Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Zoomar 1

Zoomar 1

In early 1947 the Zoomar lenses became available with the Field Zoomar being the first of the three sizes to be offered. It was a 27 element lens designed for outside broadcasts, but the crew at Chicago’s WBKB had a different idea and began using it on a new puppet show which we now know as ‘Kukla, Fran and Ollie’.

Burr Tillstrom was the creator and only puppeteer on the show, which premiered as the hour-long ‘Junior Jamboree’, seen locally on WBKB in Chicago, Illinois, on October 13, 1947. The program was renamed ‘Kukla, Fran and Ollie’ (KFO) and transferred to WNBQ (the predecessor of Chicago’s WMAQ-TV) on November 29, 1948. The first NBC network broadcast of the show took place on January 12, 1949. It aired from 6–6:30 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday from Chicago. The use of the Zoomar Filed lens continued from start to finish through the shows migration from WBKB to NBC and the 1954 move to ABC where it ended in 1957.

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Zoomar 2

Zoomar 2

After seeing the results of the use of the Field Zoomar on NBC’s Kukla, Fran and Ollie, CBS began to use the outdoor lens on some inside productions as well.

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Zoomar 3

Zoomar 3

This image from the June 1949 issue of American Cinematographer, shows Zoomar lens creator Dr. Frank Back (pointing) with Kukla, Ollie and puppeteer Burr Tilstrom. Zoomar lenses first appeared in 1947. This is the Zoomar Field Lens.

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NBC Sports, Behind the Scenes at Players Tournament

Re Posting: NBC Sports Video

This was posted Wednesday, but the next day the link went dark so here is a new link. Thanks to John Boeddeker, veteran NBC cameraman, here’s a great look behind the scenes of the 2013 Players Championship. This 7 minute clip includes five of the key cameramen on this 60 camera shoot, including John. Enjoy!

Golf Channel and NBC Sports Offer Unparalleled Players Coverage | Golf Channel

See behind the scenes as Golf Channel and NBC Sports used the latest technologies to bring you the most advanced coverage of any golf tournament to date.

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A Genuine Rarity!

A Genuine Rarity!

This is the only photo I have ever seen that shows part of the regular ‘Huntley-Brinkley Report’ individual studio sets. All the other “set” photos I’ve seen of them show them together on sets at special events like space shots or political conventions. This is David Brinkley at his WRC-TV Washington desk. Both the floor manager and Brinkley have monitor and clock carts to see the New York feed with Chet Huntley shown in the monitor.

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Goodbye Stefon!

Goodbye Stefon!

At the end of the season, Bill Hader is leaving SNL after eight years on the show. I love his Stefon character and Hader’s great voice and range. We’ll miss him.

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The All Important “Wings”: Studios 33 and 31, TVC

The All Important “Wings”: Studios 33 and 31, TVC

The side stage wings of CBS Television City’s Studio 33 and 31 were great ideas that helped greatly in production. The designers wanted to create a theatrical feeling, but needed to accommodate cameras, so the wings were built into their design. Many times, when live set changes were occurring, the action would move to the wings for simple transition scenes. This was a dream job too!

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CBS Television City: Original Configuration Of Studio 33

CBS Television City: Original Configuration Of Studio 33

When Television City was first built, the center camera ramps went all the way to the control room in both 33 and 31. The ramp actually has a T shape to it, as there is room for cameras on each side of the ramp at the control room. Over the years, this has disappeared and reappeared several times in various forms. Today, the ramp is gone and curtains cover the whole back wall.

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Did You Know? Lorne Green & Michael Landon…

Did You Know? Lorne Green & Michael Landon

Lorne Green: He is the original inventor of the count-down clock and his patent was the source of some of his personal wealth. He founded Toronto’s Academy of Radio Arts and was commemorated on a stamp in Canada. He was invited to play Ben Cartwright after a well-received performance as Big Brother in a CBS production of ‘1984’ on ‘Studio One in Hollywood’.

Michael Landon: He and Johnny Carson were best friends. In 1954, he was the top high school javelin thrower and set records as USC, Los Angeles. He lost the starring role of Dobie Gillis to Dwayne Hickman in a close decision, but beat Robert Blake and Robert Fuller in the competition for the role of Little Joe.

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NBC’s ‘All Star Review’: 1950-1953

NBC’s ‘All Star Review’: 1950-1953

This show began as ‘The Four Star Review’ and later became ‘The Martha Raye Show’. When it started, this weekly variety show was hosted on a rotating basis by Jimmy Durante, Ed Wynn, Jack Carter and newcomer Danny Thomas, thus the “four star” name. In 1951, other hosts were added including Tallulah Bankhead, George Jessel, Jackie Gleason and Martha Raye and was renamed “all star”. The one hour show cost a whopping $60,000 per episode and originated in the Center Theater in NYC which seated 3,500 people. In late ’52, the west coast was connected to east coast and production rotated weekly between NYC and Los Angeles. In the last couple of years of the show, Raye, with the help of Nat Hiken and later Norman Lear became a bigger part of the show and it morphed into ‘The Martha Raye Show’ and ran from ’54-’56. Below is a shot from the New York rehearsal with Raye as host.

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‘Hallmark Hall Of Fame’ NBC Brooklyn

‘Hallmark Hall Of Fame’ NBC Brooklyn

This is from ‘The Hallmark Hall of Fame’ presentation of ‘Eagle In A Cage’. The actors pictured are Trevor Howard and Pamela Franklin. The photo was taken in the Brooklyn studios in 1965. The series started in December of 1951 and was done at NBC Hollywood as Burbank did not open till September of ’52, but moved there as soon as the paint dried. The show went color in 1954 and was done live till 1960 when it went to video tape. The first four seasons, the show aired weekly but beginning with the ’55-’56 season, the series went to a schedule of 5 to 7 specials a year, usually airing around holidays. I suspect production moved to Brooklyn in 1960 and stayed there till ’66 when it moved back to Burbank. Any one have and information on this?

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The Shure ‘Vagabond’ #1

The Shure ‘Vagabond’ #1

This is from the 1953 Shure Brothers catalog and show the first wireless mic. In ’53, the Vagabond 88 cost $700…in today’s dollars, that’s over $6000.

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The Shure ‘Vagabond’ #2

The Shure ‘Vagabond’ #2

Below, Marilyn Monroe is introduced to the first wireless mic at CBS in 1954. She is actually holding two body transmitters with the one on the right connected to a black mic (pinned to her sweater) that is also a ‘hands free’ version. As you see in the next post, it can be used with a ‘hidden’ mic or a hand held, cable fee mic. My guess is that she is being shown both and given a choice on which one she would like to use.

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Confused? I was too…

Confused? I was too…

Having been a staple of ABC for so long, I was a bit confused when I first saw this photo but the fact is, Welk did record the syndicated show for two seasons from Television City.

The Lawrence Welk Show started in 1951 as a local program on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. The original show was broadcast from the since-demolished Aragon Ballroom at Venice Beach. The show made its national TV debut on July 2, 1955, and was initially produced at the Hollywood Palladium, moving to the ABC studios at Prospect and Talmadge in Hollywood shortly afterwards. For 23 of its 27 years on the air, the show would originate there. The only seasons not produced there were 1965–66, 1976–77 at the Hollywood Palace and CBS Television City from 1977 to 1979.

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Clarabell #3, Lew Anderson

Clarabell #3, Lew Anderson

This is the man most of us remember as Clarabell. Lew took over the roll in 1954 and was the one that delivered the famous “Good bye kids” line on the last show in 1960. Although Howdy Doody had been on since 1947, most of us never saw the show till 1956 when NBC aired it nationwide on Saturday mornings from 10-10:30 eastern. Bob Smith called Lew the best Clarabell. Anderson was a noted jazz musician and his big band (he was the leader) played often at the legendary Birdland nightclub in Manhattan.

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Clarabell #2, Robert ‘Nick’ Nicholson

Clarabell #2, Robert ‘Nick’ Nicholson

Below is Buffalo Bob Smith with Nick Nicholson in the 1980s. Nick had been with the show since early on because he was the voice of Cornelius J. Cobb. When Keeshan left in 1952, Nick stepped in as Clarabell for two years. Interestingly, he and his successor were also jazz musicians.

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Clarabell #1, Bob Keeshan

Clarabell #1, Bob Keeshan

As we all know, Keeshan later became Captain Kangaroo, but few knew that he was a decorated marine in WWII. Keeshan met Bob Smith at NBC radio where he was a page and came with Smith as a page/assistant to the Howdy Doody Show and wore his NBC page blazer as a silent assistant one the show handing out prizes and helping. Since the original show had Buffalo Bob dressed as a ringmaster in a circus themed set, it was a natural step to include Keeshan as a ‘silent partner’ and dress him in clown makeup. Bob Keeshan was with the show from it’s start in 1947 till 1952 when he left over a salary dispute.

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ABC…Saved By The Bell & Whistle


ABC…Saved By The Bell & Whistle

ABC was in big trouble till sports programming saved it. In this Silver Anniversary clip, Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell pay tribute to ‘Wide World Of Sports’ and some of the eras top athletes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk0yAkHe9N4

Keith Jackson remembers some of the moments ABC brought to America through their Wide World of Sports program. Later, Howard Cosell remembers some of the ath…

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1 Hour Special…Inside Jay Ward Productions


1 Hour Special…Inside Jay Ward Productions

It’s Saturday, a perfect time to watch this! Narrated by William Conrad, and featuring all the principals, here is how this cartoon classic and others came together. First minute is missing. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z83q1NYWIyQ

Behind the scenes of the greatest animated cartoon series ever created. Though reflecting the innocence of the country during the early sixties, Rocky & Bull…

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WPIX Debut Day, June 15, 1948

WPIX, New York City

June 15, 1948 was the sign on day for WPIX. Welcoming viewers for the first month or so of operations to this independent station was done with the help of famous radio comedian Fred Allen (left). Like it’s sister station, WGN in Chicago, WPIX was owned by The Tribune Company. The WPIX’s call letters come from the slogan of the Tribune owned newspaper that founded the station – in this case, it was the New York Daily News, whose tagline was “New York’s Picture Newspaper”. Notice the brand new RCA TK30.

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First Cleveland Indians Telecast: 1948

First Cleveland Indians Telecast: 1948

Shown here, 2 Dumont cameras from WEWS prepare to bring viewers the first Indians game on television. Van Patrick was the play by play man in the booth. In October of 48, WEWS would broadcast the World Series games between Cleveland and Boston to the midwest.

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October 4, 1965…Pope Paul Visits NYC

October 4, 1965…Pope Paul Visits NYC

One of many TK41s at Yankee Stadium where a huge public mass was held. There is a paper sign on this camera with the papal crest and I assume this designates this as a pool camera. The mass was carried on all three networks who also had a few of their own cameras there.

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Now, THIS IS FUNNY! Ernie Kovacs spoofs Howdy!


Now, THIS IS FUNNY!

Ernie Kovacs spoofs Howdy with his own take on the show. NBC staff announcer Bill Wendell plays Clarabelle and I think the crew has put real liquor in the bottle as a gag. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw-Q66mN56w

[From “Kovacs Corner” on YouTube.com] – Here Kovacs spoofs the grand daddy of all children’s programming, “The Howdy Doody Show”. Instead of Buffalo Bob Smit…

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ULTRA RARE! Gabby Hayes…No Beard, In Drag With John Wayne!


ULTRA RARE! Gabby Hayes…No Beard, In Drag With John Wayne!

Till now, I’ve never seen Gabby without whiskers, much less dressed as a woman! This serial clip is from 1934 and also stars a new comer…John Wayne.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFBI4DyBTn4

Gabby goes under cover to expose two villains Harris and Cole, Assayers (Lloyd Whitlock & Yakima Canutt) and clear his partner, Jerry Mason (John Wayne) of a…

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Election Night, 1976 ABC New York

Election Night, 1976

Here’s Frank Reynolds at ABC New York during a break. Notice the Norelco cameras are still in use, but by the next presidential election in 1980, Ikigami HK312s would be in use at ABC.

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‘The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour’

‘The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour’

After the long run (1951-1957) of half hour episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’, the production team wanted to go one hour shows that aired monthly instead of weekly. As part of the setup, Ricky and Lucy moved to Connecticut in the final season of ‘Lucy’ and Fred and Ethel followed shortly after.

Desi wanted to do 10 one hour shows a year, but Comedy Hour show production costs estimated to be $340,000 per episode became only 5 shows per year in the 1957-1958, 1958-1959 seasons and only 3 in the final season (1959-1960). Part of that expense was the many guest stars the program was to feature because the old formula of Lucy and Ethel’s tricks was giving way to Lucy using the guest stars in a way she once used Ethyl. Although Vivian Vance and William Frawley were still in the regular cast, Ricky did not have as much a presence as he once did as he was more focused on running the Desilu studios and the friction with Lucile Ball. Their marriage ended in 1960.

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‘Red Skelton Show’ Rehearsal With Fred Mertz & Ricky Ricardo

‘Red Skelton Show’ Rehearsal With Fred Mertz & Ricky Ricardo

In the foreground, kids from ‘The Art Linkletter Show’ take in a rare moment on their tour of Television City. On stage, Red rehearses with guests William Frawley and Desi Arnaz.

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Do You Beat Your Wife?

Do You Beat Your Wife?

Earlier this week I posted the stories of Johnny Carson’s move from CBS to ABC as the host of ‘Who Do You Trust’. If you remember, the show started on CBS as ‘Do You Trust Your Wife’ and ran on ABC by that name for a few months with the same host, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (and Charlie McCarthy). ABC changed the name to ‘Who Do You Trust’ and when they did, they hired Carson and McMahon. In this skit from the Red Skelton Show, he’s doing a takeoff on the CBS show with Paul Winchell (and Jerry Mahoney) and Bee Benaderet. The camera is an RCA TK41.

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Jay Ward’s First Adventure In Cartoonland…Crusader Rabbit


Jay Ward’s First Adventure In Cartoonland…Crusader Rabbit

Crusader Rabbit is the first animated series produced specifically for television. The concept was test marketed in 1948, while the initial episode – Crusader vs. the State of Texas – (below) aired on KNBH (now KNBC) in Los Angeles, California on August 1, 1950.

The concept of an animated series made for television came from animator Alex Anderson, who worked for Terrytoons Studios. Terrytoons preferred to remain in film animation, so Anderson approached Jay Ward to create a partnership, Anderson being in charge of production and Ward to be in charge of arranging financing. Ward became business manager and producer, joining with Anderson to form “Television Arts Productions” in 1947. They tried to sell the series (initially presented as part of a proposed series, The Comic Strips of Television, which also featured an early incarnation of Dudley Do-Right) to the NBC television network, which assigned Jerry Fairbanks to be “supervising producer”. NBC did not telecast Crusader Rabbit on their network, but allowed Fairbanks to sell the series in national syndication, with many of the NBC affiliates (including New York and Los Angeles) picking it up for local showings. WNBC-TV in New York continued to show the original Crusader Rabbit episodes from 1949 through 1967, and some stations used the program as a time filler as late as the 1970s.

Lucille Bliss provided the voice of Crusader Rabbit in the original series; she was replaced by Ge Ge Pearson in the revived series. Vern Louden played Rags in both. Dudley Nightshade was voiced by Russ Coughlan, and narration was by Roy Whaley.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3hHQvkUhJo

Jay Ward’s Crusader Rabbit – Crusade 1 / Episode 1. Like to see more?

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Anyone Ever See A Lens Like This?

Anyone Ever See A Lens Like This?

This is a first for me. I suspect is not a zoom lens, but a telephoto lens with magnifying mirrors inside set up in a periscope type arrangement. Thanks to Jim Weinberg for the photo.

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