Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The ‘Rosanne’ Set At CBS Studio Center

Honey, I’m Home!

Here’s the ‘Rosanne’ set at CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue in Los Angeles with Grass Valley LDK cameras.

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The RCA TK45: A 1960 (Medical Use) Color Camera Rarity

RCA TK45: 1960 Version

Built for the medical industry, this color camera was usually ceiling mounted and looked down at the operating table via a 45 degree mirror. I guess the TK11 type body with handles was needed to support it and that’s why it has a different configuration than the TK41. Here it is on a pedestal. Click to see the whole image. Thanks to Lytle Hoover at Old Radio,com for the photo.

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CBS Television City Studio 36 & 46…Each Over 15,500 Square Feet

CBS Television City

Studio 36 and 46 are over 15,500 square feet each. Studio 41 and 43 are around 12,000 square feet each. That’s the kind of room it takes to do what they do. In the background, the RCA TK41s are out of the way as a giant piece of scenery is carefully prepared for erection.

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Ann Palmer: CBS Color Girl At Television City

Ann Palmer: CBS Color Girl

At Television City, ‘Lady Ann’ spent as much time in front of their color cameras than most of the CBS stars. Very little color was done from CBS NY, and at TVC, color programs were on a rolling basis. Regularly scheduled shows would be done in color perhaps monthly or quarterly. Remember, it was 1970 before color sets outsold black and white sets.

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In The Beginning…

In The Beginning…

In 1953 when the first RCA TK40 color cameras were arriving at NBC in New York, there was almost around the clock closed circuit testing with signals being sent from The Colonial Theater in NYC to RCA Labs in Princeton, NJ and Rockefeller Center. With no color patterns available, flower arrangements, fruit, color cloths and more were used to make a colorful picture.

The Colonial Theater was the main location for this but later, there were public demonstrations at the RCA Exhibition Hall in Rockefeller Center. During the day, a budding starlet named Nanette Fabre did a 90 minute Broadway musical type show from the Colonial Theater. Only the Colonial crew and the staff in Princeton and at 30 Rock saw it. She did it for two years till the monotony drove her to move on. This is probably an overnight set shot feed.

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Sid Caesar: A True Icon

Sid Caesar: A True Icon Of Television

This photo is from Caesar’s Hour, taken in 1956 at the Century Theater in New York.

Sid Caesar began his television career when he made an appearance on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater in 1948. In early 1949, Sid and Max Lieberman met with Pat Weaver, president of television at NBC, which led to Caesar’s appearance in his first series, The Admiral Broadway Revue with Imogene Coca.

The Friday show, simultaneously broadcast on NBC and the DuMont network in order for the show to be carried on the only TV station then operating in Pittsburgh. It was an immediate success. However, its sponsor, Admiral, an appliance company, could not keep up with the demand for its new television sets, so the show was cancelled after 26 weeks on account of its runaway success. According to Caesar, an Admiral executive later told him the company had the choice of building a new factory or continuing their sponsorship of Revue for another season.

On February 23, 1950, Caesar appeared in the first episode of Your Show of Shows, a Saturday night 90-minute variety program produced by Max Lieberman (who had previously produced The Admiral Broadway Revue). The show launched Caesar into instant stardom and was a mix of scripted and improvised comedy, movie and television satires, Caesar’s inimitable double-talk monologues, top musical guests, and large production numbers.

The show ended after 160 episodes on June 5, 1954. Just a few months later, Sid Caesar returned with Caesar’s Hour, a one-hour sketch/variety show with Howard Morris, Carl Reiner, a young Bea Arthur, and much of the seasoned crew. Nanette Fabray replaced Imogene Coca who left to star in her own short-lived series. Ultimate creative and technical control was now totally in Caesar’s hands. The show moved to the larger Century Theater, which allowed longer, more sophisticated productions and the weekly budget doubled to $125,000. The premier on September 27, 1954 featured Gina Lollobrigida.

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An Original Walter Cronkite Camera

This Is The CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite…

Out all of the 893 Norelco PC 60s and 70s ever made, this and it’s twin are probably the most famous. This PC60 and one just like it are the ‘Cronkite Cameras’ on display at The Newseum in Washington. They were saved, only by the grace of God and one of his angels…kind of.

When CBS retired the two cameras in the CBS Newsroom, they were donated to the Catholic Television Center in Boston. My friend Paul Beck received them and put them into service. A few years later newer cameras arrived and, being the angel he is, Paul knew to preserve this history and stored them in his basement. Even though his wife objected (sound familiar?), he kept them safe till a worthy home could be found. Fortunately, that was the Newseum and they are on permanent on display at their beautiful new home in Washington.

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Meet Pat Weaver, First President of NBC Television

Meet Pat Weaver, First President of NBC Television

I could go on and on about Mr Weaver, but here’s the short version. I own the RCA TK30 (maybe the one in this photo) that NBC gave him as a token of appreciation from all of NBC’s employees in January of 1955. It was on display in his office.
The range of shows this camera could have worked on would have included all the shows that Pat either created, or brought to the network. The Today Show, The Tonight Show, The Home Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Camel News Caravan, Howdy Doody, Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar, The Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle, The Tonight Show’s predecessor, Broadway Open House and lord knows what else. This is a rare shot as Pat made very few appearances on television. He actually created the magazine style of advertising that all broadcasters still use, in both radio and television. His book, “The Best Seat In The House” is great! It would make a fantastic Christmas gift.

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Baseball…Breaking Records, And Camera Lenses


Another One Bites The Dust…

From Television’s POV, baseball is a much more violent sport than football. I wonder how many box lenses get smashed each season?

i dont own this

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The Devil Made Him Do It! Flip Wilson’s Hilarious “Tonight” Debut


The Devil Made Him Do It! Must See History…

A few months before this video, Johnny Carson asked Redd Fox who the funniest new comic around was. Redd’s answer was Flip Wilson. On September 30, 1965 Flip made his first of many Tonight Show appearances. At the end this 2:00 clip, it takes Johnny :40 seconds to stop laughing long enough to say, “that’s one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard in my life”.

Flip Wilson tells his famous ‘Ugly Baby’ joke.

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A Teaching Moment: Setting The Record Straight

A Teaching Moment: Setting The Record Straight

Few know that ‘I Love Lucy’ Producer-Director Jess Oppenheimer holds the patent for the “in the lens” teleprompter. This is the same reflector/mirror system we use today, but first used on television by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, for a filmed Philip Morris cigarette commercial which aired on “I Love Lucy” on December 14, 1953. I don’t know why the “in the lens” design from Oppenheimer didn’t catch on till the mid to late 60s, but a bit more history may reveal the answer.

Let’s start with the obvious question. Were there teleprompters before this? Yes. The mechanical paper roll models…free standing and camera mounted as seen here.

The device started out in 1948 as a roll of butcher paper rigged up inside half of a suitcase. Actor Fred Barton Jr., a Broadway veteran, was nervous. “For those that had been either in theater or the movies, the transition to television was difficult, because there was a much greater need for memorizing lines,” says Christopher Sterling, a media historian at George Washington University. “At the time, there was a lot more live television, which many people today tend to forget.” Instead of memorizing the same batch of lines over the course of months, Barton was now expected to memorize new lines on a weekly or even daily basis. Cue cards were sometimes used, but relying on unsteady stagehands to flip between them could sometimes cause catastrophic delays.

Barton went to Irving Kahn, a vice president at 20th Century Fox studios, with the idea of connecting cue cards in a motorized scroll, so he could rely on prompts without risking an on-screen blunder. Kahn brought in his employee Hubert Schlafly, an electrical engineer and director of television research, and asked him if it could be done. “I said it was a piece of cake,” Mr. Schlafly told the Stamford Advocate in 2008. Using half of a suitcase as an outer shell for his new device, he rigged up a series of belts, pulleys and a motor to turn a scroll of butcher paper that displayed an actor’s lines in half-inch letters. The paper was turned gradually, as controlled by a stagehand, while the words were read.

On April 21, 1949, Schlalfly submitted a patent application for his “television prompting apparatus,” and in the tradition of offstage “prompters” who had been relied upon to feed forgotten lines to actors, he called his device the TelePrompTer. When the application was approved, the New York Times noted that it “coaches television actors into letter-perfect delivery of their lines and permits news commentators to simulate prodigious feats of memory.” It may have seemed unlikely at the time, but a new political age was born.

Although Schlafly, Barton and Kahn pitched the device to 20th Century Fox, the company was not interested. They promptly quit the company and started their own, founding the TelePrompTer Corporation. At first, the machine was used for its intended purpose: televised entertainment. It was part of a live production for the first time on December 4, 1950, as actors in the CBS soap “The First Hundred Years” read their lines off a device mounted to the side of the camera. “Initially, it was either above or below the lens of the camera, or to the right or the left, so you could always tell, unfortunately, because you could see the person’s eye was slightly off,” Sterling says.

Quickly, others saw just how useful teleprompters could be—and as they began adding their own refinements, the term itself became a generic catchall for all sorts of automatic prompting devices. The TelePrompTer Corporation kept making their product, but many others began designing their own versions. Jess Oppenheimer, the producer of “I Love Lucy,” took out a patent for the first in-camera teleprompter, which used a system of mirrors and glass to project the script directly in front of the lens. “Once you could literally shoot through the teleprompter, the on-screen talent was looking straight at the audience,” Sterling says. “Home viewers saw a smoother presentation, with a hell of a lot more eye contact.” Soon, broadcast news operations started using the machine, replacing the printed scripts anchors had previously held in their hands, starting at the network level and then filtering down to local markets.

By the time the next presidential election rolled around, in 1952, Kahn saw the next frontier for his device. After reading that aging former President Herbert Hoover had had difficulty reading speeches while campaigning for Gen. Dwight D. Eiseinhower, Kahn traveled to Chicago, the host city for the Republican National Convention, and persuaded Hoover and other speakers to try out the machine. The technology was an immediate hit—between that convention and the Democratic gathering later that month, 47 of the 58 major speeches were teleprompted. Two months later, though, candidate Eisenhower gave the technology an inadvertent publicity boost that allowed it to become legendary. It was used for a State of the Union address for the first time in 1954 by Eisenhower himself.

Over the years, subtle advances in teleprompter technology continued. Into the early ’80s, the text was typically still printed on pieces of paper—the National Museum of American History has the teleprompter text of Walter Mondale’s 1984 Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance speech where he notoriously admitted “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

Starting in 1982, though, when Hollywood sound mixer and stagehand Courtney M. Goodin created Compu=Prompt—a software-based system that projected text from a modified Atari 800 PC—computers began to displace printed scrolls across the industry. Computerized systems held several advantages, including the fact that text could be edited and loaded at the last second. Still, in rare instances, technical difficulties with software have forced speechmakers into thinking on their feet. For Bill Clinton’s 1994 State of the Union Address, the machine was loaded with the wrong speech, so he began his live speech off-the-cuff and from memory until the correct text appeared.

Most recently, voice-recognition software has allowed for systems that automatically scroll text based on the speaker’s actual rate of speech.

Despite the remarkable journey of his invention from makeshift line prompter to the ubiquitous centerpiece of every campaign, for the vast majority of his life, Hubert Schlafly never had the experience of using a teleprompter himself. Shortly before he died though, he finally tried it out, when he was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame in 2008. As he stood on stage, his 88-year-old voice straining, he read his speech, repeatedly shifting back and forth, left and right.

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The Original Mickey Mouse Club’s Broadcast History


The Original Mickey Mouse Club’s Broadcast History

The series ran on ABC Television for an hour each weekday in the 1955–1956 and 1956–1957 seasons (from 5:00 to 6:00 pm ET), but went to a half-hour show in the ’57-58 season airing weekdays (5:30 to 6:00 pm ET). This was the final season to feature new programming on the original Mickey Mouse Club.

Although the show returned for the 1958–1959 season (5:30 to 6:00 pm ET), these programs were actually footage from the first two seasons, re-cut into a half-hour format. The Mickey Mouse Club was featured on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Walt Disney’s Adventure Time, featuring re-runs of The Mickey Mouse Club serials and several re-edited segments from Disneyland and Walt Disney Presents, appeared on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The animated intro linked here is an ingenious creation that has many edit points to adjust the length of the intro after the rest of the show has been edited together.

Although the show remained popular, ABC decided to cancel the show after its fourth season, as Disney and the ABC network could not come to terms for renewal. The cancellation in September 1959 was attributable to several factors: the Disney studios did not realize high-profit margins from merchandise sales, the sponsors were uninterested in educational programming for children, and many commercials were needed in order to pay for the show. ABC wanted to add more commercials…Disney did not want more.

After canceling The Mickey Mouse Club, ABC also refused to let Disney air the show on another network. Walt Disney filed a lawsuit against ABC, and won the damages in a settlement; however, he had to agree that both the Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro could not be aired on any other major network.

In response to continuing audience demand, the original Mickey Mouse Club went into edited syndicated half-hour reruns that enjoyed wide distribution starting in the fall of 1962, achieving strong ratings especially during its first three seasons in syndicated release. Because of its popularity in some markets, a few stations continued to carry it into 1968 before the series was finally withdrawn from syndication. Some new features were added such as Fun with Science, aka “Professor Wonderful” (with scientist Julius Sumner Miller) and Marvelous Marvin in the 1964–1965 season; Jimmie Dodd appeared in several of these new segments before his death in November 1964. Many markets stretched the program back to an hour’s daily run time during the 1960s rerun cycle by adding locally produced and hosted portions involving educational subjects and live audience participation of local children.

OLD MICKEY MOUSE CLUB intro…1960

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Mouseketeers: The 3 ‘Teams’, And Some Very Hard Work

Mouseketeers: The 3 ‘Teams’, And Some Very Hard Work

There were actually three teams of Mouseketters that worked on the show each season. Shown in the photo below is the Red Team and it was made up of the most popular kids and this team would do the bulk of the personality parts of the show, but all three teams shared equally in the opening song and dance numbers. They had to, and when you see these clips below, you’ll understand why.

The other teams were the White Team and the Blue Team. All teams had about a dozen kids in each and after you watch these two video clips you’ll understand why, and please DO watch. These kids are amazing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7W7BPt9rK0&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOBlXZyKC6A&feature=related

The elaborate song and dance numbers you just saw in these links were typical of what happened everyday on the show! The Mickey Mouse Club was a one hour show that aired Monday – Friday on ABC, but production was a six day a week job for cast and crew. No single team, even if they were all seasoned adults, could learn and perform numbers like this on a daily basis. It usually took two days of rehearsal to get each opening number ready to shoot, thus a six day week and three teams.

(Front row; L–R) Annette Funicello, Karen Pendleton, Cubby O’Brien, Sherry Alberoni, Dennis Day. (Second row; L–R) Charley Laney, Sharon Baird, Darlene Gillespie, Jay-Jay Solari. (Third row; L–R) Tommy Cole, Cheryl Holdridge, Larry Larsen, Eileen Diamond. (Fourth row; L–R) Lonnie Burr, Margene Storey, Doreen Tracey. (Fifth row; L–R) Jimmie Dodd and Bobby Burgess.

BY THE WAY…Thanks to the show’s host, Jimmie Dodd for writing the Mickey Mouse theme song and many of the shows other songs.

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Memory Lane And Coon Skin Caps


Memory Lane And Coon Skin Caps

About half way into this 6 minute clip, Annette takes us to Disney’s Studio 3 where the Mickey Mouse Club was shot and tells us about the ‘other’ big Disney show on ABC…’Disneyland’. Lots of Davy Crockett memories in the second half too.

1950s

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Famous Disney Movie Sets at NY World’s Fair, 1964


Bonus Round: Famous Disney Movie Sets at NY World’s Fair

I would have loved to have visited this when my family went to the fair in 1964, but had no idea it was there. The Disney sets visit starts about a minute in.

Hollywood Backstage NY Worlds Fair Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello greet Mickey Mouse. Comedian Buddy Hackett in attendance. Hollywood Set at the New Yo…

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Network TV’s First Late Night Comedy: Broadway Open House

Network TV’s First Late Night Comedy: Broadway Open House

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnkCg5wnBOo

Broadway Open House was network television’s first late-night comedy-variety series and was telecast live on NBC from May 29, 1950 to August 24, 1951, airing weeknights from 11pm to midnight. One of the pioneering TV creations of NBC president Pat Weaver, it demonstrated the potential for late-night programming and led to the later development of The Tonight Show in 1954.

Hosting different nights each week, were Morey Amsterdam (Monday and Wednesday) and the raucous Jerry Lester (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays). Amsterdam soon exited the show, leaving Lester the sole host, performing sketches with his crew of sidekicks, running through standard nightclub comedy routines and introducing the show’s vocal group, the Mello Larks.

Devising new material night after night became a treadmill of desperation. The solution was to hire bosomy blonde Jennie Lewis, who was given no script and told, “You just sit there and act dumb. Your name is Dagmar.” With her new name, she sat on a stool with a sign around her neck saying “Girl Singer,” did breathing exercises, and soon performed as a reader of poems and plays, while Lester made occasional jokes about her “hidden talents.”

Dagmar created a sensation, leading to much press coverage and a salary increase from $75 to $1,250. With Dagmar getting all the attention, Lester walked off his own show in May 1951, and Dagmar carried on as host. On July 16, 1951, she was featured on the front cover of Life, and the show came to an end one month later.

Dagmar’s run on Broadway Open House and her appearances on other shows (Colgate Comedy Hour, The Milton Berle Show, Masquerade Party) made her the first major female star of television, and she soon had her own show, Dagmar’s Canteen, making guest appearances during the late 1950s with Jack Paar on The Tonight Show.

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Happy Thanksgiving From WKRP!


Happy Thanksgiving To All!

Here’s a funny little holiday clip from WKRP. Enjoy the day and each other!

WKRP “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” Thanksgiving

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: 1939, In Color Film


Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: 1939, In Color

Very nostalgic home movie footage with lots of recognizable characters.

Found 8mm footage of the 1939 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Floats and balloons featuring: Pinocchio, Donald Duck, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow, Old King Col…

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: 1964


Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: 1964

Santa’s in Town ‘Munsters’ Escort Kris In Parade

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Early Dumont Cameras: Configuration 1

Early Dumont Cameras: Configuration 1

This 1947 photo was probably taken in New York at WABD. The pedestals are made by Dumont and have custom housing for the on-board power supply and camera control unit…notice the huge exhaust tube at the feet of the cameraman on the left. This had to be awkward, especially with that scoop light box on the front. As I understand, there is a crank wheel on the front of the pedestal to raise and lower the camera. Looks like castor wheels on the front and fixed axle wheels in the back with double dolly handle. Nice shot. I think only one of these cameras (from WWJ in Detroit) survives in a back room at the Henry Ford Museum.

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Early Dumont Cameras: Configuration 2

Early Dumont Cameras: Configuration 2

Unlike the RCA cameras, the Dumont Iconoscope cameras had electronic viewfinders which were side mounted. This called for more equipment at the camera and this is one configuration of how that was done. I suspect the larger box is the camera control unit and the smaller one, the power supply. These are mounted on simple rolling dollies with rear steering. The cameramen have their hand on the focus lever. These were probably 50 or 75mm lenses. Dumont was the only one to use the ball type pan heads. This photo was probably taken in Washington in the summer of 1945.

On May 19, 1945, DuMont opened experimental W3XWT in Washington, D.C. In 1947, W3XWT became WTTG.

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KTLA: First In The West

KTLA: First In The West

Originally owned by Paramount Pictures subsidiary Television Productions, Inc., and located on the Paramount Studios lot, the station was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1939 as experimental station W6XYZ, on channel 4, but did not go on the air until September 1942. Klaus Landsberg (below left), already an accomplished television pioneer at the age of 26, was the original station manager and engineer. On January 22, 1947, it was licensed for commercial broadcast as KTLA on channel 5, becoming the first commercial television station in Los Angeles, the first to broadcast west of the Mississippi River, and the seventh in the United States. Estimates of television sets in the Los Angeles area at the time ranged from 350 to 600.

KTLA originally carried programming from Paramount’s partner, DuMont, but discontinued the practice after the 1947-48 season. Despite this, the FCC still considered KTLA and sister station WBKB (now WBBM-TV) in Chicago to be DuMont owned-and-operated stations because Paramount held a minority stake in DuMont. As a result, the agency would not allow DuMont to buy additional VHF stations—a problem that would later play a large role in the failure of the DuMont network, whose programming was splintered among other Los Angeles stations until the network’s demise in 1956.

Paramount even launched a short-lived “Paramount Television Network” in 1948, with KTLA and WBKB as its flagship stations. The programming service never gelled into a true television network, but during KTLA’s early years, the station produced over a dozen series seen in syndication in many parts of the U.S. Among these series were Armchair Detective, Bandstand Revue, Dixie Showboat, Frosty Frolics, Hollywood Reel, Hollywood Wrestling, Latin Cruise, Movietown, RSVP, Olympic Wrestling, Sandy Dreams, and Time for Beany.

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KCOP Covering 1979 Rose Parade


Meet The KCOP Crew!

Thanks to David Crosthwait at DC Video in LA, we have this great clip of the 1979 Rose Bowl Parade coverage on KCOP. You’ll see David running the tape machines, and meet the whole crew with their Norelco PC 70s and PCP 90s. Thanks to Troy Walters in Australia for the post.

KCOP coverage of the 1979 Tournament of Roses Parade. This is a short clip featuring the technical facilities used to get the show on the air. This excerpt w…

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NBC Studio 8H: Pre Construction Artist Rendering

NBC Studio 8H: Pre Construction Artist Rendering

In 1950, NBC converted 8H from the world’s largest radio studio to a state of the art television studio. This is a beautifully detailed drawing of the layout. Thanks to William David French for the image.

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Thy Rod And Thy Staff…Now for a very ‘inside television’ moment.

Thy Rod And Thy Staff…

Now for a very ‘inside television’ moment. What’s important about this simple photo? The Zoomar demand rod, that’s what.

The Zoomar lenses were remarkably sturdy and dependable, but there was a slight Achilles heel. The zoom and focus demand rod.

In a studio environment, every thing was great because they never came out of the camera, but for remote cameras and network crews, it was a different story. The rods were made out of aluminum and bent easily and once bent, were hard to get perfectly straight again. Experienced network cameramen knew this and some carried their own rod on the road. The smart ones got to set up early and rolled the rods on the floor to see which ones were straight. Bent rods could hang and chatter. There are a few good puns I could have added here, but…

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A Teaching Moment

A Teaching Moment

Here in Studio 6B is Ed McMahon with an RCA TK41 behind him. Notice the angled box addition. It’s on top, front of the camera just in front of the viewfinder and above the lens turret. Know what that is?

It’s quite an ingenious sound baffle. Most likely a creation of the late Fred Himelfarb, NBC and RCA’s TK41 guru, the hollow box sits atop the high voltage door and the main cooling fan. At the network level, any camera has to be ready for use in any position, including stage crane mounting. You’ll remember, most of the sound in these days was picked up by boom mics, and when the boom is over a camera, or the crane camera gets close to the boom mic, it hears sounds that you won’t necessarily hear if you are at floor level. This sheet metal creation was placed on a lot of the NBC NY cameras and deflects the fan exhaust and sound back away from the boom mics. Now you know what those little gizmos are.

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The Arrival Of The RCA TK44s In NBC Studio 6B

The Arrival Of The RCA TK44s In 6B

This photo is probably from mid to late 1971. That’s when The Tonight Show gave up it’s TK41s for the TK44s. All the other studios had already converted, but Johnny and Fred De Cordova liked the TK41’s warmth. Most other studios probably had the TK44As, but I suspect Carson held out for the much better 44B which debuted in early 71. When they moved to Burbank, Studio 1 had TK44s but I can tell this is a Studio 6B camera because there is no top viewfinder fan. All NBC Burbank TK44s used in the studio had the extra exhaust fan installed on top when they arrived because a heat build up in the viewfinders caused the CRT tube to stop working. Network cameras are in use a lot more hours than cameras at local stations and overtime, overheat.

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The Best Seat In The House

The Best Seat In The House

This is about as good as it gets for those of us who wondered what Johnny saw from this desk. This is probably late 1971 or early 72, just before the move to Burbank.

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The Final Night & Johnny’s Last Monologue


The Final Night & Johnny’s Last Monologue

This video is a behind the scenes look at the last show, May 22, 1992. Below is the text of Johnny’s last monologue.

“Around the studio, we are still on an emotional high from last night; we have not come down yet. I want to thank Robin Williams and Bette Midler for last night, for giving us an excellent show. They were absolutely sensational.

The show tonight is our farewell show; it’s going to be a little bit quieter. It’s not going to be a performance show. One of the questions people have been asking me, especially this last month, is, “What’s it like doing ‘The Tonight Show,’ and what does it mean to me?”

Well, let me try to explain it. If I could magically, somehow, that tape you just saw, make it run backwards. I would like to do the whole thing over again. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun. As an entertainer, it has been the great experience of my life, and I cannot imagine finding something in television after I leave tonight that would give me as much joy and pleasure, and such a sense of exhilaration, as this show has given me. It’s just hard to explain.
Now it’s a farewell show. There’s a certain sadness among the staff, a little melancholy. But look on the bright side: you won’t have to read or hear one more story about my leaving this show.

The press coverage has been absolutely tremendous, and we are very grateful. But my God, the Soviet Union’s end did not get this kind of publicity. The press has been very decent and honest with me, and I thank them for that . . . That’s about it.

The greatest accolade I think I received: G.E. named me “Employee of the Month.” And God knows that was a dream come true.
I don’t like saying goodbye. Farewells are a little awkward, and I really thought about this — no joke — wouldn’t it be funny, instead of showing up tonight, putting on a rerun? NBC did not find that funny at all.

Next question I get is what am I gonna do? Well, I have not really made any plans. But the events of this last week have helped me make a decision. I am going to join the cast of Murphy Brown, and become a surrogate father to that kid.

During the run on the show there have been seven United States Presidents, and thankfully for comedy there have been eight Vice Presidents of the United States. Now I know I have made some jokes at the expense of Dan Quayle, but I really want to thank him tonight for making my final week so fruitful.”

Now THIS is what it means to be in show business!

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Welcome To ‘Beautiful Downtown Burbank’

Welcome To ‘Beautiful Downtown Burbank’

This is the start of ‘The Tonight Show’ in Studio 1 in Burbank. The move from New York was in May of 1972 and reruns filled the gap. I think this photo is from the week prior to air as the cast and crew began a few days of rehearsal and blocking. Starting in July of ’71, guest hosts were used on Monday nights but the show was still 90 minutes long when the move occurred. Taping was at 5:30 and usually ended at 7 if there were no problems.

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