Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The Emmy Awards…The Early Years, Rare Video And Photos

The Emmy Awards…The Early Years, Rare Video And Photos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfg8Sw_0Lw4
At the link is the first video we have of the ceremonies on February 11, 1954. Vivian Vance is shown winning Best Supporting Actress and notice just before the 1:00 mark, the two KHJ cameras she walks between. With those long lenses, they had to be careful not to bump into each other.

This was live from the Hollywood Palladium and Ed Sullivan hosted the ceremonies broadcast by KHJ TV. Starting in March 7, 1955, NBC took over, and the awards show has been seen nation wide ever since. In ’55, Steve Allen and Dave Garroway hosted via split screen from LA and NYC.

In the photos, we see the first ever awards on January 25, 1949 at The Hollywood Athletic Club. It was covered locally by Don Lee’s KTSL for the few thousand viewers in LA that had a TV set. At the time, there were fewer than a million sets in use in the US. More details on the photos. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Speaking Of Camera Drawings…Here’s An Interesting Twist From The UK

Speaking Of Camera Drawings…Here’s An Interesting Twist From The UK

The gallery of “kid camera” drawings this week reminded our friend Dicky Howett in England of something he did a few years ago as a competition of sorts…a challenge to see who could name the cameras he drew here. Can you name them? Take a look at the image and see if you can. You can grade yourself by checking the answers in the text block below. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

NAME THAT OLD (British) CAMERA!

(1). The EMI Emitron of 1937. Iconoscope type pick-up, high velocity picture tube. Needed bags of light. Optical twin lens inverted reflex viewfinder. Lightning reflexes required to operate. Live tv upside down!

(2). Emitron CPS Mk 1. 1947/48. Orthicon type pick-up tube. First used by the BBC on murky o.b.’s. Camera unsteady on highlights.

(3). Emitron CPS Mk 2. 1951. Oddball six lens turret. ‘Export’ 625-line hopeful. Shown at the 1951` London Festival of Britain in the Telekinema. (Trivia fans: This camera can be seen to advantage in the 1956 British movie ‘Simon & Laura’)

(4). Emitron CPS Mk 3. (10764) 1956. Introduced into Lime Grove
studio D. A large camera, it produced a softish ‘photographic’ picture which didn’t transfer well to the home receiver. ‘Baked Bean Tin’ lens cover concealed titchy lenses.Tilting viewfinder. Beer handle focus knob. This camera ended its days as a BBC tv optical standards converter.

(5). EMI 203. 4 ½” image orthicon. 1959 .The ‘green box’. Mistaken often by amnesiac cameramen for the 201, which was an EMI vidicon and half the size! But does size really matter, or have you forgotten?

(6). Marconi Mk 1. The first Marconi tv camera, introduced in 1949. A 3″ image orthicon camera based entirely on RCA blueprints of the RCA TK30 ‘field’ camera. The slightly later Marconi Mk 1B was used at the Coronation in 1953.

(7). Marconi Mk III 1955. Successful heavyweight 4 ½” image orthicon camera with tilting viewfinder and omnipresent beer-handle focus. Camera was the mainstay of 1950s monochrome British TV .

(8). Marconi Mk IV1959. World-spanning 4 ½” image orthicon camera. Over 900 channels sold world-wide, including 44 in one chunk to CBS in New York and Hollywood.

(9). Pye Photicon. 1949. Lunky old machine with a laboriously slow motorised 4-lens turret. Camera boasted a high-velocity miniature super iconoscope. Later versions, called ‘Pesticons’ used pea lamps in the tube to counteract bouncing electron ‘shading’. Mostly successful.

(10). Pye Mk 3. 1951. Well-regarded compact (but not lightweight) 3″ image orthicon camera. A lot of remote controls taking this camera way ahead of its time. Noisy electrical turret. Big focus wheels on both sides. Frequent breakdown of servo motors.

Further invaluable information:

Only one 1937 EMI standard Emitron camera full channel exists. There is a further complete head and a few bits and pieces. These priceless items reside at the BBC and the National Media Museum. One 1949 EMI CPS Emitron Mk 1 exists down at the EMI Labs. Nothing seems to remain of the ill-fated 1951 Emitron CPS Mk 2 six-lens turret jobby. A couple of 1956 EMI CPS Emitron Mk 3’s remain. The author himself has four green EMI 203’s and at least three others are alive and well. Only one 1949 Marconi Mk 1 exists, cared for by an ex-BBC engineer. Three other later Mk 1B versions exist to delight us all. Ten or so Marconi Mk III’s are active, one in full working order. At least five Marconi Mk IV’s are present and correct. Two are running well. Alas, the poor old 1949 Pye Photicon Mk 1 is extinct. Only one small lens survives and a few working (!) pickup tubes. Nothing remains also of the Pesticon Mk 2 variants. Happily, the modest Pye Mk 3 is extant and there are at least six examples to amuse and amaze us.

Dicky Howett (revised 2014)

By the way, Dicky has the largest collection of cameras in the UK. He also owns the top equipment prop house in Europe with hundreds of antique cameras and TV gear. Here’s a link to his site.
www.golden-agetv.co.uk

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The KTLA Tower Comes Down…For Now

  • The KTLA Tower Comes Down…For Now

I’ve avoided writing about the renovations at historic KTLA because I haven’t been able to find a clear story on what’s going on, but I think they are taking down part of the main (front) building and a couple of storage buildings to put up a big office tower, which I think will be part of KTLA, but maybe not. I wish some of you that know what’s going on will fill us in.

Part of the process involved talking down the iconic radio tower this week, but as you can read in the attached story, it will go back up next year in a different location. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-ktla-radio-tower-20141124-story.html

Crane removes iconic KTLA radio tower for renovation and relocation

The iconic KTLA -5 tower, which stood watch at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Street for more than 60 years, was dismantled Monday morning, piece by piece, so that it could be restored and relocated.

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New NBC Marquee On 6th Avenue Unveiled This Week

New NBC Marquee On 6th Avenue Unveiled This Week

In the style and tradition of the 49th and 50th Street entrances, NBC has erected the first ever 6th Avenue marquee to celebrate the return of ‘The Tonight Show’ to New York.

“The new marquee is a bold reminder that ‘The Tonight Show’ is back in New York City from historic 30 Rockefeller Plaza,” said John Wallace, President, NBCUniversal Operations and Technical Services. “Showcasing our iconic NBCUniversal programs and talent, plus improving the fan experience, are key elements of our comprehensive building redesign project.”

The placement of “The Tonight Show” marquee is part of the previously announced plan for extensive upgrades and enhancements to historic 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Ongoing renovation and restoration projects, including the Grand Stair and Mezzanine Rotunda, will be completed in the coming months. At least half of the job of replacing the GE signs atop the building is complete and a part of the updating and restoration. Thanks to Gil Muro, Geoffrey DeVoe and Brian Durr for the photos. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, yes…6th Avenue is also Avenue Of The Americas.




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“Casablanca” Piano & “Cowardly Lion” Costume Auctioned

November 26, 1942…’Casablanca’ Debuts…Piano Auctioned Monday

Just as Allied Expeditionary Forces were landing in North Africa, ‘Casablanca’ debuted in New York, the same city where a huge movie memorabilia auction was held Monday at Bonham’s. The “Play It Again Sam” piano sold for over $3 million. At the same auction, the Cowardly Lion costume from 1939’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ fetched over $3 million also.

According to the Associated Press, the costume was authenticated to be the one that Bert Lahr wore in the film; a back-up costume fetched almost $1 million in recent years. The costume’s previous owner, Los Angeles Museum of Television founder James Comisar, said that the costume was made out of real lion skins, and was extensively analyzed to conclude that this costume was indeed the one that was worn on-screen.

The costume had been found and rescued from an old MGM building by a junk dealer cleaning out the deserted lot in the 1970s. There is another auction December 21, and you can see some of the items at this link. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20766819,00.html

Among the treasures on the block and pictured at the link…Spock’s ears, an Indiana Jones whip, Hans Solo’s blaster from ‘Star Wars’, Mork’s space suit, James Dean’s switchblade from ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, Dorothy’s blue dress from Oz, Dick Van Dyke’s multicolored jacket from ‘Mary Poppins’ and more. You can see the pictures here. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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Look Familiar? Did You Ever “Play Television” As A Kid?

Look Familiar? Did You Ever “Play Television” As A Kid? I Did…

These photos are from 1959 and show is a mighty fine store bought camera. Something I never saw before. Mine were all home made.

I’ll share my story if you share yours, OK? I remember being in the first grade and already wanting to be an announcer. Earlier that year, I had been on ‘The Don McNeil Breakfast Club’ in Chicago and that left a lasting impression. I would watch TV shows and say what the man on TV said, but then I took it up a notch and added a microphone to my act….sort of.

My mother had an Elecralux canister vacuum cleaner. The long black cord had a male plug for the wall and a female plug for the vacuum. I used the female end as a mic and could pull my cable just like the man on TV. One day, I got the bright idea of plugging the cord into the wall to do my announcing. Everything was fine till I got a little to close to the “mic” and got shocked.

I modified my technique after that, but kept on “announcing”. I still do, but now it’s for money. Tell me your story! Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, thanks to Ken Heinemann for these pictures of a cardboard camera he sent away for. The lenses had red, blue and green gel on them so this must have been a “color” camera.



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The Early Days Of Motion Control Cameras In Hollywood…

The Early Days Of Motion Control Cameras In Hollywood…

Believe it or not, an urban development project helped lay the ground work for Star Wars photography. It’s only three minutes long but there is a ton of interesting history in this clip. The amazing ‘Bot & Dolly’ Iris rig we saw here Saturday is the great grand son of John Dykstra’s first motion control rigs. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QJr2FvQlqY

John Dykstra’s motion control camera work in 1971.

Before Star Wars John Dykstra worked for the Institute for Regional and Urban Development working with a very early version of the motion control camera, a f…

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A Video Visit To NBC Brooklyn Studios, 1967


By Request…A Visit To NBC Brooklyn Studios, 1967

At 12:58 and again at 23:35, you’ll see the great RCA TK41s in action at NBC Brooklyn. The date was March 13, 1966 and the production was ‘The Bell Telephone Hour’. That episode was “The Music Of The Movies” and in the clip you’ll see (Oz scarecrow) Ray Bolger and a young Peter Marshall. I’m not sure if this is Studio I or II, but it looks big enough to be I.

This is for our friends Russell Ross and Frank Gaeta, both long time NBC and TK41 veteran cameramen. I think Frank is in the dark sweater with the white collar on a ped camera. That may be Don Mulvaney on the crane? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/ZAJpionUxJ8?t=12m55sFor more from the AT&T Archives, visit http://techchannel.att.com/archives This film focuses on the integrity and reliability of the entire Bell System netwo…

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Setting The Stage, And The Table, For Thanksgiving….

Setting The Stage, And The Table, For Thanksgiving….

Thanks to Craig Wilson’s great photos, we’ve been able to visit the ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ set for a couple of months now and meet some of the people that bring it to us. Is it just me, or do these pictures have a glow of warmth and welcome to you too?

These images are from this past Sunday’s Thanksgiving show, which given the occasion, was meant to evoke “home and hearth”, but to me, each Sunday morning feels like a special holiday visit to the home of an old friend. You too?

The charm of our host, Charles Osgood. the familiar pace, the always excellent menu of viewing fare and the first class production qualities go a long way in explaining why these ninety minutes have captured the hearts and loyalty of so many for so long. Thanks to Robert Northshield and original host Charles Kuralt for creating this in January of 1979. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee








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Look Familiar? May 1940…In Front Of The Ed Sullivan Theater

Look Familiar? May 1940…In Front Of The Ed Sullivan Theater

Built in 1927 as The Hammerstein Theater, CBS took a long term lease on the dark venue in 1935 and converted it to a large radio theater. In 1950, they converted it to a television theater with the designation, CBS Studio 50.

This is a publicity photo for the movie ’20 Mule Team’ starring Wallace Berry that debuted in New York on May 3, 1940. When I saw this I thought that the 1952 television series ‘Death Valley Days’ may have spun out from this, but much to my surprise, this 1940 movie is based on the ‘Death Valley Days’ radio show that started in 1930 and ran there till 1945.

On TV, the show began in 1952 as a syndicated series, with reruns and updated new narrations continuing through August 1, 1975.

The radio and TV series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company (20 Mule Team Borax, Boraxo) and hosted by Stanley Andrews (1952-1963), Ronald Reagan (1964-1965), Robert Taylor (1966-1969), and Dale Robertson (1969-1972). Hosting the series was Reagan’s final work as an actor; he also was cast in eight episodes of the series. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Look Familiar? I Thought So…You Were Not Alone!

Look Familiar? I Thought So…You Were Not Alone!

In reviewing the comments from yesterday’s story on Rosie, I noticed some conversations about drawing pictures of cameras and studios as kids, so…I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane. As it turns out, a lot of us that went into the field did this and here are over two dozen works of art from around the country. Enjoy and share! Oh, and add your pix too if you can find them! -Bobby Ellerbee












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Televising The Oswald Transfer…Two Fascinating Videos


Televising The Oswald Transfer…Two Fascinating Videos

Eye witnesses to history, NBC’s Tom Pettit, WBAP cameraman Homer Venso, director Fred Rheinstein and producer Chet Hagen discuss the events of Sunday, November 24, 1963.

In the basement of the jail were three live cameras from WBAP (NBC with RCA TK30s), KRLD (CBS with GE PE20s) and WFAA (ABC with Marconi Mark IVs). Outside, feeding WBAP was a KTVT truck with GE PC 11s. I think the WBAP truck had been towed there as it was having engine problems.

Homer Venso was on the WBAP camera…the only camera that caught the shooting live. He was instructed to rack the lens to a wider shot live on NBC air just one second before Oswald was shot. At 4:13, you can see Homer moving his camera into place beside the other two. At the time of the shooting, both KRLD and WFAA were taping the activity, but were not live locally or on their networks…only NBC got it live. Our friend Max Schindler was directing NBC’s coverage of the arrival of dignitaries in Washington when he saw this come up on his air monitor.

Interestingly, around the 8 minute mark, a live WFAA Marconi Mark IV is seen at Parkland Hospital for the death announcement. Oswald was shot at 11:20 Central and died at 1:07 Central. Parkland was 4 miles away so the live trucks had to literally break and run to strike and reset in order to get the shots. Even though pooling was supposed to be happening, I’m sure there were a mad dash by all to get their own equipment moved.

The film footage of Oswald arriving at Parkland at 7:50 in the embedded clip is fascinating and I wondered how that was possible till I saw this KRLD raw video clip. Notice at 19:20, there is a film crew on the street and they immediately follow the ambulance. They had to be the ones that got the arrival footage.

This whole raw video is just fascinating. It starts several minutes before the shooting and they keep going with interviews for several minutes after. NBC’s Tom Pettit was only three feet away when Ruby shot Oswald and is seen here through out. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5khMFFKslw KRLD Raw Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjphDSY5QJ4

*Poor quality both audio and video Oswald is paraded back and forth through the hallways of the Dallas Police Department. Comments regarding the transfer and…

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October 2006…My RCA TK41C Arrives From Los Angeles

October 2006…My RCA TK41C Arrives From Los Angeles

http://www.photoshow.com/watch/Bk7iG7Fs
With the arrival of two new items, I thought it would be a good time to mark the anniversary of Rosie’s arrival. At the link above is a slide show that document’s the arrival of the massive camera at my old house in Athens. I had thought this was lost till last week when our friend Lytle Hoover at Oldradio.com sent me the link. Believe it or not, it was flown from LAX to ATL.

Till yesterday, I never had a photo of Rosie at KTLA that I was sure was her…now I do. Rosie is a TK41C which has a different left side exhaust port than the RCA TK41As and Bs and was the only C model owned by KTLA. Thanks to Steve Dichter for sending this screen capture. With his help back in 2007, I was able to get the full history on Rosie and it’s quite interesting with all the details at this link. http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Bobby_Collections_TK41.php

As you’ll see in the arrival pix, she did not have the NBC logo when she got to me, but in if you noticed in the Dean Martin photo spread from yesterday, not every NBC camera had a network logo. The snake logo that she wears now are the genuine article sent to me by my friend Jay Ballard, who spent many years at NBC taking care of cameras. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee






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Directing The Arrival Back In Washington…A Heartbreaking Night


Directing The Arrival Back In Washington…A Heartbreaking Night

It is an honor for this site to have among it’s members, Max A. Schindler. Max not only directed ‘Meet The Press’ for over twenty years, but directed many special events for NBC including parts of the John and Robert Kennedy funerals and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

In the first part of this video (0:0 – 11:30) you will hear Mr. Schindler describe the events of November 22, 1963 as he tried to get to Andrews Air Force Base for the arrival. Only the two camera NBC truck had an AT&T connection, so CBS and ABC had to take his feed.

At 14:30 he talks about the MLK speech and at 19:19, about directing the RFK funeral with some very interesting details. At the link below is the NBC arrival coverage from Andrews. After President Kennedy’s casket was removed, President Johnson addressed the nation, but that is not included in this clip. Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_23UyIuEzK4 Arrival video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hM-uCHIWBM

Full interview at http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/max-schindler

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November 22, 1963…Television Coverage, Assassination Day

November 22, 1963…Television Coverage, Assassination Day

The only silver lining to one of our darkest days was the local media. The Dallas/Ft. Worth stations were well equipped and on the scene for a big day and were pooling coverage which would become invaluable over the next few days.

It started in Ft. Worth with a televised breakfast. Since WBAP (an NBC affiliate using RCA TK30s) was located there, they covered the event while WFAA (an ABC affiliate using Marconi Mark IVs) covered the arrival at Love Field. KRLD (the CBS affiliate with GE PE20s) was at the Dallas Trade Mart for the luncheon.

By 1:40 ET, the networks were involved. Walter Cronkite did a voice only bulletin over a slide at CBS. Less than an minute later, Don Pardo delivered a voice bulletin over a slide at NBC. Soon after, Cronkite was on the air live from the newsroom…the cameras had been taken out that morning for maintenance and were quickly rushed back into service, already warm, but not quite up to speed.

NBC went live from Studio 5HN, the headline news studio on the 5th floor with Frank McGee and Chet Huntley aided by Robert McNeil at Parkland hospital with live phone reports. McNeil had called on a line that was not a broadcast line and McGee had to relay his reports. NBC techs brought out a telephone mic, but there was too much feedback.

ABC was caught totally by surprise and news coverage there started with a radio newsman on camera with no set and a stage hand helping. After that first live phone report, Ron Cochran finally rushed in from lunch down the street and took over. All expect one of the these photos is from Friday, November 22. More on the photos. -Bobby Ellerbee










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By The Way…Happy Thanksgiving Week!

By The Way…Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Some of you will be off, and some working overtime on parades and football, some doing news and some are in Neverland with Peter Pan, but where ever you are and what ever you are doing, enjoy the holiday! -Bobby Ellerbee

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The Gravity Bot & Dolly, Motion Control Camera Platform

Anyone Ever See One Of These, Or Know What To Call It?

This is a mighty curios rig isn’t it? I first saw it yesterday and was memorized. The camera in use the the Phantom Milo and research on that is what gave us the Gallagher slow mo video in the post before this.

This is a computer controlled jib/crane/dolly arrangement used for motion pictures. It’s rail mounted and has two separate arms. In this photo, the smaller arm is carrying lights and the big arm, the camera but I think you could mount two cameras here easily.

Personally, I hate robotics in television but in movie making, I can see the need because rigs like this can repeat the same shot over and over with identical movement to help build special effects scenes. I’ll bet this was used in making ‘Gravity’. Anyone know more? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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A Smashing Good Time…Gallagher In HD Slow Motion FPS Tests

A Smashing Good Time…Gallagher In HD Slow Motion FPS Tests

In the next post, I’ll show you the Star Wars looking robotic movie crane/jib that brought me to this fun 2 minute clip, but for now, take a look at this. This is shot with the Phantom Milo camera using variable frames per second software. There’s more at this link, and a longer version of the Gallagher session. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://fctn.tv/blog/fiction-product-test-001-the-phantom-miro-starring-gallagher/

Gallagher FPS tests

Gallagher in HD high speed is a sight to behold. See the actual edit at: https://vimeo.com/48459576 See BTS and read the equipment review: www.fctn.tv/blog

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The Final Seconds Of Camelot…51 Years Ago Today, Dealey Plaza

The Final Seconds Of Camelot…51 Years Ago Today, Dealey Plaza

Today’s remembrance of the assassination of President Kennedy is marked here by some rare, not often seen photos from that day. The sequence of pictures begins with the motorcade’s turn onto Elm Street at Dealey Plaza. Except for the last one, all of these photos were taken between 12:30 and 12:31 PM CT that day. I’ll add a few notes to the photos that I hope you will share. -Bobby Ellerbee

Where were you that day we’ll never forget? Tomorrow, the television pictures.









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By Request…’The Dean Martin Show’, Behind The Scenes

By Request…’The Dean Martin Show’, Behind The Scenes

Long time NBC cameraman Russell Ross ask for this, so here you go Russell. Before we start, here’s a must see 3 minute video that perfectly captures the mood and style of the show. In it, Dean fakes his way through a song and dance with Loyd Bridges and Anna Moffo, and at the end, there’s an un-staged moment when Dean’s pants rip and he sheepishly walks out of the studio to change.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLwHtOzq2M4

‘The Dean Martin Show’ ran from September 16, 1965 – April 5, 1974 and originated from Studio 4 at NBC Burbank. The show began with RCA TK41s, but the RCA TK44s came next. It was introduced in late 1968 and I think NBC bought a few, but the TK44B debuted in 1971 and that’s when NBC loaded up on these. Johnny Carson’s show brought the 44Bs into Studio 6B a year before the move to Burbank where some 44As were already in use, and more 44Bs were added in Burbank in ’71.

Unfortunately, there are not many photos of the show in production, but here are the ones I have. I’ll make some notes on each one, so click through them. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee






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By Request: A Look At NBC Burbank, Studio 1…1963


By Request: A Look At NBC Burbank, Studio 1…1963

The first :45 seconds of this pilot for ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ gives us a nice wide angle shot Studio 1, which would later become Johnny Carson’s home. Notice the RCA TK41 still has three cables and is mounted on the old Houston Fearless TD 1 pedestal and it’s fitted with a Zoomar Studio lens. Thanks to Ed Mitchell for requesting this. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvNXm_5kLmo

This 37 minute pilot, produced on May 25, 1963 with Monty Hall as host and Wendell Niles as announcer/sidekick, led to the premiere of Let’s Make a Deal on N…

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Just For Fun…Can You Guess What Famous Star Is Wearing These?

Just For Fun…Can You Guess What Famous Star Is Wearing These?

The actor in question had to wear these wooden lifts to get him to eye-level with his female co start while shooting a film that has become a classic, that we all know and love.

Here are some hints…he was 5′ 8″ and named America’s greatest actor by The American Film Institute. He was a wicked chess player, an avid reader, had a yacht named Santana and as a baby, appeared in a national advertising campaign for Mellin’s Baby Food. He once said ” The trouble with the world is that it’s always one drink behind”.

Jarbas Jam Mesquita was the first with the correct answer…Humphrey Bogart. He wore these while filming ‘Casablanca’ to get him eye level with Ingrid Bergman. Thanks to Gay Linvill for the picture. Enjoy, share and good luck! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Behind The Scenes At The White House…

Behind The Scenes At The White House…

In case you were wondering what the live broadcast configuration of speeches delivered from the East Room look like these days, here’s your answer.

Just behind President Obama is the main head-on pool camera, and to the left of it is a backup camera, which is always provided in case there are technical problems with the main camera. I’m not sure what the camera to the right is for, but suspect it is there for archival purposes. You can barely see it, but there’s also a small camera directly below the main teleprompter, which is the camera for the webstream on the White House website. Thanks to CNN’s Andy Rose for the pix and details. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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November 21, 1980…Who Shot J. R.? The Big Reveal


November 21, 1980…Who Shot J. R.? The Big Reveal

On this day in 1980, 83 million people tuned in to television’s popular primetime drama ‘Dallas’ to find out who shot J.R. Ewing, the character fans loved to hate. J.R. had been shot on the season-ending episode the previous March 21, which now stands as one of television’s most famous cliffhangers. The plot twist inspired widespread media coverage and left America wondering “Who shot J.R.?” for the next eight months. The November 21 episode solved the mystery, identifying Kristin Shepard, J.R.’s wife’s sister and his former mistress, as the culprit.

The CBS television network debuted the first five-episode pilot season of ‘Dallas’ in 1978; it went on to run for another 12 full-length seasons. The first show of its kind, “Dallas” was dubbed a “primetime soap opera” for its serial plots and dramatic tales of moral excess.

That summer, the question “Who Shot J.R.?” entered the national lexicon, becoming a popular t-shirt slogan, and heightening anticipation of the soap’s third season, which was to air in the fall. After a much-talked-about contract dispute with Larry Hagman was finally settled, the season was delayed because of a Screen Actors Guild strike, much to the dismay of fans. When it finally aired, the episode revealing J.R.’s shooter became one of television’s most watched shows, with an audience of 83 million people in the U.S. alone—a full 76 percent of all U.S. televisions on that night were tuned in—and helped put ‘Dallas’ into greater worldwide circulation. It also popularized the use of the cliffhanger by television writers.

The shooting of J.R. wasn’t “Dallas'” only notorious plot twist. In September 1986, fans learned that the entire previous season, in which main character Bobby Ewing had died, was merely a dream of Pam’s. The show’s writers had killed the Bobby character off because Duffy had decided to leave the show. When he agreed to return, they featured him stepping out of the shower on the season-ending cliffhanger, and then were forced the next season to explain his sudden reappearance.

The last premiere episode of ‘Dallas’ aired on May 3, 1991. A spin-off, ‘Knots Landing’, aired from December 27, 1979 until May 13, 1993. ‘Dallas’ remains in syndication around the world. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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

The reveal of Who Shot JR in US Soap/Drama Dallas. First Transmission : November 21st 1980 R.I.P Larry Hagman (1931-2012) Enjoy! Please comment, like and sub…

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The Amazing Hazard Reeves…July 6, 1906 – December 23, 1986

The Amazing Hazard Reeves…July 6, 1906 – December 23, 1986

Yesterday I promised a deeper look in to just who Hazard Reeves was and what he did. Here is a 1955 bio issued by Cinerama that tells most of the story. Cinerama? Yes…guess who had a major roll in it’s creation. At the bottom of the article is a video clip about Cinerama.
Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

When some fifty of America’s leading orchestral artists cheer a recorded version of their own performance, that’s news. Yet that is precisely what happened after each recording session of the score for ‘This Is Cinerama’, the film that introduces to the world a thrilling new motion picture experience.

For Cinerama is not only a new kind of movie to look at, it offers a new kind of sound to listen to. “Stereophonic sound,” it is called, a sound that literally surrounds an audience. For the first time voices and music come from the screen from the right or the left, from before or behind, to correspond to the position of the actual performers. For the first time orchestral sound is spread across the breadth of a stage instead of being constricted into a single loudspeaker. It was this new dimension of space that won the applause of Cinerama’s special orchestra, drawn from members of the NBC Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. “Never before,” they said, “have we been able to hear ourselves precisely as others hear us.”

Behind this remarkable innovation in recorded sound is a personable young pioneer in sound recording techniques. His name is Hazard Reeves – “Buzz” Reeves to those who know him better. At 46 Reeves is recognized as one of the leading sound engineers in the country, and an extremely able executive as well. Not only is he President of Cinerama, Inc., the firm that develops and produces all Cinerama equipment, but he also heads his own Reeves Soundcraft Corp., the largest sound service laboratory in the East.

Baltimore born, Reeves took his degree from Georgia Tech in 1928, then headed north for a job in the research engineering department of the Columbia Phonograph Co. Soon after, he was appointed as special consultant to the Harvard University Film Foundation, a, connection which proved decisive in his life. Since that time, Reeves has been the expert on sound film problems and sound equipment. By 1933 Reeves was on his own. He opened his own studio in New York, began designing special recording equipment, established a preview projection service that is still widely used by the film industry in New York. He developed a magnetic tape, his Magnastripe process, primarily as a flexible system for sound recording in the field. Immediately adopted by virtually all documentary film producers, the Magnastripe became Reeves’ clue to the revolutionary sound system he developed for Cinerama.

Reeves met Fred Waller, Cinerama’s inventor, for the first time when the two were working together on a special installation for the Eastman Kodak exhibit at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The two men hit it off immediately. Both were extremely practical inventors, both had unconventional ideas. When Waller showed Reeves an early model of his Cinerama camera, Reeves began to think of a multidimensional sound to go with it. In fact, he did more than that. He invested in the Cinerama process himself, aiding Waller through the long and costly period of designing and displaying a working model of his camera.

When the war came along, Reeves, with several of his associates, founded the Reeves-Ely Laboratories specifically to manufacture a very difficult crystal for the U. S. Army Signal Corps. Within less than a year the company had contracts totaling many millions of dollars and had won the Army-Navy “E” Award for merit. During the course of the war, Reeves-Ely won the “E” Award four times.

In 1946 Reeves set up his Soundcraft Corp., an organization producing recording tape and film, record discs, wire cable, television tubes and cameras and precision recording equipment. It was at this point that he began to devote himself increasingly to the problems of Cinerama’s sound. He knew that he wanted the highest fidelity of reproduction. But more than that, he hoped to reproduce in sound the new dimensions of the Cinerama screen.

Reeves’ method of recording directionally made possible the accurate placing of sound. The instruments in a symphony orchestra are heard in their proper positions on the stage. The voice of a singer off to the left actually comes from the left side of the screen; a trumpet call on the right is heard from the right.

Even more sensational is the effect of being surrounded by sound. In Cinerama’s famous roller coaster ride, the illusion of being in the front car of a scenic railway is immeasurably heightened by the realistic clatter and then the screams that seem to come from all about the spectators – as well as, frequently, from the spectators themselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lII5rXbxcCs

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Don’t Look Now, But…

This was a January 1956 storm that hit the California coast with huge waves. The surfers may have loved it, but KTLA lost a camera covering the event…don’t know if it was this one or another, but this cameraman is about to get a big surprise. Thanks to David Zoning fro the pix. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Remember Hullabaloo? January 12, 1965 – August 29, 1966, NBC

Remember Hullabaloo? January 12, 1965 – August 29, 1966, NBC

This was NBC’s answer to ABC’s ‘Shindig’, a half hour primetime music show for us teenagers. I remember both well, do you?

The show was taped in three different locations for some reason. It usually came from NBC Brooklyn, but Studio 8H also hosted some episodes. NBC Burbank also did some shows there, but I think there were less than a dozen from there.

There are two videos and four photos here. One video is matches the rehearsal photo of The Beau Brummels, and the second is a color opening with Gary and Jerry Lewis singing “Help”. The first picture (the big one) shows ‘Man From UNCLE” star Robert Vaughn hosting and notice the floor level TK41 mounted on a rolling palate…that must have been fun to operate.

Next is the Beau Brummel rehearsal at Brooklyn, then Leslie Gore and finally Frank Sinatra Jr. with The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Given the cue card and cardboard viewfinder shades, I think these photos were all taken in Brooklyn. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGSPRTK7ke8 Color Intro
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJwiysp47bU Beau Brummel




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The Early Days Of Audio Recording – Bing Crosby & Ampex, Part 1

The Early Days Of Audio Recording At Bing Crosby & Ampex, Part 1

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a lot of exposure to magnetic recording, especially video. We’ve also learned just how deeply involved Bing Crosby and Ampex were in building the foundations of this media, so today, we are going to look at the beginning of audio tape and it’s use in radio with the help of a man who was there for it all…Robert R. Phillips.

Below is Part 1 of Mr. Philips first hand account of the problems and solutions Bing Crosby encountered when he decided to leave live radio and instead, record his shows. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
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Bing Crosby was one of the pioneers of the radio music show. Beginning in 1935 the “Kraft Music Hall” on the NBC Red Network was a standard. It was a quality live production that held a high position in the ratings over the years. However, the summer of 1945 was a turning point in this standard. Bing decided that doing a live show every week was too demanding, and it did not permit him to pursue his other interests and to be with his family. During one period the show had to be done live twice, once for the east coast and once for the west coast, which also added to the work load. It also was confining, since it all had to be done within a certain regime that took away Bing’s casual side. The adlibs and jokes had to be done according to the script; there was no editing to remove mistakes.

The Bing Crosby show was aired on the elite Red Network of NBC that would not permit recorded shows; they had to be live broadcasts. So, the 1945 – 1946 “Kraft Music Hall” program began without Bing because of the dispute. The show went on, and NBC and Kraft sued him for not appearing. He returned to finish the season beginning with the 7 February 1946 program, but that was the end of Bing on the NBC Red Network. This time Bing had set his mind to having a prerecorded production. However, his current Bing Crosby Productions organization headed by his brother Everett did not have the talent to establish a prerecorded show operation and the technical support it needed. In December of 1945 Bing hired Basil Grillo to help him with this task and improve the operation of Bing Crosby Productions.

In 1941 the US Government broke up the NBC empire and made it sell its Blue Network. NBC had its sophisticated programs on the Red Network and the other features like jazz on the Blue Network. In July 1943 NBC announced the sale of its Blue network, but it took several years for ABC to develop its own programs. They shared the NBC facilities at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood until at least 1948. After the breakup ABC needed programs with high ratings and the upcoming 1946 – 1947 season was no exception. They told Bing that if he joined ABC he could record his show but the quality had to be equal to the live broadcast. It was to be a 30 minute show known as the “Philco Radio Time” program.

A number of events happened during January 1946 before Bing accepted the ABC offer. Bing Crosby Enterprises was reorganized, and a division of it was dedicated to the production of the prerecorded radio show. It included a person, Francis (Frank) Healey, to supervise the technical parts of the production. Prior to this Bing did not have his own technical staff, since the NBC engineers provided that support. By the end of January 1946, Bing had settled with NBC and was well on the way to having his own prerecorded show on ABC.

The new 1946 – 1947 “Philco Radio Time” program began with Bing Crosby recording his show on transcription disks using the NBC recording facilities assigned to ABC and supervised by Frank Healey. However, all was not well with this new production. The recordings on the disks lacked the quality of the live show and the editing process was difficult. The show was done as a live production, but with additional recorded material that could be used if there was a problem. While it took two disks (15 minutes each) for the thirty minute show, the recordings were edited before the show was played at the appointed time on the ABC network.

The prerecorded show permitted changes to be made if Bing or his staff did not like something in the show. The sponsor also was known to require changes that could not be done with a live show. The editing process was difficult, since it required recording from one disk to another several times. At least two or three playback units were required to permit the different parts to be merged on to a new recording disk, and with each copy the sound quality dropped. At times this process took over forty disks and many days to complete the edit. The result was the recorded show was less than desirable, and the radio audience noticed the difference. The ratings dropped, and ABC began to question if they should not return to the live broadcast.

Below is a photo of how the early audio set up looked with a multitude of turntables and a singe Ampex 200 recorder.

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The Early Days Of Audio Recording – Bing Crosby & Ampex, Part 2

The Early Days Of Audio Recording At Bing Crosby & Ampex, Part 2

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a lot of exposure to magnetic recording, especially video. We’ve also learned just how deeply involved Bing Crosby and Ampex were in building the foundations of this media, so today, we are going to look at the beginning of audio tape and it’s use in radio with the help of a man who was there for it all…Robert R. Phillips.

Below is Part 2 of Mr. Philips first hand account of the problems and solutions Bing Crosby encountered when he decided to leave live radio and instead, record his shows. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

_________________________________________________

While the Crosby show was struggling with the disk recordings, a new technology had arrived. Jack Mullin had returned from his World War II service with parts for two German Magnetophon magnetic tape recorders that he had shipped back in mail sacks over a number of months. Instead of going back to the telephone company, he joined a friend, William Palmer, in a recording and movie business. William Palmer had a machine shop where they restored and modified the Magnetophon. Jack made new electronics using standard American parts and replaced the DC bias with AC bias to improve the tape signal-to-noise and added pre-emphasis for the high frequencies. These rebuilt Magnetophon recorders were then used in their recording business.

In May 1946 Jack Mullin demonstrated the modified Magnetphon recorder at an IRE (IEEE) show in San Francisco with the help of William Palmer. This demonstration caused a number of people to take notice of the quality that could be obtained from a magnetic tape recorder. There were other tape recorders at that time, but none of them had the outstanding quality of the rebuilt Magnetophon. During the following months William Palmer set up a number of demonstrations of the recorder for Jack to various movie, recording and broadcast people. The demonstrations showed that the recorder could reproduce sound as if it were live. Not only that, the magnetic tape could be edited by cutting it with a pair of scissors and splicing it with Scotch tape.

These demonstrations were more of a novelty to the industry than a major step forward. After all there were only two recorders and only 50 rolls of tape that no longer was made. The movie companies had made other agreements for their sound tracks, and the recording companies were happy with their recording process. During the demonstrations in the summer of 1947 Frank Healey, who was involved with technical production of the Crosby show, heard a demonstration and encouraged Murdo McKenzie, the producer of the Bing Crosby show, to investigate them for the show. Murdo arranged for a demonstration in San Francisco where Jack and Bill Palmer had their business. This demonstration was after the bad experience with the disk recordings, and Crosby now was faced with the prospect of finding a new way of recording the show or reverting to live broadcasts again. Murdo was so impressed with the tape process that he arranged for Bing to hear the demonstration, which took place about the first of August 1947 in Los Angeles. When Bing heard the sound quality and saw the editing, Jack Mullin was asked to do a test recording of the first Bing Crosby show of the 1947 – 1948 season. It was only a week way, and the Crosby people expressed concerns that Jack had only two recorders and a limited amount of tape. There needed to be way forward other than just the Magnetophon.

Jack had made an agreement with Colonel Ranger of Ranger Industries a year earlier to provide him with information so that Ranger could build a version of the Magnetophon and supply tape for it. Tests had shown that the Minnesota Mining (3M) tape would not work with the German recorder. By this time 3M had developed a black oxide plastic backed tape that evolved from their paper backed tape. It was the Scotch Magnetic Tape No. 100 designed for the Brush recorder, which was an early tape recorder. However, the Magnetophon needed a tape that could record a stronger magnetic field and have a better signal-to-noise ratio. The research group at 3M realized this need and set out to develop a higher grade tape using a red oxide, not knowing what the target machine would be. During this period Ampex also had decided to build a broadcast quality tape recorder and asked Jack for assistance, but Jack could not help due to the agreement with Colonel Ranger. As the date for the Crosby recording session approached the tension grew. Colonel Ranger did come to Los Angeles with his two recorders but no new tape. His tape recorders were set up along side the Magnetophon recorders in the recording department of NBC who was still supporting ABC. The show was held on the evening of 10 August 1947, and the moment of truth had come. The NBC engineers recorded the show on the standard disk lathes, and Jack Mullin and Colonel Ranger also recorded on their respective machines. Murdo asked Ranger to play his recording first, and it was terrible with distortion and noise. Jack was next, and history was made. The first radio show to be recorded on magnetic tape was broadcast on 1 October 1947.

Jack, who was still working for Palmer, was given an old studio and control room in the NBC (ABC) facilities where he could set up his machines and do the recording and editing of the show. It also served as his office. The 1947 – 1948 season was the first time a radio program was aired from a magnetic tape recording even though the program was transferred to disk for broadcast. This transfer was due to the need to preserve the tape and insure that a tape break would not disrupt the broadcast. The quality of the show had improved even though disks were used, since the show was only transferred in final form and not edited on the disks. However, more important, the ratings of the show improved and the prerecorded show was preserved. The first step had been taken, but a bigger problem still needed to be addressed – new recorders and tape.

Alexander M. Poniatoff, the head of Ampex, heard one of the early demonstrations of the Magnetphon. He was in need of a new postwar product and was so taken by the recorder he decided to build one. He put his chief engineer, Harold Lindsay, in charge of the project and asked Jack Mullin to help them. Unfortunately Jack had already made the agreement with Colonel Ranger by that time, but Ampex decided to go ahead with the project anyway. After the poor showing of his recorders to the Crosby group, Colonel Ranger was persuaded by them and Jack Mullin to give up his agreement with Mullin. Jack was now free, and a call was placed to Ampex in October 1947. Minnesota Mining (3M) also was brought in as the tape supplier.

Ampex by the spring of 1948 had developed their first prototype, but lacked finances to bring it to market. The banks did not have any idea about venture capital at that time. Pressure once again began to build because the Bing Crosby show needed new recorders and tape for the 1948 – 1949 season. Everyone was convinced that Ampex was the answer, and Bing sent them a check for $50,000 in just an envelope without any cover letter. It was what Ampex needed to begin production of the Ampex 200. In late 1947 Jack Mullin visited Minnesota Mining (3M) to see if they could provide the required magnetic tape to work with the Magnetophon and the future Ampex recorder. By then they had started development of their new red oxide tape that would work with the Ampex recorder. Jack Mullin began to work with Robert Herr and William Wetzel of 3M conducting tests to help develop a high quality magnetic tape for audio recording. His work focused on the dropout rating, frequency response and signal-to-noise for the different test tapes that 3M produced. The result was the Scotch Magnetic Tape No.111 that later evolved into the No. 111A. For these efforts by Bing and Jack, Bing Crosby Enterprises (BCE) was awarded in 1948 the distributorship west of the Mississippi River for the Ampex recorders and the 3M tape. The Electronic Division of BCE under Frank Healey was given responsibility to market and service these products. The division began to grow when Jack Mullin left Palmer to become its chief engineer in August 1948 to support the development work with Ampex and 3M and in 1949 with the addition of a salesman, Tommy Davis.

Harold Lindsay led the team to produce the Ampex 200 for Alex Poniatoff and Bing in the 1948. It was housed in a polished black wood console with a stainless steel top that caused it to be called the most beautiful recorder to be made. The Crosby show received the first two of them, serial numbers 1 and 2, in time for the 1948 – 1949 season. Later the only two portable Ampex 200 recorders built, serial numbers 13 and 14, were delivered. Each of them consisted of two wooden boxes with handles. It took at least two people to carry each case, but they were taken everywhere the Crosby show went during the later part of the 1948 -1949 season, even to Canada. Jack Mullin described how they had to push and pull the four boxes up a spiral staircase to reach one of the upper dressing rooms where the recorders were set up. The audio mixing was done at the stage level using the RCA OP-6 and OP-7 equipment. The output was fed over a telephone line to the recording location.

By the 1949 – 1950 season the Bing Crosby show had moved to CBS, and BCE had to establish its own recording-editing facility. It was a small facility located in the CBS Columbia Square Complex at 6121 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. It was on the second floor in the east wing of the complex. The recorders were located in the front of the building. There were two windows that were open most of the time, and people on Sunset Boulevard could hear the editing process. The three Ampex 300 recorders were on a waist-high shelf with a special tape speed control unit and acoustical equalizer at one end. In the hallway outside the room, there were shelves of indexed tapes of past recording sessions. By 1950 others like Robert McKinney were involved in the recording and editing of the show. In Hollywood the live show was done at the CBS studios and in a theater behind CBS. The microphone placement and mixing of the show was done by Norm Dewes. He was a true professional held in high esteem by Jack Mullin. It has been said that the balance of the shows recorded was outstanding. There were no multiple tracks, just one channel that was fed to the recorders.

Those of us in the recording room had no visible contact with what was happening. I used to sing along with Bing during the recording sessions, since I was the only one there at times. I may have sung more “duets” with him than most people, but it helped to learn his phrasing for editing.

During the first two seasons that used the magnetic tape recorders, the Crosby radio show was recorded in front of a live audience when Bing was available. There were recorded rehearsals, but the editing process was limited by having only two recorders. The first season that was recorded on the old Magnetophon tape had to be transferred to transcription disks because of concerns about the old tape breaking. With the new Ampex recorders and 3M tape, this transfer was no longer required, but the editing was still limited by having only two Ampex 200 recorders.

With the recording of the show, Bing was more relaxed and the audience had more fun with the adlibs, since mistakes could be repaired. The quality was equal to a live show, and the broadcast version was mistake free. With the portable recorders the show also could be taken on the road, if Bing wanted to travel. By early 1949 Ampex had begun to produce the Ampex 300, which was smaller and lighter than the Ampex 200. The big plus was that the Bing Crosby show now had three recorders for the 1949 – 1950 season. These changes opened the door to new innovation, and the Crosby show did not lose time in coming up with new ways to record a radio show.

The historic photos below have details on each frame so please click each one.



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November 19, 1959…America Meets Rocky And Bullwinkle


November 19, 1959…America Meets Rocky And Bullwinkle

Today is the anniversary of the debut of one of my all time favorite cartoon shows…probably one of yours too. The show debuted as ‘Rocky And His Friends’ on ABC and although done in color, it was broadcast in black and white. Before third season began in 1961, the show moved to NBC where it was broadcast in color and called ‘The Bullwinkle Show’.

Below is a clip of the main voices of the show, June Foray and Bill Scott talking about their “adventures”. Other famous voices on the show included William Conrad as the narrator, Paul Frees as Boris Badenov, Wally Tetley as Sherman, Daws Butler as Aesop Junior and various other characters, Charlie Ruggles as Aesop, Hans Conried as Snidely Whiplash and Edward Everett Horton as the narrator for Fractured Fairy Tales. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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

This is a classic view of Bill Scott and June Foray. Bill sadly is no longer with us but June still is! This has local Boston content June has roots in Bosto…

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