Posts in Category: Broadcast History

‘Howdy Doody’ Color Control Room…NBC Studio 3K, 1955

‘Howdy Doody’ Color Control Room…NBC Studio 3K, 1955

This is the only known photo of the control room for NBC’s first in-house color facility, Studio 3K, which went live the afternoon of September 12, 1955. The first colorcast from 3K was ‘The Howdy Doody Show’. NBC had color at The Colonial Theater and in Brooklyn, but this was the first color studio inside 30 Rock.

Studio 3K was created by combining television’s first working studio, 3H with radio studio 3F. Although the studio was bigger, the control room stayed the same size and as you can see, was packed full of gear. These days, 3K is one of two third floor studios occupied by MSNBC. The other is 3A. Thanks to our friend Gady Reinhold for this rarity. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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‘Howdy Doody Show’…The Unforgettable Clarabell Goodbye


‘Howdy Doody Show’…The Unforgettable Clarabell Goodbye

Until those awful days in Dallas in 1963, September 24, 1960 was television’s most memorable moment…at least for us kids who watched ‘Howdy Doody’ every Saturday morning.

The show debuted with Iconoscope cameras December 27, 1947 but by early April new RCA TK30 Image Orthicon cameras were in 3H. Although the show went color on September 12, 1955 from Studio 3K, this is the only color footage of the show I have ever seen. For many years, this tape was lost but was finally found and restored.

The final episode was a special hour long show and in this ultra rare clip, we see the beginning and end, and even hear audio from the control room crew at the very top as they prepared for Episode 2,343…the grand finale. Notice on the ending promos, ‘The Sheri Lewis Show’ was the replacement for Howdy.

Lou Anderson, the third and final actor to play Clarabell, has a surprise for us, and that was the episode title…”Clarabell’s Big Surprise”.

Just as I remember where I was on November 23, 1963, I remember this moment too. I was 10 years old, laying on the couch in our Atlanta home, still dressed in my pajamas. I cried at the end. What about you? Where were you and how did you feel that morning? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ6ybvlsb4s

Broadcasted on September 24, 1960. The hour-long episode was mostly a fond look-back at all the highlights of the show’s past, but in the midst of it all, Cl…

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December 27, 1932…Radio City Music Hall Opens


December 27, 1932…Radio City Music Hall Opens

In the embedded video below from 2007, we see some rare footage from opening night and a quick shot of none other than David Sarnoff, who’s RCA/NBC building next door would lend to the name of the grand new showplace. 30 Rockefeller Plaza was still under construction and would open the next November.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6_YKYNmNGo
At this link is a in interesting look behind the scenes with a rare look at the secret apartment which is still there. Enjoy and share! Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, the first Rockettes Christmas show was the next year, in 1933.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW6QQvZWPwI

I did this film for Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. It was a quick history of the 75 years of Radio City and the Rockettes. It’s a fascinating…

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Behind The Camera With Mark Stacy…NBC Sunday Night Football


Behind The Camera With Mark Stacy…NBC Sunday Night Football

Here’s short but sweet look at how Mark shoots Sunday Night Football. Although the trucks are marked NBC, they are owned by NEP. I think that is John Howard in the TD position with the cap. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=879344075451886&set=vb.112955302090771&type=2&theater

You can’t start the show without camera 1…

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Elton John…The Central Park Concert, September 13, 1980

Elton John…The Central Park Concert, September 13, 1980

We don’t see the RCA TK46 often, but thanks to John Senuta’s recent email of this great shot of Elton, it’s time to take another look. The other photos here are from our friend Dennis Degan, who I think was still working at Reeves Teletape at the time. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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ABC, Color College Football…Texas Tech, 1971

ABC, Color College Football…Texas Tech, 1971

Back in the TK41 days, brute strength was part of the requirement for assignment to the sports trucks. The camera weighed about 260 pounds and the viewfinder, another 60 for a total of around 320. And then there is the cable, but at least these are single cable TK41s…on the original three cable models, the cables weighted over three pound per foot.

Here’s what the day before the game looked like back then. This was a two truck shoot with 6 TK41s on the camera truck and the second truck had four or five huge quad video tape machines inside. The third truck is the utility truck and doubled as the graphics studio with a black and white TK60 shooting score cards in the back of it. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee









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Some Television Firsts In Football…Pro and College


Some Television Firsts In Football…Pro and College

With the college bowl games starting and the Super Bowl now in view, here are some interesting firsts in the coverage of the game. The video is from ABC’s first season of what would become a juggernaut in television sports coverage…’Wide World Of Sports’.

Here, in a preseason game between the Dallas Texans and the San Diego Chargers, we will see the first use of an overhead camera with a platform suspended by a 130 foot crane. There are also microphones on the quarterbacks, which was another first. Finally, there is a portable camera on the sidelines. We have seen NBC do this in 1956. They seem to have not followed through but Roone Arledge did. For some associated photos, see the comments section.

By the way, it is thought the first overhead camera use in an NCAA game came at The Liberty Bowl in 1964. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvgnv7xJidY

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Deep CBS Studio History…Part 1, The Dumont Camera Mysteries

Deep CBS Studio History…Part 1, The Dumont Camera Mysteries

Occasionally, we see Dumont cameras in use on some early CBS soap operas. Some of us had thought CBS may have had a half dozen at Leiderkrantz Hall, but in fact, they were at the Dumont studios where CBS leased space for for daytime programs.

Due to a building freeze during WW II and the rapid advance of television after that, studio space in New York was very tight. From what I can piece together, before the Dumont Tele Center was built in 1954, their programs came from 515 Madison Ave., Wanamakers, The Adelphi and the Ambassador Theaters.

The first and second photo with the old CBS logo is ‘The First Hundred Years’ which debuted on CBS December 4, 1950. The next two photos are from ‘Love Of Life’ with Larry Auerbach directing, in 1951. I think these either came from 515 Madison or The Ambassador Theater.

Even with Leiderkrantz Hall coming on line around 1949, ‘As The
World Turns’ and ‘The Edge Of Night’ both started at the DuMont Tele Center Studios at 205 East 67th Street, both on April 2, 1956.

‘The Edge Of Night’ moved to Studio 72 after ‘The Verdict Is Yours’ moved to Hollywood and ‘As The World Turns’ moved to Studio 65 around 1963. Studio 65 was reserved for a weekly Judy Garland show, but in April, 1963 she decided to do all her shows at CBS Television City in Hollywood. ‘The Edge Of Night’ moved to Studio 61 after some David Susskind drama specials left. Sometimes, ‘Candid Camera’ and ‘On Broadway Tonight’ aired there until the end of the summer of 1965.

More to come tomorrow in Part 2. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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One Of The Best, True Holiday Stories Ever…

One Of The Best, True Holiday Stories Ever…By Mark Evanier

Our friend Mark, has been blogging on entertainment since 2000 and may be best known for this great oldtvtickets.com site, but here’s a great story he tells of a classic encounter with Mel Tormé. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
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I want to tell you a story. The scene is Farmers Market — the famed tourist mecca of Los Angeles. It’s located but yards from the facility they call, “CBS Television City in Hollywood”…which, of course, is not in Hollywood but at least is very close.

Farmers Market is a quaint collection of bungalow stores, produce stalls and little stands where one can buy darn near anything edible one wishes to devour. You buy your pizza slice or sandwich or Chinese food or whatever at one of umpteen counters, then carry it on a tray to an open-air table for consumption.

During the Summer or on weekends, the place is full of families and tourists and Japanese tour groups. But this was a winter weekday, not long before Christmas, and the crowd was mostly older folks, dawdling over coffee and danish. For most of them, it’s a good place to get a donut or a taco, to sit and read the paper.

For me, it’s a good place to get out of the house and grab something to eat. I arrived, headed for my favorite barbecue stand and, en route, noticed that Mel Tormé was seated at one of the tables.

Mel Tormé. My favorite singer. Just sitting there, sipping a cup of coffee, munching on an English Muffin, reading The New York Times. Mel Tormé.

I had never met Mel Tormé. Alas, I still haven’t and now I never will. He looked like he was engrossed in the paper that day so I didn’t stop and say, “Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed all your records.” I wish I had.

Instead, I continued over to the BBQ place, got myself a chicken sandwich and settled down at a table to consume it. I was about halfway through when four Christmas carolers strolled by, singing “Let It Snow,” a cappella.

They were young adults with strong, fine voices and they were all clad in splendid Victorian garb. The Market had hired them (I assume) to stroll about and sing for the diners — a little touch of the holidays.

“Let It Snow” concluded not far from me to polite applause from all within earshot. I waved the leader of the chorale over and directed his attention to Mr. Tormé, seated about twenty yards from me.

“That’s Mel Tormé down there. Do you know who he is?”

The singer was about 25 so it didn’t horrify me that he said, “No.”

I asked, “Do you know ‘The Christmas Song?'”

Again, a “No.”

I said, “That’s the one that starts, ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…'”

“Oh, yes,” the caroler chirped. “Is that what it’s called? ‘The Christmas Song?'”

“That’s the name,” I explained. “And that man wrote it.” The singer thanked me, returned to his group for a brief huddle…and then they strolled down towards Mel Tormé. I ditched the rest of my sandwich and followed, a few steps behind. As they reached their quarry, they began singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” directly to him.

A big smile formed on Mel Tormé’s face — and it wasn’t the only one around. Most of those sitting at nearby tables knew who he was and many seemed aware of the significance of singing that song to him. For those who didn’t, there was a sudden flurry of whispers: “That’s Mel Tormé…he wrote that…”

As the choir reached the last chorus or two of the song, Mel got to his feet and made a little gesture that meant, “Let me sing one chorus solo.” The carolers — all still apparently unaware they were in the presence of one of the world’s great singers — looked a bit uncomfortable. I’d bet at least a couple were thinking, “Oh, no…the little fat guy wants to sing.”

But they stopped and the little fat guy started to sing…and, of course, out came this beautiful, melodic, perfectly-on-pitch voice. The look on the face of the singer I’d briefed was amazed at first…then properly impressed.

On Mr. Tormé’s signal, they all joined in on the final lines: “Although it’s been said, many times, many ways…Merry Christmas to you…” Big smiles all around.

And not just from them. I looked and at all the tables surrounding the impromptu performance, I saw huge grins of delight…which segued, as the song ended, into a huge burst of applause. The whole tune only lasted about two minutes but I doubt anyone who was there will ever forget it.

I have witnessed a number of thrilling “show business” moments — those incidents, far and few between, where all the little hairs on your epidermis snap to attention and tingle with joy. Usually, these occur on a screen or stage. I hadn’t expected to experience one next to a falafel stand — but I did.

Tormé thanked the harmonizers for the serenade and one of the women said, “You really wrote that?”

He nodded. “A wonderful songwriter named Bob Wells and I wrote that…and, get this — we did it on the hottest day of the year in July. It was a way to cool down.”

Then the gent I’d briefed said, “You know, you’re not a bad singer.” He actually said that to Mel Tormé.

Mel chuckled. He realized that these four young folks hadn’t the velvet-foggiest notion who he was, above and beyond the fact that he’d worked on that classic carol. “Well,” he said. “I’ve actually made a few records in my day…”

“Really?” the other man asked. “How many?”

Tormé smiled and said, “Ninety.”

I probably own about half of them on vinyl and/or CD. For some reason, they sound better on vinyl. (My favorite was the album he made with Buddy Rich. Go ahead. Find me a better parlay of singer and drummer. I’ll wait.)

Today, as I’m reading obits, I’m reminded of that moment. And I’m impressed to remember that Mel Tormé was also an accomplished author and actor. Mostly though, I’m recalling that pre-Christmas afternoon.

I love people who do something so well that you can’t conceive of it being done better. Doesn’t even have to be something important: Singing, dancing, plate-spinning, mooning your neighbor’s cat, whatever. There is a certain beauty to doing almost anything to perfection.

No recording exists of that chorus that Mel Tormé sang for the other diners at Farmers Market but if you never believe another word I write, trust me on this. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

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The Job Of Producing ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’ For TV News In 1982


The Job Of Producing ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’ For TV News In 1982

KNXT (now KCBS) decided to see if they could find all the elements of the song in “present day” Los Angeles. As you’ll see, it wasn’t as easy as you may think but they made a good story of it. Enjoy, share and Merry Christmas! -Bobby Ellerbee

#t=271″ target=”_blank”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Y2nLz_X9o #t=271

We found in Los Angeles all the elements for the song “12 Days of Christmas.”

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Merry Christmas! The Whole Phil Spector Christmas Albm

Merry Christmas! Here’s The Whole Phil Spector 1963 Album Classic

Here’s how “Rolling Stone” describes this album…

“Not just the greatest Christmas record ever, but a bona fide pop classic in its own right. (Rolling Stone named it Number 142 in our list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time). Spector’s wall of sound production adds grandeur and drama, while the Philles Records crew lights up the holiday hit parade with rock & roll fire. The Crystals party under the chimney on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”; Ronnie Spector turns “Frosty the Snowman” into a puddle in the front yard; and on the classic Brill Building original “Christmas Baby, Please Come Home,” Darlene Love throws herself into an epic ballad of romantic affliction, turning winter wonderland into teenage wasteland. No wonder Brian Wilson has called it his favorite album of all time.”

Enjoy, share and Sing Along! I know you know the words! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL18s2oxUqoMamfF0LjTHGs-CFzAamJhmu

Phil Spector Christmas

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December 25, 1937…Toscanini Debuts The NBC Symphony Orchestra

December 25, 1937…Toscanini Debuts The NBC Symphony Orchestra

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdQGa94GhJY
At the link is an audio recording of that night’s performance.

Tom Lewis, in the Organization of American Historians Magazine of History, described NBC’s plan for cultural programming and the origin of the NBC Symphony:

David Sarnoff, the president of RCA who had first proposed the “radio music box” in 1916 so that listeners might enjoy “concerts, lectures, music, recitals,” felt that the medium was failing to do this. By 1937, RCA had recovered enough from the effects of the Depression for it to make a dramatic commitment to cultural programming. With the most liberal terms Sarnoff hired Arturo Toscanini to create an entire orchestra and conduct it. On Christmas night, 1937, the NBC orchestra gave its first performance…Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in D Minor in NBC’s Auditorium Studio, or what we now call Studio 8H.

Sarnoff devoted considerable resources to create an orchestra of the first rank for NBC. Artur Rodziński, a noted orchestra builder and musical task master in his own right, was engaged to mold and train the new orchestra in anticipation of the arrival of Toscanini. It offered the highest salaries of any orchestra at the time and a 52-week contract. Prominent musicians from major orchestras around the country were recruited and the conductor Pierre Monteux was hired as well to work with the orchestra in its formative months.

The orchestra’s first broadcast concert aired on November 13, 1937 under the direction of Monteux. Toscanini conducted ten concerts that first season, making his NBC debut on December 25, 1937. In addition to weekly broadcasts on the NBC Red and Blue networks, the NBC Symphony Orchestra made many recordings for RCA Victor of symphonies, choral music and operas. Televised concerts began in March 1948 and continued until March 1952. In the fall of 1950, NBC converted Studio 8H into a television studio, and moved the broadcast concerts to Carnegie Hall, where many of the orchestra’s recording sessions and special concerts had already taken place.

Toscanini led the NBC Symphony for 17 years. Under his direction the orchestra toured South America in 1940 and the United States in 1950.

Leopold Stokowski served as principal conductor from 1941-1944 on a three-year contract following a dispute between Toscanini and NBC. During this time Toscanini continued to lead the orchestra in a series of public benefit concerts for war relief. He returned as Stokowski’s co-conductor for the 1942-43 and 1943-44 seasons, resuming full control thereafter. Upon Toscanini’s retirement in the spring of 1954, NBC officially disbanded the orchestra, much to Toscanini’s distress, though it continued for several years as the Symphony of the Air. Toscanini’s final broadcast concert with the orchestra (recorded in both mono and stereo) took place at Carnegie Hall on April 4, 1954, and his final recording sessions were completed in early June 1954.

Thanks to Doug Gerbino for sharing this rare program from that night. Enjoy, share and Merry Christmas! -Bobby Ellerbee

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December 24, 1822…Clement Moore Pens ‘The Night Before Christmas’


December 24, 1822…Clement Moore Pens ‘The Night Before Christmas’

Twas the day before Christmas, December 24, the day in 1822 that Clement Moore is thought to have composed the classic poem that was then called “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” You probably know it as “The Night Before Christmas.” While traveling home from Greenwich Village, in Manhattan, where he had bought a turkey to donate to the poor during the holiday season, Moore penned the story for the amusement of his six children, with whom he shared the poem that evening.

It is said that he was inspired by the plump, bearded Dutchman who took him by sleigh on his errand through the snow-covered streets of New York City. Moore’s vision of St. Nicholas draws from Dutch-American and Norwegian traditions of a magical, gift-giving figure that appears at Christmas time. It’s also is based on the German legend of a visitor who enters homes through chimneys. Clement Moore knew of such folklore as a learned man of literature. He was born into a well-respected New York family in 1779. His father, Benjamin Moore, had served as president of Columbia University and Episcopal bishop of New York and even participated in the inauguration of George Washington as the nation’s first president.

Clement Moore graduated from Columbia. As a scholar, he is said to have been embarrassed by the light-hearted holiday poem, which somehow made its way into the public without his knowledge in December 1823. Moore did not publish it under his name until 1844.

Below is a most excellent reading by actor Lorne Greene. Enjoy, share and may your night before Christmas be joyous! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G72ZBW60xy0

Lorne Greene, best known as Ben Cartwright on the long running series “Bonanza” reads Clement Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” which also goes under the t…

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Remember This? ‘The Chipmunk Song’… #1 December 1958


Remember This? ‘The Chipmunk Song’… #1 December 1958

Did you know that David Seville was the stage name for Ross Bagdasarian? Bagdasarian was creator and voice of The Chipmunks. The year before he had a hit with ‘The Witch Doctor’…Oh e oo aha aha, ting tang walla walla bing bang, etc.

The tape machine Bagdasarian used to record the chipmunk sound on was a variable speed, Tape-O-Matic “Voice of Music” reel-to-reel recorder. The key words here are variable speed. People tried to emulate his sound, but without the variable speed function, you just couldn’t get there.

This song was #1 Christmas of 1958 and won two Grammys, one of which was for technology. This is the original version with some interesting video editing. Enjoy, share and sing along!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whY9MKlvisI

My 3rd fan made Chipmunk video featuring clips from various Chipmunks Christmas special episodes and shows where David Seville and The Chipmunks celebrate Ch…

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Colbert Awning Comes Down At The Home Of Truthyness…NEP Studio 54


Colbert Awning Comes Down At The Home Of Truthyness…NEP Studio 54

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=49oALVGxIgU&feature=youtu.be

The Colbert Report awning comes down from it’s New York studios, signaling the end of the show – December 22, 3015

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December 24, 1951…’Ahmal And The Night Visitors’ Debuts On NBC

December 24, 1951…’Ahmal And The Night Visitors’ Debuts On NBC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzx-s46vjpY
Above is a link to that presentation…the first of many, as this was one of television’s first repeating holiday events.

This was also the debut of ‘The Hallmark Hall Of Fame’ anthology series.

‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ was the first opera specifically composed for television in America. This one act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti was commissioned by NBC and first performed by the NBC Opera Theater on December 24, 1951 in NBC studio 8H (first photo).
Amahl was such a success that it was restaged by Hallmark several times during a period of fifteen years.

For its first three telecasts, the program had been presented in black-and-white from Studio 8H, but beginning in 1953, it was telecast in color from NBC Brooklyn. Because it was an opera, and network executives had increasingly little confidence in the show as a prime time draw, so later the production began to be scheduled in the afternoon, rather than shown in prime time as had been done in its first few telecasts.

For years, Amahl was presented live, but in 1963 it was videotaped by NBC with conductor Herbert Grossman and an all-new cast. When Menotti found out that NBC had scheduled the taping on a date when he was out of the country, he tried to get the date changed. The network refused and recorded the 1963 performance without the composer’s presence or participation, telecasting it in December 1963, and twice more after that – in 1964 and 1965. Menotti never approved of the 1963 production, and in May 1966 when the rights to future broadcasts reverted to him, the composer refused to allow it to be shown again. Because of this, Amahl was not shown on television at all between 1966 and 1978.

In 1978, a new production was filmed by NBC, partly on location in the Holy Land, but It did not catch on and become an annual tradition the way the 1951 and 1963 versions had. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

The first photo is from the 1951 production in 8H. All the other photos, courtesy of Peter Katz, were taken at NBC Brooklyn around 1955.





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December 1863…Thomas Nast Gives The World The Modern Santa

December 1863…Thomas Nast Gives The World The Modern Santa

Thomas Nast was one of the best known illustrators and cartoonists of the second half of the nineteenth century. He came to define the art of illustrating American political ideas and conflicts. He is the man that gave the Democrats the donkey and Republicans the elephant as their party mascots.

But it is at this time of the year we come face to face with his most enduring image – Santa Claus. Nast has been credited with creating the modern American version of Santa Claus as a fat, jolly, white bearded guy in a fur trimmed red suit. Undoubtedly influenced by Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (“The Night Before Christmas”), Nast added his own spin on the Santa lore. He was the first to establish Santa’s home as the North Pole and gave Santa a toy workshop with tiny elves. Nast produced dozens of Christmas engravings for Harper’s between 1863 and 1886. Enjoy, share and have a Merry Christmas! -Bobby Ellerbee

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December 24, 1948…Perry Como Debuts On NBC Television


December 24, 1948…Perry Como Debuts On NBC Television

Como had been the Monday, Wednesday and Friday host of ‘The Chesterfield Supper Club’ on NBC Radio since December of 1945. On Christmas Eve of 1948, the radio show was simulcast from NBC Studio 6A. I think this began a weekly, Friday night simulcast with Como hosting until he moved to CBS in 1950.

At the time, 6A was still a radio studio and wasn’t converted to television till May 29, 1950. The show was produced with 3 “remote unit” cameras which moved from studio to studio inside 30 Rock. The mobile unit had rolling Camera Control Units which were set up in the 6A sound lock leading to the main hallway. These internal mobile units also brought with them a dozen or so scoop lights which were mounted on floor stands, so as you watch this, you’ll notice a lot of flat lighting and shadows. Both 6A and 6B had some theatrical lighting, but not enough without some fills.

There is no footage of that show, but this clip is from eleven months later…November 20, 1949 and gives you an idea of how the show looked. This Christmas Eve broadcast marked the beginning of Como’s tradition of holiday specials that continued on CBS. Perry returned to NBC September 22, 1956 and debuted his new color show from The Zeigfeld Theater which NBC had just taken over. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tFkKuDZHdI

Originally aired November 20, 1949 on NBC Television. Perry Como’s guests are Raymond Massey and Denise Alexander. Songs include: ‘Dear Hearts and Gentle Peo…

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The Story Behind The Classic…”Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”


The Story Behind The Classic…”Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

This, one of my favorites, was introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie musical ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’. The song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for a scene were Garland’s character, Esther, sings the bittersweet song to her little sister, trying to cheer her up as both lament their family’s move away from their hometown. But Garland and director Vincent Minnelli weren’t happy with Martin’s early, darker lyrics.

These included lines that Martin would later describe as ”hysterically lugubrious,” like ”Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last…. Faithful friends who were dear to us/Will be near to us no more.”

Martin initially refused to revise the lyrics, but a blue talking to from actor Tom Drake set him straight. “He said, ‘You stupid son of a bitch!'” Martin recollected, “‘You’re gonna foul up your life if you don’t write another verse of that song!”’ Ultimately, Martin gave the song a more hopeful leaning, first for the movie then again in 1957 at the request of Frank Sinatra. For Ol’ Blue Eyes, he changed “We’ll have to muddle through somehow” to the more jolly “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” The song has since became a standard, in both forms. Enjoy, share and sing along! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKG5X0QMSWA

From the movie “Meet me in St. Louis” (1944). Con Subtitulos en Español

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The Story Behind The Classic…”The Christmas Song”


The Story Behind The Classic…”The Christmas Song”

The Christmas Song was written in 1944 by musician, composer, and vocalist Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. The song was written during an incredibly hot summer in an effort to stay cool by thinking cold thoughts.

“I saw a spiral pad on his Bob’s piano with four lines written in pencil”, Tormé recalled. “They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting…Jack Frost nipping…Yuletide carols…Folks dressed up like Eskimos. Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later “The Christmas Song” was complete.”

The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946, and disregarding objections of his label Capitol Records, a second recording was made the same year utilizing a small string section, this version became a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts.

Cole again recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in stereo with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael which is arguably the most popular version of this Christmas classic. Enjoy, share and sing along! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__kQ1PCP6B0

Music video by Nat King Cole performing The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). King Cole Partners, L.P., under license to South Bay Music G…

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The Story Behind The Classic…”Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”


The Story Behind The Classic…”Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”

Below is the first known recording of the song which came only days after it debuted. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” was first performed by Eddie Cantor on his radio show in November 1934. The next day, there were orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and 400,000 copies sold by Christmas of that year.

As the story goes, James “Haven” Gillespie was a vaudevillian-turned-songwriter who’d fallen on hard times, both financially and personally. Gillespie got the call to pen a Christmas tune for Cantor just after learning his brother had died.

Initially, he rejected the job, feeling too overcome with grief to consider penning a playful holiday ditty. But a subway ride recollecting his childhood with his brother and his mother’s warnings that “Santa was watching” changed his mind. He had the lyrics in 15 minutes, then called in composer John Coots to make up the music that would become a huge hit within 24 hours of its debut. Enjoy, share and sing along! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbePb9xNNII

By John Frederick Coots & Haven Gillespie. The first recording of this song. Oct. 24, 1934. New York. from A Vintage Christmas Cracker. Living Era CD AJS 275…

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Ultra Rare! The 1st Christmas Song Ever Recorded…Jingle Bells, 1898


Ultra Rare! The 1st Christmas Song Ever Recorded…Jingle Bells, 1898

We’ll get to how J. S. Peirpont came to write the song in Savannah, Georgia in a moment, but first a note on the recording. As noted in the video, a banjo player named Will Lyle made an instrumental version in 1889, but this 1898 Edison Cylinder recording by The Edison Male Quartet is believed to be the first Christmas song ever recorded.

The words and music to the famous Christmas carol “Jingle Bells” were written in 1857 by organist and choir director James Pierpont for a Thanksgiving church service in Savannah, GA. It was so well received that the children were asked to repeat the performance at the Christmas service that year, and it has remained a Christmas standard ever since. The sheet music was first published in 1857 by Oliver Ditson with its original title “The One Horse Open Sleigh”. It was reissued two years later with only one title change chosen by the public…“Jingle Bells.”

James Pierpont was born in 1822 in Massachusetts the son of an ardent abolitionist. In the 1850’s he moved to Savannah, Georgia, joining his brother John who ministered to Savannah’s Unitarian congregation. James took a post as the organist and music director of the church and it during the fall of 1857, with Pierpont living in the south, that he began writing of his New England Christmases and longing for the snow and traditional New England customs.

At the outset of the Civil War, he joined the Isle of Hope Volunteers to the Confederacy, the Fifth Georgia Calvalry. Pierpont survived the war and lived until 1893 when he passed away in Winter Haven, FL. He was buried in Laurel Grove beside his brother-in-law Thomas who had been killed in the first battle of Bull Run. The family would again come to great national prominence through the work of James’ nephew, famed capitalist J. Pierpont Morgan.

In the period of 1890 through 1954, “Jingle Bells” was in the top 25 most recorded songs in history beating out “Blue Skies”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “I Got Rhythm”, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and “Georgia On My Mind”. Enjoy, share and sing along! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqbtlzPFa4w

http://davidneale.eu/elvis/originals/index.html Written by: J. S. Pierpont Originally recorded by Will Lyle in 1889 (Hear Elvis’s version on: Home Recordings…

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Remember This Classic CBS Holiday ID From 1966?


Remember This Classic CBS Holiday ID From 1966?

Back then, R. O. Blechman was best known for his magazine cover designs, especially his many ‘The New Yorker’ covers. CBS commissioned him to design a classy holiday ID with Willis Pyle doing the animation. Thanks to Alec Cumming for sharing this with us. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUWMjUjit_U&feature=share

Can you believe that there once was a time when network television aired classy holiday interstitials like this ? Designed by R.O. Blechman and animated by W…

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December 23, 1947…Bell Labs Invents The Transistor

December 23, 1947…Bell Labs Invents The Transistor

John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William Shockley invented the transistor at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey. In 1948, they won the Nobel Prize for their discovery. Here they are in their with the first transistor and a replica of it. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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1951 NFL Championship Title Game

December 23, 1951…1st NFL Championship On Coast To Coast Television

The Dumont Network purchased the rights to televise the game from the NFL for $95,000. Although this was the 19th title game in NFL history, it was the first ever televised coast to coast as this was the first year AT&T had the capacity to do nation wide television.

Before this, I think the games were on nation wide radio and if any championship games were on TV, they were shown probably only as far west as AT&T television lines reached which may have been St. Louis or maybe Denver.

Below is the NFL Films record of the game at The Los Angeles Coliseum between the Rams and Cleveland Browns. As you’ll see, it was pretty rough and tumble with no face guards. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000096236/1951-NFL-Championship-Title-Game

1951 NFL Championship Title Game

Here’s a look back at the 1951 NFL Championship Title Game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns.

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Would Santa Really Come Down This Chimney?

Picture Parade #5…Would Santa Really Come Down This Chimney?

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The Secret Word Is “Happy Holidays”!

Picture Parade #4…The Secret Word Is “Happy Holidays”!

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Decking The Halls In Gay Apparel With Jane Mansfied

Picture Parade #3…Decking The Halls In Gay Apparel With Jane Mansfied

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Happy Holidays From Desi, Desi, Lucy and Lucy Arnaz

Picture Parade #2…Happy Holidays From Desi, Desi, Lucy and Lucy Arnaz

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How Would You Like To Tree Shop With These Guys?

Picture Parade #1…How Would You Like To Tree Shop With These Guys?

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