NBC Tour Time #2…30 Rock As Only David Letterman Can Show It
Just for fun, here a clip from around 1985, just before the GE sale, with Dave bring out some of the many selling points. I particularly like the trip to the Tom Brokaw news set;>) Thanks to David Crosthwait for the clip. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Bob Barker is a close second with 34⅔ years years on “The Price Is Right”, but the winner and still champion is Don McNeil with a 35½ tenure as host of a network entertainment program.
Counting only television, Barker wins, but when you add radio to the mix, “The Don McNeil Breakfast Club” from Chicago comes in first. The show started on the NBC Blue Network, but then became an ABC Radio show with the divestiture.
It originated in Chicago and ran from 1933 to 1968. In 1950, the show was simulcast on ABC for a year, and then again in 1954. Below is a clip from 1954. Thanks to Barry Mitchell for reminding us of Don. Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales #53…Another New Rarity! “Life Begins At 80”
This is a beautiful shot of Dumont’s main studio at the Wanamakers Department Store location. It wasn’t always this dressy, but this special set was built to entice the show’s producers Jack Barry and Dan Enright away from NBC where “Life Begins At 80″ had aired from 1950 till ’52.
The show had actually started on radio in 1948 and if you want to hear some of it, go to the link below. In ’55, the show left Dumont and moved to ABC for a year and was finally retired to give Barry and Enright time to work on a new show you may have heard of….”Twenty One”! Yes, ground zero for the quiz show scandals. Once again, thanks to Mike Clark for finding this for us. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales #52…NEW, ULTRA RARE! The Kraft Cameraman
Before “The Kraft Television Theater” debuted on a regular basis from NBC Studio 8G in May of 1947, it had been done occasionally from Studio 3H in 1945 with their big silver Iconoscope cameras.
I think this super rare picture of the opening shot display was taken in May of ’47 in 8G. We see two men working on the rotation table here, but over the years, the mode of travel changed. This turntable setup was the first arrangement. In the early ’50s, the cameraman was rotated back and forth by a visible stick from underneath. By the mid to late 50s, the cameraman was dollying into the picture and then turning with the invisible help of magnets.
In 1954, Kraft began offering this as a toy for fifty cents with a Velveeta box top. I’ll post the introductory announcement below in the Comment section. Again, thanks to Mike Clark for sharing this. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales # 51…NEW, ULTRA RARE! “Texaco Star Theater”
This is just amazing! I have studied this very closely and believe this to be, if not the debut show, at least a photo taken in the first month of “The Texaco Star Theater” starring Milton Berle. This is the ONLY behind the scenes photo I have every seen of this show in production.
This was taken in NBC Studio 6B that was converted from radio to television on June 8, 1948, just in time for the debut of Berle’s show. I have several pictures of this studio in late ’48 in which the camera platforms have back rails, but notice there are none here yet which makes them brand new and this is possibly their first use.
At the time this was taken, only NBC Studios 3H and 8G had their own cameras. Television was being done in what were then radio studios 3A, 3B, 6A and 6B with several in house mobile units with three cameras each. The Camera Control Units were on wheels and were placed in the sound locks of the studio.
When I mention the dates the studios were converted from radio to television, that means the date that these studios finally got their own control rooms. Even before the June 8, 1948 debut of 6B, some television was done here with the mobile units, which was also the case for 3A, 3B and 6A. In September of 1949, these mobile units would also finally enter Studio 8H for the television debut of “The Voice Of Firestone”. Many thanks to Mike Clark for sharing this, AND some great pictures yet to be posted! Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee
This is the story of the first MLB night game broadcast and…a little more. The article from June of 1941 also gives us what I think is the first ever look at the RCA Model 1846 Orthicon camera.
It has been hard to get a date on when these cameras were actually put into service, but in the photo we see the 1846 on the right of the RCA field Iconoscope camera. More than likely, it was here to use as a side by side comparison test for RCA and NBC engineers. This is a couple of years earlier than the 1943 date we had thought. Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee
Just for fun, here’s picture I’ve had for a long time and thought it was time to share it. This is a life-sized model of an Imperial Mammoth being towed behind sculptor Howard Ball’s 1958 VW to the La Brea Tar Pits where it was installed on February 3, 1967. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales #48…Take A Minute To Look And Think About This
This 1944 ad from RCA gives us a few highlights of television’s history and brings to mind a question that is often asked here…what did television do during World War II?
Basically it shrank and took a back seat to the war effort, but it didn’t die. Notice that in 1941, RCA began offering larger home receivers, demonstrated large screen projection TV, and W2XBS became WNBT and a commercial broadcaster.
On December 7, 1941, all that forward progress stopped when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. RCA had already been heavily involved in making radar and electronics for Britain, but now went full speed ahead for the US military.
Around 1941, these cameras, the RCA Orthicon cameras, the Model 1846 were introduced here in limited quantities for the limited amount of broadcasts occurring. More on them in one of today’s coming posts, Notice the last sentence in the very last paragraph which hints at something new coming, but only after the end of the war. That something would be the new Image Orthicon tube which they were already making for television guided bombs for the Air Force. The IO tube was a military secret and even after the war ended, it took some persuasion on RCA’s part to get the military to approve the use in civilian broadcasting. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Given all of the Super Bowl coverage, I thought a look back at 1960 state of the art mobile production was in order. This is the new RCA twin truck unit recently purchased by Los Angeles based Glenn-Armistead Productions.
The production truck (bottom) carried 4 RCA TK11/31 black and white and 4 RCA TK41 color cameras. The tape truck had two huge RCA TRT 1B color tape machines and an entire 16 and 35mm film chain. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales #46…More Behind The Scenes Super Bowl Reports
When you click this article, notice to the right are a half dozen more written Sunday about other technical aspects and operations, and below that in the Sportswire section are even more stories on some of the new equipment used at the game. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Super Bowl XLIX later today will wrap up three years of planning by the team at NBC Sports and NEP, its primary production partner on the event. It also wraps up a very busy couple of weeks that saw the production team work around another big football game last weekend (the Pro Bowl) as well as the…
TeleTales #44…NBC’s First Television Station, 1928
This photo is from a 1948 RCA Broadcast News Magazine. The article was about some new equipment at the NBC Washington station, WNBW and this was added as a reminder of how far television had come.
Note the caption states that, aside from an antenna, this is the whole station! The transmitter is on the table to the left and now we finally have a location…411 Fifth Avenue.
In 1928 the futuristic idea of television was close to becoming reality. That year The Radio Corporation of America, began construction of a transmission studio at 411 Fifth Ave. The R.C.A. Photophone, Inc. already had a recording studio here and the new equipment room was adjacent to it.
On March 22, 1929 the Radio Corporation of America announced that “television images are now being broadcast daily from 7 to 9 P.M.” The company’s vice president, Dr. A. N. Goldsmith said that the program was intended to give “experimenters an opportunity to look in on the development work, which, it is contemplated, will in due course evolve into a service to the public on a commercial basis similar to that of sound broadcasting.”
Decades before the television set would be commonplace in America’s living rooms pictures were appearing on a screen at No. 411. “Transmissions consist of pictures, signs and views of persons and objects,” said Goldsmith. “Announcements are made frequently by transmitting a picture of the call letters of the station…occasionally actors from the sound movie studios will appear before the photocells of the transmitter.”
Below is a link to an article on this address, that until today, I had never though much about. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales #43…These Photos Unlocks Some Mysteries!
If you ever wondered what happened to NBC’s “Felix The Cat” mechanical camera after tests were concluded in 1932, here’s the answer. It was on display at the RCA Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
In the diagram, we see it in the Museum being displayed along with E F Alexandrson’s mechanical camera from 1930. In the photos, we see it being demonstrated at the fair. The question is, what happened to it after the fair closed? I’ve seen a replica, but I think the real thing is long gone. At least we know they saved it for a while anyway. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
TeleTales #42…One Of The First Television Commercials
Somehow looking forward to new commercials has become a part of the Super Bowl madness we experience each year, but I seriously doubt that the people that made the very first TV spots would believe us if we could tell them.
Below is a shot from inside NBC Studio 3H that shows an RCA A500 Iconoscope camera shooting a mock up of an Adam Hats store window. Along with Botany suits and Bulova watches, Adam Hat’s and Sunoco were among the first ever advertisers. Enjoy and share!
Don Lee Broadcasting…Pioneering West Coast Television
KTLA and Klaus Landsberg were not the only ones innovating in Los Angeles in the 1930s. There was also Don Lee who’s station (now KCBS) is credited with airing the first movie and the first news film on television.
Here is an interesting pictorial history and article I thought you would enjoy from my friend Steve McVoy at the Early Television Museum. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
One of the most interesting stories in the history of early television is that of Don Lee Broadcasting. Don Lee was a Cadillac dealer in Los Angeles who entered the broadcasting business in 1926 with the purchase of a radio station. In November, 1930, Don Lee engaged the services of 24-year-old Harr…
65 years ago today, WML began a 17 year run which reportedly makes it the longest running prime time network game show ever.
Produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, the show was initially called “Occupation Unknown” but the day before air, the name was changed. The show debuted on Thursday, February 2, 1950 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. It originally aired alternate Thursdays, the alternate Wednesdays till October 1, 1950 when it settled into its weekly Sunday 10:30 p.m. ET slot where it would remain until the end of its network run on September 3, 1967.
Here is the debut episode and it’s a good thing they made a lot of changes to the show, and quickly. Dorothy Kilgallen was the only original panel member to survive the line up shifts until her death in 1965. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Helen Ready was the first host, but instead of playing that clip, I wanted to share this one…I was there for this. My best friend wrote this song, formed the band and played the drums; his name was Robert Nix, but I called him Robotussen. He called me Robustus.
I bought the cowboy shirt lead singer Ronnie Hammond is wearing at Nudie Cohen’s Western Wear that day in Los Angles. About four in the afternoon, we went to NBC Burbank to tape the show.
What people don’t know about this song is that the “imaginary lover” Robert wrote about was Jo Jo Billingsly who was a backup singer for Lynyard Skynyard. Rob and Jo were more than just friends. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
http://youtu.be/gQJm1F7VEEENo infringement of copyright is intended in any way under DMCA, under the terms of fair use for education. The Midnight Special More 1979 – 11 – Atlanta Rhyt…
Amazingly, they have only 6 minutes to set up and 6 to tear down these incredibly complex stages. I hear there are 600 on the stage crew to carry and assemble all this on the field. Enjoy and share!
Super Bowl Run Up…From The Booth To The Trucks & More
Here, we’ll see and hear from today’s announcers as well as the producer and director on how things have changed over the years and how they go about their jobs on this super day. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Super Bowl Technical Primer…Sports Video Group Magazine
There is a lot of very detailed info in the articles of this magazine. If you are not familiar with it, you should be. Here’s a link to their story on how the world feed is done, but there is a lot more here for die hard techies at all levels. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
The Super Bowl’s impact beyond the U.S. continues to grow and this year 18 countries are on site with productions that range from commentary only to three-camera shoots in studio booths. And for Jeff Lombardi, NFL, senior director of international production operations, and his team the goal is to m…
At the time this episode aired, the show was about a year into production and holding its ground from 4:15 – 4:30 weekdays, even though it was up against “American Bandstand”.
The show originated from CBS Studio 65, The Hi Brown Theater at 221 West 26 Street. On June 18, 1962, CBS extended “The Secret Storm” to a half hour and moved it to the 4:00 PM time slot, where it ran for six years against NBC’s “The Match Game”.
In 1966, “Dark Shadows” premiered against it on ABC, and CBS moved the show forward an hour to 3:00 PM on September 9, 1968, facing NBC’s fast-rising “Another World”.
“The Secret Storm” went to color broadcasts on September 11, 1967. In all the turmoil of its later years, the main reason for the show’s demise may have been CBS’s choice to buy the show from the original sponsor/packager, American Home Products, in 1969. Ever since CBS purchased the show, it suffered from numerous headwriter and producer changes. The show was canceled in 1974 and replaced with a less-expensive game show, “Tattletales”.
You may remember that in 1968, Joan Crawford, who at the time was over 60 years old, filled in for her ailing daughter, Christina, who played the role of Joan Borman Kane, a character who was only 28. The episodes were broadcast on October 25, 28, 29 and 30. The 1981 film “Mommie Dearest” portrayed Crawford’s appearance without specifying the name of the series. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
For those of you that have never seen this, here it is again. I shot this a couple of years back with a small 35mm photo camera and it shows all of the 16 cameras I have on display here in my home. At the time, I had about 25 cameras, now, with the addition of the 70+ ENG cameras, there are about 100 cameras in the collection. Enjoy!
Thanks top Bettina Levesque for this picture of her behind the camera at the Metro Media Square Studios where the last two seasons of “Three’s A Crowd” were shot in ’84 and ’85. The camera is an RCA TK45. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Our New Camera Collecting Friend In Germany…Liam O’Hainnin
We met just this morning and Liam has some very nice Fernseh cameras, including the very camera that shot President Kennedy’s famous speech in Berlin. Donka Shane Liam! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Building The Sets For “Saturday Night Live”…A Visit To Brooklyn
This a good story on how, where and when the sets for SNL are built each week, BUT…make sure to click on the slide show button at the bottom of the page to see the 16 pictures. The work they do on such short notice is just amazing! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
As one of the few women in television at this level, she got some interesting assignments outside the studio too. Here she is in 1973 ready to get the aerial shots from the Goodyear Blimp in Los Angeles. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Ultra Rare! Meet Television’s Top Late Night Directors!
Thanks to Vinnie Favale, here is a one of a kind photo. From left to right is “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” director Dave Diomedi, “The Colbert Report” director Jim Hoskinson, “Late Night With David Letterman” director Jerry Foley and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” director Chuck O’Neil. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
In Case You Missed This…NBC Super Bowl Camera Location Chart
There are 51 cameras inside the stadium to cover the game action. I understand, a separate set of cameras and trucks are covering half time in the stadium.
This does not count all the pregame show cameras that will be used outside the stadium, so we are probably talking about around 120 to 130 total. There were 104 used on the National Championship college game a few weeks back. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee