Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The ESPN/Chapman Dualie…

The ESPN/Chapman Dualie…Last Night In New York

In case you’ve never seen this, here is the coolest sideline ride in the business. This two level configuration is around four years old…the original version had both cameras mounted on a T bar and debuted around six years ago. The Metlife photo is from our friend Teddy Flandreau at last nights Bears – Jets game. Final score, Chicago 27, Jets 19. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


The First ‘I Love Lucy’ Episode Filmed…With Schedule

The First ‘I Love Lucy’ Episode Filmed…With Schedule
When ‘I Love Lucy’ debuted October 15, 1951, the first episode to air was “The Girls Want To Go To A Nightclub”, but the first episode to be filmed was “Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her” which was filmed on September 8, 1951. It aired as the fourth episode on November 5th. Above is the link to the complete show.

This rare schedule shows the rehearsals and shooting times at The General Services Studios location, which is where the show was done for the first three seasons. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


Been There, Done That, Seen It ALL! 62 Years Of CBS Makeup…

Been There, Done That, Seen It ALL! 62 Years Of CBS Makeup…

With the Roddy McDowall post earlier this morning, this story came to mind which was shared with us by our friend Andy Rose.

Riccie Johnson started with CBS in 1950 doing make up on game shows and soap operas…she made up The Beatles for their Ed Sullivan debut as well as Murrow, Cronkite and all of 60 Minutes since the beginning and MUCH MORE. It’s all here. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

The makeup artist who has seen it all

Riccie Johnson, CBS makeup artist for 62 years, has powdered all the greats — The Beatles, Sinatra, and U.S. presidents. And she’s still at it.


WOW! Roddy McDowall’s Home Movies…’Planet Of The Apes’

WOW! Roddy McDowall’s Home Movies…’Planet Of The Apes’

Thanks to Mike Clark for sending this amazing link to us. The first 8 minutes show Roddy being transformed into “Cornelius” in the makeup trailer at 20th Century Fox, but then he takes a helicopter to the set which gives us a great look at the Fox studios.

Mike points out that at 9:20, you can see the full-sized ‘Lost In Space’ Jupiter II mockup from the 3rd season episode “Visit to a Hostile Planet.” At the oceanfront set, we almost all of the principals, including Charlton Heston. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Roddy McDowall’s home movies showing Don Cash applying his Cornelius make-up for original “Planet Of The Apes” (1968)


A Rare Look At The First Ikegami Color Studio Camera…The TK 301

A Rare Look At The First Ikegami Color Studio Camera…The TK 301

It’s good thing our Australian pals had a few too many pints one night in the early 70s, otherwise, we would not have had what I think is only the second video sighting of the first Ikegami color studio camera.

This is a “love story” between an Ikegami HL 77 and the TK 301. This was shot at the GLV8 studios and the only other surviving video of an Ikegami TK 301 also comes from there on a studio tour video that I have posted here in the past. The TK 301 and TK 355 were the only two TK models made by Ikegami before they changed to the HK prefix.

By the way, HL is short for their portable “Handy Looky” line and HK is short for “Handy Kamera”. The RCA TK prefix is thought to stand for “Television Kamera”…Kamera is the Russian spelling of camera and is thought to have come from Vladimir Zworykin. Thanks to Steve Bradford for the clip. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

This is a love story we put together one friday night after the pub. It was created by myself and a very talented cameraman Michael Maxwell. It’s a love stor…


‘Squidbillies’…Season 8 Debuts On Adult Swim Tonight At 11:45 This is my show…

‘Squidbillies’…Season 8 Debuts On Adult Swim Tonight At 11:45

This is my show! I am the voice of Sheriff on ‘Squidbilles’…television’s fourth most watched animated series. That’s a pretty good trick considering the other three are on Fox tonight in primetime!

Since our demo is mostly men 18 to 34, most of you have not seen the show, but millions of fans worldwide have. No matter your age, it’s still funny. By the way, Adult Swim is actually The Cartoon Channel after about 9PM. As the name Adult Swim implies, our shows are for adults only and have a lot of adult language and topics as you’ll see and hear.

I can not begin to tell you how much fun I have had playing this role. Since 2006, without fail, every single recording session has had at least one “laugh so hard you cry” moment and usually more. There is well over three hours of me just laughing uncontrollably in the archives. I love Sheriff…he is me and I am him in many ways, and I am honored to be us.

Just for fun, I’ve included a couple quick clips from the show that I hope you’ll like. Here is a link to the second one..

If you can’t make it till 11:45 tonight, set your DVR and take a look. Enjoy and share! -“Sheriff” Bobby Ellerbee

The Sheriff introduces Early and Granny to the wonders of the holodeck. SUBSCRIBE: About Squidbillies: Squidbillies is Adult…


Directing Football…1939 Till Now! GREAT DGA ARTICLE!

Directing Football…1939 Till Now! GREAT DGA ARTICLE!

With the mention of Director Chet Forte in the ‘ABC Monday Night Football’ post just before this, I could not resist adding this gem to the conversation. This is the history of football on television as told by some of the greatest ever producers and directors including Chet Forte, Roone Arledge, Ted Nathanson, Drew Esocoff, Tony Verna, Doug Wilson, Joe Acenti, Bob Fishman and Mike Arnold.

This is a must read article written by David Davis for The Director’s Guild Of America’s “DGA Quarterly” Magazine, and covers the topic from A to Z and then some, with things we never knew about how it was all done including the first instant replays and much more. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee

Calling the Plays – Directing Football

From the first primitive broadcast in 1939 to today’s Super Bowl, directors have helped create football on TV.


September 21, 1970…’ABC Monday Night Football’ Debuts

September 21, 1970…’ABC Monday Night Football’ Debuts

Most think this was a marriage made in heaven, but infact, it was really more like a shotgun wedding.

During the early 1960s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time for a greater TV audience. While the NFL had scheduled Saturday night games on the DuMont network in 1953-1954, poor ratings and the dissolution of DuMont led to the series being eliminated by the time CBS took over the rights in 1956.

An early bid in 1964 to play on Friday nights was soundly defeated, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school games. Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, 1964. While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.

Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in primetime on CBS during the 1966 and 1967 seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. NBC followed suit in 1968 and 1969 with games involving American Football League teams.

During subsequent negotiations on a new television contract that would begin in 1970 (coinciding with a merger between the NFL and AFL), Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks. After sensing reluctance from both NBC and CBS in disturbing their regular programming schedules, Rozelle spoke with ABC.

Despite the network’s status as the lowest-rated network, ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. Only after Rozelle used the threat of signing with the independent Hughes Sports Network which was owned by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes, did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games. Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have preempted the network’s Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings.

ABC’s Roone Arledge had the job of making lemonade out of the lemons, and after the final contract for Monday Night Football was signed, he began to see the possibilities for the new show. Setting out to create an entertainment “spectacle” as much as a simple sports broadcast, Arledge hired Chet Forte, who would serve as director of the program for over 22 years. Arledge also ordered twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game, expanded the regular two-man broadcasting booth to three and used extensive graphic design within the show as well as instant replay.

Looking for a lightning rod to garner attention, Arledge hired controversial New York sportscaster Howard Cosell as a commentator, along with veteran football play-by-play man Keith Jackson. Arledge had tried to lure Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully to ABC for the MNF play-by-play role, but settled for Jackson after they proved unable to break existing contracts with NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively.

Arledge’s original choice for the third member of the trio, Frank Gifford, was unavailable since he was still under contract to CBS Sports. However, Gifford suggested former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Don Meredith, setting the stage for years of fireworks between the often-pompous Cosell and the laidback Meredith.

Monday Night Football first aired on ABC on September 21, 1970, with a game between the New York Jets and the Browns in Cleveland and all that’s left of that video is posted below.

Advertisers were charged $65,000 per minute by ABC during the clash, a cost that proved to be a bargain when the contest collected 33 percent of the viewing audience. The Browns defeated the Jets, 31-21 in a game which featured a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Browns’ Homer Jones and was punctuated when Billy Andrews intercepted Joe Namath late in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the clinching touchdown. However, Cleveland viewers saw different programming on WEWS-TV, because of the NFL’s blackout rules of the time which would apply for all games through the end of the 1972 season. Beginning in 1973, home games could be televised if they sold out 72 hours before kickoff.

Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

First Monday Night Matchup between the Browns and the Jets. The great Keith Jackson on the mic with the late greats Howard Cosell and Don Meredith I OWN NOTH…


September 21, 1957…’Perry Mason’ Debuts On CBS

September 21, 1957…’Perry Mason’ Debuts On CBS

I have three rare videos to share with you on ‘Perry Mason’.
The first one (linked above) is Raymond Burr’s screentest for the lead role. This looks like a video tape, but could be a kinescope which was most likely shot at the CBS Television City.
Next up is a rare interview with Raymond Burr on the set, conducted by the well known Scottish born, Canadian journalist Jack Webster in 1963 when the show was in it’s seventh season. The original series would run for nine seasons and ended in 1966 after 271 episodes…one of which was shot in color. “Tale Of The Twice Told Twist” was the color episode and aired near the last of the final season in February of 1966. I think CBS ordered it as it considered extending the show for another few seasons.
Finally, here is the first ever episode of ‘Perry Mason’ that aired 57 years ago today. This is “The Case Of The Wrestles Redhead”.

To this day, ‘Perry Mason’ is still one of my alltime favorite shows. It was smart and well done. To me, the only thing that dates the show is the lack of cell phones…how many times could Perry and Paul have saved the day earlier by not having to stop at pay phone or call Della for messages? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Seemingly born to play ‘Perry Mason’, Raymond Burr did have to test for the role. The woman playing ‘Della Street’ is a bit too provocative for the character…


September 21, 1948…Berle Named Permanent Host, ‘Texaco Star Theater’

September 21, 1948…Berle Named Permanent Host, ‘Texaco Star Theater’

On June 8, 1948, there were two major debuts at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza and they both happened in the same place at the same time as ‘The Texaco Star Theater’ was broadcast live from Studio 6B. This was the first broadcast from 6B after it’s conversion from radio to television studio.

On the first television broadcast of the ‘Texaco Star Theater’, Milton Berle was the host, but not the permanent host…there were rotating hosts in that June to September block of Tuesday night television including George Price, Morey Amsterdam, Peter Donald and Jack Carter.

66 years ago today, Milton Berle was named the permanent host of the show. When the show made its television debut in June of ’48, Berle was the host of the radio version which had been on the air since October of 1938 with Ed Wynn as host and star. In 1940, Fred Allan took over and after he left in ’44, succeeding hosts were James Melton, Tony Martin, Gordon MacRae, Jack Carter and Milton.

As Ed Wynn’s hit, the show became bankable, but as Fred Allen’s radio hit, ‘Texaco Star Theater’ was one of the most cleverly cerebral comedy-variety shows of its time. When it moved to television with Milton Berle, it proved a groundbreaker for two decades’ worth of television variety programming and, in the genius of Berle, gave the medium the first star it could call its own.

The television version allowed him the full spread of his visual and verbal talent, uniting them toward a height he couldn’t have achieved even in his legendary vaudeville and silent-screen days. Berle’s fame and stardom was quick and huge but…once television’s biggest single star, he also became the first TV personality to suffer from over-exposure and burnout.

At the link below, Milton Berle talks about the shows most memorable bloopers…and poopers as it turns out. These are great stories from the masters lips about the “doody bears” and how Red Buttons wound up stark naked on live TV! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Thanks to NBCU Photobank for the photo.


NBC Studio 6A…The Meredith Viera Show

NBC Studio 6A…The Meredith Viera Show

It’s taken over a year, but it’s finally on the air in syndication. The only way I can see it in the Atlanta market is to DVR it…it comes on at 2:30 AM here on WSB, an ABC affiliate. Oddly, WSB runs two episodes of ‘Dr. Phil’ each afternoon but they are the most profitable TV station in the nation, so I guess they know what they are doing.

6A was home to David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon with Fallon the only late show to come from 6B until the ‘Tonight’ show returned this year. Before Fallon took over ‘Tonight’, Dr. Oz was taping in 6A. After Oz left, the show moved to 6A so 6B and 8G could be totally redone. Oz has moved to ABC and has taken over the studio where Katie Couric’s show done.

Looks like there are two ped cameras, a jib and a hand held (covered up on the stand) and having seen the show, I can tell you there are at least three other fixed and rail cameras around. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


Home Of ‘Queen For A Day’…Moulin Rouge, 6230 W. Sunset Blvd

Home Of ‘Queen For A Day’…Moulin Rouge, 6230 W. Sunset Blvd
You can see the main room of The Moulin Rouge in the first few seconds of this video. NBC carried the show weekday afternoons at 1:30 from 1956 till 1960 when it moved to ABC and stayed on till ’64.

‘Queen for a Day’ began on the Mutual Radio Network on April 30, 1945 in New York City before moving to Los Angeles a few months later. Believe it or not, this series is considered a forerunner of modern-day “reality television”. The show became popular enough that NBC increased its running time from 30 to 45 minutes to sell more commercials, at a then-premium rate of $4,000 per minute.

The venue was originally The Earl Carroll Theater and opened
December 26, 1938 for lavish Earl Carroll musical comedy revues. The exterior featured a 20-foot high neon silhouette of Beryl Wallace, one of the Earl Carroll girls. Over the entrance doors it said: “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.”

The theater was sold following the deaths of Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace in an airplane crash. In 1953 it re-opened as the Moulin Rouge nightclub. Martin & Lewis, Red Skelton and many of the top performers of the 40s and 50s performed here as it was the largest nightclub in Los Angeles and on any given night, you could find a who’s who of movie stars there.

The club has had many names since, but below is a link to a video clip from 1966 announcing the opening of the Hullabaloo Club…I think you’ll find the names and faces familiar! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


The Amazing Back Story Of ABC’s Vine Street Theater…1313 Vine Street

The Amazing Back Story Of ABC’s Vine Street Theater…1313 Vine Street

Did you know this was originally the home of The Don Lee – Mutual Network? Or, that this is the first place Johnny Carson ever went on network television?

The building was originally built in 1948 as a radio and television studio facility at a cost of $3 million. The dedication of the Don Lee-Mutual Broadcasting building was held on August 18, 1948. It is the oldest surviving structure in Hollywood that was originally designed specifically with television in mind.

Cadillac dealer Don Lee got into broadcasting to stay competitive with his friend Earle C. Anthony, a Packard dealer, who bought radio station KFI as a method of appealing to his customers. Lee bought KFRC in San Francisco and KHJ in Los Angeles, ultimately building the chain to 12 West Coast stations. Though named for him, Lee, who had died 14 years earlier, never saw this building.

The building was the original home of Los Angeles Channel 2, which is now KCBS-TV, through the 1950s. KCBS-TV is one of the oldest television stations in the world. It was signed on by Don Lee Broadcasting, and was first licensed by the FCC as experimental television station W6XAO in June 1931. The station went on the air on December 23, 1931, and by March 1933 was broadcasting programming one hour each day only on Monday through Saturdays.

During World War II, programming was reduced to three hours, every other Monday. The station’s frequency was switched from Channel 1 to Channel 2 in 1945 when the FCC decided to reserve Channel 1 for low-wattage community television stations. The station was granted a commercial license (the second in California, behind KTLA) as KTSL on May 6, 1948, and was named for Thomas S. Lee, the son of Don Lee.

Don Lee’s broadcasting interests were placed for sale in 1950 following the death of Thomas S. Lee. General Tire and Rubber agreed to purchase all of Don Lee’s stations, but chose to spin-off KTSL and the building at 1313 Vine Street to CBS. On October 28, 1951, KTSL changed its callsign to KNXT to coincide with CBS’ Los Angeles radio outlet, KNX (1070 AM). In April of ’84, it became KCBS.

These are the studios where Johnny Carson’s earliest mid-’50s television appearances, including ‘Carson’s Cellar’ and ‘The Johnny Carson Show’ were done. I had always thought they were from the Columbia Square studios a few blocks away.

ABC bought the building from CBS around 1967, installed GE color cameras and produced shows like ‘The Joey Bishop Show’, ‘The Dating Game’ and ‘The Newlywed Game’ from 1313 Vine Street.

Today, it is the home of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. It was dedicated in honor of legendary silent film actress Mary Pickford in 2002. Pickford was one of the founding members of the Academy. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


Ever See One Of These? This Is The GE PE 25 Color Camera

Ever See One Of These? This Is The GE PE 25 Color Camera

There are not many photos of this camera, but thanks to David Crosthwait at DC Video, we have a new black and white photo taken at KCOP in Los Angeles. The color photo (the only one we know of) shows our friend Mike Clark with a PE 25 at WCNY Syracuse NY. By the way, the Marconi Mark IVs in the background are from ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’….those are The Beatles cameras.

GE had a camera called the PE 15 that looked almost like this but it’s handles were at the top of the doors instead of underneath. This camera debuted in 1965 and as usual for GE cameras, were mostly used in west and southwest markets. If anyone know if one of these cameras survives, please let me know. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


In Case You Missed This…ABC Prospect, 1950 And Today

In Case You Missed This…ABC Prospect, 1950 And Today

A week or so back, I posted this shot from what we think is from ‘The Marshal At Gunsight Pass’…a 1950 western themed kids show done live Saturday afternoons for ABC’s west coast stations. It ran for 22 weeks and was pulled due to the expense and difficulty of adding the outside elements of the production.

Thanks to ABC veteran Charlie Henry, here is a recent picture of the same location we see in the old black and white shot, which is the parking lot at ABC’s Prospect Studios. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




On Sunday night at 9PM, October 4, 1959, ‘The Dinah Shore Chevy Show’ aired in color on NBC from The Zeigfeld Theater. Here is the whole show!

Below are a few pages of the script and the rehearsal sheets from this same show! Thanks to our friend Gady Reinhold at CBS, we are able to see these historic artifacts and with his notes, understand the meaning of some of the technical terms of the day. As you click on each image, you will see his descriptions of what is on each page. You will only see this here so please share this rarity! -Bobby Ellerbee


Dinah Shore With The Colonial Theater’s RCA TK40s…1957

Dinah Shore With The Colonial Theater’s RCA TK40s…1957

Continuing on the theme from the previous post of Peter Katz photo from The Colonial Theater, here is Dinah Shore with these rare cameras.

Notice the first camera we see had no vents on the viewfinder. This was how the first RCA TK40s were made. The four TK40s at The Colonial were the prototypes and these four were built in the fall of 1952. No more were made until RCA started the production line in late 1953 and even then, they only made 20 TK40s before switching to the TK41 in early 1954.

When they began building the TK41s, they added vents to the viewfinder enclosure and to the door over the high voltage box and sent out these modified pieces to The Colonial, KNBC in LA, WRC in Washington and WNBQ in Chicago. For some reason, one of the TK40s at the Colonial was never updated, but the others were. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee Shore is her usual enchanting self on this 1957 Chevy Show with guest stars Art Carney, Stubby Kaye, and special guest Perry Como. Dinah outdoes hersel…


Adelphi Theater Stage Is Now…New York Hilton’s Grand Ballroom

Adelphi Theater Stage Is Now…New York Hilton’s Grand Ballroom

If you ever want to conjure up the ghosts of ‘The Honeymooners’, make your way to the Grand Ballroom of the New York Hilton as that is where the stage of the Adelphi Theater was located.

After I posted the rare new photo from Peter Katz yesterday of the ‘Honeymooners’, our friend Howie Zeidman from ABC called me with this interesting information. In the color photo, you see on the left what I think is the Hilton’s ballroom entrance which is directly across from the (new) Ziegfeld Theater at 144 W. 54 Street. The Adelphi was at 152 W. 54.

In the second photo, we see a long shot up 54th from 6th Ave. By the time this photo was taken, Dumont had moved out (1957) and the theater was renamed The 54th Street Theater. It was torn down in 1970 to make way for the Hilton.

Speaking of The Ziegfeld Theater, the one shown here is not the original theater where NBC did ‘The Perry Como Show’, but it is very close. That theater was on the corner of 6th Avenue and 54th street and this new Ziegfeld movie theater was built right behind where the original was.

By the way, CBS Studio 50 (Ed Sullivan Theater) is only a couple of blocks from here. Gleason started there with CBS in 1952 and had offices in the Park Sheraton Hotel which was only a block from Studio 50. When he decided to do the half hour ‘Honeymooners’ on film, he wanted something close and choose Dumont’s Adelphi which Dumont had just equipped with their new Electronicams. Enjoy and share!
-Bobby Ellerbee


September 19, 1970…’The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Debuts On CBS

September 19, 1970…’The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Debuts On CBS
At the link above, Mary Tyler Moore discusses the problems with the pilot, and there were many…it was the lowest scoring pilot ever tested at CBS.

Below is the first episode, the one that aired 44 years ago today, but when you watch it, the story just doesn’t seem dated does it? This is the episode that sets up everything and where she meets “Lou Grant” in the famous “you’ve got spunk” scene. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Mary Tyler Moore Full Episode (Love is All Around) – IMDb

Watch the latest Mary Tyler Moore Full Episode (Love is All Around) on IMDb


‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Behind The Scenes, 1988 Part 2

‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Behind The Scenes, 1988 Part 2

This is great! We get to see how the letter board works and more of the TK47s in Studio 4 in Burbank, plus the M G Kelly announce opening with a classic RCA mic. In the latter half of this, we see Vanna and Director Dick Carson shooting openings in NYC for the upcoming Radio City Music Hall shows. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Aired November 12, 1988. Some of the backstage faces seen in this special are announcer M.G. Kelly, producer Nancy Jones, director Dick Carson (Johnny’s brot…


ULTRA RARE! For The First Time Anywhere!

ULTRA RARE! For The First Time Anywhere! (Episode Video)
Although there are two similar photos of Jackie Gleason’s ‘Honeymooners’ being shot by these Dumont Electronicams, this one has never been seen before. It was taken by our new friend Peter J. Katz at the Adelphi Theater in November of 1955. The episode being filmed is Episode 7 of the “classic 39” titled ‘Better Living Through TV’ and up top is a link to the video. There is an extra bonus at 14:40 where a regular Dumont camera is on the set.

This photo is rare on many levels. Gleason usually did only one rehearsal and this was taken during that one runthrough of ‘Better Living’. In case you have never seen a Dumont Electronicam, this is a Dumont television camera with a Mitchell 35MM movie camera mounted along side and both are shooting through a shared lens.

In the photo, Ralph is trying to convince Alice to go along with him on yet another get-rich-quick scheme – selling Handy Housewife Helpers on TV…this comes at around 11 minutes in, in the video. This features a rare gone-wrong moment when one of the gadgets flies off the handle, forcing Gleason to retrieve it and then ad-lib his way back into the scene. When airtime comes, Ralph suddenly contracts a bad case of stage fright.

Soon, more rare photos from Peter J. Katz, all of which are copyrighted and we thank Peter for sharing. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Behind The Scenes, 1988 Part 1

‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Behind The Scenes, 1988 Part 1

Tomorrow, I’ll post part two which follows the show to New York for a week of taping there, but for now…welcome to NBC Burbank Studio 4, which was also home to Dean Martin.

The cameras are RCA TK47s and we get a good look at the studio in the first minute and again just before the 7 minute mark. For Vanna White fans, there’s a lot of this Atlanta girl here to enjoy and, of the show’s producer Nancy Jones. Tomorrow, we meet the show’s director, Dick Carson…Johnny’s brother. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Aired November 12, 1988. Some of the backstage faces seen in this special are announcer M.G. Kelly, producer Nancy Jones, director Dick Carson (Johnny’s brot…


The NBC Color Caravan Story…June 9 – August 11, 1954

RARE! The NBC Color Caravan Story…June 9 – August 11, 1954

Some have heard about this, but for those that haven’t, we finally have the NBC Chimes Magazine article from August of ’54, thanks to our friend Dicky Howett in The UK.

RCA and NBC were proud as peacocks with their new color abilities and took the first two color trucks on the road for a month of live colorcasts that were carried on ‘Today’ and ‘The Home Show’.

On July 9, a crew of eighteen men did the tour’s first color remote from St. Louis as the local stations and major department stores along the way were pre stocked with RCA color monitors and sets for sale and display. The cities they visited also included Milwaukee, Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland, Washington DC, Baltimore and Ft. Meade Maryland. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


September 18, 1927…The CBS Radio Network Debuts

September 18, 1927…The Second Radio Network Debuts

87 years ago today, The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting Company went on the air with a 16 station network (list below).

What we now know as CBS actually started on January 27, 1927, as United Independent Broadcasters, Inc., when talent agent Arthur Judson, unable to obtain work for any of his clients on the radio programs carried by NBC, established his own network…United Independent Broadcasters.

Even before United got started, the Columbia Phonograph Co. had become interested in the venture. The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System, which was to act as sales agent for United, was organized in April of 1927. United contracted to pay each of the original 16 stations $500 per week for 10 hours of radio time. Soon the sales agent could not sell enough air time and the network was near collapse after only a few months.

Plagued with mounting financial losses, the network was purchased for a modest $400,000 by William S. Paley, whose father owned the company that made La Palina cigars, one of the network’s principal advertisers. On January 18, 1929, the newly christened Columbia Broadcasting System signed on the air.

Sunday, September 18, 1927: The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting Company made its debut at 3 PM EST.

16 stations were on board for Opening Day.
Originating station: WOR Newark
Other Stations:
WEAN Providence
WNAC Boston
WFBL Syracuse
WMAK Buffalo-Lockport
WCAU Philadelphia
WJAS Pittsburgh
WADC Akron
WAIU Columbia
WKRC Cincinnati
WGHP Detroit
WMAQ Chicago
KMOX St. Louis
WCAO Baltimore
KOIL Council Bluffs
WOWO Fort Wayne

Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


A Rare, One Of A Kind Moment On ‘The Match Game’!

A Rare, One Of A Kind Moment On ‘The Match Game’!

At last, we see our friend Dick DeBartolo at his post on the set next to Gene Rayburn in NBC Studio 8H on the original run of the show. Dick was the man who wrote all the questions for the show from the time it started till the end of it’s run on CBS.

Dick is also one of MAD Magazine’s top writers and again, has been there almost from the beginning. With that said, wait till you see the fun explode when a frequent guest of the show, Lauren Bacall, reveals that Mr. Debartolo is her “secret passion”!

The video’s quality is lacking but not the content of this rare scene. Thanks to Dick for posting this. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Lauren Bacall was a frequent guest on Match Game. She was great. On this show she tells Gene Rayburn that I’m her ‘secret passion’.I spent months looking for…


‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Pilot Number 2…1974

‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Pilot Number 2…1974

‘Wheel Of Fortune’ premiered as a daytime series on NBC on January 6, 1975, and continued to air on the network until June 30, 1989, but not before some major reworking of the original pilot we see in today’s first post.

In this second pilot, Ed Byrnes, the actor who played “Kookie” on the ’77 Sunset Strip’ series, served as host for the second pilot which by now was titled ‘Wheel of Fortune’, and was directed by Marty Pasetta, who gave the show a “Vegas” feel that more closely resembled the look and feel that the actual show ended up having.

Now the wheel was mounted horizontally and spun by the contestants themselves, and had a lighted mechanical puzzle board with letters that were now manually turnable. Showcase prizes were located behind the puzzle board, and during shopping segments a list of prizes and their price values scrolled on the right of the screen.

I think there was actually a third pilot that kept the new set but was shot with the host of the first pilot, Chuck Woolery. NBC had liked Chuck and the new set, so the did one more pilot that combined the two, just as a demo and production began in December 1974.

Susan Stafford turned the letters on Byrnes’ pilot episode and continued there when the show went to air on NBC with Woolery as the hose and Charlie O’Donnell as its announcer.

O’Donnell left in 1980, Woolery in 1981, and Stafford in 1982; they were replaced, respectively, by Jack Clark, Pat Sajak, and Vanna White. After Clark’s death in 1988, M. G. Kelly took over briefly as announcer until O’Donnell returned in 1989; O’Donnell remained on the network version until its cancellation, and continued to announce on the syndicated show until his death in 2010, after which he was replaced by Jim Thornton, who has been the announcer since.

Sajak left the network version in January 1989 to host his own late-night talk show, and was replaced on that version by Rolf Benirschke. Bob Goen replaced Benirschke when the network show moved to CBS, then remained as host until the network show was canceled altogether. The syndicated version has been hosted continuously by Sajak and White since its inception. Thanks to James Barr for the video. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee’ve all heard the tales and rumors, now see him in action. Here is the first ten minutes or so of the second of two pilots for a certain well-known syndic…


‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Pilot Number 1…1973

‘Wheel Of Fortune’…Pilot Number 1…1973

Merv Griffin shot three pilot episodes for ‘Wheel Of Fortune’…this is the first and at the time the show was called ‘Shopper’s Bazaar’ and was hosted by Chuck Woolery. In the next post, we’ll see the second pilot hosted by Ed “Kooky” Burns, but here’s how this all came about.

Griffin conceived ‘Wheel of Fortune’ just as the original version of Jeopardy!, another show he had created, was ending its 11-year run on NBC with Art Fleming as its host.

Griffin decided to create a Hangman-style game but it needed a “hook”. He decided to add a roulette-style wheel because he was always drawn to such wheels when he saw them in casinos and had a friend at Caesars Palace build one for them and as you’ll see, the original wheel was mounted vertically.

When Griffin pitched the idea for the show to Lin Bolen, then head of NBC’s daytime programming division, she approved, but wanted the show to have more glamour to attract the female audience; she suggested that Griffin incorporate a shopping element into the gameplay, and so, in 1973, he created a pilot episode titled ‘Shopper’s Bazaar’, with Chuck Woolery as host and Mike Lawrence as the announcer.

As you probably know, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ ranks as the longest-running syndicated game show in the United States, with over 6,000 episodes aired. This is how it started, but there’s more on how it all came together in today’s next post. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Here are the first few minutes of the woefully awful beginnings of Wheel of Fortune. There are prizes, a puzzle board and Chuck Woolery, but otherwise it’s a…


The First Hallmark Sponsorship…’Amahl And The Night Visitors’

The First Hallmark Sponsorship…’Amahl And The Night Visitors’
At 9:30 PM on December 24, 1951, in NBC Studio 8-H, the first opera ever written expressly for television went live on the air. The sponsor for the NBC holiday spectacular was Hallmark Cards. This was their first venture into television and this lead to the development of the now famous ‘Hallmark Hall Of Fame’ series.

At the link above is the kinescope recording of the original 1951 production (the show was presented annually for many years). In the photo below, we see one of the four cameras used on the show in 8H shooting the child lead, Chet Allen. In researching this, I’ve come across an interesting description of that night in 8H and have included Mitchel Hadley’s account below.

Christmas Eve in a TV Studio

The scene was a dramatic one – and, par for the course for early television, far from ideal. For one thing, although 8-H was the largest television studio in America, it wasn’t nearly large enough for the cast, crew, and musicians. The result, among other things, was that singers and orchestra would have no direct contact with each other. The orchestra was located in Studio 8G…the conductor could see the action on the set via the monitors while the singers would hear the music piped in through speakers in the studio.

Up in the control room would be Director Kurt Browning. At his disposal were four cameras – three inside the “hut” where Amahl and his mother lived, and one outside – and three boom microphones, one between each camera. His “control” was far from absolute, however; union rules of the era prevented the director from speaking directly to the cameramen, requiring him to go through the technical director to communicate his instructions. Such an arrangement was a recipe for disaster, especially for a live broadcast. Menotti was no stranger to the challenges of television, though, and he and Browning worked closely on the camera script, ensuring that there would be no spare gesture, no extraneous movement that would throw an actor out of frame.

The cumbersome equipment of the time would also prove to be a challenge, as Browning recalled in a 1994 interview. “As I remember, I had pedestal cameras which weighed four to five hundred pounds and a dolly camera that weighed another seven to eight hundred pounds. Movement was limited, however, for “once you got over a 90mm lens, you couldn’t move the camera because the movement registered on the camera and you would lose focus almost immediately.”

On the set itself the cast, after a month of preparation and anticipation (but only four actual days in the studio), was ready.

When the camera light winked on at 9:30, viewers saw a blurred image of church bells, followed by a title card announcing that the following program was presented by Hallmark. It is often stated that the actress Sarah Churchill hosted that first broadcast, since she subsequently served as host of Hall of Fame for the first couple of years, but in fact it was Nelson Case, host of NBC’s Armstrong Circle Theater, who greeted the audience. (Amahl was, in fact, being presented in Armstrong’s regular Tuesday night time slot.) After a solemn, if overlong, introduction, Case presented Menotti, who stood on a set in front of a fake fireplace decorated with garland, the Bosch painting hanging over the mantle.

Speaking from notes and in Italian-accented English, Menotti said he hoped that parents had allowed their children to stay up late for the broadcast, since the opera had been written for them and “I don’t want you to be like those awful parents who insist on playing with their children’s toys.” He then introduced the people who had helped make Amahl possible, asking them to join him on camera since the audience “won’t see [them] while the opera goes on”: Browning, who “photographed this opera the way I saw it in the windows of my imagination,” Schippers, who “captured the sounds of my childhood,” and set designer Eugene Berman, “who designed the sets that come straight out of my own heart.”

As a series of handwritten slides (taking a moment to come into focus) introduced the cast and crew, the overture began in the background – a tender, moving melody that soon gave way to the sound of a pipe. The camera dissolved to a star high in the sky, and then slowly panned down to a young boy playing the pipe. Amahl and the Night Visitors had begun.

Here it is worth noting that the broadcast features a fascinating attempt at a primitive “special effect.” Menotti wanted the approach of the Kings to suggest a journey of a great distance. The entrance of the Kings began, therefore, with only their voices being heard. While Amahl and his mother lie sleeping, the camera zoomed in on a close up of Rosemary Kuhlmann. Then, using her back as a movie screen, a pre recorded film of the Kings’ entry was projected. Browning then cut to a shot of Kuhlmann from a different angle, while the lyrics “the shepherd dreams inside the fold” were sung – suggesting, subtly, that the Kings might be nothing more than a dream. It was a complex effect, sophisticated for the time, especially for live television. It’s not known how many times this effect was used in subsequent broadcasts of Amahl; by 1955 it had been replaced by a simple cut from the inside of the hut to the outdoor set.

This was done live each year for many years till video tape came along. In 1954 was done in color and in ’63, finally recorded on color video tape. More interesting photos from Amahl soon! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


‘NBC News Overnight’…The Final Minutes & More

‘NBC News Overnight’…The Final Minutes & More In Two Video Clips
Many have called this “the best written, best executed news program ever produced”. I agree…I watched it every night. Before I get too far along, at the link above, Linda Ellerbee talks about ‘Overnight’ in the same style that endeared her to so many. The embedded video is the last few minutes on the air and the full 60+ staff and crew credits with video of all of them! You may see some familiar faces!

‘NBC News Overnight’, a live one-hour news program, aired from 1:30 till 2:30 AM for about seventeen months starting on July 5, 1982. Its debut coincided with a lunar eclipse, and despite science reporter Robert Bizel’s disappearance during the live broadcast (he went for some coffee), it was a success from the first night.

It never talked down to its viewers because, from day one, it never assumed that the lowest common denominator was the way to go. Entirely the opposite, in fact. The writing was crisp, witty, and smart. Overnight closed its doors in the first week of December 1983, after NBC management dropped it because of low ratings.

The first co-anchors, co-writers, and co-editors for Overnight were Linda Ellerbee and Lloyd Dobyns, who had, a few years previously, co-written and co-hosted Weekend, an offbeat weekly magazine for NBC.

After about six months of helping to shape Overnight, Dobyns left to do other work for NBC. Bill Schechner ably took his place as co-anchor and co-writer until ‘Overnight’ went off the air.

‘Overnight’ featured literary quotations, subtitled reports from overseas news programs for a new perspective, the best features (or sometimes just the silliest) from local affiliates, and a whole grab bag of things never before seen on national news programs. As Bill Schechner said on the final program, it proved that there is more than one way to deliver and to receive the news. Overnight must have been puzzling to some, though, because it had an unexpected mix of both seriousness about important issues and irreverence for nonsense.

As with any live broadcast, goofs occurred from time to time on the program. However, the anchors always made the best of it. They would chuckle instead of becoming mortified and simply corrected their mistakes, often injecting a bit of humor. Ellerbee once said this on the program after one such mistake:

“Live TV is a great time saver. It allows you to make a fool of yourself in front of large groups of people instead of one at a time.”

Shortly after Dobyns left, an NBC News executive suggested to Ellerbee that she take Lloyd’s seat now that she was the senior anchor. Ellerbee said she felt no need for that, but agreed to give it a try. Some nights later, she returned to her old spot. During that broadcast, she explained, after showing a tape of her position changes:

“Lately, you may have noticed a bit of musical chairs being played on this program. But in three nights, I have spilled three cups of coffee because the coffee was where it should be, but I was not. So I have moved back. And if the executives don’t like it, they may jolly well come and do the show and spill their own coffee.”

A year and a half after its birth, NBC decided to cancel Overnight in November 1983, due to low late night ratings and corresponding lack of ad revenue. In the following days and weeks, thousands of viewers (ten thousand, to be exact) called and wrote letters or telegrams of protest to NBC management. Some even sent checks and cash to defray the costs of producing the program (all the money was returned).

NBC’s news release on the program’s cancellation said the program remained “the model of a one-hour news program,” but it was being canceled because “being the best is not enough”. And so it goes!

By the way, Linda is a distant cousin of mine through marriage. Even if she wasn’t related, I would still think she’s still one of the best and most unique in the business! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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For all the devoted Overnight fans out there, this is (in parts) the last Overnight broadcast, with Linda Ellerbee and Bill Schechner. In this part, say bye-…


How Rin Tin Tin Got His Name & More…

How Rin Tin Tin Got His Name & More…96th Anniversary & Video

If you are like me, you’ve always wondered where this great dog actor got his odd name. After I tell you about the name, we’ll look at some of the history and a full episode of the TV show, but now…let’s go to Lorraine, France. The year is 1918 and these are the last few months of World War I.

An American soldier named Leland Duncan was stationed in the Meuse Valley and had been ordered to search a bombed-out German encampment. Inside one of the ruined buildings, Duncan found a German Shepherd cowering with her two pups, which were only a few days old. He named the pups Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, after little yarn puppets that the French children played with. They gave these puppets to American soldiers as good luck charms.

In the photos below, we see Corporal Duncan with Rin Tin Tin as a pup on their return to the states and a postcard with Rin Tin Tin and Natalie. The puppets were actually characters from a French children’s book that came out before the war.

Nanette died shortly before Duncan made it home to Los Angeles, but Rinty, as Duncan called him, became a beloved pet.

After the war, Duncan began entering Rin Tin Tin in local dog shows. At one show, an inventor wanted to try out his new slow-motion movie camera, so he filmed the dog scaling a 12 foot wall. It struck Duncan that maybe he had a future movie star on his hands, so he wrote a silent movie script featuring the dog and shopped it around at various studios.

He was turned down by all of them. Then one day he was out walking with Rin Tin Tin when he came upon a film crew trying to shoot a scene with a wolf hybrid. The wolf wasn’t cooperating, so Duncan suggested that he and his dog could do the scene in one take. He was true to his word, and Rin Tin Tin had his first big break. He later signed a deal with Warner Brothers, and the dog had his first starring role in ‘Where the North Begins’ in 1923.

In addition to 26 feature films, Rin Tin Tin starred in a radio program, ‘The Wonder Dog’, in 1930, in which he did his own barking and other sound effects. The original Rinty died in 1932, and his son, Rin Tin Tin Jr., took over the role in his place. The immense profitability of his films helped make Warner Brothers Studios a success and advanced the career of Darryl F. Zanuck. In 1929, Rin Tin Tin may have received the most votes for the first Academy Award for Best Actor, but the Academy determined that a human should win and never released the vote totals.

In 1954, ‘The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin’ came to television. The show ran for five seasons on ABC on Friday evenings from October 1954 to May 1959. ABC reran the series on late afternoons from September 1959 to September 1961 and that’s where I remember watching this. How about you?

At the link is Season 1, Episode 18 of the TV series that aired on February 11, 1955. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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