On Closer Examination…Something We All Missed Is Here!
Last month, some collector friends and I were trying to put a date on the introduction of the Houston Fearless TD 3 pedestal. We all thought 1954 was probably the year the new lead counterweight pedestal debuted, but low and behold…look at this!
Just this morning, I was looking for photos of the RCA Electra Zoom lens for the next article I’m posting today, but look what I found. At least one TD 3 is in use here on the debut of ‘Today’ on January 14, 1952!
I think this is the prototype in a field test and where better to put it through it’s paces than this new morning show. Notice a silver band just under the lock ring…that’s where the access doors join to the column cover. That was never there on the production models.
We can see the TD 3 in two of these photos and in the third one, we see what the other cameras were mounted on…the old TD 1 crank up model. While you click through these, take a close look at the zoom lens and I’ll have more on that next, and look at that teleprompter. I think that may have been an RCA prototype too. I’ve never seen that anywhere else but here on ‘Today’, have you?
Eyes Of A Generation Camera Collection…Part 1 Of 3
A few have recently asked to see my camera collection again, so here are 13 of the 16 cameras I have up and on display here at my home. This is the Camera Room with 3 more spilling into the Florida Room which are not seen here. The 3 you don’t see are in Part 3 and include my RCA TK30 on it’s HF Panoram Dolly. a working Sony BVP 360 camera and chain and a Sony BVP 900. More details on the photos. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Oh yeah, to see the detailed history on most of these, go here.
A few have recently asked to see my camera collection again, so here are 13 of the 16 cameras I have up and on display here at my home. This is the main camera room with 3 more spilling into the Florida room which are not seen here. The 3 you don’t see are include my RCA TK30 on it’s HF Panoram Dolly. a working Sony BVP 360 camera and chain and a Sony BVP 900. More details on the photos. Enjoy!
Oh yeah, to see the detailed history on most of these, go here.
If you want a story told right, let ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ tell it. From a few years back, here is their look back at one of television’s most watched and awarded programs ever. Did you know that over 25% of all of the Academy Award winners have appeared on Hallmark?
Here’s a fantastic 2 minute time lapse look at ‘Saturday Night Live’. This was shot a on April 5 of this year and features Pharrell Williams singing “Happy” and Anna Kendrick as the host. Remember that?
I was there a month later on May 3rd. My seat was on the floor, front row left as you look at this. I can’t even begin to tell you what a joy it was to watch these pros at work! Honest to God, it’s a ballet!
5 pedestal cameras, the Chapman Electra crane and two sound booms all have to move in unison from one end of 8H to the other as the sketches move from stage to stage. All the while, there are 30 or so stagehands striking and setting up scenery all around you. Plus, there are cast members, PAs, Q card and utility men and floor directors in constant motion!
To the crew, the cast and everyone associated with ‘SNL’ I only have 4 words…YOU ROCK! THANK YOU! – Bobby Ellerbee
At the clip above, we start with photographer Milton Green walking through the living room we see in the photos. While he’s walking toward the kitchen where Marilyn is waiting, he is talking live with Edward R. Murrow via the new Shur “Vagabond” wireless microphone.
The Vagabond was the first broadcast quality wireless mic and you can see Marilyn holding the unit in her hand before the CBS technician helps her put hide it under her clothes. What a great gig!
In the second photo, we see a truly rare sight. As she poses with the ‘Person To Person’ crew, there are two new RCA TK11/31s behind them. The rarity is the striped banding around the top. Usually, this was only done with the TK10 and TK30.
In case you don’t know, the banding is actually a very clever grayscale camera chart. Early on, the settings on the black and white cameras tended to drift and some “on the fly” adjustments were needed, but that required a test pattern or grayscale chart. As a quick fix, the CBS NY engineering department came up with these grey and white alternating bands and put them on all their cameras so that all you had to do for a quick alignment was shoot the camera next to you.
This worked well on the TK10s and TK30s because they didn’t have handles like the TK11/31. With the handles in the way, the shot was blocked and effectiveness of this arrangement was diminished. When the new TK11s arrived, they put the banding on but after a few months, stopped adding it, so only a few of the new TK11s were banded and actually, with the new updates onboard, drifting was not as much of a problem as it had been with the older TK10s and 30s.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Audrey Meadows…Her Television Debut With ‘Bob & Ray’
After appearing on the Broadway stage with Phil Silvers in ‘Top Banana’, Audrey and her friend Cloris Leachman each got a casting on NBC’s ‘Bob And Ray’ television show in 1951. At the link above, you’ll see her as Linda Lovely…a recurring role she played on the popular weekly show.
On September 20, 1952, ‘The Jackie Gleason Show’ debuted from CBS Studio 50, or what is now known as The Ed Sullivan Theater. Although Gleason had been doing Honeymooners sketches since late ’51 on Dumont’s ‘Cavalcade Of Stars’ show, Pert Kelton, who had played the part of Alice Kramden, was not a part of the show when it moved to CBS.
Kelton’s husband had been labeled a communist and, by association, she too had wound up on the dreaded “Black List”. A new Alice had to be found, and Meadows went for an audition. Gleason had seen her as Linda Lovely and thought she was good, but too glamorous. Meadows heard about this and a few days later auditioned again under another name but this time, with no makeup and a dressed down look. The rest, as they say, is history.
In this photo below, the production crew at Studio 50 runs over some basics with Meadows a few days before the CBS debut. Among those basics…which lens to look at. The taking lens on the RCA TK30 was the top center. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
In 1976, CBS decided to revive this perennial favorite as a summer replacement in their primetime lineup, and if it did well, they would consider it for a longer run. Unfortunately, it was up against ABC’s wildly popular ‘Happy Days’, and only four episodes aired from June 15 till July 6, 1976. Not even a dead cat bounce in the ratings.
At the link is one of two pilot episodes shot 9 months before the June debut. Both pilots aired and only two other newer episodes were taped in Studio 43 at the CBS Broadcast Center in NY, which we see in this rare photo.
The host was Bill Cullen, who was a long time panelist on the show, and on the new panel was another veteran, Henry Morgan. Richard Dawson, Elaine Joyce and Pat Collins rounded out the rest of the panel. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Long before the were intercoms and walkie talkies, there were DBMs…Damn Big Megaphones.
The year is 1922 and the man in the center is Douglas Fairbanks. He is the star of the film being shot here, which is ‘Robin Hood’. The man about to speak into the DBM is Allan Dwan and this is the only way directors could give last minute instructions to casts and crews on this kind of huge outside set. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Tina gives an awesome tour of all the sets of ’30 Rock’ at the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City. This clip will start as she enters Studio 1, which is dressed to give us the feel of NBC’s 8H.
Until now, I had always wondered what the prop cameras on the set were, but as you’ll see, they are Hitachi SK F750s. If you want to see the offices, go back to the start. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
On May 5, 2012, Eli Manning was the guest host of the show. Here’s a couple minutes of his first day on the set recording promos. This is mostly shot from the balcony seats and gives us a good look at the studio and the process. At the link below are over a dozen still photos from that week that show us the writers room, the green room and more. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Here’s a short but sweet look at how CBS covered NCAA basketball back in 1985. This was the era of the Thomson cameras on the sports trucks and we’ll get a good look at everything. About half way in, one of the cameramen talks about his dad being a cameraman on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’…anyone know who that is? Enjoy and share!
What you are about to see is the seed that grew into a forest. This single clip has been cited by Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Rowan & Martin and Monty Python as the root of the comedic arts taking on the very medium by which it is being relayed.
Here, the “fourth wall” is not only broken, but gleefully demolished by a comedy team that few in our generation have ever heard of… Olsen And Johnson.
It’s near impossible to describe what happens here, so you’ll have to watch it, and you be glad you did because this is the first time in the history of moving images that this has been done…and it’s done quite well given the technology of the time. Among other firsts you’ll see here, this could also be the first “move within a movie” overlay of characters “off screen” talking to characters “on screen”.
This is from the film ‘Hellzapoppin’ from 1941, which was based on the long running Broadway play of the same name that starred Olson and Johnson. They wrote the play and are legendary for their volume and range of material. They were famous from the 1920s through the early 50s, but having played more on vaudeville and broadway stages, their legacy is not a lasting as their contemporaries, like Laurel And Hardy or The Marx Brothers who were mostly film stars.
The setup for the brilliant technical manipulations of the film begins with The Three Stooges own Shemp Howard playing the part of a projectionist having a fight. The premise is that this is happening in the very theater that each audience is seeing this movie. This has the effect of taking the audience out of spectator mode and making them participants in the experience.
The consequences of the disturbance in the projection room are played out on the big screen in a way no one had ever seen before and a lot of gags from the film spilled over into the Warner Brothers cartoons of the era. I have yet to see the entire film, but after seeing this, I can’t wait! Enjoy and SHARE! – Bobby Ellerbee
Don Pardo On NBC’s Studio 8H…Remembering It’s Grandeur
At the link is a very unique perspective on how Studio 8H has changed since the days of radio by none other than NBC best eye witness, Don Pardo.
Below, I have included a diagram of how the 8th floor was laid out in the original 1933 floorplans. When it was built, it was more commonly referred to as “the Auditorium Studio”.
8H was not converted to television until January 30, 1950 but inhouse remotes were done from here as early as November of 1943 with Iconoscope field cameras. Those were ‘The Voice Of Firestone’ radio-TV simulcasts, as is the event in the two photos that are from a 1949 simulcast. Studio 8G was converted in ’48 and the four camera inhouse mobile unit here was switched in the 8G control room.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Videotape Ground Zero…A First Hand Account From Fred Pfost
This is a fantastic, first hand account from Ampex videotape team member Fred Pfost of the entire process of creating the VR-1000… the world’s first commercially viable videotape machine.
This is a rare front row seat to one of television’s biggest ever moments and beautifully told by someone who was there. There are details here you will never see anywhere else, so save this historic treasure and share it with you friends! – Bobby Ellerbee
When I first started working at Ampex on February 4, 1952 (4 days after my last final at The University of California in Berkeley, California where I earned my bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering) I spent about a week being introduced around the company to various people and departm…
In the photo, you see the Ampex Videotape Team…the men who created the VR-1000 and revolutionized broadcasting. Pictured with this six man team is the unit Ampex took to Chicago for the legendary demonstration at the 1956 NAB Convention, to the amazement of all who attended.
In today’s next post, you will be able to read the fantastic first hand account of how all this happened by team member Fred Pfost. To give you an idea of what’s coming, here is Fred’s description of the events of the week of the demonstration in which Ampex took almost 100 orders for the $50,000 VR-1000.
“On April 16, 1956 (a Monday) we demonstrated the Mark lV recorder at an NARTB convention (National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters), today renamed the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago.”
“On the Saturday before the convention started (April 14) we demonstrated the recorder for about 300 CBS affiliates meeting at the Conrad Hilton Hotel. I recorded (from behind a curtain) the opening speech of Bill Lodge, V.P. of CBS, who described all the activities that CBS had been involved in during the past year and that he had a big surprise to announce. After I rewound the tape and pushed the play button for this group of executives they saw the instantaneous replay of the speech.”
“There were about ten seconds of total silence until they suddenly realized just what they were seeing on the twenty video monitors located around the room. Pandemonium broke out with wild clapping and cheering for five full minutes. This was the first time in history that a large group (outside of Ampex) had ever seen a high quality, instantaneous replay of any event. My wife, JoAnn, who had accompanied us to Chicago (as a reward from Ampex for her patience during my long overtime hours pursuing this development) and I consider this demonstration one of the most exciting experiences of our lives. The experience still brings tears to my eyes when I recall this event.”
This is very good and features bits I have never seen before. There’s even a clip of Pardo dropping in on Letterman announcer Bill Windel, and much more. This appears to be from an NBC party in celebration of Don’s 60 years with the company which would have been in 2004. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
http://youtu.be/gPL-cSEpdZA?t=1sI helped with the clips for this video tribute to DON PARDO for a private NBC party in his honor. This never aired. Thought I’d post it on the sad day of Par…
What Makes These Two Video Clips So Unusual? Read On!
Part of the answer is Gene Roddenberry, who was born 93 years ago today.
The other part of the answer is ‘The Lieutenant’ which was the first show Roddenberry wrote and produced. That’s where he first met “Spock and Uhura”…Leonard Nimoy and Nichole Nichols. At the embedded link, you see Nimoy in Episode 22, and at this link, you’ll see Nichole Nichols in her first ever television appearance in Episode 1. http://youtu.be/3E5jtSF12U4?t=1m5s
By the way, the lady in the Nemoy clip is Roddenberry’s soon to be wife…Majel Barrett who he married in ’66 after a divorce from his first wife.
‘The Lieutenant’ ran on NBC in the fall of 1963 but only lasted one season. Roddenberry had always loved science fiction, so in 1964 he developed the idea of a new series about space exploration — “a Wagon Train to the stars,” as he described it — and shopped it around to several studios, most of which were uninterested.
Desilu Productions finally expressed an interest, and NBC agreed to run it after two pilots were done. ‘Star Trek’ debuted September 8, 1966. His new wife, Majel Barrett, provided the voice for the Enterprise’s computer. Ratings were never great, and it only aired for three seasons, but it was a huge success in syndication, and has since spawned an animated series, four spin-off live-action TV series, 11 feature films and a worldwide army of “trekkies”. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
August 19, 1906…The Father Of Electronic Television Was Born
108 years ago today, Philo Taylor Farnsworth was born in Beaver, Utah and by age 14, he had worked out the principles for the Image Dissector tube which occurred to him while plowing back and forth on the family farm.
The video at this link was done by his great granddaughter, Jessica Farnsworth and is full of rare color film of some of Philo’s first demonstrations in San Francisco and Philadelphia and is well worth the ten minutes it takes to watch.
The photo below was taken after Farnsworth’s only appearance on the technology he created. In June of 1957, he was a guest on ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ and this clip is loaded to start at the beginning of his segment. http://youtu.be/3cspYZyGp1A?t=13m21s
The lady is his wife and assistant, Pem Farnsworth. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Instead of me posting a lot of clips and history, I would like to invite you to contribute your stories, photos and videos here in the comments section. Let’s make this a celebration of a life well lived!
I’ll start with a brief note on one this photo, one of Don’s first NBC publicity pictures. It was taken in 1944, the year Pardo joined NBC as radio staff announcer. WEAF was not only NBC’s flagship radio station, but the first in New York City, signing on March 2, 1922. In 1946, the call letters were changed to WNBC, then to WRCA in 1954, and back to WNBC in 1960. Thanks to John Schipp for the photo. – Bobby Ellerbee
ULTRA RARE! ‘The Match Game’…Unaired Pilot Episode
This was taped in NBC’s 8H on December 5, 1962 with Peggy Cass and Peter Lind Hayes as guest panellist. Gene Rayburn is the host and Johnny Olson the announcer, but as you will see, the game has changed a lot and so have the questions.
In the closing credits, many of the names of those positions that require a credit are blank, but our friend Dick DeBartolo’s name is there. Dick was the man that wrote the questions and when NBC threatened to cancel the show with six weeks left to go on that first season, Dick saved the day.
It was his idea to change the mundane line of questions from things like “name a kind of muffin” to questions that opened up a more risque train of thought, like “Mary has a nice set of ____”. I filled in the blank with “china”…what was your answer? LOL!
‘The Match Game’ debuted on December 31, 1962 with Arlene Francis and Skitch Henderson as celebrity panelists. The final NBC episode was September 26, 1969. Thanks to Paul Duca for finding this. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
You Never Know What You’ll Find, But There Is TREASURE Here!
At the 2:16 mark, there is a huge surprise! What you will see are a couple of the first non RCA portable cameras in use!
The nearest camera is a CBS/Ikegami prototype camera. CBS contracted with Ikegami to make about 10 of these. Half were sent to CBS owned KMOX in St Louis for field testing in their news department, and the other half went to New York.
The ABC camera is one of several they built in Los Angeles for use on ‘Wide World Of Sports’ and other remote and sports shows. It was made from RCA TK30s.
I can’t make out the camera furthest away, but if ABC and CBS were there (at what is probably a NASA event at Cape Kennedy), you can bet NBC was too. NBC’s portables at this time were triangular shaped, but that is a long camera so I don’t know what that is. Maybe an RCA prototype.
Given that we see RCA TK42s at WCAU in Philadelphia and a Norelco, this has to be sometime after 1965 and most likely 1967. Thanks to our friend in Australia, Troy Walters for sharing this bit of nostalgia with us! Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
A Real Artifact…’I Love Lucy’ Daytime Debut Date Revealed In Promo Script
This is the CBS announce booth copy from Monday, December 29, 1958. Finally, we have the date that CBS added Lucy reruns to their morning roster…January 5, 1959. Until now, all we had was a year, but not a date.
‘The Lucy – Desi Comedy Hour’ debuted in November of 1957 and I don’t think ‘I Love Lucy’ reruns had been on the air since late 1957. The last new show of the original series was broadcast May 6 of ’57 and was followed by reruns until the new CBS fall schedule debuted.
The ‘December Bride’ promo reminds us that it too was a Desilu production. Thanks to our friend Gady Reinhold for sharing this with us. You never know where you’ll come across lost pieces of television’s history. Enjoy and share. – Bobby Ellerbee
Remember ‘Beacon Hill’? I didn’t think so…it was a huge waste of time and money for CBS. This was basically “borrowed” version of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ about a wealthy 1920s Boston family and their Irish servants. The show lasted less than a season, but did leave behind some interesting photos that were taken by our friend Gady Reinhold.
Studio 41 is the largest of the Broadcast Center studios at over 8,100 square feet. In these shots we see four or five Norelco PC60, dual cabled cameras, at work with one on a Chapman Elektra crane. A couple of the PC60s have the plastic viewfinder hoods that were made in the BC prop shop.
I never knew that Robert Stigwood and RSO was involved in television but they are listed as the producers. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Ultra Rare! The Photo And The Video…’Hallmark Hall Of Fame’
On October 18, 1964, Hallmark’s production of the popular Broadway musical “The Fantasticks” came to television. At the link above, the video is cued to start at the head of this scene in the photo that shows John Davidson speaking to his father, who is played by Bert Lahr.
This was done live to tape at NBC Brooklyn. Although videotape could be edited then, it was still done manually by splicing so the prefered method was still to go live in the east and tape for the west, just like in the kinescope days.
‘The Hallmark Hall of Fame’ debuted on Christmas Eve 1951, with the world premiere of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” on NBC TV. Until 1955, the production schedule was near frantic with an average of 40 new presentations a year. In 1954, the show began color broadcasts and in 1956, it went to a bi monthly format with six or seven shows a year.
The Hallmark anthology series was one of the highest rated and most awarded in television history. For nearly three decades the series was broadcast by NBC, but the network cancelled it in late 1978 due to declining ratings. Since then, the series has been televised by CBS from 1979 to 1989, then on ABC from 1989 to 1995, then CBS again from 1995 until 2011, when that network cancelled the series due to low ratings. As of 2014, the series has earned 80 Emmys, 9 Golden Globes, 11 Peabody Awards and many others.
Thanks to Paul Duca for finding the video. Enjoy and share!
– Bobby Ellerbee
This Could Be The Start Of Something Big…And It Was!
In this rare photo, we see the start of Paul Newman’s “other carrier” as a producer and director. This was taken on the set of ‘Hud’ in which Newman starred with Patricia Neal and shows him with a Mitchell NC, 35mm camera. He is literally surrounded by 1963 Oscar winners…Patricia Neal (Best Supporting Actress), and James Wong Howe (Best Cinematography), behind him. ‘Hud’ won three out of seven Academy Award nominations that year.
After working together on other projects, director Martin Ritt and Paul Newman co-founded Salem Productions. The newly created company made a deal for three movies with Paramount Studios and ‘Hud’ was the first. The production was shot over four weeks in and around the Texas Panhandle town and of Claude, Texas. Filming began on May 21, 1962, and the rest of the scenes were finished by the second week of June. The interior scenes were filmed at the Paramount sound stages in Hollywood, California, starting in the first week of July. The film was completed on August 1, 1962.
Here’s clip of the original Starship Enterprise model behind glass at it’s permanent home in Washington.The original filming model from the ‘Star Trek’ television series has resided at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. since it was donated it in 1974.
At the link is our first ever look at The Starship Enterprise in the first of two pilots for the show. Notice that Captain Christopher Pike is played by Jeff Hunter. This first pilot titled “The Cage” was filmed at Desilu Productions’ studio (now known as Culver Studios), from November 27 to mid-December 1964. Post-production work (pick-up shots, editing, scoring, special photographic and sound effects) continued to January 18, 1965.
NBC considered the fist pilot “too cerebral”, but liked the space angle and ordered another pilot. “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the second pilot episode. Reportedly, Lucille Ball, who owned Desilu Studios, persuaded NBC management to consider a second pilot, thereby exercising a special option agreement it had with Desilu, because she liked Gene Roddenberry and believed in the project.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before” was written by Samuel A. Peeples, directed by James Goldstone, and filmed in July 1965. It was the first episode of ‘Star Trek’ to feature William Shatner as Captain James Kirk, James Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and George Takei as Lt. Sulu. The episode title was adopted as the final phrase in the opening voice-over which characterizes the series. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
On March 26, at 6.15pm, taping for the ‘Frank Sinatra Timex Special…Welcome Home Elvis’ took place at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. It was Presley’s first appearance on television in over three years, and his first serious performance since 1957, making Presley nervous about how he would be received.
Colonel Parker, perhaps due to nerves of his own, had arranged for as many Presley fans as possible to fill the audience, although at least half of it was still made up of middle-aged Sinatra fans. For the occasion, to fit in with Sinatra’s “rat pack” persona, Presley wore a tuxedo.
On July 15, 1959 it was announced that Presley, upon his release from the Army, would be making his first television appearance on Frank Sinatra’s fourth and final Timex-sponsored variety show. For the special, Presley would receive $125,000, an unheard of sum at the time for a single television appearance. Sinatra was not happy about the amount, knowing full well that even he was not being paid that much for the show, but he played along knowing that Presley’s appearance would attract huge ratings for his show… something that his three previous specials had failed to do.
The show aired nationally on ABC-TV on the evening of May 12, 1960 between 9.30 and 10.30pm and drew approximately 68% of the overall television audience. To put that into perspective, the second rated show in that timeslot, NBC’s ‘Ernie Ford Show’, featuring Johnny Cash and Groucho Marx, pulled in an audience share of just 21%. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee
Ikegami’s First Full Size Color Studio Cameras…The TK301
This Australian studio tour gives us a very rare look at the first Ikegami color studio camera. These are the TK301 A models which came a year or so after the 301s were first deployed by Japan’s NHK Network to cover the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
Although this station has some of the first ENG cameras in Australia, which you’ll see near the end, these Ikegami 301 A studio cameras were not new when this was shot in and probably came out in early 1974.
By February of 1975, Ikegami’s TK355 was on the market (see add in Comment section below) with a new one inch Plumbicon tube. The 301s and 355s were the only two “TK” models Ikegami ever had and the designations changed to the “HK” for studio cameras and “HL” for ENG cameras around 1976. HK was for Handy Kamera and HL for Handy Lookie.
There is more interesting gear that a lot of you worked with here so enjoy this and share! – Bobby Ellerbee