Posts in Category: Broadcast History

NewsConference: KNBC-TV makes the big move to Universal

KNBC Leaves Only Leno At Burbank, But Only Till Thursday

Last night, KNBC did their last broadcast from what we used to call, the NBC Burbank Studios. Today, they are broadcasting from the NBC Universal complex. The last true NBC network show left there is ‘Tonight With Jay Leno’ and as we all know, that comes to an end this Thursday night. ‘Days Of Our Lives’ which airs on NBC is still being shot in Studios 2 and 4, but the production company leases that space. In Studio 1, Carson’s old home, ‘Access Hollywood’ is shot daily, but if you walked onto the set, you would not see the audience seats as the set is circular and it’s pretty dark in the outer boundaries. RIP Burbank!

NewsConference: KNBC-TV makes the big move to Universal

After decades of being headquartered in Burbank, KNBC-TV moves to the Universal lot to a brand new complex. NBC4’s Conan Nolan shares a little history.

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February 1969…The First RCA TK44s Delivered

February 1969…The First RCA TK44s Delivered

In the first week of February 1969, WBAP took delivery of four RCA TK44As with the serial numbers 001 through 004. These camera were for their new mobile unit and I think near the end of the year, they bought four more for their studios.Three of the cameras had the Varitol 10×1 lens and one has the larger 15×1 lens. Yippie I O Ki A!

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Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun…

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun…

Here’s the Chapman built double header that will be on the sidelines for Fox today at the Super Bowl game. Looks like they caught a break with the weather today. Hopefully the commercials won’t be the only entertaining part of today’s broadcast.

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FINALLY! I’ve Found It & Why I Was Looking For It…

FINALLY! I’ve Found It & Why I Was Looking For It.

It took me forever, but I’ve finally found out the exact dates on Jackie Gleason’s move to Miami. In 1957, Gleason took a break from doing a weekly series but on September 29, 1962 he returned to CBS with ‘Jackie Gleason’s American Scene Magazine’. Like in the old days, the show aired Saturday nights at 7:30 EST. The last show from New York was on May 23, 1964. The first Miami show was on September 26, 1964. One reason I’ve been wanting to know this has to do with The Beatles and Ed Sullivan, who’s live show was less than 24 hours away on the same stage. I have seen a few mentions of a 1:30 Beatles rehearsal at Studio 50 on Saturday, February 8, 1964, but if Gleason’s show was still being done at 50, like his first CBS run, that would be impossible. Gleason’s show was live (episode 16, season 2), and not a rerun. 1:30 would have been smack dab in the middle of the camera rehearsals. I know these Gleason shows were taped, but I think they were live to tape and not a playback of a show done at say 5:30 that day. As I mentioned in the Correction post below, I’ll be taking to long time production secretary of the Sullivan show this afternoon and hope to answer some of these questions. Stay tuned!

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Correcting A Fortunate Error…

Correcting A Fortunate Error…

A few days ago, I identified the blond lady on the left as Ed’s daughter, Betty Sullivan Precht who’s husband was the show’s producer, Bob Precht. In trying to identify the lady on the right, I have made contact with two ladies that were both production secretaries on the show in the sixties…Lois Ringle and Barbara Forster. The blond is Barbara Forster and I will be talking with her this afternoon. Back then, she was Barbara Smith and was Bob Precht’s secretary. The brunette is Emily Cole and was secretary to the associate producer Jack McGeehan.

In an email from Barbara yesterday, here is a little of what she wrote. “I worked on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York from Sept. 1961 to Feb. 1966, moved to Los Angeles, was called back to work as lead Production Secretary on the Expo ’67 show in Montreal, and upon our return to NY was asked to work out the rest of Sullivan’s live season before returning to L.A. My job during the week was as Secretary to Bob Precht, the producer, and in Studio 50 alternate weekends, I was a production secretary as part of a team of three women who alternated job responsibilities to get the show on the air live at 8.” The other two women were Lois Ringle and Emily Cole. Lois helped me fine Barbara and I will be speaking to Lois again soon and hopefully to Emily Cole as well about their day at the heart of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’.

In a way, I feel like the curator of a giant art gallery that has to know the who, what, when and where of each painting, but without even knowing who the painter was. Ninety percent of the photos and videos you see here have no dates, places, names or details with them. That is information that I have to research…all of it, every day. I do make mistakes from time to time, but that’s where I’ve come to count on the many of you that worked with these stars, shows, networks and programs to help fill in the blanks and add to the experience. Your help is always appreciated by me and the many others who learn from your comments. Keep up the good work and thank you! By the way, last week, this page had over 28,000 views.

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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…7 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…7 Days

The more I dig into the details, the more interesting this story becomes. Most of us never knew George Harrison was very sick with the flu and up till the last minute, it was 50/50 on whether he would be able to perform. As I had posted before, Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall (left photo) stood in for Harrison at the short Saturday camera rehearsal (Feb 8, 1:30) and again at the 9:30 AM rehearsal, BUT…there was a “stand in” for “the stand in”! During the Sunday morning rehearsal, manager Brian Epstein rushed Aspinall back to the hotel to deal with a crises. Harrison’s sister, Louise, who’d been taking care of him, couldn’t get past security back into the Plaza Hotel with medicine she had just picked up. It was a mob scene and, the band was in danger of being booted out of the Plaza due the arrival of thousands of teenagers outside. In the center and right photos, we see Sulliavn’s 29 year old Vince Calandra standing in for Aspinall and Harrison. Vince started in the mail room, moved to Q cards and at this point, was an associate producer. He later said in his 14 years with Sullivan, no one had ever asked to go into the control room to see a playback of their rehearsal, but The Beatles did. Years later, Ringo recalled how bad the sound was and how hard they had to work with the audio people to improve the sound they started with. That’s the reason the 2:30 dress rehearsal lasted almost 2 hours and nearly pushed back the 4:30 taping of the February 23 show.



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Very, Very Cool Tribute To NBC Burbank! Then & Now!


Very, Very Cool Tribute To NBC Burbank!

Some wonderful soul has inserted a present day video trip down the same path of Steve Allen’s original 1958 singing stroll through the halls of NBC Burbank. The original clip was part of a Steve Allen special taped at NBC Burbank and is performed to an Allen composition, “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big”. In this clip he is joined by Ann Sothern, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Dinah Shore and a special mystery guest. In one great long shot, they sing and stroll from Studio 1 (Steve Allen Show, & Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show Studio) and end the song over at Studio 4, (Dinah Shore Show, Laugh In, Dean Martin, Midnight Special), today it is home to ‘Day’s of Our Lives’. Many thanks to Bob Z, who ever you are for shooting this and to Richard Wirth for sharing the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbxoF4F0TrY

This is a special version of a YOUTUBE clip uploaded by goldenvmedia of This Could Be the Start of Something Big-Steve Allen Show clip as video taped at NBC …

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This Is The RCA TK44 Prototype Camera

Ever See One Of These In Person?

This is the RCA TK44 prototype camera in action at the 1967 NAB. It used an Isocon tube in the luminescence channel and three lead oxide tubes in the chrominance channels. The TK44A dropped the luminescence channel and replaced the lead oxide tubes with Plumbicons and new optics. It cost $74,800 and in January of 1969, the first four were shipped to WBAP in Dallas/Ft Worth for use in their new mobile unit.

There may have been a mock up of this camera made for static display in another part of the ’67 RCA exhibit, but sadly, neither were saved. Actually, none of the RCA prototype cameras exist. I was told by Lou Bazin, (who was the main development engineer on the TK44A and B, TK45, TKP 45, TK76 and many others), that once a camera went into production, the prototypes were picked over for parts in use on other projects. A TK48 was built, but was trashed along with a lot of trade in cameras and new, unshipped and unfinished cameras at Camden when the sale to GE went through and the broadcast division closed.

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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…8 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…8 Days

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles were not the only British singing stars to make their American television debut. As you’ll see in the screen shot from the same night, Davie Jones was there too, but not as The Monkey’s lead singer. He was playing the roll of the Artful Dodger in ‘Oliver’ which was a huge hit on Broadway. He had also played the part in London before the show came to the US. Posing backstage with The Beatles is his co star, Georgia Brown who played the roll of Nancy. When The Beatles hit the stage, Davie watched from the left side of the stage and later said to reporters, “I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that.” He got it too! I met him a few times and have to tell you, he is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Rest In Peace Davie.


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Introducing The RCA TK30: October 1946, “Broadcast News”

Introducing The RCA TK30: October 1946, “Broadcast News”

This is the entire edition of RCA’s “Broadcast News” magazine that features this brand new camera in a very detailed, multi page story. The cover page photo is in relation to the first ever use of this camera at the Joe Lewis – Billy Conn boxing match held at Yankee Stadium. Even after taking in the TK30 story, it’s fun to browse the rest of this issue for an interesting look back at audio boards, transmitters and more technology that, at the time, was “state of the art”.

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RCA-Broadcast-News/RCA-44.pdf

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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…9 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…9 Days

Today, a sad and unknown side of the relationship between Ed Sullivan and Beatles, but first, to the photos below. On the left, a shot just after the days first rehearsal in Miami with Ed and his two grandsons. In the photo on the right, we see Ed’s daughter (L) Betty Sullivan Precht, Paul McCartney and husband and producer of the show, Bob Precht. I think the lady on the right is Ed’s long time assistant. You would think these would be indelible memories, even to a man that had met every star in the world, but sadly Mr. Sullivan seemed to be in the early stages of Alzheimers when his show left the air in 1971. Paul McCartney said in a 1990s interview that he ran into Ed around 1973, but when he stopped to say hello, sadly Sullivan did not know him, even after Paul told him who he was. Others, including Joan Rivers, Dianna Ross and Moe Howard of The Three Stooges have told similar stories. Life is fragile friends…cherish it!


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Ill Winds Blow For Super Bowl…Now You Can See It?


Ill Winds Blow For Super Bowl? Now You Can See It!

This Sunday, Fox Sports will introduce a new feature in the first ever “cold climate” Super Bowl. It’s a program that will visualize on screen the winds inside MetLife Stadium. To see it in action, check out this video, for the whole story, go to this link.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/autodesk-and-fox-sports-team-up-on-groundbreaking-wind-simulation-technology-for-super-bowl-xlviii-broadcast-2014-01-28?reflink=MW_news_stmp

The cold weather won’t be the only problem Mother Nature presents for the Broncos and Seahawks at MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII on FOX. The FOX Weath…

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Zoomar And The Right Wing Conspiracy

Zoomar And The Right Wing Conspiracy

As mentioned in the post below, Zoomar lenses were in use at CBS Studio 50 in the 1950s and here is an RCA TK11 fitted with one. As for the “right wing conspiracy”, well…take a look behind Ed. In essence, there was no right wing to this stage as it was very shallow and there was no room to store props there. Sullivan’s long time stage manager Eddie Brinkman, came up with a dual purpose solution. The scaffold you see here doubled as a quick access prop storage platform as well as a camera platform. Out of sight is the third story home of one of the six cameras that were in use on this stage which at the time was also home to ‘The Jackie Gleason Show’ and the Gleason produced ‘Stage Show’ that starred Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey.

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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…10 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…10 Days

Up close and personal! Looking at how close the crane is in these shots is an interesting reminder that the Studio 50 stage is only 29 feet deep and 37 feet across with a very shallow stage right. There was a 10 foot crane ramp, but without the use of a zoom lens, you have to get in to get the close ups. As you will see in the next post, the Zoomar lens was used on the Sullivan show as early as the late 50s, but the Marconi Mark IV could not take the standard Zoomar because of the iris control motor in the center of the turret. I have heard that the first Mark IVs arrived at CBS in mid 1963. The only zoom lenses that would fit this, the RCA TK60 and the EMI 203 (all of which had iris motors on the turret) would be a huge Angenieux box lens and the Varitol III which NBC was using on many TK41s.


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A Nice Look At A TK30…


Delco Parts Commercial Form NBC’s ‘Wide, Wide World’

Here’s a nice look at an RCA TK30 on a crane as this announcer uses it as a prop in this live spot for Delco. At the start of this clip is the host of the show, Dave Garroway. ‘Wide, Wide World’ began in June of 1955 as part of the ‘Producers Showcase’ and aired once a month on Sunday afternoon as it rotated with three other Showcase presentations each month. The 90 minute show was so well received, it became a regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon show just five months later and stayed on the air till 1958. This show achieved many television firsts including being the first to broadcast live from Canada and Mexico during one of their Sunday shows. Another time, NBC used 50 live cameras on one episode that took viewers from a street car ride in San Francisco, to a rodeo in Ft. Worth, to a glass bottom boat tour of Silver Springs in Florida…all done live. Thanks to Ira Gallen for sharing this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thb_bbI3eps

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RCA’s First Television Program…July 7, 1936


RCA’s First Television Program…July 7, 1936

This is quite interesting as comes three years before the famous World’s Fair broadcast of April 30, 1939 which is widely accepted as the date of the first electronic television broadcasts. As it turns out, RCA, Philco and Don Lee all gave demonstrations of the new 343 line electronic format in 1936. Only three receiving sets were located in NYC at the time of this demonstration which was mostly a closed circuit affair, but was broadcast by NBC/RCA’s W2XBS in NYC. This broadcast originated from NBC’s first television studio which was 3H and was seen by a group of NBC radio affiliate executives on the 62nd floor of the Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in hopes of interesting them in being television affiliates as well. This is not a Kinescope of the broadcast but is a Pathe newsreel film of the event shot in the studio. The comments accompanying these videos is worth a reed to give you an idea of who is who, and this program starts with David Sarnoff (at the desk). Interesting to note that Ed Winn is one of the performers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iWJ5LObN2o
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHKPSH9dskI

This is a filmed record (not a kinescope) of the first actual “public” television broadcast in the United States. (There were perhaps three receivers capable…

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In The Beginning…ESPN

In The Beginning…ESPN

On the right is ESPN’s first remote truck, pictured here at Compact Video in Burbank around 1979. The unit was called “140” and looks to be equipped with either Hitachi or Thomson cameras. The photo on the left is also from the early days and the camera on the pickup is probably hooked up to “140” at what may be Iowa State. Thanks to David Sturtevant for the photos.


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CBS Studios 53 to 56…Liederkrantz Hall, 111 East 58th Street

CBS Studios 53 to 56…Liederkrantz Hall, 111 East 58th St

This facility was an old German social club building that CBS leased around 1950 for conversion to a production center. It’s four studios were moderate in size but were adequate for the many soap operas that came from this site, including some of the very first of those shows. It’s main distinguishing point was that this was the only CBS location that had enough telecine projection equipment to support a news program, so this became the home of Douglas Edwards and the daily CBS news broadcast. Although it was where the broadcast came from, unfortunately it was not where the news came from. The CBS newsroom was about 8 blocks away at the 485 Madison Avenue headquarters building and this is the subject of many stories of last second arrivals by news scripts, new film and news men, especially on rainy days. This was also the only CBS facility known to have used Dumont cameras. In the photo below, we see a couple of Dumont 124B cameras shooting what looks like election coverage of some sort. Liederkarntz was decommissioned in 1964 when the CBS Broadcast Center went into operation. I don’t know who the man in the photo is, but if you do, let us know. It looks a little like a young Roger Mudd, by maybe not.

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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…12 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…12 Days

Here’s the HUGE SURPRISE I promised yesterday! Who knew that CBS had sent one of their early hand held video cameras to Miami to get shots for the February 16, 1964 ‘Ed Sullivan Show’? I just found this awesome photo a few days ago and it is the first time I have ever seen one of these cameras used on anything other than space shots. I’ve never even seen one of these prototype cameras in use at a sporting event. This photo was taken at the morning sound check which was followed by a dress rehearsal and finally that night’s show. This is one of about 6 cameras Ikegami built in a partnership with CBS Engineering around 1962. Unlike the RCA/NBC portables, I think this has an Image Orthicon tube and not a Vidicon.

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Jerry Lewis, Creator Of Motion Picture Video Assist

Jerry Lewis, Creator Of Motion Picture Video Assist

Although we have been here before, this is a new photo that shows and RCA Vidicon camera mounted just above the optical viewfinder on this Mitchell 35 BNC camera. Lewis started using this process in 1960 while shooting ‘The Bellboy’, but I think this photo is from the 1963 set of ‘The Nutty Professor’. By 1968, a beam splitter was incorporated into this dual camera arrangement that let both cameras see the same view. Director Blake Edwards was the first to use the beam-splitter single-camera system invented by engineer Jim Songer in the 1968 film ‘The Party’.

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The Baughman Pedestal

The Baughman Pedestal

This is my favorite light weight camera support…The Baughman Portable Pedestal made by the E J Baughman Company in El Monte CA. This is the earliest version that had a smaller central column that was only adjustable with a wrench and debuted around 1955. Soon after, the center column became a much thicker chrome plated item with a quick release lever and another version featured a hydraulic pump and handle. This photo shows Jack LaLanne at KTTV in Los Angeles where he moved his show in 1957 from it’s original home at KGO in San Francisco where it started in 1953.

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Television In Simpler Times…

Television In Simpler Times…

Covering the Inglewood Christmas parade November 23, 1962, here’s a KTTV RCA TK30 equipped with a Taylor Hobson Varotal Field Lens. Having been the Los Angeles Dodgers station since their move there in 1958, the station had a lot of remote equipment and a staff experienced in putting cameras together on top of trucks and stadium bleachers. FYI, the light colored top part of the camera is the removable viewfinder that attaches easily to the bottom darker part. On top of the TK30 viewfinder is a leather strap handle for easy carrying and although most don’t know it, RCA made a carry handle top for the TK30 camera body as well that would make getting it to the top of this truck a lot easier.

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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…13 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…13 Days

Welcome to Miami Beach! The Beatles second live Sullivan show came from The Deauville Hotel on February 16, 1964. Having arrived a few days early, the band, among other things paid a visit to Cassius Clay, took a few dips in the ocean, and on Saturday had worked in a practice session for the next day’s show (right). On show day, The Beatles would be in the Deauville ballroom three times. The first visit (left and center) were for a sound check to get the levels right. The second time was for a late afternoon dress rehearsal of the whole show and the final time would be for the show, which almost got delayed because the security detail could not get them through the crowd fast enough as there was no “stage entrance”. There were six cameras (mostly TK30s) in the hall with two coming from WTVJ (center) and the rest coming from CBS including something special that we’ll see tomorrow.



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The Amazing Life Of Eddie Brinkmann…Sullivan Stage Manager

The Amazing Life Of Eddie Brinkmann…Sullivan Stage Manager

http://www.cbsretirees.com/rem-images/Wexler%20Album/Brinkmann.pdf
At the link, you’ll find a great, four page story that covers 20+ years of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ from the guy that was the stage manger for the whole run. This is a one of a kind look behind the scenes of real television history as told by Eddie Brinkmann. Below, Brinkmann and McCartney playing around, letting of a little nervous energy before “the really big show”!

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CBS’s First Hand Held Camera & The Back Story

In Preparation For A HUGE Surprise!

Tomorrow, I will be posting a hugely surprising photo…one that I am sure you have never seen. To prepare you, this post is about the CBS/Ikegami partnership on the development of an ENG camera that began around 1961. A year or so back, Dr. Joe Flaherty, who is still a Senior VP of Engineering at CBS told me the story that he was deeply involved in. In a nutshell, CBS wanted an ENG type camera for their remotes and news departments. Ikegami had made some progress in their efforts so CBS decided to team up with them on a development project. There were plans for a cabled and a wireless version but the best progress came on the cabled version and by 1962, CBS had a prototype in the field and you can see it in action below at the McDonald Douglas plant in St. Louis where the Mercury spacecraft was made. By 1964, this camera had a manual zoom lens and a different viewfinder but the camera body stayed about the same. A couple were built for use at the CBS O&O station KMOX in St, Louis and that would be the first station in the nation to have hand held news gathering cameras, but not a lot was made of it as CBS wanted a low profile on their R&D with Ikegami. The network also had a couple that were used occasionally in NYC but mostly they saw action at Cape Canaveral in the early 60s which was a good place for field testing. The b/w photos show the camera in 1962 and the color photo shows the modified version in November of 1966. I think the CBS cameras used small IO tubes, but I’m not sure. RCA had hand held Vidicon cameras that NBC used as far back as 1952 and updated versions in the 60s, but the hand held cameras didn’t really take off till the RCA color version…The TK76 was introduced in 1976. The problem with the late start for the hand helds was the color conversions in 1965. There were some good B/W hand helds but with color newscasts, the images looked out of place.



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Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…15 Days

Beatles 50th Sullivan Anniversary Count Down…15 Days

Today, A Primer In: How to tell which performance is which.
With the anniversary approaching, you’ll see a lot of photos and clips and with this guide, you can tell which performance is which. The Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan these three consecutive Sunday nights…February 9, 16 and 23 1964. The February 16th show was done live from Miami, but all four of their other performances were done at CBS Studio 50 on February 9, with the first performances of the day taped for air on the 23rd. The Beatles appeared twice in each show and each time, the song set and stage set was different. From left to right, here are the Studio 50 stage sets in order of air dates. The first live performance set featured big arrows and the second live performance set featured hanging stripes. The first appearance of the taped February 23 show was the only use of a flat wall set with a wedge facade, which was widely used on many Sullivan shows and matched his hosting corner backdrop. The final set of the February 23 show featured the free standing art nouveau columns. Now you know!




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The First Home Of CBS…485 Madison Avenue, At 52nd Street

The First Home Of CBS…485 Madison Avenue, At 52nd Street

This photo shows the building still under construction in April 1927. CBS Radio Network went on the air September 18 of that year with 18 stations and operated out of the office for the New York station at Steinway Hall on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Exactly two years later, September 18, 1929 moved into the top six stories of this building. CBS Radio studios 1 through 9 were located here. Around 1936, CBS Television studios 31 and 32 were added here and a year later, television added studios 41 through 44 at Grand Central Station at 15 Vanderbilt Ave on the third floor and that was it for television till around 1944 when about a dozen other locations were opened in theaters around the city. CBS also had radio studios at 49 East 52nd Street. Around ’63, plans were being made to move and corporate headquarters had plans on the drafting table for the “Black Rock” building at 51 West 52nd Street at the corner of Sixth Avenue. On July 25, 1964, the last radio broadcast from 49 East 52nd was “Farewell To Studio 9” with a long list of stars and clips that had come from that famous studio. CBS Radio newsman Steve Rowan was the last to broadcast from the 485 Madison location on July 25 and the first to broadcast from the new CBS Broadcast Center Studios on July 26…both programs were top of the hour newscasts. CBS television studios were also in the process of moving to the Broadcast Center including 31 and 32 at 485 Madison and 41 through 44 at Grand Central. Studios 53 to 56 at Liederkrantz Hall, 111 East 58th Street were also moving to the Broadcast Center. The corporate offices later moved to Black Rock which opened in 1965 at 51 West 52nd Street.

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Very Cool Gag Opening…’Red Shelton Hour’ 1962


Very Cool Gag Opening…’Red Shelton Hour’ 1962

Wait till you see what’s under the black dust cover on the RCA TK41! As you’ll see in this :30 clip, this is actually in CBS Television City Studio 33, but we are lead to believe otherwise. Enjoy! Thanks to William David French for discovering this.

#t=11″ target=”_blank”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5omNweE88o8 #t=11

The opening 30 seconds from a 1962 episode of ‘The Red Skelton Hour’.

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Earliest Pairing Of The RCA TK40 & HF Cradle Head Prototype

Earliest Use And Photo Of The RCA TK40 & HF Cradle Head

In early August of 1953, RCA shipped the first four production models of the TK40 to the Colonial Theater in New York for field testing. They also sent the first and only engineering model of the Houston Fearless cradle head which you can see in this photo…the other cameras were mounted on the old friction heads. Notice this pan head is the narrow version later used for the B/W camera lines. It also has no locking or drag knobs. With the 3 cable connections, the wider head was developed for better support and extra room to thread the three cables through the pan head. On August 30th, NBC presented the first publicly announced experimental broadcast in compatible color TV of a network program which was “St. George and the Dragon” on the ‘Kukla, Fran, and Ollie Show’. This is a photo from the rehearsal of that presentation and is the first known photo of a production model TK40 and cradle head. Around October, three TK40s were installed in NBC Studio 3K. Shipments also went to NBC O&O stations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington as testing continued at the Colonial and in 3K and the January 1, 1954 NBC colorcast of the Rose Parade was the first color remote for the TK40s. The first shipments of TK40s to independent and non NBC O&O stations were made from Camden NJ on March 4, 1954. WKY in Oklahoma City was the first to receive them and three weeks later did their first color broadcast on April 8th. The March 54 shipment of TK40s coincides with the introduction of the Houston Fearless cradle head as you will see below.

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60 Years Ago, Houston Fearless Introduced The Cradle Head

60 Years Ago, Houston Fearless Introduced The Cradle Head

In March of 1954, this ad appeared in all the trade magazines to announce the arrival of this new pan head. The MCH 1 was for monochrome cameras and the CH 1 was for the RCA TK41. Aside from a few of the first TK40s which came with friction heads, the CH 1 was the standard head for the RCA color cameras. During the field testing of the TK40 at the Colonial Theater, the one and only engineering model of the head was in use and was so efficient under the 350 pound cameras, RCA placed a rush order with HF so they would be available for the TK40 cameras they were shipping to their O&O stations, prior to the general release in March of ’54. The cradle head patent information I posted last week was filed later in March of ’54 after they had already been introduced. See the story above to see the engineering model in use at the Colonial.

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