Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Q Cards!

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Q Cards!

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Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

The Colonial Theater in NYC was literally ground zero for RCA color testing and innovation. Note the steering ring under one of the first TK40s. The TD 1 pedestal was all there was at the time, but with the size of the TK40, the small steering ring was to hard to get to, so, they innovated. The new counterbalanced TD 3 pedestal came out around 1954, but could not hold a TK40 or 41. It did however have a larger steering ring and the crew here got one, turned it upside down and attached it to the old ring. Soon after, RCA and Houston Fearless came out with a larger, flat ring for the TD 1 peds that could be retrofitted. This camera does have a cradle head made especially for the TK40/41, but early on, they were mounted on the old friction heads that were made for the TK10s and 30s but were not strong enough to handle the 375 pound color cameras.

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Hiway Patrol: Flashback

Hiway Patrol: Flashback

I always loved the look of this car…the 1955 Buick Century. As a kid, I watched this show every week. If it’s ‘been a while’ for you too, take a look at this full episode.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsaHD5by-w0&feature=related

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Politicians And Teleprompters Go Way Back

Politicians and Teleprompters go Way Back

Here’s a shot from under the podium at the 1952 republican convention. This prompter script is not for television talent…it’s for the politicians delivering speeches to the delegates. This is probably one of the first times teleprompters were used for this purpose.

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RCA’s ‘Walkie Lookie’ Wireless Camera, 1 of 2

RCA’s ‘Walkie Lookie’ Wireless Camera, 1 of 2

Here’s the camera on the floor of the 1952 Republican National Convention in Chicago. Notice that this is a WIRELESS camera! What took so long to get to the RCA TK76?

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RCA’s ‘Walkie Lookie’ Wireless Camera, 2 of 2

RCA’s ‘Walkie Lookie’ Wireless Camera, 2 of 2

Here’s a shot from the 1952 RNC in Chicago showing the 3 lens version of RCA’s new portable back pack camera.

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NBC’s Mega Mobile Unit: 1952

NBC’s Mega Mobile Unit: 1952

This is quite a step up from the unit in the photo below this and probably can handle up to 6 cameras. I think this unit was finished just in time for the 1952 political conventions which were both held at Chicago’s International Amphitheater. The republicans were there July 7-11 and the democrats from July 21-26. This photo is from the RNC and I think shows General Eisenhower arriving.

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More Design Influence From John Vassos

More Design Influence From John Vassos

Even here, on this early RCA Mobile Unit, his style is present. The art decco chrome bands on the side and mudflaps are a Vassos touch. This 1947 shot from Times Square has a couple of TK30s on top of one of RCA’s first few remote trucks that were probably built just before the 1939 Worlds Fair. Originally outfitted with Iconoscope equipment, then Orthicon equipment, they were again refitted with Image Orthicon equipment in 1946.

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Well, What Have We Here?

Well, What Have We Here? Revised

This Reeves Teletape TK47 is a VERY UNUSUAL! Having never seen one with the row of adjustment knobs (far left) on the rear panel, I did more research. My conclusion is that only the TK47 EP (Enhanced Performance) model had these. The EP model came out in 1980. The TK47A (1978), TK47B (’82) with standard cable and the 47B Triax model had no rear control knobs. The TK47B Triax model debuted along with the standard cable B model in ’82.

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A Kukla, Fran and Ollie Surprise

A Kukla, Fran and Ollie Surprise

In yesterday’s photo, you could not see the band, or the real surprise…a Zoomar Super Field lens at work in the studio. This is the only production I’ve ever seen that uses this 27 element lens inside.

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Does This Curtain Look Familiar?

Does This Curtain Look Familiar?

If you are a Jack Benny fan, it does! The open and close was done in front of these for many years at Television City. The man in the glasses, under the boom, is the director, Ralph Levy who also directed many episodes of I Love Lucy (including the pilot), Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Trapper John, M.D. and Hawaii Five-O. Levy won the 1960 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy for The Jack Benny Program.

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Ever See One Of These?

Ever See One Of These?

I believe this is an RCA set from around 1968. There is a record player behind the top center panel and it looks like the black box is for ear bud audio. LBJ would have loved this.

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Zoomar VS Varotal

Zoomar VS Varotal

It would be interesting to see the difference. Here, two Pye cameras, which may be 1″ Videcon models, shoot side by side with the left camera using a Zoomar Field Zoom and the other using a Varotal Mark II zoom circa 1959.

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1936 Telefunken Camera 1 of 2

1936 Telefunken Camera 1 of 2

The cameraman is Walter Bruch and he’s shown here at the 1936 Berlin Olympics operating one of two Telefunken cameras at the event. As you will see in the companion photo, one of these two Telefunken cameras (Fernseh also had a camera there) has a huge lens attached. On close examination of both images, it could be the same camera with an additional lens section. What do you think?

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1936 Telefunken Camera 2 of 2

1936 Telefunken Camera 2 of 2

This is without a doubt the largest ‘made for television’ lens I’ve ever seen on a camera. This is one of 3 cameras used at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, and is made by Telefunken. This is possibly the same camera as shown in the companion photo with an additional lens piece attached, or it could be a different camera, but if you study the lens assembly, you’ll see that it could easily be an added element.

These games were televised by two German firms, Telefunken and Fernseh, using RCA and Farnsworth equipment, respectively. This marked the first live television coverage of a sports event in world history. Both systems broadcast at 180 lines and 25 frames per second. Four different areas were telecast using three cameras. In total, 72 hours of live transmission went over the airwaves to special viewing booths, called “Public Television Offices” in Berlin and Potsdam. Germany had regularly scheduled transmissions from as early at 1929.

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President Eisenhower’s Funeral

President Eisenhower’s Funeral

I think what we see here is CBS preparing for coverage of the final memorial service in Abilene, Kansas with the Eisenhower Presidential Library in the background. The cameras look like GE PE 350s.

On March 28, 1969, Eisenhower died of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.. The following day his body was moved to the Washington National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel, where he lay in repose for 28 hours. On March 30, his body was brought by caisson to the United States Capitol, where he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. On March 31, Eisenhower’s body was returned to the National Cathedral, where he was given an Episcopal Church funeral service. That evening, Eisenhower’s body was placed onto a train en route to Abilene, Kansas. His body arrived on April 2, and was interred later that day in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

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Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Here’s a nice shot from home base, WNBQ, Chicago. Burr Tillstrom was the creator and only puppeteer on the show, which premiered as the hour-long ‘Junior Jamboree’ locally on WBKB in Chicago, on October 13, 1947. The program was renamed ‘Kukla, Fran and Ollie’ 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 7–7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday from Chicago.

Fran was Fran Allison, a radio comedienne and singer who was usually the only human to appear on screen, filling the role of big sister and cheery voice of reason as the puppets engaged each other concerning their foibles. The design style of puppets was in the style of Neapolitan puppet shows, or Punch and Judy without the slapstick.

Fans became so attached to the show that when it was cut back to 15 minutes in November 1951, letters of outrage poured in to NBC and The New York Times. From August 1952 to June 1954, the show ran as a weekly program on Sundays from 3–3:30 p.m. When NBC canceled it, ABC TV picked up the show and returned to the 15 minute daily format airing from 7-7:15 p.m. ET until the last regular program aired on August 30, 1957, a continuous run of nearly ten years. See a clip below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwjYb5xhGuU

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Varotal Mark III Field Lens

Varotal Mark III Field Lens

This is quite a big boy and I would imagine it took a bit of lead weighs on the pan handle to help balance this. A lot of operators mounted these upside down so they could move the zoom control to the left side of the camera, as the focus demand was built in on the right side. In most countries, most operators have the focus on the right and the zoom on the left and that’s a hold over from the 50s and 60s cameras. Here in the US, most cameras are setup with zoom demand right and focus left.

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Varotal Mark I Field Zoom

Varotal Mark I Field Zoom

Many of us are familiar with the Varotal Mark III lenses, but here is the Mark I mounted on a Marconi Mark II camera in 1953. Varotal is a product of Rank Taylor Hobson.

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TV’s First Weekly, One Hour Musical Show

TV’s First Weekly One Hour Musical Show

On June 20, 1948 ‘The Fred Wearing Show’ debuted on CBS. It is believed to be the first weekly one hour music show, however, the show was cut to a half hour in ’52. For the first few years, it aired just after the Ed Sullivan Show, at 9 on Sunday nights.

Below is a link to 3 clips from the show and you may be as surprised as I was to see what’s here. The first 2:15 is quite ‘different’, the Blues In The Night piece has some awesome production values for 1948, and the last piece has a remarkable sax player dancing, twirling rope and playing all at once…quite vaudevillian. I think you’ll enjoy this…really.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a001QlAWyVE

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Do You Remember?

Do You Remember? I do…

Do you remember the line this little bellboy used to say when he was on camera? You can hear the famous call at the link below…just as your remember it, or for the first time.

The bellboy was Johnny Roventini and had been a bell boy at The New Yorker Hotel until he was ‘discovered’ in 1933. He was 47 inches tall and weighed 59 pounds.

http://www.bellhop.org/callforphillip.mp3

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More with ‘Cecil And Beany’

More with ‘Cecil And Beany’

Here’s a companion photo to go along with the one from yesterday. In that post, I mentioned how much adults loved the show too…can you imagine what the KTLA crew heard at rehearsals? Look’s like they’re loving it!

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Republican National Convention: 1940

Republican National Convention: 1940

This is an RCA Iconoscope camera from experimental station W3XE (now KYW) covering the RNC in Philadelphia for NBC in June of 1940, where Wendell Willkie was chosen to run against FDR.

The channel 3 facility in Philadelphia is one of the world’s oldest television stations. It began in 1932 as W3XE and was owned by the Philco Corporation. In 1941, it began sharing programs with W2XBS (later WNBT and now WNBC-TV) in New York City, becoming NBC’s second television affiliate, and creating a link between the station and the network that would last for 54 years.

On July 1, 1941, W3XE received a commercial license, the third in the United States, and the first outside New York City. The station signed on for the first time on September 1 as WPTZ. Like others, they significantly cut back operations after the U.S. entered World War II, but returned to a full schedule in 1945. It then became one of three stations (along with WNBT and WRGB in Schenectady, New York) that premiered NBC’s regular television service in 1946. The Westinghouse Electric Corporation, owner of Philadelphia’s NBC radio affiliate KYW (1060 AM), purchased WPTZ in 1953 for a then-record price of $8.5 million.

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ULTRA RARE: May 1949, Sid Caesar’s First Series ‘The Admiral Broadway Review’…

ULTRA RARE: May 1949, Sid Caesar’s First Series

‘The Admiral Broadway Review’

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

The Friday night show was simultaneously broadcast on NBC and the DuMont network. Odd, but it was done so the show to be carried on the only TV station then operating in Pittsburgh, DuMont’s WDTV. The show 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. 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 also produced by Max Liebman.

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‘Time For Beany’

‘Time For Beany’

Below, Cecil (Stan Freburg) and Beany (Daws Butler) entertain an audience of all ages in 1950, while just on the other side of the wall, two KTLA TK10s capture the fun. Even Albert Einstein admitted that he watched the show. The original puppet show version aired from Feb 49 till late in 54. It returned in ’59 in cartoon form.

Originally created as a children’s show, the genius of the creators and writers soon became evident and the show began attracting more adults than children. When it was Time For Beany, the entire family was crowded around the set. The crux of Beany’s success was the intermingling of current political issues and fiascos that appeared as thinly veiled plots easily recognizable as lampoons of current political issues or personalities. The Shakespearian asides given by Beany, Cecil and the rest of the cast were magnificent and often alluded to embarrassing public fiascos or personages, on which the adult audience immediately picked up. That those gems of wisdom are lost forever is a great literary tragedy…there were just a few Keniscopes of the show saved.

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Hallmark Hall Of Fame: ‘Kiss Me Kate’, November 1958

Hallmark Hall Of Fame: ‘Kiss Me Kate’, November 1958

This was a live color broadcast from NBC’s Brooklyn Studios and it was a huge production with lots of sets. Most of the actors in this musical were members of the original Broadway cast, except a very young Jack Klugman who sang and danced. I would have loved to been there for a live color broadcast. You too?

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Need A Lift Dinah?

Need A Lift Dinah?

In a 1952 episode of the twice weekly, 15 minute ‘Dinah Shore Show’, our star hitches a ride on a Panoram dolly with an extra sideboard.

In ’56, Shore began hosting a monthly series of one-hour full-color spectaculars as part of NBC’s ‘The Chevy Show’ series. These proved so popular that the show was renamed The Dinah Shore Chevy Show the following season, with Shore becoming the full-time host, helming three out of four weeks in the month.

Broadcast live and in NBC’s famous ‘Living Color,’ this variety show was one of the most popular of the 1950s and early 1960s. ‘The Dinah Shore Chevy Show’ ran through the 1961-1962 season, after which Chevrolet dropped sponsorship, and Shore hosted a series of monthly broadcasts simply called ‘The Dinah Shore Show.’ Over twelve seasons, from 1951 to 1963, Dinah Shore made 125 hour-long programs and 444 fifteen-minute shows.

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ULTRA RARE: Classic Photo

ULTRA RARE: Classic Photo

Here are two of America’s most famous clowns ever, together…Emit Kelly and Clarabell. The photos is on the set of a 1949 WNBT show who’s name, I think, is ‘Television Magazine’. The lady is co host, Ursula Halloran.

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May 8, 1945, Victory In Europe

May 8, 1945, Victory In Europe

To celebrate, WNBT broadcast hours of news coverage on the end of World War II in Europe with remotes from around New York City. Here, we see an RCA Orthicon camera atop the marquee of the Astor Hotel in panning the happy crowd below. This vivid coverage was a prelude to television’s rapid growth after the war ended.

In the spring of 1946, the station changed its frequency from channel 1 to channel 4 after VHF channel 1 was removed from use for television broadcasting.

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ABC’s First Series, ‘Hollywood Screen Test’

ABC’s First Series

‘Hollywood Screen Test’ was the first network series broadcast on ABC-TV, and started on day one along with the brand new network.

Debuting on 15 April 1948, and hosted first by Bert Lytell and then Neil Hamilton, who is shown above, ‘Hollywood Screen Test’ sought to give exposure to many up-and-coming actors who were looking for their big break. The relatively unknown actors would be picked to guest star on the show, then they would have half-hour scenes of dialogue with established stage and screen actors.

Among the stars discovered on Hollywood Screen Test are, Grace Kelly, Jack Klugman, Pernell Roberts, and Jack Lemmon. FYI, WABC started life as WJZ TV. Thanks to Bryan Durr for the helping hand.

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