Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Before Character Generation, There Was This…Then Came Vidifont

Before Character Generation, There Was This…Then Came Vidifont

The first electronic graphics machine used in US television production was the CBS Vidifont system. As told by the man that developed it, Stanley Baron, here is the story of how it came to be.
http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/First-Hand:Inventing_the_Vidifont:_the_first_electronics_graphics_machine_used_in_television_production

Before 1968, television graphics were either movable letters on a slot board like this, text on a slide, or white letters on a black flip card, or rolling credit drum that were superimposed over live shots. I thought Chyron was the first with this, but as it turns out, it was CBS Labs that lead the way. It’s an interesting story so enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee

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November 1, 1960…Rare! The Photo And Video, Martin And Sinatra

November 1, 1960…Rare! The Photo And Video, Martin And Sinatra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Hb3R3S1_7k
Before the 1965-1974 ‘Dean Martin Show’ on NBC, there was the 1957-1961 ‘Dean Martin Show’ on NBC. Both were done in Studio 4 at NBC Burbank, but that’s where the similarity ends…sort of.

The ’57-’61 shows were specials and only aired two or three times a year and were black and white shows. This photo was taken at dress rehearsal on this day 54 years ago and the video clip is a ‘This Is Your Life’ style comedy bit Dean did with Frank on that show. The camera is an RCA TK11.

After ten incredible years as the hottest act in show business, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin did their last show together at the Copacabana in NYC on July 24, 1956. During that time, they had their own radio show on NBC, hosted NBC’s ‘Colgate Comedy Hour’ on television and starred in 16 feature length films.

After the break, Lewis began to produce, star in and direct his own movies, while Martin returned to singing with three huge hits for Capitol including “Memories Are Made Of This”, “When You’re Smiling” and “Oh, Marie”.

1958 gave birth to The Rat Pack in Las Vegas and Dean’s carrier was on fire again. In the next post today, we’ll see twenty unpublished photo of the Rat Pack from Life Magazine. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 31, 1950…Trick Or Treat? My Parents Would Say, BOTH!

October 31, 1950…Trick Or Treat? My Parents Would Say, BOTH!

Yep, today’s my birthday and at 3:20 this afternoon, I’ll be 64 years old. I’m not sure, but that probably makes me the oldest student at The University Of Georgia.

Most don’t know, but in August, I started back to school at my old alma mater to take some classes I thought would be interesting and helpful. The class I am taking now is on Media Technology and friends, I am here to tell you…it’s a whole new ballgame! Did you know that modulation is now “bit depth” and frequency is “sample rate”?

As an analogue guy in a digital world, I can hum the tune but the lyrics seem to have changed a good bit. It’s interesting though and so are my fellow students…especially their way of being. Fortunately, I’m not the only one taking notes on paper, but my Motorola Razor phone sure is a rarity.

The long, slow decline of television news has bothered me for years, and although I know how the trainwreck started at CBS in the 80s when accountants suggested making the news a profit center (instead of being supported by the entertainment side), some new aspects of this phenomenon are revealing themselves as we study “convergence” which is the process of merging print, broadcast and online news systems.

You would think that more access to more news would be better all around, but in my opinion…it has weakened reporting, especially in the mainstream media. Now, there are more blogs and more opinion based bloggers but fewer journalists reporting “news”. You would also think that with plenty of choices of political slants (like MSNBC vs Fox), people who wanted to understand both sides of a story would be better informed by having the ability to go to the other outlets, but…this seems to cause even more polarization. Why? Because human nature, being what it is, people tend to stay in their comfort zones and thus, find even more support for their beliefs on the web at sites like The Drudge Report or Huffington Post.

As for the softness of network evening news shows with all the YouTube videos and feel good stories…I know you guys are doing it to snare a younger demo, but you can stop now. They are not coming to dinner with you, so how about going back to real news with real reporters? Thank you for being a part of Eyes Of A Generation and Happy Halloween! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Halloween Special #5…One Minute Of Movie Magic That Lasts A Lifetime


Halloween Special #5…One Minute Of Movie Magic That Lasts A Lifetime

This is perhaps one of most amazing transformation shots ever done, especially when you consider the date was 1943! Lon Chaney Jr’s face is in constant motion, yet the time lapse makeup application process by Jack Pierce is seamless as he becomes The Wolfman. This starts at 1:04 and follows the not as impressive, but pretty spooky 1941 transformation scene. The ‘American Werewolf In London’ transformation scene is great too, but that’s in today’s next video. Enjoy, share and Happy Halloween! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/1q4Wn63uof8?t=1m4sFrom The Wolfman (1941) and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943).

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In Case You Missed This…The Oldest Known ‘Tonight’ Color Clip


In Case You Missed This…The Oldest Known ‘Tonight’ Color Clip

During yesterday’s camera comparisons, Gary Walters reposted this ultra rare clip which was restored by David Crosthwait and his expert crew at DC Video in LA. Although it’s a dub of a 2″ low band quad tape, it’s still very good and shows off the RCA TK41’s abilities quite well. This was at NBC Studio 6B in New York. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg-R9tnEXso&feature=youtu.be

This segment is courtesy of Carson-Entertainment-Group and Stan Zabka. This 2″ low-band color quad tape (dub) was presented to Stan by NBC in 1964. Stan pers…

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October 31, 1965…’The Ed Sullivan Show’ Goes Color

October 31, 1965…’The Ed Sullivan Show’ Goes Color

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRH5lbbACSs nov 7
Although I can’t locate a clip of the debut color show from CBS Studio 50, I have the next best thing…a clip from a week later on November 7, 1965. Since The Righteous Brothers clip is so short, here’s a Four Seasons clip from January 2, 1966.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMgPVKEKrSg

Starting in the late 50’s, Sullivan had done color shows from time to time, but they were all done from CBS Television City in Hollywood. As a matter of fact, Season 18 started in color from Television City on September 12, 1965 and the show stayed there till the seventh episode was broadcast October 24th with Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye, Herman’s Hermits, Duke Ellington and Helen Hayes.

The move back home was Episode 8, and starred Liza Minnelli, Alan Sherman, Barry McGuire, The Grass Roots and London Lee, live from the Ed Sullivan Theater which was now equipped with six Norelco color cameras. In the photo below is Sullivan with his long time “personal cameraman” George Moses on Camera 1. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 31, 1953…NBC’s First Network Colorcast: “Carmen”

October 31, 1953…NBC’s First Network Colorcast: “Carmen”

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1953/11/01/page/236/article/carmen-seen-in-compatible-color-tv-test
At the link above is an extremely rare account of this historic colorcast from The Chicago Tribune. In essence, the opera “Carmen” was broadcast nationally in black and white with the color burst removed. BUT, the color broadcast was fed via closed circuit to viewing parties in New York, possibly Washington and to Chicago.

The colorcast was live from NBC’s first and only color facility, The Colonial Theater in New York. At the time, the only color equipment was here. No one had color transmitters and there were very few color monitors, even in the NBC O&O stations control rooms where the closed circuit feed came in. As the article states, WNBQ’s single 12″ color monitor, provided by RCA, was at the off site viewing party next to a 24″ black and white set that was carrying the nationally telecast monochrome broadcast.

The cameras used were the four RCA TK40 prototypes. The one hour presentation of the opera “Carmen” also included an audio trick or two. In passages where the vocal performance was critical, but extreme movement in dance numbers was too, look-alike actors were subtly inserted on stage to dance and lip synch while the principal operatic stars sang off stage. The principals would quietly return to stage and sing in more static shots. This is the only surviving photo. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Tribute 2 To The RCA TK41…The True Blacks And Mood


Tribute 2 To The RCA TK41…The True Blacks And Mood

I think this is my all time favorite TK41 color shot. My like for this may be influenced by the art of the shot and the set, and even though this is not very colorful, it shows how great the black registration was on this camera. I would have loved to have been at NBC Burbank when this was done. Were any of you there? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-RAnkH8Jxc

Andy Williams – O Holy Night

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Tribute 1 To The RCA TK41…The Color And Warmth


Tribute 1 To The RCA TK41…The Color And Warmth

To me, the best examples of the great pictures the TK41 made are captured on The Andy Williams Christmas Specials on NBC. This is my second favorite clip of their great color. Wait till you see my favorite which is up next! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5mf0lLC6P4

A tribute to Andy Williams. Buy the complete Andy Williams collection on Amazon: http://amzn.to/S2R5MP From The Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Shows – C…

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Halloween Special #3…Universal’s Master Of Makeup, Jack Pierce


Halloween Special #3…Universal’s Master Of Makeup, Jack Pierce

We said a brief hello to Jack Pierce yesterday, but today, we’ll get a full half hour of his mastery. Pierce created the most iconic and memorable monster looks ever to hit the screen, and they live on till this day. Did you know that the look of The Joker in the Batman comics was based on Jack’s “Laughing Man” make up? You’ll see that and much more here so feel free to skip around in the video. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8HMMbMgDVg

Jack Pierce fué un gran experto en el make-up, su nombre estará ligado para siempre al cine fantástico por ser el creador de todos los monstruos de la Univer…

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The GE PE 20…A Witness To History In Dallas

The GE PE 20…A Witness To History In Dallas

The Broadcast Engineering ad here is from March of 1962 and is part of the introduction of GE’s new PE 20 monochrome camera. Nationally, not many broadcasters used GE equipment, but there was an unusually large market for GE product in the southwest, and Texas in particular.

The first time most of us saw pictures from a PE 20 were in November of 1963 when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas. The then CBS affiliate there, KRLD had these and you can see a couple of them here in these photos of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Thanks to Jeremy Butler at The University Of Alabama for sharing the ad with us…this gives us more information on the rather sketchy GE equipment timeline. Anyone ever work with these? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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October 30, 1931…NBC Begins Work On Empire State Tower

October 30, 1931…NBC Begins Work On Empire State Tower

On this day in 1931, NBC began putting a TV transmitter on top of the Empire State Building. The first experimental TV broadcast from the building was on December 22, 1931.

I don’t think the broadcast tower atop the building’s dirigible mooring mast was added till after 1936. At this point, antenna elements were simply attached to the existing mast.

RCA’s first experimental television transmissions began in 1928 by station W2XBS in Van Cortland Park and then moved to the New Amsterdam Theater Building, transmitting 60 line pictures in the new 2-3 mHz band allocated to television. A 13 inch Felix the Cat figure made of paper mache was placed on a record player turntable and was broadcast using a mechanical scanning disk to a scanning disk receiver. The image received was only 2 inches tall, and the broadcasts lasted about 2 hours per day. By 1931 the station became part of NBC and began to transmit from 42nd St.

The Empire State Building was completed in May of 1931, and RCA leased the 85th floor for a studio and transmitter location for experimental television broadcasts. RCA, through its broadcasting division NBC, applied to the Federal Radio Commission on July 1, 1931 for construction permits for the sight and sound channels of a television station, which were issued on July 24, 1931. The call sign W2XF was issued in December 1931 for the “sight” channel of that station on an assigned frequency of 44Mc. The RCA transmitter had an input power to the final stage of about 5Kw, giving an estimated power output to the antenna of about 2Kw.

The sound channel of the TV station was separately licensed as W2XK for a 2.5Kw transmitter to operate on 61Mc. Both transmitters were located on the 85th floor and used separate vertical dipole antennas.

Below are some shots of the Empire State mooring mast built as a dirigible docking station, but aside from King Kong and Fay Wray, no one ever went up there. The winds proved to be too strong and there were several near accidents in mooring tests, but a bag of mail was once delivered via the mast. The last photo is I think from the late ’50s and shows the assigned areas of the tower. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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Halloween Special #2…Boris Karloff, ‘This Is Your Life’


Halloween Special #2…Boris Karloff, ‘This Is Your Life’

This should start at 13:08, the point at which Universal’s head of makeup, Jack Pierce enters. You will be quite surprised to learn of how they worked together creating the makeup and how long their work days were. Tomorrow, there will be much more on Mr. Pierce and the many other ghoulish looks he created for the screen including The Wolfman, Dracula and more! The whole episode is quite an interesting look at Karloff’s great career. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/eEw-dlHK4vg?t=13m8sFeaturing -: J. Warren Bacon Frank Brink Rusel Crouse Barbara Edwards James Edwards Axel Gruenberg Boris Karloff Evie Karloff Sara Karloff Jim Laker Howard L…

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Halloween Special #1…Rare Frankenstein Color Footage

Halloween Special #1…Rare Frankenstein Color Footage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3f-zm2jyFo
At the link is short color home movie clip shot by Boris Karloff’s wife who took this on the set of ‘The Son Of Frankenstein’ in December of 1939. In it, we see Karloff goofing and playing with Universal’s top monster makeup man, Jack Pierce. There will be much more on Pierce in the next post.

This was the third and final Frankenstein role for Karloff and he and Pierce had been working together since Pierce first developed this classic look in 1931 for ‘Frankenstein’. Their second together was ‘The Bride Of Frankenstein’ in 1935. They both cooperated on the design of the now iconic make-up, with Karloff removing a dental plate to create an indentation on one side of the Monster’s face. He also endured four hours of make-up under Pierce’s hand each day, during which time his head was built up with cotton, collodion and gum, and green greasepaint (designed to look pale on black and white film) was applied to his face and hands. The finished product was universally acclaimed, and has since become the commonly accepted visual representation of Mary Shelley’s creation. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Putting A Face To A Famous Voice, Again…Meet Apple’s Siri


Putting A Face To A Famous Voice, Again…Meet Apple’s Siri

Long before there was an Iphone, there was a text to speech recording session which became…you guessed it…the basis for the Apple Siri assistant. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellebee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2bTymnb1uE

Susan Bennett reveals to the world that she’s the voice behind Siri.

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Putting A Face To A Famous Voice…The Telephone Company Lady


Putting A Face To A Famous Voice…The Telephone Company Lady

Long before all the new computer voice sequencing programs came along, there was a lady named Jane Barbie making recordings for AT&T and The Bell Systems whose voice we have all heard a million times. Thanks to Dick Clark, we get to meet her. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2YJu3i4edI

Jane Barbie surprises audience members at her table when Dick Clark revealed that she is the famous voice behind the telephone. She performs Clark’s favorite…

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October 29, 1956…’The Huntley Brinkley Report’ Debuts On NBC


October 29, 1956…’The Huntley Brinkley Report’ Debuts On NBC

First, a note on the video clip…this is a short clip of the first pairing of this great team at the 1956 Democratic Convention. From August 13 – 17, Chet and David hosted NBC’s coverage from Chicago and were well received. The public liked them and the critics did too. Pairing them was NBC News pioneer Reuven Frank’s idea.

For many years, John Cameron Swayze had been NBC’s news face, but Douglas Edwards at CBS was beating Swayze and NBC had been thinking of a shift to new talent. Their convention success with the Huntley – Brinkley duo was a key in deciding who, but then came the question of where.

Bill McAndrew, NBC’s director of news (later NBC News president), had seen a highly rated local news program on NBC affiliate WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia, with two anchors reporting from different cities. It was his idea to put Chet in New York and David in Washington, and although Ruven Frank thought it was the dumbest idea he ever heard, it was done. The day of the debut broadcast, it was Frank that came up with the closing line…”Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC News.” This exchange became one of television’s most famous catch phrases even though both Huntley and Brinkley initially disliked it. The New York segment with Huntley came from NBC Studio 3A but was moved to 8G in 1967.

As an aside, Huntley and Brinkley probably would have never even met if it weren’t for a big mistake on Brinkley’s part. Brinkley enjoyed writing as a boy, and in high school he obtained an internship at a local newspaper. His first story, according to his memoirs, was about the nonappearance of a bloom on a century plant and the crowd it drew. It was picked up by the Associated Press and printed in newspapers across the country. During World War II Brinkley moved to Atlanta to write news stories for United Press International (UPI), and he was soon transferred to Nashville to become a bureau manager. On a mistaken notion that he had been offered a CBS job in Washington, D.C., Brinkley moved to that city in 1943, but finding no job waiting for him, he landed a job as a reporter at NBC’s WRC Radio there. When NBC expanded from radio to television in the early 1950s, Brinkley became one of the first television reporters.
Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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

The TV era dismays Adlai Stevenson but expands the following for Sen. John F. Kennedy—and for NBC’s Huntley and Brinkley.

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The First Ever Barbie Commercial


Speaking Of Toys…Here Is The First Ever Barbie Commercial

This is reported to have aired on ABC on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ in 1959. Did you know Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts and was from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin?

Me either, but unlike most YouTube posts, this one actually has some interesting and correct background information included in it’s About section. Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8-avPUxyno

This is the first Barbie commercial that first aired during Mickey Mouse Club! Ruth Handler watched her daughter Barbara at play with paper dolls, and notice…

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October 28, 1950…’The Jack Benny Show’ Debuts On CBS

October 28, 1950…’The Jack Benny Show’ Debuts On CBS

The video here is a kinescope of that first show, with special guest Dinah Shore. Since Television City was still being built, this probably originated at the CBS Studios at 1313 Vine Street or from Studio A at Columbia Square.

Unfortunately, the audio track is not working, but here is what we will see on this debut show which includes Mel Blanc’s debut as a guest on the show, as Mel plays a stage hand.

The monologue and the sketch are about how Jack decided to go on television, and how he put his initial show together. Rochester sings “My Blue Heaven” while doing his housework. Mr. Kitzel drops by to wish Jack good luck. Dinah Shore sings “I’m Yours” over the phone to see if Jack approves of it for her guest spot. On the show, Ken Murray drops by to wish Jack good luck, and Dinah and Jack sing a duet: “I Oughta Know More About You”. The Sportsmen Quartet do the Lucky Strike commercial. Jack closes the program playing his signature song “”Love in Bloom” on the violin.

The regular and continuing ‘Jack Benny Show’ was telecast on CBS from October 28, 1950, to September 15, 1964, and on NBC from September 25, 1964, to September 10, 1965 with 343 episodes produced.

The television show was a seamless continuation of Benny’s radio program with many of the same players, the same approach to situation comedy and some of the same scripts.

The show appeared infrequently during its first two years on CBS as Benny moved into television slowly. In his first season (1950–1951), he only performed on four shows, but by the 1951-1952 season, he was ready to do one show approximately every six weeks. In the third season (1952–1953), the show was broadcast every four weeks. During the 1953-1954 season, Benny aired every three weeks. From 1954 to 1960, the program aired every other week, rotating with such shows as ‘Private Secretary’ and ‘Bachelor Father’.

Beginning in the 1960-1961 season, ‘The Jack Benny Show’ began airing every week. During the 1953-54 season, a handful of episodes were filmed at Desilu during the summer and the others were live, which allowed Benny to continue doing his radio show. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://archive.org/details/19501028TheJackBennyProgramDinahShore_201408

The Jack Benny Program – 28 October 1950 – first episode – Dinah Shore : Free Download &…

Jack Benny’s first TV broadcast from 28 October 1950, featuring Don Wilson, the Sportsmen Quartet, Mel Blanc, Eddie Rochester Anderson, and special guest…

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What Are The Odds On Seeing This Odd Camera Twice?

What Are The Odds On Seeing This Odd Camera Twice?

Somewhere along the line, the handles on this RCA TK11/31 must have gotten damaged and homemade handles were whipped up by someone at the CBS Television City shop.

The big picture with Robert Q. Lewis is from the 1957 movie ‘An Affair To Remember’ and cameras were often rented to the movie companies there in Hollywood. The second photo with Danny Kaye is a promo shot for his new show on CBS which debuted in September of 1963. This is the same camera with the homemade handles.

The final photo shows how the handles are supposed to fit and look. The homemade handle bends don’t quite have the same angles and the handle ends are too long, but that may be on purpose to keep the bottom of the camera off the floor when it’s being moved. Nothing earth shaking, but just interesting…at least to me. Maybe I’ve been at this too long? Thanks Dan Morrison for the Lewis picture! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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The Sounds of Monitor

Incase You Missed It…Fantastic NBC ‘Monitor’ Site!

The page linked here is just great, but it’s just one page of a whole site dedicated to NBC Radio’s weekend show ‘Monitor’. A note…just on this page, there are dozens of great ‘Monitor’ moments, BUT, at the bottom of this page, there are some priceless outtakes and goofs so look and listen there too! Thanks to Dennis Hart for creating this and to Jodie Peeler for sharing it with us. Enjoy, bookmark and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Sounds of NBC Monitor

The Sounds of Monitor

The “Beacon” was Monitor’s audio symbol for the program’s entire 20-year run. It was used to cue stations to join the network or cut away forlocal commercials.

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Just For Fun…A 1951 Christmas Card Gag

Just For Fun…A 1951 Christmas Card Gag

With all the ABC mentions today and the shot of KECA’s first cameraman (Bob King) last week, I thought you would like to see this. I don’t think this is King, but it is one of the first few cameramen there. I love the made up name, Elwood Q. Pantiltingham! Just so you know, one of our friends here is a top independent cameraman who’s email address reminds me of this…his is, focustiltpanzoom@. Enjoy, share and be good for goodness sake…Santa’s watching! -Bobby Ellerbee

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And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor…

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor…

Thanks to Sly Rose, here’s an interesting introduction to Frank Sinatra’s second and final television series…’The Frank Sinatra Show’ on ABC which aired from October 18, 1957 till June 27,1958. Notice the last panel in the ad which announces the debut show. His first series was on CBS, and was a variety show that ran from 1950 till 1952.

This series was originally slated to consist of thirteen variety episodes, thirteen dramas starring Sinatra, and ten dramas hosted by Sinatra and originated from The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

Sinatra was paid $3 million for the series, and granted near total artistic freedom which turned out to be a huge mistake for ABC. Frank hated to rehearse and tried to make eleven shows in fifteen days; the series subsequently received a critical mauling and was Sinatra’s last attempt at a television series.

The drama segments of the show fared less well against the variety episodes in ratings and the final total was fourteen live variety shows, eight filmed variety shows, four dramas starring Sinatra, and six dramas hosted by Sinatra. Rather than 36 episodes for the season, ABC cut its losses and reduced the total number to 32.

It’s rare to see the old red and white ABC camera color scheme. The photo for this ad were taken at The El Capitan and are the same RCA TK10 cameras used during the day on ‘Queen For A Day’, which originated here too. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 27, 1954…’Disneyland’ Debuts On ABC


October 27, 1954…’Disneyland’ Debuts On ABC

The video included here is the first segment of the debut broadcast 60 years ago today on a Wednesday night. The history presented here may reverse some of your lingering impressions…it did with me too. Specifically, ‘Disneyland’, the show, was on the air before Disneyland, the park opened. I always thought it was the other way around.

When this debuted, the Disneyland theme park was not open. The land was bought and some construction on Main Street had been done, but Walt Disney was running short of money and that was the reason he went to television. NBC and CBS had passed on the project but ABC not only took it, they invested in Disneyland.

In 1953, lead by Leonard Goldenson, United Paramount Theaters bought ABC from Edward J. Nobles and gave the nearly bankrupt network at $25 million dollar infusion. Being flush with cash, Goldenson had the foresight to partner with Disney on the theme park. The park opened July 17, 1955 and was broadcast live on ABC.

Shortly after the debut of the ‘Disneyland’ television show, which was hosted by Disney each week, ‘Davy Crockett’ came to ABC. At first, these were three one hour, fully contained episodes that ran monthly, but were so successful, that they went into production as half hour weekly episodes. At the end of this video, we’ll visit the Crockett set and hear the long version of the theme song many of us can still sing.

On October 3, 1955, ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ debuted on ABC and was a weekday smash. ABC got their money’s worth…so did Walt, but money was what eventually caused Disney to move to NBC. ABC wanted two more minutes of commercials in all the Disney product and Walt didn’t…that, and their reluctance to sell their share of the theme park back to Disney caused the split.

Even though ABC had no color ability till the mid 60s, Disney had filmed all of his shows in color, including the one we see here. This was a huge advantage when he moved to NBC in 1961 with ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color’. All of the ABC episodes were replayed there with some freshening inserts.

In this video, we’ll also see a very young Kirk Douglas working on ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’ and some other interesting sights around The Walt Disney Studios. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIrq3RFUQPU

This is the very first episode of the Disney anthology television series, AKA Disneyland, Walt Disney Presents, ect. Premiered on October 27, 1954. Part One …

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A Follow Up….The First Teleprompters

A Follow Up….The First Teleprompters

Today’s earlier post on the Jess Oppenheimer through-the-lens prompter took me here. These photos show the first ever teleprompters in television. The large CBS photo is from December of 1950 and the show is ‘The First Hundred Years’. It was the first ongoing TV soap opera in the US that began as a daytime serial, airing from December 4, 1950 until June 27, 1952. At the time, there were no camera mounted teleprompters…just these big rolling stand prompters.

The first time we see camera mounted prompters is on the debut of ‘Today’ on January 14, 1952. I have RCA made these and think I can see and RCA meatball logo on it in one of these pix. The ‘Today’ set was used for experiments of all kinds as we not only see the first camera prompers here, but also the first use of the Houston Fearless TD 3 counter weighted pedestal too. FYI, the magnified prompter was a custom job and was for Dave Garroway. I’m adding some notes on the pix so click through them. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee






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Jess Oppenheimer’s “Through The Lens” Teleprompter Patent

Jess Oppenheimer’s “Through The Lens” Teleprompter Patent

http://www.google.com/patents/US2883902
Lucille Ball liked to call Oppenheimer the brains behind ‘I Love Lucy’. As series creator, producer, and head writer, Jess was the creative force behind the show. According to Lucy director William Asher, “he was the field general. Jess presided over all the meetings, and ran the whole show. He was very sharp”.

Sharp indeed…he also held 18 patents, including this one linked above. Although teleprompters were not used during the filming of the main body of the ‘I Love Lucy’ shows, Lucy and Desi did use them when filming the opening commercial spots. From the show’s start in 1951, they used the paper roll model mounted above the camera lens, but Oppenheimer did not like the way that looked on camera.

The first reported use of this “through the lens” system was by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, for a filmed Philip Morris cigarette commercial which aired on ‘I Love Lucy’ on December 14, 1953 in the second year of the show.

As you can see in the diagram, there is a small projector atop the rig which sent televised images of the copy to a transparent reflective surface in front of the lens. At first, copy was typed and loaded on a regular RCA paper roll teleprompter with a television camera shooting that and feeding it via coax to Oppenheimers device.

Later, a system was developed that used regular, long teleprompter paper on a horizontal moving belt under a small TV camera and fed via coax to one or more prompters in the studio. Thanks to Chris Clementson for the patent info. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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‘Time And Again’…Excellent Johnny Carson Special


‘Time And Again’…Excellent Johnny Carson Special

On October 23rd, Johnny would have been 89 years old. There have been several very good specials on Carson in the past few years, but this 2005 tribute is about as good as is gets. Here, in five parts is the MSNBC tribute that runs around 42 minutes. Part 1 is embedded here and here are links to the other four parts. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jJXwoC1yFs Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UywC19jL3xE Part 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK2ErB9sn1w Part 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-bV-5vi6BE Part 5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKrEH4BjJR8 Part 1

From Jan.of 2005, here is a special “Time and Again” program from MSNBC, on the career of legend Johnny Carson. This is part 1.

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Remembering Long Time CBS Announcer Bern Bennett…

Remembering Long Time CBS Announcer Bern Bennett…

#disqus_thread” target=”_blank”>http://www.dailynews.com/arts-and-entertainment/20141023/a-delayed-remembrance-of-longtime-cbs-staffer-bern-bennett #disqus_thread

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MUST SEE! Prime Time Television…1948 And 49 With My Detailed Notes


MUST SEE! Prime Time Television…1948 And 49 With My Detailed Notes

This is just amazing, so please…Share this! At the start, an NBC VO announces that the Midwest network links will be open and operating by Christmas, 1948. I would love to see the ‘Eye Witness’ series…it was all about television behind the scenes.

‘The Gay Nineties’ show was on ABC on Wednesday nights from 8 – 8:30. At 1:50 we see some of an early ‘Texaco Star Theater’ with Milton Berle from NBC’s newly converted Studio 6B. This was the first show to come from 6B after it was converted from radio to television June 8, 1948. The woman with the great laugh is Milton’s mother who was at every show.

Just after that is ‘The Ed Wynn Show’ and came from either NBC Studio 8G or 6B. At 3:32, ‘The Admiral Broadway Revue’ was the first television show produced by Max Leibman and starred Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca…this is the forerunner of ‘Your Show Of Shows’ and both were done at The International Theater at 5 Columbus Circle.

Ultra rare footage starts at 4:44 with the intro of ‘The Fireball Fun For All’ starring Olsen and Johnson. This only ran one season and was one of the first shows to come from CBS Studio 52. The assistant director is the legendary CBS director Ralph Levy in his second ever TV job. Levy went on to direct Jack Benny, Burns And Allen and the Lucy pilot. Levy’s first AD job was at the first show done at Studio 52, a summer show called ‘The 54th Street Revue’ that ran eight weeks.

There’s more history at 6:10…’The Chesterfield Supper Club’ starring Perry Como was the first television show to broadcast from NBC Studio 6A. The studio was not converted officially till May 19, 1950. When this was shot, 6A was still a radio studio with a three camera remote unit and very few lights, which you notice here.

More history at 6:50! This is ‘The Fred Waring Show’ from NBC Studio 8H. Like 6A, it too was still a radio studio when this was done with a three camera remote unit set up. 8H became an official TV studio January 30, 1950.

Remember the opening announcement about the midwest network link up? ‘Your Show Time’ had premiered on NBC’s East Coast stations in September 1948, and began to include NBC’s Midwest stations on January 21.

I think ‘Armchair Detective’ a Dumont show done at WABD. At 9:06 notice the producer title…William Boyd was Hopalong Cassidy, and a very smart showman! This show was an hour long and aired on NBC Friday nights at 8, starting in 1949.

‘The Lone Ranger’ debuted on ABC in September of 1949 and aired at 7:30 Wednesday nights.

Remember the Hungry Jack Biscuit commercials with the “Hungry…Hungry Jack” call? Here’s where it came from…the opening of ‘The Aldrich Family’ at 10:23. This was on NBC at 7:30 Sundays.

At 10:55, one of television’s biggest shows appears…’The Goldbergs’ which was on CBS and probably came from Liederkranz Hall. This started in 1949 and aired Monday nights at 9:30, just after ‘Candid Camera’. Just after that is another huge CBS show, ‘Mama’ which also started in 1949 and aired Friday nights at 8 against ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ on NBC.

‘The Ruggles’ began on ABC, November 3, 1949 – a month after the radio hit ‘The Life of Riley’ had moved to television on NBC and interestingly, that is the next clip…but if you were expecting William Bendix as Riley, surprise…Riley is played by Jackie Gleason! This was his first starring role.

At 13:10 we see the open for ‘Suspense’ which aired on CBS from ’49 till ’54. It was on Tuesday night opposite ‘The Life Of Riley’.

Finally, the last clip is from ‘Studio 1’. It was a big hit and important early anthology series on CBS that followed ‘The Goldbergs’ at 10 on Tuesday nights. I think this originally came from CBS Studio 41 at Grand Central. This debuted in September of 1948 and ran 10 seasons ending in 1958. Enjoy and PLEASE SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6sOTBtcCcA

Some of the shows that began their run in 1948 and 1949.

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October 25, 1982…’Newhart’ Debuts On CBS


October 25, 1982…’Newhart’ Debuts On CBS

You are in for a big surprise as you watch this! It’s the ‘Newhart’ pilot and was the first episode to air…it’s shot on videotape! I think the switch to film came after the first season. This may have been shot with the CBS spec Hitachi cameras at Studio City. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycNfdLhC4Mg

Dick and Joanna Loudon purchase the Stratford Inn in Vermont.

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