras televising World Cup Soccer and the caption said “in stereoscopic hdc”. Unless this is a 3D broadcast, I just don’t get it. I’ve never seen regular broadcast cameras slaved together for 3D, but maybe that’s what is happening here. What do you think? Time for the real engineers to weigh in!


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RCA TK 60 and the Angenieux Zoom Lens

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RCA TK 60 and the Angenieux Zoom Lens

Nice shot of TK60s at work at Texas Tech’s KTXT in Lubock TX back in the 60s. These were good looking cameras in every way…their physical appearance and the top quality pictures they made. This was the end of the line for monochrome cameras.

The lens on both cameras is the Angenieux Zoom, Model lOX40C, and is custom made for the TK60 and have a geared iris ring for operation by the iris drive mechanism of an RCA TK­60. The lens is also ortal based. Ortal base lenses, like on the TK60s are held in place by clamps on the turret instead of screwing in like the Ektanon lenses.

These cameras are using an outside focus control kit but there is also an internal port for the focus rod to pass through in the lower right corner of the camera. On the older models, the zoom rod went through the center of the lens selection handle on the back and out through the center of the lens turret. The addition of the geared iris drive in the center of the TK60 turret stopped up that hole. Rank Taylor Hobson had a similar lens for the TK60 but theirs used the mechanical cables instead of the push rod.


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Rare! CBS, WTOP Washington Uses RCA Orthicon Camera

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Very Rare! One Of A Kind…

This is the only photo I have ever seen of an Orthicon camera in use at CBS. This photo taken on the US Capitol steps is probably from 1947 and the signal from this camera would probably be feeding to WMAL TV, the first CBS affiliate in Washington. WTOP became the CBS affiliate in WDC in January of ’49.

I suspect this is an RCA made camera but the few Orthicon cameras they built, did not seem to have much in the way of logos or badges. Remember, the Orthicon was the first version of the Image Orthicon which debuted in the RCA TK10 and TK30s in mid to late 1946. Thanks to Tom Buckley for the photo.


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An Interesting Story about TK41s and American Bandstand

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An Interesting Story about TK41s and American Bandstand

I’ve often wondered if TK41s were ever used to shoot American Bandstand and I have found out that the answer is yes, but only for a couple of weeks, and it wasn’t in LA…it was at WFIL in Philadelphia.

ABC was really the last of the big 3 to go full color, to their credit though, they did broadcast the ‘Jetsons’ in color as early as ’62, but only by taking the film to KNBC to feed them the color signal as they did not have a color telecine chain till a couple of years later.

But back to Philadelphia. In 1958, WFIL went color and got a few TK41s. They decided to use them on American Bandstand because they could at least feed the color signal live there in Philly even if ABC network didn’t ‘do’ color. Studio B was 80 x 42 x 24, but with the bleachers and set, there was a lot less space to dance. For years, the show was shot with 3 RCA TK10s, and later TK11s, and that worked out fine, but the TK41s, were so big and took so much room to swing around (remember the camera from pan handle to lens tip is 5 feet long), shooting with even 2 took up so much of the dance floor that they went to a single TK41.

It didn’t take long for everyone to figure out that the new 1 camera color show was nowhere near as good as the old 3 camera black and white one, so they went back to the TK10s. To make the decision easier, ABC refused to take the color signal about the same time the local producers began to miss their choice of shots.


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Most Excellent!

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Most Excellent!

Thanks to Thomas Buckley for this great photo. This is Roger Mudd filling in for Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News around 1966 or so. The Norelco PC60, camera 1 in the background is probably one Dave Dorsett used in his many years as ‘Walter’s cameraman’.


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Peter Jennings: Berlin Wall

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Peter Jennings: Berlin Wall

While the great Peter Jennings is on my mind, here is a photo of him preparing to go live in the fall of 89 at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Other ABC people in the photo are Jack Smith to the left of Jennings and Steve Tello on the right. Stu Schutman and Annie Benjamin are shown here too.


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30 ROCK: JACKPOT! 4 Must See Videos….

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30 ROCK: JACKPOT! 4 Must See Videos….

The video featured is one of four I’m sharing here…it is an extended 12 minute look behind the scenes of the 2010 ‘live’ show done from Studio 8H at NBC. I had previously posted a 5 minute version. It’s great!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6M1iWT16lo
This is raw, behind the scenes footage from the rehearsals the 30 Rock live show in NBC Studio 8H in 2010. You’ll need to turn up the volume for this, but it’s good!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UAsrWVGF3g&feature=related 30 Rock Season 1, Jack (Kenneth the Page) McBrayer takes us on a tour of the sets at Silvercup Studios where the show is normally shot. Quite interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUp68_kFULE&feature=related 30 Rock, Out takes and gag reel, Season 1. VERY FUNNY!

Comments welcome!

Go behind the scenes with the cast of 30 Rock as they produce and comment on the live shows. All rights belong to NBC. 30 Rock fans: find me at redundanttors…
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The Over – Under: The Latest From Chapman

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The Over – Under:

This is the latest from Chapman for football coverage. Here ESPN cameras are mounted on an Olympian sideline crane on a modified T formation with one above the other. Both platform turrets have 360 movement that the operator ‘walks’ to the angle they want with their feet, similar to the European soccer sideline rigs and hockey ‘half shell’ set ups. COOL!


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Dumont: WABD TV New York

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Dumont: WABD TV New York

This is a companion to the Electrocam photo posted yesterday. This control room shot is not from Dumont’s 67th Street Telecenter, but the photo owner, Ward Bennett thinks this is either at the Adelphi Theater, where the ‘Honemooners’ was shot, or at the Wannamaker’s studio.

Shown here, Frank Carr on left standing up talking on telephone, Hal Bowden sitting right of Frank, Paul Mirasola seated far right, and Ken Gieman, the person who was the Electonicam operator, is in the Audio Room.

The station traces its history to 1938, when television set and equipment manufacturer Allen B. DuMont founded W2XVT (renamed as W2XWV in 1944), an experimental station. On May 2, 1944, the station received its commercial license — the third in New York City — on channel 4 as WABD, after DuMont’s initials. It was one of the few stations that continued broadcasting during World War II, making it the fourth-oldest continuously broadcasting commercial station in the United States. The station broadcast from the DuMont Building on Madison Avenue. On December 17, 1945 WABD moved to channel 5.

Channel 5 is now WNYW and is the flagship station of Fox Broadcasting. It’s sister station is WWOR (Secaucus NJ). I noticed that Mr Harold (Hal) Borth has visited this site and I would like to hear from you Harold. Please email me at edition4@comcast.net.

Mr. Borth spent 40 years with these stations as a Senior Engineer and has been on top of the Empire State Building and World Trade Center more times than you can count attending to the transmitters and towers. I hope to do a story on WABD and it’s progression to WNYW.


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Real Camera Operator History! A TRUE RARITY!

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Real Camera Operator History! A TRUE RARITY! (Revised Text)

Here is a picture of Ken Gieman, the first Dumont Electorcam operator. I think Ken is on the left of the camera with his hand on the steering ring.

This picture was taken at Dumont Broadcasting, Channel 5, Studio 5, 205 East 67th Street, NYC about 1956. I had originally thought the set behind them was the ‘Honeymooners’ set without the furniture, but after seeing the comments below, have double checked the photo. This set has double wide windows…Ralph and Alice’s apartment window was a single window.

This is a 35 mm version of the Electrocam and used Kodak Tri X film.

This picture was sent to me by Ward Bennett who was given the photo by Harold Borth who Ward worked with at MetroMedia, WNEW-TV then at FOX, WNYW-TV. Thank you Ward!


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Marconi Mark VII Color

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Marconi Mark VII Color

This is from a 1975 tennis match near Boston. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen a Mark VII with a lens other than it’s regular Angenieux lens compliment. These were great cameras and I’m glad to have one on display. Mine spent most of it’s days on Sesame Street.


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Soupy Sales Famous ‘Stripper Surprise’ Backstory

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Soupy Sales Famous ‘Stripper Surprise’ Backstory

Let me let you in on a little secret. Lunch with Soupy Sales, Detroit’s most popular TV kid’s show, wasn’t really a kid’s show at all. Oh sure, Soupy always reminded the kiddies to take their vitaminnies and eat Silvercup Bread, “the best bread in Dee-troit,” but the show always relied on more adult oriented humor. In a 1958 Detroit Times article Sales even admitted, “There’s really no message to this show. It’s actually a kid’s show for adults.”

Soupy and his straight man, puppeteer Clyde Adler, were basically a modern day vaudeville team. The show never had a live studio audience, except for a very vocal stage crew. Soupy always tried to crack up the crew, and they were more than happy to reciprocate. For example, Soupy’s orange juice was on more than one occasion spiked with 100 proof vodka, courtesy of the stagehands. Another crew prank involved the placing of dirty notes between the buns of Soupy’s hamburger. When Soupy lifted the top of the bun to put ketchup on his burger he’d see the dirty note, which would invariably break him up.

The most well known gag from the show ranks as one of the classic outtakes in TV history, thanks to Dick Clark’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes TV show. So without further ado, I give you the true story of the famous “Naked Lady Behind The Door.”

There never was a written script for the show; Soupy and Clyde would just work out what they were going to do, giving the director a bare-bones outline for camera angles and sound cues. The bit was for the audio man to play a recording of a woman screaming. Soupy would then run to the door, open it, and look down to see a pair of women’s shoes being pulled by fishing line, running from a pair of men’s shoes. Blackout, cut to commercial.

The studio that day was filled with curious onlookers who were in on the joke. Soupy knew that something was up, but he wasn’t quite sure what. The show started precisely at noon, and ran smoothly. At about 12:27 Soupy, as rehearsed, heard a woman’s scream. He ran to the door, opened it, and instead of a pair of women’s shoes saw a nude woman wearing nothing but a smile. Soupy stole a quick glance at the master monitor, hoping that the curvaceous cutie’s image wasn’t being broadcast live over the airwaves. Sure enough, to his horror the monitor showed exactly what Soupy had feared- a smiling nude woman. The engineers were clever enough to patch a different camera angle into the monitor, making Soupy think that thousands of Detroit kiddies were at home eating their lunches in front of the TV while getting a lesson in female anatomy. In reality, what the kids saw was a speechless Soupy standing next to an open door, nothing more. Soupy saw what he thought was his career passing before his eyes.

Since the show was broadcast live, no video footage exists. The gag was recreated once more in Los Angeles in 1962, but because the show had gone completely to videotape by then, any flubs could be easily edited out, making the practical joke less effective and here is the video.

Soupy Sales blooper isn’t really a blooper. Although the normal straight on door shot made it to air, the shot of the stripper did not. The crew play a pract…
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Chicago TV Class Picture

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Chicago TV Class Picture

With Chicago’s WBKB still on my mind from this morning’s post, I thought now was a good time to add this photo of the windy city’s bright start of the small screen from the early days. The names are at the bottom and should be viewable in ‘full screen’ mode.


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The EMMY Awards: Part 1

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The EMMY Awards: Part 1

In the video below from the 1953 Emmy Awards show, we see the independent station, KHJ’s cameras bringing us great scenes of Vivian Vance (Ethel) and Lucille Ball (Lucy) accepting their awards on this local broadcast. Interestingly, all 3, including Desi Arnaz push for a ‘writer’ category that soon was added to the mix of awards.

The first six Emmys were awarded January 25, 1949, and the very first went to 20yearold Shirley Dinsdale, a Los Angeles ventriloquist, for being the Most Outstanding Television Personality.

The original Academy of Television Arts and Sciences was founded in 1946 by Syd Cassyd, a reporter for a TV trade magazine in Los Angeles and a grip on Paramounts back lot.

The Emmys originally were to be called Ikes, a short form for the television iconoscrope tube, but there was concern they would be linked to Dwight D. Eisenhower. So instead, Harry Lubcke of the Society of Television Engineers came up with a feminization of Immy, a term used for the early image orthicon camera tube but the name was feminized to Emmy to match the look of the trophy statue. Dorothy McManus was the model for her husband, Louis McManus, as he designed the winged golden girl holding up the universal symbol of the electron, which would become the Emmy Award statue. He received a plaque from the Academy at the first awards ceremony.

In 1951, Red Skelton accepted the Best Comedian award by saying, I think this should have gone to Lucille Ball. In 1950, when Groucho Marx accepted the honor of TVs Most Outstanding Personality, he picked up Miss Emmy, the former Miss America Rosemary LaPlanche, and carried her off the stage, leaving his statue behind.

6th Annual Emmys. Vivian Vance wins as well as best situation comedy for I Love Lucy.
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The EMMY Awards: Part 2

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The EMMY Awards: Part 2

Here is a photo from the 1955 Emmy Awards. NBC originated this first ever coast to coast simulcast. Starting in 1955 to 1971, the Emmys were simulcast from both New York and Los Angeles to quell jealousies between rival cities, frequently resulting in screens going blank for up to a minute. It was a costly arrangement and NBC paid $110,000 for the first transcontinental hookup.

When the Emmys were first broadcast in 1949, there were 1 million TV sets in the United States. By the national broadcast of 1955, there were 25 million.

ATT was nominated for an engineering Emmy but lost in 1951 for the transcontinental microwave relay system that made possible live coast-to-coast television broadcasts.

The Emmys have been televised every year except 1954 when there were disputes between the east and west coast chapters, and were shown for the first time on a national broadcast in 1955 on NBC. The January 16, 1957, Emmy awards ceremony was the first to be telecast in color.

Ed Sullivan and New York’s TV elite forced the establishment of a separate bicoastal group, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1957.

In 1977, after suits and countersuits, the bicoastal academies finally agreed to work together. The NATAS, based in New York, manages daytime, sports, news and documentary, international and local awards. The newer Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, located in California, bestows primetime prizes.

The number of categories for Emmys has fluctuated wildly over the years, from six the first year to more than 40 in many seasons. Even the wording changes, fluctuating from best to outstanding. Once there was a separate category for Westerns, but those Gunsmoke and Maverick days are gone at least for now. Cable TV programming was not allowed to participate in the primetime competition until 1987.

Jackie Gleason never won an Emmy, but his pal Art Carney won five for The Honeymooners. Deadpanner Ed Sullivan, who caused the bicoastal split in the academy in June 1955, smiled when his show received the Best Variety Series award that year. He never won a personal Emmy in voter competition, but was given a Trustees Award in 1971.

Rod Serling won his third successive writing award in 1957 for The Comedian, about the struggles of a burlesque king adjusting to TV. The award for the story, obviously based on Milton Berles life, was presented by Berle.

The Emmys ceremony for the 1958-59 season is remembered for the notorious Astaire Affair, when the dancers first television special, An Evening with Fred Astaire, won all nine of the awards for which it was nominated, thus establishing an Emmy record. Ed Sullivan asked that the ballots be impounded.

Huckleberry Hound was the first syndicated program and the first cartoon series to take home an Emmy, which it did in the 1959-60 season.

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Macbeth, a $750,000 production filmed on location in Scotland and broadcast as a two hour color presentation, is considered by many television historians to be the first made for TV movie. It received five Emmys at the 1961 ceremony, including one in the rare category, Program of the Year.


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The Twist! 1960, TK10 Shoots First Live Performance

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Let’s Twist! 1960, American Bandstand

In the first 10 seconds or so, Dick Clark intros Chubby Checker while standing in front of a TK10 on a Houston Fearless 30B stage crane. I was 10 when this song came out and played this record a lot. Actually, the Twist was a cool dance.

Chubby Checker – The Twist
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Did you know CBS made tubes?

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Did you know CBS made tubes?

I didn’t either till I saw this old ad with Gary Moore. The tube business was probably a part of the TV set maker, Hytron that CBS bought in 1951 to make ‘Air King’ home receiver sets compatible with it’s Field Sequential color system. Interestingly most of those home sets that were sold were bought back and destroyed after the FCC went with RCA’s Dot Sequential color system.


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Finally! I’ve wondered for years what this pedestal is and now I know

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Finally!

I’ve wondered for years what this pedestal is and now I know…it’s a Canon MC 300 and it was made in Japan. I never knew Canon made television equipment other than lenses. I think it is like the Vinten Fulmar in that it has 2 telescoping columns under the brake ring. A lot of these were in use in Japan, Asia and Australia.


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Best Ever Behind The Scenes Sports Video! Part 2

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JACKPOT!!!! Best Ever Video! Tell your friends and share this!

This is part 2 (of 2) of a 1976 film documentary of ABC’s coverage of the Ohio State-UCLA football game from Los Angeles. “Seconds To Play” is a half hour total and takes us everywhere, every step of the way!

MORE LIKE THIS SOON! ENJOY!


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Best Ever Behind The Scenes Sports Video! Part 1

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JACKPOT!!!! Best Ever Video! Tell your friends and share this!

This is part 1 (of 2) of a 1976 film documentary of ABC’s coverage of the Ohio State-UCLA football game from Los Angeles. “Seconds To Play” is a half hour total and takes us everywhere, every step of the way!

Part 2 to follow shortly AND…MORE LIKE THIS SOON! ENJOY!


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A First! Here is a photo of Bing Crosby’s first appearance on television. …

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A First!

Here is a photo of Bing Crosby’s first appearance on television.

With a shortfall of funds facing the U.S. Olympic team, Hollywood luminaries gathered on the stage of the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles and pleaded, cajoled and implored the television audience watching on both NBC and CBS to phone in their pledges.

The 14 hour telethon was hosted by Bob Hope and his frequent co-star in the Paramount Pictures string of “Road” movies, Bing Crosby, who until then had shied away from television.

A week before the telethon, Hope marked Crosby’s impending television debut by showing a large cutout of his friend on “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” Crosby, a CBS man, and Hope, always on NBC, joined forces at the behest of Vincent X. Flaherty, a legendary sports columnist for the now-defunct Los Angeles Examiner and a drinking and golfing buddy of both men.

Perhaps the biggest coup of the telethon was in getting Crosby to appear on television. Crosby already has turned down several well-paying opportunities to appear on television.

“This is one time I couldn’t refuse,” Crosby said. “I think every American should get behind our Olympic team and send our athletes across at full strength; and in the finest style possible. We’ve got to show those Reds up.”

The 1952 Olympics were the first ones that pitted Americans against Soviets, and the Communists were heading to the Games predicting victory.


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First Instant Replay!

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MUST SEE (AND READ) TV HISTORY: The First Instant Replay

You can see part of the story in the video, but the interesting details on how this was done is here in the text story. Enjoy!

An Ampex VR-1000 helped make broadcast history on Dec. 7, 1963.

CBS Director Tony Verna ( from WCAU-TV originally) had been pushing the sports television envelope in an effort to bring more of the game to viewers. He was hired by then-CBS executive Tex Schramm, before Schramm became the first president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys.

Verna had worked with tape during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. CBS aired the Games via tape delay… recording the tapes in Rome, and flying them to New York for playback.

In his book “Instant Replay” Verna recalls working around the bureaucracy at CBS to let him take one of the 14 Ampex VR-1000s from the tape room at Grand Central Terminal and haul it to the era’s college football showcase, the Army-Navy Game in relatively nearby Philadelphia.

Millions would be watching the game… delayed more than two weeks by the assassination of President Kennedy. The game pitted Navy’s Roger Staubach against Army Quarterback Rollie Stichweh.

Its not clear from Verna’s book or other re-tellings which model of VR-1000 was used, but given that the VR-1000’s in Grand Central were put into service in 1958, that meant pulling the transport and two racks of electronics out of the building and into a truck.

On location, Verna planned to use the cue track to overcome two problems: Finding the right place to start playback, and overcome the long, often ten second lock-up time machines required before showing a clean picture.

He told audio man Dick Livingston to record one beep on the cue track as a team broke a huddle, and a pair of beeps when the ball was snapped.

The timing process worked in run-throughs… but the VR-1000 didn’t always lock up in time to be put on the line.

That was partly due to the piece of tape being used: A spliced five minute hunk of what Verna recalls was Scotch 179. It had previously been used to record a Lucy Show and still had content on it that would appear when least expected.

It finally worked. CBS’s George Drago was on the isolated camera patched into the VR-1000 John Wells was operating.

For three nervous quarters, Verna peered into his monitor and studied his two guinea pigs, Navy quarterback Roger Staubach and Army counterpart Rollie Stichweh. Verna had assigned one camera to follow only the two signal-callers, primarily because Staubach was so skilled with his ball-handling and fakes that most cameramen couldn’t keep up with him.

Although Staubach was the winner of the 1963 Heisman Trophy, it was Stichweh who made television history that day. Stichweh faked to an Army halfback before running into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, Army’s last in a 21-15 loss.

The requisite beeps sounded in the production truck. Words passed through cables and into headsets. Seconds later, a clear image of Stichweh and the Army offense appeared on the monitor. Verna pulled the trigger and threw the picture on air.
“Here it comes,” he warned play-by-play announcer Lindsey Nelson, to whom he had revealed his intentions only hours earlier, during the taxicab ride to Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium.

Nelson didn’t even have time to forewarn his audience that they would be witnessing television history. Most important, though, Stichweh “re- scampered” into the end zone and the very first instant replay went off without a technical hitch.

So as not to confuse viewers, Nelson alerted his audience to what they’d just seen: “This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!”

During the game, Schramm phoned Verna in the truck. “My boy,” Schramm told Verna, “what you have done here will have such far-reaching implications, we can’t begin to imagine them today.”

Many thanks to Ted Langdell at Quad Videotape Group.com for this very interesting information, and more that will follow soon!

Bobby Ellerbee

Tony Verna, the inventor of Instant Replay
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TV History: October 5, 1947…First White House Broadcast

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TV History: October 5, 1947

Below, a single RCA TK30 pool camera is shown bringing President Harry Truman to the nation in the first ever television broadcast live from the White House. The first President to appear on TV was Franklin Roosevelt who spoke at the opening session of the New York World’s Fair on April 30, 1939.


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