Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 3 of 3

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The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 3 of 3

Rare Photos Of The Television Coverage…June 4, 1968

I have had several request to repost these photos, so here is the third of three sets of photos taken the afternoon that Senator Robert Kennedy was killed at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. There is more on the orignal post text, quite a bit of detail on the photos, as well as some instructive comments from the first posting, so be sure and click on each image. -Bobby Ellerbee






The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 3 of 3

Final Rare Photos Of The Television Coverage…June 4, 1968

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/24895974#24895974
http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/24895974#24949036
I’m including here two rare film clips that NBC aired in their live studio coverage with newsman Bob Abernathy, immediately after the shooting. I assume this was all coming from NBC Burbank, given that these filmed reports are coming just an hour or so after the events at The Ambassador Hotel.

These are the last five photos and cover mostly the trucks, but the beginning image of the Embassy Room, just hours before is quite haunting. Thanks for all the descriptive comments on the first two sets of photos. Hopefully these will answer some questions raised there, and thanks to Martin Perry for finding these Los Angeles Fire Department photos. More detail on the photos so click though them. Enjoy and share.

By the way, the color footage of Senator Kennedy leaving in the ambulance is not the KTLA video shot by Dick Watson. That would have been in black and white, and noone seems to have seen that tape since 1968 or so.
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The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 2 of 3

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The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 2 of 3

Rare Photos Of The Television Coverage…June 4, 1968

I have had several request to repost these photos, so here is the second of three sets of photos taken the afternoon that Senator Robert Kennedy was killed at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. There is more on the orignal post text, quite a bit of detail on the photos, as well as some instructive comments from the first posting, so be sure and click on each image. -Bobby Ellerbee







The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 2 of 3

Rare Photos Of The Television Coverage…June 4, 1968

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsYLelmN6BA
At the link, I have added the ABC coverage from the next day with Frank Reynolds reporting. In it, you can see ABC’s video from the night before was shot in black and white. Also included in this clip is the voice of the Mutual reporter, Andy West who had live audio in the kitchen. It is quite chilling.

Today’s images include the network and local trucks from KTLA and KTTV and more photos from inside The Ambassador. I think it is best if I include the details of this set of photos on the pictures themselves, so please make sure you click on them individually. This is the only time and place these have been seen with any narration, so remember to share these. -Bobby Ellerbee

Many thanks to Martin Perry for finding these photos taken by the Los Angeles Fire Department. Six more pictures coming tomorrow!
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The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 1 of 3

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The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 1 of 3

Rare Photos Of The Television Coverage…June 4, 1968

I have had several request to repost these photos, so here is the first of three sets of photos taken the afternoon that Senator Robert Kennedy was killed at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. There is more on the orignal post text, quite a bit of detail on the photos, as well as some instructive comments from the first posting, so be sure and click on each image. -Bobby Ellerbee





The Night RFK Was Shot…Inside The Ambassador Hotel, Part 1 of 3

Rare Photos Of The Television Coverage…June 4, 1968

We have all have scenes of that tragic event in our heads…the optimistic victory speech and then the horrific events in the ballroom kitchen where Sirhan Sirhan waited. I have often wondered about what else was going on in that room that night…where were the cameras, who covered this and more. Now, we’ll finally see.

Thanks to Martin Perry, I’ve located these photos taken by the Los Angeles Fire Department that night and they are quite interesting. I’m breaking these up into three parts and will post the other two parts Saturday and Sunday. There will be some interesting shots coming of all three network trucks as well as the KTLA and KTTV vans. I am still researching the events of that night and along the way, will include some of the back story in separate articles.

I think it is best if I include the details of this set of photos on the pictures themselves, so please make sure you click on them individually. This is the only time and place these have been seen with any narration, so remember to share these. -Bobby Ellerbee
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Being A Member Of The “SNL” Band, And My Experience With Them…

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Being A Member Of The “SNL” Band, And My Experience With Them…

http://www.avclub.com/article/whats-it-be-member-saturday-night-live-house-band-234547
At the link above, is a wonderful interview with SNL guitarist Jared Scharff, who’s been on the show for 9 year. In the article, there is also a 19 minute audio interview with the band’s leader, and master of the sax, Lenny Pickett.

I have a couple of great stories of my own about the band and Lenny, but have never had quite the right opportunity to share them, till now.

On May 2nd and 3rd, of 2014, I visited the Friday afternoon SNL rehearsal, and was there for the live dress rehearsal show on Saturday night, and got back to the hotel in time to see the 11:30 live show on TV. It was interesting to see what got cut.

On my Friday visit, I was there from 1:30 till 8:30 and was thrilled to see much of the show in rehearsal, and was glued to my seat on the studio floor. At one point, I went to the restroom, and on the way back to 8H, I met Lenny in the hall, and spoke with him for a few minutes.

To my amazement, he remembered meeting me in 1975 at a concert I produced inside Diamond Head Crater in Hawaii, with Santana, Hall & Oats, and the band he was in, Tower Of Power. Their great trumpet player, the late Mickey Gillette was a good friend. I had forgotten how tall Lenny was, and it was like talking to Big Bird.

Now this is the funny part…to me at least. As part of the warm up for the show, Colon Jost took the stage in front of the band. He told a few jokes and then said it was time to play, Stump The Band!

When Johnny Carson played this with the audience, they could hardly ever stump Doc and the boys, and I always loved it when Letterman and Paul came up with perfect renditions too, right on the spot, so this should be fun.

Without hesitation, from my front row seat, I yelled out to Jost and Lenny, “How about “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by The Fantastic Johnny C”? Jost replied, “You mean Johnny Cash”? I could see Lenny shaking his head “no” to Colin’s question, so I answered “No, Colin, Johnny C…it’s an old soul song”.

Instantly the band hit a couple of notes from the intro, that were immediacy recognizable to me from the song, and then stopped. At that point, Lenny started talking to the band, and they to each other and all agreeing…”Yes, we know it”. And that was it, and the whole studio erupted in laughs.

They are a tricky bunch, but among the most talented musicians anywhere. But, so you won’t be left wanting, to Boogaloo Down Broadway, here is a link to the tune. Thanks to Jodie Peeler for sharing this article, full of great video. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKsERD0syo0





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“The Kraft Television Theater”…TV’s First Anthology Series

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“The Kraft Television Theater”…TV’s First Anthology Series

This was the earliest and, at the time, the most famous of television’s live dramatic anthologies, and helped define the “golden age” of television. The hour-long series, sponsored by Kraft Foods, premiered on Wednesday, May 7th, 1947 on NBC. It would run continuously, with no summer breaks, for the next eleven and a half years. The final episode was broadcast on Wednesday, October 1st, 1958.

The Kraft show set the stage for all that followed, including “The Philco Playhouse,” “Playhouse 90,” “Robert Montgomery Presents.” and many more.

Below are two very rare photos taken in early May, 1947, in what was at the time, NBC’s only television studio…3H. If you ever wondered what camera the Kraft Cameraman was based on, now you know. It was the RCA A 500 Iconoscope camera, which was used in Studio 3H until April of 1948, when they were replaced by RCA TK30s. As a reminder, “The Howdy Doody Show” started in December of ’47 with the A 500s, and in May 1947, Studio 8G became NBC’s second 30 Rock TV studio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2kLtkT6Ma8
As you can see in the photo of the Kraft Cameraman opening graphic, the cameraman model originally rotated on a round countersunk piece of balsa wood. At the link above, is a 1953 opening with the cameraman now mounted on a stick that dollies in and rotates. There is an announcer mention of “two fine plays each week all year long”. This refers to the NBC version on Wednesday nights, and an ABC version on Thursday nights. The ABC version was broadcast for 18 months and then became “The Ponds Playhouse.”

The in-studio photo is from the first broadcast on May 7, 1947, which was titled “Double Door”, and was one of the first network directing jobs for NBC legend Fred Coe.

Between 1947 and 1958, the Kraft Television Theater presented more than 650 comedies and dramas, and in all 11 years, it was ranked in the Top 25 shows.

Although Kraft Television Theater quickly established itself as a critical favorite after its premiere in May 1947, in Kraft’s estimation the show was only as useful as its ability to move product. In this it succeeded beyond fondest expectations. The first indication of the magnitude of the program’s sales prowess came from Kraft’s ad agency, J. Walter Thompson, which reported in June ’47, that Imperial Cheese, a new Kraft product advertised nowhere else but on television, was flying off grocers’ shelves.

The decision to feature food preparation commercials, over hard-sell personality or price appeals was not made lightly. Kraft’s advertising personnel were concerned that using a model or a recognized spokesman would detract from the product, so they designed live commercials that used a single-focus technique.

Each program had, on average, a pair of two minute breaks, at which time cameras focused on a pair of feminine hands as they demonstrated the preparation of various dishes as announcer Ed Herlihy relayed the recipe to the viewer. This careful approach paid off for Kraft; sales of advertised products rose dramatically in television cities and, even more importantly, a poll conducted by Television Magazine, in November 1947 showed that “Kraft Television Theater” had the highest sponsor identification of any show on television.

Actors on the series included James Dean, Anne Francis, Lee Grant, Helen Hayes, Jack Lemmon, Grace Kelly, Jack Klugman, Cloris Leachman, Patrick McVey, Michael Higgins, John Newland, Paul Newman, Leslie Nielsen, Anthony Perkins, Judson Pratt, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, Rod Steiger, and Joanne Woodward.

Directors for the series included Sidney Lumet, George Roy Hill, Fielder Cook, and John Boulting, and the many contributing writers included Rod Serling and JP Miller.

Serling won an Emmy for scripting “Patterns”, which was the best remembered episode of the series. The drama had such an impact that it made television history by staging a second live encore performance three weeks later and was developed as a feature film of the same name. -Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, it was only in 1954 that Kraft made the now famous toy cameraman available for 50 cents, and a couple of box tops.



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An Interesting Development…WLS TV’s News Film Process, 1974

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An Interesting Development…WLS TV’s News Film Process, 1974

It is easy to forget that even into the early 1980s, some stations were still shooting film. RCA’s first ENG (Electronic News Gathering) camera, the TK76, only debuted in 1976, and by 1984, there were over 2000 of them in use worldwide. -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”10153947537245336″]WLS Channel 7 – Eyewitness News – “Film Developing” (1974)

The transfer of this video clip made possible by your generous donations!

Here’s a rare excerpt from WLS Channel 7’s Eyewitness News, from back in the days when all reports from out “in the field” came from film, and sometimes were being developed as the newscast was running.

Frank Mathie introduces the “Action Seven” piece, with Geoff Smith reporting about how film stories aired on Eyewitness News are shot; in this instance, one film crew is shooting another film crew. Cinema Processors, Inc. at 211 East Grand was the lab where film reports from both Channel 7 and WGN Channel 9 were developed, amounting to 10 million feet of newsfilm a year (96,000 feet a month). Geoff gives a detailed account of the complex process for developing the film that airs on the two stations, and also mentions other Cinema Processors clients such as the Chicago Bears (for game film, of which 30,000 feet alone are processed every Saturday in season), five major colleges, several smaller ones and 225 high schools. Shots of the lab in action are seen all through this piece. Fahey Flynn can be seen for a couple seconds at the end too.

Notice that the “Action Seven” logo, set in Helvetica Bold, looks very reminiscent of the logo used in the early years of WLS’s The 3:30 Movie (as well as The 4:30 Movie on both WABC Channel 7 in New York and WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit).

Note: This was originally broadcast in color, but captured on this early home videotape recording in black and white. There are some tape-tracking problems that are noticeable at certain points on this clip.

This aired on local Chicago TV on Tuesday, April 9th 1974.
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Some Little Known Facts Of Early Television Production…

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Some Little Known Facts Of Early Television Production…

Yesterday, I posted the early history of television’s first real studio; RCA’s Studio 3H inside NBC. Operating in secret, for the first year of 1935, RCA had built 3 studio style Iconoscope cameras for 3H, and only 3, but in 1939, they built 3 more for CBS, for use on W2XAB.

Also in 1935, RCA was approached by Alda Bedford and Knut Gnusson, who had built a new camera support system they called a pedestal. Amazingly, the up and down movement of the center column was operated by an electric motor, and was quite smooth. It was not until 1959, with the Houston Fearless TD 9, that the electronic lift was seen again in any US pedestal.

Along with the patent images of the pedestal, I have included the RCA patent image for the inside of these first studio style Iconoscope cameras. As I have mentioned here before, the viewfinder showed only an optical image on ground glass, and to the great frustration of those early cameramen, the image was upside down, and backward. If one of those cameramen offered me a ride home, and I had to give him directions to get there, I think I would have taken the subway. -Bobby Ellerbee






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Voted “Best Use Of A Snow Shovel Handle”…1974

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Voted “Best Use Of A Snow Shovel Handle”…1974


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A Guided Tour Of Television’s First Studio…NBC’s 3H, 1939

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A Guided Tour Of Television’s First Studio…NBC’s 3H, 1939

https://archive.org/details/RCAPrese1939
The things I have learned from NBC vets, and visits to 30 Rock, allow us to see this old video with new eyes. To see the video, use the link above or click on the title below, not the image.

Before we start, here is some information that will help you get your bearings. This is something I learned while standing in the space that once was Studio 3H, but is now 3K.

Now, you enter the third floor studios from the main hallway, but when this film was made, that hallway was mostly for tour groups. Engineers and talent used an interior hallway that was on the backside of the studios to avoid the crowds. So, when you see the control room window, it will be on the back wall and is accessed from the fourth floor. The orchestra seen here will be directly under the visitor’s observation window, which faced the 4H control room window. The visitor/tour group window was also on the fourth floor which was accessed from the main hallways used for access today. If it seems confusing, I think seeing the video will clarify that.

At the head of this is a one minute RCA ad for their new sound on film projector. Many thanks to Joel Spector for his help pointing out these rarities.

At 2:00 we are at the RCA Labs in Princeton NJ where tube and camera tests are underway.

At 2:57 we see the antenna atop The Empire State Building and just after that, we see the transmitter room a few floors under it.

At 3:34 we see the new mobile units leaving 30 Rock and arriving at a horse race track for a live broadcast. This is a great sequence and gives us a good look at these trucks.

At 5:27 we finally enter Studio 3H. Watch closely! Notice the camera on the left has its top flipped up and the cameraman is making some internal adjustments. Notice on the right…the camera is rising. These pedestals had an internal electric motor to ped up and down. The cameraman with the rising pedestal is NBC’s first…Albert Protzman.

At 5:50 we see up top, the visitor’s observation window on the fourth floor. This is the wall that opens into the main interior hallway that we use now. The smaller window below the 4H control room was the original 3H radio control room. Opposite this, at the main hallway end of the studio was a storage room which became a rear screen projection room.

At 6:00 we see the control room window. This is on the fourth floor and accessed by hallways on the back of the studios, against the exterior walls of the building.

At 6:14 the cameraman on the left is NBC’s great TD, Heino Ripp, on the right is NBC’s second cameraman Don Pike.

At 6:22 we see NBC’s first cameraman, Albert Protzman, manning the title card camera.

At 6:38, the broadcast starts. If the center camera were to tilt all the way up, we would see the visitor observation window. At 7:02, notice the big tally lights under the camera lens. They are green. Before there were red tally lights, they used the green tally color to denote which camera was on the air.

At 7:12 we get a look over the shoulder of the people in the control room looking out on the studio.

At 7:24 we go to the control room for a while. At the back desk, the director is in the foreground, closest to us. The woman is what was then called the production director who was mostly concerned with the script, runtime, cues and talent…today that would be an associate director. The man on the far end is what was then called the video engineer and is doing the switching…today we call this the technical director. At the front desk is the video man (closest) who is shading the cameras and on his right is the audio man.

Enjoy and share! -Bobby EllerbeeEarly promotional film introducing TV to the American public, probably coordinated with the rollout of scheduled broadcasting at the 1939 New York World’s…
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A Brief History Of Television’s First Real Home…NBC’s Studio 3H

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A Brief History Of Television’s First Real Home…NBC’s Studio 3H

Below is a rare, digitally enhanced photo of the NBC Radio Master Control board from 1933…the year RCA and NBC moved into 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

In the beginning, Studio 3H was radio studio, just one of six medium sized spaces on the 3rd floor, which were about half the size of 3A and 3B. At the time, there were roughly 30 NBC radio studios in the building, but RCA had plans for 3H.

In late 1935, two years after Radio City opened, NBC Radio Studio 3H was converted to RCA Television Studio 3H and technically, would remain an RCA domain until 1939, at which time W2XBS and this studio were put under the control of NBC Television.

It was done under a blanket of secrecy. This mysterious new space was kept secret due to competitive developments for a year, while low key experimental broadcasts from 3H were done, but by early in 1936, RCA decided to go public with the news of their electronic television operations.

After the experimental public broadcasts were started with the three live Iconoscope cameras, RCA also took over a space on the 5th floor for film and called that new area Studio 5F, which was linked to the 3H control room.

Until 1951, 3H was used for experimental and regular programming, and was NBC’s only permanently equipped studio till radio studio 8G began television trials in 1946. Some of the earliest network shows from 3H were “The Kraft Music Hall,” “Television Scene Magazine,” “The Howdy Doody Show” and more. All these shows started out in 3H with the big Iconoscope cameras, and in April of 1948, 3H finally got the new RCA TK30s. The next month, 8G was converted to television.

In 1951, Howdy and the other shows done here moved out, and 3H would become the home of the experimental color tests after the Wardman Park color tests concluded in Washington. The Wardman color cameras were not installed in 3H, however the Washington color veterans were brought from there to continue color tests with the new “coffin cameras.” The joke was, these huge new umber gray cameras were big enough to bury a man in. These were the predecessor to the TK40s and this is the first appearance of the rounded top viewfinder. The color tests from 3H, and later, The Colonial Theater were broadcast over RCA’s experimental color station KE2XJV.

Variety like demonstration shows were done weekdays at 10, 2 and 4 and were staged with vivid colored wardrobes and sets. These shows were mostly for the engineers in New York and RCA’s Princeton labs who watched on closed circuit feeds. Not one to ever miss a marketing opportunity though, these shows were also fed to a half dozen custom built color receivers that were on display in the RCA Exhibition Hall in Rockefeller Plaza. In early ’53 these daily shows would move to The Colonial Theater which was where the new prototype TK40 cameras were beginning to be tested.

After the color tests left for the Colonial, 3H was still involved in color monitor tests, but even then, it stayed busy with regular 15 minute daily programs and live commercials coming from the studio with TK30s wheeled in from Studio 3B.

In the summer of 1955 3H was closed as construction crews took out the wall between 3H and 3F to create the first color studio inside Radio City. The new studio was to become 3K and with a double debut, both Studio 3K and Howdy Doody went to live color the afternoon of September 12, 1955.

Today, 3K is used by MSNBC and is the home to most of their hosts after 7PM, including Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell. There is more on the photos, so click through! Enjoy, and there is more to come on 3H. -Bobby Ellerbee

NBC radio studios on the third floor, as they were in 1933

Inside Studio 3H, notice the control room on the 4th floor. To help get your bearings in today’s configuration, the main hallway is behind the photographer taking this.

Inside the 3H control room 1936. This space was actually called 4H.  

Miss Color TV, Marie McNamara in Studio 3H with the “Coffin Cameras” This was the experimental version of the TK40 prototype cameras. These were never used at The Colonial…those were the real prototypes and were silver.

This is a rare color shot of the RCA Exhibition Hall on 49th Street, across from 30 Rock, where the closed circuit color shows could be seen by the public. In 1952, this became home of the “Today” show.

This is me kissing the floor of this hallowed ground. To my right is where 3H was, and the white line is about where 3H and 3F came together to make 3K.


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The Human Test Patterns Who First Calibrated Color TV

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A Wonderful Primer On Early Color Television…

Written around the story of the ladies that were “Miss Color TV”, NBC’s Marie McNamara, and CBS’s Patty Painter, this is a very well done article on the progressions and setbacks encountered by both networks, in their race to bring color to the small screen. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

The Human Test Patterns Who First Calibrated Color TV

The white women known in the 1950s as “Miss Color TV” reinforced longstanding hierarchies of gender and race that were built into generations of technologies.
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“Peter Pan”…How To Fly And Get Good Audio At The Same Time

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“Peter Pan”…How To Fly And Get Good Audio At The Same Time

60 years ago today, NBC presented “Peter Pan”, for the first time on television, in living color, but getting great video wasn’t the only challenge. Here’s a story I did last year on Mary Martin’s hidden mic. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




‘Peter Pan’…How To Fly And Get Audio At The Same Time

This is Director Jerome Robbins flying with Mary Martin in March of 1955 at NBC Brooklyn. When Robbins directed the show on Broadway, he didn’t have to worry about audio, but when it came to the television production he did. How do you mic a flying Mary Martin?

Booms were used for most of the show, but for the flying sequences, something special was called for. In 1953, Shur had introduced “The Vagabond” wireless mic which was used by Marlin Monroe when she was interviewed by Edward R. Murrow on ‘Person To Person’ in 1955.

They tried a Vagabond, but it was not strong enough, so NBC engineers came up with a stronger unit. The mic was on Martin’s chest under her costume and the transmitter was under her arm. The antenna was in a special belt she wore. In order to receive the signal, wires were embedded in the floor of the set, and strung from the lighting grid. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
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March 7, 1955…”Peter Pan” Debuts On NBC; Original Video Clips

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March 7, 1955…”Peter Pan” Debuts On NBC; Original Video Clips

On March 7, 1955, NBC did the first live broadcast of “Peter Pan” in a “Producer’s Showcase” color special from NBC Brooklyn. It was such a hit that they did it again live on January 9, 1956. Like the first, it too was in color from Brooklyn with the entire Broadway cast returning for the television adaptation, starring Mary Martin as Peter Pan, Cyril Richard as Captain Hook and Sondra Lee as the incongruously blonde Indian princess Tiger Lily.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb66Sw0C9Ss

Above is the first of two rare clips and is the closing scene of the original 1955 broadcast. This has part of “I’m Flying” and Mary Martin’s closing tag and the credits, which you can barely see.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_UV1CA5FUU
This is the 1955 production with Sondra Lee as the indian princes in the “Ugg-a-Wugg” number.

This is the only photo of it’s kind I have ever seen. Here is Mary Martin with Cyril Ritchard posing with Nana at NBC Brooklyn in 1955 during rehearsals for the original television presentation. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Exceptional And Rare; 1949 NBC Kinescope Footage

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Exceptional And Rare; 1949 NBC Kinescope Footage

It was only in the summer of 1948 that NBC/RCA began using kinescope recordings, so this footage was, at the time unique, as pointed out by host Ben Grauer.

The Paul Winchell – Jerry Mahoney performance is fantastic and is a rare demonstration of how good a ventriloquist and humorist Winchell was. “Texaco Star Theater” pitchman Sid Stone is next, and an unnamed dancing duo round out the footage. I think the dancers may be from “Texaco Star” too, and all of this probably came from Studio 6B. Thanks to Barry Mitchell for the clip. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6tH95XR6JQ&feature=youtu.be


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March 6, 1981…Walter Cronkite’s Farewell: The Day Hard News Died

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March 6, 1981…Walter Cronkite’s Farewell: The Day Hard News Died

34 years ago today, Walter Cronkite left the anchor desk and television news changed forever. Under the expert hand of a real reporter, “The CBS Evening News” had set the standard and a high bar for newscasts. To their credit, NBC and ABC news also excelled in their journalistic efforts in reporting the news of the day.

The problems began at CBS after Cronkite and William Paley retired; the problem had a name….Van Gordon Sauter.

After he became president of CBS News in 1981, Mr. Sauter made drastic changes. Among them were budget cuts and the layoff or forced retirement of many longtime CBS News reporters and producers, and a shift away from straight reporting from Washington and New York, toward more soft features.

To many CBS News staffers, the changes were appalling, epitomizing the triumph of style over substance. Sound familiar?

Part of the “softening”, was in part due to Dan Rather, who looked terribly uncomfortable behind the anchor desk, and with Rather’s help, Sauter set out to not only soften Rather with sweaters, but with stories aimed at women, to attract more of them as viewers.

Sauter was also a corporate ladder climber, and was heavily influenced by the CBS finance executives at “Black Rock”. As mentioned above, he went along with suggestions to cut the news department’s budget, which Paley would never have allowed. Sauter took it a step further though, and this was the sound of the death knell that spread to other networks.

It was Suater’s idea to make the News Division a profit center. In the past, Paley had allowed the news department to operate in the red, because he considered news a public trust and service, and funded it with the vast profits from the other areas of CBS like the entertainment division. When Sauter sought to make it a profit center, that meant content would be driven by ratings, and what ever it took to get the ratings, was what the news would become. Women were the main new target in the new scheme…that meant feminine focus, or “powder puff” reporting.

This profit center idea is why we now have the network news shows that are 40% headlines and 60% Facebook and Entertainment Tonight…to attract the Millennial audience.

The day after the financier Laurence A. Tisch gained control of CBS, Mr. Sauter was asked to resign. By then though, the damage was done and looks to be irreversible. Perhaps the events of late at NBC, and more changes that are coming there, will give news departments pause to consider turning the clock back 34 years!

What do you think of the news today? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5tdqojA26E

From the CBS News archives, legendary anchorman Walter Cronkite signs off for the final time on the “CBS Evening News.” Cronkite manned the anchor desk from …
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TeleTales #107…The Way We Were; 1899

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TeleTales #107…The Way We Were; 1899

Before seeing at a distance, or tele-vision, was possible, there was a new thing called motion pictures, that was just as exciting a proposition. When film making began, the only way to get enough light was to shoot outdoors, even if the scene was taking place inside.

This photo shows the Lubin Studios rooftop location in Philadelphia in 1899. The Edison Studios had a similar arrangement in New Jersey, but their studio was mounted on a turntable and could follow the sun. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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TeleTales #106…ABC’s First New Stars; John Daly And Quincy Howe

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TeleTales #106…ABC’s First New Stars; John Daly And Quincy Howe

Both men started out with CBS Radio and both worked with Edward R. Murrow in Europe during WWII, with a staff that included Charles Collingwood, William L. Shirer, Eric Sevareid, Joseph C. Harsch, H. V. Kaltenborn and Robert Trout.

Daly actually covered the famous, General George Patten. “spapping” incident. In 1950, He became the host of “What’s My Line” on CBS. Around ’53, Daly also became the vice president in charge of news, special events, and public affairs, religious programs and sports for ABC and won three Peabody Awards.

From 1953 to 1960, he anchored ABC news broadcasts and was the face of the network’s news division, even though “What’s My Line” was then on CBS. This was a very rare instance of a television personality working on two different networks simultaneously. (Technically, Daly worked for Goodson–Todman Productions). As if that wasn’t enough of an oddity, Daly also filled in occasionally on “The Today Show” on NBC, making him one of the few people in early television to work simultaneously on all three networks.

Quincy Howe was best known for his CBS radio broadcasts during World War II. Howe served as director of the American Civil Liberties Union before the Second World War, and as chief editor at Simon & Schuster from 1935 to 1942. He left CBS in 1947 to join ABC. Howe moderated the fourth and final Kennedy/Nixon debate on October 21, 1960, and retired from broadcasting in 1974.

When Mr Howe won a Peabody Award in 1955, this is the story that accompanied the presentation.

“The distinguished historian, journalist and commentator Quincy Howe has long been a great asset to broadcasting. His five-times-a-week commentaries on the ABC Radio Network are objective and penetrating analyses of the important issues of our times. His new documentary television series entitled “Outside U.S.A.” is an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the significant events and developments around the world. The variety and effectiveness of its presentation have made this program a most significant contribution of television to the promotion of international understanding. In recognition, the Peabody Award is hereby presented.” Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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TeleTales #105…Before They Were Famous: Narz And Powers

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TeleTales #105…Before They Were Famous: Narz And Powers

From the late 1950’s, here’s a shot of a commercial rehearsal on “The Bob Crosby Show” at Television City. On the right is floor director Dave Powers. He would go on to direct “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Three’s Company,” “The Ropers,” and “Mama’s Family.”

On the left is the man most of us know as Tom Kennedy, but as he has told me, at the time this photo was taken, he was still Jim Narz. He is the younger brother of another famous Hollywood host and announcer Jack Narz. As Jim’s fame grew, so did confusion among agents and show bookers, so out of respect to Jack, he took a new stage name.

As you see in the photo, Tom Kennedy is doing a Betty Crocker cake mix spot. One of the first times he did this live, he thought he would help the “sell” and took a bite. No one had told him the cake was made of putty, to hold up under the lights, and when he bit into it live, Bob Crosby laughed so hard, it took him five minutes to finally quit laughing. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Movie Magic Episode 4 – Miniature Pyrotechnics

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Getting A Big Bang From A Little Bang…Mini Pyrotechnics

This will start at a history of mini explosions that I think you’ll like. Making all of this look real is a true cinematic skill and in this, you’ll get a look at how it’s done. There is more on the technique before my start point, but a look back at some early history of movie explosions is the place I thought we should start. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/7OqBi9AwPjo?t=7m54s

Movie Magic Episode 4 – Miniature Pyrotechnics Discovery Channel Cliffhanger Star Wars Terminator

Season 1, Episode 4: Miniature Pyrotechnics: Baby Blasts Original Air Date—1994 In this classic installment of the hit early 90’s television program, watch a…
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The Story Of Industrial Light & Magic…CGI Pioneers Extraordinaire

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The Story Of Industrial Light & Magic…CGI Pioneers Extraordinaire

Thanks to George Lucas, and ILM, you can no longer believe your own eyes…literally. Lucas created ILM when shooting the first “Star Wars”, and from there, they’ve done over 300 movies, including “Terminator,” “Jurassic Park,” “Twister,” and even “Forrest Gump.” Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDoVcGPw_3o

Subscribe to the show for more awesome VFX documentaries! https://www.youtube.com/show/visualeffectsgoingbehindthemagic In this episode of VFX: Going Behind …
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The Wrecking Crew Recording A Beach Boys Smash, 1966

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The Wrecking Crew Recording A Beach Boys Smash, 1966

This is a great video that not only let’s us hear the music tracks being recorded, with Brian Wilson producing, but we get to see the members of The Wrecking Crew with captioned call outs on who they were and what they played. I know this is not television, but like TV’s part in our culture, so is music…especially THIS music. Please also see today’s story on The Wrecking Crew movie coming March 13. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofByti7A4uM

A video detailing the creative process behind “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” from The Beach Boys’ 1966 Album “Pet Sounds”. Thanks to Josh Hoisington for some informat…
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The Ultimate Behind The Scenes Music Movie…

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The Ultimate Behind The Scenes Music Movie…Coming In 10 Days

Much like The Funk Brothers, that were member of the session band at Motown, The Wrecking Crew was the pop version in LA. These are the best of the best, and backed the biggest names in the business. In the next post, I’ll play you some spectacular audio from the making of The Beach Boys hit, “Wouldn’t Be Nice”. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX5BCgmr7tg&t=25

Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WreckingCrewFilm The Beach Boys, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Nate King Cole and many more. Behind their success was a gr…
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TeleTales #101…Mrs. Write

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TeleTales #101…Mrs. Write

Just for fun, here’s a look at cue cards being done for “Art Linkletter’s House Party” at Television City around 1956. Can you imagine having to make changes to this? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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TeleTales #100…When Your’e Hot, Your’e Hot!

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TeleTales #100…When Your’e Hot, Your’e Hot! Television City

Here’s an RCA TK11 in cool down mode, on a “Playhouse 90” set at CBS Television City. As opposed to cameras at local stations, network cameras get a real work out. They are on for hours on end blocking shots and rehearsing. This one is mounted on a Houston Fearless Panoram Dolly. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Happy Birthday, David Sarnoff! Born February 27, 1891

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Happy Birthday, David Sarnoff! Born February 27, 1891

It is fitting, that on the eve of my release of The History Of NBC’s New York Studios presentation, we celebrate the 124th birthday of the man who started it all.

Love him, or hate him, he made history and brought the art of seeing at a distance, tele – vision, into something real. From Vladimir Zworykin to Pat Weaver, Sarnoff had a gift for finding the right people at the right time to lead RCA and NBC.

Although Weaver called him “General Fangs”, even he, grudgingly admitted that Sarnoff was a visionary. Below is a photo of David Sarnoff with his mentor, Guglielmo Marconi in 1918. By this time, he managing the commercial international wireless business of American Marconi in New York. The next year, he would become General Manager of the new GE subsidiary, The Radio Corporation of America.

Tomorrow, you can read the full history of Sarnoff’s efforts, and RCA’s creation in the introductory section of Volume 1 of The History Of NBC’s New York Studios. On Sunday, I will post Volume 2. Those will be the only posts over the weekend, but I think you’ll have plenty to digest as the full report is 200 pages and among the hundred or so photos has about 40 or 50 links to rare video clips.

Happy Birthday General! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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TeleTales #95…Ooh Lala! Television With A French Twist

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TeleTales #95…Ooh Lala! Television With A French Twist

This is the first Thomson camera model ever made and it’s quite interesting. I has two cables, I think the one on the left is the power line and may be connected to the CCU and power supply box, which may be as the base of the pedestal, like the old Dumont set up. The right one is probably the video out.

Under the padded viewfinder hood, two points of interest, the talk back mic and a T handle for focus control. The big crank handle on the right is to rack the lens turret. This camera’s output was 819 lines and was built for RTG Television Service around 1950, which is now TF1. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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TeleTales #94…”Family Feud”, ABC Hollywood

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TeleTales #94…”Family Feud”, ABC Hollywood

From Donna Quante, who used to operate one of the two Chapman Sidewinders in this picture, here is a shot of the studio with Gene Wood doing the audience warm up at the lower right.

This show used five Ikegami cameras, and all the operators wore jackets and sweaters daily, because Richard Dawson insisted the studio be cold enough to hang meet. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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TeleTales #93…You Mean It Wasn’t A Real Hotel?

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TeleTales #93…You Mean It Wasn’t A Real Hotel?

Did you know that “Petticoat Junction”, created by Paul Henning, was based on the stories told him by his wife Ruth, who had spent summers at a small hotel located near the train station in Eldon, Missouri?

Speaking of Missouri, that’s where Henning was raised, and on a camping trip near Branson, he wrote the Ballad Of Jed Clampett, and came up with the idea of “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

Henning also wrote for Fibber McGee And Molly, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Dennis Day, “The Real McCoys” and “The Andy Griffith Show”. The first show he created was the 1955 hit, “The Bob Cummings Show”. If you ever wondered if the Linda Henning that played Betty Jo Bradley was related to Paul, the answer is yes…she was his daughter.

After interviewing 1,500 women for the parts of the three sisters, he could only pick two. That’s when Bea Benaderet recommended Linda for the part of the oldest sister. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Now For Something Completely Different…And Poignant

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Now For Something Completely Different…And Poignant

Among the surprises in Sunday’s Academy Awards show was Lady Gaga’s great “Sound Of Music” medley, and Tim McGraw singing what is in essence, Glenn Campbell’s good bye song to his family and the world.

Glenn was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2011 and has been slowly slipping away into one of the cruelest of all maladies. I hope you’ll listen closely to the lyrics and enjoy the video of a true great and his travels through this fragile life. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8TsAh-zYFI

Music video by Glen Campbell performing I’m Not Gonna Miss You. (C) 2014 Big Machine Records, LLC.
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TeleTales #92…A Tour Of NBC Studio 8G With Seth Meyers

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TeleTales #92…A Tour Of NBC Studio 8G With Seth Meyers

Ever wonder what the backstage area of historic 8G looks like? We are about to find out in this roving interview with Seth. Thanks to NBC Q card king Wally Feresten for sharing this, and we’ll see Wally in the middle and at the end. His company makes all the Q card for all the NBC shows in NY and LA.

This is where our friends Bob Friend, Bryan Durr, Mike Knarre and Mike Zecca work. Hi guys! Keep up the good work! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

#t=24″ target=”_blank”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W7nXg55mWw #t=24

Seth Meyers takes us on a tour of Studio 8G in the latest installment of 73 Questions. The Late Night with Seth Myers host shares what it was like being head…
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