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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.