Thursday, December 31, 2009
NEW YEARS GREETINGS FROM TELEVISION'S PAST - VIVID VIDEO OF NEW YEARS EVE CIRCA 1957 FROM CBS-TV AND NEW YEARS DAY CIRCA 1991 FROM KYW-TV
TWO,TV TALES OF NEW YEARS
ONE OF MANHATTAN MUSICAL MERRIMENT...
New Year's Eve with Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on CBS-TV is the video equivalent of a Norman Rockwell Portrait. A fleeting image of mid-20th century Americana.The nostalgic celebration was broadcast LIVE on CBS-TV and on CBS Radio, before it, for decades.
While, big band music came to be viewed as campy in the 1970's, when Lombardo passed away, the rare clip , below,from the 1957, CBS-TV New Year's Eve Extravaganza shows the orchestra at the zenith of popularity.
You note that legendary CBS News correspondent, Robert Trout,and acerbic satirist Henry Morgan cover the crowds that New York City's Times Square for the magic moment.
In the clip posted below, you will note that, while the video technology is vintage 1957, the warmth and optimism of CBS-TV's NEW YEAR'S EVE WITH GUY LOMBARDO is timeless and endearing. Enjoy!!!!!
AND ONE OF MUMMER'S MUSICAL MAGIC
THE MUMMERS' PARADE has been a Philadelphia tradition for over 100 years. Brightly dressed in sequins and feathers, people from every walk of life in this region will take center stage on New Year's Day. On 1/1/10, hundreds of Mummers, named for the legend of King Mummas, will strut up Broad Street, the city's main thoroughfare,to the delight of all who watch on along the line of march and on television at home. The renowned string bands, fancy brigades and comic divisions will make a loud and proud showing as they perform for judges who will award cash prizes.
The parade has not been without controversy, over the decades. The participation of minorities and women did not come easily to a culture born of the city's blue collar, white , working class. Concern for the declining crowds on the parade route and decaying audience numbers on TV has been an ongoing challenge.
For many years, Philadelphia's dominant television station 6ABC (WPVI-TV), was home to the Mummers. But, audience erosion and economic uncertainty have caused the vivid , vibrant event to migrate from TV outlet to TV outlet and now can be seen on MYPHL-17( WPHL-TV).
Posted below is an excerpt from a 1991 performance of the legendary Fralinger String Band, broadcast by CBS-3 (KYW-TV) with hosts Pat Ciarrocchi and Ray Murray. Tomorrow morning, Fralinger, which has finished as the winning string band for 7 years in a row will seek its 8th consecutive victory.Enjoy!!!!!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Bob Goulding and Ray Elliot, two mild mannered New Englanders with an acute understanding of human absurdity, were the founding fathers of subtle satire on early television.
While Sid Caesar ruled Saturday nights with lavish, sketch comedy driven by smart observation,and as Gleason sheathed his comedic bluster behind the facade of a sentimental character, Berle, Lucy, and Skelton launched a million laughs with laser-sharp, slapstick, silliness.
Long before stand-up comedians Bob Newhart and Shelly Berman made careers of holding hilarious, sitdown conversations with themselves on nightclub stages, Bob and Ray were creating characters who lived just beyond the city limits of logic, and imbuing them with aberrant behavior that made surreal situations seem almost normative and always hilarious.
The pair met at Boston's WHDH radio in 1946, when Elliott was a disc jockey and Goulding was a newscaster.When Red Sox baseball was delayed by rain, they would improvise comedy bits to fill the time. The station soon paired them for their own show, MATINEE WITH BOB & RAY.They created over a hundred, eccentric and enduring characters, from newsman/nebish Wally Ballou, to globetrotting matron,Mary Backstage, noble wife.
Bob & Ray's nuanced observation of post WWII, American life informed the bizarre situations within the unique universe of their weird and wonderful characters.
In 1951, NBC-TV brought them to New York and gave them a daily, 15 minute, comedy program, THE BOB AND RAY SHOW.It became the video village in which their family of imaginative, and imaginary, lunatics made their TV home.
They moved to become resident improvisers for MONITOR, the sprawling and kinetic radio service, devised by NBC's prolific,creative genius,Pat Weaver. In between live reports from airplanes crossing the Atlantic and big band remotes, they performed C.O.D.: comedy on demand. Their payoff was always grand!
Over a period of 30 years, they starred in series on NBC, CBS, and NPR.
They influenced generations of performers and entertained millions of appreciative audience members. Bob & Ray worked together from 1946 until Ray Goulding's death in 1990.
Today, Bob Elliott is 86 years old,lives in New England and is the patriarch of a performing family. His son, Chris,49, has been a long tenured writer and performer on both LATE NIGHT & THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN.His granddaughter Abby, AGE 22,is a versatile ,featured performer on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.
BOB & RAY'S extraordinary,insightful work lives on in a variety of media available at Bob&Ray.com
Below are two clips from the RRGOMES YOU TUBE site, that constitute one episode of the BOB & RAY SHOW, FROM NBC-TV in 1951.Note an appearance by a PRE-HONEYMOONERS, Audrey Meadows).Enjoy!!!!!!
Friday, December 25, 2009
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Thursday, December 24, 2009
THE BELLE OF 14TH STREET SOUNDS FOR STREISAND FANS - DAZZLING, 60'S ANIMATED MUSCIAL NUMBER - CBS-TV - CIRCA OCTOBER 17, 1967
What do you get when Vaudeville tradition and video inspiration converge in vivid animation and vibrant performance from a superstar in ascent?
For millions of enthralled and exhilarated television viewers across America,in the fall of 1967, the result was a clever,high velocity musical number that opened Barbara Streisand's third, highly anticipated special from CBS-TV and sponsor Chemstrand Carpets.
Shot , in color and in Manhattan, over four, long days in the spring of 1967 , staged on ornate sets conceived by the Tiffany network's respected designer, Tom John, in the CBS Broadcast Center's, cavernous Studio 41, THE BELLE OF 14TH STREET was a nostalgic and sentimental, musical tribute to Vaudeville.
It was hailed by critics as a Steisand, television tour de force.
The creative and kinetic , animated execution of the opening number,stands in sharp visual contrast to the lavish settings and wistful theme, but provided a compelling ,visceral counterpoint to the retro-elegance of the show.
Director Joe Layton and the production team did meticulous research in an effort to recreate the pace and the passions of the Vaudeville stage, including discussions with veterans of the theater circuit, like George Burns.
Below, we've posted from the STREISAND IS LOVE YOU TUBE site, I DON'T CARE, the captivating, convivial, opening production number from THE BELLE OF 14TH STREET.
ENJOY and HAPPY HOLIDAYS from KINESCOPE HD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
HIGH ENERGY LAUGHS IN LIVING COLOR - RARE CLIP OF PONTIAC STAR TIME SPECIAL - NBC-TV - CIRCA OCTOBER 16, 1960
Donald O'Connor was a show business phenomenon: an acrobatic "song and dance" man with cyclonic energy and laser targeted comic instincts. In the 1940's, 50's and 60's his high energy antics filled mammoth,CinemaScope screens in movie theaters and 21 inch, picture tubes in our living rooms.
The apex of his performing career may have been the MAKE 'EM LAUGH sequence in the classic, 1952, MGM musical, SINGING IN THE RAIN. The manic, musical number, which was choreographed by O'Connor, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donnen, literally, sent him up a wall. In this vaudeville-style, tour de force,O'Connor actually tore down the scenery and co-starred with a real dummy.
Here, from the GARY KASKEL YOU TUBE site, is a vintage excerpt of a 1960, NBC-TV COLORCAST. Gene Kelly headlined PONTIAC STAR TIME, a peacock network special that reunited these two, inspired icons of the movie musical. In the clip posted, below, Donald O'Connor recreates the mirth and mayhem of MAKE 'EM LAUGH ,but this time dancing to SMILE, DARN YOU SMILE. Enjoy!!!!!!!
To compare performances, here, from the ATAIRIASTOS YOU TUBE site is the original MAKE 'EM LAUGH number from SINGING IN THE RAIN. Enjoy!!!!!
As a bonus, here are the two voluble virtuosos in a clip from the SISAPIS YOU TUBE SITE, performing a "sit down" dance routine, from PONTIAC STAR TIME.Enjoy!!!!!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Here is a Holiday stocking stuffer from the archival elves at KinescopeHD!!!
It's a compact,chromatic blast from NBC's past.
The Peacock's promotion department busily branded itself as THE LIVING COLOR NETWORK in the 1950's and 1960's, in order to support its corporate parent, RCA, in the quest to sell the home receivers and professional equipment that provided tinted, television images.
( THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW ,ABOVE, WAS PRODUCED AT NBC BURBANK, AND WAS A STAPLE OF THE PEACOCK NETWORK'S PRIME TIME SCHEDULE IN THE 1960'S )
In order to re-enforce the NBC's primacy in prismatic video, the network tagged every colorcast with a positioning spot.
It featured the image of a camera person pushing his lumbering,RCA TK-41 television camera moving through a polychromatic field of studio lights, while the NBC "snake" logo, animation unfolded on the screen. It was accompanied by a friendly, but forceful announce track and a regal , musical flourish.
There were versions for color shows produced by the network and those crafted by other creative teams in association with NBC.
Here, posted below, from the DISCO2009 You Tube site, is a 1960 version of the promotional tag for a network produced, colorcast.Enjoy!!!!!
As a bonus, here is the animated,opening logo created for CBS, when THE TIFFANY NETWORK, took its prime time schedule to full color programming in 1966.Enjoy!!!!!!
Here is the ABC-TV color animation, which preceeded tinted programs and debuted in the early 1960's when animated sitcoms such as THE FLINTSONES and THE JETSONS were first colorcast.Enjoy!!!!!!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Ed Sullivan & Julia Meade with 1954's big deal on wheels - Vintage, LIVE Lincoln Commercial - CBS-TV - Circa 1954
A REALLY BIG SHOW!!!!!!!
CBS-TV'S TOAST OF THE TOWN, hosted by stoic,constrained,Broadway columnist, Ed Sullivan, was the biggest of video variety shows in 1954.
Later rechristened THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, over it's distinguished run from 1948 to 1971,the greatest names in arts, culture, sports and politics were given the spotlight on the Tiffany network's venerable Sunday night showcase.
While Sullivan, himself, had almost no discernable comedic, dramatic or musical skills, he was a central figure in American popular culture, during the middle of the 20th century. That may be because he was the young medium's first, electronic impresario. Ed Sullivan became a star for introducing people who were more famous than he,to his adoring audience. The harried host was himself an icon of show business.
The Broadway show and subsequent movie musical, BYE BYE BIRDIE, satirized Elvis Presley's appearances on Sullivan's variety hour.It was promoted as a show about THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.
In 1964, Sullivan , AKA the great stone face, would receive global attention when we introduced four mop-topped, mod musicians from the banks of Liverpool's Mersey River, called THE BEATLES to American audiences.
There was adolescent pandemonium in the balcony of his theater, CBS Studio 50.In 1966, that venue was renamed as THE ED SULLIVAN THEATER in a formal ceremony presided over by New York City's, then-Mayor, John Lindsay.
Since 1993, THE ED SULLIVAN THEATER has been home to CBS-TV'S LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN.
Often , over the run of the series, Sullivan took the show on the road. When he visited the West Coast, the show originated from the vast stages of CBS TELEVISION CITY in Los Angeles.
Below we've posted the kinescope of a LIVE, 1954 car commercial from the wksufreshair, You Tube site. The intricately staged spot is for Sullivan's long standing sponsor, the Lincoln-Mercury Division of the Ford Motor Company. The ad runs almost 3 minutes and 30 seconds, features Lincoln spokeswoman Julia Meade and it occupies one whole stage at TV City, just to give you a grand glimpse of Detroit's finest from Ford in '54. Enjoy!!!!!!!!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
On this historic day when Comcast, the country's largest cable provider and GE , the world's largest corporate enterprise, unite to create a new NBC UNIVERSAL, powered by extraordinary resources in broadcast, cable, online, voice transmission and myriad, new media platforms which serve hundreds of millions of customers, it might be a good time to look back with reverence, at the origins of the NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY.
America's oldest, media network began as an effort by NBC's original parent company, RCA, to create a centralized broadcasting service connected by the , then, newly minted, NBC owned and affiliated radio stations. It was the vision of RCA-NBC's patriarch, the innovative, yet imperious David Sarnoff.
That was 1926. The NBC Radio Network was almost immediately the platinum standard for the young medium.
In 1986, the textured, evocative piece we've posted below was crafted to celebrate the Peacock Network's 60th anniversary in broadcasting.It aired only once, on a Thursday night at the end of NBC's prime time schedule, following LA LAW.
Today, The NBC television network has fallen on hard times, with fourth place ratings , decaying revenues and the challange of new media platforms. Perhaps this new chapter in the NBC story will return the lustre to this once dominant and vibrant video web.
Enjoy THE NBC STORY!!!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
From Hollywood, The Heart of the Entertainment World...The Hollywood Palace!!!!!
For seven television seasons, from 1964 to 1970, that high voltage introduction , sonorously voiced by veteran announcer Dick Tufeld, heralded the opening of ABC-TV's classic variety show, THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE.
Starting as a Saturday night, mid-season replacement, when THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW was cancelled in 1963, THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE showcased an eclectic array of the world's most talented, musical/comedy/variety performers ,and enlisted the most famous faces in showbiz to serve as one of the weekly,rotating hosts.
Bing Crosby, Dean Martin , Steve Allen, Diana Ross, Perry Como and Phyllis Diller were among the luminaries to headline on the stage at 1735 N. Vine Street in Los Angeles.
This clip offers an old school, megawatt, comic confrontation that yields major laughter.
Imagine two consummate,Borscht-Belt comedians, who were boyhood friends,and grew to be show business icons, reunited for a rapid-fire redux of a tried and true vaudeville routine: The Heckler In A Box.
Milton Berle was famous for fighting back against any hapless aggressor who challenged him at center stage.
Henny Youngman was comedy's acknowledged king of the one liners,and had a joke for every occasion.
Together, they brought precision comedic timing to rival a tuning fork, a vast reservoir of rancorous retorts, and an explosive energy that blasts through the screen.
Here is a rare excerpt of THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE from the GARYKASKEL YOU TUBE site.Enjoy!!!!!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
TURKEY DAY GIVE AWAY FLYS AGAIN, TODAY - PERENNIAL HOLIDAY FUN FROM THE ORIGINAL WKRP IN CINCINNATI - CBS-TV - CIRCA 10/30/78
"AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I THOUGHT TURKEYS COULD FLY!"
Arthur Carlson, General Manager, WKRP in Cincinnati
Was it a matter of murder , most fowl, or did somebody drop the (butter)ball?
It's a Thanksgiving tale of airborn, poultry-cide that dates back three decades.
The 1978-1979 Prime Time Network Schedule offered a golden season, of sorts, for situation comedy. Some shows were smart and some were sentimental, but all took devoted viewers minds off of a difficult economy, gas rationing, cold war threats, Middle East hostilities and the onslaught of DISCO MUSIC.
The five most watched series of that season were family oriented favorites: LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, HAPPY DAYS ,MORK & MINDY, THREE'S COMPANY and ANGIE. They filled ABC-TV's Tuesday night schedule with charming tales of laughter and love. All, but THREE'S COMPANY, bore the nostalgic imprimatur of celebrated writer/producer Garry Marshall.
Norman Lear was the acknowledged, "Alpha" producer of 1970's situation comedy with ALL IN THE FAMILY, GOOD TIMES, and ONE DAY AT A TIME winning viewers , critical praise and myriad awards for CBS-TV.
BARNEY MILLER, SOAP, TAXI, RHODA and the venerable M.A.S.H., the latter of which sprung from the vibrant mind of the late, Larry Gelbart,offered big laughs and were rewarded with big audiences.
But one unique, workplace-based, situation comedy ,from the agile mind of writer/producer Hugh Wilson ,came to the Tiffany Network's Monday night line-up in the fall of 1978, and proved to be a critical success that would earn a fond place in the hearts and minds of a loyal audience.
America fell in love with WKRP IN CINCINNATI and its eclectic, multi-talented cast. The series took us behind the scenes, and behind the microphone, at a forlorn, family owned, Ohio radio outlet as it moved away from a moribund, beautiful music format in hopes of becoming a rebellious, flame-throwin', blowtorch of a rock radio station.
The audience enjoyed the fast and furious comic dialogue, the strong sense of story in each episode, the complex, honest relationships among the characters and the crystal clear reflection of American society that was satirically showcased in each hilarious installment.
While former-soap idol, Gary Sandy,and future MAYTAG repairman, Gordon Jump , portraying WKRP's proactive Music Director and Mom-dominated General Manager, respectively, were the ostensible stars of the show, there was a true ensemble cast. The audience instantly embraced the voluptuous, vamp essayed by Loni Anderson, and the ironic, iconoclast DJ played by Tim Reid. Jan Smithers was the bookish,innocent, production assistant who was enthralled with life at the radio station.Both Smithers and Anderson quickly found themselves to be the focus of laser-hot, adolescent, male attention.
On college campuses and in neighborhood bars, young men often posed the high stakes, high voltage,WKRP IN CINCINNATI querie ," Who do you prefer,Jennifer (Loni Anderson's incendiary blond ) or Bailey ( Jan Smither's comely brunette)?" For the record,and with no disrespect to Jennifer, KINESCOPE HD is Pro-Bailey:)
Richard Sanders scored with viewers portraying the prickly newsman, Les Nessman, as did Frank Bonner, portraying garish sales manager Herb Tarlick. Respected improviser and actor Howard Hesseman did a star turn as strident, drug addled,world weary Disc Jockey,Dr. Johnny Fever.
What was, arguably, the best episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI, aired Monday, October 30, 1978 on CBS-TV at 8:00pm EST. The storyline looked ahead to Thanksgiving and how WKRP radio would grow ratings and better connect with the audience in the Holiday season, by doing a turkey drop from the station's helicopter.
Created by Hugh Wilson, written by Bill Dial, and directed by Michael Zinberg,here is that entire episode from the HULU video on demand site. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!
As a bonus clip, here are WKRP IN CINCINNATI'S Tim Reid ( Super cool, DJ Venus Fly Trap ) and Richard Sanders ( Ultra-Nerd, Newsman Les Nessman ) in a 1979 appearance on Paramount's, syndicated, music series, SOLID GOLD, with hosts Dionne Warwick and Glen Campbell.Enjoy!!!!!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
JAZZ LUMINARIES LIGHT UP THE TUBE - VINTAGE VIDEO OF DIZZY GILLESPIE & LALO SCHRIFFRIN - CIRCA LATE 1950'S
While the origin of this vintage video is unclear, the pedigree is pure Jazz. The clip features the incomparable Dizzy Gillespie performing with the prolific composer Lalo Schriffin on what appears to be a classic episode of NBC's vibrant , B&W examination of the truly American, musical art form, called THIS IS JAZZ.
Schriffin's legacy on the silver and small screens is, both, impressive and imposing. On television, he scored the emphatic, exotic notes that ignited every installment of CBS's MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and the elegant jazz waltz that heralded the daring adventures of CBS's MANNIX. Schiffrin also penned the tense,sparse strains of the 1966 film, COOL HAND LUKE, that went on to become the signature for EYEWITNESS NEWS on the ABC Owned & Operated Television Stations.
Philadelphia's John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie all but wrote the genetic code for the brassy alloy of African, Latin and Caribbean rhythms that achieved jazz primacy in the 1950's, called BE-BOP.
In the Scholastic Aptitude Test of American culture,Gillespie is to jazz ,as William Paley is to television : a founding father.
This electrifying performance is from the ALDOSOUNDS68 site on YOU TUBE and the mystery of its origin is as seductive as the visceral allure of the music it showcases. Enjoy!!!!!!
As a bonus, here is an April 24, 2006 recording of Lalo Schriffrin performing his pulsating theme to Mission Impossible in the UK with the BBC Big Band. Enjoy!!!!!
Friday, November 13, 2009
A Bunny's Tale - Rare Behind the Scenes Video with a 60's Pop Culture Icon - CBC Archives - Circa 1966
In the turbulent, tawdry 1960's,THE ALL-AMERICAN, PLAYBOY BUNNY was positioned in the glossy pages of decadent, daring Playboy Magazine as indigenous wildlife in the smoke-filled, jazz infused, sexually charged nightclubs that Hugh M. Hefner, Playboy's founder and publisher, opened around the globe.
For repressed, working class males , the upstanding men who survived the Great Depression and who fought for victory in World War Two, the Playboy Bunny was the living logo of the 1960's sexual revolution.The Playboy Club, Hefner's high voltage chain of hipster bistros was romanticized as as the proving ground for new weapons in the war of the sexes.
Here, men fantasized about gland to gland combat.
But in principle and practice The Playboy Bunnies were, by and large, conscientious objectors, where the customers were concerned.
As the first wave of feminism emerged and gained attention , in the 1960's, many socially,culturally,and professionally empowered women decried the Playboy Bunny, and the philosophy from which it was contrived , as a key propagator of personal objectification and sexual subjugation.
The Playboy Bunny was, in the end, a casualty of the sexual revolution and the attendant, feminist awakening.
But, like so many who survive a prolonged battle, things were never the same for Playboy , again
While, it's always hard to stop Bunnies from multiplying, The Playboy Clubs of the randy, rockin' 1960's didn't survive to the materially-focused, sexually inhibited 1990's.
But in the mid to late-2000's, with America developing a retrograde fascination for all things RATPACK, the return of 1960'S suavity that was prompted by MADMEN on AMC and Hefner's own cable series, the giddy, GIRLS NEXT DOOR on E!, at least, the image of the Playboy Bunny was back in vogue.
In Las Vegas, the opulent Palms Hotel opened the first, new Playboy Club in decades.Every night,The Playboy Bunny logo smiles down on the Vegas strip,now. A leering and lascivious landmark in a city built on sex and gambling.In the end, they are deeply similar pursuits, where people never really understand the risk, because they so crave reward. There is a new chapter written in This Bunny's Tale, every night.
From the CBC Archive, we have found a short and revealing (albeit, G-Rated:) interview with a Playboy Bunny, who takes you behind the scenes of the Toronto Playboy Club ,while sharing secrets of the Bunny Sisterhood. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!
Monday, November 9, 2009
A CRACK IN THE WALL BRINGS LIGHT TO EAST GERMANY - RARE CLIP OF NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH TOM BROKAW- NBC -TV - CIRCA NOVEMBER , 9 1989
The wall dividing East and West Berlin seemed indestructible to those who watched it built in 1961, designed to serve as a brick and mortar manifestation of the differences between between communism and capitalism, freedom and fear.
For decades, many politically aware observers thought it would take an act of war between global superpowers to reduce this acrid symbol of repression to rubble.
But, on the night of November 9, 1989, it was the sheer, cyclonic force of human will and determination that brought down the blood-stained barrier,which had divided Berlin for 28 years.
Television allowed the world to share in this electrifying moment of triumph.
Here is a rare look back at the exuberant images delivered, via satellite, to fascinated, engaged viewers across this country by the only American,news anchor present in West Berlin,that night, Tom Brokaw on NBC NIGHTLY NEWS. enjoy!!!!!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
One of the cold war's hottest television shows, wasn't a taught drama about the delicate balance of military might between nuclear superpowers, but a raucus, khaki clad, comedy about the Army's most dangerous weapon : a cunning, non-com, con man who could liberate all of the cash that any unsuspecting target had in his wallet.
On September 20, 1955, at 8:30pm Eastern Time,CBS-TV introduced America to quick witted, fast talking, Army M/Sgt, Ernie Bilko,and his company of comic co-conspirators.
In a military sitcom called YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH , the was almost instantly retitled,THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, the balding , bespectacled comedian found the role of a lifetime, playing Bilko. He was the scheming head of the motor pool unit at the fictional , Fort Baxter in Roseville , Kansas.
A star in nightclubs, vaudeville, radio and on Broadway, Silvers had only moderate success in films, usually cast as a secondary character who provided comic relief in a musical or drama. The role of Ernie Bilko on television made him a national sensation and the persona he crafted to portray the crafty, kinetic character was his trademark for the balance of his career.
The show, created and produced by Nat Hiken, always took Bilko's scheming right to the edge of a moral dilemma, but the con-artist's conscious always overpowered his greed. Hiken, who went on to produce NBC's CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? , was supported behind the scenes, by two accomplished video veterans, Aaron Ruben (Your Show of Shows, The Andy Griffith Show) and Edward J. Montaigne ( McHale's Navy).
Young comedy writers were desperate to work on The Phil Silvers Show, vying for the chance to create high velocity laughs born of the intricate scams Bilko would perpetrate every week.Even though the series was set in Kansas, it was written and produced in Manhattan.Bilko offered All-American, Army Camp comedy with a New York accent.
The show had an agile,adept ensemble cast including, sitcom stalwarts, Harvey Lembeck and Allan Melvin, plus disheveled Maurice Gosfeld as bellicose Pvt. Wayne Doberman, a sad sack incarnate.Paul Ford played Bilko's Boss, the dour and dyspeptic,Col. Hall.There were early guest performances by Dick Van Dyke and George Kennedy.
The show, actually beat Milton Berle's Tuesday night, video variety show in the national ratings. Watching Berle ,an old friend of Silvers, on NBC-TV was ritual viewing for millions of Americans. Bilko ran until September 1959 on the Tiffany Network.
It wasn't a loss of audience that ended the run of EMMY award winning show, but the financial weight of a show with so-large a cast, plus the fatigue of Silvers and the producers, who had to maintain high quality, high energy comedy for 39 weeks, every TV season.
Below, we've posted three clips which constitute the debut episode of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. Keep scrolling down and you'll find bonus excerpts of two musical /variety specials Phil Silvers did for CBS-TV, in which he again portrayed Ernie Bilko. Enjoy!!!!!
THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW:YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH - CBS-TV - SEPTEMBER 20, 1955 - SERIES DEBUT - PART ONE
THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW:YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH - CBS-TV - SEPTEMBER 20, 1955 - SERIES DEBUT - PART TWO
THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW:YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH - CBS-TV - SEPTEMBER 20, 1955 - SERIES DEBUT - PART THREE
BILKO ON BROADWAY - CBS-TV - MAY 13, 1958
KEEP IN STEP - CBS-TV - JANUARY 23, 1959
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
VIDEO VOYAGERS - ROCKET'S CAMERA CAPTURES ARES X-1 LAUNCH - NASA/YOUTUBE VIDEO - CIRCA WEDNESDAY , OCTOBER 28, 2009
At approximately 11:30AM EDT, this morning (10/28/09,) the first, launch vehicle in a new generation of sophisticated and technologically advanced spacecraft, blasted skyward, scorching the crystal blue, Florida sky with white-hot flame.
The ARES X-1, a 328 foot high, multi-stage rocket, designed by NASA as the first step in a plan to carry humans back to the Moon,and eventually to Mars,had a successful test flight. Now, if the Federal government approves funding for the Orion Program, the door is open for astronauts to explore neighboring planets.
No matter what your political position on the assets and liabilities of human spaceflight, the electrifying image of this extraordinary vehicle streaking into the heavens is impressive.
Below, we've posted video of the lift-off,as seen LIVE on CNN , and as a companion piece, we've added a NASA computer animation from You TUBE, depicting an ARES X-1 flight. Enjoy!!!!!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
REACHING FOR THE STARS, AGAIN - PROJECT MERCURY AS CHRONICLED ON FILM BY NASA - CIRCA 1958 THROUGH 1961
As we write this Tuesday,October 27th edition of KINESCOPE HD, the world's largest rocket sits on a pad at the Kennedy Space Center, under overcast,Florida skies. The night is violently punctuated with lightning.It is humid and the temperature is in the low 80's.It was a day of disappointment for the ARES X-1 launch team. These weather conditions prevented this morning's scheduled launch.
At this moment,The mammoth ARES X-1 , standing 328 feet high,is about eleven hours from lift-off on it's maiden voyage, a test flight to evaluate propulsion and recovery systems. The ARES X-1 is the first product of NASA's Constellation Program. The initiative is creating vehicles that will replace the aging, Space Shuttle fleet , which will be phased out next year.
These test flights will result in a new generation of spacecraft that will carry astronauts back to the Moon in the Orion 1 module. The ARES V, even bigger than the ARES X-1 and the SATURN V that carried people to the moon, is next in view for NASA designers and mission specialists.If this program receives the approval and funding of the Obama Administration and congress , for the first time in human history, ARES launch vehicles will take astronauts to explore Mars.
For baby boomers, the debate over space exploration was vitriolic,vocal,multi-faceted and unresolved.
People argued the benefits versus cost. They fought over investing in present priorities on earth as opposed to the promises of a future voyaging to the stars. There was disagreement as to whether space exploration was a challenge best confronted by a senescent, inquisitive man or a sophisticated, clinical machine.
American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts broke the bonds of Earth's gravity in the 1960's and 1970's, riding aloft on the most technologically advanced vehicles created to date. Like every voyage of discovery, knowledge was gained, lives were lost, curiosity was satisfied and human explorers returned to earth with more questions than were answered on a brief sojourn to a desolate rock in the firmament.
The desire to return to space burns ,in some, with the white hot,intensity of a booster rocket at launch. The fuel which propels it is human curiosity. The internal guidance system is the same sense of adventure that took ancient mariners across uncharted oceans and took two, brave astronauts ,in the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module, to the Sea of Tranquility.
In advance of tomorrow's, planned ARES X-1 launch, we've posted below, two films that chronicle America's first, halting, daring, dangerous steps into space.They provide a kaleidoscopic view of Project Mercury, the quest to put the first American in space Enjoy!!!!!
THE BIRTH OF PROJECT MERCURY
THE FLIGHT OF FREEDOM 7
Thursday, October 22, 2009
ANCIENT ARTIFACTS @ THE DAWN OF TELEVISION - RARE EPISODE OF "WHAT IN THE WORLD?" - CBS-TV & WCAU-TV - CIRCA 1952
In the Genesis of American television , even broadcast behemoths like NBC and CBS weren't true, national networks. While the coaxial cable and microwave relay stations for tv transmission linked the east and west coasts in 1948, there were vast parts of the country that had no access to live video feeds.
As the nascent television industry moved into the 1950's,and into millions of homes, bars and schools, Americans embraced the new medium and made instantstars of pioneering performers like Milton Berle, Lucille Ball and Arthur Godfrey. Manufacturers like RCA, Philco and Admiral struggled to keep up with the public demand for Black and White, TV sets with a 12 inch, diagonally measured screen.
LIVE,television production was centered in New York City,and that created a dearth of studio space. As NBC, CBS, ABC & DuMont rapidly converted radio facilities, Broadway theaters and hotel ballrooms into video stages, local television stations in Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago produced programs that filled network schedules.
Philadelphia was a leading center for network production in this era. NBC's antic, Ernie Kovacs Show and the sci-fi adventure, Atom Squad, were produced in the crowded, hot, basement studios of WPTZ-TV's (now KYW-TV) center city facilities.
Paul Whiteman's Teen Dance Party and , later , American Bandstand were beamed live to the ABC Network from WFIL-TV's (now WPVI-TV) new, but austere, production center in West Philadelphia. That building is now home to a non-profit, community, educational agency and is on the national historic register, thanks, largely, to Dick Clark's, daily, rock and roll rally.
At the sprawling WCAU-TV (still WCAU-TV) broadcast facility in suburban Bala Cynwyd Pennsylvania, television pioneers produced over 20 hours per week of LIVE programming for the CBS Television Network.This included Ed McMahon playing a clown on a weekly, circus spectacular called BIG TOP.
WCAU-TV also mounted an ambitious LIVE, western adventure show called ACTION IN THE AFTERNOON, that aired 5 days a week. Often runaway cattle or horses would bolt from the backlot into busy City Avenue. Just as frequently, a bus or truck could be seen rolling through a scene that was supposed to be set in the Old West. The occasional airplane made appearances in wide, closing shots.
One of the most fascinating and intellectually stimulating, network entries from WCAU-TV was a quiz show produced in association with the University of Pennsylvania, called WHAT IN THE WORLD?. Each Sunday from the early 1950's to 1960, a panel of distinguished anthropologists and archaeologists would be shown rare and ancient artifacts from the University of Pennsylvania's renowned University Museum by host and museum director,Dr. Froelich Rainey.The panel had to identify the object, and explain it's scientific and/or historical significance.
The quiz, itself, was challenging, straightforward and, obviously, smart. For it's entire run, WHAT IN THE WORLD? was consigned to television's , so-called, Sunday intellectual ghetto.
You may wonder why a commercial network,like CBS-TV, which was determined to dominate this mass appeal medium, offered a show that was so cerebral and arcane?
In TV's tender years,when a new television set could cost as much as a used car, most set owners were affluent. Many viewers, who were early adopters of this costly and vibrant video technology, were also well educated and erudite.
The opening titles were a bit ominous, but the production values were formidable for the time.Below , from the PENNMUSEUM YOU TUBE SITE,are posted three, full episodes of WHAT IN THE WORLD? ENJOY!!!!!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
THE ORIGINAL PORTABLE MUSIC PLAYER - DOBIE, MAYNARD AND THE TRANSISTOR RADIO - DOBIE GILLIS - CBS-TV - CIRCA 1959
In 1959, across the USA, many people were driving new, chrome laden Cadillac's and Chrysler's styled with big,flowing tail fins. Some dreamed of owning a 21 inch, RCA Victor, console, COLOR-TV in a cherry wood cabinet. At NASA's facility in Cape Canaveral , Florida, a handful of heroes-in-waiting were volunteering for the opportunity to ride a rocket to the moon.
In 1959,Dobie Gillis was America's favorite, fictional teenager. A sweet and sensitive guy, Dobie worked in his parent's neighborhood grocery store, and truly craved a girl he could call his own. He confronted puberty's, manifold challenges with his best bud,a work-averse acolyte of the beat generation named Maynard.
Each week, Dobie sojourned to the park , stood in front of Rodan's The Thinker, and pondered ,aloud to his audience,the great mysteries of life. Often, he evidenced worldly wonder and asked ,"whither are we drifting?" Sometimes, he would , in response to romance denied, simply whimper,"How can I get a date with that gorgeous Thalia Meninger?"
There was one girl who wanted Dobie now and forever. But, alas, the love starved lad always ran from comely,classmate Zelda Gilroy, the brainy bobbysoxer who was dopey for Dobie.
Dobie was a solid citizen.Optimism was Dobie's opiate. He was high on High School.This sensitive, responsible lad, later, went to college and even joined the Army.Dobie lived in an America that had yet to send astronauts to the Moon or fighting troops to Viet Nam. Dobie dreamed of the decade ahead, with the promise of a new and improved,fast acting, fat free, Atomic powered future.
Dobie's reign as America's, rave fave, teen endured until Richie Cunningham rocked and rolled onto the scene , followed by The Fonz, in 1974.
Created by prolific, script-smith Max Shulman, THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, was first a 1953 MGM film, starring Bobby Van. The title was later abbreviated to simply, DOBIE GILLIS, for syndication and the show was one of CBS-TV's finest attempts at humanizing the All-American, high school student.
In that era, network television tended to portray teens as juvenile delinquents and motorcycle maniacs. While Dobie made every emotional misstep and misguided move that a 16 year old could conjure as he entered a new, generational platoon in the battle of the sexes, he was pure of heart and honorable in intent.This sitcom did galvanize two disparate social strata: Parents and teens watched DOBIE together.
Lightly played with adolescent naivete, Stridex-grade insecurity,and a deft touch of Jack Benny bluster by Dwayne Hickman,Dobie Gillis was everyman's, teenaged,kid next door. Hickman, who went on to a fulfilling career behind the camera in television production, was supported on the small screen bythe late, Bob Denver, in a pre -Gilligan role, as Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs and by Sheila James Kuehl, now a politician and activist,who portrayed Zelda.
Sixties sex-kitten, Tuesday Weld, portrayed Thalia Meninger, the obtuse object of Dobie's unrequited affection. A young Warren Beatty was Thalia's steady, millionaire Milton Armitage. Stephen Franken served as Dobie's weekly nemesis in residence, Chatsworth Osborne Jr.
The 30 minute, B&W sitcom enjoyed a four year run on the Tiffany Network from 1959 to 1963.Produced by veteran, show-runner Martin Manulus with Rod Amateau, a master of the 1950's,sitcom genre, the show had a veneer of hipness that has faded to quaint, kitsch when viewed through the prism of TV LAND reruns, some five decades later.
DOBIE did give viewers insight to the teenage condition at the threshold of the 1960's, and a look at the space-age advances that were supposed to make life easier and more enjoyable, every day.
In the clip below, Dobie is confronted with a new and portable technology, when his buddy Maynard shows-up in class with a newly purchased, transistor radio. It was the I-POD equivalent for the Pepsi Generation, and while Dobie tuned-in, he was too wholesome and upstanding to ever turn-on or drop-out. Enjoy!!!!!
As a bonus, here is a clip showcasing the animated, opening titles to DOBIE and the brassy, bubbly theme song. Enjoy!!!!!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Before sophisticated actress and model, Barbara Feldon, played sultry, Secret Agent 99 on NBC-TV's classic, sixties spy spoof, GET SMART , she was the sensuous, TV spokeswoman for a line of men's hair care products.
Feldon, who co-starred with stand-up comedian Don Adams in the satiric and silly Mel Brooks/Buck Henry sitcom, gained notoriety in B&W commercials for TOP BRASS hair dressing,where she demurely purred a cosmetic challenge to men described as lions and tigers (oh,my:) with untamed hair.
This launched Feldon into a run of guest appearances on high-profile, network programs like EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE, SLATTERY'S PEOPLE and a prominent role as one of the weekly damsels in distress on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E..
The move from U.N.C.L.E.'s Manhattan, espionage enclave to CONTROL's Washington DC, secret, spy center was a natural and gracious transition for the agile actress who portrayed Agent 99 from 1965 to 1970.
The :60, TOP BRASS spot , which was a machination of real-life, 1960's MAD MEN, was decried by some as sexist, while others saw it as one of the first instances in which a woman on television was portrayed as feminine and forceful in engaging male viewers.
You make the call, after watching the commercial , below. Enjoy!!!!!
Monday, October 5, 2009
KOVACS WEARS CAESAR'S CROWN ... WELL, JUST FOR THE SUMMER - RARE CLIP FROM ERNIE KOVACS SHOW - NBC-TV - CIRCA SUMMER OF 1956
Ernie Kovacs was an American, comedic original and a video virtuoso. The multi-talented Edie Adams was both his Mrs.and his muse.
In the summer of 1956 ,as was network practice in the halcyon days of the medium, the kinetic Kovacs headlined an NBC-TV variety show that replaced CAESAR'S HOUR, while Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner and company were on a warm weather hiatus.
THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW leveraged Kovacs unique understanding of television's ability to deliver visceral humor. The 30 minute, B&W show was filled with vibrant sight gags that propelled the program along, with ample portions of low humor at high velocity.
Below is a clip showcasing the comic "blackouts" the opened each episode. Enjoy!!!