Posts in Category: Broadcast History

‘CBS Sunday Morning’…Seems Like Only Yesterday, And It WAS!

‘CBS Sunday Morning’…Seems Like Only Yesterday, And It WAS!

Thanks to Craig Wilson, here’s a nice shot of yesterday’s show in CBS Studio 45 with Charles Osgood. The floor director is Mark Dicso with cameraman Allan Brown. With this in mind, the next post here today is a ‘Sunday Morning’ story I did in May on my visit to to New York. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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‘See It Now’ Debut With First Ever Commercial Coast To Coast Feed


‘See It Now’ Debut With First Ever Commercial Coast To Coast Feed

Today, when news breaks, we can get live pictures from almost anywhere in the world almost instantly, but this was not always the case and we take that ability for granted.

Here’s a reminder of the incredible effort it took just to get live pictures from coast to coast, memorialized in this first broadcast of ‘See It Now’ with host, Edward R. Murrow. Murrow is broadcasting live from the CBS Studio 41 control room in Grand Central, with the legendary Don Hewitt behind him directing.

On September 4, 1951,President Harry S. Truman’s opening speech at The Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco was broadcast across the nation, marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast. The broadcast, via then-state-of-the-art microwave technology, was picked up by 87 stations in 47 cities, according to CBS.

On November 18, 1951, Edward R. Murrow on the ‘See It Now’ debut presented the first live coast-to-coast commercial television broadcast in the US, showing a split screen view of the New York Harbor and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

This east – west link was made possible by AT&T’s new microwave radio-relay skyway, the first facilities to transmit telephone, radio and television across the United States by radio rather than wire or cable.

The new route, at the time the longest microwave system in the world, relayed calls along a chain of 107 microwave towers, spaced about 30 miles apart. AT&T spent over three years building it at a cost of $40 million.

This historic debut of ‘See It Now’ went off without a hitch. The New York Times reported that “the image reproduced on screens in the New York area, nearly 3,000 miles from the scene, had excellent clarity and compared favorably with programs of local origin. The contrast was of first-rate quality and there was no distortion.” Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7fu5M5OFe8

A clip from the first program of the 50’s CBS series See It Now with Edward . Morrow.

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The Theater And Secrets Of…’I’ve Got A Secret’

The Theater And Secrets Of…’I’ve Got A Secret’

IGAS began at CBS Studio 59, The Mansfield Theater at 256 West 47th Street, which is now the Brooks Atkinson Theater. Below are photos of the theater in the CBS days and now. Studio 59 also hosted another huge CBS hit…’What’s My Line’ and from that show, came IGAS. Here’s the full story as detailed by Mark Evanier on his great Old TV Tickets.com site. http://www.oldtvtickets.com/

‘What’s My Line’ was one of the most popular shows on TV when two out-of-work comedy writers, Howard Merrill and Allan Sherman, created a not-dissimilar show which they called ‘I Know A Secret’. They took their creation to the producers of WML, Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, who immediately informed them it was a copy of their program. Sherman, displaying the ingenuity that would later catapult him to stardom as a singer of song parodies, replied that “People are going to start imitating your show whether you like it or not. You might as well do it and make the money.” Amazingly, Goodson and Todman saw the wisdom in this and bought the idea.

When ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ went on CBS a year later, it was an immediate disaster, in part because Goodson-Todman had tried too hard to differentiate it from ‘What’s My Line’. It had an awkward courtroom set in which the panelists would walk up and interrogate the contestants seated in a witness stand. After the first broadcast, Goodson ordered the set scrapped and a new one built which would be a mirror-image of the WML set. Also after the first broadcast, one of the show’s two sponsors cancelled so for the remainder of its first season, Secret only aired every other week, alternating with ‘Racket Squad’.

By the end of the year, the producers had gotten most of the bugs out of IGAS and it built up enough of a following to return to weekly status. The show had many things going for it. The program staff (mainly Allan Sherman, until he got himself fired in 1958) was fearless about trying different things and taking risks. On WML, the panel was prim and proper and dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns…and if the contestant’s secret occupation was that he shot apples off someone’s head, you never got to see him do it. On IGAS, the game would be followed by him shooting an apple off some panellists noggin. The show, though broadcast live, was willing to be wildly unpredictable with its odd stunts and clever “secrets.”

The producers also managed to eventually assemble a great panel, anchored by Bill Cullen and Henry Morgan, two of the wittiest men in television. They were good opposites: Cullen was cheery and optimistic; Morgan was acerbic and if something on the show was silly, likely to say so. The women changed from time to time but included Jayne Meadows, Faye Emerson, Betsy Palmer and Bess Myerson, all of whom were quite charming. Best of all, the show had Garry Moore as its host. A great ad-libber, he could handle any disaster…a fact which no doubt encouraged the producers to try more daring segments. Moore did a terrific job of keeping the game moving and setting up the panelists to be funny. It all made for a great weekly party, right up until 1964.

That year, CBS programming was in the hands of a man named Jim Aubrey who was known for his ruthlessness. “The Smiling Cobra,” as some called him, cancelled The Garry Moore Show, the other show Moore was doing for CBS, in such a nasty confrontation that Moore decided to also give up the game show and retire.

Steve Allen was selected as his replacement on IGAS and he kept things afloat for three more seasons…but the chemistry wasn’t the same. Allen dominated the show more than Moore had, and you could sometimes sense that he and Henry Morgan weren’t getting along well. Also, since Steverino lived in California and commuted to New York to do the program, they began doing two shows every other week — one airing live that night, one taped to air the following week. -Mark Evanier

Enjoy and share! Bobby Ellerbee




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‘I’ve Got A Secret’…Backstage Video #1, 1957


‘I’ve Got A Secret’…Backstage Video #1, 1957

This is the first of several backstage videos from IGAS that I’ll be posting here this week. It opens on the empty stage of CBS Studio 59 which is also known as The Mansfield Theater at 256 West 47th Street.

By the 2:00 mark, the stage will be completely set for the show…actually, the did it in :17 seconds. One surprise to me is that Gary Moore’s desk is on the left side of the stage…I had always thought he was on the right and the panel on the left.

As you’ll see on this Fifth Anniversary show, they have quite a talented crew, as many of them will perform for us. Cameraman Lee Tanner is, to me, the best dancer, but there is quite a range of talent here which makes for a better crew.

I was going to add the detailed drawings and specs of Studio 59 that I have from the 1961 CBS Studio Book, but when the show moved to Studio 52 in 1960, CBS gave up the lease. They had used the studio from 1950 till 1960. In September 12, 1960 it became The Brooks Atkinson Theatre and is still in use as legitimate theater. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Pah5FDfcjA

(1) Eddie Mendelson, studio supervisor: “I auditioned Bing Crosby and told him he couldn’t sing (1924).” (2) Harvey Vincent, usher, sings a duet of “You’re J…

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Old And Rare…NBC Studio 3H, 1936

Old And Rare…NBC Studio 3H, 1936

Taken in America’s first television studio, the contract for the RCA Pavillion at the 1939 World’s Fair is signed on a live broadcast. From left to right are NBC President Lenox Lohr, RCA President David Sarnoff and for the Fair Committee, Grover Whalen.

In late 1935, RCA converted NBC Radio Studio 3H to television use. It was equipped with three Iconoscope cameras and this is one the first three studio cameras ever made. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Final SNL Rarity…The 8H Announce Booth

Final SNL Rarity…The 8H Announce Booth

HAPPY 40TH ANNIVERSARY SNL!

If you are standing on the SNL homebase stage, the announce booth would be on your right, up under the bleechers. Although the interior of the booth has changed over the years, the main occupant didn’t until last month when we lost Don Pardo. This is where Daryl Hammond will be later tonight when he announces the show.

Actually, Don had not been in this booth for several years as he recorded his parts from his home in Arizona. He was there from the start but missed Season 7 after Dick Ebersol took over for a season and Lorne Michaels had stepped away from the show temporarily. Below in the Comment section, I’ll add another photo of Mr. Pardo in this booth from the 1976 season. Thanks to Dennis Degan for the photo. Enjoy and share!
-Bobby Ellerbee

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Double Bonus Video…Letterman Tour Of NBC Studio 8H & Linda Ellerbee


Double Bonus Video…Letterman Tour Of NBC Studio 8H & Linda Ellerbee

While SNL was on summer break in 1986, it seems NBC did some updates in Studio 6A and moved Letterman to 8H for the duration. Here’s Dave’s backstage tour of 8H, which was still using RCA TK47s. The cameraman is NBC veteran Carl Eckert.

At 25 minutes in, we get part of Dave’s interview with NBC Over Night’s Linda Ellerbee who’s contract has just expired. Since Over Night left the air in ’84, Linda had worked with ‘Today’. This is the debut of her new book “And So It Goes”. Just after this, she would join ABC and ‘Good Morning America’. Thanks to good friend Jodie Peeler for sharing this with us. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/W_aXnCB7JhM?t=4m47s

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The Original Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell, ABC


More SNL Rarities…The Original SNL With Howard Cosell

You may be surprised to know that the original ‘Saturday Night Live’ on ABC had more in common with SNL than just the name! It also had “The Prime Time Players” which were Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Christopher Guest!

As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary debut of the 90 minute late night sketch show on NBC, we have to remember that in the beginning the show as titled ‘NBC’s Saturday Night’.

‘Saturday Night Live’ would have been a much better name, but that title was already in use at ABC. Below is a rare clip of the show’s opening with host Howard Cosell. Fortunately for everyone, the show only aired for 18 weeks. It was actually canceled just three weeks into the run, but ABC kept it on to fill the hole in it’s schedule.

ABC’s show ran from September 1975 till January 1976 and was produced by Roone Arledge. The show was later remembered by its director Don Mischer as “one of the greatest disasters in the history of television”, largely due to the fact that Cosell and Arledge, both veterans of sports broadcasting, were entirely unfamiliar with comedy and variety programming.

The show taped 15 new episodes at The Ed Sullivan Theater (see ticket in the Comment section) and it was Arledge’s idea to try and recapture the family show appeal of Sullivan who had been off the air for about three years.

The premiere episode featured celebrity guests Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Paul Anka, Siegfried and Roy, the cast of the Broadway version of The Wiz, tennis pro Jimmy Connors, and John Denver. The episode’s musical guest was the Bay City Rollers who performed live via satellite from the UK.

The shows also featured Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Christopher Guest as regular comedy performers, dubbed “The Prime Time Players”. Later, when ‘NBC Saturday Night’ was granted use of the SNL name by ABC, we also got “The Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players” which ironically also counted the three “Prime Time Players” as cast members over the years. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS2BtthZOug

This is from the original Saturday Night Live, hosted by Howard Cosell, Mark Wilson had just won his second Magician of the Year awards, and finished his Las…

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SNL Rarities…Jim Henson’s Notes From The Debut Show

SNL Rarities…Jim Henson’s Notes From The Debut Show

http://www.henson.com/jimsredbook/2013/10/10111975/
At the link, you can read the diary entry from Muppets creator Jim Henson on the SNL debut show, 40 years ago today. Posted below is a page of development notes from Henson on just what to do and what puppets would be needed.

It’s a little surprising and most don’t know that The Muppets were a part of SNL that first year, but they were and I guess the exposure paid off as they left the next year to start their own show. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 11, 1975…’Saturday Night Live’ Debuts On NBC


October 11, 1975…’Saturday Night Live’ Debuts On NBC

In a moment, some SNL history, but first, a word about the video. It’s a tad shaky at the start, but it’s a fascinating look at how the home base sets have changed over the years, many of which I don’t even remember. Do you remember the band on the second floor set, or the elevator set? I didn’t, but we get a good look at all the homebases here. From what I can tell, the current set has been in use since 2003.

Had things gone better in the first week of rehearsal of SNL, we would be celebrating SNL’s debut on October 4, but as we have noted here before, Tom Snyder was called in to do a live 90 minute version of ‘Tomorrow’ on October 4, 1975 to fill the hole of the delayed debut. Jerry Lewis was the sole guest until in the last five minutes of the show, he introduced the original cast and Lorne Michaels. Here’s the video…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xQP_Kdt2gE

More SNL rarities to come…Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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

each SNL title from 1975 to present

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Images From The Great RCA TK60…NBC Burbank, 1963

Images From The Great RCA TK60…NBC Burbank, 1963

After posting the photo earlier today of my TK60, I wanted you to see the pictures these cameras made. This is black and white at it’s best, only rivaled by the Marconi Mark IV. We’ll see that and Mark IV images tomorrow.

This 2 minute clip is the opening of a Bob Hope special shot in what I think is Studio 1 at NBC Burbank. At 1:40 we get to the backstage shots including a TK60. Notice that there are RCA TK41s in the background. This is because Bob Hope, who produced his shows for NBC on his own dime, found it cheaper to shoot in black and white.

The shots of the audience from the stage are as crisp and clear as you could ask for from a tube camera. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://aliquippa.tumblr.com/post/34261758536/behind-the-scenes-at-nbc-burbank-1963

Aliquippa • Behind the scenes at NBC Burbank, 1963.

Behind the scenes at NBC Burbank, 1963.

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October 10…A Big Day For Color in 1950 And 1964

October 10…A Big Day For Color in 1950 And 1964

On this date in 1950, the FCC approved the CBS Field Sequential Color system effective November 20. CBS had promised 20 hours of color programs a week within two months. This was the opening round of a long hard fight that RCA would eventually win with their Dot Sequential Color system.

On this date in 1964, NBC aired the opening ceremonies of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in color. It was the first live color TV program to be transmitted to the U.S. by satellite. Only the opening ceremonies were in color, the events were all telecast in black and white to the US using Syncom 3, the first geostationary communication satellite. This was also the first time that Olympic games could be televised live to all parts of the world. As a side note, Ikegami debuted their first color cameras at these games on Japan’s NHK network. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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More Of The Eyes Of A Generation Collection…

More Of The Eyes Of A Generation Collection…

On the left, an RCA TK42 and on the right, the last RCA monochrome studio camera, the TK60. Both have a 5 inch Image Orthicon inside. That I know of, there are only 15 TK42s left and only 3 TK43s, which is the same as the TK42, but with an external lens. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 10, 1957…’Zorro’ Debuts On ABC


October 10, 1957…’Zorro’ Debuts On ABC

This video is from the first ever episode, but don’t be fooled like I was…this was shot in black and white, but colorized (and quite well) in 1992 for The Disney Channel.

Despite good ratings, the series ended after two seasons due to a financial dispute between Disney and ABC over ownership of ‘Zorro’, ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’, and the Disney anthology television series ‘Disneyland’. The final network broadcast was July 2, 1959. Seventy-eight episodes were produced, and four hour-long specials were aired on the Walt Disney anthology series between October 30, 1960 and April 2, 1961. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVqFbWvDVjw&list=PLD9BF76C13FC75853

The very first episode of Disney’s Zorro

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The Uncropped, Hi Res Version…

The Uncropped, Hi Res Version…

Yesterday I changed one of the profile pictures on this page. Here is the original that shows from left to right, the nose of an RCA TK10 from WGN, an RCA TK11/31, an RCA TK60, my RCA TK41C, an RCA TK44 and up top is the Marconi Mark IV.

There are 10 more cameras on display in this room and 80 more in the garage, but 70 of those are ENG cameras. If you like this, I’ll post more soon. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Great Tour Of Radio Row In Hollywood…Lot Of Television Here Too


Great Tour Of Radio Row In Hollywood…Lot Of Television Here Too

Many early radio studio were converted to television use, and networks usually had co locations for both studios. Here’s tour of some of the earliest broadcast centers in Los Angeles including CBS Columbia Square and 1313 Vine Street studios, The Lux Radio Theater, the former sites of NBC Radio City West, ABC and more! Feel free to skip around, but take a look at this rare history. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/6SVaA8raLzI?t=1m10sRaul Moreno takes us on a tour of historic radio row in Hollywood. Highlights include KHJ-AM, KABC-AM, NBC Radio City, The Paladium, The Aquarius Theater, an…

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The Last Joan Rivers Late Show On Fox…

The Last Joan Rivers Late Show On Fox…

Below is a photo from the last night of ‘The Late Show With Joan Rivers’ which aired on May 15, 1987. The final guests were Chris Rock, Pee Wee Herman, Howie Mandel and Wendy O. Williams. Joan wore the dress she wore on the debut show.

This was Chris Rock’s first time on television. As for Pee Wee Herman, he had been on the debut show, just five months earlier but what a hard and hellacious five months they were for Rivers.

After a moderate start, ratings for the talk show soon sagged which was quite upsetting to Fox who had chosen this Late Night show to launch their new network. The prime time launch for the network was scheduled for April 5, 1987. The ratings struggles made it hard for Fox to attract affiliates for its primetime launch and tensions were high.

A month or so before the final show in May, Joan’s husband Edgar Rosenberg, who was the show’s producer, was fired by Fox. Shortly after, he had a nervous breakdown and in August of ’87, he committed suicide. In tapes he left behind, he said he blamed himself for the split between Joan and Johnny Carson and urging her into the Fox venture.

The behind-the-scenes relations between Rivers and network executives quickly eroded, and Rivers was fired. For the final show, which aired May 15, 1987, the set was trashed with toilet paper, slime, and shaving cream. Good For Joan! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 9, 1986…’The Late Show With Joan Rivers’ Debuts On Fox


October 9, 1986…’The Late Show With Joan Rivers’ Debuts On Fox

Here is the rare video of that first show with David Lee Roth, Pee Wee Herman, Elton John and Cher. In the story, some surprises I had never known about till now. Read on!

We all know that the Fox announcement of the show caught Johnny Carson by surprise and caused him never to speak with Joan again, BUT…as you will see, Rivers had some pretty good reasons for playing her cards close to her chest.

Rivers had been Carson’s permanent guest host since 1983, and as 1986 neared, some executives at NBC thought it was possible that Johnny Carson would retire after reaching his 25th anniversary on October 1, 1987, as it was such a logical cut-off point. In the spring of 1986, a confidential memo went out to top NBC executives listing about 10 possible replacements in the event of Carson’s retirement. Rivers was shocked to see that she was not on the list.

In an article she wrote for People Magazine, Rivers said that NBC offered her only a one year contract in 1985 as permanent guest host while Carson’s contract had been renewed for two years, which signaled to her that her future was uncertain as her previous one year contracts had run the same length as Carson’s. In addition, Rivers noted numerous snubs from NBC executives over the years, such as not being invited to the annual Carson party until recently, and taking the fall for a controversial joke that management approved during rehearsal.

Rivers had received higher-paying offers from other networks in prior years but declined them out of her loyalty to Carson, but in 1986 as NBC was unwilling to give assurances on her future and negotiations were fruitless, this was the impetus for Rivers to seriously consider the Fox offer.

Fox was looking for a host for a late-night talk show for the network’s launch in October 1986 and offered Rivers the job at a salary higher than what NBC was paying. She accepted, and Carson was blindsided by the news when he saw the press conference on television.

Carson was furious and said that he felt betrayed by Rivers – not because she dared to compete with him, but because she was not honest with him beforehand about her intentions and did not ask him for advice and his blessing.

For her part, Rivers was adamant that her problem was with NBC and not with Carson, who was like a father figure to her. She stated that she didn’t want to tell Carson before the announcement was made because she was afraid Fox would cancel the deal if word leaked out. She had previously been ordered by Carson’s producers and lawyers not to go to him with her problems, as they kept Carson completely insulated since he was a major source of NBC profits. Carson had been completely unaware of Rivers’ problems with NBC.

In the next post, we’ll cover the very sad end of this show that proved tragic for Rivers in so many ways. In the video, the guests are Pee Wee Herman, David Lee Roth, Elton John and Cher! Enjoy and please share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MckrtLdSIxs Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHFHuARH0g0 Part 2

Here is the part 1 of the premiere of “The Late Show with Joan Rivers”, as broadcast on October 9, 1986. Joining Joan are guests David Lee Roth, Pee Wee Herm…

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Now For Something Completely Different…And HILARIOUS!


Now For Something Completely Different…And HILARIOUS!

Had Ellen not stayed in character, this wouldn’t have worked…but it did! The drag queen roll call of names is hysterically funny, especially the last one. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Facebook made a public apology on my show. I talked to one of their VPs, definitely not my Executive Producer Andy.

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October 8, 1956…Lawrence Welk Adds Second Weekly ABC Show

Follow Up #3… ‘Lawrence Welk Presents Top Tunes and New Talent’

In today’s first post on events that happened on this day in television history, this show is listed as debuting October 8, 1956. I’m adding this to clear up any confusion…you’ll see why as you read on.

On May 11, 1951, ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ began as a local program on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. The original show was broadcast from the since-demolished Aragon Ballroom at Venice Beach.

Welk made his national television debut on ABC Television on July 2, 1955 and the show was called ‘The Dodge Dancing Party’. Then, due to huge ratings, on October 8, 1956, ABC added a second weekly Welk show called ‘Lawrence Welk Presents Top Tunes And New Talent’.

Both shows were an hour and had good ratings, but in ’59, ABC merged the two shows into a once a week prime time show called ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’. The photo below is thought to be from 1956 at the ABC Television Center at the Prospect lot. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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The Jerry Lewis – Bing Crosby Feud


Follow Up #2…The Jerry Lewis – Bing Crosby Feud

Yesterday, I posted video of Jerry taking over the camera at the 1952 Olympic Telethon hosted by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. I mentioned that Crosby was avoiding Lewis because he was afraid Jerry would dislodge his hair piece.

Little did I know that that was the start of a huge feud between the two stars! Thanks to João Antonio Franz, here is a short video story on the origin with Jerry Lewis telling the story. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0YdQLrR-0Q

NEW EDIT WITH ADDED MATERIAL — In a series of clips, Jerry Lewis recounts what sparked off his decades-long feud with Bing Crosby — which unfortunately was…

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‘I Love Lucy’ 3 Headed Monster…Came From ‘Truth Or Consequences’

‘I Love Lucy’ 3 Headed Monster…Came From ‘Truth Or Consequences’

In researching the story I posted just before this on the first television game show with a live audience to be shot on film, I came across this interesting fact. The excerpted paragraph below is from ‘I Love Lucy’ editor Dann Cahn on the problem of editing film from 3 cameras and how the solution came from Ralph Edwards’ earlier pioneering efforts in this area.

“The amount of footage overwhelmed editors at the time, and they located a cutting-edge device that had been created for the quiz show ‘Truth Or Consequences’. When it was delivered to Desilu, Cahn called it a “monster” because it wouldn’t fit into the editing room so they put it in the prop room. “It was a Moviola with four heads — three for picture and one for sound,” Cahn told Editors Guild Magazine in 2006.”

This information is sadly from Mr. Cahn’s obituary with is at the link below. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://deadline.com/2012/11/dann-cahn-dead-editor-of-i-love-lucy-multicamera-tv-pioneer-376730/

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Historic Revelation! Ralph Edwards Sets The Record Straight!


Historic Revelation! Ralph Edwards Sets The Record Straight!

Two days ago, I posted an article from 1950 that claimed ‘You Bet Your Life’ was the first game show to be filmed before a live studio audience. Some had suggested here that ‘Truth Or Consequences’ was the first. I’ve done more research and it seems that Ralph Edwards was indeed the first to use a 3 camera, 35MM system to record his show.

This video is set to start at the point where Edwards describes this process and for the next 12 minutes, goes on to reveal not only the details, but how Desi Arnaz came to him for help with how to shoot ‘I Love Lucy’. For once and for all, this puts to rest the claim by many that ‘I Love Lucy’ was the first to do this.

http://youtu.be/nzNLH3ohatQ?t=1m14s
At this link, you can see part of a 1950 episode of ‘Truth Or Consequences’ which was shot on the 3 camera film system created by Al Simon. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/rvQ2yjPPNbY?t=12m32sFull interview at: http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/ralph-edwards

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Photos From The First Ever Network Telethon

Speaking Of Telethons…Here Are Photos From The First Ever

After posting the Martin & Lewis video from the 1952 Olympic Telethon, it occurred to me that it’s been a few years since we’ve seen these rare pictures from the first telethon in May of 1949.

Milton Berle hosted the 16 hour event on NBC and raised $100,000 for The Damon Runyon Memorial Cancer Fund. Among the celebrity guests…Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. I think it’s safe to say that no one in the world has more experience and ability with teletoons than Mr. Lewis. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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More Classic Camera Fun…Jerry Lewis Takes Over…1952


More Classic Camera Fun…Jerry Lewis Takes Over…1952

When Jerry walks toward the camera and looks in the lens, you just know something else is about to happen…and it does, just a few seconds later when he takes over the RCA TK30.

This is from the same theater that NBC used for the Hollywood broadcasts of ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’…The El Capitan Theater on Vine Street. The event was the 1952 Olympic Telethon to raise money for the teams to travel. It was hosted by Hope and Crosby, BUT…Bing would not appear on stage with Lewis! He was afraid Jerry would grab or dislodge his hair piece! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/7HOL0n3GdrY?t=3m46sDean Martin & Jerry Lewis on Bob Hope Bing Crosby US Olympic team telethon 22 June 1952. A lost treasure! This was filmed (kinescoped) while it was broadcast…

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Why This Is An Interesting Photo For Camera Buffs…

Why This Is An Interesting Photo For Camera Buffs…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted some photos taken by television veteran Peter Katz. This is Peter behind an RCA TK30 at The Hudson Theater in New York which was home to ‘Tonight’ and ‘The Kate Smith Show’.

There are three things that stick out to me here…the viewfinder hood, the door vents and the RCA meatball and Television badges.

For some reason, RCA never made, or offered a third party movable viewfinder hood for the TK30s. RCA’s were immovable and rigid.
The TK10s had an adjustable hood, but they would not fit on a TK30. CBS made their own and I think this is a custom hood made in the NBC shop.

This is only the second time I have seen this kind of rectangular door vents. As not to detract from this photo, I’ll post the other photo of these vents in the comment section. RCA made a kit with round screen vents…they were installed on each door with 10 rounds at the top and 10 rounds at the bottom. This is an NBC NY modification.

This brings us to the RCA badge placement. These have been moved to accommodate an oversized NBC Chime logo. Usually the RCA meatball and Television badge is about where the chime mallet is. This camera had lot of custom work done on it. To me, that shows a great deal of care and attention to not only the functionality of the camera, but in it’s appearance too.

By the way, we often see the access doors open on network cameras, but not so much at the local station level. That is because the network cameras have a lot more hours on them…the are almost always in use all day long and deep into the night. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Unknown Production History Of ‘You Bet Your Life’…

Unknown Production History Of ‘You Bet Your Life’…

Did you know this was the first television show to be filmed before a live audience? Me either till I read pages 31 and 32 of this August 1952, Television Magazine story.
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Television-Magazine/Television-1952-Aug.pdf

It’s written by Isidore Lindenbaum who owned Film Craft Productions, the studio that filmed the NBC series for it’s entire run from 1950 till 1960. This is very interesting and even discloses that they used 8 35mm cameras on the show, 4 for the first half hour and 4 for the second half hour. And yes, they shot an hour of film to get a half hour show. I think you’ll also find the sound synchronization process interesting too. There’s a lot of great information here so take a look and share it! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 5, 1950…’You Bet Your Life’ Debuts On NBC + Special Insights


October 5, 1950…’You Bet Your Life’ Debuts On NBC + Special Insights

We’re a day late with this, but it was on purpose as this pilot was directed by none other than Ralph Levy, who we just met in the article before this.

This the unaired pilot to the show that was kinescoped around the first of August in 1950 at CBS Columbia Square. Notice it is almost an hour long, yet the radio and TV show were only half hour shows. This is because Marx did so much ad libbing in trying to get contestants to say the “secret word” that each show had to be edited down on audio tape for the radio show and on film for the television show.

Unlike the NBC television show which was on film, this was shot with RCA TK30 television cameras as the radio show was recorded for editing and delayed broadcast, which explains the casual dress for Groucho.

Notice a few things. At the start, we have about 1:45 seconds of video before the start of the radio show. As we go, there are several times we do pickups of intros and extros. and at 51:35, Groucho pitches to Myron Wallace who we all now know as Mike Wallace. The pitch to Wallace was a blank space into which and Elgin Watch radio spot would be added as Wallace had been their spokesman beginning when this show was on ABC radio in 1947.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__lg74jm3Zs

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Director Ralph Levy…A CBS Superstar

Director Ralph Levy…A CBS Superstar

You may not know the name, but you know his work. Among other things, Ralph Levy directed the ‘I Love Lucy’ pilot, ‘The Jack Benny Show’, ‘Burns And Allen’ and as we just learned in today’s first article, ‘The Ed Wynn Show’.

A few months back, I posted a story on the vaudeville and radio stars Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. They were most famous for their hit broadway show and movie called ‘Hellzapoppin’. As it turns out, CBS had tried to bring Olsen and Johnson to television in early 1949 and Ralph Levy was the assistant director. The show turned out to literally be too big for television because Olson and Johnson’s style was to have action not only play out on stage, but going on in the theater at the same time and often overlapping. The show ended after 13 weeks, but immediately after that, Levy was given a show of his own. It was a summer replacement called ‘The 54th Street Revue’ and came from CBS Studio 52 on 54th and Broadway.

Ralph managed to get the first of the shows on the air in only 4 days… an accomplishment that earned him both management’s attention and a reputation for working swiftly and efficiently. That fall, the network asked Levy to move to Los Angeles to direct a new variety series starring radio comedian Ed Wynn. If network TV in New York was just beginning, in Los Angeles it was virtually non-existent…

The Ed Wynn Show, Levy soon discovered, would be the first major network show to originate from Hollywood. It would be shown live on the West Coast every Thursday night at 9PM. A kinescope recording of the show would be made, sent to New York, and played for East Coast and Midwestern stations two weeks later. Such delays were necessary because the transcontinental cable was not yet in place that would allow for national live telecasts to originate on the West Coast.

In late December, Ed’s guests were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and this was the first time Ralph met them. The script that night went out of its way to spotlight 32-year-old Desi, who appeared with Wynn and Ball in a comedy sketch, and even afforded him the opportunity to sing “Babalu.”

A few weeks later, CBS asked Lucy to consider transferring her radio series, ‘My Favorite Husband’, to TV. Levy, meanwhile, had come to be the network’s fair-haired boy in Hollywood…in April, he expanded his duties to include directing the new ‘Alan Young Show’, a weekly half-hour comedy-variety skein starring the young Canadian who today is more remembered for his role ten years later in the sitcom ‘Mr. Ed’.

One of the most successful programs on CBS Radio that season was ‘You Bet Your Life’, starring Groucho Marx. The show’s sponsor was interested in adding a TV version…both CBS and NBC wanted to carry it. When both major networks became interested, a bidding war started. Since Marx was already at CBS, it seemed likely he would stay, but Levy helped with a pilot show. When the dust settled, NBC was the high bidder, but Levy stayed at CBS.

The Ed Wynn Show ended its nine-month run on July 4, 1950, and Ralph headed to Mexico for a much-needed vacation. He had hardly unpacked when an emergency call came from CBS’ Hollywood operations. Levy was asked to come back the next day as George Burns and Gracie Allen had agreed to go on television, and CBS wanted him at the first production meeting.

A pilot was prepared and quickly sold to Carnation Milk Company and ‘The Burns & Allen Show’ was scheduled for a fall premiere. George was afraid to take on a weekly show all at once, particularly one that was to be done live, so CBS agreed to air it on an alternate-week basis.

Making his life even more interesting was the fact that George Burns’ best friend, Jack Benny, was toying with the idea of getting into television himself. Naturally, he wanted Ralph to direct. But Benny was even more shy about TV than George and Gracie, and agreed to do only four half-hour specials that first 1950-51 season.

Lucy and Desi Arnaz, meanwhile, spent the summer of 1950 performing a comedy act in vaudeville theatres across the country, and by late fall had convinced CBS to let them try a new TV series together. Lucy’s radio writers, Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll Jr., and Madelyn Pugh went to work to create the format. Ralph Levy was asked to direct.

The pilot was filmed on Friday evening, March 2, 1951 (Desi’s 34th birthday) in Studio A of CBS’ Columbia Square headquarters in Hollywood. It was the same stage used for the Wynn Show a year earlier. The show was shot live with a studio audience in attendance, as most TV shows were being done then. There was no tape yet. The images were recorded on film from a TV screen, providing us with the required kinescope.Levy, CBS’s first choice to direct, begged off: he knew he already had his hands full.

In 1953, Ralph retired from ‘Burns & Allen’, and with ‘The Alan Young Show’ ceasing production, he concentrated his energies on the now bi-weekly Jack Benny program. He remained at Benny’s side another four seasons, then returned in 1959 to helm two hour long Benny specials. For these shows, he won his first Emmy Award. Ralph won a second Emmy two years later for first ‘Bob Newhart Show’, a weekly half-hour of stand-up comedy and variety.

When filmed sitcoms became the order of the day, Levy adapted: he directed the pilots of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘Green Acres’, and two seasons of ‘Petticoat Junction’, all for his friend Paul Henning, one of George Burns’ writers who had since become a successful producer.

Ralph later attempted to do dramas…programs like ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and feature films, but somehow, his heart was not in these projects: he missed the live audiences that early television and the theatre had provided. The thrill of “opening night” was missing.

Levy spent several years in England in the 1970s, working for BBC Television, and taught TV production classes at Cal State Northridge and Loyola Marymount University. Levy relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1981 and passed away October 15, 2001 at his home…he was 81. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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You’ll Be Surprised To See Who This Lady Is!


Just For Fun…You’ll Be Surprised To See Who This Lady Is

This was a special edition of ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ from 1958 that featured family members of famous stars. You will be shocked and wildly surprised by who the lady is. The video is cued to start at the head of her segment, but if you skip around here and especially at the front, you’ll see some of CBS Studio 59 in the background. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/RCKQvZWy8r0?t=7m11s

A 1958 episode of “I’ve Got a Secret”, with host Garry Moore and panelists Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan, and Betsy Palmer, on which talented but …

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